Novomatic Blackjack Software
Having left his family's Vienna butcher shop in 1974, where he was apprenticing in expectation of taking over one day, 28 year old Johann Graf struck out on his own.
Graf set to work building a small enterprise specializing in imported Belgian pinball machines, and over the next six years he expanded into electronic slot machines.
In 1980, recognizing that electronic gaming would be the wave of the future, Graf founded Novomatic Automatenhandels AG. The company soon stamped its reputation within the world of casino gaming with the release of its Admiral line of slot machines.
Today, the Novomatic Group is recognized worldwide as a leading designer, manufacturer, and distributor of cutting edge casino gambling equipment. With offices in 43 countries, and even several brick and mortar casinos in Chile and Germany, the Novomatic Group has grown into a multibillion dollar gaming empire.
As a result, Graf has gone from living in a one room flat with his parents to a current net worth of $7.8 billion, according to the latest World's Billionaire's List by Forbes magazine.
Along the way, Graf's company has remained at the forefront of industry innovation, acquiring a small online casino software firm known as Greentube in 2009 to expand its Novomatic Interactive division.
Originally founded as Durrschmid&Reisinger OEG, Greentube was one of the forerunners in terms of providing software services for online casino platforms.
With the acquisition, Novomatic Interactive became a major iGaming industry player, absorbing a Greentube portfolio built on more than 400 online casino games. Those products were integrated with the existing Novomatic Remote Gaming System (NRGS) to create one of the largest libraries of virtual slot machines, table games, and casino specialties on the planet.
Today, the combined resources of Novomatic Interactive and Greentube - which we'll refer to as Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) from here on out - power several dozen online casino platforms worldwide. From some of the most well established sites in the United Kingdom (Ladbrokes Casino and William Hill Casino), to smaller boutique venues serving niche markets, Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) has become a recognized name for millions of online casino enthusiasts.
The company's clear focus has been virtual slot development, as evidenced by a menu boasting over 360 unique titles, but they've also designed a decent selection of classic table games like blackjack.
This page was put together with twenty one players in mind, so we'll be reviewing the Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) lineup of basic blackjack games and related variants. Below you'll find a detailed breakdown of all the need to know information, including where to find the company's software, all the blackjack titles available at this time, a walkthrough of the gameplay and graphics, and essentials like house rules and the house edge.
So read on to learn all about the Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) blackjack menu.
Affiliated Online Casinos
The following online casino brands incorporate Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) software:
One word of warning: while all of these casinos do use the company's software, not all of them do so with blackjack in mind.
The modern iGaming industry is defined by collaboration, so while you may see a site listed above running Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) slot machines, they're just as likely to use a larger firm's blackjack titles. We did our best to search through the Table Games menu found each of these sites, but on many occasions the tight restrictions placed on American players left us on the outside looking in.
Speaking of American players, among the more than three dozen client casinos shown above, a handful are reportedly serving the US market at this time.
Unfortunately for us though, Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) appears to enforce a blanket ban on American players for its entire online casino game library. Having tried to access no less than 10 different Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) powered platforms, we were always rebuffed with the same message, which read:
"Residents of the US may not play games due to legal issues."
This isn't out of the ordinary by any means, as most of the major European iGaming industry leaders have made the strategic decision to honor the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006. That's the federal law banning online gambling based business transactions in the US, and while progress is being made on the state level to legalize iGaming, major providers like Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) simply have too much to lose by defying American authorities.
For now, if you're living stateside and want to try the Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) online blackjack offerings, you're essentially stuck with a 15 facing a face card.
In other words, you're on your own.
List of Basic Blackjack Games
Of the more than 400 casino games produced by Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) since the provider's 2009 merger, only three are based on blackjack:
- Royal Crown Blackjack
- Live Blackjack
Despite offering different visual layouts and branding, each of these games follows the same basic rules and structure.
The classic Blackjack title is simply ordinary twenty one played according to the less player friendly American style rules.
And although the name Royal Crown Blackjack would suggest the use of the more liberal European rule set, this is simply a rebranded version of the first game. The felt goes from green to blue, a few graphics are updated - but from a gameplay perspective, these two titles are identical.
Finally, the Live Blackjack game is simply Novomatic Interactive (Greentube)'s take on the Live Dealer online casino concept.
Live Dealer games remove the artificiality of video game like graphics and animations, connecting players directly to a living, breathing dealer instead. High definition cameras and dedicated live streaming ensures that players can watch every card hit the felt in real time, and well trained dealers run the game with a smile. Even better, Live Dealer games allow you to communicate with the dealer and fellow players, turning the often solitary experience of online gambling into a more social affair.
