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.

Card Games in the Casino

The first thing that many casino players think of when they picture the inside of a casino are the slot machines, because slots tend to take up the most space. But there are also plenty of other options when it comes to casino games. As you continue reading below you will find a list of popular casino card games and descriptions of each.

The list below is extensive, but I can’t claim it to be 100% complete, as there are new games developed every day and there are obscure games that pop up now and then. But if you familiarize yourself with the card games on this page you won’t have any trouble finding a game to play at any casino.

Blackjack
Blackjack is by far the most popular casino card game. Almost everyone has either played blackjack or has seen it being played, but if you need a refresher here is a quick rundown on how to play.

Each player receives two cards and the dealer receives one card face down and one face up. Each player in turn then decides whether to stand pat, receive another card or cards (hit), split, double down or surrender (where available). Once all of the players have either busted (exceeded a total of 21) or stand the dealer flips their hole card over and completes his or her hand.

Dealers always hit when they have 16 or less and stand when they have 18 or more. Depending on the house rules, they always stand on hard 17’s but in some places they will hit on soft 17 and in others they will stand on soft 17.

This is just a basic overview, so if you want to play blackjack you should study the rules and table variations before investing a great deal of money. You can also play for free at most online casinos before playing for real money which is a great way to learn more about the game.

There are many different varieties of blackjack. A few of them are covered below, like Spanish 21, but you will find 21 game variations in just about every casino. They are almost always based on the same basic concept of getting a higher total than the dealer without going over 21 but will have different rule variations beyond that.

For example, there are blackjack games where both dealer cards are played face up and games where you are dealt two hands and the second cards on each hand can be switched. The most important thing to do is make sure you understand the rules and content of the deck before playing. The reason I mention the content of the deck is because some forms remove certain cards from the deck.

For an example of one of these games see the Spanish 21 information below.

3 Card Poker
3 Card Poker, also called Tri Card Poker, is a game where you play a three card poker hand against the dealer’s three card hand. The dealer has to qualify with a queen high or better in order to pay off on the raise bet. To start play you place a bet on the ante circle. You also may place an optional wager on the pair+ circle. After you receive your three cards you either fold, which surrenders your ante bet, or you raise by placing a bet the same size as your ante bet in the raise circle.

If you raise and the dealer does not qualify you receive even money on your ante bet and the raise bet is a push. When you raise and the dealer qualifies and you have a better hand than the dealer your ante bet and the raise wager both receive even money. There are bonuses paid on your ante bet for certain hands.

A common pay table for ante bonuses is a straight pays 1 to 1, three of a kind pays 4 to 1 and a straight flush pays 5 to 1. The pair plus has different pay tables at different casinos, but a common one pays 1 to 1 for a pair, 4 to 1 for a flush, 6 to 1 for a straight, 25 to 1 for three of a kind and 35 to 1 for a straight flush.

4 Card Poker
4 Card Poker is played much like 3 Card Poker except the dealer always qualifies. The player receives five cards and the dealer receives six, with five down and one face up. Each forms his or her best four card poker hand.

The player antes to start play and must place another wager of one to three times the ante to remain in the hand after receiving his or her cards. Bonuses are paid for certain hands and there are side bets available.

Baccarat
Baccarat is a casino card game that is played for some of the highest stakes around the world. When you start playing Baccarat you must place a bet on the banker, the player or a tie. After placing your bet all of the rest of the action is completed based on very strict rules, making this one of the easiest casino card games to play.

The object is to have the hand you bet on score a higher total than the other hand, or for the two hands to tie in the event you bet on a tie. Scores only go up to 9, as any digits in the tens column are dropped.

For example, a hand with a 10 and an 8 will score as an 8, not an 18. A hand containing an ace and 6 scores a total of 7.

Winning bets on the player pay 1 to 1 and winning bets on the banker pay 1 to 1 minus a small house commission, usually 5%. The tie bet usually pays 9 to 1, but it can vary.

