2011 A Great Year for the GamblerFifty issues of Gambling in the bag and we’re still going strong. To celebrate, here’s 50 reasons to get excited about your punting prospects 2011. No doubt once you’ve devoured this list you’ll have thoroughly whetted your appetite for what promises to be an incredible year ahead for the bettor. There’s so much to look forward to – the year is going to absolutely fly past!
The contents of this list have been a constant source of debate over the past few weeks in the office as we gradually pieced it together. There’s such a lot going on in 2011 that a tonne of great stuff missed out on the final edit.
So what do you think? Reckon we’ve missed something vital off our list? Write and tell us what you’ll be punting on in the year ahead!
50. GRAPHICS TO DIE FOR!
Technology’s come a long way since the first batch of online casinos hit the scene. The new generation of video slots and 3D casinos are providing top-class simulations of the real experience, with 888’s 3D casino being an optimum example. Their virtual world stunningly showcases how far gaming graphics have come.
49. THE BLUE RIBAND OF THE TURF
One of the five classics, the Epsom Derby is the highlight of the English flat racing season. The contest attracts Europe’s best 3-year-old thoroughbred colts, all competing for a total purse of £1.5 million. Always a huge betting event, the big favourite for 2011 is Henry Cecil’s unbeaten Frankel.
Frankel to win the Derby: 6/1 (Coral)
48. GOOD NEWS FOR STUDENTS
With increasing tuition fees and looming debts, students may not have the best advantage when it comes to gambling. Paddy Power have caught onto this and have launched a student-only poker tournament, which they hope will become an annual event. The Student Masters 2011 will be held on 19 March in Dublin.
47. PLAY-OFF PUNTING ACROSS THE ATLANTIC
Even for those who aren’t connoisseurs of American sport, the excitement provided by their end of season knockout formats is undeniable. The NBA and NFL have their play-offs, while the MLB concludes with a postseason. Upsets do occur and underdogs can prosper, as seen with New Orleans’ 2010 Super Bowl victory.
New Orleans Saints to win Superbowl XLV: 11/1 (Unibet, Extrabet)
46. GRAB BIG BONUSES
As more gambling sites make their way onto the web, the increasingly saturated and competitive marketplace means players can take advantage of all the perks each site offers. Casino enthusiasts can look forward to big bonuses in the new year, with Cherry Red and Black Diamond offering some great incentives already.
45. START YOUR ENGINES
After Sebastian Vettel dramatically snatched the 2010 F1 driver’s championship at the last race of their season, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will be desperate to be in the thick of it again next term. Are we entering a period of Red Bull dominance, or can McLaren come back with a vengeance in 2011?
44. BETTING ON THE ACADEMY AWARDS
For every glamorous event that comes Hollywood’s way, there are endless betting opportunities that go with it. As we told you way back in December 2009, there are some amazing Oscars tipsters online to seek out. 2011 could be your chance to prove that you don’t have to be in Hollywood to win big that night.
43. VIRTUAL INSANITY ON STARS AND TILT
With the World Championships of Online Poker and Full Tilt Online Poker Series expanding each and every year, 2011 promises to be the biggest 12 months for online poker yet. If you’ve never participated in a WCOOP or FTOPS before, now’s the time to think about qualifying online for your chance to win some insane amounts of cash.
42. THREE IN A BED ACTION
Every December the PDC take over Alexandra Palace in London as Phil Taylor and friends bring their brand of top-class darts to the capital. In among the drinking, chanting and general party atmosphere there’s plenty of betting value to be had, especially if you can look beyond The Power.
Any player other than Phil Taylor to win PDC World Championship: 11/5 (Victor Chandler)
41. ONLINE BINGO BETTER THAN EVER
There are so many new bingo sites these days we can barely keep up. These new additions mean software developments, offering a more realistic and optimum quality experience, bigger progressive jackpots, and larger jackpot prizes. Bingo Euphoria give you £25 free and a 200% first deposit bonus. If 2010 brought winners cruises and cars, imagine what 2011 will bring.
40. FLIGHT OF FANTASY
While a tighter-than-ever Premier League season may have left you tearing your hair out at times in 2010, the unpredictability factor has certainly raised the stakes in fantasy football. 2011 will see more online leagues, more strategy and more reputations on the line as your humble office wager turns into an all-out fantasy war.
