Great news: it’s the time of year where it’s completely socially acceptable to spend any and all free time curled up in front of the TV with a cup of hot cocoa and keep warm with some of the best that TV has to offer. Luckily, December has that in spades with 10 returning programs that we can’t wait to catch up on in time for new episodes later this month. Among our recommendations: Amazon’s award-winning comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, J.K. Simmons’ sci-fi spy drama Counterpart, the return of the animated superheroes of Young Justice, and more.
What it is: In 1950s New York City, Midge Maisel’s (Rachel Brosnahan) husband, Joel (Michael Zegen), admits to having an affair and leaves her. Rather than getting back, she gets even, and decides to pursue his dream of becoming a stand-up comedian — which makes sense, because she was the funny one all along.
Why you should watch it: Certainly the runaway comedy hit of the past year, Maisel won top honors at both the Emmys and Golden Globes and is well-positioned to do it again this award season. Brosnahan’s star-making performance (and her scene-stealing costars like Tony Shalhoub and Alex Borstein) anchor a series that is smart, funny, and full of heart — not to mention super timely. Quite simply, it’s a home run. Season 2 streams in full on Amazon Prime Dec. 5.
Where to watch: Amazon
Commitment: Approx. 7.5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: From creator Justin Marks, Counterpart is a sci-fi drama centered on Howard Silks, a low-level employee at a nondescript agency in Berlin who comes to learn his employer is actually guarding and operating an underground tunnel that connects to a parallel world that mirrors his own. The catch is that everyone has an identical-but-different counterpart in this parallel dimension, and his is a top-level spy intimately involved in the brewing war between both sides of the tunnel.
Why you should watch it: Counterpart is probably one of the great new shows that you’re not watching — and this is the perfect time to change that. Among the best-reviewed dramas of the past year, this espionage thriller is tense, gripping, and altogether unexpected in the best of ways. Plus, J.K. Simmons is in top form, pulling double duty as the central Howard and Howard Prime and offering a revealing study of cause, effect, and how our choices have repercussions out of our immediate control. Season 2 premieres on Starz Dec. 9.
Where to watch: Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, Microsoft, Vudu
Commitment: Approx. 10 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Based on the beloved Archie comic and from creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, this iteration of Sabrina the teenage witch has a dark and spooky twist, charting the titular witch’s (Kiernan Shipka) coming of age as she’s forced to choose between human normalcy and her magic’s haunting lore.
Why you should watch it: Sure, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina may have just made its big Netflix debut this Halloween, but will premiere an hourlong Christmas special, “A Midwinter’s Tale,” this month. That makes it a perfect time to binge the first 10 episodes of season 1, which was an immediate sensation with lovers of Riverdale and the original Melissa Joan Hart–starring series alike. “A Midwinter’s Tale” premieres Dec. 14.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 10 hours (for the first season)
What it is: From creators Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan, Timeless stars Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, and Matt Lanter as a trio (a professor, a soldier, and an engineer) tasked with traveling through to save the world — and history — as we know it.
Why you should watch it: Christmas is coming early for the devoted fans of NBC’s sci-fi action drama that was resuscitated not once but twice. Though the network canceled the series after its first season, it quickly reversed the decision days later. The cancellation after season 2 stuck, but after more fan outcry NBC decided to bring the series back for a two-hour installment to wrap up loose storylines. Thrilling, entertaining, and featuring dazzling set and costume design pieces across its many time periods, Timeless is the kind of series that lives up to its name. Catch its anticipated final installment on Dec. 20.
Where to watch: Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, Hulu, Microsoft, Vudu
Commitment: Approx. 18 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: Creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage leave their mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with this hit Hulu series based on the comic of the same name, which follows a motley group of super-powered teens who unite to stop their supervillian parents.
Why you should watch it: By this point, you know what you’re getting with an MCU project — but Runaways still manages to have a few surprises up its sleeve. Led by a cast of a excellent young actors and featuring a unique spin on the hero-villain narrative (and exploring relationships between friends and family in the process), the streaming series is a welcome addition to the already well-trod Marvel empire. We can’t wait to see what season 2 has in store when it premieres Dec. 21.
Where to watch: Amazon, FandangoNOW, Google Play, Hulu, Vudu
Commitment: Approx. 8.5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: Those poor, poor Baudelaire orphans — always getting caught up in events that are, well, unfortunate. Netflix’s whimsically dark series follows Violet, Klaus, and Sunny who, after their parents’ death, are put in the care of an evil distant cousin, Count Olaf, who’s set on getting his hands on their sizable inheritance.
