King Felix Day in Toronto

It’s been a disappointing start to the 2015 season for both the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays. But there hasn’t been anything disappointing about the work Felix Hernandez has done so far. Hernandez has led the Mariners to seven wins (plus-5.35 units) in his eight starts, and this Friday, he leads Seattle into Rogers Centre to face the Jays.

Hernandez (3.37 FIP) isn’t quite as dominant as we’ve seen in the past, though. He’s benefited from a stingy .248 BABIP, and he’s stranded a career-high 88.0 percent of baserunners to keep Seattle (18-21, minus-7.23 units) from sinking any further into the red. Also, King Felix has seen his average fastball slip to 91.2 mph, but he’s still striking out a healthy 9.05 batters per nine innings.

The Jays (18-24, minus-7.31 units) respond with Marco Estrada, who came over from the Milwaukee Brewers during the offseason in exchange for Adam Lind. After beginning the year in the bullpen, Estrada (5.06 FIP) has made three starts for Toronto; the Jays lost all three games as underdogs, and Estrada failed to go beyond five innings every time. That’s despite a very friendly .234 BABIP, with 84.0 percent of runners left on base.

Djokovic, Williams Favored at French Open

After overcoming all odds and winning the Italian Open, Novak Djokovic has entrenched himself as the 4/5 favorite to claim the 2015 French Open. This is the only Grand Slam tournament Djokovic has yet to win; defending and nine-time champion Rafael Nadal is the second favorite at 9/4, followed by Andy Murray at 8/1.

Nadal would normally be the favorite at Roland Garros, playing on his preferred clay surface, but this has been a difficult year for the man from Mallorca. Nadal only made it to the quarterfinals at Rome, and has fallen all the way to No. 7 on the ATP rankings. Murray could be worth a flyer after winning all 10 of his clay-court matches in 2015.

On the women’s draw, World’s No. 1 Serena Williams is the 5/2 favorite, but she’ll face some stiff competition from No. 2 Maria Sharapova and No. 3 Simona Halep, each at 4/1. Clay is not the best surface for Williams – she’s won the French Open twice (2002, 2013), as has Sharapova (2012, 2014). But the Russian has become something of a clay-court specialist in recent years, and she won the women’s title in her warm-up event at Rome.

Top-Seeded Hawks Anything But Favorites In Eastern Conference Final

The top-ranked in the Eastern Conference will take on the prohibitive season-long favorite this week as the No. 1 seed Atlanta Hawks play host to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite starting the series on the road, it’s the King’s Cavs that lead the pair with 13/5 odds of winning the NBA championship.

After showing signs of mortality against both the Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards, the Hawks are a far cry from the unstoppable force that they were partway through the season. Since then, their opponents have started to take form.

Even without the injured Kevin Love, the Cavaliers have dispatched both the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics thanks largely in part to their franchise icon and hometown boy. The Bulls, of course, were a legitimate conference threat that could have just as easily been handpicked for a spot in the Finals, making Cleveland’s success last week all the more impressive.

With 9/1 odds on the NBA futures, the Hawks are a long-shot in the sportsbook. That doesn’t mean that they can’t still deal damage on a game-to-game basis though. Not only did Atlanta lead the East in wins, they did so with a 50-30-2 record against the spread.

Lightning Toast Rangers, Take Home-Ice Advantage

The floodgates finally opened on the New York Rangers. After 13 straight playoff games decided by one goal, the Rangers were pummeled 6-2 by the Tampa Bay Lightning (+125 away) on Monday, evening their Eastern Conference final at one game apiece. Tampa Bay now takes home-ice advantage into Wednesday’s Game 3 (8:00 PM ET, CBC) at the Ice Palace.

The Lightning managed to do what no team had done since early October: score six times on Henrik Lundqvist. The former Vezina winner had a .945 save percentage in these playoffs before getting lit up on Monday. Meanwhile, it was business as usual at the other end, as the Rangers scored exactly two goals for the eighth time in their 14 postseason games.

A meltdown like this was bound to happen at some point. Tampa Bay led the league in scoring during the regular season at 3.16 goals per game. Given how the Rangers have struggled to score in these playoffs, and given how well Ben Bishop (.931 save percentage) has played thus far, three goals might be all it takes for the Bolts to win Wednesday’s game and take a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 also at home.

Buchholz Tries To Keep It Together in Seattle

After taking two of three from the struggling Oakland Athletics, the Boston Red Sox have finally won their first series in May. They’ll try to keep the good times rolling this Friday night (10:10 PM ET) when they visit Safeco Field for Game 2 of a four-game set against the Seattle Mariners. Seattle also recently pulled out of a slump by beating the A’s in three straight.