39. GAMBLING ON ICE!
One for industry insiders. If you work in the industry then the International Casino Exhibition, held every year in late January at London’s Earl’s Court, is an absolutely essential place to be. All the big players from the gambling biz will be there discussing plans for the year ahead. Last year’s event had 18,700 visitors!
38. TOP OF THE PROPS
Phil Ivey and Howard Lederer raised the bar last year with a WSOP bracelet bet worth some $5 million – and their unfathomably huge wager should act as a rallying call to proposition bettors everywhere. Next year, expect sums equivalent to the GDP of Wales to be wagered on matters as imperative as how many sit-ups Tony G can do.
37. CAPITALISING ON CUPSETS
There’s nothing that rings in a new year like the FA Cup Third Round and the traditional shocks that this stage of the famous competition provides. ‘Cupsets’ make for entertaining games, great office banter and – if you’re prepared to do a bit of extra research – can be a fantastic way of getting one over on the UK bookies.
36. THE RISE OF SKILL GAMING
While poker, casino and sports betting hog the limelight, skill games are quietly carving out a decent niche for themselves online. Could 2011 be a ‘breakout year’ for backgammon, mahjong, dominoes and brag? There’s a World Series of Backgammon now, and dominoes is popular with Hollywood stars!
35. FIRST CLASS TO VEGAS
British Airways have announced the launch of their new direct flight, which promises to take you from London to Las Vegas in the lap of luxury. First class will be introduced on the Boeing 747 service for the first time, with flights scheduled for take-off from 1 June 2011.
34. HERE COME THE GIRLS
As if their current domination of Europe wasn’t enough, PokerStars have decided to target another chunk of the market with a range women-only offers and events. Not only is this likely to bring more talented female players into the game, but it means if you’re a woman, you’ll be seeing some great value tournaments in 2011.
33. BY ROYAL APPROVAL
The most glamorous of the British festivals, Royal Ascot offers a fantastic all-round experience with something for everyone, including the ever-popular Ladies’ Day. The racing is top quality as well, with Group 1s, handicaps and listed contests all present. Highlights include the Queen Anne Stakes and the Royal Ascot Gold Cup.
32. TWEETING TIPSTERS
Twitter is a great way of keeping up-to-date on current affairs. If something happens, it’ll be on Twitter in moments. If you follow the right people, you can sometimes get a headstart in certain betting markets. Are the bookies following Twitter as closely as you are? Every once in a while, you’ll find some value.
31. MAKING A FORTUNE ON FOREIGN FOOTBALL
With greater television exposure and more live streams than ever before, 2011 will definitely be the year to make a killing from the European leagues. It’s never been easier to become fluent in foreign football – and with Gambling’s La Liga predictions looking unerringly accurate this season, it could be a good year to invest overseas.
30. PUB QUIZ MACHINES ONLINE
There’s always a bunch of blokes hogging Hangman on the quiz machine down our local. All too often our beer-induced thirst for trivia goes unquenched. So we’re eternally grateful to the good people at Bet365 for hosting Hangman on their website, alongside other pub trivia machine games like Bullseye and Catch Phrase.
29. POKER FINDS ITS VOICE
Having seen a spate of talented-yet-introvert World Champions in the past few years, 2011 could be the year that Jonathan Duhamel bucks the trend and gives poker the ambassador it needs. The Canadian pro is both confident and charismatic and could yet prove to be a hugely influential figure in bringing the game to a new audience.
28. TOP DOGS
Greyhound racing is one of Britain’s biggest betting and spectator sports, with over three million people attending meetings every year and £2.5 billion wagered. A fair amount of that is staked on the Derby, the premier race on the canine calendar. At this early stage some quality dogs are available at juicy prices.
Blue Artisan to win the Greyhound Derby: 33/1 (various)
27. MY PRECIOUS
From Tombraider to Hellboy, Microgaming has brought us many fine creations, but they’ve outdone themselves with their innovative Lord Of The Rings slot. Not only does Microgaming have the largest progressive jackpot network in the world, but their games are more graphic-rich than ever, capturing the spectacular cinematic quality of the LOTR trilogy.
