Leo Santa Cruz vs Abner Mares 2 Odds, Preview and Pick

Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares renew their hostilities as the two Los Angeles based featherweights fight for Santa Cruz’s WBA ( super ) featherweight world title at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on June 9, 2018.

Battle Of Los Angeles
This will be the second time that Santa Cruz and Mares will share the squared circle as the two went toe to toe in the highly publicized “Battle of Los Angeles” in 2015. Santa Cruz emerged victorious in that closely fought 12 round war as the judges awarded him with a 117-111, 117-111 and 114-114 majority decision win.

Santa Cruz came off the gates fast but it was Mares who finished the fight strong. The back and forth action plus the fact that it was one of the most viewed boxing matches on ESPN made it easy to talk a rematch. But instead of booking it right away, the fighters took separate roads first.

Separate Roads
After Santa Cruz captured the WBA ( super ) featherweight title against Mares, he took a title defense against former IBF super bantamweight titlist Kiko Martinez. Santa Cruz knocked out Martinez in five rounds to keep his belt. In April 2016, Santa Cruz ventured to a showdown with Belfast star Carl Frampton who was moving up from the super bantamweight division. Frampton upset Santa Cruz and handed the Mexican the first defeat of his career via majority decision.

Six months later, Santa Cruz would get an immediate rematch. In an equally close contest, Santa Cruz turned the tables on Frampton and won by a similar majority decision. Following the win, Santa Cruz was ordered by the WBA to fight Mares who was declared as mandatory challenger and the WBA ( regular ) champion. Mares won that title by defeating Jesus Cuellar in December 2016.

Bragging Rights
But the negotiations for their rematch didn’t go as planned and both ended up fighting different opponents. However, to keep the interest of their rematch burning, they were booked to fight on the same fight card last October. Santa Cruz ended up fighting Chris Avalos, winning that bout via 8th round knockout. Mares meanwhile, fought Mexican champion Andres Gutierrez in October 2017 and won the fight via technical decision.

With their designated victims beaten and all negotiation obstacles finally settled, the runback was finally penciled for June 9th. Of course, there was no better place to host the rematch than the city which both of these featherweight calls home. The winner doesn’t just get the belt but also the bragging rights.

High Volume Puncher
The 29-year-old Santa Cruz owns a record of 34-1-1 with 19 knockouts. At 5-7 and with a reach of 69 inches, he holds a significant size advantage over Abner Mares who stands 5-4 and has a reach of 66 inches. In his loss to Carl Frampton, Santa Cruz didn’t have his father Jose Santa Cruz to train him. The elder Santa Cruz had recently been diagnosed with stage 3 multiple myeloma. With his father conquering cancer since Leo’s motivation has never been higher.

Santa Cruz is known as one of the sport’s most voluminous puncher. He throws tons of punches and keeps on coming forward. His work rate and accuracy are what makes him stand out from the field. He doesn’t have knockout power but it’s his speed, volume, and timing that give him stoppage wins.

LEO SANTA CRUZ VS ABNER MARES
12 RD WBA ( SUPER ) FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE
ODDS: SANTA CRUZ -400, MARES +300
( PER Bovada as of 6/5/18 11:22 am (EST) )
Pressure Fighter
Like Santa Cruz, Mares throws a lot of punches. The 32-year-old former Olympic boxer from Mexico has a professional record of 31-2-1 with 15 knockouts. Mares was Golden Boy’s top prospect when he was upset by Jhonny Gonzalez in 2013. He never got to avenge his loss to Gonzalez but he’ll get an opportunity to get his revenge on Santa Cruz on Saturday night.

Mares puts a lot of pressure on his opponents by staying busy with rapid-fire combinations. He loves to work the body and often gets too aggressive that he lands low and gets penalized. Compared to Santa Cruz, he has inferior punching power. But he makes up for that with his tireless work ethic and determination. He never gives up and he never stops punching.

Fight Of The Year?
Like the first bout, this one has all the recipe for a fight of the year candidate. Both fighters are offensively gifted and a chess match is the last thing you’d see in this fight. There was no dull moment in the first bout as both fighters willingly stood in front of each other and traded punches. With both fighters possessing granite chins, their first bout was an instant classic that had fans going crazy.

Not only was their first bout action-packed, it was a back and forth affair. As we said earlier, Santa Cruz had the better start but it was Mares who poured it on late in the bout. Unfortunately for Mares, Santa Cruz had built a big lead on points and his comeback came up short.

