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I’ll answer these questions by covering how Americans currently bet, why PASPA was repealed, and what you can expect in the future with legal sports gambling.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

Video Poker Games

Video poker games are available in a variety of styles, with different pay tables and game features. In terms of the house edge, video poker is one of the best games on the casino floor. The games are also easy to learn and play.

Success at video poker means finding the right machine for your playing style and learning the proper strategy for that game.

How to Play Video Poker
While each game is a little different, they all operate in the same basic way:

Decide how many coins to wager. Most video poker games allow bets of between one and five units.
Press the “deal” button to receive five cards. Some video poker games may use a different arrangement of cards, but five is pretty much the modern standard.
Select which cards you want to keep by pressing their corresponding button. This is where strategy comes in.
Press the “draw” button to discard any cards you didn’t keep and add replacement cards to your hand.
You win if your form a hand with a listed payout on the pay table. These vary from game to game. Higher-value hands (royal flush, straight flush, etc.) will earn you a bigger payout than lower-value hands (two pair, aces high, etc.)
The Five Do’s of Video Poker
DO place the maximum bet on every hand. For most games, this means betting five coins per hand. This is important because you’ll only be eligible for a game’s top payouts if you place the max bet. Hint: if a game’s max bet is too high for your bankroll, switch to a cheaper machine.

DO review the rules and pay table of every game you play. Remember, this casino contest is available in a number of different varieties. Since each has its own set of rules and payouts, it’s easy to imagine making a simple mistake based on a misunderstanding of the rules.

DO get picky about what title you’ll play. You should play on video poker games that give you the best chance of winning. That means researching the pay tables and payback percentages of video poker titles and sticking to ones that give you the best advantage.

DO play using basic video poker strategy. Each game has its own ideal strategy. I’ve found that once you learn a couple of game strategies, it’s easier to learn the optimum play for a new title. Since you’re already researching the best machines, why not apply the best-possible strategy?

DO join the player’s club or VIP club. If you don’t join, you’ll miss out on possible comps and other rewards that are available to you at no extra charge. Depending on your level of play, you may earn anything from a free meals to a cash back offer and even more. Playing on the games with the lowest house edge according to basic strategy all while earning comps gives you the best attack against the casino’s edge.

Video Poker Variations
Why do so many video poker variations exist?

The games are popular. Video poker is an affordable game that combines the excitement and user-friendly status of slot machines with the skill element of poker.

Casinos will always host popular games. But because video poker tends to offer the house a small edge, casinos have to host a ton of them, and entice people to play with rule and pay table variety.

Casino gamblers are naturally drawn to new titles. They’re also susceptible to gimmicks, like the kind new video poker titles provide.

Here’s a list of the most popular variations of video poker currently available, either online or in land-based casinos. Following the list, I’ve prepared a short summary of the most popular games.

Ace Deuce Bonus Poker Ace Invaders Ace on the Deal
Aces and Eights Aces and Faces Aces Bonus Poker
Acey Deucey poker All Aces All American
Anythings Wild Atomic Fever Big Split poker
Big Times Draw Poker Big Win Poker Blackjack Bonus Poker
Bonus Deuces Wild Bonus Poker Bonus Poker Deluxe
Bonus Poker Plus Bonus Royals Build a Wheel
Chase the Royal Deuce on the Deal Deuces and Joker Wild
Deuces Wild Dice Fever Double Aces and Faces
Double Bonus Double Bonus Deuces Wild Double Bonus Poker Plus
Double Deuces Wild Double Double Aces and Faces Double Double Bonus
Double Double Jackpot Double Draw Double Draw Aces
Double Jackpot Double Joker Double Pay
Dual Action Poker Extra Draw Frenzy Extreme X
Faces and Deuces Five Aces Poker Flush Fever
Full House Bonus Poker Guaranteed Play Hyper Bonus
Jackpot Poker Jacks or Better Joker Poker
Loose Deuces Match Card Multi Strike
Multi Strike Deluxe No Risk Double Up One Eyed Jack
Pick-em Poker Power Quads Quick Quads
Royal Aces Bonus Poker Royal Court Royal Draw
Second Chance Royal Sequential Royal Sevens and Jokers Wild
Sevens Wild Spin Poker Split Way Royal
Stack-em poker Stud Choice poker Super Aces Bonus Poker
Super Bonus Deuces Wild Super Double Bonus Super Double Double Bonus
Super Draw Poker Super Times Pay Super Triple Bonus
Super Video Holdem Tens or Better Three Card Draw Poker
Three Way Action Triple Bonus Triple Bonus Poker Plus
Triple Deuces Wild Triple Double Bonus Triple Triple Bonus
Triple Trouble Ultimate Four of a Kind Bonus Ultimate X
Ultra Bonus Poker Video Holdem Wheel Poker
Wheel Poker Deluxe White Hot Aces Winning Streak poker
Jacks or Better
Jacks or Better is one the best-known and most common variation. I don’t remember ever playing at a casino that didn’t offer Jacks or Better.

