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Blackjack is by far one of the most popular games on the casino floor. Easy to learn but challenging to master - this classic card game draws in the crowds effortlessly with fast paced action and excellent payouts. With the success of 21 (aka blackjack) many online casino have tried to emulate the experience with virtual games. While these come close in terms of mechanics, they lose in terms of that social aspect. And that is where live blackjack comes in.

Aside from tracking down your nearest land casino or spending several hundred pounds on a weekend trip to Vegas, live blackjack is as close as you can come to the real thing.

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What is live blackjack?

Live blackjack is exactly that - it’s a game of blackjack that is being broadcasted live to a device of your choice. Advancements in streaming, video and audio technology continually push the boundaries of immersion, making you actually feel like you have just stepped up to a real table. One of the key components of live blackjack is the dealer, who is a real person. A criticism that could be made of virtual games is how detached they are - there’s a robotic voice giving instructions - but there’s no real interaction.

With a live dealer, you can actually choose to be social and even have a conversation thanks to the built in chat software. And if you don’t like the dealer in question or would like to “shop around”, you can just move over to another table. Flexibility is another all important ingredient missing from virtual games and what makes live casino so appealing.

In terms of the game’s mechanics, you’ll find that live blackjack retains most if not all of the rules you have come to expect. In a game of blackjack, the player plays against a dealer. The objective is to have a stronger hand than the dealer. Each card dealt has a value - with 2 to 10 retaining face values while Jack, Queen and King all have the value of 10. 

The Ace can be either a 1 or 11. The strongest hand one can achieve in blackjack is 21 - partially why the game is also known as 21. The dealer will deal two cards to each of the participating players and himself - except one of his cards will be dealt face down (otherwise known as the hole card).

Once the cards have been dealt, players can choose to hit - which means choosing to be dealt another card. If the hand goes over 21 - you are bust and forfeit your bet. Other advanced plays that also feature in live blackjack include splitting. If you are dealt a pair you can choose to split and play two hands at once for extra profit. There is also the insurance side bet which some live tables use - giving you the chance to walk away with some of your bet if the dealer draws out a 21 right off the bat. 

Live blackjack vs virtual blackjack: what are the differences?

The social aspect of live casino is only one of the major differences between these two types of blackjack. The second major difference is the staking limits; players can bet far more on live blackjack. For players with deep pockets who like to place high roller bets - live blackjack is the only way to go. That shouldn’t deter more frugal players - as the lower end of the spectrum can also be surprisingly cheap. And this point also falls into the last major difference: flexibility.

With a virtual casino game, you are practically stuck with both the betting limits and the monotonous computer voice. Sure you can occasionally choose the table colour, but how much of a difference does that make to the experience really? 

With a live casino lobby, you can customise your own experience, joining tables that suit your playing style. Prefer a more cosy experience? Pick a less crowded table. Want to bet massive sums of cash with the chance for huge profit? Pick a table with high stakes betting limits. With live blackjack - the choice is ultimately yours.

Are there any live blackjack cheats?

Some readers may be familiar with the 1988 Dustin Hoffman/Tom Cruise film - Rain Man. In it, Charlie (Cruise) takes his autistic brother Raymond (Hoffman) to a Las Vegas casino where they run rampant, winning hand after hand - and amassing a small fortune in the process. 

This is down to Raymond's acute card counting skills - but times have changed and casinos have smartened up to these tactics. Nowadays, cards are dealt from a shoe and decks are shuffled far more frequently. 

While live blackjack cheats may be out of the question - adventurous players could employ a live blackjack strategy. While these are less than foolproof - it may be worth a few hands giving one of the tried and trusted tactics a trial.

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