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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The promotions at Bet365 are always changing, but I wanted to take today to talk about the latest bingo promos for both new and current members of Bet365.com. Bingo is a game of pure luck, so it’s important to take advantage of every promo you can get your hands on.

New Players
Bet365 Bingo welcomes all new players with two different bonuses. When you first join, you’ll get 200 free tickets right up front. You don’t need to deposit or jump through any hoops to get these tickets. Just make an account and Bet365 will give you 100 tickets for use in the Kiss and Tell room the next day. The day after that, you’ll get another 100 free tickets.

Altogether, these tickets are worth £10. Yes, these are micro-stakes games, but it’s still an extra £10 that you wouldn’t have otherwise. It takes all of five minutes to sign up for an account. I’d say this is a good deal.

Bet365 will also give you a £20 bonus after you make your first deposit. If you deposit £10 or more after joining, you’ll get an extra £20 that you can use to buy even more tickets. After you sign up for an account, Bet365 will send you an e-mail with a unique offer code that you can use to redeem the bonus.

Click here to get your bonus

Existing Players
There are so many bingo related promos at Bet365 that it would take a year to explain them all here. Let’s just say that there is always something happening at Bet365 bingo. Every week, they have guaranteed prize pool games that give away anywhere from £10,000 to £50,000. All you have to do is play during certain times and you can compete for your share of a hefty prize pool.

One of the biggest regular promos is the £50,000 Feel Good Friday contest that runs every Friday evening at 18:00 UK time. Basically, this is just a whole series of games that give away guaranteed prizes worth £400 to £5,000. Cards start at just 10p and never go higher than 50p. That alone is a great value.

And if you’re really on a budget, Bet365 hosts free bingo games every day with prizes worth £100. You don’t have to pay a thing to join, but you have a real shot at winning money. All you have to do is show up.

Bet365 also has The Breakfast Club for all you morning birds. This promo hosts a guaranteed £2500 worth of prizes every morning from 06:00 to 09:00. Tickets for this one start at just 5p.

These are just a few examples of the many promos Bet365 runs every week for its bingo players. Even if you already have a gambling site to call home, Bet365 is worth a look for the bonuses and promos alone. You’d be missing out on a lot of free money if you passed on this bingo site.

How the Repeal of the Federal Sports Betting Law Changes the Way You Can Make Bets

Sports betting has been illegal in the United States since 1992 when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was signed into effect.

Only four states were grandfathered into the law, including Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. And Nevada is the only one that has offered full-blown sports betting through land-based sportsbooks.

But New Jersey has been fighting against PASPA, taking their case to the Supreme Court to repeal the 26-year-old law. Justices overruled a Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruling by a 6-3 vote, thus repealing the federal ban.

The Supreme Court noted that PASPA violates the 10th Amendment, which pertains to states’ rights.

What does the repeal of PASPA mean for American sports bettors? How will you be able to make legal bets now?

I’ll answer these questions by covering how Americans currently bet, why PASPA was repealed, and what you can expect in the future with legal sports gambling.

Is Sports Betting Now Legal Across The US?
No, the Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t make sports betting legal on a federal level. Instead, it merely lifts the federal ban and opens the door for legalized sports gambling on a state level.

The justices believe that Congress has the option to decide what to do with sports betting. But they were against PASPA, because it forced states to ban the activity.

“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr wrote regarding the majority decision.

“Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

This is similar to how the Trump administration can order federal immigration officers to arrest illegal immigrants. But they can’t force an individual state like Arizona or New Mexico to arrest the immigrants.

The justices are giving Congress the option to deal with sports betting how they see fit. The House and Senate can ban the activity, regulate it, or ignore sports betting and let individual states decide.

How Americans Currently Place Sports Bets
The American government and professional sports leagues have feared sports gambling ever since the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal. This incident saw eight Black Sox players throw the 1919 World Series for gambling purposes.

It’s understandable why pro sports leagues have fought to keep the activity illegal. This is especially the case when considering that there have been smaller point-shaving scandals ever since 1919.

