It’s in the cards: Why Video Poker is a Better Casino Bet than Slot Machines

It’s in the cards: Why Video Poker is a Better Casino Bet than Slot Machines

By Spencer Musick

Entering a casino for the first time can be overwhelming, especially when faced with the array of games available. Many newcomers lean towards slot machines due to their simplicity and lack of required skill. However, slots come with a high house edge and can quickly deplete your bankroll.

For those seeking electronic gaming without the steep house edge, video poker is an excellent alternative. It blends excitement with better value for money compared to slots. This article will cover the fundamentals of video poker and slots, emphasizing why video poker might be the better choice.

The Basics of Video Poker and Slot Machines

Video poker and slot machines offer different experiences for players, despite both being based on a random number generator inside the machine that determines the outcome of each spin (or press of the button). In video poker, this random number generator (RNG) determines what cards appear on the screen, while in a slot machine, it determines which symbols appear on the reels with each spin.

Slot machines use a random number generator to determine outcomes

Both video poker and slot machines use a random number generator (RNG) to determine outcomes. Video poker involves strategy, as you’re dealt cards and decide which to keep or discard to form the best hand. Success requires understanding which cards to hold based on the game variant, leading to better long-term returns.

Slots, meanwhile, are luck-based, with players hoping for the right combination of symbols for a win. The lack of strategic input and purely chance-driven outcomes contrast sharply with video poker’s decision-making aspect.

In addition, video poker typically presents more favorable odds than slot machines, thanks to its reliance on skill as well as chance. Both games operate on fixed odds, but video poker usually provides a fairer gambling opportunity, as playing the game with a proper strategy will always yield better results in the long run.

video poker

Video poker machines also use random number generators to determine outcomes

Choosing video poker over slots might appeal to those who value having control over their game outcomes and enjoy the strategic aspects of gaming. Offering a blend of skill-based play and the chance for significant payouts, video poker provides a distinct gaming experience from watching the reels spin on slots.

Differences in Gameplay

Video poker and slot machines offer vastly different gaming experiences, despite both involving elements of luck. Video poker demands strategic play and decision-making, where you receive a set of cards and can swap out any number of them to form the best poker hand possible given your initial draw. This process requires you to evaluate the potential of your cards carefully to maximize your chances of winning. How you make these decisions is not a matter of luck or hunches: you must follow a proper video poker strategy if you hope to get the maximum return from the game.

Conversely, slot machines operate entirely on chance. Players spin the reels and hope that the right symbols align across the paylines for a win. Strategy doesn’t play a part in slots; it’s all about the luck of the draw.

For those who appreciate the challenge of strategic gameplay and the ability to influence the game’s outcome, video poker presents an appealing option over the purely luck-driven excitement of slot machines.

Strategies for Winning at Video Poker vs. Slots

When it comes to strategies for winning, video poker emerges as the clear winner for players. Slots offer no way to walk away from the casino a winner over the long term. Video poker, on the other hand, is not just about luck; it’s about making smart choices based on the cards you’re dealt. This is where strategy comes into play.  

All video poker strategies are based on an understanding of how each winning combination of cards provides value back to the player. And here is some good news! You don’t have to know the mathematical ins and outs of these calculations to increase your chances of winning. Video poker strategy cards are available for all commonly-found Video Poker variants, and we provide some right here on the American Casino Guidebook website.

video poker strategy error

Video poker software can warn you when you make a playing error.

If you really want to perfect your video poker game, you can look into buying video poker software which will show you how to play your hands correctly and warn you if you make any mistakes. 

Most casual players only need to learn a very simple strategy for whatever game it is that they want to play. A simple strategy will provide a great return to the player without being overly complicated or taking too long to learn.

While both games offer excitement and entertainment value, video poker allows for a level of skill-based play that gives players more control over their outcomes compared to slots where it’s all about the luck of the spin.

Payouts and Odds Comparison

When it comes to gambling, understanding the payouts and odds can make a significant difference in your overall experience. And when comparing video poker to slot machines, this is no exception.