Clay Buchholz (3.09 FIP) is scheduled to start for Boston. He’s been all over the map this year, losing 3.96 betting units on a team record of 2-5; Buchholz did provide four quality starts, but also got knocked around in his other three appearances. His strong FIP and his atypically high .393 BABIP suggest Buchholz may be a solid “buy low” candidate.

The Mariners respond with J.A. Happ (3.45 FIP), who has pitched very well through six starts with a team record of 4-2 and 1.43 units in earnings. This is Happ’s first year pitching at Safeco, but his improvement this season hasn’t come from friendly park factors alone – it’s also been his walk rate, which is at a career-low 1.88 per nine innings.

Djokovic Struggles in Rome

Novak Djokovic may be the No. 1-ranked player on the ATP Tour, but he’s vulnerable on clay – like the courts at Foro Italico, for example. Djokovic went into this week’s Italian Open as the 4/5 favorite; however, he needed three sets to beat Nicolas Almagro (+1400) in Tuesday’s second-round match.

Djokovic is coming off a three-week break following his title win at Monte Carlo and, while the rest should benefit him in the long run, he had some trouble finding his form against Almagro. This is welcome news for Rafael Nadal, the seven-time Italian Open champion and this year’s second-favorite at 9/4. Djokovic is the only other person to win at Rome since 2004, beating Nadal in three sets during last year’s final to claim his third Italian Open.

Assuming Nadal can survive his half of the draw, he might not even have to worry about Djokovic. The World’s No. 1 is pointed at a quarterfinal matchup with Kei Nishikori, the third-favorite at 9/1 and one of the rising stars on the men’s circuit. Djokovic has a 3-2 career record against the No. 6-ranked Nishikori. Roger Federer and Andy Murray (both 10/1) also loom as potential roadblocks to the title.

American Pharoah Already Preakness Favorite

He was the 5/2 pre-race favorite at the Kentucky Derby, so it’s no surprise that American Pharoah is already favored to win the 2015 Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 16 at Pimlico.

Preakness Stakes Odds

At press time, American Pharoah is available at 5/6 on the Preakness futures market. You can also bet on him at 9/4 to win both the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, which would make him the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Expected to join American Pharoah in the Preakness field are the two horses he overtook down the stretch at Churchill Downs: Firing Line and Dortmund. Watch out as well for a pair of fresh contenders who skipped the Kentucky Derby: Divining Rod, who came in third at the Tampa Bay Derby, and Bodhisattva, who won last month’s Federico Tesio Stakes, which also took place at Pimlico. Danzig Moon, Mr. Z and Competitive Edge are all possible for the Preakness.

You’ll find Preakness futures on these and many other horses (up to a maximum field of 14) at Bovada Racebook as more competitors are announced. Morning Line odds will be made available following the post position draw, which takes place Wednesday, May 13 at 6:00 PM ET.

Eastern Conference Heavyweights Gridlocked In Instant Playoff Classic

The NBA betting community can’t ask for much more than what they’ve gotten out of the highly anticipated Chicago Bulls-Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. After LeBron James and Derrick Rose exchanged buzzer beaters, the series is knotted at two games apiece. Don’t be surprised if the next two-to-three games are equally impressive.

Since the beginning of the season the Cavs have had the edge to win the conference and they remain the favorites out of the East with 7/2 odds of winning the NBA championship. Not far behind, however, are the Bulls with 10/1 odds.

One thing bettors would be wise to keep an eye on is the health of Pau Gasol. In his first year with the Bulls he helped the squad to a 39-43 mark against the spread. While a healthy Rose is essential to win it all, it’s their stable frontcourt that helped the team endure without him.

With the East’s most highly touted teams battling in such a close and intense series, one can’t help but wonder if this matchup isn’t the unofficial conference championship. The Hawks and Wizards may take offense, but neither has the experience or the odds that Chicago and Cleveland do.

Nishikori Joins Top Faves at Madrid Open

You know you’ve arrived on the big stage when your tennis odds are the same as Roger Federer’s. Kei Nishikori, the No. 5-ranked player on the ATP Tour, has joined No. 2 Federer near the top of the odds list for this week’s Masters 1000 stop in Madrid; the two are tied at 9/2 as we go to press, tucked in behind World’s No. 4 Rafael Nadal at 13/8.

