2018 NFL Draft: Who Will Be Number 1?

The National Football League’s 83rd annual rookie draft will take place on April 26-28, 2018 (8 PM ET) at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It will be the first draft to be held in the state of Texas and the first draft to be held in an NFL stadium.

Browns Picking First
The Cleveland Browns own five of the top 64 picks in this year’s NFL Draft, including the #1 overall pick and the 4th pick, which they acquired in a previous trade with the Texans.

Since rejoining the NFL in 1999, the Browns have started 28 different quarterbacks. That’s more than one per year if you bother to count. The recently-acquired Tyrod Taylor will be the 29th, and he’s likely not the future franchise quarterback but merely a bridge to that guy.

The #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft will most probably give the Browns that franchise quarterback and they have four (or five) top QB options to choose from. With the 4th pick, the Browns are expected to draft a non-play caller.

The Oddsmakers’ Choice
According to the bookmakers, these are the top 7 possible #1 picks for the Cleveland Browns.

Sam Darnold -250
Sam Darnold’s dazzling display at the USC ProDay last month probably clinched for him the #1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Darnold refused to move his throwing session because of rain, and he shined in front of a Browns contingent that included owner Jimmy Haslam.

The USC Trojan doesn’t have the rifle arm of Dan Marino, but he has the uncanny ability to put the ball in a position where his receivers have a realistic chance of making a catch. Among the QBs in the draft, he may be the most physically gifted and tough to put down in the pocket.

Josh Allen +175
If it’s not Sam Darnold, it’s got to be Josh Allen. The Browns have to use the #1 pick for a quarterback. The Browns like Allen’s size, speed, escapability, and arm strength. But coaches around the league are concerned about his 56.2% pass completion because the success record for QBs with a college completion percentage of below 58% isn’t great in the NFL.

There are several factors in that 56.2%, like Allen’s evolving footwork or his lack of supporting cast in Wyoming. Regardless, we’ve seen him shorten his stride since working with Jordan Palmer, and with enough time, his completion percentage can be the exception to the rule.

Saquon Barkley +500
Saquon Barkley is firmly in the mix for top pick conversation after killing it in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. At 6 feet tall and 233 pounds, Barkley proved to be the most explosive “big” running back in the last 18 years of the Combine.

With the speed of an elite receiver and the strength of an elite lineman, Barkley is simply a jaw-dropping NFL prospect. In three seasons at Penn State, he rushed for close to 4,000 yards and scored 51 touchdowns from scrimmage, 1 from passing, and 2 on kickoff returns.

Josh Rosen +1000
Just because his name isn’t often linked to the Browns in the national media coverage doesn’t mean the Browns aren’t considering making Josh Rosen the top overall pick for this year’s draft.

Rosen’s size is better than Darnold, yet it’s funny how they say he is undersized and Darnold is the prototype. When he threw in the Combine, his deep balls were better than Josh Allen’s. The UCLA QB’s pocket presence is better than that of the other top QB prospects, so having said all these, there’s a chance – although just slight – that the Browns may pick him at #1.

Baker Mayfield +2000
Media and experts say that it’s a toss between Sam Darnold and Josh Allen, but Browns’ GM John Dorsey said last month that it’s still a toss-up between the top 4 QBs, meaning Darnold, Allen, Rosen, and Baker Mayfield.

Dorsey also added that Mayfield had a “really good” workout with the Browns. Since the Senior Ball in January, Dorsey has praised Mayfield’s character and passion for football. Sure, he may be a longshot, but given that he has that “face of the franchise” personality, who knows?

Bradley Chubb +3300
Adding Bradley Chubb to a defensive line that already has Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah would be nasty, and Garrett is already hoping that the three of them can wreak havoc around the NFL.

Browns’ GM John Dorsey has been high on him since the Combine, but because they need a QB more than a defensive end, Cleveland would probably take him with their 4th pick, if he’s still on the board.

Minkah Fitzpatrick +6600
Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick has been included in this conversation because of his versatility. Browns’ head coach Hue Jackson acknowledged that Fitzpatrick can indeed play both cornerback and free safety.

He hasn’t worked out with the Browns yet, but Jackson assured that if the Browns end up picking him, the Browns have the right spot for him in the organization.

Looking Ahead to the 2018 NFL Season
While the Browns are expected to add at least two key players for their future, the immediate future says that the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are going to be the top 2 teams in the upcoming season. Or at least that’s what the odds are saying.

New England is currently the favorite at +500. Sure, they lost to the Eagles the last time around, but with Tom Brady not yet retiring, the Patriots are still going to be a very dangerous team. But then, of course, if coach Bill Belichick decides to hang up his sweater, it may be a different story.

Super Bowl LII winners Philadelphia Eagles are next at +900, and rightfully so. They won the Super Bowl without their starting QB, and that speaks about the talent on this team. If Carson Wentz can return back to his old form, the sky is likely the limit for the defending champions.