In all video poker games, the video poker pay table is clearly displayed on the screen, allowing players to see exactly what they can expect to win for each hand. This transparency gives players a sense of control and allows them to make informed decisions about which hands are worth betting on.

8/5 jacks or better video poker pay table

An 8/5 jacks or better video poker pay table

Additionally, video poker usually offers better odds than slot machines. With proper strategy and skillful play, some variations of video poker actually offer an edge over the house. This means that over time, if played correctly, you’re more likely to come out ahead in video poker compared to slots.

Understanding the payouts and odds in both video poker and slots is crucial for making informed decisions and maximizing your chances of winning big. So why settle for uncertainty when you can choose a game like video poker that offers better transparency and higher odds?

Advantages of Playing Video Poker over Slots

As we have explained in this article, there are many distinct advantages to playing video poker over slots.

Unlike slots where you simply spin the reels and hope for a winning combination, in video poker you get to make decisions that can impact your outcome. Your decisions and skill affect the game outcome. On our website, we offer information on our website about which video poker variants offer the best return to the player (link).

Additionally, when playing video poker, you can find variations of the game with different pay tables. This allows players to choose a game that suits their preferences and desired level of risk-taking. With slots, on the other hand, your only choice is which machine theme appeals, what denomination you would like to play, and what comps the casino offers for your play.

So while both video poker and slot machines have their merits for casino enthusiasts looking for thrills and potential winnings; those seeking a game where strategy plays a role should consider giving video poker a try! It offers greater control over gameplay decisions along with better odds – providing an edge for those willing to put their skills into action!

The Verdict on Video Poker vs. Slots

Video poker presents a compelling case for players seeking a blend of skill, strategy, and entertainment. Its advantages over slot machines are clear, offering a more interactive and potentially rewarding gaming experience. By embracing the strategic challenges and learning the nuances of different video poker variations, players can significantly enhance their chances of success, making video poker not only an enjoyable but also a wise choice for casino enthusiasts.

So, before you next visit a casino or explore online gaming options, consider giving video poker a chance. Its unique combination of skill, strategy, and luck may just provide the winning edge you’ve been seeking, offering a refreshing alternative to the purely chance-driven excitement of slot machines. Video poker stands as a testament to the enjoyable complexities of casino gaming, inviting players to engage deeply with the game for potentially lucrative outcomes.

Spencer Musick is an advantage video poker player and sports journalist. He is based in Greensboro, North Carolina, but has lived as far afield as Beijing, China. He enjoys playing favorable casino games where comps and benefits create an advantage for the smart player. When he is not chasing good comp opportunities or enjoying a cold beer at a video poker bar top machine, you can find him running long distance road races at cities around the US, including Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and at the upcoming Boston Marathon! 

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Definitive List Of The Top 10 Best Soccer Players Of All Time

Definitive List Of The Top 10 Best Soccer Players Of All Time

In this article, I end the debate once and for all, listing the top 10 best soccer players of all time based on their stats, honors, skills, and longevity. So, who is the GOAT? And more to the point, do you agree? This list is pretty definitive if you ask me…

10. Michel Platini

Number ten on our list of the best soccer players of all time is French midfield master, Michel Platini. He was an icon of football in the 70s and 80s, especially on the European stage, ultimately becoming the 6th president of UEFA from 2007 to 2015. His crowning glory came in leading France to victory in the 1984 European Championship and being named player of the tournament.

  • National team: France
  • Best World Cup performance: Semi-finalist (1986)
  • Club teams: Nancy, Saint-Étienne, Juventus
  • Position: Attacking midfielder
  • Total number of games: 653
  • Total number of goals: 353
  • Major honors (team): European Championship (1984), Serie A (1983–84, 1985–86), European Cup (1984–85), Coppa Italia (1982–83), Cup Winners’ Cup (1983–84), Ligue 1 (1980–81), Coupe de France (1977–78).
  • Major honors (individual): Ballon d’Or: (1983, 1984, 1985), European Championship Player of the Tournament (1984).
  • Peak years: Late 1970s to mid-1980s

9. Alfredo Di Stefano

Image credit: Wikipedia Commons

An Argentinian and Spanish soccer legend, Alfredo Di Stefano is most known for being part of the dominant Real Madrid side that won the first five European Cups between 1955 and 1960. His versatility meant he could operate as either a striker or attacking midfielder, and his game-to-goal ratio (0.72) is up there with the very best in history.

