PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker site, has now fully launched PokerStars Casino around the world, with players currently having blackjack and roulette as gaming options on the site alongside poker.
It was late November 2014 when the announcement was made that the site would be introducing casino games and eventually sports betting alongside poker. At present PokerStars Casino includes blackjack and roulette only, with other games to come. Each features numerous variations all of which were created in-house by the same team responsible for the site’s industry-leading poker client.
Blackjack variations available include Classic Blackjack, Atlantic City Blackjack, European Blackjack, Double Deck Atlantic City Blackjack, Double Deck Blackjack, Premium Blackjack, and Premium Atlantic City Blackjack.
Differences among the variations include using a different number of 52-card decks (e.g., eight decks in Classic; six in European; four in Premium; and two in the Double Deck games). Players can also double down, split, and buy insurance just as in live casino blackjack, and in one variation (Premium Atlantic City Blackjack) can also surrender.
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Roulette likewise emulates its live casino counterpart with a 37-pocket wheel numbered zero to 36 (i.e., European roulette with one zero, unlike American roulette that features two).
There are the usual variety of betting options on individual numbers, high or low numbers, odd or even, red or black, inside bets, outside bets, column bets, dozen bets, 17-number bets, and the like.
Both blackjack and roulette can be played at either single-player tables or multi-player tables, with the ability to chat with fellow players available on the multi-player tables. A dealer likewise "speaks" to the players, explaining and directing the action with the dealer’s voice able to be toggled off if desired.
As is the case with poker on the site, players can multi-table the casino games with a maximum of four tables allowed. Also as with poker, there are play money versions of both blackjack and roulette allowing players to test out the games for free before playing for real money.
Both blackjack and roulette are being currently offered at low, medium, and high stakes. Players not interested in non-poker games can also hide casino games from the lobby by toggling off their display in the settings.
Currently blackjack and roulette are the only casino games being offered, although plans call for slots-based games to be introduced soon given their appeal.
As noted, all of the new casino games have been designed and developed by the same team responsible for the site’s poker software, featuring a similarly smooth look and feel. Meanwhile a recent update confirmed plans to launch a sports betting platform by the end of April.
While the move to introduce casino games and eventually sports betting is notable, poker remains a central focus for the site with plans to increase spending on both poker technology and poker marketing in the coming year.
The launch of casino games late last year in individual countries revealed a negligible effect on poker liquidity in those markets, with the revenue created by the games helping the site reinvest in its poker offerings.