Poker Central Releases ESPN Broadcast Schedule for WSOP Main Event and Big One for One Drop

When the World Series of Poker (WSOP) released the schedule for its 49th annual edition in December, poker players worldwide began marking their calendars – and today poker fans can do the same.

Broadcasting partners Poker Central and ESPN issued a joint statement last week to hype the sports channel’s continuous coverage of the 2018 WSOP Main Event. This year will see ESPN broadcast at least 40 hours of semi-live coverage – on a 30-minute delay to comply with Nevada gaming regulations – supplemented by 130 more hours of originally produced content.

The WSOP Main Event features a $10,000 buy-in and no reentries, with the winner crowned the World Champion of No Limit Texas Hold’em. The tournament kicks off on July 2 and runs though July 14, with upwards of 7,000 players vying for the game’s most coveted title – along with a WSOP gold bracelet and several million in prize money.

ESPN’s sister channel ESPN-2 will carry the bulk of the network’s Main Event coverage, which includes everything from the three “Day 1” starting flights to the final table endgame.

And along with the Main Event, ESPN viewers can also watch the WSOP’s largest buy-in tournament, the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop. This biannual high-roller affair returns to the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the first time since 2014, following a 2016 hiatus in Macau. In the last edition held at the WSOP proper, Dan Colman took home the bracelet and more than $15 million in winnings.

In a change of pace from year’s past, the Big One for One Drop will take place after the Main Event concludes, running from July 15-17. This scheduling adjustment allows well-heeled pros who happen to make a deep run in the Main Event time to hop in the high-roller.

In the joint press release, WSOP executive director Ty Stewart commented on the productive relationship between broadcast partners Poker Central and ESPN, which joined forces ahead of last year’s series. Stewart spoke specifically to the shift from ESPN’s previous model – which was based on broadcasting produced episodes well after the WSOP ended – and Poker Central’s semi-live daily coverage:

“We’re ecstatic that ESPN and Poker Central continue to raise the bar and deliver more live poker content to audiences across the globe.

Fans today demand immediacy and wall-to-wall coverage and this year’s offering delivers on that in spades.”

Poker Central’s chief digital officer J.R. McCabe observed a link between semi-live coverage and an uptick in WSOP viewership last summer:

“Last year, both ESPN viewership and PokerGO subscription numbers were very strong throughout the WSOP Main Event.

This year, we’re doubling down on live coverage of the World Series of Poker by adding the Big One for One Drop and bringing even more live poker to fans worldwide.”

Doug White, who serves as senior director of programming and acquisitions for ESPN, highlighted the expanded schedule’s ability to reach poker fans:

“ESPN has a long-running relationship with the World Series of Poker, and we are always looking for ways to bring viewers the most preeminent coverage.

By doubling down on our broadcast and digital platform coverage, we’re going to bring fans and viewers even closer to the sport’s biggest events from all aspects and angles.”

Poker Central will announce the live streaming schedule for its PokerGO app at some point between now and May. For now, check out the table below to see exactly what ESPN has in store for its coverage for two of the WSOP’s most high-profile events:

2018 WSOP Broadcast Schedule on ESPN

DATE TIME EVENT CHANNEL
July 2 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 1A) ESPN-2
July 3 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 1B) ESPN-2
July 4 8:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 1C) ESPN-2
July 5 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 2A/B) ESPN-2
July 6 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 2C) ESPN-2
July 7 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 3) ESPN-2
July 8 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 4) ESPN-2
July 9 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 5) ESPN-2
July 10 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 6) ESPN
July 11 12:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (ET) Main Event (Day 7) ESPN-2
July 12 9 p.m. to Six Players Main Event (Day 8) ESPN
July 13 9 p.m. to Three Players Main Event (Day 9) ESPN
July 14 9 p.m. to Winner Main Event (Day 10) ESPN
July 16-17 12 a.m. to 2 a.m. (ET) Big One for One Drop (Live) ESPN-2
July 17 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Big One for One Drop (Replay) ESPN-2
July 17 9 p.m. to Winner Big One for One Drop (Live) ESPN-2
July 21 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Big One for One Drop (Replay) ESPN-2

 

Updated Futures Betting Odds for the 2018 NBA Championship

For three years and counting the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers have formed a two-team race atop the NBA Championship futures betting market.