The game is available with different pay tables. The best table for the player is known as a “9 / 6 machine,” offering a payback percentage per hand of .995.

The reason this type of game is called a 9 / 6 machine is because it pays 9 credits for a full house and 6 credits for a flush. Other game pay 8 for the full house and 5 for the flush, which reduces the player’s profits and increases the casino’s advantage.

Deuces Wild
Deuces Wild is a common entry in the “wild” category. I’d say wild-card games in general (and Deuces Wild in particular) is one of the two most popular titles along with Jacks or Better.

Similar to that game, Deuces Wild is available in a variety of pay charts, ranging from “full pay machines” all the way down to machines that pay less than .95 back per hand.

A common variety of Deuces Wild found in casinos is “Not So Ugly Ducks Deuces Wild.” It has a great pay table, compared to other versions. The pay back per hand is .997, making it one of the best machines on any floor where you find the game.

Bonus Poker
Bonus Poker is a slight variation on the popular Jacks or Better machine. The biggest difference is that Bonus Poker offers a higher-than-usual payout for four-of-a-kind hands. The best pay chart for Bonus Poker is an 8 / 5 chart, returning .992 per hand.

Pick-em Poker
Pick-em Poker is a less-known variation of the game that’s gained a lot of attention because it’s so different from most titles.

Using a standard 52-card deck, the game starts by dealing you two cards.

Next, the game offers you your choice from two different cards. After adding one, you see another pair of cards, then another, and then a final pair, allowing you to increase your hand to five cards. Pay outs are made according to the pay table on the machine.

Pick-em Poker is known for offering an awesome payback percentage. The best pay table offers a return of over .999 per hand, assuming you’re using perfect strategy.

The ideal pay chart for Pick-em Poker (the one descried above) looks like this:

Hand Payout
Royal Flush 1,200
Straight Flush 239.8
Four of a Kind 120
Full House 18
Flush 15
Straight 11
Three of a Kind 5
Two Pair 3
9s or Better 2
Tens or Better
Tens or Better is another Jacks or Better clone. It’s popular because of a rule variation that pays out winnings for a pair of tens or better, rather than a pair of Jacks or better.

Two common pay tables exist for the game – one pays 25 credits for a four of a kind hand and the other pays just 20 credits for the same hand. The expected return for the 25-credit table is .991, while the expected return per hand for the 20-credit table is.980.

Recapping the First Week of Action from the 2018 World Series of Poker WSOP

With the first seven days of the 2018 World Series of Poker now in the books, seven players have claimed the most prestigious prize in the game – a gold WSOP bracelet.

And like always, the WSOP has awarded bracelets to players of all caliber, from a former Main Event World Champion to a local poker dealer who parlayed his one time into a life-changing score.

To keep you up to date on all of the final tables and bracelet wins from the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas – home of the WSOP – check out the tournament capsules below for a full rundown of results. You’ll find winner’s info, the final table finishing order, prizes paid, superstars in the mix, and the most enduring storylines from the events that have concluded thus far.

Event #1: $565 Casino Employees No Limit Holdem (May 30 – June 1)
Winner: Jordan Hufty
Prize: $61,109
Field: 566 entries

The opening event at every WSOP is a special tournament open only to casino employees.

This extends far beyond the Rio’s walls though, so anybody who is gainfully employed within the wider gaming industry is eligible to enter the Casino Employees event.

That was good news for Jordan Hufty, a Las Vegas local who works as a poker dealer and floorman at the Aria – a casino resort located on the nearby Strip. Before firing the $565 buy-in needed to secure a stack, Hufty had recorded just two live tournament cashes ever – good for just over $1,900 in total.

Two days after taking his seat, however, and Hufty had increased his bankroll by leaps and bounds. Following two days of play, Hufty claimed the last chip in play, emerging from a field of 566 entries to win his first WSOP gold bracelet.