Pure Boxer
These are two equally special fighters who are both champions. But between the two, Leo Santa Cruz is the pure boxer who also has more punching power and the advantage in size. Abner Mares is tough and persistent as they come but unless he stops Leo Santa Cruz, he will need to fight the perfect bout to win.

Santa Cruz can choose to fight from the outside and with his three-inch advantage in height and reach, he can easily outpoint Mares and coast for the victory. But that’s not who Leo Santa Cruz is. He is going to pour it on from start to finish. And that could give Mares an opportunity.

Switzerland Moves Towards Blocking Foreign-Based Gambling Sites

Bet365 has long been one of my top picks for all of our non-USA readers. It’s one of the biggest gambling sites in the world and has a long, positive history behind it. When Bet365 added online bingo to its lineup, it was great news for bingo players around the world.

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Card Games in the Casino

The first thing that many casino players think of when they picture the inside of a casino are the slot machines, because slots tend to take up the most space. But there are also plenty of other options when it comes to casino games. As you continue reading below you will find a list of popular casino card games and descriptions of each.

The list below is extensive, but I can’t claim it to be 100% complete, as there are new games developed every day and there are obscure games that pop up now and then. But if you familiarize yourself with the card games on this page you won’t have any trouble finding a game to play at any casino.

Blackjack
Blackjack is by far the most popular casino card game. Almost everyone has either played blackjack or has seen it being played, but if you need a refresher here is a quick rundown on how to play.

Each player receives two cards and the dealer receives one card face down and one face up. Each player in turn then decides whether to stand pat, receive another card or cards (hit), split, double down or surrender (where available). Once all of the players have either busted (exceeded a total of 21) or stand the dealer flips their hole card over and completes his or her hand.

Dealers always hit when they have 16 or less and stand when they have 18 or more. Depending on the house rules, they always stand on hard 17’s but in some places they will hit on soft 17 and in others they will stand on soft 17.

This is just a basic overview, so if you want to play blackjack you should study the rules and table variations before investing a great deal of money. You can also play for free at most online casinos before playing for real money which is a great way to learn more about the game.

There are many different varieties of blackjack. A few of them are covered below, like Spanish 21, but you will find 21 game variations in just about every casino. They are almost always based on the same basic concept of getting a higher total than the dealer without going over 21 but will have different rule variations beyond that.

For example, there are blackjack games where both dealer cards are played face up and games where you are dealt two hands and the second cards on each hand can be switched. The most important thing to do is make sure you understand the rules and content of the deck before playing. The reason I mention the content of the deck is because some forms remove certain cards from the deck.

For an example of one of these games see the Spanish 21 information below.

3 Card Poker
3 Card Poker, also called Tri Card Poker, is a game where you play a three card poker hand against the dealer’s three card hand. The dealer has to qualify with a queen high or better in order to pay off on the raise bet. To start play you place a bet on the ante circle. You also may place an optional wager on the pair+ circle. After you receive your three cards you either fold, which surrenders your ante bet, or you raise by placing a bet the same size as your ante bet in the raise circle.

If you raise and the dealer does not qualify you receive even money on your ante bet and the raise bet is a push. When you raise and the dealer qualifies and you have a better hand than the dealer your ante bet and the raise wager both receive even money. There are bonuses paid on your ante bet for certain hands.

A common pay table for ante bonuses is a straight pays 1 to 1, three of a kind pays 4 to 1 and a straight flush pays 5 to 1. The pair plus has different pay tables at different casinos, but a common one pays 1 to 1 for a pair, 4 to 1 for a flush, 6 to 1 for a straight, 25 to 1 for three of a kind and 35 to 1 for a straight flush.

4 Card Poker
4 Card Poker is played much like 3 Card Poker except the dealer always qualifies. The player receives five cards and the dealer receives six, with five down and one face up. Each forms his or her best four card poker hand.

The player antes to start play and must place another wager of one to three times the ante to remain in the hand after receiving his or her cards. Bonuses are paid for certain hands and there are side bets available.

Baccarat
Baccarat is a casino card game that is played for some of the highest stakes around the world. When you start playing Baccarat you must place a bet on the banker, the player or a tie. After placing your bet all of the rest of the action is completed based on very strict rules, making this one of the easiest casino card games to play.

The object is to have the hand you bet on score a higher total than the other hand, or for the two hands to tie in the event you bet on a tie. Scores only go up to 9, as any digits in the tens column are dropped.

For example, a hand with a 10 and an 8 will score as an 8, not an 18. A hand containing an ace and 6 scores a total of 7.

