The simplicity of blackjack makes it one of the most consistently popular online casino games, with its easy-to-understand game play transitioning beautifully from real-world gaming halls to your home computer screen.
Of course, we're all aware of the benefits of playing online blackjack - you don't need to put in the effort of getting all dolled up and trudging down to your local casino, then potentially being forced to wait to have a flutter on your favourite table game.
However, the fact that you can play from the comfort of your own home is arguably also the biggest negative of online blackjack, or any online casino game for that matter. Rather than the excitement of building your hand as you face off against a dealer intent on beating you, you're left staring at a monitor. It doesn't matter how realistic the game's graphics look, it's just not quite the same.
Fortunately, Betfair has a solution to this problem that allows you to combine all the best bit of real-world and online gaming, in the form of Live Blackjack.
The rules of Live Blackjack are exactly the same as you'd expect. You're dealt two cards and are able to draw more as the game progresses, with the final goal of bringing the value of your hand to 21, or at least as close as possible. Exceed 21 and you'll go bust.
As the player, you're pitted against the dealer, who has to take 'hits' (draw more cards) until his hand value reaches 17 or more. Players who don't go bust and have a higher value than the dealer will win.
Where Live Blackjack differs is with the addition of a real dealer, replicating a proper casino experience and giving the game a more natural, fun, satisfying and - at times - tense feel. For some reason, seeing a live dealer drawing the cards makes everything seem far more realistic and will really have you on the edge of your seat.
You don't need to download any fancy software to enjoy Live Blackjack. With a click of the mouse, you'll be presented with a pop-up box displaying your live dealer, who gives instructions on when to place your bets. Explanations of the maximum and minimum stakes can be found at the bottom of the screen.
If you've played your fair share of online blackjack, it won't take you long to notice that the gameplay is a little slower in the live version of the game. Far from detracting from the enjoyment, this actually adds to the game, building the tension and giving you the opportunity to chat with some of the other players, just as you would at a real casino.
Choosing Live Blackjack over other online forms of the game may also affect the way you play. For instance, you'll have plenty of opportunity to study the tactics of other people at your table - and if you don't like what you see, it's simple for you to switch to a different table. You can even choose to observe for a few rounds before you start.