But keeping American companies from offering sports betting hasn’t halted the activity. Instead, a thriving offshore market has been operating in the US for over two decades.

Offshore sportsbooks started out by taking wagers via phone. When consumer internet became popular in the mid and late-1990s, the sportsbooks began accepting bets online.

The offshore sports wagering industry has grown due to increased comfort with bookmakers and mobile compatibility. Many online sportsbooks work to establish trust with customers by making timely payments and offering good customer support.

Even with the Supreme Court repealing PASPA, offshore sportsbooks haven’t missed a beat. They’re still offering sports betting to 40+ states, minus those that have explicitly banned online gambling or acted against offshore operators.

Americans from over 40 states can google online sports betting and quickly find an offshore book. From here, you can make a deposit with options like Bitcoin, Visa, or MasterCard.

In 2011, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) issued an opinion that the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 only applies to sports betting. The Wire Act makes it illegal to offer sports wagering across state lines.

This seemingly makes unregulated online sports betting illegal. Internet sportsbooks are basically violating federal law because the online version isn’t legal anywhere in the US.

But the federal government has chosen to ignore the industry for over two decades. And only a handful of states have strict laws against internet gambling.

We can expect the offshore betting industry to continue until either Congress and/or states begin taking serious steps to regulate the activity.

What States Will Legalize Sports Betting In The Near Future?
Given that New Jersey spearheaded the effort to repeal PASPA, it’s no surprise that they’reacting quickly to legalize the activity. In fact, former Gov. Chris Christie had already signed a sports betting bill before the pro sports leagues and NCAA sued him.

West Virginia is another state that passed sports betting legislation in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision. The main question is which states beyond West Virginia and New Jersey are going to move on sports gambling.

Maryland’s sports gambling bill passed the House but not the Senate. This legislation called for a November referendum that would allow voters to decide on the matter.

Other states that are serious about sports gambling include Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. They could all legalize sports betting within the next year.

Of course, Congress could place a federal ban on sports wagering in the future. But there are currently no plans for congressmen to discuss the matter any time soon.

Additionally, nobody expects Congress to take harsh action with little incentive to do so.

A number of other states will be interested in passing sports betting bills. Research from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates that 32 states could legalize the activity within the next five years.

It’s impossible to put an accurate number on how many states will allow sports betting this early on. But I believe that it’ll be at least two dozen in less than a decade.

What Sports Will And Won’t Be Available For Betting?
The Supreme Court’s decision paves the way for every betting option that Nevada sportsbooks currently offer. This includes professional and college sports, boxing, golf, horse racing, mixed martial arts, and international sporting events.

Standard types of bets offered with these sports point spreads, moneylines, totals (over/under), parlays, and teasers.

The main question lies in whether live betting and prop bets will be allowed. Certain sports leagues have asked states not to offer these options.

Live wagering allows bettors to gamble on outcomes during the game. For example, an NFL live bet might ask: “which team will score the next touchdown?”

Prop betting is based on individual propositions before the game begins. An example is: “which [basketball] player will make the first three-pointer?”

Even if some states oblige these requests, many bettors will be happy with the standard bets. After all, Nevada is currently the only state that can offer traditional betting.

Delaware and Oregon have sports lottery products, which basically amount to 3-team parlays. But both states eventually dropped their sports lottery offerings after legal threats from pro sports leagues and the NCAA.

When Will Online And Mobile Sports Betting Be Available?
The Supreme Court’s opinion doesn’t make a distinction between online and land-based sports betting. But it’s largely predicted that states will only offer land-based sports gambling in the immediate future.

Some states are already including mobile and online sports betting in legislation. New Jersey sportsbooks are planning to take bets online and through the phone.

But due to the Wire Act, states will only be able to offer internet sports betting within state lines. Something will have to change with regard to the Wire Act before this happens.

States have argued that without online sports gambling, they’ll continue losing money to offshore bookmakers. But don’t expect anything to happen on this front for at least 3-4 years.

Expect Daily Fantasy Sports Sites To Join The Sports Betting Party
Leading daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites DraftKings and FanDuel have advocated for sports betting. This makes it a guarantee that they’ll jump into the mix with their own sportsbooks.

