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ChessBookie Game:
Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the ChessBookie Game?
  2. How do I play?
  3. How do I get chessbucks added to my account?
  4. What are "Legs"? What is the Championship?
  5. What do odds like 5:2 or 2.65 mean?
  6. Tell me more about how this game works.
  7. The "Betting Window" and how to use it.
  8. What are minimum bets? Maximum bets?
  9. Which games and tournaments are selected for betting, and why?
  10. Does the house take a "cut"?
  11. How do I use the Loanshark?
  12. What are some tips for profitable betting?
  13. Discrepancies/disputes.
  14. A few words about responsible gaming.
ALSO SEE: The ChessBookie Glossary

What is the ChessBookie Game?'s ChessBookie Game is a game available to all members of The object of the game is to amass as much play-money ("chessbucks") as possible. This is done by purchasing virtual tickets staking play-money on world-class chess players. It costs nothing to play, and no real money changes hands. However, we do reward the winners with real prizes, which can include premium services, books, gift certificates, and more.
How do I play?
The mechanics of the game are very simple:

  1. First, you need an account at See our registration page if you do not have an account.
    (NOTE: You will need to enter a legitimate email address and activate your account by checking your inbox for your welcome email and clicking on the confirmation link.)

  2. To begin playing, follow the link that reads "ChessBookie Game" found in the footer of any page to access the ChessBookie Homepage.

  3. At the Bookie Homepage you will be informed of the number of chessbucks in your account, your tickets, events that you can bet on, and events that have closed.

  4. To buy a ticket, click on the event that you are interested in. Choose the winning player from the pulldown menu, and enter the amount of your wager. For most events, the minimum bet is 5 chessbucks.

  5. When you go back to the ChessBookie Homepage, you will see the ticket. If your ticket wins, a link will appear on it, "cash in this ticket." Click that link and your chessbucks account will be credited appropriately. If your ticket loses, the link will say "discard this ticket."
The bookmaker maintains a parimutuel betting pool. This means that the final odds are computed when the betting stops. The amount of money bet on the losers is divided proportionally among the winning tickets. The most favorable odds for the bettor exist when they bet with a small minority, and are still right. For more information on this betting system, see Wikipedia's article on parimutuel betting.

Four times a year, we will close all accounts with the bookmaker and start everybody over again. At that point, the player with the most chessbucks will have their name entered into the ChessBookie Game Hall of Fame and positions two through nine will qualify for the World Championship.

How do I get chessbucks added to my account?
When a new leg begins, all Chessgames members receive 1000 chessbucks to gamble with. The exception to this rule is the Championship Leg in which those who have qualified begin with 10,000 chessbucks.

There are four ways you can increase your chessbucks:

  1. Receiving the initial supply of 1000 chessbucks at the start of a leg.
  2. Midway through each leg, all player will recieve an additional 1000 chessbucks, called the "Pay Day."
  3. Receiving a loan from the Loanshark (see section below).
  4. Cashing in winning tickets.
Note that the Loanshark won't help your net worth, but he might provide the funds with which you can make your big killing. Plus, if you run out of money, the Loanshark can help you by extending your credit further and further.
What are "Legs"? What is the Championship?
For purposes of competition and determining a yearly champion, we use the following format:

  1. Each year is broken up into four "legs": spring, summer, fall, and winter. (Our definitions of the seasons are slightly skewed to accomodate major tournaments. For our purposes, winter includes March.)
  2. The first three legs (spring, summer, and fall) are identical in format: At the start of each leg, each player's account is wiped clean and 1000 chessbucks are deposited. The player with the most chessbucks at the end of the leg is declared to be the winner, and positions 2 through 10 declared the runner ups.
  3. The final leg of the year is special, in that the winners and runners up of the previous three legs will start the Winter Leg with 10,000 chessbucks instead of the normal 1,000.
  4. The winner of the Winter Leg is declared the Chessbookie World Champion.
In short, if you want to be a serious contender for the Championship which takes place during the winter leg, you must first qualify by placing in the top 10 positions during one the spring, summer, or fall legs. There is no extra benefit for qualifying more than once; i.e., you can't start the winter leg with more than 10,000 chessbucks.