  • National team: Argentina, Spain
  • Best World Cup performance: Did not play in a World Cup
  • Club teams: River Plate, Millionarios, Real Madrid, Espanyol
  • Position: Forward/Attacking midfielder
  • Total number of games: 706
  • Total number of goals: 509
  • Major honors (team): Argentine Primera División (1945, 1947), Campeonato Profesional (1949, 1951, 1952), La Liga (1953–54, 1954–55, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1960–61, 1961–62, 1962–63, 1963–64), Copa del Rey (1961–62), European Cup (1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1959–60).
  • Major honors (individual): Ballon d’Or (1957, 1959)
  • Peak years: Late 1940s to early 1960s

8. Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane was a mercurial talent that sometimes springs to mind for the wrong reasons (we’re looking at you, Marco Materazzi). But “Zizou” was undoubtedly the best player in the world for some years and the crucial part of the dominant French team of the late 90s and early 00s.

With the build and presence of a midfield enforcer, he also had the elegance, ball control, vision, and technique that has rarely been seen elsewhere on a football pitch.

  • National team: France
  • Best World Cup performance: Winner (1998)
  • Club teams: AS Cannes, Girondins de Bordeaux, Juventus, Real Madrid
  • Position: Attacking midfielder
  • Total number of games: 803
  • Total number of goals: 156
  • Major honors (team): Serie A (1996–97, 1997–98), La Liga (2002–03) Champions League (2001–02), World Cup (1998), European Championship (2000).
  • Major honors (individual): Ballon d’Or (1998), FIFA World Player of the Year (1998, 2000, 2003), French Division 1 Player of the Year (1995–96), Serie A Footballer of the Year (2000–01), European Championship Player of the Tournament (2000).
  • Peak years: Late 1990s to early 2000s

7. Franz Beckenbauer

Image credit: Bert Verhoeff for Anefo/Wikipedia Commons

“Der Kaiser” was a German icon and the only player on our list to play in a primarily defensive position. Despite being deployed as a center-back or sweeper, Beckenbauer’s technical ability and leadership made him the essential cog in the dominant Bayern and West Germany teams of the mid-70s. The latter being widely regarded as one of the best soccer teams of all time.

His game-to-goal ratio of 0.13 is also outstanding for a defender and highlights his ability to contribute at both ends of the pitch.

  • National team: West Germany
  • Best World Cup performance: Winner (1974)
  • Club teams: Bayern Munich, New York Cosmos, Hamburger SV
  • Position: Sweeper/Center-back
  • Total number of games: 857
  • Total number of goals: 112
  • Major honors (team): Bundesliga (1968–69, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1981–82), DFB-Pokal (1965–66, 1966–67, 1968–69, 1970–71), European Cup (1973–74, 1974–75, 1975–76), European Cup Winners’ Cup (1966–67), North American Soccer League (1977, 1978, 1980), World Cup (1974), European Championship (1972).
  • Major honors (individual):  Ballon d’Or (1972, 1976), Footballer of the Year (Germany) (1966, 1968, 1974, 1976).
  • Peak years: Late 1960s to mid-1970s

6. Johan Cruyff

Johan Cruyff
Image credit: Bert Verhoeff for Anefo/Wikipedia Commons

Johan Cruyff arguably left a bigger legacy on soccer in his time as a coach than a player. That, and the work he did helping to establish Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy, which developed the talents of Pep Guardiola, Lionel Messi, and many others.

