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Playtech Live Dealer Review

Playtech is one of the largest developers of software for online casinos today. Whether it’s in grey markets or regulated jurisdictions, Europe or Asia, the company has a hand in most of the important parts of the industry. Since they began operations in 1999, they’ve been one of the more important developers out there, and today -- other than in one very notable exception – they remain one of the biggest names in virtually all parts of the Internet gambling world.

With that much reach, it would be hard to imagine that Playtech would allow itself to fall too far behind the curve when it comes to innovation. That certainly hasn’t been the case in the live dealer segment, where the company has had at least limited offerings since 2003, and has built a much more extensive platform since then. Today, they are one of the top providers of live casino games, with many top tier operators including them on their sites.

Great Selection Available In Both Markets

Playtech operates their games out of two separate studios: one aimed primarily at Europe, and the other directed towards the Asian market. The two offer similar game selections, but they are not identical; here, we’ll talk about all of the games, and discuss where you’ll see a few changes between the two regions.

No matter where you’re playing from, you’ll be able to play two different types of roulette games: European and French. In both cases, you’ll be playing with a single-zero wheel; the main difference between the two is that the French game includes the favorable la partage rule on even money bets, making it the superior version for players.

What you’ll first notice when you jump into these games – or any others in the Playtech live dealer line – is the quality of the visuals. We mean that both in terms of the top-notch video definition, and in the studios themselves, which offer the appearance of a high class, VIP room in a land-based resort. The tables and their layouts are large, offering ample space to place your bets, and the wheel is easy to view. Graphics provide information on the most recent numbers chosen, as well as quick access to a chat feature that can put you in touch with other players and/or the dealer. The Asian and European interfaces are very similar; only the décor is different, with the traditional green felt of the European rooms replaced by a regal purple.

Another game available in both markets is blackjack, which is offered in a few different variations. Most tables have the basics in common: they feature a pretty clean interface with seven betting spots per table. The games vary depending on the level of stakes you’re trying to play at; if you move up to the VIP tables, you’ll see a much more private experience, without any other tables visible on the video feed.

Playtech also offers a form of the game known as Unlimited Blackjack. In this version, there is no limit to the number of players who can participate at a single table. This is similar to other “common draw” style games, though with some unique twists.

Players can play on up to five different spots on the table, and you can play more than one of these spots; of course, many other players will be playing at each of these seats as well. After the initial hands are dealt, each player will be given the option of hitting, standing, or doubling down (when appropriate) in their individual interfaces. As long as at least one player in a seat wants to receive more cards, they will be dealt out; however, the additional cards won’t impact players who have already stood, meaning each player can play their hand in their own way.

There is one odd exception to this. If a pair that basic strategy says should be split is dealt to a seat, the only options given to the player will be to split or fold. This is probably done in order to simplify the process for dealers, as differentiating between hands in which some players have split and some others have either hit or stood on the initial hand, but it does cause some problems for players who may not want to split “by the book” at all times. To compensate for this, those who fold are given back 80% of their bet – an unusual solution, but one that at least tries to give players some compensation for an imperfect situation.

Live baccarat is also available at Playtech casinos throughout the world. Not surprisingly, though, it is far more prevalent in Asia, which has several different forms of the game. There, you will find both single seat and multi-seat tables, allowing for a virtually unlimited number of people to take part in the game. Several side bets are also available, including Perfect Pair. A VIP game is also spread that is mostly identical, but offers higher betting limits and allows the highest staking player to peak at a hand right before it is revealed (using a special secondary video feed), as you’d do in a high stakes game at a brick-and-mortar casino.

There are also a couple of specialty variants. In-Running Baccarat is very similar to the in-play betting that is very popular in the sports betting world, in that it allows gamblers to place wagers even after the hands begin. If you want to do so, you can place bets at any point, with the odds constantly being adjusted on both sides to reflect the known cards on the board. There is also a progressive version that comes with a progressive jackpot side bet.

Several other games are also available. Casino Hold’em is a table game that offers action in the mode of Texas Hold’em, only with each player taking on the dealer individually, instead of their fellow players. If you’re looking for the simplest possible way to gamble with a live dealer, then you might want to check out Playtech’s latest addition, Hi-Lo – in which you simply need to guess whether the next card will be higher or lower than the previous one drawn.

Finally, there’s Sic Bo, a dice game that is exclusively offered from the company’s Asian studios. The game features a wide betting area that takes up most of the screen (a must, given the number of possible bets you can make), as well as information on recent rolls.

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Two Studios Provide Different Experiences

As we’ve already mentioned several times, Playtech provides two flavors of live dealer games to their clients. One, generally marketed toward the European market, has been housed at a studio in Riga, Latvia since 2009. Meanwhile, the Asian version of the games are produced out of a studio in Manila, in the Philippines, which first began broadcasting in 2003. The company also holds at least some licenses in both markets, being licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and a regulator in the Philippines.

A great deal of localization work has gone into these operations. Games are offered in a variety of languages: the Asian product features Chinese-speaking dealers, while versions in English, Spanish, and Italian can be seen in Europe. Some of Playtech’s games can even be seen on television in European countries, offering more ways for players to get in on the action.

Because there are so many different clients that use this software, and so many different options within their platform, it’s hard to talk definitively about the betting limits you’ll find at these live dealer tables. In general, Playtech casinos don’t offer stratospheric limits: you’ll rarely see the kinds of nosebleed bets that are sometimes offered at other live casino sites. But there are exceptions, and we have seen some casinos that allow for bets in the thousands of pounds, euros, or dollars through this software – and we know that VIPs can sometimes negotiate even higher limits if they ask for them. With most major bookmakers in Europe among their clients, huge bets are certainly possible in the right circumstances.

A Model of Long-Term Success

Playtech has long been held up as one of the gold standards for online casino play, and their live dealer operations mostly live up to that reputation. Their dealers and other on-screen personnel are widely regarded as being among the best in the business, and their game selection is hard to beat. Both the European and Asian versions of their software feature gorgeous casino atmospheres, and the interfaces are uncluttered and easy to use. Finally, we also appreciate that these games are available on most mobile devices; the relatively simple interfaces are a great bonus here, making the games very playable even on a smartphone.

If we have to search for some negatives to talk about, we’d have to focus on a few of the oddities we’ve run into when looking at their games. First, there’s the fact that they often offer lower maximum bets than their competitors, even when both live dealer platforms are on the same casino site. Still, this shouldn’t be a problem for any but the biggest bettors. We do have to say that the way splits are handled in the Blackjack Unlimited games is a bit odd, making us lean to other developers’ implementations of common draw options instead. We’ve also heard it said that there are sometimes video or audio issues, though we suspect these are problems with Internet connectivity on the user side rather than a problem on the studio’s end.

Overall, Playtech has delivered with an outstanding package of games that are well worth checking out if you have any interest at all in live dealer games at online casinos. They aren’t quite perfect, but they stand up pretty well to the competition in all respects, making them a top tier option for most players. We might suggest that true high rollers look for platforms that allow for even bigger bets; for the other 99.9% of players, however, Playtech’s games should provide all the action they’ll ever need.

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