PokerStars announced Wednesday that it has become the first online gaming company to feature live dealer games on a social gaming mobile app. The app is PokerStars Play, a free-to-play gambling app (featuring primarily poker) with optional chip purchases for real money. The two new games, War of Bets and Bet on Poker, were developed by BetGames.tv.

Though live dealer games are not particularly widespread, they have gradually become more popular in recent years. These types of games, like any other game in the app, are still played online with players from all over the world, except that instead of a random number generator shuffling and dealing the cards, an actual, real-life dealer is in control.

The dealer is located in a studio and uses over-sized cards at a physical table. Players view the game via a camera feed. The idea behind the games is to make the online gaming experience feel more like a casino, as well as make skeptics more comfortable that the game isn’t “rigged.”

I gave the app a whirl, though I soon found out I couldn’t play the two live dealer games until I reached “Level 7.” Thus, I was forced to play poker for a while and win enough hands or Spin & Go’s to gain experience points and move up levels. Didn’t take all that long.

War of Bets

I tried Wars of Bets first. This game is a variation of casino war, though the differences are actually quite stark. In War of Bets, neither the dealer nor the player are really competing against each other. It’s all about betting on who you think will win.

Before any cards are even dealt, you can bet on whether you think the dealer or player will win (or if it will be a tie). The game gives odds on everything. The player’s card is then dealt, the odds change accordingly, and you can then bet on who you think will win. The dealer’s card is then dealt and payouts are determined. Side bets can also be made on the color of the cards and the values.

Bet on Poker

Bet on Poker is not really a poker game, at least not one that you actually play. Again, it’s just a betting game. There are six player hands that can be bet on and, like War of Bets, betting can be done before cards are dealt. The dealer then deals hole cards, face up, to each of the six seats. Betting odds change and another betting round ensues. After the flop, the odds change again based on what the hand values are and those participating can bet some more. Same goes after the turn. After the river, the winning hand is determined and payouts are made. Side bets can also be made on the value of the winning hand.

All in all, the live dealer War of Bets and Bet on Poker are fine, if you like betting on stuff. You aren’t actually playing casino war or poker – just betting on the results of hands. Clearly, with a live dealer, the games are not fast (especially poker), but the live dealer does add an interesting dynamic, making the game feel more personal.

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