Winning bets on the player pay 1 to 1 and winning bets on the banker pay 1 to 1 minus a small house commission, usually 5%. The tie bet usually pays 9 to 1, but it can vary.

Pai Gow Poker
In Pai Gow Poker the dealer and player each receive seven cards. These seven cards are divided into a five card poker hand and a two card hand. The five card hand has to be higher than the two card hand.

In order to win, the player’s five card hand has to be better than the dealer’s five card hand AND the player’s two card hand must be better than the dealer’s two card hand. When the player wins the casino collects a commission, usually 5%.

When both of the dealer’s hands are better than the players the player loses their wager. The outcome of the majority of hands is a push when the dealer has one better hand and the player has the other better hand.

Caribbean Stud Poker
Caribbean Stud Poker is a popular casino card game that usually has a side progressive jackpot wager available. Players start by placing an ante wager and the optional progressive side bet if they want. The player and dealer each receive five cards with only one of the dealers turned face up.

The player then either folds or raises. A raise is twice the amount of the original ante. The dealer only qualifies with a hand of ace king or higher. If the dealer does not qualify all ante bets are paid even money and all raises are pushed.

When the dealer qualifies and the player has a better hand both the ante and raise bets win for the player. The ante bet pays 1 to 1 and the raise wager is paid from a chart.

A common pay out chart is 1 to 1 for a pair or less, 2 to 1 for two pair, 3 to 1 for three of a kind, 4 to 1 for a straight, 5 to 1 for a flush, 7 to 1 for a full house, 20 to 1 for four of a kind, 50 to 1 for a straight flush and 100 to 1 for a royal flush.

Let It Ride
Let It Ride Poker is a version of five card stud where each player receives three cards and two cards are turned face up on the table. The two face up cards are used in combination with each player’s three cards to form their best poker hand.

Players do not play against the dealer. They are paid based on a pay table starting with a pair of tens or better.

Each player starts by placing three equal sized wagers. After they receive their three cards they may pull one wager back or let it ride. After the first face up card is dealt they can pull a bet back or let it ride.

So the player will always have at least one wager on the table at the end and may have up to three. A common pay table pays 1 to 1 for a pair of tens or better, 2 to 1 for two pair, 3 to 1 for three of a kind, 5 to 1 for a straight, 8 to 1 for a flush, 11 to 1 for a full house, 50 to 1 for four of a kind, 200 to1 for a straight flush and 1,000 to 1 for a royal flush.

Spanish 21
Spanish 21 is played like regular blackjack but all of the 10s have been removed from the deck. So instead of a 52 card deck you use a 48 card deck. Almost all of the other rules are favorable to the player so if you learn correct strategy the house edge on Spanish 21 can actually be lower than on most blackjack games. Pontoon is the name of a game very similar to Spanish 21 that is popular is Australia.

Casino War
Casino War is one of the easiest games you will ever play. You place a bet and receive a card face up. The dealer then receives a card face up. The higher card wins.

If you win you get paid even money and if you lose you surrender your entire wager. In the event of a tie you can either fold and get back half your bet or double your bet and go to war.

The war round has the player and dealer each receive four down cards and then a face up card. The higher face up card wins. If the dealer wins you lose your entire wager. If you win then you receive even money on half your bet and the other half is a push.

Super Fun 21
Super Fun 21 is a variation of blackjack. It is played just like blackjack but only pays even money on a player’s blackjack. Other rules are more favorable to the player like the ability to double down at any time during the hand, being able to split up to four times and a player blackjack always wins even when the dealer also has a blackjack.

Vegas Three Card Rummy
In Vegas Three Card Rummy the goal is to get a lower score than the dealer. The player and the dealer each receive three cards and the total is calculated for each hand. The dealer must score 20 or lower to qualify.

The player must place an ante bet to start and place an additional wager to stay in the hand after they receive their cards. There is also a side bonus bet that can be wagered on. When the player stays in the hand and has less than the dealer he or she receives even money on their ante.

When the player stays in and the dealer qualifies and the player has a lower score than the dealer the player wins 4 to 1 on a score of 0, 2 to 1 on a score of 1 to 5 and 1 to 1 on a score of 6 to 19.

Card values for face cards and tens are 10, aces are 1 and all other cards are their face value. Pairs, triples, two card suited runs and three card suited runs count as 0.