That pattern held at the beginning of the 2018 season, when the defending champion Dubs (+100) and runner-up Cavs (+500) opened as the clear favorites to face off in their fourth consecutive NBA Finals. And while the regular season has been relegated to a glorified scrimmage in years past, the current campaign’s unpredictable nature has upended the odds – if only slightly.

With the NBA taking the week off for All-Star Game festivities, online sportsbook Bovada still has Golden State (-175) as the overwhelming favorite to win their third ring in four years. But in a refreshing change of pace, a fellow Western Conference juggernaut in the Houston Rockets (+400) offers the next best odds to win it all.

The most recent edition of the Warriors has ridden its core four – Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green – to a 44-14 record and a +8.1 point differential. Both are second-best, however, as the high-octane Rockets have seamlessly integrated Chris Paul into head coach Mike D’Antoni’s run and gun offense. Houston sits atop the West by a half-game at 44-13, and their +8.7 point differential is the best in all of basketball.

As for Cleveland (+600), the team’s odds to win a title may not have changed all that much, but the roster itself is almost completely different nowadays. Following the trade of Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, the Cavs experienced a few months of upheaval and ugly basketball. The team suffered through multiple losing streaks, while enduring a war of words in the locker room, and even in the media.

An ambitious trade deadline plan spearheaded by LeBron James saw former sidekick Dwyane Wade shipped out, along with a disgruntled Thomas, and bench pieces like Channing Frye, Derrick Rose, and Jae Crowder. The new-look Cleveland squad – which now includes newly added role players George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., and Jordan Clarkson – proceeded to win three straight games over playoff contenders, and on the road no less.

Today, the Cavs sit at 34-22, but their barely perceptible point differential of just +0.2 puts them in line with the New Orleans Pelicans rather than the league’s elite.

Cleveland’s post-trade winning jag included an impressive win over the Boston Celtics (+1200), the next team on the Bovada title odds totem pole. Boston has overcome the opening night loss of Gordon Hayward to the tune of a 40-19 record, with Irving providing emphatic proof of his ability to be a top team’s number one option.

Next up on the betting board is the Toronto Raptors (+1600), a team that finally seems to have put it all together after a few years as a fringe contender. In fact, the Raps lead the East with a 41-16 record, and they hit the break riding a seven-game win streak. And at +8.5, the Raptors are the only team aside from the Warriors and Rockets with a point differential higher than +3.5 – showing they can score in bunches with the game’s best.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (+2000) and San Antonio Spurs (+3300) are the only other teams offering better than 66 to 1, so the league is still as stratified as ever.

As of now, 10 teams have been stricken from the board altogether – the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, L.A. Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, and Orlando Magic.

See below for all the info on the 20 remaining contenders for the NBA title, as currently listed on Bovada:

2018 NBA Title Odds on Bovada

Team NBA Championship Odds on 2/19
Golden State Warriors -175
Houston Rockets +400
Cleveland Cavaliers +600
Boston Celtics +1200
Toronto Raptors +1600
Oklahoma City Thunder +2000
San Antonio Spurs +3300
Minnesota Timberwolves +6600
Washington Wizards +6600
Milwaukee Bucks +6600
Philadelphia 76ers +7500
Miami Heat +15000
Detroit Pistons +15000
Indiana Pacers +20000
Utah Jazz +25000
Denver Nuggets +25000
Portland Trail Blazers +30000
Los Angeles Clippers +50000
New Orleans Pelicans +50000
Charlotte Hornets +50000

 

Foxwoods’ Deal with Pari-Play Signals Connecticut May Be Next State to Regulate

With several regional neighbors embracing the online gambling industry, Connecticut’s casino titan Foxwoods is looking to get in on the action.

In an early February press release, Foxwoods Resort Casino confirmed a newly signed partnership with U.K.-based iGaming developer PariPlay. Under the terms of that deal, Foxwoods will integrate PariPlay’s innovative eyeON platform, which allows visitors to the brick and mortar casino to enjoy gambling games through their internet connected smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

Gili Lisani, founder and chief executive officer of PariPlay, positioned the eyeOn platform’s limited scope of onsite play as the perfect precursor to full-fledged iGaming adoption:

“Interactive gaming is a critical growth factor for the land-based casino industry in the US.

We feel that the growth is closely tied to On-premises interactive gaming using mobile devices, and our eyeON product remains the pioneering product in this space.