Even if you don't qualify, it's still possible to become World Champion, with a string of incredible luck to overcome your handicap. Furthermore, the top 10 places of the Winter leg earn an automatic qualification into the following year's Championship.

NOTE: Players are not permitted to open multiple accounts. Performing such an action may trigger an audit of your account. If multiple accounts have been used then you may be banned from participating in the game indefinitely.

Tell me more about how this game works.
There are many details which will become apparent to you after playing for some time. Here is a short list of things you might want to know.
  1. Your tickets are 100% confidential. Nobody knows what you bet on. However, the amount of chessbucks in your account, as well as your overall net worth, is public information.
  2. The minimum bet is usually 5 chessbucks, but for some bets the minimum is lowered to 3 or even 2 chessbucks. You can see the minimum bet at the top of the odds table.
  3. In addition to showing you the number of chessbucks in your account, you are also shown your net worth. This is computed by adding your chessbucks to the face value of all live bets, plus the value of all unredeemed tickets, minus your loan. You cannot change your net worth by buying a ticket, cashing in a ticket, taking out a loan, or repaying a loan. Your net worth does change when the Loanshark charges interest, or when one of your tickets wins or loses.
  4. On the ChessBookie Homepage is a leaderboard that shows the 10 players with the greatest net worth. This is computed daily, and sometimes more frequently. The most recent time it was computed will be displayed (in USA/Eastern time).
  5. If you make a bet on a player who ends up canceling from a tournament, or if an entire event is canceled, your ticket(s) for this event will be marked "refund" and you may redeem your ticket(s) for a full refund of its face value. Note that all forfeited players are treated as losses and are not liable for refunds.
  6. You can display your tickets either in graphical format, or tabular format. Tabular format is handy if you have a lot of tickets. Links to switch between these two views appears next to the words YOUR TICKETS.
  7. If you make a bet on the same event/player as a ticket you currently own, you will not receive a new ticket. Instead, the tickets will be consolidated, so that you will have one ticket with the total amount wagered. There is no penality or advantage for doing this in this way.
  8. If there are two or more winning lines in an event (e.g. a tie for first place), all tickets for any winning bet will be paid off. The total "loser pool" (all chessbucks wagered on losing tickets) is split evenly across all winning pools—for example, with a three-way tie the loser pool (after juice) would be split into thirds. Then those smaller pools are distributed to the winners normally. When this happens, the odds payed will be substantially worse than the final posted odds.
  9. The Settlement Date on tickets is intended to give you some idea of when you get paid. It's not a firm contract: you may get paid early, or late, depending on the bookie's schedule.
  10. In the event that there are no winning bets placed on a Pick-3, Daily Double, or similar bet, the Bookie should pay all of tickets that come closest to winning. For example, in a Pick-3 anybody who had 2 out of 3 would be paid. In a daily double, having merely one of the correct outcomes would be paid. This usually destroys the odds and the winners should expect to receive little more than what they wagered.
  11. The bookie may, at his or her discretion, place small wagers on initial bets to stimulate interest in the wager. In the event that the bookie is the only money placed on the winning outcome, the money will not be redistributed to the players (as above) but all winnings will go to the house.
  12. Decisions of the bookie on matters regarding payouts, canceled bets, and related matters are considered final, even if they contradict rules or guidelines found herein.
The "Betting Window" and how to use it.
Below is a typical betting information page for a ChessBookie wager, in this case over the result of a chess game. On top is general information, below that there is a grey "odds table", and on the bottom you can see the "betting window", where you actually make your wager.
As you can see, much information is available: the name of the bet, the "information window" in yellow, the current handle (i.e. the total amount of money placed on the game), and the current odds for the various possible outcomes.