The advantages for DraftKings and FanDuel are that they already have the infrastructure, customer bases, and brand recognition in place. They just need to partner with an existing casino within each state to participate.

Both companies are working with state gaming agencies to apply for licensing wherever legislation calls for online sports betting.

I mentioned how the Wire Act will prevent states from offering sports betting to other states. But DraftKings and FanDuel will be able to offer intrastate online sports wagering.

How Will Professional Sports Leagues Be Impacted by Legal Betting?
The NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL, and NCAA teamed up to sue New Jersey and stop them from offering legal sports betting. But the NHL, MLB, and NBA have since softened their stance.

All three leagues indicated that they knew sports wagering would be legal at some point. Their main issue is ensuring that the laws protect sports integrity and that the leagues receive some of the revenue.

The revenue would compensate leagues for additional costs arising from sports wagering, including education, investigations, and monitoring. But if the deal is favorable enough, they could end up with big profits too.

Studies have shown that sports gamblers watch NFL games about 20 times more than non-gamblers. An increased number of people gambling on sports bodes well for the leagues.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban noted how the decision figures to increase the value of sports franchises.

“I think everyone who owns a top four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double,” said Cuban. “It can finally become fun to go to a baseball game again.”

John S. Clark, a professor of sport management at Robert Morris University, noted that sports betting will bring some black-market betting to the forefront.

“I don’t know if it necessarily means it will create more gamblers,” said Clark. “but it brings some of that money that’s underground to a legitimate, taxable place. It could be a boon for the states.”

A Lot Must Be Worked Out With Legal Sports Betting
Pro sports leagues and the NCAA still hold some sway in this matter. And it could create conflict as states look to iron out the basics of regulated markets.

A big issue is a matter of how much compensation leagues will receive. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to collect 1% of total wagers as an “integrity fee” for his league alone.

This money would help cover the NBA’s six-year, $250-million deal with sports analytics companies Second Spectrum and Sportradar to monitor stats and watch for potential point shaving.

But American Gaming Association president Geoff Freeman explains that 1% is too much for sportsbooks, which only collect a small amount of “juice” from the losing side.

“A legal sports book realizes 3.5 to 5 percent in revenue,” said Freeman. “A 1 percent ‘integrity fee’ on all money wagered legally by Americans, as proposed by the NBA, amounts to 20 to 29 percent of total revenue.”

Freeman added that each league requiring such fees would eventually make it unprofitable for anybody to run a sportsbook.

Taxes are another concern. Pennsylvania’s legislation proposes that sportsbooks pay a 36% tax on profits, which would be the highest in the country.

The high rate would likely be passed on to the consumer. If the juice is too high at legal sportsbooks, then bettors will stay with online offshore bookmakers until things change.

Conclusion
The Supreme Court’s repeal of PASPA is a step in the right direction for bettors. This decision indicates the court’s belief that states shouldn’t be told how to act regarding sports gambling.

Instead, Congress needs to make a clear distinction on the matter. And they’re unlikely to ban the activity outright with several states moving forward.

New Jersey, West Virginia, and a few other places will already be offering sports betting by the time Congress acts. Therefore, congressmen are likely to impose light framework, rather than ban or legalize sports betting on a federal level.

The big concern I have is that the sports leagues have too much pull in the matter. Furthermore, the proposed fees reduce potential profits for sportsbooks.

It makes sense why the leagues would want additional compensation for having to monitor potential match-fixing. But 1% of total wagers for one league (NBA) is simply not happening.

Consider that Nevada alone accepted $4.87 billion worth of bets in 2017. This means that the NBA would receive $48.7 million of the total handle from one state.

If all five major sports entities demand 1%, then the sportsbooks would lose money just by operating. Therefore, a more-sensible resolution needs to be worked out.

Regarding the market’s timeframe, a few states could be up and running within a year. New Jersey and West Virginia have already passed legislation and are moving forward with PASPA dissolving.

But it’ll probably be 3-5 years before we see a sizable number of states with legal sports betting.

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.

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.

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.