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.

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.

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.