NJ online gambling industry newcomer Hard Rock Online Casino has pulled the trigger on its Live Dealer rollout, with the launch coming just one week after it announced a partnership with Live Casino solutions provider, Evolution Gaming.
Hard Rock joins five other NJ online casino sites in offering the popular live/online hybrid, and becomes the first not to make use of studio space housed at Golden Nugget Casino. Instead, Hard Rock’s Live Dealer games will be streamed directly from the newly-minted Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City.
Brought to you live
Hard Rock pulled no punches, going live with arguably the most eclectic swatch of Live Dealer games in the industry. At present, players can enjoy:
- Blackjack: Five tables are running, with table minimums ranging from $10 – $20, and maximums topping out at $2,500. Side bets include an Any Pair and 21+3.
- Roulette: Both traditional American Roulette (double zero), and Slingshot Roulette — a fast paced and digital rendition of the game — are available. The table minimum for American Roulette is $1, while Slingshot Roulette players can get their game on for as little as $0.10 a spin.
- Ultimate Texas Hold’em: Carnival game where the player tries to make a better five card Hold’em hand than the dealer. Trips bonus bet is available. Minimum wager is $0.50.
- Three Card Poker: One of the most popular carnival casino games has made its way to Hard Rock. Bet on the main hand, the Pair Plus bonus, or the 6-Card Bonus, all for as little as $0.50 per round.
- Baccarat: Bet on the Player or Banker, or one of two Pair side bets, for anywhere between $1 – $10,000.
Bet Behind and blackjack rules
Live Dealer Blackjack players will be able to keep themselves occupied while waiting for a seat, thanks to the Bet Behind side bet. This wager allows players on the rail, or seated at another spot, to bet on another hand’s outcome. Unfortunately, the Bet Behind player will be at the mercy of the main player, with no control over their action, so we recommend that anyone interested in Bet Behind choose a player that makes sound basic strategy decisions.
However, if the main game player splits or double downs, the Bet Behind player is not obligated to do the same. Simply customize your Bet Behind preferences from the Settings menu. Players can also choose to opt out of Bet Behind, forbidding other players from betting on their hand.
Bet Behind doesn’t require a large financial investment, as at $1, the minimum wager is much lower than for the main game.
The rules of Live Dealer Blackjack on Hard Rock Casino are semi-favorable, but not quite as good as some digital blackjack games found in the market.
- Blackjack pays 3:2
- Dealer hits soft 17
- Double down allowed on any two cards
- Split to only two hands
- Double down after split allowed
- 8 decks, with cut card penetration of roughly 50%.
Hours of operation and other snippets
Live Dealer games will be available daily from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. We may soon see these hours expand, as the vertical has proven popular enough in New Jersey that other Live Dealer operators have been forced to continually widen their hours of operation.
NJ Online Gambling has also learned that Live Dealer has been integrated with Hard Rock’s brick & mortar loyalty program, Wild Card Rewards.
Hard Rock Live Dealer is available on PC, as well as from the online casino’s dedicated iOS and Android powered mobile apps.
Even on day one, Hard Rock’s Live Dealer games stack up remarkably well against those housed at Golden Nugget.
For one, the screen resolution and framerate were both top notch. During our test, we were treated to a crystal clear stream, with no sudden drops in quality or server lag. Dealers were friendly and made any and all attempts to answer our questions.
As far as game selection, Hard Rock already offers several games, including Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Three Card Poker, that have yet to find their way on Golden Nugget. Factor in that Hard Rock is first to market with the Bet Behind feature, and players on the site will hardly be left wanting.
Another attractive feature are the table minimums, which enable players to bet on any game of their liking for a dollar or less. The only exception is Blackjack, where main game players will have to pony up at least $10 a hand, but the Bet Behind minimum wager of $1 sort of counters that.
We do wish the hours of operation were longer, or at least trended later into the night. And the dealers, while friendly, were still clearly learning the ropes, taking their sweet time to deal hands. We expect both of these minor quibbles to get ironed out over time.
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