The Evolution of Card Games: From Cards, to Pixels and Back Again


The gambling industry is a funny old place. For decades brick-and-mortar casinos dominated with real decks of cards, but all that changed thanks to the Internet and the advent of the online casino. Smart Live Casino and its iGaming peers ushered in a new way of playing games such as blackjack and baccarat at the turn of the millennium and online gaming sites have been top dog ever since.

Indeed, this shift from real cards to carefully arranged pixels designed to simulate an authentic looking deck has opened up the industry to more people. Handling real cards takes a certain amount of confidence when you’re inside a live casino, but when you’re online the action is controlled automatically. This efficiency, combined with greater access to more games, has seen the popularity of card games soar.

Card Games Become an Internet Favourite

In fact, over the last decade the number of players anteing up online his risen dramatically and, today, the iGaming industry is worth $45.8 billion per annum. While this increase in participation has made more people aware of card games such as blackjack and baccarat, it’s also had another interesting consequence: people want more realism.

After almost two decades of watching pixelated cards fly across the screen, online gamers are now calling for a more authentic experience. Naturally, as most industries do, the top operators have responded and today you can find an intriguing mix of online gaming technology and traditional playing cards.

A Different Type of Playing Card

cards” (CC BY 2.0) by Ben Alford

How is this possible? Simple: live dealer technology. When you join a site like Smart Live Casino (the clue is in the name), the main lobby will be divided into two main sections: virtual games and live dealer games. The former is where you’ll find virtual card games, while the latter is where HD webcams link online players with real dealers.

Situated in remote locations, these dealers handle real cards in the same way they would if they were in a brick-and-mortar casino; the only difference is that the players aren’t in front of them. Thanks to technology from software providers such as NetEnt, the dealers are able to see each bet, comment, win and loss throughout the game which means they can focus solely on dealing the cards.

Enjoy a New Way of Playing

So what games can you play? At present the top live dealer card games, include:

  • Blackjack
  • Casino Hold’em
  • Baccarat

The beauty of these games is that the player gets all the benefits of playing online – it’s more efficient, less intimidating and more convenient – but they also get a hint of realism brought about by the live dealers.

There is one major difference between traditional playing cards and live dealer playing cards. To ensure the system is able to track the value and movement of each card, live dealer cards have been augmented by RFID chips.

Hidden inside the middle of the card, these chips send a signal back to the system which means that any dealer mistakes are flagged up instantly and, more importantly, players are afforded a more secure experience.

Embrace the Future of Card Games

cards” (CC BY 2.0) by ravensong75

As we said earlier, the gambling industry is a funny place. Players never thought there was an alternative to traditional playing cards until Internet came along and became a $45 billion empire. However, once the novelty of virtual cards wore off, players started to demand more authenticity which has led to the creation of a new type of playing card.

Today, if you’re a fan of card games the likelihood is that you’ll want to experience all three as they all have their own positives and negatives. However, be aware, as we head into the future and age of virtual reality, there’s a chance we’ll see card games evolve once again, which means you’ll have even more options in the coming years.