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Play Live Dealer Poker in the US

In our guide to live dealer poker, we’ll show you the best US casinos for playing poker online against a live dealer. We’ll cover all you need to know before starting your live poker journey and the pitfalls you must avoid. We’ll also delve into the history of online live poker in the USA and give you the most important tips to help you in the game. But first, let’s have a look at the list of available live dealer poker platforms.

Best online casinos to play live dealer poker

The history of live dealer poker

For decades, poker was played against other players – and that is still the most popular way to play the famous card game. However, in the 1980’s, several game providers started experimenting with the concept of allowing single players to enjoy a hand of poker while they were alone. Bally Gaming was the first to introduce a game called Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em, which followed standard Texas Hold ‘em rules, but was played against a  computerized dealer. 

These games became so popular that land-based casinos even turned them into table games. With the increase in popularity of online casinos, many websites started offering poker options where players had a chance to play poker online against a machine dealer. However, these lacked the social element, so when live casino providers like Evolution Gaming made use of HD streaming technology to create the concept of online live dealer poker, this version quickly became wildly popular.

Where can I legally play live dealer poker in the US?

The US federal government allows individual states to decide on their own online gambling legislation, including the game of poker. Live poker (played against a dealer) is now an integral part of almost every US online casino today. That means that poker in all its variants is legal in every state where online casinos are legal. The four states mentioned below currently allow players to enjoy live dealer poker games.

New Jersey State Seal

New Jersey

NJ is the most progressive of all states, as virtually all forms of gambling are legal, including all forms of live casino. It means that as well as live blackjack, you can also enjoy live poker.

Visit NJ online Casinos

Pennsylvania State Seal

Pennsylvania

Several online casinos in Pennsylvania offer a wide array of live dealer options including live roulette and live baccarat, with live poker also now a part of this extensive portfolio. 

Visit PA online Casinos

West Virginia State Seal

West Virginia

WV may not be the biggest market out there, but it’s rapidly expanding, and several casinos have decent live casino sections, including a range of live poker games in their offer.

Visit WV online Casinos

Michigan

Michigan is the newest online casino market in the US, and live dealer games were only recently (July 2021) introduced to the Wolverine state – but are already proving popular.

Visit MI online Casinos

The differences between video poker, land-based poker, and live dealer poker

Poker comes in all shapes and sizes. The first thing we need to say is that we’re talking about games where players play against themselves or the dealer. This is not tournament poker or cash games where several players face each other. There are three types of poker games where players play against the dealer — video poker, land-based, and live poker.

Video poker

Video poker is a completely separate category, as players don’t even play against the dealer. They basically play against themselves, and their goal is to make the highest possible hand and get paid accordingly. A standard round of video poker starts by placing a bet and getting five cards (because most video poker options are based on draw poker). After that, the player can choose which cards they want to hold or swap from other cards in the deck. The final hand is then created, and the player gets paid if they have a valid hand and according to the paytable. There are many forms of video poker, such as Deuces Wild, Joker Poker, All-American Poker, Jacks or Better, Tens or Better, and so on. Each has a unique twist, but all basically follow the same rules. You can play video poker in land-based casinos on one of the poker machines or online.

Land-based poker

Many poker games that are played against the dealer are available in land-based casinos. You’ll see many properties often offering games such as Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em with dealers. All you need to do is sit at the table and start playing. In other words, you don’t depend on other players here, so you don’t have to wait for others to sit at the table. Playing land-based casino poker is exciting as you get to experience the atmosphere of online casinos, order a drink, and enjoy the entire journey. That’s why many players still prefer going to land-based casinos to play games. Yet, if there are no casinos nearby, it means you’ll have to travel there whenever you want to play some poker, which isn’t always convenient. That’s where online casinos win the race.

Live dealer poker

Finally, the term live poker mainly applies to real money casino poker games that are played with a live dealer. In a way, they are the best of both worlds. You can play them from the comfort of your home (much like online video poker games) and still enjoy the atmosphere created by actually playing with professional dealers. Many of the newest online casinos that offer live poker have at least a couple of options at your disposal, meaning you can select which poker variation you like the most and play them with a live dealer. Live poker is also optimized for mobile devices nowadays, which means you can enjoy playing it from virtually anywhere you like. All you have to do is download your casino app (or access it via your mobile browser), log in, make a deposit, and start playing.

Live dealer 3-card poker

Three Card Poker is one of the most popular variants of live poker. It starts with players making an ante wager. Sometimes, you can make a pair plus wager and bet that your hand will have at least a pair. Next, every player gets three cards face-down, including the dealer. In this case, please remember that you’re playing only against the dealer and not against other players. You can then take a look at your hand and decide whether to continue playing against the dealer or not. Various strategies are aimed at this point of the round. If you decide to fold, you lose your ante wager, and the new round starts. However, if you decide to continue, you’ll have to place another wager and compare your cards to the dealers. Several payout rules dependg on your hand, so make sure to explore them to see how you can win in this game. It doesn’t get more complicated than that. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the easiest ways to play live dealer poker in online casinos. Rounds are short and fast-paced, so it takes fast thinking to get the best possible results.  