Texas Holdem
Texas holdem, along with the next two games (Omaha and 7 Card Stud), are not always included in a list of casino card games even though they are often offered in the poker section of land based casinos. They usually aren’t offered in the same software package as online casinos, though many online casinos also have poker rooms offered on different software. So I decided to include the three main poker variations here at the end because they do fit the overall theme.

Texas holdem is the most popular version of poker and is often the game you see televised. Play starts with two players placing small forced bets called the blinds. Each player receives two hole cards face down and then there is a round of betting.

Three community cards are placed face up in the middle of the table followed by another betting round. Another community card is turned face up followed by another round of wagering and then the final community card is turned face up.

The final round of betting is completed and the remaining players make their best five card poker hand using any combination of their hole cards and the five community cards. You can play Texas holdem for limit, pot limit or no limit.

Omaha
Omaha is played almost exactly like Texas holdem except each player starts with four cards instead of two and at the end each remaining player must use exactly two of his or her four hole cards and exactly three cards from the board to make the best five card hand. Omaha can be played as limit or pot limit and can also be played for high and low.

7 Card Stud
7 Card Stud starts with each player placing an ante and receiving two cards face down and one card face up followed by a betting round. The fourth, fifth and sixth cards are dealt to each player face up followed by betting rounds and then the seventh and final card is dealt face down to each player followed by the final betting round. 7 Card Stud is played for limit or pot limit stakes and is usually just played for high, but can be played for high and low.

The Overwatch League Betting Predictions for Stage 4 Week 4

Week 4 of Stage 4 of the Overwatch League is already underway and today’s matches offer several Overwatch betting opportunities. This article analyzes these matches but first, let’s have a look at what the teams have done so far in Stage 4.

Standings Table
1st place: Los Angeles Valiant (6 W – 0 L)
2nd place: New York Excelsior (5 W – 1 L)
3rd place: Los Angeles Gladiators (5 W – 1 L)
4th place: Houston Outlaws (5 W – 2 L)
5th place: San Francisco Shock (4 W – 2 L)
6th place: Dallas Fuel (4 W – 3 L)
7th place: Philadelphia Fusion (3 W – 3 L)
8th place: London Spitfire (3 W – 3 L)
9th place: Seoul Dynasty (2 W – 5 L)
10th place: Boston Uprising (1 W – 6 L)
11th place: Florida Mayhem (1 W – 6 L)
12th place: Shanghai Dragons (0 W – 7 L)
Betting Predictions
Los Angeles Valiant (6 W – 0 L) vs. London Spitfire (3 W – 3 L)
Match date: June 7th

After a 7 W – 3 L record and a 3rd place finish in Stage 3, LA Valiant upgraded its playstyle and has crushed everyone so far in Stage 4. The team is currently sitting at the top of the league with 6 wins and 0 losses, even though it has already faced some of the other main contenders. Both New York Excelsior and Los Angeles Gladiators fell to Valiant’s might last week, a sign which clearly proves this version of Los Angeles Valiant is much stronger than any of the previous ones.

London Spitfire is the Stage 1 champion, but the team has lost a lot of its prowess since then. In Stage 3, Spitfire finished in 6th place with a record of 5 W – 5 L. Stage 4 hasn’t been any easier for this team, which is now standing at number 8 with 3 wins and 3 losses. The only important team defeated by London Spitfire in Stage 4 was San Francisco Shock. At the same time, Spitfire’s defeats came against key opponents such as New York Excelsior, Houston Outlaws, and Dallas Fuel.

Overall performance statistics throughout OWL indicate that Los Angeles Valiant will win this match. Recent form statistics are also a strong indicator that Valiant is the better team. The only thing that worries me is the head to head record. Spitfire and Valiant met each other twice in the Overwatch League and both of these matches were won by Spitfire (score 3 – 2 each time). However, considering the fact that Los Angeles Valiant is on a completely different level right now compared to the first 3 stages, it should definitely win this match.

Bet365 Bingo Promotions

Bet365 has long been one of my top picks for all of our non-USA readers. It’s one of the biggest gambling sites in the world and has a long, positive history behind it. When Bet365 added online bingo to its lineup, it was great news for bingo players around the world.

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The Overwatch League Betting Tips Stage 4 Week 2 Day 3, 4

Week 2 of Stage 4 of the Overwatch League is underway and there are six matches to be played: 3 today and 3 tomorrow. As usual, these matches offer some excellent Overwatch betting opportunities. But before I start analyzing them, let’s let’s see the current standings table.