The Green Bay Packers, L.A. Rams, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are tied with the next best odds at +1000. With Aaron Rodgers set to return, the Packers should contend. The Rams have the top scoring offense in the NFL, while the Steelers have a winning percentage of .696 over the past three seasons.

Beating Baccarat – Winning Systems & Strategies

Baccarat is one of the oldest casino games, remaining virtually unchanged over the past four centuries. It’s a game that gives off an air of elegance. Baccarat’s cousin chemin-de-fer is the favorite game of James Bond.

Certain parts of the gambling world are more in thrall with baccarat (or punto banco, or chemin-de-fer) than others. Macau is the modern baccarat hotspot – what Las Vegas is to poker, Macau is to baccarat. By the same token, you won’t find a huge baccarat audience in Atlantic City or anywhere else in America, really. The game is still really popular in parts of Europe, but it’s catching on in Asia (with Macau as the flashpoint) faster than anywhere else in the world.

Baccarat is a card game, but don’t confuse it too much with blackjack. Blackjack offers a lot of opportunities for strategy – it’s a mathematician’s game that can be managed through the use of basic strategy. Baccarat depends more heavily on luck – in some cases entirely on luck – to produce winnings. If you find yourself reading a baccarat betting strategy that advertises altering your bets to get an edge, you’re being lied to.

Below are a few real tips and tricks for winning at baccarat. If you follow the advice below, you’ll be a better baccarat player, regardless of where in the world you choose to try your hand at “the royal game.”

Place the Right Wagers
Honestly, there’s only one wager in baccarat that I consider worth your time. I can give you all the baccarat wagering tips you need in just two statements:

Never bet on “tie.”
Always bet on “banker.”
The house edge on banker wagers in baccarat is just 1.06%. That’s better odds than even the best craps bet. That’s the kind of odds you can only get in blackjack with perfect strategy and a little bit of luck in terms of liberal rules. If you stick ONLY to the banker bet, the casino has a slim advantage. Sure, they’ll eventually win all your cash, but at least with this wager it’ll take them a bit longer.

The tie bet is a classic sucker bet – it pays out at 8 to 1, but actually gives the house an edge of more than 14%. If the tie bet paid out at 14 to 1, we might be having a totally different conversation. Unfortunately, the gap between true odds and payout odds is too great. If you ever place a “tie” bet and I’m nearby, you’ll probably get offered a free beverage and then have to listen to a mini-lecture on your wicked ways.

What about side bets? I’m never a fan of side wagers, and the ones available on some baccarat games are no exception. The most popular is called the “Dragon Bonus,” which pays off if your bet wins by four points or more or if you win with a natural 9. It pays out as a 1:1 bonus but must be triggered with a $1 side wager. The house edge for the Dragon Bonus is about 6%, which makes it a definite no-go in my opinion. All other baccarat side wagers offer either equivalent or worse odds. They’re sucker bets to be avoided.

Look for Small-Shoe Games
Most baccarat games use an eight-deck shoe – that means the game is played with eight decks of cards. Small-shoe games, popular everywhere you find a real game of baccarat, use a shoe of just six decks. Rumors abound about an Atlantic City game that occasionally uses a half-shoe (four decks), but I can’t confirm that.

Here’s a tip – if you find a baccarat game with a reduced shoe, play it. I don’t care how many decks are in it, if it’s fewer than eight. Every deck removed from the game affects your likelihood of winning by a tiny percentage. Though short-shoe games aren’t all that much better odds-wise than full games, every little bit helps.

Manage Your Money (and Quit While You’re Ahead)
Managing your money means establishing a unit bet size, sticking to win and loss limits, and (above all) gambling for entertainment rather than income. When you establish your budget, your bet size, and other facets of your bankroll management program, you should be fully prepared to lose the cash you’ve set aside for your baccarat play. If you think of that money as the casino’s, which you exchange for entertainment a little bit at a time, you’ll be surprised with how differently you feel about your losses at the table.

Another major aspect of bankroll management is quitting while ahead – if you manage to get ahead, that is. Bets on player and banker give the house a 1.06% and a 1.24% edge respectively, which is small, but significant enough that it will eventually drain your bankroll. If you’re foolish and bet on tie, you’re staring down a 14.36% casino advantage, which will make your money the casino’s money at an even faster rate than usual. If you find yourself up $100, and you’re happy with that, walk away and finish the day a winner.

Conclusion
Though baccarat doesn’t enjoy the same level of popularity the world over as it does in parts of Asia and Europe, it’s still a classic casino game, popular enough to be available in online versions at any worthwhile Web-based casino site. Baccarat has a rich history, a flavor of nobility, and a couple of decent wagers in the form of “banker” and “player” wagers.

Provided you don’t fall for any outlandish wagering systems, or place the “tie” bet pretty much ever, you should have a good long session of baccarat for your investment. Just make sure to manage your finances appropriately. Nothing ruins a good time like an empty wallet.