Our partnership with Foxwoods, one of the world’s leading land-based casino groups, allows Pariplay to demonstrate our leadership potential to be a significant technology player in US gaming, Pariplay will almost certainly play an instrumental role in its digital future.”

Seth Young, who serves as director of online gaming for Foxwoods, marked the casino’s first foray into America’s contested iGaming industry:

“We are thrilled to partner with Pariplay and leverage their world class interactive gaming platform to lay the groundwork for our entry into the USA’s iGaming market.

Developing an interactive gaming program is the next step in Foxwoods’ commitment to providing an ever-expanding range of amenities to match the changing needs of our guests, and to continue to be first-to-market with unique experiences for visitors.”

Online gambling is not currently covered by Connecticut law, and accordingly, the press release explicitly mentions that offering such services would be “subject to any necessary legislation and regulatory review and approval.”

But as reporter Steve Ruddock of the Online Poker Report noted, both parties going public with the deal would suggest that encouraging legal opinions on the matter have already been provided by counsel.

Foxwoods is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, one of two major casino operators in Connecticut along with the Mohegan Tribe (Mohegan Sun). But while the PariPlay deal represents the Mashantucket’s first entrance to the iGaming industry, the Mohegan have prior experience in that regard.

The Mohegan own and operate Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. As the home of America’s most successful regulated iGaming marketplace, New Jersey counts three Resorts AC operated iGaming platforms among the state’s 25 licensed sites: ResortsCasino.com, MoheganSunCasino.com, and PokerStarsNJ.com.

With both of Connecticut’s gaming industry stakeholders now on board with iGaming in one way or another, Foxwoods devoted a section of its PariPlay press release to lobbying for full-scale legalization and regulation:

“The Pariplay on-premises solution is an exciting new amenity that will allow our guests to game anywhere that is legally permissible, and will allow us to prepare for broader opportunities outside of the four walls of the physical property.

It is also an excellent new business opportunity for this organization, and by proxy the state of Connecticut, as iGaming has demonstrated its ability to both drive new revenues and augment the operations at brick-and-mortar facilities.

This is a major step forward for Foxwoods, one of USA’s leading gaming and entertainment brands.”

The revenue generating ability of regulated iGaming was recently demonstrated in New Jersey, which tallied just over $245 million in revenue from its licensed operators last year alone.

Adding further pressure for Connecticut lawmakers, Pennsylvania became the fourth state to regulate iGaming late last year, while fellow northeastern neighbor New York explores similar legislation.

Hard Rock Partners with Gaming Innovation Group to Power NJ Online Casino Launch

As the Hard Rock International casino consortium prepares to open its newly purchased Atlantic City venue to the public, the company will also enter the online gambling industry for the first time.

After acquiring the defunct Trump Taj Mahal for $50 million last year, Hard Rock has partnered with the Malta-based Gaming Innovation Group to launch an affiliated online casino.

In a press release issued earlier this month, Hard Rock’s senior vice president of online gaming Kresimir Spajic confirmed the company’s arrangement with Gaming Innovation Group:

“Hard Rock has an ambitious plan to become a global leader in the international online gaming space.

We are confident that, together with Gaming Innovation Group, we can disrupt the market, through product innovation and unique user experience.”

Robin Reed, who serves as chief executive officer for Gaming Innovation Group, echoed those sentiments while describing the evolving relationship with Hard Rock:

“We are excited to be part of Hard Rock International’s inspiring and innovative plans to become a global leader in the international online gaming space.

The online casino will be a stand-out product with the sizzle of the Hard Rock music, entertainment and lifestyle brand.”

Hard Rock has sunk approximately $375 million into renovating the brick and mortar components of the Taj Mahal casino.

In the months after the Taj Mahal acquisition, rumors swirled regarding Hard Rock’s interest in joining New Jersey’s lucrative regulated iGaming industry. The move was widely viewed as a foregone conclusion considering the successful nature of online gambling in the Garden State.

Last year alone, regulated iGaming platforms generated nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in revenue.

A report published in January by the Associated Press revealed Hard Rock’s preliminary plans, as a spokesperson for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) confirmed that the company had already applied for an interactive gaming license.

Additional evidence was provided by Lee Terfloth, who previously headed up the iGaming platforms for Borgata and Resorts in Atlantic City. Terfloth recently updated his LinkedIn page to reflect his new position as the director of online gaming products for Hard Rock Atlantic City.

