Visionary iGaming Blackjack
In 2008, Martin Reiner left his executive position at VueTec Ltd. to open his own company. The result is Visionary iGaming (ViG), which was one of the first companies into the live dealer casino space.
Visionary has since become a leading business-to-business (B2B) provider of live gaming solutions. They now offer products to both online and land based casino operators in Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Upon first glance, Visionary seems extremely focused on their B2B operation, while offering a limited number of games.
This doesn't immediately give us faith in their live blackjack. But is there more than meets the eye with ViG blackjack?
Find out as we cover the general aspects of their blackjack games and discuss each one individually. We'll also cover more on the company's history, their services, and what other games they offer.
General Aspects of Visionary iGaming Blackjack
Considering that Visionary iGaming has been open since 2008, we're surprised to see that they only offer two blackjack variations. After all, some of the older providers have 3-5 variants.
Visionary's games include standard live blackjack and Blackjack Early Payout.
The latter is unique because it offers you an early payout that's higher or lower than your current bet. If you opt to take the pay out, you receive an automatic pay off and give up your hand.
ViG's games are run out of their studio in Costa Rica, which is designed specifically for live gaming.
The studio features authentic casino carpeting and gaming tables, making it feel like the action is taking place inside of a brick-and-mortar casino. This feeling is perpetuated when considering the background noise, which sounds like a bustling casino.
The blue table blends well with the black, grey, and white carpet to create an original look.
We wouldn't say that the casino atmosphere matches the elite providers like Evolution Gaming and Microgaming. But it's better than the majority of live dealer gaming operations.
The dealers from ViG are entertaining and lively. The ones we played with were sociable at the table and had an upbeat attitude.
You can also look forward to playing with both English and Spanish-speaking dealers. Given that the dealers all seem to be Costa Rica natives, their Spanish is fluent while their English comes with an accent.
The most-disappointing aspect of ViG blackjack is the stream quality, which is grainy and makes the games feel dated.
While the dealers and atmosphere keep things fun, the video definition keeps ViG from being a top-tier provider. Furthermore, it feels like you're sitting in a small, nondescript Costa Rican casino.
They used to only feature a small live dealer screen, surrounded by virtual cards, chips, and a table. But if you choose the Blackjack HD version, you'll get a larger screen and view of the dealer.
Keep in mind that ViG still features plenty of their old-style tables too, where a small screen is surrounded by a virtual table and options.
This look was common among live casinos in the early 2010s, given that live dealer gaming was a relatively new concept back then. But most casinos these days favor an authentic experience over oversized betting options and virtual cards.
The table layout differs based on what type of blackjack experience you choose, which you can see below:
- Blackjack HD
The dealer, table, and studio take up the majority of the screen, while your bets and cards appear really small. Chip denominations and betting options are featured in a thin bar at the bottom of the screen, and your balance and bet size are displayed in a thin top bar.
- Other Blackjack Tables
The dealer and studio atmosphere are featured in a small screen in the top center. To the left of the screen, you'll see wins on the last 10 hands, while the right side shows the chat box. The bottom half of the screen is dedicated to oversized betting spaces, chips, and a virtual felt.
Based purely on looks, we prefer the HD version because it feels more like a land-based casino experience.
Here are the basic steps to playing ViG's live dealer blackjack:
- You start by looking for an available seat at one of the live dealer tables. If you can't find an open seat, you can also use the Bet Behind feature, which we'll cover later.
- When you find an open seat, you have a limited amount of time to place a bet. Chip denominations are in the lower right-hand corner, and you can bet up to the table max.
- In the HD version, you'll see a timer that counts down how long you have to wager. In the basic version, you'll see a light that turns green, yellow, and red as you move closer to the end of the timer. In either case, you have 15 seconds to place your bet.
- Also note that you can place a Pairs and / or Rummy (a.k.a. 21+3) side bet in the corresponding space(s) where you have a regular wager. The Pairs betting space is designated by two cards in a circle on the left, and the Rummy space is designated by three cards in a circle on the right.
- Once the timer reaches its limit, the dealer will announce that no more bets can be taken.
- The dealer will deal one face-up card to each player, including him / herself. They'll then deal each player a second up card, and the dealer gets a face-down card.
- If the dealer's up card is a 10, jack, queen, king, or ace, they'll peek for a blackjack. If they have a natural blackjack and you don't, then your bet is automatically lost. Assuming you both have a blackjack, the bet is a push. If you have a natural blackjack (21 on first two cards) and the dealer doesn't, you automatically win a 2:1 payout.