Having begun Day 1 with 5,000 chips to work with, Hufty managed to build his stack up to 399,000 by day’s end. He received about 150,000 of those bullets near the very end of the night, eliminating the 15th and 14th place players from the field in two straight hands.

With that, the final 13 were set, and Hufty held a second-place chip stack entering the last day of play. The only player with more chips in their arsenal at that point was Jodie Sanders, which was only fitting, as Hufty and Sanders wound up facing off heads-up for the bracelet.

When that duel began, Hufty held 1.83 million chips to Sanders’ 1.02 million, but a back and forth battle ensured over the next four hours, with both players exchanging the lead.

Finally, on the 190th hand of the final table, a short-stacked Sanders shoved his last 700,000 or so into the middle holding pocket 3s. Hufty woke up with K-Q offsuit and made the call, but he bricked through the turn on a 10-9-2-7 board.

The river rained down a King, however, sending the match – and the gold bracelet – to a grateful Hufty.

Speaking to the assembled poker media after the final card hit the felt, Hufty was overcome with emotions:

“I’ve thought about this every day for the last 15 years and for it to actually happen is just unbelievable.
I have a passion for poker, it’s just something you can’t explain.
It’s nice that this happened so early in the Series so I will probably fire a few more events here and there.”
Check out how the rest of the final table fared below:

Final Table Results:
1st place: Jordan Hufty $61,909
2nd place: Jodie Sanders $38,246
3rd place: Katie Kopp $26,250
4th place: Zachary Seymour $18,332
5th place: Won Kim $13,031
6th place: Tom Booker $9,432
7th place: Thomas Yenowine $6,953
8th place: Skyler Yeaton $5,222
9th place: Jason Pepper $3,998
10th place: Brad Helm $3,120
Event #2: $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty No Limit Holdem (May 30)
Winner: Elio Fox (2nd bracelet)
Prize: $393,693
Field: 243 entries

As a new addition to the WSOP schedule (can link here to previous post on new events), the $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty No Limit Holdem event had a lot of working parts for players to sort through.

In exchange for the big $10K buy-in, the starting stacks were increased to 50,000 chips. But as the “Super Turbo” caveat suggests, the pace was fast and furious with blind levels shortened to just 20 minutes.

Finally, eliminating any player from the field was enough to earn a $3,000 bounty.

With all of those features combined, Event #2 of this year’s WSOP proved to be a smashing success. A total of 243 players showed up, including many of the brightest stars in poker.

Twitch streaming sensation Jason Somerville, high-roller extraordinaire Fedor Holz, Stephen Chidwick, and Steffen Sontheimer, and 2016 WSOP Main Event champ Joe McKeehen were among the early casualties. The all-time winningest WSOP player, 14-time bracelet holder Phil Hellmuth, also took a shot and missed the mark.

With so many stars when the early level fireworks reached their finale, the final table lineup was stacked to say the least. Joe Cada – winner of the 2009 WSOP Main Event and a two-time bracelet winner to that point – was in the house, along with two-time bracelet holder Paul Volpe, and 2011 WSOP Europe Main Event champ Elio Fox.

Cada hit the rail first with a 9th place finish, while Volpe dominated the final table’s early going.

But with six players remaining, Fox sprung into action by calling two all-in bets with his A-K offsuit. He was out in front of Danny Wong’s A-10 of clubs, but Charles Johanin’s J-J created a classic coin flip confrontation.

The flop came down all baby cards with three hearts, and with the Ace of hearts in hand, Fox saw his outs increase from five to 14. He found one of them on the turn with the Ace of spades, and a brick on the river sent the massive pot of 7 million chips his way – while consigning Johanin and Wong to 5th and 4th place finishes, respectively.

Shortly thereafter, Fox dispatched Volpe in 3rd place when A-J held over A-8 in a preflop all-in situation. That gave him a big 7 to 1 lead against Adam Adler heads-up, and while Adler acquitted himself nicely by fighting back to double up, Fox won another big flip with 2-2 over A-10 to clinch his second gold bracelet.