Pai Gow Poker
In Pai Gow Poker the dealer and player each receive seven cards. These seven cards are divided into a five card poker hand and a two card hand. The five card hand has to be higher than the two card hand.

In order to win, the player’s five card hand has to be better than the dealer’s five card hand AND the player’s two card hand must be better than the dealer’s two card hand. When the player wins the casino collects a commission, usually 5%.

When both of the dealer’s hands are better than the players the player loses their wager. The outcome of the majority of hands is a push when the dealer has one better hand and the player has the other better hand.

Caribbean Stud Poker
Caribbean Stud Poker is a popular casino card game that usually has a side progressive jackpot wager available. Players start by placing an ante wager and the optional progressive side bet if they want. The player and dealer each receive five cards with only one of the dealers turned face up.

The player then either folds or raises. A raise is twice the amount of the original ante. The dealer only qualifies with a hand of ace king or higher. If the dealer does not qualify all ante bets are paid even money and all raises are pushed.

When the dealer qualifies and the player has a better hand both the ante and raise bets win for the player. The ante bet pays 1 to 1 and the raise wager is paid from a chart.

A common pay out chart is 1 to 1 for a pair or less, 2 to 1 for two pair, 3 to 1 for three of a kind, 4 to 1 for a straight, 5 to 1 for a flush, 7 to 1 for a full house, 20 to 1 for four of a kind, 50 to 1 for a straight flush and 100 to 1 for a royal flush.

Let It Ride
Let It Ride Poker is a version of five card stud where each player receives three cards and two cards are turned face up on the table. The two face up cards are used in combination with each player’s three cards to form their best poker hand.

Players do not play against the dealer. They are paid based on a pay table starting with a pair of tens or better.

Each player starts by placing three equal sized wagers. After they receive their three cards they may pull one wager back or let it ride. After the first face up card is dealt they can pull a bet back or let it ride.

So the player will always have at least one wager on the table at the end and may have up to three. A common pay table pays 1 to 1 for a pair of tens or better, 2 to 1 for two pair, 3 to 1 for three of a kind, 5 to 1 for a straight, 8 to 1 for a flush, 11 to 1 for a full house, 50 to 1 for four of a kind, 200 to1 for a straight flush and 1,000 to 1 for a royal flush.

Spanish 21
Spanish 21 is played like regular blackjack but all of the 10s have been removed from the deck. So instead of a 52 card deck you use a 48 card deck. Almost all of the other rules are favorable to the player so if you learn correct strategy the house edge on Spanish 21 can actually be lower than on most blackjack games. Pontoon is the name of a game very similar to Spanish 21 that is popular is Australia.

Casino War
Casino War is one of the easiest games you will ever play. You place a bet and receive a card face up. The dealer then receives a card face up. The higher card wins.

If you win you get paid even money and if you lose you surrender your entire wager. In the event of a tie you can either fold and get back half your bet or double your bet and go to war.

The war round has the player and dealer each receive four down cards and then a face up card. The higher face up card wins. If the dealer wins you lose your entire wager. If you win then you receive even money on half your bet and the other half is a push.

Super Fun 21
Super Fun 21 is a variation of blackjack. It is played just like blackjack but only pays even money on a player’s blackjack. Other rules are more favorable to the player like the ability to double down at any time during the hand, being able to split up to four times and a player blackjack always wins even when the dealer also has a blackjack.

Vegas Three Card Rummy
In Vegas Three Card Rummy the goal is to get a lower score than the dealer. The player and the dealer each receive three cards and the total is calculated for each hand. The dealer must score 20 or lower to qualify.

The player must place an ante bet to start and place an additional wager to stay in the hand after they receive their cards. There is also a side bonus bet that can be wagered on. When the player stays in the hand and has less than the dealer he or she receives even money on their ante.