Standings Table
1st place: Los Angeles Gladiators (4 W – 0 L)
2nd place: Philadelphia Fusion (3 W – 0 L)
3rd place: Los Angeles Valiant (3 W – 0 L)
4th place: New York Excelsior (2 W – 0 L)
5th place: Houston Outlaws (2 W – 1 L)
6th place: Dallas Fuel (2 W – 1 L)
7th place: San Francisco Shock (1 W – 2 L)
8th place: London Spitfire (1 W – 2 L)
9th place: Seoul Dynasty (0 W – 2 L)
10th place: Boston Uprising (0 W – 3 L)
11th place: Shanghai Dragons (0 W – 3 L)
12th place: Florida Mayhem (0 W – 4 L)
Overwatch Betting Predictions
Los Angeles Valiant (3 W – 0 L) vs. Boston Uprising (0 W – 3 L)
Match date: May 25th

Los Angeles Valiant is at the top of its game right now, coming after a top 3 finish in Stage 3 (7 W – 3 L) and 3 consecutive victories in Stage 4. Valiant won against Seoul Dynasty, Florida Mayhem and Shanghai Dragons in its first 3 Stage 4 matches and is looking to take down Boston Uprising as well. Given the huge form difference between themselves and Uprising, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

Boston Uprising had an almost perfect Stage 3, winning against every opponent until the Grand Final of the Title Matches, which it lost to New York Excelsior. Apart from this disappointment, Uprising had a very dominant run in Stage 3 and for a while it seemed that its great form would be successfully maintained until the end of the Overwatch League. But it wasn’t to be. The team’s head coach left after the end of Stage 3 and joined San Francisco Shock. This loss was immediately followed by 3 losses in a row for Boston Uprising, who was defeated by Dallas Fuel, Houston Outlaws and Philadelphia Fusion in the first 3 matches of Stage 4. These disappointing results clearly proved that Uprising is a now a shadow of its former self and should be expected to perform poorly throughout the rest of Stage 4, especially against high caliber opponents such as Los Angeles Valiant.

Based on these two teams’ recent form, LA Valiant is the clear favorite in this match. The only indicator that says otherwise is the head to head record, which is quite surprising: 3 – 0 in Uprising’s favor. I don’t think that will matter though, given that Boston Uprising lost even against Dallas Fuel in this stage.

The Overwatch League Betting Predictions Stage 4 Week 2

The 2nd week of Stage 4 of the Overwatch League is starting today and the 12 matches that will be played over these next 4 days are full of Overwatch betting opportunities. The landscape has changed quite a bit since the end of Stage 3, with new top contenders emerging and taking the place of some of the old giants.

Standings Table
1st place: Los Angeles Gladiators (2 W – 0 L)
2nd place: Houston Outlaws (2 W – 0 L)
3rd place: Philadelphia Fusion (2 W – 0 L)
4th place: New York Excelsior (2 W – 0 L)
5th place: Los Angeles Valiant (2 W – 0 L)
6th place: San Francisco Shock (1 W – 1 L)
7th place: Dallas Fuel (1 W – 1 L)
8th place: Seoul Dynasty (0 W – 2 L)
9th place: Boston Uprising (0 W – 2 L)
10th place: Shanghai Dragons (0 W – 2 L)
11th placeLondon Spitfire (0 W – 2 L)
12th place: Florida Mayhem (0 W – 2 L)
Betting Predictions
Boston Uprising (0 W – 2 L) vs. Dallas Fuel (1 W – 1 L)
Match date: May 23rd

Boston Uprising had a formidable Stage 3, finishing with 10 wins and 0 losses. The team only lost the Grand Final of the Title Matches against New York Excelsior and dominated every opponent throughout the rest of the stage. However, following this achievement, Uprising lost its head coach, who joined San Francisco Shock. This change was felt immediately and in the first week of Stage 4, Boston Uprising lost both of its matches. One against Philadelphia Fusion and one against Houston Outlaws. This is a clear sign that the great team from just one month ago is no more and has been replaced with a shadow of its former self. Going forward, expect Uprising to lose most of its matches against the top contenders.

On the other side, Dallas Fuel was a complete disaster in the previous stage, losing multiple key players and finishing with a record of 1 win and 9 losses. The team looked absolutely abysmal and got crushed by everyone except Shanghai Dragons. In the first week of Stage 4, Dallas Fuel won a match against Shanghai Dragons (so the victory is pretty much irrelevant) and lost another one against Los Angeles Gladiators (a sign that Fuel is probably still a very weak team compared to most of its OWL opponents).