Here’s how he described the unique Super Turbo Bounty structure during his winner’s interview:

“There was such a big field. And I think there was a good mixture of pros and recreational players.
I think doing turbos is great because it’s good for non-professional players who can finish an event quickly.
“Bounty turbo formats appear a lot online, so I’ve definitely played it a lot, but I think it’s a great addition to the WSOP schedule.”
Check below to see where the rest of the final table wound up, and how much they took home:

Final Table Results:
1st place: Elio Fox $393,693
2nd place: Adam Adler $253,343
3rd place: Paul Volpe $169,195
4th place: Danny Wong $119,659
5th place: Charles Johanin $86,096
6th place: Alex Foxen $63,042
7th place: David Eldridge $46,993
8th place: Taylor Black $35,671
9th place: Joe Cada $27,582
Event #3: $3,000 No Limit Holdem Shootout (May 31 – June 3)
Winner: Joe Cada (3rd bracelet)
Prize: $226,218
Field: 363 entries

Back in 2009, when Joe Cada took down poker’s most prestigious title, the 21-year old WSOP Main Event champion was dubbed the “The Kid.”

Fast forward nearly a decade later, and an older, wiser Cada hasn’t lost his winning ways. After final tabling, the previous $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty, the Michigan-based pro went to work in Event #3: $3,000 No Limit Holdem Shootout.

Unlike the majority of WSOP bracelet events, which are played out as multi-table tournaments, the Shootout uses a single-table structure. On the first day of play, the 363 entrants were divided into 50 tables, and the action played out either seven- or eight-handed.

These sit-and-go tables were a one-and-done affair, so players needed only to win their table to advance to Day 2. Among those to do so were the “Poker Brat” himself, Phil Hellmuth, along with multiple bracelet winners like Eli Elezra, Chris Moorman, Joe McKeehen, and of course, Cada.

Day 2 saw the remaining 50 players divided into 10 five-handed tables, and when it was all said and done, both Cada and McKeehen made their way to the final 10-handed table. That pitted two former WSOP Main Event World Champions against one another, with both looking to claim their third career bracelet.

Eventually, the pair played their way down to three-handed play, with Sam Phillips standing in their way. Phillips found himself crippled down to 100,000, or less than two big blinds, but he managed to triple up and survive.

McKeehen, meanwhile, had dominated through much of the final table, but he ultimately fell in 3rd place after making a bold play to go for the win. With 6-6 in the hole, McKeehen watched Cada three-bet big, so he responded with an all-in shove.

Cada had him covered in chips, and with a better pocket pair in K-K, he made the easy call. A flop of K-Q-J seemed to leave McKeehen dead in the water, but he found the 6 of hearts on the turn for the sweat. Alas, the case 6 failed to materialize for the miracle comeback, and McKeehen was ousted in his second major 3rd place run – having almost won the World Poker Tour Bobby Baldwin Classic just before the WSOP kicked off.

With a massive chip lead now secured, Cada looked to have things wrapped up, but Phillips pushed back with two straight doubles to even the score.

Finally, with their stacks essentially even, Cada called with 6-6 after Phillips shoved his A-4 offsuit. Phillips found a 4 on the flop, but no more help would arrive, sending the bracelet and the cash over to “The Kid.”

With two final tables under his belt in the first two events, Cada was clearly confident in his game while talking to reporters after the win:

“I’m feeling great, it’s tough to win any No-Limit tournament. It means a lot to win my third bracelet.
I have loved the WSOP ever since being a kid, I watched it all the time on TV. Winning these bracelets, it’s unreal.
You’ve got to just run good and I’m lucky to run better than everyone else.”
Complete final table placement and payouts can be found below:

Final Table Results:
1st place: Joe Cada $226,218
2nd place: Sam Phillips $139,804
3rd place: Joe McKeehen $101,766
4th place: Jack Maskill $74,782
5th place: Harry Lodge $55,480
6th place: IharSoika $41,559
7th place: Anthony Reategui $31,435
8th place: Taylor Wilson $24,013
9th place: Joshua Turner $18,526
10th place: Jeffrey Trudeau $14,437
Event #4: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better (May 31 – June 3)
Winner: Julien Martini
Prize: $239,771
Field: 911 entries

The first event of the series to feature a poker variant other than No Limit Texas Holdem, the four-card game of Omaha Hi Lo 8 or Better is, appropriately enough, found fourth on the schedule.

For Holdem fans who aren’t aware, Omaha simply puts four hole cards in your starting hand, rather than two. From there, the game plays out similarly, with players sharing a flop, turn, and river on the community card board. At showdown, players table their best two-card combination, and in conjunction with three board cards, form their best possible hand.