The press release also provided greater insight into the role Gaming Innovation Group will play in guiding Hard Rock’s initial foray into the iGaming space:

“Gaming Innovation Group will provide Hard Rock with a state of the art digital consumer portal, as well as the back-end platform to manage the operations.

The online casino will be developed by Gaming Innovation Group’s design and development team in collaboration with Hard Rock.”

Gaming Innovation Group has been in business since 2012, with six offices scattered throughout the E.U. to serve its European client base. The company’s collection of iGaming platforms includes Guts.com, Rizk.com, and BetSpin.com among others.

As a backend software servicer, Gaming Innovation Group also utilizes products like GIG Media and the iGaming Cloud to power client platforms.

The deal with Hard Rock marks Gaming Innovation Group’s first partnership within the regulated American market, which currently consists of four states (New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and Pennsylvania). The New Jersey iGaming market is by far the most successful of the foursome, and Pennsylvania hasn’t gone live as of yet following passage of an iGaming bill late last year.

Gaming Innovation Group also inked a deal with the U.K.-based Perform Group earlier in the year, with the companies agreeing to share data to improve online sports betting services. That partnership could be a prelude to the company’s interest in regulated American sports betting, given New Jersey’s ongoing challenge to the federal sports betting ban.

Director of Poker Players Alliance Leaves Post as Fundraising from iGaming Industry Dwindles

After serving as executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) for more than a decade, John A. Pappas will leave the lobby group at the end of February.

In a press release announcing the change in leadership, the PPA – an advocacy organization dedicated to legalizing online poker – revealed that Pappas would stay on as a member of the board of directors.

Linda Johnson, a member of the Poker Hall of Fame and Pappas’ colleague on the PPA board, celebrated his tenure by outlining online poker’s legislative progress over the last 10 years:

“John is a tremendous leader and a true professional. Under his guidance, PPA has emerged as a policy advocacy and grassroots powerhouse in Washington D.C. and in state capitals across the country.

For almost a decade, he has been the political voice and face of the poker community and regulated internet gaming advocates.

He leaves the organization in a strong position to continue to ensure that consumer voices drive the internet gaming debate.”

The PPA was formed in 2005 to protect the rights of online poker players nationwide, and the organization currently counts more than a million members. Following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, the PPA lobbied lawmakers on the state and federal level, seeking both recognition and regulation.

Since that time, four states have legalized online poker – Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania – while several others have seriously considered similar legislation.

In his own comments on the move, Pappas pointed to that progress as evidence of the PPA’s successful efforts:

“There has never been greater momentum than right now for the advancement of sensible internet gaming policy in the U.S.

Whether lawmakers are considering poker, casino gambling or even sports betting, a strong and organized grassroots effort will be critical to legislative success. I am proud of the work I have done with the PPA board of directors and the amazing PPA staff to bring us to this point.

I will miss working for the poker community on a day-to-day basis, but I am confident that the PPA will continue its great work with Rich Muny at the helm.”

The torch will be passed from Pappas to current PPA vice president Rich Muny, a member of the board of directors since 2007.

Muny issued a statement praising Pappas for his decade of work, while pledging to carry on his predecessor’s legacy into the new year:

“I am honored that the PPA Board of Directors and the poker community have entrusted me with this role, and I join my fellow board members in thanking John Pappas for his decade of outstanding leadership in the fight for poker.

I look forward to leading the poker community in this fight, building on the terrific successes of 2017.”

The PPA didn’t disclose the exact nature of Pappas’ departure, but the press release cited a reduction in donations and fundraising from its usual patrons in the iGaming industry:

“Over the past several months, the PPA has been adjusting to a significant reduction in financial support from the internet gaming industry and thusly has refocused its efforts on cost effective grassroots advocacy.”

In an interview with Gambling Compliance, Pappas confirmed that a lack of available funds motivated the PPA to change course:

“The organization’s funding has been reduced, and I am unable to continue on in my current capacity.”

The PPA press release concluded with a curious reference to the repeal of a federal ban on sports betting, which is widely expected to be enacted by the U.S. Supreme Court this year. According to the group, it may consider marshalling its membership as a lobbying tool on that front, seeking to motivate individual states still on the fence about setting up their own sports betting industry.