26. THE ROYAL WEDDING
Until 29 April, intimate details of William and Kate’s big day are bound to be shrouded in secrecy, offering many chances to try your hand at novelty betting. The stag night location is one we find most interesting, with Boylesports offering odds of 6/4 on London being the hotspot for the action. This is followed by Scotland (3/1) and Wales (8/1), but we’re far more excited about the prospect of it being in Las Vegas, with Sin City offered at 25/1.
Wills’ to have Vegas stag night, 25/1
25. UNRAVELLING THE ‘ISILDUR1’ ENIGMA
The mysterious Scandinavian player ‘Isildur1’ was one of the most talked about personas in poker last year – and 2011 might just be the time to put a face to the name once and for all. Rumours are rife that the high-stakes online player is Swedish young gun Viktor Blom, but with the man himself being typically silent on the matter, no one can be 100% sure. What we do know, however, is that as long as the enigmatic ‘Isildur1’ remains in the game, poker will be an exciting place in 2011.
24. GRAND SLAM GLORY
It will have been 75 years in 2011 since a British man last won Wimbledon, but that still doesn’t stop the nation’s collective hopes being raised and then dashed summer after summer. There is, however, a general consensus that Andy Murray is certainly good enough to win a Grand Slam, and Wimbledon is surely his best chance. That said, he’ll do well to overcome the imperious Rafael Nadal and the classy Roger Federer. It’s not out of the question though.
Andy Murray to win Wimbledon: 7/1 (Victor Chandler)
23. TIPSTERS GALORE
In years gone by, the average punter’s choice of tipsters was limited to a couple of crusty old hacks in the racing papers and Dodgy Mick, the guy down the pub who was always off “to see a man about a dog”. Now, with the proliferation of internet forums, there are so many wise words out there worth listening to. Once you’ve had your monthly dose of strategy from Gambling in 2011, head to the Punter’s Lounge forum for sports betting, and either Two Plus Two or The Hendon Mob for poker, and see what the serious punters are talking about.
22. BACKING THE POPULAR VOTE
2011 will see the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony champion the achievements of another sporting great, and if there’s one thing to be learnt from previous results it’s that media hyperbole can often have the decisive say. Last year Ryan Giggs picked up the award on the back of a wave of newspaper sentiment, so for this year’s title you should be looking to individuals who have the potential to become media darlings over the next 12 months.
21. FINDING EUROPE’S HIDDEN TREASURES
As well as the dizzying highs and crushing lows of live poker, travelling the UK and Europe to play on various tours is a great way to see parts of the world you’d never otherwise discover. With a new tour seemingly popping up every month, there’ll be plenty of opportunity for sight-seeing in 2011 as PokerStars’ UKIPT returns and the Unibet stops bring you the height of luxury in exotic locations across Europe. With freeroll qualification for both online, all you need is a passport and a little bit of luck.
20. MASTERING THE MASTERS
Is there a tournament as synonymous with professional golf as the US Masters in Augusta? Last year’s competition saw Phil Mickelson scoop his third title at the famous course in emphatic fashion, moving him to within one win of golfing legend Tiger Woods. With the latter’s dramatic return to the game after a scandal-hit six months proving a major ratings draw, the 2011 tournament could go down in history as one of the most-viewed golf events of all time as the two rivals resume battle.
19. THE LAND OF CONFUSION
Whisper it in hushed tones, but it seems that common sense is finally beginning to prevail over in America as more and more states realise the potential gaming revenue they’re missing out on as a result of the draconian UIGEA bill. Hopefully, the coming 12 months will see a thorough review of the current legislation regarding online gaming and poker in the US and a fairer and more enterprising set of guidelines put into place. If things do go to plan, a second online gambling boom could potentially be on the cards.
18. GRIDIRON GAMBLING
The SuperBowl has a cult following in Britain, with legions of loyal NFL fans staying up through the night to watch the world-famous contest. Those same supporters have been rewarded in recent years with the NFL’s visit to Wembley, a game that, like the SuperBowl itself, presents some exciting betting opportunities. The SuperBowl is currently a pretty open affair, with four different teams offered as favourites by various bookmakers, none of which are shorter than 13/2.