However, as a player, Cruyff’s dribbling and creativity were unrivaled in an era of superstars. He was the Ballon d’Or winner three times in four seasons. Though he was cruelly denied the biggest prize in world football when West Germany (led by a certain Franz Beckenbauer) won the World Cup in 1974. Despite this, he still goes down in history as one of the best soccer players of all time.

  • National team: Netherlands
  • Best World Cup performance: Runner-up (1974)
  • Club teams: Ajax, Barcelona, Los Angeles Aztecs, Washington Diplomats, Levante,       Feyenoord
  • Position: Forward/Attacking midfielder
  • Total number of games: 761
  • Total number of goals: 433
  • Major honors (team): Eredivisie (1965–66, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1969–70, 1971–72, 1972–73, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84), KNVB Cup (1966–67, 1969–70, 1970–71, 1971–72, 1982–83, 1983–84), European Cup (1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73), La Liga (1973–74), Copa del Rey (1977–78).
  • Major honors (individual): Ballon d’Or (1971, 1973, 1974), Dutch Footballer of the Year (1968, 1972,1984).

5. Ronaldo Nazario

Ronaldo Nazario
Image creditL Alex Carvalho, CC BY-SA 2.0

The first of two Ronaldos on our list (spoiler alert), Ronaldo Nazario is considered by many to be the most complete striker in the history of soccer. He is a double World Cup and Ballon d’Or winner, and in his prime, the combination of power, speed, technical skill, and finishing ability made him almost unplayable.

Despite having his career curtailed by a repetitive patellar tendon injury, Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the best Brazilian soccer players of all time and still managed to score 414 goals in 616 games for club and country, with a game-to-goal ratio of 0.67.

  • National team: Brazil
  • Best World Cup performance: Winner (1994, 2002)
  • Club teams: Cruzeiro, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Corinthians
  • Position: Striker
  • Total number of games: 616
  • Total number of goals: 414
  • Major honors (team): KNVB Cup (1995–96, Copa del Rey (1996–97), UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1996–97, UEFA Cup (1997–98), La Liga (2002–03), Copa do Brasil (2009), World Cup  (1994, 2002), Copa América (1997, 1999).
  • Major honors (individual): FIFA World Player of the Year (1996, 1997, 2002), Ballon d’Or (1997, 2002), Serie A Footballer of the Year (1998), UEFA Club Footballer of the Year (1997–98), FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (1998, 2002).
  • Peak years: Late 1990s to early 2000s

4. Cristiano Ronaldo

Christiano Ronaldo
Image credit: Ludovic Péron/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

A true legend of the past two decades, Cristiano Ronaldo has helped shape the vision of what a modern soccer player should be. His athleticism, professionalism, work ethic, and longevity have created a mold that many younger players will surely aspire to follow. However, his legendary goalscoring ability, especially in clutch moments, will likely never be matched.

During an era-defining rivalry with Lionel Messi’s Barca, as a Real Madrid player, the Portuguese master managed to secure four Champions League titles in five seasons. He also won five Ballon d’Or trophies and the first major trophy in Portugal’s history across an illustrious career.

  • National team: Portugal
  • Best World Cup performance: Semi-finalist (2006)*
  • Club teams: Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, Al Nassr
  • Position: Forward
  • Total number of games: 1,206*
  • Total number of goals: 873*
  • Major honors (team): Premier League (2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09), FA Cup (2003–04), Football League Cup (2005–06, 2008–09), Champions League (2007–08, 2013–14, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18), FIFA Club World Cup (2008, 2014, 2016, 2017), La Liga (2011–12, 2016–17), Copa del Rey (2010–11, 2013–14), Serie A (2018–19, 2019–20), Coppa Italia (2020–21), European Championship (2016), UEFA Nations League: (2018–19).
  • Major honors (individual): Ballon d’Or (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017), FIFA World Player of the Year (2008), Premier League Player of the Season (2006–07, 2007–08), La Liga Best Player (2013–14), Serie A Footballer of the Year (2019, 2020).
  • Peak years: Late 2000s to late 2010s

*To date

3. Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona celebrating his second goal during the 1986 FIFA World Cup
Image credit: Clarín newspaper/Wikipedia Commons

If you look up the phrase “tortured genius”, Diego Maradona’s name will surely be included in the description. His outstanding dribbling, technical skill, and mental resilience were made all the more fascinating by his challenges off the pitch, and his willingness to do whatever it took to win, including embracing the “hand of god”. Sorry, England fans.