NJ’s Top Gaming Regulator Invites International Sportsbook Operators to Begin Licensing Process

New Jersey’s top gambling regulator has invited international sportsbook operators to get in on the ground floor should sports betting become legal in the Garden State.

David Rebuck – the longest serving director in the history of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) – made the comments February 8 during the ICE Totally Gaming expo in London. With a roomful of representatives from established European, Asian, and Australian sports betting firms on hand, Rebuck instructed companies to begin the licensing process sooner rather than later:

“Don’t sit back and wait for the regulations. If you sit and wait you will be left behind.”

The regulations referenced by Rebuck would go into effect immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on New Jersey’s ongoing challenge to federal sports betting prohibition. Voters and lawmakers alike have approved regulated sports betting in the state, with Governor Chris Christie also signing the bill into law, but a coalition of sports leagues sued to rebuff those reforms.

The resulting case, known as Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, was heard in oral arguments before the Supreme Court last December.

Based on a consensus of legal analysis on those arguments, most observers believe the Supreme Court will find in New Jersey’s favor when their final ruling is rendered sometime this year. If so, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 – a federal law which limits legal sports betting to just four states – would be effectively repealed.

Since the first voter-approved referendum to regulate sports betting was passed in 2011, New Jersey has been preparing for legalization to arrive. Those efforts include the construction of sports bars within brick and mortar casinos in Atlantic City, with the establishments designed to be converted into sportsbooks should the law change.

And as one of three states to offer regulated online gambling, along with Nevada and Delaware, New Jersey would also be poised to capitalize on the popularity of online sports betting.

Rebuck mentioned how online sportsbook operators would be required to follow the same procedures as casino and poker providers, which involves partnering with an existing gaming company already doing business in the state:

“That is completely different to the UK. So B2C operators and B2B suppliers will need to partner with casinos, racetracks or lotteries.

Even if you don’t have a partner, nothing stops you from submitting your application for a license to do sports wagering.”

Given the controversial history of online sportsbooks based offshore accepting action from American customers, Rebuck warned that so-called “rogue” operators will not be welcomed in his jurisdiction.

He also offered advice on how to effectively capitalize on the emerging marketplace for regulated sports betting in states like New Jersey:

“You need to convince operators and regulators that you are willing to commit to the US.

It is not just about flicking a switch and adding a new market to your existing market. That does not show commitment.

Most of you, from an integrity standpoint, will be able to get in the door now. And if you can’t, we will tell you you’re not going to make it.”

Rebuck’s bullish stance on a sports betting renaissance was contrasted by Susan Hensel, who serves as director of licensing for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). Speaking as part of the same panel discussion, Hensel revealed that Pennsylvania is not ready to accept sportsbook licensing applications just yet:

“There will be a patchwork of regulations. We are not going to have a federal system.

So where does the monitoring system sit? What standards will apply? And who is going to pay for it?”

Pennsylvania passed a comprehensive gambling expansion bill last year, one which included iGaming regulations along with additional brick and mortar casinos.

News and Notes from the 2018 ICE Totally Gaming Trade Show

Billed as the largest gaming technology trade show in the world, the 2018 ICE Totally Gaming expo in London concluded February 8 after three days of demos and displays.

Official attendance numbers for this year’s edition haven’t been tabulated as of yet, but the exhibition was widely expected to top last year’s record mark of 30,000 guests.

ICE Totally Gaming is the modern incarnation of the International Casinos Exhibition, which parent company Clarion Gaming updated to include the iGaming space. Among the sectors covered in this year’s show were Casino, Lottery, Sports Betting, Online, Social, and Payments.

Over 500 exhibitors were on hand, including leading iGaming product developers like NetEnt, Scientific Games, Real Time Gaming (RTG), Microgaming, Playtech, Novomatic, Konami Gaming, Pragmatic Play, and Habanero.

In a press release issued ahead of the expo, Clarion Gaming’s managing director Kate Chambers offered a glimpse into the event’s consistent growth over the years:

“We have been very careful to grow ICE at a manageable pace and avoid the boom bust scenario you might associate with an overheating economy.

The expansion of ICE has been driven by demand and reflects the dynamics of the international market, which views London as the once-in-the-year opportunity to engage with a really significant and influential community of buyers and influencers.

This is great news for gaming organisations who we know want a flagship event that showcases the world’s leading innovators from every gaming vertical. Gaming is a global industry and ICE is its global event.”

