Understanding Online Casino Bonuses

When you start looking at all of the different options online casinos offer, you are bound to get overrun with all of the different bonus offers. Every online casino seems to have at least two or three different bonuses and when you consider how many thousands of casinos there are in existence, it can quickly become an overwhelming barrage of information. Just in case you don’t already know, there are also different types of bonuses. Almost all of them fall into one of four bonus categories. Keep reading to learn more about each of the four bonus categories, why you always have to read the small print and when you may be better off not taking a bonus.

Types of Online Casino Bonuses
The four main types of online casino bonuses include cashable, non-cashable, no deposit and free spins. Each of these four types is explained in detail below. You may on a very rare occasion run across a bonus that does not fall into one of these categories. If you do, make sure to read the entire conditions and terms before accepting it. You can learn more about terms, conditions and small print in the section following the bonus types.

#1Cashable Casino Bonuses
Cashable casino bonuses are those that you can cash out once you meet all of the requirements. These are usually the best type of bonus for players, but more and more online casinos are switching to the non-cashable type. An example of a cashable bonus is if you receive 100% up to $200 on your deposit. If you make a deposit of $200 you will receive another $200, making your total beginning bankroll $400. After you meet all of the requirements you can take out any money that you have left. So if you have $300 left you can cash out the entire $300.

#2Non cashable Bonuses
Non-cashable bonuses are also called play only bonuses. The way they work is you receive a bonus amount and can play with it until you lose it or you get ready to cash out. When you cash out the casino deducts the bonus amount from your balance before processing your pay out. For example, you deposit $1,000 and get a $2,000 non-cashable bonus.

After meeting the play through requirements you have $2,100 left in your account. When you request a cash out the casino will deduct the $2,000 bonus amount from your balance, leaving $100 for you to withdraw. Understand that unless you read the fine print there is usually no way to tell if a bonus is cashable or non-cashable. They usually look the same with the common look of a certain percentage bonus up to a certain dollar amount. 100% up to $500 or 200% up to $1,000 are just two of the many possible combinations.

#3No Deposit Bonuses
No deposit bonuses are free chips or bankrolls given to players to get them to try an online casino. I have seen them as small as $5 and as large as $100. You don’t usually have to do anything to claim one of these bonuses except sign up for an account. They usually have a play through requirement and a cash out limit, but if you want to try a few games for real money without risking any of your own cash, a no deposit bonus is a great way to start.

#4Free Spins Promotions
Free spins promotions can be offered by themselves or in combination with any of the other bonus types. Technically a free spins bonus can be offered on games other than slot machines, but they are almost always for slots play and are often specific to a certain slot machine. Land based casinos run promotions involving a free hand of blackjack or spin of the roulette wheel, and things like that from time to time. The same type of promotion can be offered by an online casino, so I am lumping these types of promotions in with the free spins section as they are basically the same thing.

An example of a free spins promotion would be 25 free spins on slot machine “XYZ” where each spin is taken at a value of $2. This means that you can only play on the slot machine with the name “XYZ” and you receive 25 free spins and each spin is for $2. You may be restricted to only cashing out a certain amount of a free spins promotion and/or you may need to reach certain play through requirements after you take your free spins. Learn more about play through requirements in the next section.

Why You Always Have to Read the Small Print
You have already seen a few of the terms and restrictions that can be attached to a casino bonus in the descriptions listed above, but there are many more possibilities. Online casinos are in business to make money. They know that in order to make money they have to get players to deposit real money.

In order to get as many players to make real money deposits as possible they offer bonuses to get you to sign up and bonuses to get you to deposit again and again after they get you the first time. However, they are not in the business of letting you keep any of these bonuses if they can help it. So they design their casino bonus terms and conditions to give them the best chance to not only get their bonuses back but to get all of your deposit also. And they want to keep you just happy enough that you will make another deposit after losing your first one.

If you keep this information in mind, you will see why it is so important to always read the fine print. Here are some of the things to watch out for.