Pot Limit Omaha uses only high hands, while the Omaha Hi Lo 8 or Better version offers two ways to win.

Whenever a player can table a five-card low – or a run of cards all under 8 – they’re eligible to claim half the pot.

With a relatively low buy-in of $1,500, Event #4 attracted 911 entries, including well-known multiple bracelet winners like Mike “The Mouth” Matusow and Layne “Back to Back” Flack.

While several stars made deep runs, the final table was largely occupied by up and coming grinders and outright amateurs.

The most recognizable name for poker fans was probably Kate Hoang, a recreational player who happens to be one of the best in the world at Omaha Hi Lo 8 or Better. Of her seven career cashes at the WSOP, Hoang has made the money in this variant every time out – including an 8th place run at last year’s $10,000 World Championship of the game.

Hoang very nearly won her first bracelet this time around, putting on a show for the ages during a nearly four-hour heads-up match against Julien Martini.

In the end, however, Hoang fell just short and had to settle for 2nd place.

As for Martini, the Frenchmen told media members that winning his first gold bracelet was literally a dream come true:

“It was a dream when I was 14 years old.
What kind of guy can win a $1,500 tournament or a $10,000? I was dreaming about this for seven years, and it is one of the best things in my life.
I am very proud and super happy.”
See below for a full rundown of the eight-handed final table:

Final Table Results:
1st place: Julien Martini $239,771
2nd place: Kate Hoang $148,150
3rd place: Mack Lee $104,016
4th place: William Kopp $74,058
5th place: Brandon Ageloff $53,482
6th place: Chad Eveslage $39,182
7th place: Rafael Concepcion $29,128
8th place: Denny Axel $21,977
Event #5: $100,000 No Limit Holdem High Roller (June 1 – 4)
Winner: Nick Petrangelo (2nd bracelet)
Prize: $2,910,227
Field: 105 entries

Over the last few years, poker has been transformed by the rise of the high-rollers.

Whereas the biggest tournaments in the world used to cost $10,000 to enter, maybe $25,000 for a special event – today’s top players routinely pony up six-figures to play against their elite peers.

Just before the WSOP got underway in fact, the Aria hosted an exclusive $300,000 event known as the Super High Roller Bowl.

There, veteran pro Nick Petrangelo weaved his way to a 6th place result, good enough for a $900,000 cash. He used a portion of those winnings to enter Event #5: $100,000 No Limit Holdem High Roller – appearing on the WSOP schedule for the first time ever.

Once again squaring off with the best players in the world, Petrangelo proved he belonged in that group by playing his way to heads-up. There, he faced none other than Elio Fox, winner of the $10,000 Super Turbo Bounty event a few days earlier.

Unfortunately for poker fans watching the live stream from home, Petrangelo and Fox elected to strike a deal, “chopping” the last $4.7 million up for grabs evenly among themselves. From there, a series of blind bets and raises finished off the on-felt action, and Petrangelo was lucky enough to “win” his second career bracelet.

Here’s how he described the last week of high-stakes, high-roller action to assembled media after the win:

“Last week I played the Super High Roller Bowl. Then the very next day I jumped right into this.
So after a super intense week, it feels like a relief to be done more than anything. There’s a lot of pressure playing against really tough players for huge buy-ins, especially with the stream.
This kind of event is super tough, but they’re really fun, and it’s what I love to do.”
Look below for the full final table lineup:

Final Table Results:

1st place: Nick Petrangelo $2,910,227
2nd place: Elio Fox $1,798658
3rd place: AymonHata $1,247,230
4th place: Andreas Eiler $886,793
5th place: Bryn Kenney $646,927
6th place: Stephen Chidwick $484,551
7th place: Jason Koon $372,894
8th place: Adrian Mateos $295,066
Event #8: $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball (June 2 – 5)
Winner: Johannes Becker
Prize: $180,455
Field:321 entries

The majority of recreational players don’t know much about Lowball games like Ace-to-Five or Deuce-to-Seven, but these variants are classics. Along with Badugi, a draw game based on landing four low cards featuring all four suits, those games comprise Event #8: $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw lowball.