- You now have the following options: hit, stand, double down, and split (w / pair). The dealer points to every hand to check each player's action(s), just like in regular land-based games. You have up to 10 seconds to make each decision.
- Once you've completed your actions and wins / losses have been determined, the dealer will clear cards off the table and virtual chips will disappear too.
- After the round is over, you'll have another 15 seconds to place your bet before the next round begins.
The chat box is in the upper left-hand corner in both table layouts. Here you can type messages to both the dealer and fellow players.
Depending upon how busy and sociable the dealer is, they may respond to your comments / questions.
As mentioned before, you have 15 seconds before each round to place your bets. You have up to 10 seconds after receiving your initial two cards to decide if you want to hit, double down, and split hands.
When betting, you choose one or more of the available chip denominations in the lower right-hand corner.
Every table features a virtual slot on the felt where you can put dealer tips. The dealers clap together sometimes when you or another player tip them.
Visionary Gaming software is available on all platforms, including PC, Mac, and mobile devices.
We read that ViG wasn't compatible with mobile devices in the past. But this has changed because their products are not compatible with mobile devices, and they're designed in HTML5 for optimal smartphone / tablet play.
One fun thing about Visionary iGaming blackjack is that they create a fun atmosphere with popular music blaring in the back. The music isn't on all of the time, but it plays often enough.
Note that ViG doesn't operate their live dealer casino 24 / 7.
We're unable to find the exact hours of operation. But we played at Fairway Casino in the evening, then returned later to find that ViG's live casino had gone offline.
RTP for both of Visionary iGaming's blackjack games is 99.31%, or a 0.69% house edge.
This is standard when compared to other live dealer blackjack games across the industry. But it's low when compared to virtual online blackjack, which often has an RTP between 9.50% and 99.80%.
Of course, it's understandable why live dealer games have a lower house edge because they hire dealers and must cover the production costs.
Visionary iGaming Blackjack Games
- Natural blackjack (21 on first two cards) pays 3:2.
- Dealer hits on a soft 17.
- Insurance pays 2:1.
- 6 decks.
- Double down on any two cards.
- Double down after splitting.
- No re-splitting.
- No hitting split aces.
- Dealer peeks for blackjack with ace or 10 up card.
- No surrender.
This game and Blackjack Early Payout are the first live dealer variants we've seen where the dealer hits a soft 17. This rule increases the house edge by 0.2%, which makes it feel like ViG blackjack is unfair.
But there are other rules that help you out, including 6 decks (instead of 8), doubling down on any two cards, and doubling down after splitting.
Most live dealer gaming providers don't allow you to both double down on any two cards, and double down after splitting. These two player-friendly rules keep ViG's blackjack games competitive in terms of house edge.
As mentioned earlier, you can make side bets in ViG blackjack, including Pairs and Rummy.
Pairs is a wager based on your ability to be dealt a pair on your first two cads.
If you're dealt any pair, then you receive an 11:1 payout on your side bet. If you're dealt anything other than a pair, the bet is a loss.
The idea of wagering on getting a pair seems like a harmless bet, especially when considering the 11:1 payout. But the house edge is 11.25%, making this a wager to avoid.
Often called 21+3, rummy is a wager on the three-card hand created by your first two cards and the dealer's up card. If you win this bet, you earn a 9:1 payout on your wager.
Here are the three ways you can win:
- 3-card straight (e.g. 5 6 7)
- 3 cards of the same value (e.g. 8d 8h 8s)
- 3 cards of the same suit - a.k.a. flush (3d 5d 10d)
The house edge on rummy is 3.24%, making it a much friendlier wager than the pairs bet.
99.31% for the main game.
The playing process for this game works exactly as described in the General Aspects section.
The main rules to consider with regard to this game's strategy is how there are multiple decks; the dealer hits on a soft 17; and there are no double down restrictions.
Here's a look at blackjack strategy that meets these conditions:
- Your total is 5 to 8: always hit.
- Your total is 9: double down when dealer's up card is 3 to 6. Hit when their card is 2 and 7 to A.
- Your total is 10: double down when dealer's up card is 2 to 9. Hit when their card is 10 to A.
- Your total is 11: double down when dealer's up card is 2 to 10. Hit when their card is A.
