Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Prep in SEC Fight

The SEC hasn’t won a National Championship since 2012, which is an eternity for the most powerful conference in college football. Who will step up this year and regain the crown? It could be the Alabama Crimson Tide, who are +650 second favorites on the NCAAF futures market at press time, or the Auburn Tigers, who are fourth to win the title at +900.

As usual, it should all boil down to the Iron Bowl in late November. This is arguably the most competitive rivalry in sports, and the odds say either team could end up winning the SEC – Alabama is a slight favorite at +210 over Auburn at +275. It’s a big step down from there to the top contenders from the SEC East: the Georgia Bulldogs are +500 to win the conference and +3300 outsiders to win the National Championship.
Alabama’s 2015 season starts with a bang on Saturday, September 5, as the Crimson Tide face the Wisconsin Badgers at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington (8:00 PM ET, ABC). The Tigers have a relatively comfortable season opener at the Georgia Dome against the Louisville Cardinals (3:30 PM ET, CBS).

SkillOnNet signs deal with edict egaming

(Press Release) Espelkamp/Hamburg – Popular B2B casino provider SkillOnNet today announced the addition of Mekur slot games from the Gauselmann Group via their online specialist software developer edict egaming.

edict egaming is the world’s exclusive provider of Merkur online slot games which have been tried and tested on the global land-based game market for more than four decades and are very highly rated by the players thanks to their outstanding quality and unique gaming online logic.

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Serena Williams and the US Open Field of Competition

Serena Williams has pretty much done it all in women’s tennis, except for one big thing: complete the singles Grand Slam. At press time, the World’s undisputed No. 1 player is the even-money favorite to win this year’s US Open, starting August 31 at Flushing Meadows. A victory in this tournament will give Williams all four major tournaments in 2015, putting her on the Mount Rushmore of tennis alongside Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988).

With a 43-2 record this year, Williams coming off a loss to No. 12-ranked Belinda Bencic in Toronto. Williams pulled off the first set before focus got lost in the second and committing eight double-faults; she rallied briefly in the third set before Bencic prevailed 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. While the loss was tiough, there doesn’t seem to be much concern over Williams’ right elbow, which caused her to skip the Swedish Open last month.

Trailing Williams on the 2015 US Open odds list are Victoria Azarenka (+600) and Maria Sharapova (+800). Azarenka is having a rough year at No. 21 on the WTA rankings and has yet to win at Flushing Meadows. Meanwhile, No. 2 Sharapova earned her lone US Open victory back in 2006.

Djokovic Even Money on US Open Futures

He’s the top men’s tennis player in the world, so it’s only fitting that Novak Djovokic is favored to win the most prestigious hard-court tournament on the calendar. At press time, Djokovic is even money to win the 2015 US Open, which starts August 31 at Flushing Meadows. It’s a steep drop-off from there to Andy Murray (+400), Roger Federer (+600) and Rafael Nadal (+1000).

Even money is a hefty price to pay for someone who didn’t even win the 2014 US Open. Djokovic was knocked out in the semifinals by Kei Nishikori (+1400 to win this year), who in turn fell to Marin Cilic (+2200) in the final. Djokovic only has the 2011 Open title under his belt; however, the World’s No. 1 is 48-3 in singles action this year, losing just twice on the hardcourt.

Could Federer be the one to stop Djokovic?

The Swiss veteran won their match in the final at Dubai back in February, and has a career record of 20-20 versus Djokovic, although that record shrinks to 7-14 since the start of the 2011 campaign. Murray is 8-19 lifetime against Djokovic; Nadal is 23-21, but 1-6 in their last seven matches.

Kershaw, Dodgers Host Zimmermann, Nationals

Two National League powerhouses wrap up a three-game set on Wednesday in Los Angeles as the Dodgers host the Washington Nationals. On their best days, either of these starting pitchers can make any lineup in the majors look foolish.