Maradona never won the Ballon d’Or because, for the majority of his career, only European players were eligible. Still, he was named FIFA Player of the Century in 2000, an award he shared with the next player on our list.

  • National team: Argentina
  • Best World Cup performance: Winner (1986)
  • Club team(s): Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Napoli, Sevilla, Newell’s Old Boys
  • Position: Forward/Attacking midfielder
  • Total number of games: 680
  • Total number of goals: 345
  • Major honors (team): Argentine Primera División (1981), Copa del Rey (1982–83), Serie A (1986–87, 1989–90), Coppa Italia (1986–87), UEFA Cup (1988–89), World Cup (1986).
  • Major honors (individual): FIFA Player of the Century (2000), FIFA Goal of the Century (2002).
  • Peak years: Late 1970s to mid-1980s

2. Pele

Pelé with Brazil
Image credit: El Gráfico/Wikipedia Commons

The joint-best player of the 20th century comes in at number two on our list. Pele pips Maradona to the position based on his superior goalscoring record, and because he is the only player in history to have lifted the World Cup on three occasions.

Despite having never played for a European club team, Pele’s exploits on the international stage are even more incredible when you consider the brutal treatment he received from opposition defenders.

Like Maradona, other teams often decided the best way to stop Pele was to kick him, and the rules back then resembled something closer to modern kickboxing than soccer. Even with this treatment, Pele had a career goal-to-game ratio of 0.91 and inspired Brazil to three World Cup trophies in four tournaments.

  • National team: Brazil
  • Best World Cup performance: Winner (1958, 1962, and 1970)
  • Club teams: Santos, New York Cosmos
  • Position: Forward/Striker
  • Total number of games: 858
  • Total number of goals: 789
  • Major honors (team): Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968), Copa Libertadores (1962, 1963), North American Soccer League, Soccer Bowl (1977), World Cup (1958, 1962, 1970).
  • Major honors (individual): FIFA Player of the Century (2000).
  • Peak years: Late 1950s to early 1970s

1. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi in 2014
Image credit: Av Lluis/Store norske leksikon, CC BY 2.0

If this list had been written before December 2022, there would have been an argument that Lionel Messi could not take the number one spot. A World Cup win had evaded Messi for many years, and surely the true GOAT must have won the ultimate prize in soccer at least once. Well, the greatest player of all time settled the debate once and for all when he lead his team to a win in Qatar in 2022.

Amongst his many achievements, Leo has won the most major team trophies of any player in history (44), the most Ballon d’Ors (8), the most Best FIFA Men’s Player awards (3), and is the only player in history to score 40+ goals in 12 consecutive seasons. And of course, he’s topped our list of the best soccer players of all time!

All hail the GOAT, Lionel Andrés Messi.

  • National team: Argentina
  • Best World Cup performance: Winner (2022)
  • Club teams: Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter Miami
  • Position: Forward/Attacking Midfielder
  • Total number of games: 1079*
  • Total number of goals: 832*
  • Major honors (team): La Liga (2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2017–18, 2018–19), Copa del Rey (2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2020–21), Champions League (2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15), FIFA Club World Cup (2009, 2011, 2015), Ligue 1 (2021–22, 2022–23), World Cup (2022), Copa América (2021).
  • Major honors (individual): Ballon d’Or/FIFA Ballon d’Or (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019, 2021, 2023), Copa América Best Player (2015, 2021), La Liga Best Player (2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15), Argentine Footballer of the Year (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023)
  • Peak years: Late 2000s to 2010s

*To date

Best Soccer Player FAQs

Who are the best soccer players ever?