- Your total is 12: hit when dealer's up card is 2 to 3 and 7 to A. Stand when dealer's card is 4 to 6.
- Your total is 13 to 16: hit when dealer's up card is 2 and 7 to A. Stand when their card is 3 to 6.
- Your total is 17+: always stand.
- Your cards are A2 to A3: hit when dealer's up card is 2 to 4 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 5 to 6.
- Your cards are A4 to A5: hit when dealer's up card is 2 to 3 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 4 to 6.
- Your cards are A6: hit when dealer's up card is 2 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 3 to 6.
- Your cards are A7: double down when their card is 2 to 6. Stand when dealer's up card is 7 to 8. Hit when their card is 9 to A.
- Your cards are A8+: stand when dealer's up card is 2 to 5 and 7 to A. Double down when their card is 6.
- Your cards are A9+: always stand.
- You have a pair of 2's or 3's: split when dealer's up card is 2 to 7. Hit when their card is 8 to A.
- You have a pair of 4's: split when the dealer's up card is 5 to 6. Hit when their card is 2 to 4 and 7 to A.
- You have a pair of 5's: double down when dealer's up card is 2 to 9. Hit when their card is 10 to A.
- You have a pair of 6's: split when the dealer's up card is 2 to 6. Hit when their card is 7 to A.
- You have a pair of 7's: split when the dealer's up card is 2 to 7. Hit when their card is 8 to A.
- You have a pair of 8's: always split.
- You have a pair of 9's: split when the dealer's up card is 2 to 6; 8 to 9; and A. Stand when their card is 7 and 10.
- You have a pair of 10's: always stand.
- You have a pair of aces: always split.
Blackjack Early Payout's rules are the same as in the standard live blackjack version that we covered above. The only difference is the early payout option, which we'll cover in the How to Play section.
The same Pairs and Rummy side bets are available in Blackjack Early Payout.
99.31% for the main game.
Visionary iGaming doesn't list RTP for the early payout option.
But casino actuary Michael Shackleford (a.k.a. Wizard of Odds) studied the early payout offers and estimates that the return is around 98%.
Given that this game offers 99.31% RTP when you use regular strategy, you're better off not taking early payouts.
The playing process is largely the same as what's covered in the General Aspects section. But the key difference is that you can accept an early payout and end the hand with a guaranteed payoff.
Here's a look at how this works:
- You're dealt J-5 and the dealer's up card is 7.
- When it's your turn to bet, you'll see a small green box in the low right-hand corner with a number in it.
- This number represents the amount of money the casino is offering you to quit the round and surrender your hand.
- If you click the green box, you'll automatically receive the total, and you'll wait until other players in the round are finished.
- If you don't like the amount being offered, continue playing as normal.
- Every additional card that you receive in your hand causes the early payout amount to change.
Here's an example of the last point:
- You bet $10, and you're offered an early payout of $6.20 for your J-5 hand versus the dealer's 7.
- You hit for another card and receive a 4.
- With your total now at 19, the casino offers you a $15.80 payout.
The latter is definitely a more-attractive offer than the $6.20 you were being offered in the beginning. But as we'll cover in the strategy section, these payouts don't offer a better long-tern return than when you play the hands as normal.
The main strategy for Blackjack Early Payout is the same as what's discussed in live blackjack.
As for the early payout feature, this is a random amount offered by the software that's relatively close to the expected value of your hand / situation. Here's an example:
- You bet $10.
- You're dealt 10-K, and the dealer's up card is 10.
- You're offered an early payout of $15.
- You'll make a guaranteed $5 profit by taking the early payout, and avoid the possibility of pushing or losing if the dealer draws 10 or ace, respectively.
This sounds like a sweet deal, but the problem is that your chances of winning this hand are greater than the 1.5-to-1 payoff (50% profit) that you're being offered.
Let's break this down by looking at the odds of you winning, vs. pushing or losing with in this situation.
To simplify this example, we'll assume that no other players are at the table. Also note that ViG uses a 6-deck shoe for all of their games:
- Each deck contains 32 cards (2 to 9 all four suits) that won't give the dealer a better score than you, or 192 cards in total (6 decks x 32 cards).
- Each deck contains 16 cards (10 to K all four suits) that will cause a push, or 96 cards in total. Given that three of these cards are already on the table, there are 93 cards with a 10 value left.
- There are 24 aces left in the shoe that will cause you to lose. Adding the 93 cards, there are 117 cards that will cause a push or loss for you, versus 192 cards that won't.