Live dealer Caribbean Stud poker

Caribbean Stud is also a very popular live poker game based on stud poker. Each round starts with players making a wager, and there are even progressive $1 side bets in some games. After that, every player gets five cards, and all of them are dealt face-down. The dealer also gets five cards, but one is exposed, so the players need to examine their cards and the dealer’s card to decide whether to fold or raise their bets. If they choose to raise, they must make a wager that’s exactly 2x the ante bet. The dealer needs to turn up the remaining four cards. They need to have an ace and a king in order to have a qualifying hand. If the dealer doesn’t have a qualifying hand, the player will win even more money. However, if the dealer qualifies and beats the player, then the player loses both the ante wager and the raise. Finally, if the dealer qualifies but loses to the player, the ante will be paid to the player, but the raise will be paid according to the paytable. As you can see, Caribbean Stud is essentially very similar to Three Card Poker, except that there are more cards in every round.

Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em

Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em was the first poker game played against a dealer, and it’s also the most popular variant. It starts with each player making an ante wager. After that, all players and the dealer get two face-down cards, and players can take a peek at their hole cards. Next, the dealer turns over three community cards, and players need to decide whether to fold or make a raise which needs to be 2x their ante bet. After that, two final community cards are dealt, and players go through another betting round where they are allowed to fold or raise. Players and the dealer need to make the highest-possible five-card hand using the two hole cards and three out of five community cards. The dealer needs at least a pair to qualify for the hand. Finally, everyone shows their cards and the winner is decided, with players getting a prize if their hand is better than the dealer’s. As you can see, the game is pretty similar to the standard Texas Hold ‘Em poker, except that the rules are a bit different to include the dealer in the game. If you don’t feel like playing against other poker players, this is the best alternative.

3 top live poker software providers

As mentioned, there are several excellent live casino game providers. The three most popular ones are Evolution, Ezugi, and Playtech.

Playtech

Playtech offers a wide array of live dealer games, including live poker. Their best poker game is Casino Hold’em, a very popular version that features a professional dealer. Playtech’s live dealer games are highly entertaining and use state-of-the-art live streaming technology.

Ezugi

Ezugi has been one of the leading live dealer providers for a long time until it was acquired by Evolution, even though it still offers games under its original brand name. It currently offers Three Card Poker and Casino Hold ‘Em.

Evolution Gaming

Evolution is the market-leader in the live dealer space, offering an array of live dealer poker games, including Casino Hold’em, 2-Hand Casino Hold ‘Em, Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em, Three Card Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Texas Hold ‘Em Bonus Poker, and more.  

What to look out for when choosing a live poker provider

The live casino industry is more popular than ever. However, it’s still not as competitive as some other types of online gambling, as only a couple of providers offer live dealer games. Still, you have to be careful when choosing poker providers in order to avoid the bad ones and get the best possible live casino experience. Here’s what to pay attention to.

  • License — Ensure that the provider has a valid license from a reputable online casino gaming regulator.
  • Available games — Check out the game portfolio to see which ones are offered. Ideally, the provider should offer at least a couple of live poker games.
  • Reputation — Check what others are saying about the provider you’re reviewing to learn more about its reputation.
  • Video quality — Is the provider’s live-streaming service good? Are there glitches during gameplay?
  • Dealer quality — What are the dealers like in live poker games by the provider? Are they professional enough? Are they pleasant?
  • Interface — Explore the interface of the available live poker games to see how it works and whether it’s easy to use and user-friendly. 
  • Underlying technology — Does the technology supporting the game work well? Can you play the game on a mobile device? Is the game responsive?

Hopefully, you’ll be able to check all of these things before making the final decision. The good news is that we did that for you and included the casinos with the best live poker providers on this page. Therefore, you only need to and select the platform you like the most, open an account, and start playing poker as a live dealer game for real money.

Live dealer poker rules

Every poker game starts with players making an ante wager. After that, the dealer distributes face-down cards to themselves and the players. The number of cards changes depending on the type of game you play, and there might even be community cards during the game, increasing the number of betting rounds. At every betting round, players choose to fold or raise. If they decide to stay until the end of the round, they compare their hand with the dealer and get paid if they have a better hand.

And that’s pretty much the essence of live dealer poker. Naturally, you will have to learn the additional rules depending on the type of poker game you select. However, once you learn one type, you won’t have any trouble learning other live poker games. If you already have some experience playing another kind of poker, you won’t need more than a round to understand how live poker works. After all, hand rankings are basically the same in all poker games. 

The top 3 live poker tips

Here are 3 essential tips while playing online poker games against a live dealer.

First, we advise you to pick the best live poker game for you. As you learned above, there are several types of live dealer poker to choose from, and we have highlighted the three most popular ones. But it’s up to you to explore all the available options. If possible, we advise you to try them all – that way you can pick the one that best meets your needs. 

Set a poker budget. Like many other online casino games, live dealer poker causes some players to overspend in terms of time and money if they are not careful. The first step to staying in control of your live poker journey is to plan a budget upfront and adhere to it at all times. If your budget runs dry, come back another day instead of spending more money.

Keep your cool. It’s very important not to get carried away when playing live poker against a dealer. In fact, a sense of calm is the only way to stay on top of your game and get the best possible results. Tilting (reacting to a series of losses by wagering ever larger stake sizes) is often considered a beginner’s issue, and you need to keep your emotions in check to avoid it.

Your Live Poker Questions Answered

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