Over a decade ago the so called poker boom brought the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em into the worldwide consciousness. Poker pros became TV stars and celebrity sensations, while amateur players lived the dream by turning small buy ins into big time bucks.
When the final card fell to complete Chris Moneymaker’s miraculous win at the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event, an entire generation of American gamers instantly adopted poker as the new national pastime.
While the heady days of the poker boom may have cooled off just a bit in recent years, largely due to governmental intrusion on the once thriving online poker industry, today there’s a new and exciting way to get in the game without ever leaving home. Designed to stand apart from traditional online poker, which integrates simple chip and card graphics to replicate the in game experience, live dealer poker is the latest innovation poised to revolutionize the industry.
Live dealer poker is exactly what it sounds like: you play a game of Texas Hold’em alongside a real live dealer who runs the game. This means every flop, turn, and river is dealt from a genuine deck of cards, one that is shuffled and cut right before your eyes. For players accustomed to the often suspicious frequency of coolers and bad beats associated with regular online poker rooms, the live dealer poker software is surely a sight for sore eyes. Of course, you’ll still see brutal suckouts and aces cracked, but knowing that the cards came from an actual deck provides players with invaluable peace of mind.
How It Works
A game of poker on the live dealer platform plays out in similar fashion to a normal hand of Texas Hold’em – but with one major difference. Unlike a typical ring game, or poker game involving players competing against one another, live dealer poker games pit players against the house. Think of it like a hybrid of blackjack and poker, with you taking two hole cards and a three card flop, before calling or folding according to the five card hand’s relative strength.
If you like what you see after making your ante bet and forming a hand with your hole cards and the flop, you can place an additional bet to call and see the turn, the river, and the dealer’s hole cards. Just like a traditional game of Texas Hold’em, the highest ranked five card poker hand wins the pot.
What separates live dealer poker from the online poker rooms of old is the inclusion of a real dealer and a genuine deck of cards. By incorporating cutting edge live streaming technology, the dealer’s actions are recorded and broadcast directly to your computer or laptop screen. This means you can see the deck being shuffled and cut before each hand, ensuring the game’s integrity at all times. This increased sense of security is a crucial improvement on the virtual online poker industry, where a series of insider scandals and cheating allegations have left players all across the planet suspicious.
Because a game of live dealer poker is played one on one against the dealer, rather than among several different opponents, the game moves at a much faster pace. Unlike live poker in a brick and mortar casino, you’ll never find yourself waiting as the table slowpoke stalls the action. And while you can’t build the massive pots that give No Limit Texas Hold’em its reputation, playing against a single hand on each deal means you’ll take down the pot much more often.
How to Play
Live dealer poker is a hybrid table game, one that plays similarly to Three Card Poker and Pai Gow Poker. After committing an ante bet, the dealer will distribute two hole cards to you, and two for herself. These hole cards remain face down until the hand is completed. After the hole cards are handed out the dealer will then burn one card from the top of the deck by placing it face down, before turning three community cards face up on the felt. These three cards are known as the flop, and you’ll combine your hole cards with the flop to form the highest possible five card poker hand.
Depending on the relative strength of your hand after the flop, you’ll then decide if you want to commit an additional wager to call, or to simply fold and surrender your ante. For example, if your hand contains a pair or better, or a draw to either a straight or a flush, you’d likely elect to call the additional bet. However, when you make no pairs or draws on the flop, folding is usually the correct play.
By calling the additional bet you bring two more community cards to the table. The turn and the river complete the hand, and you can use either one or both of your hole cards, along with any three of the community cards on board, to form the highest ranking five card poker hand possible. The dealer will then expose their hole cards and do the same, with the best hand taking down the pot.
Because the game mechanics of live dealer poker play more similarly to a table game, there are minimum hand requirements to keep in mind. These vary slightly across each of the live dealer platform providers, but for the most part a standard series of hand rankings is in effect, with high card winning when no pairs are present, followed by highest pair, two pair, three of a kind, and so on.
Winning wagers are paid out at a 1 to 1 ratio, while various bonus bets available on different platforms offer their own payout structure. Take care to read up on each site’s rules and regulations before making these bonus bets, because certain payout scales make the wager more worthwhile than others.
When making a call bet to see the turn and river, some platform providers require you to double the original ante bet, while others simply require that you match the ante. Again, be sure to read the house rules for each platform closely before sitting down for a session of live dealer poker.