The first thing to find out after determining the type of bonus you are receiving (listed above) is how many times you have to wager the bonus and deposit to clear it.
This is usually called a play through requirement. These requirements range from 20 to 40 times generally and are listed as 20x or 20X for a 20 times requirement, 30x or 30X for a 30 times play through, etc.

Here is an example of how a play-through requirement works.

Imagine you make a deposit of $500 and receive a 100% match of $500 with a play through of 30X you will have to make bets totaling at least $30,000 to clear the bonus. The way to figure this is add the deposit and bonus together and then multiply that total times the play through requirement. $500 + $500 = $1,000. $1,000 times 30 = $30,000. You don’t have to make any particular size wagers, but the total of your wagers must reach this amount. For example, if you play slots at $2 per spin you will need to play 15,000 spins. If you play a game at $10 a spin or hand you will have to play 3,000 spins or hands.

This table shows how small differences in bonus requirements makes a big difference in the value of the bonus. In this example, the bonus amount is $20 on a $40 deposit:

Play-through Multiplier Cost to Clear Bonus
20x Bonus $400
20x Bonus plus Deposit $1,200
25x Bonus $500
25x Bonus plus Deposit $1,500
30x Bonus $600
30x Bonus plus Deposit $,1800
35x Bonus $700
35x Bonus plus Deposit $2,100
40x Bonus $800
40x Bonus plus Deposit $2,400
The thing that stands out the most is the vast difference between a multiplier based on the bonus amount and one based on the amount of the bonus plus deposit. Playthrough requirements based on bonus plus deposit are way more common these days.

Some bonus promotions include a maximum amount you can cash out.
Free chip and free spin bonuses are usually where you will find these, but always check for one of these provisions no matter what type of bonus you’re accepting. For example, you may only be able to cash out 10 times the free chip value. So a free chip of $7 can only lead to a maximum cash out of $70.

Restricted games are a big issue for any player who enjoys playing anything except slot machines. Almost all casino bonuses let you play slots to clear. But most of them either don’t allow you to play table games like blackjack and roulette or only count a small percentage of your play at these games against your bonus clearing requirements.

There are quite a few online casinos that will forfeit your entire bonus if you play games on their restricted list. A common restriction is only counting 10% or 20% (or some other low percentage) of each wager made at blackjack, roulette or video poker (or any other number of games) toward clearing your bonus.

If we continue with the example above requiring you to wager $30,000 to clear your bonus and assume blackjack only counts 10% toward clearing, you would have to wager $300,000 while playing only blackjack to clear your bonus. Even at $25 a hand you would have to play 12,000 hands.

There are specific bonuses for table games available at many online casinos, but just because a casino has a bonus for table games does not mean it has favorable clearing conditions.
The restrictions are usually just as bad, if not worse, on these special game specific bonus offers.

The bottom line is if you don’t take the time to read and make sure you understand all of the bonus terms and conditions, as well as exactly what kind of bonus you are receiving and how to clear it, you shouldn’t play. There is no excuse for getting surprised by any bonus terms. Many players falsely assume that all bonuses are cashable until they sign up for a non-cashable one, meet all the play through requirements and then try to cash out. They are usually angry and disappointed, but it is their responsibility to find out what they are signing up for in the first place.

Should You Always Accept a Bonus?
While it may seem strange to consider not accepting a bonus from an online casino, there are a few situations where you may want to pass. As you learned above, the small print, or terms and conditions, can be quite restrictive on what you can do with your winnings and when you can do it. Here are a few specific examples where you might be better off not accepting a bonus.

If you are depositing for the sole purpose of playing for a progressive jackpot and the bonus terms limit the total amount you can cash out, you may want to decline the bonus.

Here’s why:

While most bonuses only require you to play through a certain number multiple of the bonus and deposit, some of them also restrict the total amount you can cash out. Some do have rules carving out big progressive slots, allowing you to cash them out as they are often controlled by the software provider and not the individual casino, but many do not. For example, if you are playing a version of jacks or better video poker that has a progressive jackpot it is probably not covered by a carve-out provision. I admit this situation is rare, but it is a possibility.