Head to head results and overall performance statistics clearly favor Uprising to win this match. Recent form indicates that Boston Uprising is on a downward spiral, but the team is still much stronger than Dallas Fuel at this point.

Fight Guide for May 19, 2018

Another weekend, another loaded day of fight sports in store for fight fans.

In Canada, the WBC light heavyweight title is on the line, while the IBF featherweight championship will be disputed in England. Meanwhile, the UFC makes its first trip to Chile with UFC Fight Night 129 also scheduled for May 19th.

Check out the fights, the odds, and our preview and picks for May 19th, 2018:

Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack
12 rounds, WBC Light Heavyweight Championship
Odds: Stevenson -165, Jack +135
Adonis Stevenson defends the WBC light heavyweight title against former two-division champion Badou Jack at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Stevenson’s Toughest Challenge
Stevenson has held the WBC belt since defeating Chad Dawson in 2014. He’s made eight consecutive successful title defenses to date. In six of those defenses, Stevenson has won via stoppage. Despite being one of the sport’s oldest champions, he’s never looked his age.

This will only be Jack’s second fight at 175 pounds, and he won the WBA title in his light heavyweight debut by knocking out Nathan Cleverly in five rounds. Prior to his campaign at this weight class, Jack also captured the WBC super middleweight title against Andre Dirrell. Without question, Jack is going to be Stevenson’s toughest challenger to date.

Issues with Southpaws
Stevenson is the favorite here at -165, while Jack was pegged at +135. Although Stevenson has campaigned at light heavyweight much longer, Jack is the physically bigger fighter, as we saw in their face-offs. Jack the Ripper is two inches taller, although Superman has a four-inch reach advantage.

One of Jack’s main weaknesses is that he has the tendency to lunge forward, making him susceptible to counterpunches. Against someone like Adonis Stevenson who possesses a thunderous left hand, that is a death sentence. Jack has also had issues with southpaws, as shown in his title bouts with Bute and DeGale.

Leaving It to the Judges
Another Issue with Badou Jack is that in some of his recent fights, he has left his fate in the hands of the judges, and that has left him with two close majority draws which he could’ve easily lost. With the Stevenson fight to be held at Montreal’s Bell Centre, Jack cannot leave this one in the hands of the judges. If he does, though, he must finish strong and win decisively knowing that he’s in Stevenson’s backyard.

Stevenson doesn’t exactly have the best defense, so that’s where Jack can take advantage. However, Superman has a proven chin and can take body punches without wearing down too much. The concern, though, is whether he still has these attributes given his advanced age.

Advanced Age
At 40, he may not be the same Superman we have been accustomed to. And considering that he’s fought just four times in the last three years, including one each in the last two years, you’ve got to think about ring rust, too. Other than those, Superman has looked solid and doesn’t have too many weaknesses.

This one’s going to be fought in Canada, Stevenson’s home country and where Superman has fought most of his bouts. Although Jack won his two world titles on hostile ground, this is his first bout in Canada. Stevenson not only has home court advantage, but he also has the power to end this with one punch. And knowing that he has a four-inch reach advantage, you bet Stevenson will be going for the kill.

ESL One Birmingham 2018 Betting Predictions

ESL One Birmingham 2018 is one of the last two Dota Pro Circuit LAN events of this competitive season. The tournament is attended by 12 of the world’s best teams and is a Major, having a prize pool of $1 million and offering 1500 qualification points for the next edition of The International.

ESL One Birmingham 2018 will take place in Birmingham, UK between May 23rd and May 27th.

Teams and Event Format
ESL One Birmingham 2018 brings together 12 teams from a total of 6 regions:

China: LGD.Forever Young, Newbee.
Southeast Asia: Fnatic, Mineski.
North America: OpTic Gaming, Evil Geniuses.
South America: paiN Gaming.
Europe: Team Liquid, OG.
CIS: Team Spirit, Virtus.pro.
For the Group Stage, the teams will be divided into three groups of four.

Group A:
Virtus.pro
Evil Geniuses
Fnatic
Team Spirit
Group B:
Team Liquid
OG
paiN Gaming
Vici Gaming
Group C:
Mineski
Newbee
OpTic Gaming
LGD.Forever Young
Each of these groups will be played in a double elimination bracket format (GSL). The 3rd and 4th placed teams from every group are eliminated. 2nd placed teams advance to the Quarterfinals. 1st placed teams play Bo1 matches against each other to decide who advances directly to the Semifinals and who joins the remaining three teams in the Quarterfinals. The 1st and 2nd placed teams of these 3 advance to the Semifinals. The 3rd one plays in the Quarterfinals.