Philadelphia Eagles to win SuperBowl XLV: 8/1 (Paddy Power, Unibet)
17. IS THIS A WIND UP?
We can’t quite get our heads around this one, but we had to include it whether it turns out to be true or an elaborate practical joke. According to reliable online sources including the Internet Movie Database, Christian Slater and Gary Oldman have made a new movie caper titled Girls, Guns & Gambling. This might be our favourite movie title since Snakes On A Plane. Frankly, we don’t care if this movie is brilliant or unspeakably awful – we’re still going to have to watch it. Oldman apparently plays an Elvis impersonator. Enough said.
16. BEAT ON THE BRAT
It is one of the very mysteries of time itself that as poker continues to evolve year on year, one man’s attitude towards it remains the same. That man is, of course, Phil Hellmuth – and despite mounting evidence to the contrary, he still believes he’s the greatest player in the universe. However, with every passing year, Hellmuth’s “11-time bracelet winner” shtick becomes more of an ego defence than a brag and 2011 might finally be the moment ‘The Brat’ decides that it’s time to go back to school.
15. A GRAND OCCASION
A race that grips the nation like no other on earth, the Grand National really does bring punting to the people. It’s a contest that gets everyone talking – and betting – as even those who wouldn’t usually place a wager seek to get involved. It’s a great occasion and has produced some memorable moments in recent years, including a 100/1 winner and Tony McCoy’s first National success. Despite the relatively short price of McCoy’s 2010 ride, winners often come in at double-figure odds.
Niche Market to win the Grand National: 25/1 (various)
14. REALITY TV SHOWS
Although 2011 will see a Big Brother-less summer, there are still countless reality shows that offer copious chances for a bet or two. The X-Factor, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here and Strictly Come Dancing to name but a few, are all set to return, and there’s money to be made on all outcomes – from the first contestant to be eliminated to the last one standing, the winner’s gender and many, many more – the possibilities are almost endless.
13. THE RISE OF AN EMPIRE
Having witnessed the wall-to-wall quality in attendance at the World Series of Poker Europe this year, if the event stays at the Casino at the Empire it can only do further good for poker in the UK. With James Bord’s fantastic win – and the fervent British rail support that accompanied it – ensuring that the Main Event title stayed in England, interest will have peaked in the capital and we can expect to see far greater numbers in 2011. With a bit of luck, we might just have another new British bracelet winner too.
12. GOOD CAUSES
Gambling can be a massive catalyst for good causes. Lotto-funded projects are the most notable, and your pound goes a long way, with the UK’s National Lottery giving the most back to society than any other in the world – a staggering £25 billion has already been raised. Elsewhere, Pink Ribbon Bingo has partnered up with Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and 15p in every £1 spent goes to the cause, as well as there being treks and sprints across the country throughout 2011 to take part in.
11. BOWLED OVER
The tenth instalment of the Cricket World Cup sees 14 countries take to the crease, with all of the big-name nations present. Joint-hosts India are vying for favourite status with Australia, with the South Asian side’s strong batting line up including Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. England are by no means without hope – despite being well down the betting – especially after their Twenty20 World Cup win earlier this year proved they can prosper in the shorter forms of the game.
England to win the Cricket World Cup: 7/1 (Bwin)
10. SPECIAL ONE SEEKS TRIUMPHANT TREBLE
The Champions League always provides fantastic entertainment and a wealth of betting opportunities, but this year’s competition includes a number of fascinating subplots. There’s Jose Mourinho’s quest for a third title with three different clubs, while his former charges Inter Milan will hope to be in the mix for the trophy too (though they are greatly weakened without their former leader). Spurs are making their debut in the tournament and have been involved in some entertaining contests already, leaving pundits speculating on just how far Harry Redknapp’s men can go.
Tottenham to win the Champions League: 28/1 (Bodog)
9. THE BRITISH BRACELET BANDWAGON ROLLS ON
In poker terms, one of the undisputed highlights of 2010 was seeing the number of British success stories that emerged both at home and abroad. Thankfully the omens are similarly strong for 2011 with the likes of Toby Lewis, Jake Cody and Sam Trickett all being another year older and another year wiser when they head to Vegas next summer. Other players to look out for include Jack Ellwood, Charlie Combes and Matt Perrins, who all form the cream of the latest crop of UK talent.