A more common reason to pass on an offered bonus is when the bonus is only for specific games, like slot machines, and you only play table games. Some online casinos offer special table games bonuses, but many just have general bonuses which may or may not let you play table games.

Believe it or not, there are online casino games that can be played at an advantage against the house. They are not common, but they are not so rare that smart and dedicated players can’t discover them and try to exploit them at times.

One of these situations has been touched on above. When you find video poker variations with attached progressive jackpots, the jackpot can reach a level where with correct play you can actually play with an overall advantage against the house. Large progressive slot machines can work the same way, but it is often much harder to find out exactly what their base payback percentage is and the exact odds of hitting the progressive so they can make it more difficult to figure out when to start playing.

When you find advantage play opportunities like these, you want to carefully consider any bonuses you may be offered. Make sure you aren’t going to have difficulty cashing out your winnings and that they aren’t capped like I mentioned above. You also need to consider that online casinos do not plan to lose money and if they figure out that you are just playing when you have an advantage they may deny your play.

While this doesn’t seem fair, they do have the right to not let you play. You may be asking how accepting a bonus plays into this. If you accept a bonus they may decide to stop your play faster than if you don’t. I realize this may seem like splitting hairs, but if you are an advantage player you will understand that even the smallest additional edge is important.

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.

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.

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.

80 Ball Bingo Explained

The form of bingo you’re most likely familiar with is known as 75 ball bingo. 75 ball bingo is the game that uses a 5×5 grid with the letters B-I-N-G-O spelled across the top and a square in the middle marked as “free.” If you played bingo as a child, this is probably the form of bingo you played.

The other form of bingo that you might have played is 90 ball bingo. This one is more popular in the UK, Europe and a few other parts of the world. 90 ball bingo uses a 9×3 grid consisting of 9 columns and 3 rows. Each row has 4 blanks spots and 5 empty spots reserved for your numbers.

80 ball bingo occupies the middle ground between the two formats described above. An 80-ball bingo card consists of a 4×4 grid with no free spaces. It’s called “80 ball” because there are 80 possible numbers that correspond to the 80 balls that are drawn at random.

There are several ways to win a game of 80 ball bingo depending on the rules in play. You can win by either completing a line (horizontal, vertical or diagonal) or completing some other pattern such as multiple lines, the 4 corners or blackout. Some bingo sites keep it simple while others require more complex patterns before a winner is declared.

Unlike 75-ball bingo, 80 ball bingo does not require you to match letters AND numbers. Only the numbers are called. Each column on an 80-ball bingo card has a different color, but those colors aren’t used to make matches. The four columns on a card correspond to a range of possible numbers:

1st Column: 1-20
2nd Column: 21-40
3rd Column: 41-60
4th Column: 61-80
80-ball bingo is a fairly fast-paced game depending on the patterns in play. It has more numbers than 75-ball bingo, but it’s also easier to complete lines due to the cards being 4×4 instead of 5×5. Single line games tend to run fairly quickly while blackout games take quite a bit longer to complete.

In summary, the rules of 80-ball bingo will be familiar to anyone with bingo experience. The only differences between this form and 75-ball bingo is the number of balls in play and the setup of the cards. As numbers are called, you mark off your card and hope to be the first person to complete a line or pattern.

Where to Play 80 Ball Bingo
80 ball bingo is a bit harder to find than the other two formats. This one doesn’t offer anything really unique so most bingo sites just stick with 75 and 90-ball bingo. However, I do know of a few sites that offer 80-ball bingo:

These sites are your best bet for finding 80-ball bingo online. It may be worth keeping in mind that this game doesn’t have the same popularity as other bingo variations so there isn’t quite as much action or as many promotions for 80-ball games. But, if you really want to give it a try, these are the sites to visit.