The clay courts at Park Manzanares play a role in these odds. Nadal will be in his element as the defending and four-time champion. Clay is Federer’s most troubling surface; however, he’s won twice at Madrid (2009, 2012) since the event was last played on indoor hardcourts in 2008. Federer is also coming off an ATP 250 Series victory in Istanbul, as he prepares for the French Open later this month.

Nishikori is comfortable with both the clay and the hardcourts, and his star is on the rise after beating Federer in the Round of 16 at the 2013 Madrid Open, then nearly beating Nadal at last year’s final before retiring in the third set. However, the Japanese native remains 0-7 lifetime against Nadal, including 0-2 on clay.

Revitalized Nationals Host Braves

It took them a while to get going, but it looks like the preseason World Series favorites have figured things out. The Washington Nationals have won seven of their last nine games to improve to 14-15, although they’re still down 4.98 betting units on the season. They’ll host the Atlanta Braves (14-14, plus-1.42 units) this Friday (7:05 PM ET) in the first of a three-game set at Nationals Park.

Gio Gonzalez (2.91 FIP) and the outstanding Nats rotation have done their part but Gonzalez has only gotten 3.2 runs per game of support from his teammates, while being burned by an unusually high .362 BABIP. Washington has won three of Gonzalez’ five starts for 0.38 units of profit. Southpaw Eric Stults (5.05 FIP) hasn’t pitched nearly as well as Gonzalez. However, thanks to 4.2 runs per game of support, Stults only has a deficit of minus-0.74 units on a team record of 2-3, including an 8-4 win over the Nationals (–132 away) on April 27. These poor performances are likely to catch up to Stults, though, especially now that Washington is starting to show a little more pop at the plate.

Jackpot Factory Players Are Scratching & Winning This May

Everyone’s a Winner in the $150,000 Scratch & Win Promotion

(Press Release) TA XBIEX, MALTA–(Marketwired – May 05, 2015) - The Jackpot Factory casinos are capturing the thrill of lottery scratch cards in the new Scratch & Win promotion, running this May. Twice each week, players will be invited to scratch a virtual card on the casino’s website to win a guaranteed prize: free spins on Avalon II: The Quest for the Grail, a free casino bonus, or tickets to a giveaway awarding a year of free play.

Scratch, Win and Reload for More

The Scratch & Win promotion is divided into eight rounds, with two rounds per week: one between Sunday and Tuesday, and another between Wednesday and Saturday. During each round, players at any of the Jackpot Factory casinos may scratch one free card to reveal a guaranteed prize. Each player will then receive an offer for a Golden Reload card upon making a qualifying deposit, to win an instant bonus or free spins.

Players may also participate in an exclusive Golden Reload card giveaway on All Slots Casino’s Facebook page by simply entering their usernames on the promotion’s post. Each week, one lucky player will be drawn to win a Golden Reload card with no qualifying deposit.

The excitement continues with the Year of Freeplay Giveaway, in which ten players will each win a free $100 bonus every month for a whole year. Players will earn one ticket to the Year of Freeplay Giveaway for every $10 deposited during the Scratch & Win promotion, and may win extra tickets as prizes from their Scratch & Win cards. Draws will take place on May 17 and June 3, and the more tickets players earn, the better their chances of winning.

Caps Can Put Stranglehold on Rangers

The New York Rangers went into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the 13/4 favourites, but they’re already down 2-1 in their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Washington Capitals. Game 4 takes place Wednesday night (7:30 PM ET, Sportsnet) in DC.

Washington was a 9/1 underdog to win the Cup after needing the full seven games to eliminate the New York Islanders in the first round. But in what’s been a very close series thus far, the Caps have won twice by a single goal, including Monday’s 1-0 victory as –115 home favourites. The Rangers have now played 10 straight postseason games where the margin of victory was one goal.

All those close games have been poison to Rangers fans betting on the puck line. New York has a 1-7 ATS playoff record for a deficit of six betting units, while Washington is close to breaking even at 5-5 ATS (minus-0.33 units). If you’re betting the totals, the under looks like a sharp pick with both clubs keeping the scores down; the under is 2-0-1 in this series after going a combined 8-3 for these two teams in the opening round.

Grizzlies Should Pose Greater Challenge in Game 2

The Golden State Warriors have been the top team in basketball for all of 2014-2015, so it comes as no surprise that they boast the greatest odds of winning the NBA Championship (4/5 as we go to press). Still, lined up against a gritty veteran team like the Memphis Grizzlies, success is not guaranteed.