When the player stays in and the dealer qualifies and the player has a lower score than the dealer the player wins 4 to 1 on a score of 0, 2 to 1 on a score of 1 to 5 and 1 to 1 on a score of 6 to 19.

Card values for face cards and tens are 10, aces are 1 and all other cards are their face value. Pairs, triples, two card suited runs and three card suited runs count as 0.

Texas Holdem
Texas holdem, along with the next two games (Omaha and 7 Card Stud), are not always included in a list of casino card games even though they are often offered in the poker section of land based casinos. They usually aren’t offered in the same software package as online casinos, though many online casinos also have poker rooms offered on different software. So I decided to include the three main poker variations here at the end because they do fit the overall theme.

Texas holdem is the most popular version of poker and is often the game you see televised. Play starts with two players placing small forced bets called the blinds. Each player receives two hole cards face down and then there is a round of betting.

Three community cards are placed face up in the middle of the table followed by another betting round. Another community card is turned face up followed by another round of wagering and then the final community card is turned face up.

The final round of betting is completed and the remaining players make their best five card poker hand using any combination of their hole cards and the five community cards. You can play Texas holdem for limit, pot limit or no limit.

Omaha
Omaha is played almost exactly like Texas holdem except each player starts with four cards instead of two and at the end each remaining player must use exactly two of his or her four hole cards and exactly three cards from the board to make the best five card hand. Omaha can be played as limit or pot limit and can also be played for high and low.

7 Card Stud
7 Card Stud starts with each player placing an ante and receiving two cards face down and one card face up followed by a betting round. The fourth, fifth and sixth cards are dealt to each player face up followed by betting rounds and then the seventh and final card is dealt face down to each player followed by the final betting round. 7 Card Stud is played for limit or pot limit stakes and is usually just played for high, but can be played for high and low.

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Switzerland Moves Towards Blocking Foreign-Based Gambling Sites

Bet365 has long been one of my top picks for all of our non-USA readers. It’s one of the biggest gambling sites in the world and has a long, positive history behind it. When Bet365 added online bingo to its lineup, it was great news for bingo players around the world.

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

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

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

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

Click here to get your bonus

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Live Dealer Casinos

You use the same type of interface on your computer to make playing decisions as you would in the non live dealer games. Once you make your playing decisions they are displayed on a monitor of some sort for the live dealer to see and act on. Here is a step by step example from a live dealer blackjack game.

You click on the chips to place a $25 bet at the live dealer blackjack table. The dealer deals two cards to you and two cards to herself. You have a jack and an eight for a total of 18. The dealer shows a seven. You hit the stand button and the dealer sees your action on her monitor. She turns up a queen for a total of 17. You win the hand and she inputs the win on her end and you are credited with a $25 win.

Live dealer roulette games work much the same way except usually you only see the person spinning the wheel and the wheel. The betting surface or table layout is usually digital, just like when you play at the online casino without a live dealer.

Live Dealer Casino Games
The only games offered by live dealer online casinos are those that are popular enough to warrant having dealers and those that are live dealer friendly. The perfect example of a live dealer friendly game is roulette, where the casino can take multiple wagers and only have to spin the wheel once.

Here is an overview of the most popular live dealer games. While these might not be the only games you can find, they cover well over 95% of all the live dealer games available online.

Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular live dealer game played online today. It is a little more labor intensive for the casino than baccarat and roulette, but the larger player base makes it worth offering.

Each player places his or her bet and then the dealer gives each player two cards as well as taking two cards herself. Each player decides whether to hit, stand, double, split or surrender (where available) and the dealer completes the action. After all players have acted the dealer flips over her second card and completes her hand.

Live dealer blackjack plays just like it does in land based casinos but it can be a bit slower overall as the dealer has to wait for all of the players to act. Of course they have to wait for all of the players to act in land based casinos as well, but as they are insulated by the Internet some players take longer in online live dealer play than they would in land based action.