Best Sports Gambling Sites

Welcome to the sports gambling portion of GamblingSites.net. This is where we go into great detail on all things related to sports betting. Much of this area is devoted to recommending betting sites based on different criteria, but we also have a collection of sports betting articles and tips.
There are a few sports gambling sites that we like to recommend as great all-around places to do business. However, we also like to break it down a little further on some of our other pages. Our goal is to help you find sites that fit your specific needs.

In terms of general quality, the following sites stand out to us as the best all-round sportsbooks:

RANK GAMBLING SITES SIGN UP BONUS MOBILE GET STARTED
#1100%
Up to $30

#2Not
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#3Bet £25
Get £25

#4Bet £10
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We believe these are the best places for the majority of bettors because they do a pretty good job in all aspects. Some sites may do better than others in covering certain sports and offering special perks, but these sites are all quality places to take your bankroll.

It also makes sense to rank sports betting sites by other criteria. After all, not everybody values the same things in a gambling site. Some of our readers have expressed interest in sites based on payout speed while others have shown an interest in sites that specialize in certain sports. So with that in mind, we have a number of lists that rank sites by those criteria.

Sportsbook Top-Lists:
It also makes sense to rank sports gambling sites by other criteria. After all, not everybody values the same things in a gambling site. Some of our readers have expressed interest in sites based on payout speed while others have shown an interest in sites that specialize in certain sports. So with that in mind, we have a number of lists that rank sites by those criteria.

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.

Is Online Bingo Fair?

I received e-mails from two different people this weekend who basically asked me if online bingo was fair or if the sites were run by scammers. One of the people mentioned that he’d done a little research on the matter and saw mixed opinions. So, this seems like an appropriate topic to address today.

Online bingo is fair if you play at a safe site. The online gambling industry is largely unregulated so pretty much anyone with a little money in the bank can set up shop. On the internet, reputation is everything. Until we get a worldwide governing body for gambling, we’ll have to rely on reputation to determine which sites are worth joining.

The key to getting a fair game of bingo is to stick with the big-name sites that you can research before you join. New bingo sites pop up all the time and it’s hard to get an idea of what those sites are all about. I’m sure most new bingo sites are legit, but there’s no easy way to tell for sure. For that reason, I prefer to stick with big name sites.

These are all bingo sites that have been around for a number of years. Based on my own experiences and talks with other players, these bingo sites know how to treat customers. They all offer high quality games but most importantly, they pay their winners.

Making Money
I should warn you that you shouldn’t go to online bingo with dreams of getting rich. The vast majority of bingo games on the internet run for fairly small stakes. Average wins are less than a hundred dollars. Bingo sites do host the occasional promotion with a massive prize pool, but most games are much smaller.

Bingo is more of a social game than a pure gambling game. Yes, there’s an element of gambling in the fact that you buy cards and try to win money, but that’s almost an afterthought. Visit any longstanding bingo site and you’ll notice that many of the players seem to know each other.

Online bingo is an experience. If you don’t have any plans for your evening, it’s nice to log in, play a few games and chat with people from all around the world. Bingo is a more lighthearted game than most other gambling games.

If your goal is to make money, there are other games for that. Sports betting, poker and blackjack all come to mind from that angle. And if you want to go for the really big wins, there are plenty of progressive jackpot slot machines that offer payouts in the range of a million dollars.

So to sum things up, online bingo is fair as long as you play at legitimate sites. It’s not the best way to get rich, but it’s fun and fair. I can think of much worse things to do on a slow evening.

2018 NBA Finals Preview

Although both teams took unconventional roads to get here, we ended up getting the NBA Finals we were expecting all along. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers will lock horns for Association supremacy for an unprecedented fourth straight time after each overcame 3-2 deficits in their respective conference finals.

For the Warriors, it’s a chance to cement their place in NBA history as a legitimate dynasty (three titles in four years would look a lot better than two in four). Meanwhile, a Cleveland victory could move LeBron James past Michael Jordan in the minds of many when it comes to the ongoing debate of who is the greatest player in NBA history.