We'll dive into the nuts and bolts of this Live Blackjack offering later in the page, but once again, Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) has opted to follow standard rules.
Graphics and Animations
With three uniquely branded titles on tap, we'll cover the unique graphics and animations found in each separately.
This game is designed just like you'd expect any online blackjack table to look, complete with striking green felt, rectangular outlines where your cards sit, a multicolored chip trey on the dealer's side, and even a shoe graphic which dispenses the cards.
Those cards aren't the best we've seen, however, and they may actually be some of the worst.
Playing cards are differentiated in two ways: ordinal number (2, 3 10, etc.) and "pips." A pip is simply the little image depicting the card's rank and suit, so think a pair of hearts on the 2h, nine spades on the 9s, and so on.
With so many cards flashing across the felt in short succession, players use these pips to quickly scan the table and determine their current total - and even "count" cards. Sufficed to say, pips and playing cards go together like peanut butter and jelly: you really can't have one without the other.
For some reason though, the Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) design team opted to scale back their playing card graphics. Instead of the iconic pip alignment all card players know by heart, the company simply added one pip to each corner of the card. And while that may work for the 4c, 4d, 4h, and 4s - it doesn't work at all for the deck's other 36 cards.
Just imagine looking down to see the 6c, but instead of the usual 3 + 3 pip alignment, you see four club symbols instead. This can be downright confusing, and for all intents and purposes, every non face card (J, Q, K) in the deck seems to look like a 4 at first glance.
We're not sure why Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) skimped on their playing card images, but this oversight is inherent to all of their table games.
Other than that though, the basic Blackjack game produced by the company includes brightly colored graphics, and a nice ambience reminiscent of an actual gaming table. Small touches like the key house rules emblazoned on the felt, and a cool black spade logo, help to overcome the unfortunate pip shortcoming.
In terms of animations, we feel the speed could be dialed back just a tad.
When you're playing several spots at once, your cards seem to be dealt out all at once, rather than one by one. We're sure their still randomized properly and all that, but it's still jarring to click the "Deal" button and see six cards land face up seemingly before one second has elapsed.
Part of blackjack's fundamental appeal is the game's ability to create suspense and drama. Seeing an ace hit your side of the felt causes the heart to skip a beat, as you know the sight of any 10 value hitting that spot next produces an instant 3 to 2 blackjack payout.
But with the Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) animation scripts, that first ace is followed immediately by the next card, without even the briefest of moments to sweat the action.
Hopefully, the fully functional version of the game available to international players offers some sort of speed control, but we wouldn't hold our breath.
First things first: this blackjack game includes the same basic table layout and pip reduced card faces, so we'll skip over what you already know.
In terms of differences from the base game, Royal Crown Blackjack is defined by its garishly bright blue felt. We're big fans of creative adjustments, and a few oddly colored felts have caught our eye over the years - Bovada's red felt was always a favorite - but this design doesn't pass muster.
The blue is just distracting for whatever reason, and it seems to subdue the black and red shades of the playing cards, leaving a grey muddle instead. That might just be the failing eyes of an older man, but we suspect other players will levy similar complaints after putting in a long session on the blue tinted tables.
Aside from that, the visual divergences are made seemingly at random.
Those rectangular card spaces are removed in favor of a generic white circle.
The printing which displays key House Rules is also swapped out, going from a nice serif font to a blocky, generic all caps text.
Overall, the Royal Crown version of Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) blackjack feels like a pale knockoff of the original.
It's not really fair to describe the graphics and animations of this game, because those have been ditched almost entirely for the real deal.
Live Dealer online casino games broadcast footage from a specialized studio directly to your screen, so instead of pixels and images, you see a smiling woman standing behind an actual blackjack table.
She has a real shoe to her left, from which oversized playing cards are slipped out and laid on the felt - which is colored blood red in this case.
These elements are all real on the physical level, and along with high definition cameras, you'll be seeing everything in crystal clear color and high fidelity.
The only "old school" graphics and animations you'll find on Live Blackjack concern your side of the table. You'll see an array of chips laid out and stacked neatly along your rail, with basic controls (Hit, Stand, Double, Split) alongside. By using your mouse cursor just like any other online casino game, you can point and click to move your chips around, and to act on your hand.
On the whole, the Live Blackjack version presents the most polished look at what the Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) design team can do. That's a function of the top notch camera technology, true, but even the chip graphics and controls seem more well-crafted than the standard online offerings.
