PlayTech Live Dealer Casinos & Games
About The Company
Playtech, founded in 1999, is a software provider that powers many of the largest online casinos in the UK such as William Hill, Ladbrokes and BGO. A publicly traded company that is listed on the London Stock Exchange, Playtech was founded in Tartu, Estonia and had rapid growth, being worth almost a billion dollars as early as 2006.
Today their software powers casinos, poker rooms, sports-books and bingo games all over the internet. Today their company is headquartered in the Isle of Man, a notorious tax haven, and grossed over seven hundred million euros in revenue in 2016. Playtech showed profits of just under two hundred million euro during this same time period.
With live dealer studios in Estonia, Manila, and Romania, Playtech has become a truly international company, creating many different jobs all over the world. They also stream tables from within Casino Gran Madrid in Spain, owing to regulations in that country which dictate that live dealer games must be filmed from within an actual casino.
Tables Offered By PlayTech Live Casinos
Playtech offers live dealer versions of Roulette, Three Card Brag, Blackjack, Hi-Lo, Casino Hold’em and Baccarat. The stream quality is quite decent and they have a pretty good variety of games offered and they do provide language support including but not limited to English, Italian, Russian, Romanian, Spanish (both Espanol and Castilian dialects) and Mandarin.
Being able to communicate with the dealer in your native language is quite convenient especially if you are not bilingual, and this is a nice move to make their games accessible to a larger market.
Playtech has many different variations on this classic gambling game. Now obviously they all involve a dealer spinning the wheel and you trying to predict where it lands, but they did have some interesting twists to keep things interesting. One version of the game they have is Age of Gods Roulette. Age of Gods is a popular online slot that has had a number of sequels. In this roulette game the dealer actually dresses up like a character from the game and there is a 1% rake on bets that goes towards funding a potential age of gods jackpot.
Other than that it is pretty much like your traditional single zero roulette game with all of the traditional paytables such as 35:1 for a straight up hit on a number and 1:1 if you bet red/black or odd/even.
Another version of live dealer roulette that Playtech offers is Prestige Roulette. Here the game-play isn’t changed at all, but the ambience is altered, as the game is cast in neon lighting and they use multiple camera angles to enhance the player’s anticipation prior to the ball dropping.
Playtech also provides Speed Roulette, which as the name indicates goes at a faster pace in order to get more bets made during a shorter period of time.
Unlimited Blackjack is a variant where an unlimited number of players can bet on the same hand. The game is dealt from an eight deck shoe and there are five spots that you can bet on. Despite multiple people playing the same hand, you are still in control of your destiny, because if you stay then your total just freezes at whatever it is that you chose to stay at while other people continue to take cards. It is a bit of an odd concept to get used to but the nice thing is you never have to wait for a seat you can always just sit down and play.
There are also two side bets for perfect pair and 21+3. With the perfect pair, you are trying to make a pair, and there are higher payouts for coloured pair and a perfect pair. A normal pair will pay 6:1, two cards of the same colour will pay 12:1, and two cards of the exact same suit and rank will pay 24:1. You can also bet on the dealer’s hand to make a pair with the dealer pair side bet.
With 21+3 you are trying to make a poker hand, using your two cards and the dealer’s upcard. This pays for suited three of a kind, straight flush, three of a kind, straight, or flush.
- Suited three of a kind pays 100:1
- Straight Flush 40:1
- Three of a kind 10:1
- Flush 5:1
The rules for Unlimited Blackjack are :
No re-splits, dealer stands on soft seventeen and double after split allowed. The dealer does not check for blackjack (despite taking a hole card), but you only lose your original bet if you split or double down against a dealer ten, but if you split or double down against an ace and they get blackjack then you lose all your bets. So you do not want to double down or split against an ace.
Another interesting rule is that if you have a basic strategy split, your only options are to split or surrender and receive 80% of your bet back. In this case, you should surrender AA v A and 88 v A, T and 9. You should also surrender 66 v 2. 66 v 2, which is a basic strategy split, returns around -.212560 and surrendering at this reduced rate returns -.20 which is marginally better.