- Doing the math (117 / 309), the dealer only has a 37.86% chance of pushing or beating you with their hole card.
Of course, the dealer must draw to a hard 17 before the hand is over. But even when they draw again after getting a 2 to 6, you still hold a large advantage in this situation.
This isn't to say that the software won't ever offer you a good deal. But you'll see far more situations like the one described above than you will offers that are worth taking.
This being said, we recommend that you stay clear of the early payout option.
Live Blackjack Tournaments
In addition to the regular blackjack games offered by ViG, they also feature live tournaments as part of promotions.
The tournament promo that we see at the time of this writing is called the Live Dealer Cup Tournament, and it features more than just blackjack.
€24,400 is being given out across a four-month span, which each month being dedicated to a single live casino game. And the top 25 finishers of each month earn a share of the prize pool, with €2,500 going to first place.
The live blackjack portion is running throughout the month of April, and players are encouraged to check out the leaderboard to see where they stand in relation to the prize pool.
Every dollar / euro / pound wagered earns players a leaderboard point, with the top 25 positions receiving prizes at the end of the month.
As you can see, these aren't blackjack tournaments in a traditional sense. But it's still exciting that Visionary iGaming participates in these leaderboard-style tourneys
Where is Visionary iGaming Blackjack Found?
ViG blackjack is found at a large variety of online casinos that operate in both regulated and unregulated markets. Here's a list of some of the casinos where you'll find their blackjack games:
- 7Reels Casino
- 7Spins Casino
- 21Dukes Casino
- Casino Estella
- Celtic Casino
- Fairway Casino
- Kings Chance
- Lucky31 Casino
- Paris VIP Casino
- Thebes Casino
- Winward Casino
None of these casinos are among the gaming industry giants. But as you can see, ViG is offered at enough online casinos that it's not hard to find their products.
Visionary iGaming History
As discussed in the introduction, Visionary iGaming was founded by Martin Reiner.
The MIT graduate and former banking / exchange executive worked as CEO of VueTec and positioned them to be a leader in the live gaming market.
But Reiner and the board of directors agreed to part ways in 2007 because of philosophical differences about the direction of VueTec.
He took two other members of VueTec's management team with him, including Ryan St. James (Head of Business Development) and Janice Ader (V.P of Online Casino Operations).
Upon launching Visionary iGaming in 2008, Reiner also introduced his patented Blackjack Early Payout game. Blackjack Early Payout is a unique game that sees players offered a guaranteed payout to surrender their hand.
Reiner has previously been quoted as saying that he believes the days of players getting excited over 3D graphics and random number generator (RNG) games are gone.
While we know this isn't true today based on the popularity of 3D slots, Reiner was correct in that live casino games are a growing segment of the marketplace.
Today, Visionary iGaming services 40 operators, employs over 100 people, deals to over 25,000 real money players each month, and sees over €1.2 billion wagered on their tables each year.
Visionary iGaming Services
ViG is a B2B operation that provides a full range of casino services, including a live integrated casino, live turnkey casino, and live promotions. Below you can read more on each of these services.
This option is for casino customers who want to integrate Visionary iGaming's live dealer products into their own infrastructure.
This means that an established brand like William Hill or Bovada Casino can just license ViG games, given that they don't need anything else from the company. Here are the finer points of what come with ViG's integrated casino:
- One Wallet Integration
Players bet with ViG's games, but their balance is maintained on the host casino's platform.
- Funds Transfer Integration
Players can specify the amount of money they want to transfer from the casino's platform to ViG. Once a player closes their live dealer session, the funds return back to the casino platform.
- Live Casino Back Office
This service offers comprehensive reporting and details on all transactions.
- RNG Casino Games
Although Visionary doesn't make their own RNG games, they offer such products from Betsoft Gaming and Pragmatic Play.
- Customer Support
ViG offers customer support upon request.
Those who want to launch an online casino, but don't have the software yet, can use Visionary's turnkey operation. This allows operators to quickly get started with live dealer gaming, RNG games, customer service, licensing, and VIP management tools.
- Content Management System (CSM)
This allows users to create, customize, and market their live online casino in real-time.
- RNG Casino Games
The same 200+ RNG games from Betsoft and Pragmatic Play, including 3D slots, table games, and video poker.
- Payment Processing and Cashier
ViG supports major payment methods like bank wire, Neteller, Skrill, Visa, and MasterCard.