Points and Prize Pool Distribution
Being a Major within the Dota Pro Circuit, ESL One Birmingham 2018 offers not only prize money but qualification points as well. These rewards will be divided among participating teams in the following way:

1st place: 750 points; $500,000
2nd place: 450 points; $200,000
3rd place: 225 points; $100,000
4th place: 75 points; $60,000
5th – 6th place: 0 points; $34,000
7th – 9th place: 0 points; $16,000
10th – 12th place: 0 points; $8,000
Strong Contenders
Team Liquid
Team Liquid performs very well when there’s no pressure, so this tournament might just be the perfect opportunity for it to win another title. Liquid is already qualified for The International 2018, so this is just a rehearsal for the most awaited event of the year. The team is currently sitting at number 3 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings with 6084 points but KuroKy and his squad will surely want to prove to everyone that they’re capable of becoming the first team in the history of Dota to win 2 TIs.

Given the group seedings and the level of opposition at ESL One Birmingham 2018, Team Liquid has a high chance of qualifying for the tournament’s Grand Final.

Virtus.pro
Virtus.pro is another team that’s famous for performing well at big events and has already won 2 ESL One Majors this year. Solo and his teammates will probably experiment with original drafts and strategies at this tournament, so from a betting perspective, it might be risky to take VP’s side in certain matches when the opponent is a world-class opponent. Still, Virtus.pro is a top 3 contender for sure and should have a deep run at ESL One Birmingham 2018. Currently the number 1 team in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings, VP is expected to get a top 4 finish at this event.

Evil Geniuses
Evil Geniuses has a lot to play for at ESL One Birmingham 2018 and needs a top 3 finish in order to climb back into the top 8 and secure a direct invite at The International. If it fails to do this, there’s a very high chance that we won’t see EG at The International 2018, simply because two of its regional opponents are incredibly strong right now. These opponents are VGJ.Storm and OpTic Gaming. EG’s best results this season were a title at GESC: Indonesia Dota2 Minor and a 3rd place finish at DreamLeague Season 8.

Going into ESL One Birmingham, it’s no very likely that EG will get a top 4 finish, but a top 6 should definitely be within their reach.

Fnatic
Fnatic is one of those teams with a great roster, enormous potential and consistent results, except there’s one problem: these results are always slightly below what’s required for them to gain more qualification points for The International 2018 and climb faster in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings. Fnatic got many top 4 and top 6 finishes this season, but it still has problems against most of the top teams.

Going into ESL One Birmingham 2018, I think Fnatic will get a top 6 finish once again but it’s unlikely that the team will climb higher than 5th – 6th.

Vici Gaming
Vici Gaming is an excellent Chinese team that finished 3rd at the recent MDL Changsha Major. Vici Gaming is currently sitting at number 6 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings and has multiple top 4 finishes in Dota Pro Circuit events this year, including 4 Grand Final apparitions.

Newbee
The TI 7 finalists have had a pretty rough season, but the team’s results were still good enough for a top 8 placement within the Dota Pro Circuit rankings. Newbee is currently sitting at number 7 in this hierarchy with 2445 points. At the recent MDL Changsha Major Newbee finished 4th, proving that it’s still one of the world’s best teams.

Mineski
Mineski is not that far from its peak form but is still slightly weaker than the other top candidates. Currently sitting at number 5 within the Dota Pro Circuit rankings, Mineski finished 5th – 6th at MDL Changsha Major being defeated by Newbee.

Going into ESL One Birmingham 2018, Mineski is very likely to get a similar result.

OpTic Gaming
OpTic Gaming is the strongest underdog of this tournament and we’ve yet to see how much ppd and his teammates have improved since their 1st place finish at StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5. Given the group seedings and the level of competition at ESL One Birmingham 2018, it will be difficult for OpTic Gaming to get out of the Group Stage. Still, the team is led by a former TI champion and should be regarded as a strong contender that could produce incredible upsets.

Betting Predictions
Fnatic vs. Evil Geniuses
This is a match between two teams of similar strength, but Fnatic is still slightly favored to win it. At the latest tournament it participated in, EG showed many signs of weakness and lost against multiple teams, including Fnatic. Both EG and Fnatic have everything to play for at ESL One Birmingham 2018, so this battle will no doubt be fierce.

