Ready to turn your tablet, laptop or smartphone into a virtual paddle? Over the summer, eBay partnered up with luxury auctioneer Sotheby’s to announce that it would bring back live auction events for users and new audiences to bid on and purchase anything from oil paintings to etchings to fine jewelry and other antiques and collectibles.

If you’re one of the 149 million active eBay buyers, you’re now eligible to participate in these real-time auction events — sound like fun? The first event takes place this Thursday, October 9th and is hosted by New York-based Swann Auction Galleries with over 150 lots (that’s auction-speak for “items”) of African American fine art. Events are organized around a theme or category, like 20th-century modern furniture, maps and manuscripts or fine photographs.

There are a couple of differences between participating in live auction events and placing a bid for a week-long item. To start, visit the Live Auctions Events page to browse upcoming auctions and pencil them into your iCal after you’ve registered to participate. (To place a bid on any of the auction items, you must sign up for the individual event.) You’ll then be approved to bid on an item in a live auction by both eBay and the auction house holding the event and be given a bid limit amount. You place bids based on the bid increment set by the auction house, which will be routed through an electronic console in the room where the live auction takes place. There, a worker will hold up a bidding paddle on your behalf and other users will see the price rise on their screen as bidders compete in the room and online.

The winning bidder pays a buyer’s premium to the auction house, but eBay takes the guesswork out of figuring all that out. When you place a bid on a lot, you see both your bid amount plus the buyer’s premium amount. You’ll also be responsible for shipping costs. While this all adds up, eBay Live Auction Events spare users the added expense (and stress) of traveling to auction houses and bidding on items in person.

And while you don’t get to hear the auctioneer chanting to up the ante, there will be an eBay rep raising an auction paddle on your behalf IRL. (How cool is that?!) You’ll be able to watch each bid in real time and flip through the catalog to view upcoming and sold items. Not available to attend and bid during the live event? You can still register and place absentee bids (placed before the event begins) for the items you’re eyeing. Let’s start the bidding at… OMG, this is really cool.

Are you ready to get your bid on? Let us know in the comments if you’ll sign up for an eBay Live Auction Event!