7 Roulette Variations You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Roulette is a lot of fun, but after a while, it’s like anything else.

Boring.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could take something you’re familiar with and spice it up with some interesting differences?

That way you could enjoy the familiarity of a game you know how to play with the novelty of playing with some different rules.

As luck would have it, all kinds of variations of roulette are available.

You’re probably already familiar with the differences between American and European roulette.

In this post, I’m going to share 7 roulette variations you’ve probably never even heard of. I’ll include information about where you can play these games, too.

1. Alphabetic Roulette
Alphabetic Roulette (or “Alphabet Roulette”) is a variation that replaces the numbers you’re used to seeing on the wheel and the table with the letters of the alphabet. You have 25 possibilities for single letters, A through X. You also have a single possibility of getting Y or Z. (They occupy the same space on the wheel and on the table.)

The game also features 6 different colors—you’ll find 4 letters corresponding to each color. The YZ space isn’t colored. (Compare that to traditional roulette’s 00 and/or 0, which is green while all the other spaces are red or black.)

You can bet on individual letters, 2 letters, 3 letters, or 4 letters. You can also bet on certain combinations of letters that spell certain words, like the “Party Pit” bet, which is a bet on P, A, R, T, Y, or I. The “roulette” bet is like this, too, which is a bet on the following letters: R, O, U, L, E, or T. As in traditional roulette, you also have the option to bet on a certain color or on a column or a dozens bet.

The game has a 4% house edge, no matter which bet you place. Alphabet Roulette was launched in 2011 at Fitzgerald’s Casino in Las Vegas. It’s been approved by the Nevada Gaming Board, so it could turn up at any casino in the state.

Another variation of Alphabet Roulette uses playing cards with customized decks of 25 cards. You can read more about either variation at the official site for the game: http://www.alphabetroulette.com/.

2. Back 2 Back Roulette
I’ve also seen this referred to as “Back2Back Roulette” or just “Back to Back Roulette”. It’s a variation of roulette with an optional side bet on your lucky numbers. If a number hits twice in a row, you win 1200 to 1 on your bet.

This variation is available at the Atlantis Casino in Reno, Nevada.

3. Diamond Roulette
Diamond Roulette adds extra colors to the mix. Instead of just red and black (and green), a Diamond Roulette table has the following colors:

Red
Blue
Green
Yellow
Purple
Black
Each color corresponds to 6 numbers. Bets on a particular color pay out at 5 to 1. At a table with 2 zeroes, the player can also bet on a combination of a single color and the zeroes. This bet pays out at 3 to 1, but the house edge is huge—15.79%.

Of course, there are no even money red or black bets with this variation.

This variation of roulette can be found in Atlantic City casinos.

4. Double Action Roulette
“Double Action Roulette” really mixes things up. Instead of having a single wheel, this game has 2 wheels, one inside the other. The ball lands in a slot between the 2 wheels, resulting in 2 winning numbers per spin. You can bet on numbers in the outer wheel, the inner wheel, or both (a parlay).

Bets on a single wheel have the same kinds of payouts as traditional roulette, but the parlay bets have more interesting payouts. The single number parlay pays 1200 to 1. The other bets pay out between 3 to 1 and 25 to 1.

The house edge for the single wheel bets are the same as in traditional roulette games, but the parlay bets are sucker bets—the house edge is almost twice as high on those wagers.

This game is reportedly available at the M Casino in Las Vegas.

5. Double Ball Roulette
If a roulette game with 2 wheels doesn’t thrill you, maybe a game with 2 balls will. This game is almost identical to traditional roulette except for the extra ball in action.

If you place an outside bet, then both balls have to win for your bet to be a winner. On inside bets, either ball counts as a win. If both balls land on the inside bet, then the payout doubles.

The game also has a “Double Ball Jackpot”, which pays off when both balls land in the same individual numbered slot.

The house edge varies from bet to bet, but the best odds are the inside bets on single numbers. The house edge on that wager is 5.33%.

This game has been spotted at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.

6. Prime Time Roulette
This game features an optional side bet on the 11 prime numbers on the wheel. (A prime number is a number that can only be divided by itself an 1. In this case, those include 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, and 31.)

The bet pays out according to how many times in a row a prime number appears. If it lands on a number that’s not a prime number, the side bet is lost. The payout is even money for a single prime time, but it goes up to 299 to 1 if a prime number comes up 7 times in a row.

Payouts vary based on the version of the game you’re playing.

7. Rapid Roulette
Rapid Roulette plays just like regular roulette, but instead of placing chips on a table, you place your bets using an electronic interface. It’s fun, but it’s not quite the same feeling as the original game.

Conclusion
If you’re bored with regular roulette, look for some of these variations. The house edge is usually as high or higher, but the change in rules might be just the novelty you need to keep the game interesting.