Roulette
Roulette is one of those games that are well known just about anywhere you go in the world. Even if you don’t play you are probably familiar with the spinning of an ivory ball within a roulette wheel. Players can place bets on a wide range of possible outcomes including black, red even or odd which pay even money all the way up to bets on a single number that pay 35 to 1.

Roulette wheels are available in double zero wheels, usually called American roulette, and single zero wheels called European or French roulette. The single zero wheels offer a lower house edge than the double zero wheels. Most live dealer casinos offer single zero wheels, so they are the ones you should play on if you have a choice.

When you play live dealer roulette you pick how much you want to bet and what you want to bet on. For example, if you want to wager $20 on black you click on the chips to select $20 and then click on the roulette layout to place your bet on the black area. The dealer then spins the roulette wheel and drops the ball in the wheel. As the ball lands the bets are paid out and then the bets for the next spin are placed.

Baccarat
Baccarat tends to play well as a live dealer game because the dealer performs all of the game actions after the player places their wager. This is another game like roulette where the casino can take just about any number of wagers without it changing the current hand or slowing things down.

Players place their bets on tie, banker or player and then the dealer deals out two hands of two cards each. There are set rules that must be followed and each hand either stays or receives an additional card. Then the winning wagers are paid and the bets for the next round are placed.

3 Card Poker
3 Card Poker is only available at a few live dealer casinos but it is quite popular in regular casinos and in online casinos. You play a three card poker hand against the dealer and when you win the payout based on the strength of your hand.

Sic Bo
Sic Bo is a dice game that is very popular in Asian markets. Offered by a few live dealer casinos, you place bets on what you think the outcome of the roll of the dice will be. Once all wagers are placed the dice are revealed and you are paid out based on the bets you placed. Different combinations pay different amounts based on the odds of them landing.

Casio Holdem
This version of poker is not the same as Texas holdem that you can often see on television. Though it is based on Texas holdem it is a table game designed for single person play against a dealer. There are a few different variations of this game available in live dealer casinos, and it is not available everywhere.

The player makes an ante wager and the player and dealer receive two hole cards. The dealer turns over the three community cards called the flop. The player then may fold or make an additional bet to finish the hand. If the player makes the extra wager the last two community cards, the turn and river, are turned face up and then the winner is determined.

Payouts are determined by the strength of your winning hand. In different variations the bet sizing is different.

Live Dealer Software Providers
There aren’t that many live dealer online software solutions, but the main ones offer a superior gaming experience.

The main three companies are Evolution Gaming, Playtech and Microgaming. One of the newer entries into the market is Global Gaming Labs.

See below for quick overviews of each platform that includes the games they offer to their players. Just to be clear, these are the companies that provide the backend working environment for the online casinos that offer the live dealer games. You don’t play these games at the sites owned by the companies below; you play at the online casino’s websites who lease these solutions.

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.

The Overwatch League Betting Tips Stage 4 Week 2 Day 2

The 2nd week of Stage 4 of the Overwatch League is already underway and the 9 matches that are left to be played over the next few days are full of Overwatch betting opportunities. But before I start analyzing today’s matches, let’s take a look at the current standings table.

Standings Table
1st place: Los Angeles Gladiators (3 W – 0 L)
2nd place: Los Angeles Valiant (3 W – 0 L)
3rd place: Philadelphia Fusion (2 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 – 1 L)
8th place: Seoul Dynasty (0 W – 2 L)
9th place: Shanghai Dragons (0 W – 2 L)
10th place: London Spitfire (0 W – 2 L)
11th place: Boston Uprising (0 W – 3 L)
12th place: Florida Mayhem (0 W – 3 L)
Overwatch Betting Predictions
London Spitfire (0 W – 2 L) vs. San Francisco Shock (1 W – 1 L)
Match date: May 24th

London Spitfire took a lot of heavy losses in Stage 3, declining from its usual top 3 positions down to an average 6th place. However, in spite of this steep decline, Spitfire still managed to get several important victories: against Los Angeles Valiant (currently 3 W – 0 L in stage 4), Seoul Dynasty and San Francisco Shock. In the first week of Stage 4, London Spitfire played and lost against Houston Outlaws and New York Excelsior.