Unfortunately, due to the company's strict ban on American players, we were unable to fire up an actual game table to try the gameplay interface out for ourselves.
Based on a few YouTube clips, however, the functionality appears to be passable but quite basic.
You'll use your mouse to click on betting chips and slide them over to the wagering area. Clicking on the "Deal" button causes the game to get underway, at which point the standard player action controls appear:
You can use these controls to act on your current hand, which will be identified by the spinning chip underneath the cards. Once you've completed that hand, the next hand will start its chip spinning, and so on down the line.
The actual control graphics aren't anything special, just basic boxes with corresponding labels. Many software providers have a little fun with their player action controls, featuring an upturned human hand to signify Stand (like the motion you'd make toward the dealer at a live table), or a "2x" graphic for the Double.
We're sorry we can't say more, but if we had to guess based on what we do know, Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) likely went with a barebones interface and control scheme that matches their lackluster visuals.
Like we said before, this company specializes in virtual slot design, so its Table Games menu seems to be just an afterthought.
Rules and Gameplay Conditions
Even though the company has three blackjack titles under its umbrella, Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) has opted to utilize a single set of House Rules.
This is actually refreshing in a way, because most online casino software developers like to lend their libraries the illusion of diversity by spreading several slightly different rule setups.
Adjusting the number of "re splits" allowed, or moving the dealer from hit to stand on soft 17s, these minor tweaks to the standard rules are usually enough for many providers to label them an entirely new game. This is why you'll see regional titles like Las Vegas Strip Blackjack, Downtown Vegas Blackjack, Atlantic City Blackjack, and so on appear on competing software suites.
And while we can appreciate the focus on offering different versions of blackjack based on local interpretations of the rules, this trend can make for an inordinately crowded online blackjack market. Just think, some software providers literally host dozens upon dozens of blackjack variants, offshoots, and hybrids. Diversity is always a good thing, don't get us wrong there, but we suspect many companies are trying to "goose" their numbers with these subtle modifications to the rules.
It'd be just as easy to offer a single blackjack game built with configurable rules. That way, players could tinker with the provisions as they see fit, without cluttering a Table Games menu with seven different takes on the same basic concept.
Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) doesn't resort to those quasi deceptive tactics, and instead, the company installed a standardized set of House Rules to govern each of its blackjack titles.
You can review those rules dictating player and dealer action, payouts, and deck construction below:
- Dealer must stand and draw no further cards when holding a soft 17 total
- Dealer must "peek" at hole card and check for blackjack whenever their up card is an ace or 10 value card (10, J, Q, K)
- Dealer blackjack ends the hand immediately
- Players have no Surrender option available
- Players can only double down on the first two cards of a hand
- Players can double down on any two cards
- Players can double down after splitting
- Players can only split an exact pair
- Players can split two aces, but subsequent hands receive only one card each
- After splitting two aces, any blackjacks made on the next card are deemed to be regular 21s, and thus will lose to dealer blackjack and push to dealer 21
- After splitting, and receiving another paired hand, no additional "re splits" are permitted
- Players are offered "Insurance" whenever dealer's up card is an ace
- Insurance costs one half of the current bet for each live hand
- When dealer turns over blackjack on an Insurance hand, player's side bet is paid out at 2 to 1
- All blackjacks are paid out at 3 to 2
- The game uses a four deck shoe
- That shoe shall be re shuffled after each hand and each round
As the company's marketing literature states several times, these particular rules align with the American style of play. In other words, they aren't the most liberal you'll find, what with restrictions on re splits, the lack of a surrender option, and so on.
Even so, the American rule system is widely used around the world, and for good reason. Rather than sacrifice their precious equity by offering player friendly rules, casino operators can keep things close to the vest while still providing players with a fair game in terms of house edge.
House Edge Rate
Using the specific set of rules outlined above, the Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) blackjack games run a house edge rate of 0.40 percent.
That's fairly standard within the industry, as are the chosen House Rules, so we have no surprises here.
In fact, the average house edge encountered by players who are adept at basic strategy stands at 0.50 percent - so Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) tables are actually a better bet over the long run.
And just in case you're familiar with the metric known as expected return, rather than the house edge, let's run through a quick tutorial on the two terms.
Casino gamblers evaluate every game, and even every wager, by comparing their overall probability of winning. Or, put more accurately, their overall probability of not losing.
As you well know, every casino game is set up in such a way as to guarantee the house a healthy edge over players. You may win a spin on the roulette wheel here and there, but betting over the course of 100 straight spins is a sure path to breaking your bankroll. That's because the house edge on roulette stands at 2.70 percent (for European single zero wheels) and 5.26 percent (on American double zero wheels).