The top 10 best soccer players of all time are (in descending order): Michel Platini, Alfredo Di Stefano, Zinedine Zidane, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Ronaldo Nazario, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona, Pele, and Lionel Messi. This is based on their achievements, skill level, goal-scoring records, and longevity in soccer.

Who are the best soccer players right now?

According to the voting in the last edition of the Ballon d’Or in 2023, the top ten best players in soccer right now are (in descending order): Luka Modrić, Bernardo Silva, Victor Osimhen, Julián Álvarez, Vinícius Júnior, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Kylian Mbappé, Erling Haaland, and Lionel Messi.

Is David Beckham one of the best soccer players ever?

For several years David Beckham was considered one of the best players in the world. He was runner-up in the Ballon d’Or in 1999, and twice runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year in 1999 and 2001. He is regarded as one of the best English soccer players ever, and is also one of the richest players.

However, David Beckham isn’t one of the best soccer players of all time. To be considered as such, a player usually has to have won one or more Ballon d’Or trophies, and the World Cup. Beckham achieved neither.

What country has the best soccer players?

The best soccer players in the world can come from any country. For example, in the 2023 Ballon d’Or rankings, the top 10 players were each from a different country and the top 20 included players from Norway, Nigeria, Morocco, Georgia, and Egypt.

However, when looking historically at the best soccer players of all time, both Argentina (Messi and Maradona) and Brazil (Pele and Ronaldo) have two players in the top five, so they have arguably produced the best talent ever seen on a soccer pitch.

Who are the best US soccer players?

Some of the best American soccer players at the moment are Christian Pulisic (AC Milan), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Weston McKennie (Juventus), and Folarin Balogun (Monaco). Each of these USMNT stars plays in one of the big five European leagues, challenging for the biggest titles domestically and in Europe.

Historically, some of the best American soccer players were Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, and Brad Friedel.

Lead image credit: Football Pictures/Flickr, PDM 1.0

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Evolution Seals Landmark Deal with Caesars to Launch Live Casino in the US

Evolution Seals Landmark Deal with Caesars to Launch Live Casino in the US

Evolution, the industry-leading iGaming content supplier of premium live dealer games, has inked a strategic deal with Caesars Entertainment to broaden its presence across North America.

This partnership aims to introduce Evolution’s top-notch live casino offerings to players in various US states.

New Jersey Studio Expansion

As part of the agreement, Evolution and Caesars will collaborate to establish live casino studios in multiple US states, with a particular focus on New Jersey. The Tropicana Casino, owned by Caesars Entertainment, will host Evolution’s third live casino studio in Atlantic City. This expansion initiative shows the developer’s desire to deliver an even better gaming experience for players in the region.

Additionally, the brands will team up to launch new studio spaces within Evolution’s existing studios in Pennsylvania and Michigan. These strategic collaborations will enable Caesars players to access the supplier’s diverse portfolio of live casino games, including popular titles from brands like NetEnt and Red Tiger.

Through this partnership, Caesars players can look forward to an enhanced gaming experience, with access to its new partner’s immersive live dealer games featuring cutting-edge technology and captivating gameplay. Evolution’s state-of-the-art studios will provide players with an authentic casino experience from the comfort of their own homes.

Expanding the Reach of Live Casino Gaming

The collaboration between Evolution and Caesars marks a significant milestone in the expansion of live casino gaming in North America. Furthermore, the partnership aims to bring innovative and engaging live casino entertainment to players across the United States.

In the announcement, Evolution chief executive for North America Jacob Claesson, said: “Caesars’ expansion in the market is remarkable and noteworthy. We’re impressed by Caesars’ dedication and look forward to collaborating with them as they continue to expand their branded studio presence.”

Matthew Sunderland, Caesars Digital’s senior vice-president, and chief iGaming officer added: “Elevated live dealer experiences are an area of opportunity and something online casino players are continuing to show an affinity for. With this in mind, partnering on a deeper level with Evolution, the market leader in live casino offerings, made a lot of sense.”

Source: ”Evolution announces multiple new live studios with Caesars in US”. iGaming Business. February 20, 2024.