The Dodgers will go with Clayton Kershaw, who is a three-time Cy Young winner and the defending MVP. He saw his scoreless-innings streak snapped at 37 innings in his last outing. However, he returns home where he’ 6-2 in 10 starts this season with an ERA of 1.66. Batters are hitting just .188 off him in those outings. The Nationals counter with Jordan Zimmermann, who is 0-2 in his last five starts, although he has had some bad luck over that time. Zimmermann has been erratic on the road this season, going 4-4 in 10 starts with an ERA of 4.95, which is more than two runs higher than his ERA at home.

What’s more is that Kershaw has had his way with the Nationals throughout his career, going 8-2 in 12 games (11 starts) with an ERA of 2.31. That includes the July 18 outing where Kershaw tossed eight shutout innings of three-hit ball, striking out a season-high 14 batters in a 4-2 win on the road in Washington.

Pirates-Cardinals on ESPN

The St. Louis Cardinals (71-40, +23.02 units) have the best record in baseball by far, both in the MLB standings and from a betting perspective. The second-best team in the National League, on both counts, happens to be the team chasing St. Louis down in the NL Central: the Pittsburgh Pirates (65-44, +12.84 units). They begin a three-game set at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, and Game 2 will be shown Wednesday night (8:00 PM ET) on ESPN.

Viewers will be treated to a very special pitching matchup. The Cardinals plan on starting Michael Wacha (3.18 FIP), who has generated 8.88 units in earnings on a team record of 16-5. Only teammate Carlos Martinez (13.37 units) has been more profitable at press time. Pittsburgh will start Gerrit Cole (2.69 FIP), who’s pitched even better than Wacha; the Pirates are 16-6 (+8.02 units) behind their ace.

No surprise that the under has been the right choice with either of these pitchers on the mound: 11-9-1 for Wacha, and 12-8-2 for Cole. Scoring will be even harder to come by with Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday (.830 OPS) on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad and uncertain to return before the playoffs.

Slumping Nats Host Diamondbacks

Fresh off their latest roster upgrade, the Washington Nationals are in the midst of a four-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks, with Game 3 this Wednesday (7:05 PM ET) at Nationals Park. But is it too late for new closer Jonathan Papelbon to save Washington’s season? The Nats (54-50, –4.97 betting units) are just 5-11 since the All-Star Game, and would miss the playoffs if they started today.

Gio Gonzalez (3.18 FIP) will try to stop the bleeding Wednesday night. Gonzalez has pitched very well this year, leading Washington to 4.78 units in earnings on a team record of 12-7, including four of his last six starts. Gonzalez has allowed six earned runs combined during this hot spell, but he’s also having trouble going deep into games, so Papelbon (2.91 FIP) and the rest of Washington’s No. 6-ranked bullpen (3.3 WAR) will be on notice.

The Diamondbacks aren’t completely out of playoff contention at 51-53 (+2.32 units), and they won the first game of this series 6-4 as +112 underdogs. Rubby De La Rosa (4.67 FIP) will try to keep the ball rolling in Game 3; Arizona is 12-9 in De La Rosa’s 21 starts for 3.30 units in profit.

More games this wednesday.

Bumgarner Aims to Bounce Back Against Braves

Madison Bumgarner, last year’s World Series MVP, is coming off a poor performance. He was hit hard for six runs in his last outing, but he’ll look to bounce back when the Giants visit the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday.

Despite going at least five innings in his last five starts, Bumgarner has allowed six runs in two of those starts. As we go to press, he’s eighth in the National League in innings at 138. He is also third in wins (11) and seventh in strikeouts (139), but most of Bumgarner’s struggles come from road games. Even though he has a 6-4 away record, Bumgarner’s ERA on the road is 4.50 compared to 2.43 at home.

The Braves will counter with Williams Perez, who is 4-1 with an ERA of 4.14 on the season. However, the 24-year-old is also coming off a rough outing. He got shelled by the Phillies, giving up nine runs in just 4.1 innings of a road loss at Philadelphia. He had been moving along well so far in 2015, but if he has a repeat performance of his Phillies match, the Braves will have to take a look at his place in the rotation.

How Will Game of Thrones Season 6 Evolve?