Overall this is a fairly decent set of rules and competitive with what else exists on the market, but it would be nice if they added the option to surrender.
Aside from the unlimited version Playtech also offers regular live dealer blackjack where you get to play your own hand. These games are played with seven seats and have similar rules to blackjack unlimited. Just like unlimited blackjack this game is also dealt with an eight deck shoe. For the most part, the rules are pretty basic, you can double down on any two initial cards, split pairs, and if you get a blackjack then it pays 3:2.
It is always important when playing blackjack to know exactly what rules are in play because different rules change the proper strategy for the game. For example, if the dealer is going to keep both bets if you double down and they turn out to have blackjack, then you don’t want to double or split against a ten or an ace.
Also if the dealer hits soft seventeen then it becomes correct to make some more marginal doubles, like A8 v 6, whereas if they stand on soft seventeen you would prefer to stay on this hand. Ultimately blackjack is a game of percentages, so we have taken the time to compile all of the rules for Playtech live dealer blackjack so you can make informed decisions at the table.
The full rules are:
- No re-splitting. You can split, but if you get another pair for your split hand you cannot resplit. This doesn’t impact on basic strategy but it does slightly increase the house edge. Luckily re-splitting is pretty rare anyway so it is no big deal.
- One card only to split aces. This is the rule virtually everywhere.
- Double After Split allowed. This rule is favourable to the player and very common, so you are probably used to playing with it already, but a lot of live dealer sites don’t permit this. This just means you make some more marginal splits, like 6,6 v 2.
- OBO 10, ENHC A. This is a complicated rule, but allow us to explain. The dealer at Playtech live dealer blackjack does not check their hole card to see if they have blackjack. So if they have a ten, and you double down with say a total of eleven, and they turn out to have an ace in the hole for blackjack, you only lose your original bet.
On the other hand, if they have an ace up and a ten in the hole, then you lose both your original bet and your doubled bet. With this rule set you never double or split against ace, but you should feel free to double and split against the ten (specifically double with 11 and split with 8,8 and A,A), like you would in a game where the dealer had already checked for blackjack. Functionally OBO (which stands for original bet only) and hole card blackjack play the same way.
This ruleset puts the house edge at around 0.55% which is quite reasonable, although the caveat is that you must use basic strategy properly to get this return.
Three Card Brag
Another interesting game offered by Playtech is Three Card Brag, which you might also know as three card poker. This game is played with a normal deck of fifty-two cards, and basically, you have to beat the dealer. The best hand you can make is three of a kind, followed by a straight flush, then a straight, then a flush, then a pair and then high card.
Straights are actually more valuable than flushes, and three of a kind more valuable than straight flushes, because poker rankings are based on probabilities and when you are playing with three cards it is actually easier to make a flush than a straight, or a straight flush than three of a kind.
There is also an optional side bet that you can play, called pair plus, which gets paid if you make a pair or better. The payouts for this bet are
- Three of a kind 40:1
- Straight Flush 30:1
- Straight 6:1
- Flush 4:1
- Pair 1:1
There is also a bonus payout for the ante bet, which is as follows:
- Three of a kind 5:1
- Straight Flush 4:1
- Straight 1:1
In order to start, you must place a bet on either the pair plus or the ante. If you play the ante, you then get to look at your cards and decide if you want to play or not. If you want to play then you need to put up another unit. The best strategy is to choose to with Q64 or higher. Interestingly enough you can choose to play just the pair plus if you want.
If you decide to play the hand and put up the extra bet, then the dealer’s cards are exposed and you see if they qualify. The dealer qualifies with queen high or better. If the dealer does not qualify, you win only the ante bet. If the dealer does qualify then you win if your hand is higher ranked than the dealer’s hand.