The post Evolution Seals Landmark Deal with Caesars to Launch Live Casino in the US appeared first on Casino News Daily.

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Ohio Bans College Sports Player Prop Bets

Ohio State football game

A drop in the ocean

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) has introduced a blanket ban on all college sports player prop bets with immediate effect. Both NCAA President Charlie Baker and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine requested the change because of concerns about these types of markets.

This means that sportsbook operators cannot offer any prop bets based on the individual performance of a college athlete in an NCAA-governed event. They can only accept prop wagers based on full-team performance. Operators also cannot offer team-based markets in which, on average, the result depends at least 50% on the performance of one or two athletes.

only a small portion of the overall wagers

The OCCC agreed that the NCAA and the governor provided “good cause” to ban these markets. They were only a small portion of the overall wagers that legal sportsbooks in Ohio accepted – of the $7.65bn betting handle last year, about $104m, or 1.35%, were college sports prop bets.

Not everyone is happy

Each of the eight online sportsbook operators in Ohio opposed the move. Some of them pointed toward their ability to properly investigate claims of harassment or bullying of college athletes and take the necessary actions.

25 US states either limit or completely prohibit prop bets relating to the performance of individual college athletes.

Some said that banning these markets would only drive bettors to black market platforms that do not properly protect customers and aren’t compliant with the laws in Ohio that aim to safeguard college athletes. OCCC Executive Director Matthew Schuler said that there is no factual evidence to suggest that many bettors will make this transition.

Key reasons for introducing the ban

The NCAA outlined six reasons why regulators should consider prohibiting player prop bets. Among the most serious was bettors threating student-athletes and negatively impacting their mental health and overall wellbeing.

could entice athletes to bet on themselves or fix matches

Prop bets specific to individual athletes also increased the chance of the nefarious use of insider information; these markets could entice athletes to bet on themselves or fix matches. College students have also been found to be more susceptible to problem gambling, which could be worsened by the availability of college player prop bets.

The post Ohio Bans College Sports Player Prop Bets appeared first on Vegas Slots Online News.

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Balatro Review: Poker-Based Roguelike Deckbuilder Is a Revelation

Balatro title screen

I jumped right in and might never leave

To give you an example of how addictive the new poker-based roguelike deckbuilding game Balatro is, I played the demo for about an hour on Tuesday, February 20. I bought the full game when it was released later that morning and before I realized it, I had played for three hours (not consecutively, at least). Wednesday night, I figured I’d play a little before bed and suddenly it was 2:15am. Now it’s early Friday afternoon and I have logged 11.5 hours on a game that I cannot recommend enough. Balatro combines simplicity and complexity, no-frills gameplay and deep strategic thinking, along with a unique visual style that will likely keep me playing for years to come.

unlike in some deckbuilders, the opponents do not fight back

The goal of Balatro is to score enough points, called “chips,” to beat the computer opponent by making poker hands. Each opponent is called a “blind,” each level is called an “ante.” There are three blinds per ante: the Small Blind, the Big Blind, and the Boss Blind. Each successive blind requires more points to defeat; unlike in some deckbuilders, the opponents do not fight back. There are eight antes (again, levels), so to win a run, you must clear 24 rounds.

Each round, you have a fixed number of hands in which to earn the required points, as well as a limited number of discards to use if you don’t like your current holdings. Each hand you play has a base point value and multiplier – the stronger the hand, the higher the starting value of each. You do not need to play a full five-card poker hand. Every card that contributes to the hand you play also scores points: 11 for Ace, 10 for face cards, and numeric value for all other cards. Add the points up and multiply by the multiplier and there’s your score for the hand.

Make poker hands, score points

In the example below, I’m in the very first round of the first ante and need 300 points across a maximum of four hands to defeat the Small Blind. I was dealt eight cards and, as you can see, was able to make two pair, Aces and Kings. I did not play a fifth card, as I wouldn’t have gotten points for it, though I could have played one if I just wanted to get rid of it to make room for a new card.