If you want to make a bet, you need to do four things:

  1. Choose which entry you want to place your wager on in the pulldown menu on the left.
  2. Type in the amount of the bet where it says WAGER. This number must be a whole number (no decimals or fractions), it must be at least equal to the minimum bet, must be less than your maximum bet, and it must be no larger than the funds you have on hand.
  3. Click on the confirmation checkbox. This prevents you from accidentally making a bet.
  4. Click on the button Place Bet and your bet will be processed. It's that easy!
You can see how much you have staked on which entries in the Your stake column (in the above example, the player has no stake in the event). To the right of that column are the current odds (British, then fractional) along with an example based on a 10 chessbuck ticket.

IMPORTANT: The yellow "information window" is provided as a courtesy for some bets to clarify the conditions of the wager, or to provide other important information. It is always YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to be informed of the tournament rules, conditions, players, and other factors that may influence the game. Do not rely entirely on the information window to inform you of the circumstances of the bet. The ChessBookie shall not be held liable for errors or inaccuracies provided in the information window. If the bet is unintelligible even to informed bettors, the ChessBookie may decide to refund all wagers necessary--however, if informed bettors can discern the terms of the wager, we will allow all bets to stand. The ChessBookie will be the final arbiter in deciding whether a bet should be refunded due to confusion over the terms of the bet.

We suggest that all bettors find the official sites, and gather as much information as possible about the players, the match-ups, and the tournament rules.

What are minimum bets? Maximum bets?
Each event has a minimum bet selected by the bookie. For most events, the minimum is 5 chessbucks, but for event with lots of lines to bet on, lower amounts are sometimes permitted.

There is also a maximum bet or "betting cap" which is applied to your account. When you start the game, your betting cap will be 200 chessbucks. The bookie will not accept more than this amount on any single ticket. As your net worth grows, and as your "rating" with the bookie increases (i.e., you place more bets), he will allow larger wagers from you.

At the beginning (when you have only 1000 chessbucks and no prior betting history) you are severely limited but as your bankroll grows, and as you provide the bookie with more action, you earn the right to wager a larger percentage of your net worth. Eventually, you may be able to bet everything you have on any single ticket.

Which games and tournaments are selected for betting, and why?
A member of the Chessgames staff is reponsible for keeping the current lines up-to-date, and closes betting events when they are over. This is hard work! At this time, we cannot offer wagering on every tournament, much less every game from every tournament.

The bookie will decide at his or her discretion on which games to offer betting. However, he is open to suggestions and always willing to answer questions or investigate possible errors.

He may be contacted directly at the Chessgames Bookie Chessforum. You may also use his Chessforum as a sort of help-desk for the ChessBookie Game.

What do odds like 5:2 or 2.65 mean?
The Chessgames Bookie displays odds in two formats: British Fractional Odds and Decimal Odds.

  • British Fractional Odds is a traditional method of expressing odds popular in Great Britain and parimutuel gambling establishments. It quotes the net profit that the bettor will receive, should he win, relative to his stake. Put simply, the amount on the left of the colon (:) is what you stand to gain if you wager the amount on the right.

    For example, odds of 5:1 (read "five to one") means that for every one chessbuck you stake, the house will stake five chessbucks. Therefore, a 10 chessbuck ticket that wins at 5:1 odds can be cashed in for 60 chessbucks if you win (50 chessbucks of profit, plus your initial wager.)

    Odds of 3:7 (read "seven to three against") means that you need to wager 7 chessbucks to win 3. Therefore, a 70 chessbuck ticket that wins at 3:7 odds will be worth 100 chessbucks when you cash it in.

    Note that the odds presented are slightly rounded off for easier consumption. Instead of displaying 19:5, we'll just say 4:1. When you get paid, the exact odds are used, rounded down to the nearest chessbuck.

  • Decimal Odds (sometimes called European Decimal Odds) express the ratio of how much you get paid, compared to what you wager. For example, decimal odds of 2.00 means that if you buy a 10 chessbucks ticket, and it wins, you can cash it in for 20 chessbucks (10 x 2.00 = 20). That's the same as 1:1 in fractional odds. Decimal odds of 3.50 means that if you wager 10 chessbucks, and you win, you get paid 35 chessbucks (10 x 3.50 = 35). That's the same as 5:2 in fractional odds.
Decimal odds are more precise than fractional odds, but some people find fractional odds easier to understand.