While some see the Grizzlies as an experienced group capable of dealing damage in the postseason, the Dubs seemed unfazed. Game 1 saw the same dominant Warriors that hoops fans had seen all year. During the regular season, Golden State went 47-34-1 ATS and if their opening salvo in the Western Conference semifinals was any indication, they’re going to continue beating the odds.

The Warriors took down the Grizzlies by 15 points in Game 1 (exceeding a -10.5 spread), but Memphis is a capable team and shouldn’t suffer a second consecutive blowout. If Golden State is to be a solid NBA betting option, they’ll have to adapt to any adjustments Memphis makes and then be ready for when the series hits the road.

With recently named MVP Stephen Curry on board, such feats aren’t out of the question. Just don’t underestimate Memphis because they’ve beaten genuine title contenders in the playoffs before.

Monopoly Slot Courtesy of Hasbro now on SkillOnNet Casinos

(Press Release) April 30th – Probably the biggest and most recognizable board game in the world is now an online casino slot game courtesy of Hasbro, Williams Interactive and SkillOnNet.

This spectacular slot called ‘Monopoly Big Event’ is available from today on the SkillOnNet casino platform powering big casino brands such as EUcasino, SlotsMagic, MegaCasino and Playmillion.

Monopoly is still a favourite slot machine in land based casinos all over the world and the online version also follows the tradition of the famous board game itself. There are the symbols we all remember, the Dog, the Boat and the Car etc. and the main bonus feature game involves rolling a dice to move around the board accumulating properties (and bonuses) you can still go to jail, which will end the game, plus you can still Pass Go to collect a bonus there as well.

Commented Michael Golembo, Marketing Chief at SkillOnNet, “Monopoly is an iconic Hasbro board game enjoyed by millions and unlike some branded slot games of recent years is a proven winner on casino floors all around the world . It’s legendary and now it’s online. It’s a huge event for the online casino Industry”

This exclusive Williams Interactive slot title will be available on desktop and all casino mobile devices and has a 5×3 20 line reel game featuring three exciting bonus games that players can access though the Big Bet game or by entering the Big Event Bonus.

Pick a Community Chest card to increase your free spins or Guaranteed Wins or pick your Chance card to gain a choice of Wilds or entry into free spins.

SlotsMagic to enter Danish Market

(Press Release) April 2015 – Successful Online casino SlotsMagic will bring its own style of slots marketing to the Danish Market this month.

Already successfully launched in Europe and establishing itself as a major brand in the UK since taking over the hugely popular Jackpot Party Brand, SlotsMagic.dk will feature slot games from a variety of slots providers that will be perfect for the Danish market.

Commented Morten Berg, Marketing Manager for SlotsMagic in Denmark “the Danish casino market has matured sufficiently since regulation for us to take a firm interest. The channels to the public are now well defined and costs are in line with the prospective returns. All we have to do is bring our own special bit of magic and I know the Danish casino players will love it”

SlotsMagic.dk will feature slots content from a wide variety of Providers and will be one of the very first online casinos to introduce slot games from Williams Interactive (better known to players as WMS) to the Danish slots public. With Branded slots like The Wizard of Oz, Bruce Lee, Star Trek and Monopoly, WMS slots have become popular worldwide and are instantly recognizable in many land based casinos as well.

Added Berg “The range will include jackpot games, volatile slots for the brave hearted and small stakes slots for the recreational slots player. As our name suggests we do slots and we do them well. We will have it all!”

Powered by the trusted and secure SkillOnNet software platform SlotsMagic.dk will launch early April on both desktop and mobile, kicking off with a significant campaign on an array of casino Media Channels reaching the vast majority of casino players in Denmark.

Federer Heavy Favorite at Istanbul Open

The ATP makes its first-ever trip to Turkey this week for the inaugural Istanbul Open, so even though this is part of the ATP 250 Series, Roger Federer is on hand to bring some star power to the proceedings. As we go to press, Federer is a heavy 1/2 favorite against a relatively light field; Grigor Dimitrov is the second favorite at 3/1, followed by Pablo Cuevas at 12/1.

Federer remains the World’s No. 2-ranked player despite losing to Gael Monfils (+380) in the Round of 16 at Monte Carlo. This was Federer’s first clay-court tournament of the year, so he could still be vulnerable in Istanbul as he continues to make the transition from hard courts en route to the French Open.

Dimitrov might not be the right man to take advantage. Known as “Baby Fed” for having a similar style to Federer’s, the World’s No. 11 player also prefers the hard courts; Dimitrov is 0-3 lifetime against Federer, all on that surface. A clay-court specialist like No. 23-ranked Cuevas carries more betting value in this situation – he was a French Open doubles champion alongside Luis Horna in 2008. Cuevas and Federer have never met in singles competition.

