In a real life game of blackjack the cards are dealt before your eyes so you can see what is on the table just as well as the dealer can.
You will both be doing the quick mental maths to work out what each hand is worth and what you want or don’t want to see coming out of the shoe next, as well as thinking about what the dealer’s hole card might be.
If there was a mistake made by the dealer the player could call it out and, right or wrong, the issue would be checked and dealt with in a few seconds, and everyone would be happy.
Playing blackjack in a live casino doesn’t afford you the same opportunity however, so you might be thinking there is a chance for things to go wrong here.
Online casinos aren’t daft though, they have thought ahead and their software knows which cards have been dealt and are programmed to work out the winning hands as well as how much each player has won in milliseconds.
Live Casino Card Reading Technology
It might seem magical and impressive, but actually the technology that most live casinos use is no more complicated than something you probably use every day.
If you have ever used the self service checkouts at the supermarket then you will have scanned a barcode, which sends information to the checkout telling it what product you are buying and how much to charge you for it.
Well, most live dealer casinos use barcodes too.
Next time you play, have a look at the cards on the table and you will notice a square shape in the middle of the cards.
It might not be immediately obvious, especially on a smaller screen, but these squares are the cards’ barcode, and this code tells the computer running the game what value and suit the card is.
You will notice a red scanner next to the card shoe, and the dealer will drag each card over this scanner as they draw it. It happens quickly but the tech can read the barcode very easily
Because cards are always drawn in the same order (i.e one card for each player before one for the dealer, then a second card for each player before the second card for the dealer) the game knows which cards are where.
This information is then used by the software to determine every player’s hand and show a digital representation of the card on your screen if necessary for the variation you are playing. This is how a single hand can be used by so many different online players at once in games like Quantum Blackjack, for example.
The software knows which cards have been drawn and it also knows what decisions each player has made. Any further cards drawn will only be applied to players who have decided to take an extra card, while those who have decided to stand will be unaffected.
It really is as simple as that.
Other Ways Live Casinos Identify Cards
This isn’t the only way live casinos can identify cards, but it is the most common, used by both Evolution and Playtech who are the two biggest live casino providers in the UK industry at least.
The other options for card recognition are:
- Card Chipping – Each card contains a tiny microchip – a bit like the chip in a key fob that unlocks a door or in an Oyster card if you are a Londoner – and as the card is drawn over the reader the chip tells it what suit the card is from and its’ value.
- Optical Character Recognition – To a layman this could be described as ‘computer vision’ and it just basically means that a camera can recognise the cards as they are drawn and turned over. It’s not used much because it is more expensive, but there is no card scanning required so where it is available it offers a truer reflection of the game as it would be played at a real casino.
It’s hard to imagine how this process could get much more sophisticated than a camera instantly recognising the cards and turning that information into data the software can use to complete each hand, but who knows what they will come up with in the future.
Is it Safe to Play Blackjack at a Live Casino?
So long as you have chosen a licensed casino using a well known live casino provider you will be absolutely fine.
That’s not to say that you won’t lose money, you’re gambling after all, but you aren’t in danger of being conned or cheated or anything like that.
Remember, even though you are trusting technology to correctly determine winning hands and accurate payouts, you can also see the cards yourself, take screenshots, and do your own maths, so if you really did think something was amiss you could contact the casino.
Every game and the result is logged, as well as your bets, so in the unlikely event that something did go wrong you could iron it out.
As for dealer errors, again, everything is on camera right in front of you and there are usually at least a handful of other players at the table with you, so it’s highly unlikely that a mistake would go by unnoticed even if one was made.