Golden State won both regular-season meetings this year, posting a seven-point win at home on Christmas Day and then beating the Cavs by 10 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Cleveland. But the Cavaliers blew up their roster with a series of trades just a few weeks later, and this will be a much different-looking Cleveland squad that takes the court when the Finals tip off Thursday in Oakland.

Let’s look at the betting odds for this series, then break down the matchup to see where the best betting value lies.

All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from BetOnline.ag at 10 a.m eastern on May 30, 2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.

2018 NBA Finals Odds
This series looks incredibly lopsided on paper, and the oddsmakers agree. BetOnline lists Golden State as a -960 favorite to win the best-of-seven Finals, which implies the Warriors have more than a 90% probability of hoisting the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy for the third time in four years.

NBA Finals Series Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers: +710
Golden State Warriors: -960
On the other hand, there’s a ton of value on the Cavaliers, whose +710 potential takeback is the highest of any team LeBron James has taken to the finals. It doesn’t take Lloyd Christmas to realize that if you’ve got The King, you’ve got a chance, and LeBron already took down this Warriors dynasty a couple of years ago.

That said, asking James to do the same this year is a very tall order. He no longer has Kyrie Irving at his side, Kevin Love’s availability is cloudy (more on that later), and the rest of his supporting cast has been spotty at best.

Fortunately, there are many other ways to bet on the NBA Finals series without laying 10 to win 1 on the Warriors or taking the Cavs on a wing and a prayer. Here are some of the NBA Finals series props currently available at BetOnline:

Cavaliers Series Handicap
Cleveland +1 Games: +600
Cleveland +1.5 Games: +400
Cleveland +2 Games: +340
Cleveland +2.5 Games: +210
Cleveland +3 Games: +100
Warriors Series Handicap
Golden State -1 Games: -800
Golden State -1.5 Games: -550
Golden State -2 Games: -425
Golden State -2.5 Games: -250
Golden State -3 Games: -120
Series Game Total
Over 4.5 Games -220/Under 4.5 Games +180
Over 5 Games +125/Under 5 Games -145
Over 5.5 Games +170/Under 5.5 Games -210
Over 6 Games +400/Under 6 Games -500
Over 6.5 Games +550/Under 6.5 Games -700
Series Exact Outcome
Cleveland in 4 Games: +15000
Cleveland in 5 Games: +5000
Cleveland in 6 Games: +1400
Cleveland in 7 Games: +1600
Golden State in 4 Games: +175
Golden State in 5 Games: +150
Golden State in 6 Games: +500
Golden State in 7 Games: +700
When Will Series Finish
Game 4: +175
Game 5: +150
Game 6: +425
Game 7: +525
Where Will Series Finish
At Cleveland (Game 4 or 5): -130
At Golden State (Game 6 or 7): +110
NBA Finals Individual Game Odds
It’s also going to be difficult to find value on the Warriors in individual games, judging by the point spread for Game 1. Golden State is a 12.5-point favorite to crush the Cavaliers Thursday in Oakland, marking the largest point spread in an NBA Finals opener since Allen Iverson singlehandedly carried the undermanned Sixers to the 2001 Finals versus the powerful Lakers. (Philadelphia pulled off the outright upset in Game 1, by the way, before losing the next four games in the series.)

The best times to back Golden State in individual games should be in Cleveland, where the point spreads will be much lower to account for the Cavaliers’ home court advantage. With home floor worth approximately 3 points on the NBA point spread, that means we should see the Warriors favored by 6-7 points in games played in Ohio. Conversely, the Cavs will have their most betting value when playing in Golden State, where they might backdoor a point spread or two with a meaningless bucket in the final minute of a blowout.

