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.

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.