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.

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.

Video Poker Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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