With five seasons of Game of Thrones already in the bag, and Season 6 coming up in April, the curtain will eventually fall on the TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Which leaves a pressing question for fans of the show: who will be King or Queen of Westeros when all is said and done? According to the entertainment odds, Jon Snow is the favorite at +250, followed closely by Daenerys Targaryen at +300.

Snow (played by Kit Harington) is currently listed as “deceased” after getting stabbed by mutineers at the end of Season 5. However, dead people have a way of coming back to life on Game of Thrones. Snow is one of the most prominent characters in the series; he’s a fan favorite, and the story is often told from his point of view.

Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke) is another major “POV” character with a large fanbase. She belongs to the family that ruled Westeros for nearly 300 years before rebellion set in. Earlier this summer, Targaryen was the +250 favorite ahead of Snow, but theories about Snow’s imminent re-incarnation have caused the two characters to switch positions.

Pavlyuchenkova Most Favored at Baku Cup Tournament

Fresh off hosting the controversial first edition of the European Games, the Azerbaijani capital of Baku is back in the sports spotlight with the fifth annual Baku Cup. At press time, Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the clear outright favorite at +350, although the top seed needed a third-set tiebreaker to beat fellow Russian Elizaveta Kulichkova (+155) in Tuesday’s opening round.

Pavlyuchenkova’s next opponent is Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko, who went into this tournament as a qualifier, but is the fourth favorite at +800 after her recent win over Venus Williams at the Istanbul Open. Bondarenko breezed into the second round at Baku with a victory over Valentyna Ivakhnenko (+375), a resident of Donetsk who switched flags from Ukraine to Russia in 2014 after the rebel takeover.

Other top Baku Cup favorites remaining in the field at press time include No. 2 seed Karin Knapp (+600) from Italy, Kirsten Flipkens (+700) from Germany, and Margarita Gasparyan (+900) from Russia. Gasparyan could be the value pick here after beating No. 3 seed Dominika Cibulkova (–175) in the opening round. Knapp might be tiring after a deep run to the finals at Bad Gastein, while Flipkens has been dealing with a knee injury.

Reloaded Mets Host Padres with Deadline Looming

The New York Mets (51-48, +2.88 units) haven’t been very good since back in April, but with the NL East still up for grabs, they’ve added some talent before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. There might be some more moves on the horizon, especially with the San Diego Padres (47-52, –4.64 units) coming to town for a three-game set. Game 2 is this Wednesday at 7:10 PM ET.

The Padres haven’t performed nearly as well as expected this year, and they’re on the verge of a considerable makeover, with Justin Upton (.759 OPS) the top priority. New York is said to be in the market for Upton, after acquiring Juan Uribe (.744 OPS) and Kelly Johnson (.773 OPS) from the Atlanta Braves, along with closer Tyler Clippard (3.89 FIP) from the Oakland Athletics.

As for Wednesday’s start, Bartolo Colon (3.59 FIP) will be taking the mound for the Mets against Tyson Ross (2.75 FIP). New York has lost Colon’s last six games in a row, scoring a grand total of four runs during that spell to fall to 9-10 (–0.66 units) behind the veteran righty. San Diego is 10-11 in Ross’ 21 starts for a loss of 2.36 units.

Pressure Mounts as Kershaw Looks To Extend Scoreless Streak

Although it took him some time, it looks like three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw is hitting his stride. He hasn’t allowed a run in 29 straight innings and will look to keep the struggling Oakland Athletics under wraps.

Kershaw wasn’t a very profitable pitcher early in the season. Bettors who backed him early on lost four times in his first six outings. The Dodgers lost four straight starts of his to end June and begin July. However, he’s clearly on a hot streak now as he hasn’t allowed a run in any of his last three starts, giving up 14 hits in that span.

The A’s will counter with Jesse Chavez, who hasn’t received much run support this season. The A’s are averaging just 4.3 runs per game in his starts. However, keep in mind that they scored 30 of those runs in two starts, which means they’ve averaged just 3.2 runs per game in his other outings. If they keep that up, that could compete with the red-hot Kershaw and Dodgers on Wednesday.

