ESL One Birmingham 2018 Betting Predictions

ESL One Birmingham 2018 is one of the last two Dota Pro Circuit LAN events of this competitive season. The tournament is attended by 12 of the world’s best teams and is a Major, having a prize pool of $1 million and offering 1500 qualification points for the next edition of The International.

ESL One Birmingham 2018 will take place in Birmingham, UK between May 23rd and May 27th.

Teams and Event Format
ESL One Birmingham 2018 brings together 12 teams from a total of 6 regions:

China: LGD.Forever Young, Newbee.
Southeast Asia: Fnatic, Mineski.
North America: OpTic Gaming, Evil Geniuses.
South America: paiN Gaming.
Europe: Team Liquid, OG.
CIS: Team Spirit, Virtus.pro.
For the Group Stage, the teams will be divided into three groups of four.

Group A:
Virtus.pro
Evil Geniuses
Fnatic
Team Spirit
Group B:
Team Liquid
OG
paiN Gaming
Vici Gaming
Group C:
Mineski
Newbee
OpTic Gaming
LGD.Forever Young
Each of these groups will be played in a double elimination bracket format (GSL). The 3rd and 4th placed teams from every group are eliminated. 2nd placed teams advance to the Quarterfinals. 1st placed teams play Bo1 matches against each other to decide who advances directly to the Semifinals and who joins the remaining three teams in the Quarterfinals. The 1st and 2nd placed teams of these 3 advance to the Semifinals. The 3rd one plays in the Quarterfinals.

Points and Prize Pool Distribution
Being a Major within the Dota Pro Circuit, ESL One Birmingham 2018 offers not only prize money but qualification points as well. These rewards will be divided among participating teams in the following way:

1st place: 750 points; $500,000
2nd place: 450 points; $200,000
3rd place: 225 points; $100,000
4th place: 75 points; $60,000
5th – 6th place: 0 points; $34,000
7th – 9th place: 0 points; $16,000
10th – 12th place: 0 points; $8,000
Strong Contenders
Team Liquid
Team Liquid performs very well when there’s no pressure, so this tournament might just be the perfect opportunity for it to win another title. Liquid is already qualified for The International 2018, so this is just a rehearsal for the most awaited event of the year. The team is currently sitting at number 3 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings with 6084 points but KuroKy and his squad will surely want to prove to everyone that they’re capable of becoming the first team in the history of Dota to win 2 TIs.

Given the group seedings and the level of opposition at ESL One Birmingham 2018, Team Liquid has a high chance of qualifying for the tournament’s Grand Final.

Virtus.pro
Virtus.pro is another team that’s famous for performing well at big events and has already won 2 ESL One Majors this year. Solo and his teammates will probably experiment with original drafts and strategies at this tournament, so from a betting perspective, it might be risky to take VP’s side in certain matches when the opponent is a world-class opponent. Still, Virtus.pro is a top 3 contender for sure and should have a deep run at ESL One Birmingham 2018. Currently the number 1 team in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings, VP is expected to get a top 4 finish at this event.

Evil Geniuses
Evil Geniuses has a lot to play for at ESL One Birmingham 2018 and needs a top 3 finish in order to climb back into the top 8 and secure a direct invite at The International. If it fails to do this, there’s a very high chance that we won’t see EG at The International 2018, simply because two of its regional opponents are incredibly strong right now. These opponents are VGJ.Storm and OpTic Gaming. EG’s best results this season were a title at GESC: Indonesia Dota2 Minor and a 3rd place finish at DreamLeague Season 8.

Going into ESL One Birmingham, it’s no very likely that EG will get a top 4 finish, but a top 6 should definitely be within their reach.

Fnatic
Fnatic is one of those teams with a great roster, enormous potential and consistent results, except there’s one problem: these results are always slightly below what’s required for them to gain more qualification points for The International 2018 and climb faster in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings. Fnatic got many top 4 and top 6 finishes this season, but it still has problems against most of the top teams.