Why you should watch it: Neil Patrick Harris is doing more than just stealing the show (as he did for nine seasons on How I Met Your Mother) — he is the show, making each of Olaf’s master-of-disguise getups more beguiling than the one before. It’s just an added bonus that the sets, music, and just about everything else about this series are technically dazzling. Season 3 premieres in full Jan. 1.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: Approx. 13 hours 9for the first two seasons)
What it is: A spinoff of Kenya Barris’ beloved and award-winning black-ish, grown-ish charts eldest daughter Zoey Johnson’s next big journey: college.
Why you should watch it: We already expect the Johnson family of black-ish to fearlessly deep dive into hot topics with heart and humor, and grown-ish carries the torch on to the college campus. Plus, if Yara Shahidi’s take on Zoey in the former series didn’t make it clear enough, she gives an absolutely star-making turn as the leading lady on this spinoff. Season 2 premieres Jan. 2.
Where to watch: Amazon, FandangoNow, Google Play, Hulu, Microsoft, Vudu
Commitment: Approx. 4.5 hours (for the first season)
What it is: The city of Gotham was a mess well before Batman had anything to do with it, and this Fox hit depicts exactly how and why in this origin story of Commissioner Gordon’s rise to prominence and Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman — and the varied ne’er do wells they dealt with along the way.
Why you should watch it: Now that Gotham is rounding the bend into its fifth and final season, this is the perfect time to binge and catch up on all the DC Comics fun of this gritty and endlessly entertaining series. An assortment of characters both known and new, it’s especially grounded by Benjamin McKenzie’s take on a young Det. James Gordon. Season 5 premieres Jan. 3.
Where to watch: Amazon, FandangoNow, Google Play, Hulu, Microsoft, Netflix, Vudu
Commitment: Approx. 65 hours (for the first four seasons)
What it is: Before Runaways was charting the lives of teen superheroes coming into their own, there was the beloved (and until recently, much-missed) Young Justice, a Cartoon Network animated series from Brandon Vietti and Greg Weisman that follows teen superheroes and sidekicks as they try to prove their worthiness of the Justice League.
Why you should watch it: It is with a great sigh of relief that the fan-favorite Young Justice returns from its elongated hiatus for an adventure-filled third season, titled Young Justice: Outsiders. This outing has the likes of Nightwing, Superboy, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and others taking on meta-human teen trafficking, and even appears to have the team venturing off into space. Season 3 premieres on streaming service DC Universe on Jan. 4.
Where to watch: Amazon, FandangoNow, Google Play, Microsoft, Vudu
Commitment: Approx. 19 hours (for the first two seasons)
What it is: To reveal very much about the twists and turns of this complex cat-and-mouse drama would spoil the fun, but the impetus of the series is rooted in its pilot, in which FBI agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is called to a peculiar case where the highly pursued fugitive Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) turns himself in and demands to speak to her — and only her. Promising that he has intel on some of the world’s most dangerous underground terrorists, they build an unlikely partnership.
Why you should watch it: The guarantee for first-time viewers of the long-running and much-loved Blacklist is that you’re in for one heck of a rollercoaster ride. Led by a stellar performance from Spader as the central criminal mastermind, the series has time and again reinvented itself and upped the ante with each outing. It’s a safe bet that season 6, which premieres Jan. 4, will do the same.
Where to watch: Amazon, FandangoNow, Google Play, Microsoft, Netflix, Vudu
Commitment: Approx. 80 hours (for the first five seasons)
3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).
It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.
However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.
With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.
Choosing the Wrong Table
Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.
First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.
Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.
Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.
When to Hit and Stand
As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.
One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.
While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.
Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.
When to Split and Double
If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.
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Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.
While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.
It is not recommended to split when:
- You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
- You are dealt two 9s
- You are dealt two 5s
- The dealer holds a 10 or picture card
It is best to split when:
- You are dealt two 8s
- You are dealt two aces
- The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)
Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.
Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.
Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.
Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students
The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like.
Who Are You?
Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.
Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:
- What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
- What do you like or hate most about yourself?
- What is your greatest value in life?
- What emotions do you express easily?
- What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
- Who you want to become in five years?
- What is your major objective for next year?
- Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
- What motto do you try to live by?
- Where would you like to travel?
- If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?
Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.
Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:
- Before I came to college, I was interested in…
- When I was a child, I wanted to become…
- The best moment I remember most about high school is…
- My favorite pet is…
- The things I value most are…
- Five years from now I hope to be…
- My greatest personality trait is…
- My favorite subject at high school was…
- If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
- My greatest fear is…
- After I graduate from college, I…
The Reception Line
You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:
- Where would you like to travel?
- What motto do you try to follow?
- What is your favorite movie?
- What music do you like?
- What is your favorite hobby?
- Why did you choose this college?
- What do you like about college life the most?
You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:
- Watermelon or banana?
- Sweat or bitter?
- Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
- Partying or hiking?
- Listen or speak?
- Rock or pop?
- Morning or night?
- Superman or Batman?
- Robocop or Terminator?
- Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
- Los Angeles or New York?