- Affiliate Marketing
ViG's software is integrated into leading affiliate management systems.
- Live Casino Back Office
Same options as the integrated casino.
- Customer Support
ViG's customer service is multilingual and available 24 / 7, 365 days a year.
Earlier we covered how Visionary iGaming runs live tournaments / leaderboard races. But they also feature several other promotional services, which you can read about below.
Upon request, Visionary will work with casino operators to offer progressive jackpots on any game. ViG claims that they're the only live gaming company that does this.
- Private Events
Any casino that wants to hold a live raffle or have tournament winners announced at the tables can coordinate this with ViG.
- News Ticker
Visionary's news ticket scrolls across the bottom of the screen and allows casinos to advertise promotions.
- Custom Marketing Materials
Casinos can request custom images or videos of ViG's dealers promoting their product. Visionary will even conduct a dedicated photoshoot or commercial if desired.
Other Visionary iGaming Games
Earlier we discussed how Visionary iGaming doesn't offer a lot of variety in its game selection. Beyond live blackjack and Blackjack Early Payout, the only other games they offer are baccarat and two roulette variations.
But the good thing about baccarat is that it offers interesting side bets. Keep reading to find out more on these side bets and the games.
The American roulette screen is set up like many of the blackjack tables, and you'll see the following:
- Live action taking place in a small screen in the top center.
- Chat box in the upper left-hand corner.
- Previous wins in the upper right-hand corner.
- Roulette board taking up most of the bottom half.
- Betting options and chip denominations in a thin bar at the bottom.
Each round begins with you placing your virtual chips on the roulette board. You have 15 seconds before the dealer announces no more bets and sends the ball spinning.
After the dealer spins the ball in the wheel, his / her screen will shrink, and you'll see an expanded view of the wheel.
This is a necessary part of live dealer roulette because it allows you to better see the results. Our only complaint is that the live dealer screen is so small to begin with that it's barely visible next to the wheel close-up.
The baccarat games offer a larger live casino screen than American & European roulette.
The live casino screen takes up two-thirds of the screen, which does a good job at creating a land-based casino atmosphere. Meanwhile, the betting spaces are compacted so that they take up as little of the screen as possible.
Of course, you can still expect the basics like a chat box, betting options, and chip denominations in different areas of the screen.
The best part about ViG baccarat is that different variations and side bets are offered, including the following:
- Live Super 6
Also known as no commission baccarat, this game only pays 50% on banker bets that win on 6.
- Super 6 Side Bet
This is a wager on if the banker will win with a score of 6. If they do win with a 6, then the bet pays 12:1.
- Dragon Bonus Bet
This is a side bet on if the winning hand is a natural (8 or 9), or if a hand wins by at least 4 points. You can wager on either the Banker Dragon or Player Dragon (no payout specified).
- Pairs Side Bet
The Pairs bet wins if the first two cards dealt to the player or banker are a pair (e.g. 9h 9d). You can wager on Player Pair or Banker Pair, which pay 11:1, or you can bet on Either Pair, which pays 5:1.
Overall, we find more good aspects to Visionary iGaming blackjack than bad.
For starters, this is the only company that provides Blackjack Early Payout. In essence, this works like the game show Deal or No Deal, where you're offered a payout to quit.
As covered in Blackjack Early Payout's strategy section, you're better off not taking the payouts. But the margin is slim enough (2% house edge) that you can occasionally take these deals for fun.
Another likeable aspect of ViG blackjack is the atmosphere and dealers.
The combination of the carpet / tables and friendly dealers make for a fun and entertaining atmosphere. It's also a plus that popular music plays in the background, which inspires some of the dealers to dance.
One more good point to this blackjack operation is the bilingual dealers, helping both Spanish and English players enjoy the action here.
The biggest downside - and it's a BIG one - is the low-quality stream. At a time when industry leaders like Evolution Gaming, Microgaming, and NetEnt are continually improving their streams, ViG is getting left in the dust.
Given all of the other things to like about this live dealer software, we hope that ViG improves their stream quality in the near future.
The other downside is that Visionary features a small variety of games, with only two different blackjack variations. Although two blackjack games are the norm, it doesn't do anything to separate ViG from the pack.
But even with these drawbacks, Visionary iGaming offers a good overall blackjack experience. Assuming you visit one of the previously covered casinos, then you'll want to check out ViG's live dealer blackjack action too.