8. EMERGENCE OF IPHONE AND IPAD GAMING
On-the-go gaming provided by Apple has really taken off this year, with speculation that it will get far more popular during 2011. It will only be a matter of time before more companies catch on and take advantage of Apple’s revolutionary software, and we’ve got in there early. If you want to stay in touch with your favourite magazine wherever you are, you can download the Gambling magazine app for your iPhone or iPad for only £1.79 per issue.
7. DAVID TO MAKE HAYE IN 2011?
David Haye has been impressive in his claiming and defending of the WBA World Heavyweight title, but tougher tests surely lie ahead. It seems almost certain that he will fight either or both of the Klitschko brothers during 2011, with odds already available on both potential contests. Older sibling Vitali was set to retire at the end of 2010 but has now said he’d be interested in facing Haye in the spring in a bout that would represent the toughest of the Londoner’s career.
David Haye to defeat Vitali Klitschko: 2/1 (Boylesports)
6. THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
It’s hardly a surprise inclusion in our top 10, but whatever way you look at it, the fact remains that the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas is still the tournament series every poker player wants to be a part of. Last year’s event was an amazing spectacle of poker that culminated in one of the strongest Main Event final tables in Series history battling it out for a first prize of almost $9 million – and if the numbers continue to grow in 2011, the 42nd WSOP could be one of the best events yet.
5. UNSTOPPABLE ALL BLACKS
It’s New Zealand’s turn to host rugby union’s premier international competition, not that the All Blacks require any sort of extra advantage. Dan Carter and Co are big favourites for the competition and recent victories over the home nations have only served to underline their credentials. England may have found a bit of form in recent times – including an impressive victory over Australia in November – but Martin Johnson’s men still find themselves behind the Southern Hemisphere’s big hitters in the betting.
England to win the Rugby World Cup: 11/1 (Stan James)
4. GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
The eyes of the racing world turn to Cheltenham in mid-March as the greatest festival on the racing calendar takes centre stage. The four-day event is packed with high-quality contests and a wealth of betting opportunities, topped off by the prestigious Gold Cup. Last year was billed as a battle between stablemates Denman and Kauto Star, but it was Imperial Commander who prevailed as the big guns faltered. Those three are set to return, as are big names like Binocular, Master Minded and Big Bucks.
Imperial Commander to win the Gold Cup: 9/2 (William Hill)
3. LONDON’S HIPPODROME CASINO
Famed for being a hotspot for the best nightlife in London for most of the last century, the Hippodrome has been revamped in a bid to turn it into the most spectacular casino this country has ever seen. If you haven’t already, check out page 20 of this issue, which will tell you everything you need to know about it. As if this addition wasn’t enough, the legendary Playboy Casino is set to return to London and reopen in a brand new location in Mayfair, with the promise that a little bit of bunny-eared charm will be brought to the capital. With these two enticing venues on the way, it’s safe to say that London is becoming an even bigger hotbed for luxurious casinos.
2. EUROPE BECOMING A POKER SUPERPOWER
Is it just us or are the Americans starting to look a tiny bit nervous? A series of landmark legal cases last year resulted in poker markets opening up across Europe – and the resultant upsurge in new non-American players could seriously threaten the country’s traditional poker dominance in future. For the short term, however, the main benefits of poker’s expansion around Europe is that the game will grow as a result of the influx of new players and – perhaps more importantly – more new players means more bad players. As such expect to see plenty of fresh fish at your online tables in the coming 12 months and maybe event the occasional whale at your table on the European Poker Tour.
1. PREMIER LEAGUE PUNTING
For those fed up of predictable results and obvious outcomes, this season’s Premier League has been a breath of fresh air. Some familiar big names may still be hovering around the top of the table, but their dominance is far less definite than it has been in previous years. There is a sense that anyone can beat anyone this time around – as shown by West Brom and Blackpool’s respective victories over Arsenal and Liverpool – and that equates to fantastic entertainment and good profits for those who can pick out the upsets.
Even the eventual destination of the title is far less clear-cut than usual, with Arsenal, Manchester City and even Tottenham being mentioned as possible challengers to the Man Utd/Chelsea duopoly. No-one seems prepared to take the league by the scruff of the neck and really pull away, meaning that for the first time in a while there is value to be had in the outright winner market, with no side offered at odds-on. It should be a fantastic finale to a fascinating campaign.
Arsenal to win the Premier League: 5/1 (various)