Johannes Becker of Germany outlasted the 321-player field to win his first career bracelet, and to hear him tell the tale, the three-game mix was right up his alley:

“I was kind of wondering whether I should play or not.
But given that I’ve been looking forward to this specific tournament and it’s kind of my mix, I decided to give it a shot anyway.”
I didn’t expect to win. I started catching cards and that worked out great.”
Info on the entire six-handed final table can be found below:

Final Table Results:

1st place: Johannes Becker $180,455
2nd place: Scott Seiver $111,516
3rd place: Jesse Hampton $71,547
4th place: Chris Vitch $47,166
5th place: George Trigeorgis $31,873
6th place: Luis Velador $22,304
Event #10: $365 WSOP.com Online No Limit Holdem (June 3)
Winner: William ‘Twooopair’ Reymond
Prize: $154,996
Field: 2,972 entries

Online bracelet events debuted in 2015, courtesy of the legal and regulated WSOP.com online poker platform.

Pro player Anthony Spinella took that inaugural tournament down, and he made the final table in this one, the first of four online events on the summer.

But Spinella bowed out in 7th place, leaving William ‘Twooopair’ Reymond to battle it out heads-up against Shawn ‘sHaDySTeeM’ Stroke.

The tournament played out entirely on WSOP.com within one day’s time, and when it was all said and done, Reymond turned his first recorded tournament cash into his first gold bracelet.

To see how the rest of the final table stacked up, see below:

Final Table Results:

1st place: William ‘Twooopair’ Reymond $154,996
2nd place: Shawn ‘sHaDySTeeM’ Stroke $94,265
3rd place: Stephen ‘SteveSpuell’ Buell $69,017
4th place: Ryan ‘LoveMy11Cats’ Belz $50,593
5th place: Elliott ‘Ekampen05’ Kampen $37,530
6th place: Josh ‘YoelRomero’ King $27,977
7th place: Anthony ‘nowb3athat’ Spinella $21,251
8th place: Michael ‘myapologies’ Hauptman $16,279
9th place: Jennifer ‘moistymire’ Miller $12,478
Conclusion
The first week of the WSOP is in the books, and we have several more before the big main event gets underway. While the series isn’t as popular as it was a few years back, it still draws thousands of players from all over the world to compete for fame, money, and a gold bracelet.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Slot Machines Strategy

If you’re searching for a winning slot machine strategy, let me disappoint you right from the beginning: there is no winning slots strategy. There’s a reason why casinos make the bulk of their profits from slots, and it’s because the game is always going to favor the house in the long run.

Instead of filling your head with superstition and wishful thinking, the purpose of this article is to focus on sensible ways to save money while playing slots, as well as dispelling a number of myths and half-truths that surround the game. I know that’s not as sexy as offering you some miraculous method of play, but I think it’s better to be realistic about a situation than look at the world through rose colored glasses (with regards to John Conlee).

The Random Number Generator Explained
All slot machines have a random number generator, whether they’re land-based or online. This device operates with computer precision, constantly generating numbers at the rate of hundreds or thousands of combinations each minute. The instant you press the spin button, the RNG grabs the most recent strong of numbers and compares them to their matching symbols on the reels. Before the colorful reels even begin to spin, the outcome has already been determined internally.

While certain symbols are weighted to show up more often than others, the combinations are entirely random and cannot be predicted by the human brain. Each spin is also independent of all others, which means slots never get hot or cold. If a game paid out a massive jackpot five minutes ago to a lucky player, you can take over the machine and enjoy the same (if unlikely) mathematical chance of hitting the jackpot.

The Best Slots Strategy
Without a doubt, the best slots strategy is simply to avoid slot machines in favor of other casino games. Slots are one of the worst bets when it comes to odds, and the fact that the payback percentage is usually kept secret doesn’t help matters.

No slot machine on the planet offers a 100% payback percentage, which means all games are programmed to take in more money that they pay out. That means anyone who plays long enough is going to come out on the losing end, so either avoid them entirely or cash out as soon as you’re lucky enough to score a decent win.

Ways to Save Money at Slots
If you want to walk away a winner, the best thing you can do is manage your money. In order to help you do so, here are some practical tips to remember during your next gaming session:

Avoid Big Progressive Jackpots – Games with massive progressive jackpots (Wheel of Fortune, for example) tend to have worse odds than machines with lower payouts. If you want to be smart, stay away from the monster progressives no matter how tempting they seem. Even though a winning spin could allow you to retire, the most likely outcome is a quick drain on your finances.

Research Online Casinos – Before you play at an online casino, always do some research to make sure that it pays its players in a prompt manner and has an overall solid reputation. While this might not help you win at slots, it can save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run (especially when a winning balance is involved).