Note that while betting is open, the odds displayed are subject to change as more bettors place wagers. Just because you make a bet at 5:1 odds does not necessarily mean that you will be paid 5:1 odds if you win. Once the betting closes, you may view the final posted odds by clicking on the event in the "Closed Events" table of the main ChessBookie page.

Does the house take a cut?
Yes. When the bookmaker separates the betting pool into the winners and losers, he takes 5% from the losing pools and distributes the remaining 95% among the winners, in proportion to their wagers. This 5% is called the "juice."

Furthermore, fractions are rounded down in favor of the house. For example, if the odds dictate that you should win 10.75 chessbucks, you will only get 10 chessbucks.

In the case of a canceled or refunded tickets, everybody will receive the full face value of their tickets, and no cut is taken.

How do I use the Loanshark?
In addition to the Chessgames Bookie, there is another colorful character who is out to "help" you: the Chessgames Loanshark. He is often willing to loan you chessbucks at exorbitant interest rates. You can visit him anytime by clicking on the Loanshark link at the top of the page.

When you first visit the Loanshark, he will assess your financial situation and offer to loan you some amount of chessbucks. It's usually equal to about half of your net worth. This amount is not negotiable: you either accept the loan in the amount he offers, or leave.

Once the loan is established, he will start to chalk up 1 chessbuck of interest daily for each 100 chessbucks you have on loan. (If your loan is less than 100 chessbucks, he will still charge you 1/day.) For example, if you have 387 chessbucks loaned, he will charge you 3 chessbucks interest daily. If you have 20 chessbucks loaned, he will charge you 1 chessbuck daily.

When you visit the Loanshark again, you'll be given the opportunity to pay back your debt in the Repay Loan form. It is suggested that you do this as soon as possible: while 1 percent interest may sound modest, it adds up very quickly when compounded daily.

Even if you have an outstanding loan, the Loanshark may decide to increase your credit limit and offer to loan you more chessbucks.

The Loanshark is your guarantee that you can always play the game. No matter how poorly you are doing, you can always go to the loanshark to get some more chessbucks. The amount of credit he extends you will be at least 100 chessbucks, but may be considerably higher if you have a good betting history. He will make this offer no more than once per day. In this way, everybody who enjoys the Bookie Game can continue to play, even if they go broke--plus, there is always a chance you can get lucky and climb back into contention.

What are some tips for profitable betting?
Handicapping is the art and science of making profitable sports wagers.

Here are some general handicapping tips, applicable to chess, horses, or any parimutuel game:

  1. First of all, realize that there is only small number of bettors who can consistently beat both the other bettors and overcome the house cut. If you find your chessbucks account dwindling, don't be upset, for most people that is the natural outcome of this endeavor. Those lavish Vegas casinos are there for a reason!
  2. Don't blindly make bets without considering the odds.
  3. If you're going to make a very large wager (where you own bet may effect the odds sharply) you are wise to make it early. This way, the market will have time to "digest" your bet and improve your odds.
  4. Don't bet on every event. Professional handicappers scour hundreds of possible bets to find a few really good wagers where they believe the odds are in their favor.
  5. Don't let a streak of bad-luck mess with your mind. The greatest gamblers in the world go on losing streaks just like the rest of us.
  6. There are three types of handicapping: fundamental, historical, and emotional. It pays to understand what these terms mean:

    • Fundamental handicapping is concerned with the raw statistics of the players; in the case of chess, this would be simply comparing the FIDE ratings of the contestants, or perhaps their recent performances.

    • Historical handicapping is based on the premise that history will repeat itself. This is done by looking at the historical results of the previous matchups of players, or the historical winners of certain tournaments.