One cornerstone of ICE Totally Gaming is the annual Gaming Intelligence Awards, where Las Vegas-based Scientific Games bagged two of the industry’s highest honors. The company – which consists of major subsidiaries like Bally Technologies and WMS Industries – took home “Lottery Supplier of the Year” for the fourth time in as many years, while adding “Social Casino Supplier of the Year” to their haul.

Kevin Sheehan, who serves as president and chief executive officer of Scientific Games, issued a statement celebrating the company’s achivements:

“It’s a great honor to win so many awards from such distinguished industry award programs.

We are extremely proud that our hard work and industry-leading innovation continues to be recognized throughout the international gaming, lottery and digital industries.

We are building momentum as an industry leader, offering our customers the broadest gaming portfolio, engaging content, innovative technology platforms and excellent service.”

ICE Totally Gaming also provides a venue for iGaming operators to showcase their latest product launches, and U.K.-based upstart Blue Print Gaming didn’t disappoint.

Speaking from a display booth with industry outlet Calvin Ayre, Blue Print Gaming’s chief executive officer Matt Cole hyped the company’s plan to fuse live dealer gaming with online slots:

“We’ve got a game called ‘Flames of the Phoenix’ live multi-play.

It’s all about multiple players getting the same result, it’s bringing live play to slot environment, so if you imagine mixing live dealer with slots, that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

Swedish payment processing titan Trustly was also on hand to demonstrate Pay ‘N Play, a new product designed to streamline deposits and withdrawals made to iGaming sites.

Trustly’s chief product officer Josef Darmark commented on Pay ‘N Play’s potential impact on the iGaming industry in an interview with Calvin Ayre:

“The Pay ‘N Play product is our latest innovation and it’s extremely interesting to launch it because it changes the way companies and people experience payments, removing the payment part away from the cashier on to the first thing that happens on the site.

And we also remove the fact that you have to register to start playing on a betting site.”

Trustly is utilized by online casinos such as Mr. Green, Betsson, and SlotsMillion.

Futures Betting Odds to Win the 2018 World Series

Hot Stove season may be suffering from a cold front when it comes to free agent signings, but with Spring Training just two weeks away, baseball fans are awakening from their annual slumber.

Pitchers and catchers report to their respective clubhouses in a few days, signaling the official start to baseball’s preseason. Before they do, bettors can get in early on the latest World Series odds offered by online sportsbook Bovada.

After coming up on the short end of last year’s epic seven-game series, the Los Angeles Dodgers (+500) will enter the 2018 campaign as narrow favorites. The boys in blue will be bringing back largely the same roster as last year, and given that roster’s historic 43-7 run between June and August, making L.A. the favorite in the National League certainly makes sense.

But with top flight starting pitcher Yu Darvish as yet unsigned, the Dodgers’ star-studded staff could be down a big arm going into a heated N.L. West race.

And that same Dodgers squad did lose 16 of 17 games before the playoffs began to cool off considerably, so bettors looking to fade L.A. can be forgiven – especially when a potential World Series hangover is added to the equation.

As for the victors in that unforgettable seven-game duel, the Houston Astros (+550) are favored to represent the American League in the Fall Classic once again.

Having finally secured the first World Series title in the franchise’s 55-year history, general manager Jeff Luhnow isn’t resting on his laurels. He followed last year’s decisive signing of ace Justin Verlander – who sparkled throughout the team’s dream postseason run – by trading for Gerrit Cole, a 27-year old starter and former All-Star.

That move wasn’t the splashiest of the offseason, however, as the New York Yankees (+550) pulled off their usual coup de grace by signing slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Paired with Mike Judge, the Bronx Bombers now have the only two hitters to hammer 50 home runs last season in the middle of their lineup.

The only other teams offering better than 10 to 1 against winning it all are the Cleveland Indians (+800) and Washington Nationals (+800). Both managed to make the Divisional Round in last year’s playoff dance, before seeing their year end in disappointing fashion.

Two more also-rans from the previous postseason come in at 15 to 1 or better – the Chicago Cubs (+1000) and Boston Red Sox (+1200). This duo is also linked in another way, as the Cubs have former ace Jake Arrieta still unsigned, while the Red Sox are banking on free agent masher J.D. Martinez blinking first in their contract discussions.