Five Things To Watch For In The NBA Finals
Golden State’s Dominance In Third Quarters
The third quarter has been Golden State’s best frame all season, and that trend has continued into the postseason. The Warriors have outscored opponents by 130 points in the third quarter during these playoffs, and by just 20 points in the other three quarters combined. Steve Kerr is obviously making some effective adjustments during halftime, and Golden State has also had to play with some urgency in third quarters after sleepwalking its way through the opening half of several games in these playoffs.

With Cleveland shooting less than 35% from the field during third quarters of this postseason, it’s a great recipe for a Warriors live bet once the third quarter begins. However, Golden State’s dominance of the third frame is hardly a secret, especially after the Dubs outscored Houston by 35 points in the third quarter of the last two games in the Western final. With the oddsmakers likely to adjust for this trend, it could be hard to find betting value.

Injuries
Both teams come into this series with concerns about the health of important players. Cleveland had to play Game 7 of the Eastern final without five-time All-Star Kevin Love (concussion), while the Warriors were without Andre Iguodala (leg contusion) for the final four games of their series against Houston.

Iguodala can be a bit of a forgotten man on a Golden State roster that is loaded with so much talent but don’t forget that he was the NBA Finals MVP against Cleveland just four years ago. Although the Warriors can also choose to guard LeBron James with Draymond Green or even Kevin Durant, Iguodala would be their ideal choice to try to contain The King, and his return would be huge for a Golden State team that struggled without him in the Western final.

But while the Warriors can still win this series without a healthy Iguodala, the same can’t be said of the Cavaliers if Love isn’t a big contributor. Other than James, he’s the only Cleveland player who is averaging double-digit point totals in the playoffs, and his ability to score in the paint would allow the Cavs to exploit Golden State’s biggest weakness defensively.

Cleveland’s Three-Point Shooting
With how prolifically the Warriors can shoot the three-ball, opponents don’t stand a chance unless they can hit the 3 themselves. Cleveland’s ability (or inability) to stroke it from beyond the arc will go a long way towards determining if the Cavaliers can even keep things close in the NBA Finals.

Judging by the playoffs so far, things don’t look good for the Cavs. Although they were a strong three-point shooting team during the regular season (37.2%), they’ve hit just 33.9% of their treys in the first three rounds. And while it’s true that Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith can get hot at any time, they’re now facing a Golden State squad that has clamped down on opposing three-point shooters in the playoffs, allowing a league-low 31.9% from distance.

Who Will Stop Durant? Or Curry? Or Thompson?
In last year’s Finals, the Cavaliers simply didn’t have an answer defensively for Durant. KD went off for 35.2 points per game in Golden State’s 5-game victory, shooting a blistering 55.6% from the field on his way to MVP honors. And even if the Cavs put their best defensive player (LeBron) on Durant, it just opens the floor for Steph Curry and Klay Thompson instead.

The scary thing for the Cavs is that last year’s team was a lot better defensively than this season’s outfit. Cleveland was second-last in the NBA in defensive rating during the regular season, allowing a dreadful 109.9 points per game. The Cavaliers’ defense has been improved in the playoffs, but don’t forget that they’ve only had to face Indiana, the perennial playoff choke-artist Raptors, and the defensive-minded Celtics. It’s quite possible, and even likely, that Cleveland’s defense gets exposed in a big way in this series.

Does LeBron Have Anything Left In The Tank?
The King has been absolutely incredible in these playoffs, averaging 34 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 8.8 assists through the first three rounds. But as dangerous as it is to ever question the abilities of LeBron, we also can’t ignore the possibility that he may finally hit the wall in this series.

Over the final two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron was on the floor for 94 of a possible 96 minutes. He’s averaged 41.3 minutes of court time per game in these playoffs (3.5 more than Durant and nearly six more than Curry), and that’s after leading the entire NBA in minutes played during the regular season.

A four-day break between the Eastern finals and Thursday’s opener may help him catch his breath, but he’s still 33 years old and Game 1 of the NBA Finals will be his 101st game of the season. Factor in how much weight he has to carry for the Cavaliers every night and fatigue could finally take its toll.

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.