    • Emotional handicappers look at the personal relationships between players, and their motivations for winning. If player A received a humiliating defeat at the hands of player B recently, perhaps player A will try extra hard this time to make sure that it doesn't happen again. It also takes into account motivation factors. If a certain player needs only a draw to secure first place in a tournament, it seems unlikely that he or she will play for the win.

  7. There are real places online to gamble on chess with real money. Why not get odds quotes from one of them, and compare them to the ChessBookie odds? If you find that the Chessgames odds are vastly different from a popular online sportsbook, this may indicate an opportunity.
  8. Don't tie up your money betting on longterm events. You might need your capital to take advantage of other opportunities in the meantime.
  9. If you can't be objective about a player or tournament, don't make a bet. The lion's share of sports gambling losses comes from people betting on their personal favorite.
The following rules are established to provide game continuity in the event of discrepancies, disputes, miscommunications, cancelations, forfeitures, and other exceptional situations.
  1. Account balances must be verified by the player upon each log-on to the ChessBookie game, prior to wagering. When you verify and accept your account balance you agree that all previous transactions are correct and you do not have any claims. Claims or disputes must be settled prior to making any further wagers.
  2. For betting purposes, the winner of a event will be determined on the date of the event's conclusion. The Chessgames Bookie does not recognize suspended games, protests, scoring amendments, result reversals and overturned decisions for wagering purposes. The official winner at the conclusion of a game shall be the winner for betting purposes.
  3. Every effort will be made to ensure that all information available on the Internet site is accurate, however this information is only provided as a courtesy. The player is solely liable to ascertain the correct information for all events. This includes the start time for the games, which players are participating, time controls, coloration, tournament format, and other conditions.
  4. If betting is open beyond the start of a event, all bets placed after the actual start time will be graded as "No Action".
  5. Normally, a bet will close at the designated close-time and no further action will be taken. However, if we learn that the bet has been scheduled to close significantly earlier than necessary, the Chess Bookie reserves the right to reopen a closed window for additional betting.
  6. Wagers on a player who cancels prior to the event, or withdraws for unforseen circumstances, are graded as "No Action" and all chessbucks on that player shall be refunded. Wagers on players who forfeit shall be considered losses and no refunds issued.
  7. If an error is made in bet payoff, the Chessgames Bookie reserves the right to correct any mistakes or to settle any bets already laid. If a ticket has been erroneously paid, the Chessgames Bookie may need to remove money from player's accounts, and should that money no longer be available, a Loanshark debt may be incurred.
  8. Accepted bets cannot be canceled or amended in any way, either by the player or by the Chessgames Bookie, except as otherwise noted.
  9. Notwithstanding anything in this agreement, in the event of any dispute regarding a wager or winnings, the decision of the Chessgames Bookie will be final and binding in all matters.
In plain English: If we have to make an arbiter decision, we'll try to be as fair as possible--but our decisions are final.
A few words about responsible gaming.
Perhaps you play our game for a while and are making fabulous profits in chessbucks, and now you're motivated to do it for real, at an internet sportsbook, with your hard earned money.

Do not be fooled into believing that your skill at the ChessBookie Game will necessarily translate into real world profits. Because the Chessgames users are not betting real money, they are very loose with their chessbucks and more likely to make foolish wagers. Furthermore, there are no professional handicappers here to exploit the odds. Finally it should be mentioned that our method of collecting "juice" is very modest--many Casinos and sportsbooks regularly take in a much larger cut.

If gambling is legal where you live, and you are an adult, and you enjoy it: by all means, gamble and have fun at it. However, we strongly advise that you approach it as a form of entertainment, and are not quick to view gambling as a career choice. The best rule of thumb for the recreational gambler is, do not gamble more money than you can afford to spend on recreational activities!

The ChessBookie Game was developed by 20/20 Technologies for

Original concept by Daniel Freeman, inspired by "The Prediction Game" organized by Chessgames users cu8sfan and lostemperor.

Many thanks to beta-testers: cu8sfan, lostemperor, pele, percyblakeney, refutor, Sargon, Sneaky, Snoochies, tpstar, and YouRang.

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