Think about house edge like this: if you had an infinite bankroll, and bet $100 over and over again in perpetuity, the house edge reflects the amount of each bet you'd lose.
Thus, blackjack players who know the game can get away with dropping just $0.50 per $100 wagered, while roulette fans in America will part ways with a whopping $5.26 instead.
That's more than 10 times the loss rate, which is why savvy gamblers compare the house edge closely before ever placing a bet.
An alternative way to measure a casino game's viability is known as expected return, and this one simply flips the script. Rather than measure the house's chance to win, expected return gauges how the player can expect to perform.
In the case of Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) blackjack games, that expected return rate stands at 99.60 percent. Notice anything about that number?
Yep, it's the house edge figure subtracted from 100. So if you prefer to use expected return, just take 100 and subtract the listed house edge to arrive at the right number.
One aspect of blackjack house edge analysis to keep in mind concerns deck construction, so take a look at the table below:
|# OF DECKS||HOUSE EDGE|
|4 decks||0.40 percent|
|5 decks||0.44 percent|
|6 decks||0.46 percent|
|8 decks||0.49 percent|
As you can see, adding decks to the shoe is a surefire way for the house to increase its own edge over players. If casinos could get away with it, we're positive they'd spread blackjack with a 100 deck shoe.
In our case, the material posted on the Greentube website stated that four decks are used. That's why we listed the house edge at 0.40 percent, but conflicting reports out there show these games can be configured to include more decks.
That's up to individual online casino operators, and while most will simply stick to the baseline four deck shoe provided by Novomatic Interactive (Greentube), a few bad apples will inevitably try to increase their edge by adding decks.
Always be sure to examine the posted House Rules, or additional "Help" files when you can find them, to find out how many decks are being used at your table. That increase of 0.09 percent house edge from four decks to eight may not seem like a big deal, but sharp blackjack players make their living by exploiting smaller shifts in equity.
Simply put, you should always be on your guard when it comes to deck construction. When you locate a nice four deck shoe out there, bookmark the site and become a regular, because shopping around could cost you valuable percentage points on your overall expected return.
Blackjack Variants and Hybrids
At this time, Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) doesn't offer any hybrids on the basic blackjack model.
When we say hybrids, we don't mean something like Live Blackjack, as this is still the same game at its core. We're talking about creative additions to the blackjack landscape like Double Exposure, Match Play 21, Pontoon, and the like. These games take the foundation of blackjack and add new twists and turns to create something entirely new.
As a result, the gameplay can be much more lively and entertaining than the conventional format. On the other hand, while the advertised rule changes always work for the player, designers include a few "poison pills" - such as the infamous "Push 22" rule, which rewards the dealer with a push rather than a loss when they bust on exactly 22 - to return the house's edge.
For that reason, as the company continues to grow and expand its foothold within the online casino industry, we'd expect Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) to begin designing blackjack hybrids of its own. Whether it's a public domain concept like Double Exposure, which turns both dealer cards face up, or something imagined from whole cloth, expanding to include higher house edge games is always in a software developer's interests.
One of the points of pride trumpeted by Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) since the 2009 acquisition has been the company's full-fledged focus on mobile gaming.
In fact, when you visit the Greentube website and search for these trio of blackjack titles, the marketing material pulled up depicts the games being played on an iPhone instead of a laptop.
Whether you use the iOS, Android, or Windows Phone operating system, the company's use of modern HTML 5 software ensures that all Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) games are fully functional. The HTML 5 technology also enables players to ditch the data hogging app downloads, as your favorite online casino can be pulled up right in an ordinary web browser.
From tablets and smartphones, and everything in between, the mobile devices that fuel your on the go lifestyle are fully compatible with Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) online blackjack.
Overall, the three blackjack games created by Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) are exactly what they need to be: standard versions of the classic casino card game, no more and no less.
Of course, we'd be happier to report that players actually have three separate games to enjoy. The Royal Crown Blackjack branding seems to suggest the perfect entry point as an alternative using liberal European rules, and we're still vexed as to how that title was paired with American rules.
In any case, the presence of a Live Dealer option manages to make up for this lack of diversity. With many of the smaller software providers still shying away from Live Dealer production, Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) is embracing the future today. That's an encouraging sign, and one which signals, to us anyway, that an expanded blackjack portfolio will be coming sooner rather than later.
For now, however, the standard and Live Dealer blackjack games developed by Novomatic Interactive (Greentube) are both admirable efforts.