The house edge for the main game is 2.01% and for the bonus bet 2.32%
Playtech also offers live dealer Baccarat games. Baccarat is a pretty straightforward game where you want to pick which hand gets closer to nine without going over. If you go over you have to start all over again at zero, which is to say a total of ten is actually worth zero. There are also different drawing rules depending on your hand, which basically boil down to the higher your total the less likely you are to draw a card. If you have six or seven you are going to stand, and if you have eight or nine this is a natural hand and neither side draws any more cards. Otherwise, you will draw to three cards.
Baccarat is very popular because it is a quick paced game without any real decisions aside from where you want to bet. Most of the action goes down on player or banker. Originally it used to be a bit of a skill game in that you would decide whether you wanted to draw a card or not, but now it is dealt face up and there are no decisions to make.
Because banker actually wins slightly more frequently than player, you will have to pay a small commission to the house if you bet on banker and win. Playtech also offers no commission baccarat, where if the banker wins with a three-card six you only get a half win.
You can also bet on a tie, which is that both the player and banker hand end up with the same number. This pays out 8:1 but the house edge on this bet is quite high because ties do not happen frequently.
Playtech offers a few varieties of Baccarat which is quite nice. Aside from the main game, they have a few versions with different side bets. For example, you can bet on player pair or banker pair, which pays 11:1 (the actual odds are of course 12:1 against as there are thirteen different ranks), or either pair, which pays 5:1 if either the banker or the dealer makes a pair. You can also bet on perfect pair which pays 25:1.
Another side bet they have is Egalite Extra, where you are predicting that the player and banker tie with a specific total. The payouts for this bet are quite high because there is very little chance of it actually happening. The payouts are as follows:
- Player and Banker tie at 0 pays 150:1
- Player and Banker tie at 1 pays 215:1
- Player and Banker tie at 2 pays 220:1
- Player and Banker tie at 3 pays 200:1
- Player and Banker tie at 4 pays 120:1
- Player and Banker tie at 5 pays 110:
- Player and Banker tie at 6 pays 45:1
- Player and Banker tie at 7 pays 45:1
- Player and Banker tie at 8 pays 80:1
- Player and Banker tie at 9 pays 80:1
Live Casino Hold’em
Another Playtech live casino offering is Casino Hold’em. Based on the popular poker game, in Casino Hold’em you are playing against the house, not other players. You first have to place an ante bet. Then, just like in the version of Texas Hold’em that you play against other players, there is a flop. At this point, you have to decide whether to call or fold your bet.
To call you need to put up twice whatever you started with in your ante bet. If you decide to call then the turn and river are dealt, and the dealers cards are exposed. Another rule is that the dealer must have a pair of fours or better to qualify. If the dealer does not qualify then you win your ante bet. If the dealer does qualify, and you beat the dealer, then you win your ante bet and your call. The ante bet pays according to a specific paytable.
- Royal Flush : 100 to 1
- Straight Flush : 20 to 1
- 4 Of A Kind : 10 to 1
- Full House : 3 to 1
- Flush : 2 to 1
- Straight or lower : 1 to 1
In addition to to the ante bet, there is an optional side bet called the AA bet. With the AA bet you are betting on whether the best five card poker hand you can make using your hole cards and the community cards is as good as or better than a pair of aces. The AA side bet pays as follows :
- Straight or Lower : 7 to1
- Flush : 20 to 1
- Full House : 30 to 1
- Four of a Kind : 40 to 1
- Straight Flush : 50 to 1
- Royal Flush : 100 to 1
The best strategy in this game is to play most of the time. You want to fold only the worst 18% of hands when you have no pair, no draw, and undercards in the hole.
The house edge on this game is around 2% and 3% for the AA side bet.
Best PlayTech Casinos
Overall Playtech live dealer games are pretty good. They have a decent variety of games and variants of games, and their video feed is crisp and clean. Because they use a high-quality stream you might have some trouble with the feed if you do not have a high-speed internet connection, but most people should be fine.
In terms of the odds on games offered, Playtech seems to be competitive with other live dealer offerings from other providers. There is a good spread on limits available, which caters to both high rollers and gamblers on a budget alike.