PokerStars Launches Live Casino on Dot Com Site
PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room, has taken another step in its efforts to also be the world’s largest online casino, launching a Live Casino offering on a global scale. Previously only available on its Spanish site, PokerStars.es, PokerStars Live Casino is now accessible on PokerStars.com, PokerStars.uk, and PokerStars.eu.
Live Casino is just what it sounds like. Well, not just what it sounds like, as players still gamble over the internet, but whereas computer programs deal the cards, roll the dice, and spin the wheel in most internet casino gaming, actual human beings will run the games in Live Casino, just like in a…um…live casino.
The PokerStars Live Casino is operated by Evolution Gaming, the same company who runs Full Tilt Poker’s live offering. The casino is based in Evolution’s Riga, Latvia studio and features nine live tables, dedicated dealers, and PokerStars branding. In this hybrid live/online environment, players can take a seat at a real table while still sitting at home and interact with the dealer and other players. It is a pretty interesting concept that can mix the advantages of both live and internet gambling. For example, Evolution’s live blackjack tables have seven seats, not unlike a brick-and-mortar casino. Players can take an empty seat and watch as the dealer shuffles a real deck of cards and deals real hands to the players. Just like with an online casino, players click buttons to enter their bets and state their actions. And just like in online poker, where there are advance action buttons players can pre-select like fold and call, the Live Casino blackjack games have advance action buttons so that they can tell the dealer if they want to hit, stand, split, or double-down before it is their turn.
But just because there are only seven seats at a blackjack table doesn’t mean that only seven people can play. This is the internet, after all. Those who are unable to sit in one of the main seats can “bet behind” an seated player and essentially wager on that person’s action. It’s not exactly like being dealt a hand of blackjack themselves, but for the impatient action junkies, it could be fun (until the person you’re betting behind starts making idiotic decisions).
In a press release, Sam Hobcraft, Director of Casino at Rational Group, said “When we took the decision to add Live Casino to PokerStars.com we wanted it to be something really special. We invested in the private room and I am delighted with the results. The quality of the build and the final design is simply the best in the market. With the addition of PokerStars being the first to offer Immersive Lite Roulette and a localized experience, we have created a product that will exceed PokerStars customer expectations.”
But why is this something that would interest players? After all, if I am gambling on the internet, I want the hands to come fast and furious – I don’t want to wait for someone to deal real cards or roll real dice. This likely appeals to a couple types of people. There are those who just find the “live” casino experience enjoyable and if they are unable to travel to a brick-and-mortar venue, this is the next best thing. There are also people who are still suspicious of computerized random number generators, so seeing someone actual deal cards or spin a roulette wheel can be reassuring.
For PokerStars, they are obviously hoping to attract those two categories of player. Live Casino may also just be a fun gimmick, implemented to get customers to try something different. I know if I lived in a jurisdiction where I could play on PokerStars, I’d give it a shot for a few bucks just to see what it was like.
One nutball feature Evolution Gaming has implemented as part of PokerStars Live Casino is Immersive Roulette. We’ll let Evolution explain what that is:
….in Immersive Roulette, multiple HD cameras are positioned around the table and dealer in a Hollywood-style studio set-up. Close-up views and auto-cutting sequences allow players to enjoy a dynamic and involving live gaming experience as they follow every spin of the wheel and movement of the ball…the multi-camera installation and the visual presentation of the Live Roulette game – including cutaway shots to other tables to heighten the Live Casino atmosphere – have been customised to meet the needs of PokerStars players.
So there’s that.
Live, real dealer online casinos have been attempted by other sites, but usually as the lone offering rather than as an optional part of an already established online gaming site. These sites generally just use it as a gimmick to try to differentiate themselves in the sea of online gambling sites and to try to draw the “online gambling is rigged” population. The vast majority have amounted to nothing. Evolution’s Live Casino has apparently been successful enough at Full Tilt, PokerStars’ sister site, as well as at PokerStars.es to make it worth rolling out to a much wider PokerStars audience.