That two pair will give me 124 points, not a bad opening hand of the game. [Image: Balatro]

The base value was 20 and the multiplier was 2, I so started with 40 points. The Aces and Kings gave me an additional 42 points (11 + 11 + 10 + 10), which when added to the base and multiplied by 2 gave me 124 points for the hand.

The Boss Blind at the end of each level not only requires more points to defeat, but also inflicts you with a random negative status such as no discards or drawing the first hand face-down:

Not being able to see my cards was a difficult way to start a boss battle. [Image: Balatro]

You get money for winning a round and for each hand you have remaining. In addition, you get $1 in “interest” for every $5 you have saved up. That money can then be used in the shop after the round to buy additional cards for your deck and special cards that grant upgrades.

Upgrades, jokers make things hectic fast

It’s these upgrades that are the key to winning. Jokers (up to five of them) give you special point bonuses, multipliers, or other benefits. Planet cards increase the base points and multiplier for a specific type of hand. Tarot cards and Spectral cards can alter, remove, or add cards to your deck. Vouchers alter the rest of the game. It’s the luck of the draw as to which cards appear in the shop and what upgrades you may find in packs.

Balatro shop resized
The shop offers cards that can help build higher scores – those Arcana Packs contain Tarot cards. [Image: Balatro]

Eventually, you will accumulate more than 52 cards in your deck and have cards that give you all sorts of bonuses like extra points, extra multipliers, wild cards, and more.

As you build a deck loaded with powered-up cards and Jokers that provide juicy benefits, you can play hands that allow you to achieve massive scores. Jokers are especially important, as if you have a group that synergizes well, your score can absolutely snowball, even on a lowly pair of Deuces.

In the below run, I had six Jokers (I opened an extra Joker slot this game), three of which had an amazing synergy. The Egg gains $3 of sell value at the end of every round, the Gift Card adds $1 of sell value to every Joker and Consumable card, and the Swashbuckler adds the sell value of all Jokers to his left to his multiplier. My multiplier was approaching 100 by the final Boss Blind. Also note that I had three powered-up cards showing and a deck that had 75 total cards.

I thought I was going to destroy the final boss until he negated my best Joker. [Image:]

Unfortunately, that Boss Blind beat me because its negative status effect was disabling a random joker every hand and it just so happened to disable my Swashbuckler on one hand, taking away my huge multiplier. New game, let’s give it another go.

Perfect for both beginners and hardcore gamers

The beauty of Balatro is that, unlike many other deckbuilding games, you don’t need to learn about different characters, deck builds, and strategies ahead of time. Aside from different starting game states – you might start with one fewer card per hand or more money, for example – decks and strategies are mostly a blank slate and develop as you find out what Jokers, cards, and power-ups you can get.

No study is needed in advance – as long as you know what poker hand strengths are, you can jump right in and figure it out as you go.

a wavy, dreamlike effect that makes you feel like you’re floating in the ether

Balatro is an elegant, streamlined game that is easy to pick up and put down in a few minutes or spend hours trying to find the ultimate game-breaking synergy. At release, there are a total of 15 starting decks that can be unlocked, each with up to eight difficulty levels, so this is not a game that can be “won” quickly. It uses a trippy, pixel art style with CRT monitor-like scan lines and a wavy, dreamlike effect that makes you feel like you’re floating in the ether. The graphical quirks can be adjusted if you want to tone down the effects.

Maybe it’s just that it’s new, but I constantly find myself thinking about the game, itching to get back to it as I try to finish my work. It’s been all I can do to keep myself from playing while I gather screenshots for this review.

At $14.99 for Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, and on Steam, Balatro is a steal. The number of hours you will put in and the additional hours during which your brain will be occupied when not playing make Balatro one of the best values in gaming in quite some time. You can try the feature-rich demo first, but deckbuilding games are at all up your alley, you won’t need much time to determined Balatro is a must-buy.

The post Balatro Review: Poker-Based Roguelike Deckbuilder Is a Revelation appeared first on Vegas Slots Online News.

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