- Liberal or conservative?
- American football or ice hockey?
My Most Embarrassing Moment
You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.
These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.
5 Of The Best Gambling Scenes Of All Time
Gambling can be one of the most dramatic and engaging pastimes to play so it is no wonder then that it has been used as a device to build drama in films for decades. Some of the world’s best movie directors have incorporated American Blackjack, Texas Hold ‘Em Poker and European Roulette into their blockbusters to build tension and keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
Here’s a list of the top 5 thrilling gambling scenes of all-time, the ones that got the blood pumping and went on to become iconic in their own right.
Casino Royale (2006)
Gambling has always been synonymous with James Bond from the early Ian Fleming books to the multi-million-dollar budget films that we enjoy today. Owing to its name alone Casino Royale was always going to feature some pretty exhilarating gambling scenes and it does not disappoint.
The entire movie features a number of casino scenes, but the best comes when 007 faces off against arch-villain Le Chiffre at a high-stakes poker table. In the early exchange Bond loses out to his rival, failing to notice his bluffs.
These early losses are vital to Bond though as in the final hand, with $100 million at stake he calls Le Chiffre’s bluff and wins a dramatic, if not slightly improbable hand. Whilst the scene may have caused many poker enthusiasts to question its realism, it undoubtedly adds an exceptional amount of drama to the film making it iconic.
Never bet against James Bond
The Hangover (2009)
In the 1988 hit film Rain Man, Tom Cruise’s character harnesses his autistic brother’s mathematical prowess to beat the casino and win big on the blackjack table. 21 years later comedy classic The Hangover pays tribute to the iconic scene in hilarious fashion.
Alan, the quirky and somewhat odd brother of the groom dresses up and heads over to the blackjack table. As the cards are dealt a series of complicated equations appear on the screen as Alan appears deep in thought.
After watching the cards intently Alan starts to bet big and ends up winning! There isn’t much in the way of drama and tension in this scene as The Hangover is a comedy first and foremost, but it makes our list because of the way it throws back excellently to Rain Man.
Unfortunately for those playing online, you’ll be unable to recreate Alan’s heroics as trustworthy sites like 888 online casino have Random Number Generator’s in operation, this is a complex computer program that is responsible for generating numbers in a random manner, making it impossible to count cards, but you can still find plenty of the fun and drama when you login and play American Blackjack.
This hilarious scene pays homage to the classic Rain Man film in fun fashion
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Despite being released over 50 years ago this iconic film still has enough drama and action to captivate modern audiences. The movie’s main protagonist Luke Jackson – portrayed excellently by Paul Newman – is a decorated war veteran who is sentenced to two years in a chain gang prison camp for destroying parking meters after a night of heavy drinking.
Initially Luke struggles to find his place in the prison hierarchy but he does earn a modicum of respect from his fellow prisoners after not throwing in the towel during a brutal prison fight.
He does fully win the respect of the other inmates though after successively bluffing his way to the jackpot in an intense and dramatic game of poker. His final bluff leads one of his fellow players to utter the most iconic line from the move, “sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.”
Paul Newman is exceptional in his portrayal of Luke Jackson in this classic film and plays it real cool in this iconic poker scene
Throughout the years plenty of directors have tried and failed to produce a movie based solely on the premise of gambling. So many efforts have failed that many within the industry thought the 1998 film Rounders was doomed to failure.
The film followed Mike, a naïve student who gambled away his tuition money, his girlfriend, his law degree and almost his entire life. In a desperate move to repay his debts Mike ends up borrowing $10,000 from his old university professor to buy-in to an underground poker game.
Ultimately Mike pulls off an insane bluff to win the jackpot and get his life back on track, but to viewers his win never feels like a certain thing. The director and writers work together to build a scintillating scene full of subtle nuances and individual moments of drama that make this film and absolute must-watch.
Films about gambling usually fail to hit the mark with audiences but Rounders bucks that trend, particularly with this insanely dramatic poker scene
Everyone loves a fantasy film but what truly captures the imagination of an audience is a film inspired by true events. Starring Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne and Jim Sturgess 21 is the story of the MIT team that used their mathematical skills to count cards in some of America’s biggest casinos.
Ben, the lead character puts together a team of mathematics majors that count cards at blackjack tables to earn huge amounts of money. The most iconic scene in the movie comes when the team puts on disguises to head back to Planet Hollywood, a casino they have already duped.
In the scene the team scam their way to $640,000 in winnings before being spotted by casino staff and making their great escape. In a final twist as Micky, one of the team members is making his escape in a limousine he releases his chips are fake and that he’s been set-up.
Without ruining the ending of the film, this realisation sets the film up for a pulsating finale that will have you on the edge of your seat throughout.
21 is so captivating because it is based on the real-life antics of a MIT card counting team