Unlike Spitfire, San Francisco Shock did the exact opposite in Stage 3, climbing several positions compared to its usual stage placements and ending in 5th place with 6 wins and 4 losses. Among the team’s most impressive wins were those against Los Angeles Gladiators, Philadelphia Fusion, and Houston Outlaws. In the first week of Stage 4, San Francisco Shock lost against Los Angeles Gladiators and won against Seoul Dynasty.

Head to head and overall results throughout the OWL favor London Spitfire to win this encounter. Recent form statistics clearly favor San Francisco Shock though. The defining factor for me in determining the favorite in this particular match is the head to head record. Some teams simply have a higher ceiling and seem to know everything against a certain opponent, defeating them each time they face it regardless of how poorly they’re doing against other teams. London Spitfire won Stage 1 and had a top finish in Stage 2. In its direct matches against San Francisco Shock, Spitfire is currently 3 W – 0 L.

Fast Payout Casino Sites

One of the last interactions you have with any casino gambling site is the payout (or withdrawal). After all the fun is done and over, the final step is to cash in your earnings. This is arguably the best part of gambling online. Few things feel as rewarding as seeing all that hard work and good luck pay off with a real deposit in your bank account.

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It is of utmost importance that online casinos get this part right. You wouldn’t want to play somewhere if withdrawals were difficult to receive. Getting your money is kind of the point of gambling in the first place!

We’ve all heard the horror stories of players having a hard time getting paid. Unfortunately, some casinos have been known to cut corners on sending out payments. No matter what the excuses may be, it is unacceptable for anyone to delay paying out legitimate winners.

More about Cashout Speed
The speed of your cashouts is determined by a few factors. The competence of the casino site is a big one. Some sites are just better at managing money than others. Good sites keep players’ funds in segregated bank accounts and they never use Player A’s balance to pay off Player B. They also maintain good relationships with their payment processors.

Your location in the world also has an impact on how quickly withdrawals are processed. In some regions, payment options are limited thanks to poor banking systems and anti-gambling legislation. The United States, for example, prohibits banks from transferring money to and from known casinos. Payments to the US are always a little slower than payments to gambling-friendly countries such as the UK.

Your chosen withdrawal method also plays a role in speed. Bank wires and ACH transfers are generally the fastest payout methods. If those options are available to players in your part of the world, we recommend trying that.

Paper checks take a little longer simply because they have to go through the mail to get to your house. This option is not all that bad though. The fastest casino sites can get a check to your front door within a week or two. This payout method is most frequently used by players in the United States.

Payouts to e-wallets such as Neteller and Moneybookers tend to be very fast as well. In many cases, payments to e-wallets are almost instantaneous. Once you get the money to your e-wallet account, you can either send it on to your bank account or move it over to a new site.

Identification Requests
It is not uncommon for online casinos to ask you to scan a copy of your ID and a utility bill the first time you ask for a withdrawal. This does add an extra step to getting your money, but it only applies to the first payout you make with that site.

And don’t worry; the request is legitimate. Many places ask for this information in order to confirm your identity. They are just trying to protect themselves from fraud. When it comes to sending money over the internet, it never hurts to make sure you’re sending it to the right people.

If you ever receive an identification request and something looks fishy (like if it comes from a random e-mail address), visit the casino site yourself by opening a new tab and typing in the URL by hand. Then you can give customer support a call and ask them if they sent that request.

One Last Note
We’d just like to mention that this list does not mean we list slow-pay casinos on other pages of this website. If a casino is known for slow-paying or no-paying, we do not recommend that site anywhere. This page just shows the casinos that have been the fastest in our experience.

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.