But if “Just Dingers” – who slammed 45 longballs in only 119 games, including 28 after a midseason trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks – rejects the Red Sox’ hardball offer, expect Boston’s title odds to drop as a result.

Conversely, if Martinez decides to stay in the desert, the D-Backs (+2500) would surely see their odds narrow with a 3-4-5 of Paul Goldschmidt, Martinez, and Jake Lamb.

Bettors looking to hit a bullseye with their futures bullets would be wise to consider teams near the (+1400) level, as both the Dodgers and Astros enjoyed those odds ahead of the 2017 season.

The full table of 2018 World Series odds currently offered by Bovada is shown below:

2018 World Series Odds on Bovada

Team World Series Odds on 2/8/18
Los Angeles Dodgers +500
Houston Astros +550
New York Yankees +550
Cleveland Indians +800
Washington Nationals +800
Chicago Cubs +1000
Boston Red Sox +1200
San Francisco Giants +1800
St. Louis Cardinals +2000
Arizona Diamondbacks +2500
Los Angeles Angels +2800
New York Mets +2800
Minnesota Twins +3300
Milwaukee Brewers +4000
Seattle Mariners +4000
Toronto Blue Jays +5000
Colorado Rockies +5000
Tampa Bay Rays +10000
Chicago White Sox +10000
Atlanta Braves +10000
Texas Rangers +10000
Baltimore Orioles +10000
Kansas City Royals +10000
Oakland Athletics +10000
Pittsburgh Pirates +10000
Philadelphia Phillies +10000
Cincinnati Reds +10000
San Diego Padres +10000
Detroit Tigers +20000
Miami Marlins +20000

 

 

PokerStars Celebrates Merging of French and Spanish Player Pools with €1 Million Guaranteed Tournament

PokerStars’ long awaited merger of its French and Spanish platforms was launched just three weeks ago, but the site is already celebrating the success of its player sharing experiment.

According to the PokerScout database – which tracks player activity across major online poker platforms – the newly combined PokerStars Europe is now the third-largest in the world. With a seven-day average of 1,800 players, the site beats out established competitors like 888Poker (1,500) and PartyPoker (1,400).

The only platform boasting higher levels of activity are the primary PokerStars site (11,000), and the Asian-facing IDN Poker (5,000).

To commemorate that achievement, PokerStars launched a new tournament series known as FRESH (France Espania Hold’em) on January 28. The FRESH series consists of 50 tournaments, with buy-ins ranging from €10 to €250, offering a combined €5 million in guaranteed prize pools.

The FRESH festivities will be finished off with a €1 million guaranteed Main Event (€250 buy-in), which runs from February 11-12.

In a press release, Severin Rasset – who serves as director of poker innovation and operations for PokerStars – dubbed FRESH as the first online tournament series open to both the French and Spanish markets:

“After so many years of closed liquidity, it is a major milestone to offer the first online series that combines French and Spanish players.

We created this series by learning from both countries and we hope that players will enjoy the bigger prize pool and tournaments on offer.”

The path toward player pool sharing began in July of 2017, when the various gaming regulators in France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy announced an historic agreement to combine their online poker presence. Previously, these European countries operated online poker as “ring-fenced” markets, with the Spanish-facing PokerStars.es open only to Spanish IP addresses.

At that time, Guy Templer – the chief operating officer of PokerStars parent company The Stars Group – issued a statement praising the regulators’ decision to cooperate, rather than compete, with one another:

“This will be great for players and great for the poker category.

The French and Spanish regulators have done an excellent job in enabling a dramatic improvement in the gaming experience in their jurisdictions.

Now French and Spanish players can access a larger player pool with bigger prizes, promotions and a better selection of games, all with the confidence provided by a trusted, licensed operator.

Having a strong, competitive regulated offering – which comes from combining player pools – has proven to be attractive to consumers who might otherwise be choosing to play on un-licensed and potentially un-safe sites.”

Six months later, the French and Spanish regulators came together to codify the agreement, leading to the launch of PokerStars Europe.

As of yet, progress has stalled in Italy and Portugal, but a January report by industry outlet PokerRed revealed that Italian regulators are putting the final arrangements in place. Per PokerRed, a listing posted in the Official Journal of the European Union calls for online poker licensing tenders to be submitted between applications between March 15-19.