Live Dealer Casinos

You use the same type of interface on your computer to make playing decisions as you would in the non live dealer games. Once you make your playing decisions they are displayed on a monitor of some sort for the live dealer to see and act on. Here is a step by step example from a live dealer blackjack game.

You click on the chips to place a $25 bet at the live dealer blackjack table. The dealer deals two cards to you and two cards to herself. You have a jack and an eight for a total of 18. The dealer shows a seven. You hit the stand button and the dealer sees your action on her monitor. She turns up a queen for a total of 17. You win the hand and she inputs the win on her end and you are credited with a $25 win.

Live dealer roulette games work much the same way except usually you only see the person spinning the wheel and the wheel. The betting surface or table layout is usually digital, just like when you play at the online casino without a live dealer.

Live Dealer Casino Games
The only games offered by live dealer online casinos are those that are popular enough to warrant having dealers and those that are live dealer friendly. The perfect example of a live dealer friendly game is roulette, where the casino can take multiple wagers and only have to spin the wheel once.

Here is an overview of the most popular live dealer games. While these might not be the only games you can find, they cover well over 95% of all the live dealer games available online.

Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular live dealer game played online today. It is a little more labor intensive for the casino than baccarat and roulette, but the larger player base makes it worth offering.

Each player places his or her bet and then the dealer gives each player two cards as well as taking two cards herself. Each player decides whether to hit, stand, double, split or surrender (where available) and the dealer completes the action. After all players have acted the dealer flips over her second card and completes her hand.

Live dealer blackjack plays just like it does in land based casinos but it can be a bit slower overall as the dealer has to wait for all of the players to act. Of course they have to wait for all of the players to act in land based casinos as well, but as they are insulated by the Internet some players take longer in online live dealer play than they would in land based action.

Roulette
Roulette is one of those games that are well known just about anywhere you go in the world. Even if you don’t play you are probably familiar with the spinning of an ivory ball within a roulette wheel. Players can place bets on a wide range of possible outcomes including black, red even or odd which pay even money all the way up to bets on a single number that pay 35 to 1.

Roulette wheels are available in double zero wheels, usually called American roulette, and single zero wheels called European or French roulette. The single zero wheels offer a lower house edge than the double zero wheels. Most live dealer casinos offer single zero wheels, so they are the ones you should play on if you have a choice.

When you play live dealer roulette you pick how much you want to bet and what you want to bet on. For example, if you want to wager $20 on black you click on the chips to select $20 and then click on the roulette layout to place your bet on the black area. The dealer then spins the roulette wheel and drops the ball in the wheel. As the ball lands the bets are paid out and then the bets for the next spin are placed.

Baccarat
Baccarat tends to play well as a live dealer game because the dealer performs all of the game actions after the player places their wager. This is another game like roulette where the casino can take just about any number of wagers without it changing the current hand or slowing things down.

Players place their bets on tie, banker or player and then the dealer deals out two hands of two cards each. There are set rules that must be followed and each hand either stays or receives an additional card. Then the winning wagers are paid and the bets for the next round are placed.

3 Card Poker
3 Card Poker is only available at a few live dealer casinos but it is quite popular in regular casinos and in online casinos. You play a three card poker hand against the dealer and when you win the payout based on the strength of your hand.

Sic Bo
Sic Bo is a dice game that is very popular in Asian markets. Offered by a few live dealer casinos, you place bets on what you think the outcome of the roll of the dice will be. Once all wagers are placed the dice are revealed and you are paid out based on the bets you placed. Different combinations pay different amounts based on the odds of them landing.

Casio Holdem
This version of poker is not the same as Texas holdem that you can often see on television. Though it is based on Texas holdem it is a table game designed for single person play against a dealer. There are a few different variations of this game available in live dealer casinos, and it is not available everywhere.

The player makes an ante wager and the player and dealer receive two hole cards. The dealer turns over the three community cards called the flop. The player then may fold or make an additional bet to finish the hand. If the player makes the extra wager the last two community cards, the turn and river, are turned face up and then the winner is determined.

Payouts are determined by the strength of your winning hand. In different variations the bet sizing is different.

Live Dealer Software Providers
There aren’t that many live dealer online software solutions, but the main ones offer a superior gaming experience.

The main three companies are Evolution Gaming, Playtech and Microgaming. One of the newer entries into the market is Global Gaming Labs.

See below for quick overviews of each platform that includes the games they offer to their players. Just to be clear, these are the companies that provide the backend working environment for the online casinos that offer the live dealer games. You don’t play these games at the sites owned by the companies below; you play at the online casino’s websites who lease these solutions.