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Live Dealer Hi Lo

Hi Lo games are a staple of casino play, both in brick-and-mortar resorts and online. The appeal is obvious: the games are incredibly simple to play, usually only requiring players to guess what the next card off the top of a deck will be. The specifics of the games can vary a bit, but the core mechanic of just saying “higher” or “lower” before every round makes it a game anyone can step up and play.

The simplicity of these games makes them easy to implement anywhere, including in live dealer systems. Surprisingly, though, it’s rare to actually see a game like this on any of the major platforms, with one exception: the one powered by Playtech, one of the premier software providers in the industry. Their platform not only includes games the typical inclusions like baccarat, blackjack, and roulette, but also has a simple Hi Lo table that’s about easy to play and surprisingly fun.

Higher or Lower?

Playtech’s Hi Lo game is a very straightforward exercise for players, but there are a lot of options available on each round. To begin the game, the dealer will draw a card from the shoe, placing it on a layout in front of them. This ranges from 2 through A, with aces always being high.

As the player, your job is to bet on whether the next card up with be higher, lower, or the same rank as the last card. The higher and lower bets pay out at rates that are calculated based on the initial card you are betting against: fir instance, while you can get a big payout betting that the next card will be lower than a 3, you’ll only get a very small payout should you wager that the next card will be higher.

The one constant is the “snap” bet, which pays out only if the next card is an exact match for the current target. This pays out at a little over 11-1 ($12.06 for a $1 bet, to be exact), but loses on anything other than a perfect match.

Those three bets comprise the majority of the gameplay. However, there are also a number of side bets that are based on which card will be drawn next. For instance, you can bet on whether the next card will be red or black, earning a little less than even money if you’re correct. Other bets allow you to guess the rank of the next card: you can go for a longshot with a prediction that an ace is coming up, or select a wider range (Ace or King, or one of three ranges: 2-5, 6-9, or J-A) with appropriately lower payouts.

Once all bets have been closed, the dealer will burn three cards, then reveal the fourth, which will count as the result of the round. Winning bets will be paid out, while losing bets will be collected. A new card will then be chosen to become the next target, new odds for higher and lower will be set, and the process begins again.

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Presentation Benefits Simple Game

Despite the fact that this game is so simple, Playtech put quite a bit of work into the presentation of their Hi Lo offering. As always, the quality of the video and sound are high, and the dealers are both friendly and professional. Statistical information on recent draws is available for players who want to use that to guide their bets, and a chat window allows you to interact with other players and the dealer.

The betting areas are big and easy to use, too. It helps that the options are simple, so there’s nothing here that could possibly complicate matters or clutter the screen, but it’s still good that all of the side bets are separated and clearly marked in order to minimize the possibility of mistakes.

Because this game is so simple, it shouldn’t come as a bit surprise that the table limits are rather low. We’ve most commonly seen limits that range from £1 to £10, which pretty much locks high rollers out of playing for any stakes that would interest them. It’s also worth noting that most tables include a maximum payout on any one bet of £100 (or 10 times the maximum bet), which means you should not bet the max on one of the longshot bets that pays out at higher odds.

Strategy? Only in a Limited Sense

You’ve probably already figured out that this game is essentially one of luck. You have absolutely no control over the cards to come, and the odds are determined based on the target, so you can’t really game the system by betting on the more likely result. Of course, you can try to do this – but the dynamic payouts ensure that the house always has an edge. In fact, Playtech says that the theoretical return on the game is 96.45%, which means the house edge is 3.55% - similar to many other proprietary table games like Let It Ride or Three Card Poker.

That said, there are, in theory, ways to increase this return slightly. We’re not sure how many decks are used in the shoe for this game, but since they are drawing physical cards, we know that it isn’t infinite (as it might be in an RNG-based version). That means that when we see a card leave the shoe, it can no longer be there, and the composition of the remaining decks has changed slightly. If you’re going to play some of the side bets, you may as well take this into account: if a black card is drawn as the target, it’s slightly better to bet on red, for instance. The same goes for the rank ranges: we would recommend betting against the card you’ve just seen. Unfortunately, the deck penetration is super shallow, so you’ll never get an edge from doing this; still, it might shave a few hundredths of a percent off of the house edge.

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A Fun, Relaxed Option for Live Dealer Play

Playtech’s Hi Lo isn’t a game for everyone. The simplistic play could easily bore you, particularly if you’re one who wants to engage in some strategic thinking while you play. The low betting limits will turn some other people off, and your betting options are limited, so it does get repetitive quickly.

But this is still a fun diversion, and it’s the kind of game that seems perfect for the Live Dealer format. One of the big draws for these platforms is the ability to enjoy a social experience and some of the energy and fun of a real world casino. This game never feels tense or stressful, allowing you to play, chat, and relax. With the low stakes, you may not even worry too much about whether you’re winning or losing. If that’s the kind of atmosphere you think you’d enjoy, then we recommend giving Hi Lo a try.

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