Choose Games with Smaller Jackpots – These machines are usually easier to win on, even though the payouts may not be as generous. If you’re looking to play for fun instead of profit (which should always be the case), stick to the machines on the lower end of the spectrum.

Play Off the Strip – If you’re fond of playing at brick-and-mortar casinos, I suggest giving your business to the more out-of-the-way establishments. They’re likely to offer better payouts, as they need to do so to help siphon away customers from their better situated competitors.

Manage Your Bankroll – Before you begin a session, always calculate how much money you can afford to lose. Once that amount is gone, stop playing immediately. While that might not sound like the most exciting slots strategy, it’s much preferred over dipping into your personal savings and then being unable to pay for food or rent the following month.

Take Advantage of Comps – If you’re a regular player at land-based casinos, it’s common to receive comps from the casino in order to ensure you continued patronage. Always look to take advantage of these perks, as free hotel accommodations or meals can turn an otherwise losing trip into a profitable one. Just make sure that your player’s club card (issued for free by the casino) is always inserted into the machine, as this allows the establishment to monitor playing sessions and ensure that you’ll be awarded for frequent business.

Don’t Get Drunk – People who drink and gamble often lose control of their senses and make stupid decisions. This can have disastrous results, so always try to keep a clear head during a session.

Slots Machine Myths & Strategies to Avoid
While no slot machine strategy is going to allow you to win on a consistent basis, there are some playing techniques and myths that may actually hurt your chances in the long term. At the very least, following these methods may make you look foolish to any knowledgeable slots player in the vicinity. So whether you’re more concerned with saving money or maintaining your dignity, don’t fall for the misinformation and superstitions listed in this section.

Casino Slots Don’t Cheat – When a player loses or even fails to win big, there’s often a tendency to accuse the casino of cheating. This is especially true of slots, and the solitary nature of the game allows players to sit alone and grumble about their misfortune.

Let me assure you right now that casinos—both online and land-based—don’t cheat when it comes to slot machines. There’s no need to, actually, as these games are always programmed to generate a profit for the house over the long term.

If a machine pays back 98% of the money put into it, then it’s guaranteed to make a 2% profit over time. That might not seem like a great amount at first, but consider all the people who play slots on a daily basis, as well as the sheer number of virtual and land-based machines.

Based on volume alone, 2% generates a nice chunk of change over time. All the casino has to do is sit back and rake in the revenue.

Slots Aren’t “Due” to Hit – With slot machines, past events have no influence over future events. If a slot has a 1 in 50,000 chance of hitting, those numbers are going to be the same on every spin, regardless of what happened during the previous one. If a slot hasn’t paid out in a while, your odds of winning aren’t any better or worse than they’ve ever been.

Pressing the Button at the Right Time – Another common myth about slots involves pressing the spin button at just the right time to get an advantage. As discussed earlier, the random number generator is spitting out streams of digits each second, and it locks onto a group as soon as the button is pushed to determine the symbol combination for that spin.

If you could predict the exact numbers generator, know how they correspond to game icons, and push the spin button with superhuman reflexes, then you might be able to get an advantage. None of these are possible, however, so this is nothing more than a pipe dream.

Lever vs Button – Some land-based casinos still include a lever on the side of the machine, although these are becoming increasingly uncommon. Some players think that pulling the lever provides an inherent advantage, although this is just another example of wishful thinking.

Men Selling Secrets – You’ll find a lot of people online who are willing to sell their winning slot machine secrets for just $19.95. Don’t be one of the chumps who deposits money into the bank accounts of these con men, as their so-called secrets are nothing but a bunch of nonsense. In most cases, it’s not even original nonsense, but rather long-standing “systems” that can be found for free all over the Internet.

One of the most ridiculous examples is the “Zig Zag” system, so called because the player is asked to zig zag across the casino floor looking for slots where the last position of the reels is just short of a winning combination. The supposed logic is that if the machine nearly hit a payout, then those symbols are due to line up soon and deliver a win.

Picture me writing this article. Now picture me shaking my head in disbelief that anyone would fall for this silliness.

If someone actually possessed a foolproof method for beating slots, they’d get crazy rich off the information and retire; they wouldn’t waste their time peddling cheaply produced e-books to the general public. The individuals in this line of business are bottom feeders of the lowest order, as they prey on the ignorant and desperate to achieve their ill-gotten gains.

