My old blackjack-playing friend Bob has a son named Mike who is more or less a chip off the old block — so much so that he’s working on basic strategy for when to double down on soft hands.

I don’t know when I last saw a live sic bo table outside Las Vegas or Atlantic City. It’s just not a common game in the U.S., even though it’s very popular in Asia and draws big play in Macau.

When my wife Marcy and I went out to play one stormy July morning, I didn’t expect my focal point to be a nickel multi-hand video poker game, but there are times when a change of course is needed. This change, to Powerhouse Poker, saved my day.

Rick and Ellen are slot players who are friends of friends. I see them two or three times a year at group outings, but they’re always ready to talk slots.

Among all the casino players I’ve met, Ray is unique. He plays about twice a month, mainly at blackjack, but says he hates to gamble.

Casino games include a number of bets that should never be made. The house edge is so much higher than other bet on the same game that these are bets to avoid.

Casino games include a number of bets that should never be made. The house edge is so much higher than other bets on the same game that these are bets to avoid.

Video poker odds are not always intuitive, with relative frequencies vs. payoffs of full houses, flushes and straights being prime examples.

Every veteran blackjack player has seen odd things happen at the tables. Other players’ quirks, our own mistakes and interactions with players, dealers, pit supervisors and others lodge in our memories.

Online gambling is by no means an American mainstay at this point. Only New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have legalized playing casino games online for money.

I have nothing against don’t pass/don’t come players. I’ve been known to visit the dark side during sessions at the craps table, though I really prefer the win-together feel of betting with the shooter.

A couple of months ago, I shared a few stories from readers about player vs. player tension at the tables. That brought several responses, with the most unusual coming from Elaine, who describes herself as a longtime low-budget player.

A few weeks ago, I was called upon to speak with a park district group before they took a bus trip to a nearby casino. Most of them had played slots before and some had played other games, but I was asked to give a few basics for those who wanted to branch out.

Casino players know well the ups and downs of wagering, with more downs than ups for most of us. But it’s the ups that are most memorable, like those relayed via email by readers Betty and Pearl.

Just about a year ago, I answered a reader’s question about strategy adjustments for cruise-ship blackjack in which the dealer takes no hole card, waits until all player decisions to take a second card and more.

I received an email recently from Mark, a video poker player who just found this column recently, but who said he’s been skimming an online archive to see what he’d missed.

Multi-Strike Poker and Five Play Multi-Strike have been with us for well over a decade, long enough to settle in as niche games. Casinos that reach out to video poker players with a large selection of games offer Multi-Strike, but not every casino carries it.

There are many ways to categorize casinos, and one of the primary divisions is local casino vs. destination resort.

There are a lot of ingredients that go into the success of a slot machine. A great theme to entice players to try the game is a start, and attractive graphics, animation and sound help, too.

If you play much blackjack, you’ve had dealers who make the experience breezy fun. They’re friendly as well as efficient. They move the game along but will take time for inexperienced players. Players and dealers sometimes seem to form a community, as the dealer asks players about their inte…

Video blackjack games come in all shapes and sizes. There are single-player games, usually part of the package on multigame machines such as IGT’s Game King; there are multiplier consoles; and some games pay 3-2 on blackjacks, while others pay only even money.

Designing slot machines is partly about designing games that are fun to play with paybacks and bonuses that occur often enough to hold your interest, while also offering large enough potential jackpots for a “what if?” fantasy factor.

Aristocrat Technologies is proud of its Lightning Link progressive slot machines, and justifiably so. For 2016, Lightning Link was named the leading slot in North America in the annual Eilers Fantini survey, ending a five-year run at the top for IGT’s Wheel of Fortune.

Wheel of Fortune slot machines have been with us for 20 years now. The most popular games in slot machine history, Wheel of Fortune machines have commanded space on casino floors in countless variations on video and in the original three-reel format.

Among the many considerations that go into designing a new table game is whether it looks both intriguing and easy enough that players will give it a try. There’s no point in offering a game that scares players off.

Each year at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, new table games cluster around two areas. There are new poker-based games, and new blackjack variants.

Slot machines have long been thought of as an inexpensive way to play. A table games player is looking at minimum bets of $5 and up, and at some premium casinos at busy times it’s tough to find an open spot even at a $25 minimum blackjack table.

Readers send me A LOT of stories of their casino experiences — tales of their first trips to Las Vegas or Atlantic City, big wins, things that impressed or depressed them and even times when they couldn’t win for losing.

Blackjack players come in a wide range of skill levels, from those playing a guessing game and hitting or standing by feel and instinct to basic strategy players to card counters — with several stops in between.

In this age of multitasking, I will admit to moments of multi-time wasting, checking out free online slots while watching baseball, football, basketball or hockey.

At most Three Card Poker tables, the highest payoff on the Pair Plus option is the 40-1 you get on any straight flush.

A few weeks ago I wrote about automated and semi-automated table games, zeroing in on the Shaq Jack blackjack game that recently made its Atlantic City debut.

When I play table games, I don’t start with any scouting mission. I don’t look for tables where players have been winning, nor do I stop to watch a few hands of card games, dice rolls at craps or spins of the roulette wheels.

Deuces Wild isn’t so much a video poker game as an extended family of games. There’s Double Deuces Wild, Triple Deuces Wild, Deluxe Deuces Wild, Bonus Deuces Wild, Loose Deuces and more.