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WTA Istanbul Cup Wide Open After Venus Beaten

The biggest names at the WTA Istanbul Cup have been dropping like flies. Top seed Venus Williams drew a difficult first-round match against qualifier Kateryna Bondarenko (+475), who won in straight sets on Tuesday to leave the tournament up for grabs. It was the first victory for Bondarenko over a Top-20 ranked player since she re-joined the WTA Tour last year.

Williams was the 3/1 favorite going into Tuesday’s action, followed closely by former World’s No. 1 Jelena Jankovic at 4/1. But Jankovic also lost her first-round match to Urszula Radwanska (+290). That left a peloton of five players who were each priced at 12/1. Two of those women faced each other, with Camila Giorgi downing Dominika Cibulkova (EVEN) in a close contest.

Alize Cornet and Tsvetana Pironkova did manage to advance to the second round. Roberta Vinci was the other member of that fivesome at 12/1; she defeated Alexandra Panova (+240) on Wednesday. Cornet is the highest seed remaining in this tournament at No. 4. The French native is currently ranked No. 28 in the world, but was as high as No. 11 back in 2009, and recently made it to the fourth round at the French Open.

Jays, A’s in First Series Since Donaldson Trade

It’s been nearly eight months since the Oakland Athletics traded their best player, third baseman Josh Donaldson, to the Toronto Blue Jays. This Wednesday, they’ll meet for the second time since that fateful transaction, with Felix Doubront scheduled to start for the Jays (47-47, –4.23 units) against Sonny Gray and the A’s (43-51, –16.85 units). First pitch from the Coliseum is at 10:05 PM ET.

Doubront (4.27 FIP lifetime) will be making just his third start in a Jays uniform. Shoulder trouble derailed what had been a promising career in Boston, where Doubront had a solid 2013 campaign (3.78 FIP) for the Red Sox. Toronto got mixed results in Doubront’s first two starts, a 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox (+114 at home) and an 11-10 loss to the Kansas City Royals (–118 at home).

Gray (2.84 FIP) has pitched very well for Oakland this year. However, his A’s teammates have played poorly enough to lose 0.41 betting units in Gray’s 19 starts, despite going 11-8. While much has been said about Oakland’s +53 run differential on the season, Gray has benefited from an unusually low .255 BABIP against, with a career-high 78.0% of base runners left stranded.

Other games this wednesday

Royals and Cardinals Favored To Rumble In World Series

The Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals have the best records in baseball, so it’s no surprise that they are favored to win each respective pennant and meet in the World Series. Bovada currently has the Royals at 13/2 to win the Fall Classic. The Cards are 8/1.

The Cardinals have cooled off of late as they were 51-24 through their first 75 games. However, they won just seven of their 17 games since and have been somewhat of a middling team. Nonetheless, as we move towards the end of July, the Cards still have the best team ERA in baseball (2.66).

As for the Royals, they can almost put it in cruise control as they have a comfortable 5.5-game lead in the American League Central. Only the Minnesota Twins, the team that is currently second in the division, has a record above .500. Everyone else will likely be sellers at the trade deadline. The Royals’ +64 run differential is the second-best number in the AL, and they’ll be ready for another deep playoff run after last year’s journey to the World Series.

Behind the Royals and Cardinals are the Washington Nationals (8/1), Los Angeles Dodgers (17/2) and Pittsburgh Pirates (10/1).

SkillOnNet releases Evolution Gaming on Mobile

(Press Release) Popular casino software provider SkillOnNet has rolled out Live Casino games from Evolution Gaming, the world leader in video-streamed Live Dealer gaming, on its growing casino mobile platform.

The full suite of Live Casino games, including Live Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat and Casino Hold’em will be featured on major online casino brands such as Megacasino, PlayMillion, EUcasino and SlotsMagic.com. These players will have access to the large number of VIP tables and the extensive native speaking Roulette offering.