Going into ESL One Birmingham 2018, I think Fnatic will get a top 6 finish once again but it’s unlikely that the team will climb higher than 5th – 6th.

Vici Gaming
Vici Gaming is an excellent Chinese team that finished 3rd at the recent MDL Changsha Major. Vici Gaming is currently sitting at number 6 in the Dota Pro Circuit rankings and has multiple top 4 finishes in Dota Pro Circuit events this year, including 4 Grand Final apparitions.

Newbee
The TI 7 finalists have had a pretty rough season, but the team’s results were still good enough for a top 8 placement within the Dota Pro Circuit rankings. Newbee is currently sitting at number 7 in this hierarchy with 2445 points. At the recent MDL Changsha Major Newbee finished 4th, proving that it’s still one of the world’s best teams.

Mineski
Mineski is not that far from its peak form but is still slightly weaker than the other top candidates. Currently sitting at number 5 within the Dota Pro Circuit rankings, Mineski finished 5th – 6th at MDL Changsha Major being defeated by Newbee.

Going into ESL One Birmingham 2018, Mineski is very likely to get a similar result.

OpTic Gaming
OpTic Gaming is the strongest underdog of this tournament and we’ve yet to see how much ppd and his teammates have improved since their 1st place finish at StarLadder ImbaTV Invitational Season 5. Given the group seedings and the level of competition at ESL One Birmingham 2018, it will be difficult for OpTic Gaming to get out of the Group Stage. Still, the team is led by a former TI champion and should be regarded as a strong contender that could produce incredible upsets.

Betting Predictions
Fnatic vs. Evil Geniuses
This is a match between two teams of similar strength, but Fnatic is still slightly favored to win it. At the latest tournament it participated in, EG showed many signs of weakness and lost against multiple teams, including Fnatic. Both EG and Fnatic have everything to play for at ESL One Birmingham 2018, so this battle will no doubt be fierce.

Is Online Bingo Fair?

I received e-mails from two different people this weekend who basically asked me if online bingo was fair or if the sites were run by scammers. One of the people mentioned that he’d done a little research on the matter and saw mixed opinions. So, this seems like an appropriate topic to address today.

Online bingo is fair if you play at a safe site. The online gambling industry is largely unregulated so pretty much anyone with a little money in the bank can set up shop. On the internet, reputation is everything. Until we get a worldwide governing body for gambling, we’ll have to rely on reputation to determine which sites are worth joining.

The key to getting a fair game of bingo is to stick with the big-name sites that you can research before you join. New bingo sites pop up all the time and it’s hard to get an idea of what those sites are all about. I’m sure most new bingo sites are legit, but there’s no easy way to tell for sure. For that reason, I prefer to stick with big name sites.

These are all bingo sites that have been around for a number of years. Based on my own experiences and talks with other players, these bingo sites know how to treat customers. They all offer high quality games but most importantly, they pay their winners.

Making Money
I should warn you that you shouldn’t go to online bingo with dreams of getting rich. The vast majority of bingo games on the internet run for fairly small stakes. Average wins are less than a hundred dollars. Bingo sites do host the occasional promotion with a massive prize pool, but most games are much smaller.

Bingo is more of a social game than a pure gambling game. Yes, there’s an element of gambling in the fact that you buy cards and try to win money, but that’s almost an afterthought. Visit any longstanding bingo site and you’ll notice that many of the players seem to know each other.

Online bingo is an experience. If you don’t have any plans for your evening, it’s nice to log in, play a few games and chat with people from all around the world. Bingo is a more lighthearted game than most other gambling games.

If your goal is to make money, there are other games for that. Sports betting, poker and blackjack all come to mind from that angle. And if you want to go for the really big wins, there are plenty of progressive jackpot slot machines that offer payouts in the range of a million dollars.

So to sum things up, online bingo is fair as long as you play at legitimate sites. It’s not the best way to get rich, but it’s fun and fair. I can think of much worse things to do on a slow evening.

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.