Overview of PokerStars Blackjack and Roulette
Pokerstars announced a move into both casino gaming and sports betting towards the end of 2014, this is part of a new strategy employed by Amaya Gaming. "With the continuing trend of online gaming regulation around the world, the company has in front of itself an enormous opportunity to leverage its brand recognition and customer loyalty to diversify into other gaming verticals as casino, sports betting, and social gaming,” David Baazov, the CEO of Amaya Gaming said in June.
For some the move wasn’t particularly popular. Victoria Coren Mitchell, a member of the PokerStars Pro Team, columnist and presenter of TV’s ‘Only Connect’ resigned because of the move into casino gaming. Daniel Negreanu was more supportive of the move, stating that it would make him a hypocrite if he was in a casino where he was winning money from novice poker players but had an issue with the casino offering gamers table or slots games that have a house edge.
The full range of casino games and the sports betting platform was entirely rolled through 2015, but the initial games have already landed for the majority of Pokerstars users, in Blackjack and Roulette. If we take Full Tilt (the 'sister' site to PokerStars bought alongside this brand by Amaya) as a cue, then it will not be long before we see a selection of online slots too compliment these table games.
Here I take a look at both of the games. I start by explaining how you’ll get started at the tables, before detailing the different types of games you’ll be able to play. I finish with an overview of the PokerStars casino platform. You can see these games for yourself by downloading the poker client from www.pokerstars.com (note that this is not available to US players)
PokerStars Casino – Getting Started
The PokerStars casino software and the poker software come in one package, so by downloading the poker software you’ll also receive the casino. Having launched the poker/casino site you’ll switch between the two by clicking on one of the two buttons at the top of the page. Having entered the casino, there are two large buttons near the top of the page – ‘Blackjack’ to the left and ‘Roulette’ to the right.
Upon entering either Blackjack or Roulette you’ll notice that there are two types of table. The first is multi-player where you can take a seat with other players, although if the table is full you can only watch the game. The other is single player, where obviously it is just you and the cards/wheel. At both games, the time between deals/spins will be pre-determined at the multi-player games, but the single player games will start as soon as you have completed your betting.
When choosing a multi-player table at Blackjack, you’ll have a choice Classic and Premium games. The Premium Games have a higher table limit and are played with 4 decks as opposed to the 8 decks at the Classic games – should you make 21 with 3 7’s at the Classic game you’ll be paid out at 3 to 1.
The single player games offer a lot more variety with the same Classic and Premium games joined by European, double deck, Atlantic City (standard, Premium and double deck).
The overall table limits when playing Blackjack start at just $0.10 and you’ll be able to play up to a maximum of $2,500.
The game looks impressive, and the gameplay is very smooth – with a female voice describing all of the action at the tables. The multi-player tables have a chat feature where you can interact with other players, making this version more sociable than online Blackjack games.
Unlike Blackjack, all of the Roulette games have the same rules, all played at a European Roulette wheel. You’ll find all of the standard betting options available at the tables, as well as the racetrack displayed at the top of the screen. If joining a multi-player table you’ll choose the chip colour of your choice which differentiates you from other players at the table.
On the roulette page, if highlighting a particular table (and not launching the table) you’ll find a panel on the right hand side of the screen detailing the hot and cold numbers, but you’ll find slightly more comprehensive stats upon entering the table.
The minimum stake you’ll find at the Roulette tables is just $0.10 with a maximum bet size of $100.
The game is impressive – it’s not the largest Roulette wheel you’ll find online, but graphically it is very crisp, meaning that you’ll have no trouble whatsoever following a particular number. However, should you require a clearer view, a close up window appears when the ball is set in motion.
PokerStars Casino – Overview
Whether you agree with the PokerStars move into Casino gaming or not, the early indications are that the games offered are of very good quality, although that was probably never in question if looking at the poker software. In the coming months we’ll see if this trend continues when the next wave of games appears. I'm personally hoping for some casino poker variations.
If you are new to PokerStars, dont miss out on getting up to 3 'first' deposit welcome bonuses. First, register your account (you can use Marketing Code PSP0000 here from the drop down). Next deposit with bonus code STARS600, this is a 100% match, up to $600 in total.
I'm expecting big things from the PokerStars casino, check out www.pokerstars.com to see it for yourself.
Articles Covering Online Blackjack and Roulette at Other Casinos
Immersive Roulette (this is a live streamed game, with some surprisingly high-tech graphics)
Marvel Roulette (PlayTech game which is linked to the Marvel progressive jackpot (usually more than half a million dollars))
Blackjack Switch (you can swap out the second card for a new one if you do not like your total in this game)