Commenting on SkillOnNet’s choice of Evolution Mobile Casino, Kevin Samuels, VIP Mobile Manager said: “We are delighted to offer such a world-class live gaming experience to our mobile customers. We are thrilled with the choice of game views for Live Roulette, the expected features such as game statistics, hot and cold numbers, as well as additional features, such as the Favourite Bets menu, which gives players the option to personalise their Roulette experience and save up to 15 of their favourite bets. We even have mobile play that allows full-screen HD video, which is just fantastic.”
Beautifully optimised for each specific mobile device and OS, SkillOnNet includes the Evolution Live Casino on the following devices:

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Samuels added: “The beauty of this software is that thousands of Live Casino players, all playing at the same time, can enjoy the live games on multiple devices – and the players using mobile have the same access to multiple tables for any mobile-enabled game and not just one or two tables”

Live Arms Feature in Mariners-Yankees Matchup

Much better things were expected this year from the Seattle Mariners than the New York Yankees. But going into the second half of the season, it’s the Yankees (48-40, +0.62 betting units) leading the AL East, while the Mariners (41-48, –13.10 units) are slowly sinking in the AL West. They’ll crack open a three-game set Friday night at New Yankee Stadium; first pitch is at 7:05 PM ET.

Masahiro Tanaka (3.60 FIP) gets the nod for the Yankees as they begin the second half at the top of their rotation. Tanaka isn’t as dominant as he was before hurting his elbow last year, but New York is still 8-3 in his 11 starts for 3.94 units in earnings. The Yankees are also hitting well at 14.6 WAR.

Seattle responds with Mike Montgomery (3.66 FIP), who has cooled off a bit since pitching back-to-back complete-game shutouts in late June. Montgomery failed to reach the sixth inning in either of his last two starts, leaving Seattle 0.20 units in the red on a team record of 4-4. The M’s are once again near the bottom of the majors in hitting at 9.0 WAR.

Which Game of Thrones Character Will Die Next?

In 2011, HBO unleashed its TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, naming it after the first novel in the series: Game of Thrones. It was a big smash with both viewers and critics, and next April, Season 6 will be hitting the small screen to a rapt audience waiting to find out what everyone wants to know: who dies next?

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According to the entertainment odds under the Film/Television Props category, Jorah Mormont is the favorite at 5/1. Mormont, played by Iain Glen, was last seen heading north with Daario Naharis (18/1) to go rescue their queen, Daenerys Targaryen (75/1). At present, Mormont is still alive in the ongoing book series, but Martin has previously stated that people will die on television who don’t die in the books.
The other top favorites to be terminated next are Ramsay Snow (now Bolton) at 7/1 and Alliser Thorne at 15/2. Bolton, portrayed by Iwan Rheon, is a violent bad guy who deserves his comeuppance, while Thorne (played by Owen Teale) recently led a mutiny against Jon Snow, who may or may not have been killed at the end of Season 5.

France Favorite to win the Davis Cup at Quarterfinals

The 2015 Davis Cup has been narrowed down to the Elite Eight. Quarterfinal action in the World Group stage begins Friday. At press time, France is the narrow favorite to win the title at 11/4, ahead of Serbia (3/1), Canada (4/1) and Australia (5/1). France reached the finals last year before losing to Switzerland, who’s already been eliminated from this year’s competition.

The talented French team of Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Mahut will face Great Britain (Andy Murray, James Ward, Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot) in the quarterfinals at Queen’s Club in London. The Brits are 8/1 to win their first Davis Cup since 1936; Andy Murray is the superstar of the group. Australia’s John Peers reached this year’s men’s doubles final at Wimbledon paired with Andy Murray’s brother, Jamie Murray.

Serbia’s road to glory goes through Buenos Aires, where Argentina (8/1) is lying in wait. This should be a fairly close matchup between Serbia (Viktor Troicki, Dusan Lajovic, Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic) and the Argentines (Leonardo Mayer, Diego Schwartzman, Federico Delbonis and Carlos Berlocq). Tipsarevic, the former World’s No. 9, is struggling to rebuild his game after missing 17 months to a foot injury.

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