Odds and Betting for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao This Saturday

The much-anticipated battle between Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao is already one of the biggest fights of all-time and is expected to be the most bet on sporting event of 2015.

Mayweather (-225) has been the favorite since day one, largely because of his undefeated record and his nearly unhittable defensive technique. But if there’s one fighter who could put an end to Mayweather’s perfect streak, it’s Pacquiao (+175). Manny has the best odds to win of any Mayweather opponent since Oscar de la Hoya, back in 2007.

Pacquiao is a powerful puncher who, prior to a controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley, had thoroughly dominated opponents for over a decade. The unorthodox Pacquiao is also notoriously hard to knockout, and Mayweather has needed judge’s decisions to decide 10 of his last 13 fights.

As such, oddsmakers believe the most likely result is a Mayweather win by decision (-135), but betting on a Pacquiao win, either by decision (+375) or knockout (+400), would provide bettors with good value. For a longer shot, bettors could look at Mayweather breaking his decision streak and scoring a knockout (+600) victory.

Discuss this fight and more

American Pharoah and Dortmund Top the Racebook

On Saturday, May 2, get ready to experience the most exciting two minutes in sports. With 20 horses storming the gates, you’ll have a full field of betting options at your fingertips. You can bet on the winner in the Bodog futures market, and additionally, you can check out the propositions page to bet on whether or not you think 2015 will see a Triple Crown winner.

The current list of contenders is led by two of Bob Baffert’s trainees: American Pharoah (9/4 as we go to press), and Dortmund (9/2). Both horses are multiple graded stakes winners and will be going in with undefeated track records.

If you’re looking for a bit more value, Carpe Diem is ranked third in the futures market with 7/1 odds. This colt’s track record is almost as spotless as the two leaders, with the sole exception being a second-place finish from the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Other than that, he’s won every race he’s entered and will be looking to add a Kentucky Derby victory to his list of accomplishments.

Be sure to check in on the post positions on NBC Sports Network at 5:30 PM ET on Wednesday to find out which competitors will get lucky with their starting gates. With 20 gates, the positioning will be crucial because since 1930, when gates were introduced, only one competitor starting from gate 20 has won the competition.

Rays-Orioles Moves to Tampa for Friday

It was a very peaceful Wednesday afternoon at Camden Yards. No fans were allowed inside, as the Baltimore Orioles managed to squeeze in one game of their three-game set with the Chicago White Sox, winning 8-2 as -105 favorites on the closing line. The next game for the O’s is Friday night (7:05 PM ET) against the Tampa Bay Rays; because of the situation in Baltimore, their series has been moved to Tropicana Field.

Chris Tillman (6.57 FIP) will be taking the mound for the “home” team. Tillman has been alternately brilliant and awful this year, but when he faced the Rays on April 6, he allowed just one run in 6.2 innings as Baltimore (+115 away) won 6-2.

Tampa Bay responds with Alex Colome, who has yet to make a start this season after coming down with a case of pneumonia last month. Colome is a promising right-hander with six career starts under his belt, posting a 4.33 FIP. The Rays went 4-2 in those six starts for a profit of 3.05 units. After recovering from his illness, Colome got in 15.1 innings of rehab work in the minors, so ring rust shouldn’t be an issue this Friday.

Red Wings, Lightning in Game 7

There’s just one series left in the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it’s a barnburner. The Tampa Bay Lightning extended their Eastern Conference quarterfinal against the Detroit Red Wings by taking Game 6 Monday night, winning 5-2 as +106 road dogs on the moneyline. Game 7 goes Wednesday in Tampa Bay (7:30 PM ET, NBCSN).

These two teams have been trading punches all series – literally and figuratively. Neither side has managed to string together two victories thus far, and after six games, the combined score is knotted up at 15 goals apiece. Tampa Bay has a slight edge on the puck line at plus-0.53 units, but Detroit is ahead 1.46 units on the moneyline after taking two of three from the favored Bolts in their own rink.

The Wings managed to keep Steven Stamkos (43 goals, 29 assists, 10.1 Point Shares) from scoring in Game 6; he has zero goals in this series on 19 shots. But Stamkos did register an assist and posted a plus-2. Meanwhile, Tyler Johnson (29 goals, 43 assists, 10.3 PS) put in two goals for Tampa Bay and now has six in this series to lead all scorers.

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