If the PokerStars Europe platform absorbed the current Italian-facing PokerStars.it site, it would add another 900 players to its seven-day average (per PokerScout).

Templer reached out to Italian and Portuguese regulators as part of his statement, urging the two parties to complete last year’s player sharing agreement:

“We’re looking forward to extending this to Italian and Portuguese players, and offer our full support to the relevant authorities in those countries to do so.

In particular, we would encourage Italy to resume their drive toward shared liquidity which after a good start has recently slowed considerably.”

First Look at Futures Betting Odds for Super Bowl 53

With the city of Philadelphia still celebrating a Super Bowl championship that was 52 years in the making, oddsmakers are already looking ahead to next year’s title tilt.

According to online sportsbook Bovada – which released its opening odds in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s supersized shootout – the Eagles are (+900) to win Super Bowl 53.

Only one team in the NFL offers better odds and that’s the New England Patriots (+400), the runners up in one of the more entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory. But with the Pats securing a Super Bowl berth in three of the last four seasons – and four out of the last seven for that matter – their placement at the top of the table certainly makes sense.

Even so, it won’t be the same Patriots juggernaut football fans have reckoned with during the Belichick/Brady dynasty. Sure, those two will be back in the fold for 2018, but defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has already been hired away as the new head coach in Detroit, while offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is widely expected to take the head coach position in Indianapolis.

Throw in star tight end Rob Gronkowski’s refusal to recommit for next year during the postgame press conference – following a pair of concussions in a single month – and shutdown corner Malcolm Butler’s inexplicable benching, and the Patriots could be a different team altogether going forward.

As for the Eagles, career backup quarterback turned Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will almost certainly be traded. With his stock at an all-time high, and starter Carson Wentz recovering well from his season-ending leg injury, the sparkplug who powered three straight postseason wins as an underdog will likely suit up for another squad next year.

Adding to the intrigue, Philadelphia is currently more than $9 million over the salary cap, so roster upheaval is to be expected.

Joining the Eagles as favorites to represent the NFC are the Green Bay Packers (+900), a team which will benefit immensely from the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Pack went 4-1 before Rodgers went down last season, notching impressive wins over the Seahawks and Cowboys before Rodgers’ season was cut short. With a full 16-game schedule to work with, there’s every reason to believe Rodgers’ return will key a renaissance in Green Bay.

From there, the betting board is dominated by NFC contenders, as nine of the top 12 teams per Bovada odds hail from the same conference.

The Minnesota Vikings, who were just one win away from hosting their own Super Bowl, are fourth-best at (+1200).

The Dallas Cowboys, a talented team that took a step back after 2016’s playoff run, could be a bargain at (+1800).

The same can be said for a trio of playoff participants from this season, as the L.A. Rams, the New Orleans Saints, and the Atlanta Falcons can also be backed at (+1800).

In the surprise department, the San Francisco 49ers moved from (+10000) in last year’s post-Super Bowl odds to (+1800) this time around. The addition of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo transformed the Niners from a 1-10 doormat into a powerhouse, with San Francisco closing the year on a five-game winning streak.

And speaking of last year’s odds, the Eagles were tabbed as (+5000) longshots this time last year. Bettors looking for a longshot at the same price have the Buccaneers, Cardinals, Giants, Lions, Titans, and Redskins to choose from.

Check below for a full lineup of all 32 teams along with their initial odds to win Super Bowl 53:

Team SB Odds on 2/5/18
New England Patriots +400
Philadelphia Eagles +900
Green Bay Packers +900
Minnesota Vikings +1200
Pittsburgh Steelers +1400
Dallas Cowboys +1800
L.A. Rams +1800
New Orleans Saints +1800
Atlanta Falcons +1800
San Francisco 49ers +1800
Carolina Panthers +2500
Houston Texans +2500
Seattle Seahawks +2500
Jacksonville Jaguars +2500
Kansas City Chiefs +2800
Denver Broncos +3300
Indianapolis Colts +3300
L.A. Chargers +3300
Oakland Raiders +3300
Baltimore Ravens +4000
Detroit Lions +5000
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5000
Arizona Cardinals +5000
New York Giants +5000
Tennessee Titans +5000
Washington Redskins +5000
Buffalo Bills +6600
Cincinnati Bengals +6600
Miami Dolphins +6600
New York Jets +6600
Chicago Bears +7500
Cleveland Browns +10000