Always Play Maximum Coins – A lot of experts suggest playing maximum coins, as some jackpots aren’t available unless you’re risking the maximum amount of money. If you can’t afford to do this, then they suggest moving down to the next denomination.

This isn’t the best strategy, however. You’ll usually lose less than 1% of the possible return by playing the smallest amount of the highest denomination, while moving down to a lesser denomination will wind up costing you more than 1%.

Sure, you’ll be screwed if you hit the jackpot and miss out because you didn’t play maximum coins. If you’re relying on the jackpots to make a profit, however, then you’re already in trouble.

Consulting the Staff – Some players believe that members of the casino staff are aware of the most profitable slots, since they spend all day around the machines. Please take a moment and think about that statement. If waitresses and attendants actually had a line on machines that would consistently generate a profit for the player, they’d be busy pumping money into the machine instead of waiting on you hand and foot. As I’ve said before, the house has an edge over everyone…even its own employees.

Location of a Slot Machine – Players at land-based casinos frequently buy into the mistaken notion that the most profitable slots are placed near casinos doors and intersections in order to attract additional business. First of all, slots are placed randomly on the casino floor. Secondly, a casino doesn’t need to resort to such tactics to lure in extra business. As the disembodied voice said in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”

There’s No Correlation between Time and a Winning Slot – Another common misconception is that slots are more likely to pay out at certain times of the day or during special events. The RNG is totally oblivious to whether it’s noon, midnight, Wednesday, or the day of a lunar eclipse. It just goes about its business as always, which is what you should be doing instead of falling for folklore and old wives’ tales.

The Hot Coin Myth – Some poor fools cling to the notion that a warm coin inserted into a land-based machine provides a better chance of winning. I hope you’ve never tried this tactic, as nothing could be further from the truth.

The random number generator doesn’t give a hoot about the temperature of the coin, and even if this were true it certainly wouldn’t apply to online games. If you want to look like a total noob at a casino, however, be sure to rub each coin vigorously between your fingers before inserting it into the machine.

The 75% Payback Myth – Thanks to a misinformed Travel Channel show on gambling several years ago, a lot of players have the mistaken notion that most slots are set to have a 75% payback percentage. Just in case you saw that episode or had the details related to you by a panicked friend, let me assure you that the information is false.

The truth of the matter is that most slots are programmed to pay back anywhere from 87% to 97% of the money put into them. Even a low-paying slot should be around 85%, and it should also be reassuring to know that most gambling bodies have a minimum requirement to prevent casinos from setting their machines to some ridiculously low number.

If you play online, you may even come out ahead of your land-based counterparts. Internet slot machines tend to be programmed with an overall higher payback percentage in order to lure customers away from brick-and-mortar establishments and remain competitive with other virtual gaming sites.

Dollar Slots – Remember that brilliant Travel Channel gambling episode I mentioned in the last entry? Well, they also put forward the notion that dollar slots give a player the best possible odds among casino games. Whoever approved this in the script should’ve received a comp trip to Vegas from some shrewd casino, as they could’ve likely cleaned the person out within a matter of hours.

The idea that dollar slots give you a better chance of winning than video poker is ridiculous. For that matter, certain craps and roulette bets are superior wagers for the player. In the grand scheme, dollar slots are far down the list when it comes to odds. An instant progressive millionaire might disagree, but these events are few and far between.

Conclusion
As you may have realized by now, there’s no slot machine strategy that’s going to allow you to beat the house on a consistent basis. Perhaps even more sobering, there’s no strategy that can even guarantee and player of breaking even.

The moment you place your money into a slot, you’re leaving the results in the fickle hands of Lady Luck. And while this mercurial entity may sometimes smile on players, she can also be a harsh mistress who sometimes delights in draining bank accounts and ruining lives. Now that I think of it, Lady Luck is actually kind of a jerk.

The only foolproof strategy that works 100% of the time is this: don’t play slots. The odds are always in favor of the house, and even the occasional winning streak can quickly be erased by playing at higher denominations. If you’re serious about making a profit at the casino, I suggest playing video poker, as it’s about the only game that gives the player a mathematical advantage under the right circumstances.

If you want to have a bit of fun and take a shot at winning a huge jackpot, then there’s nothing wrong with spending a few bucks on slots from time to time. Just keep the right state of mind, focus on having fun, and view any winnings as a nice bonus to supplement your session.

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.