Independent inventors and small companies have left their mark on video poker, usually by licensing their creations to larger companies — mainly IGT.

Anybody who plays casino table games very often sees some odd things happen. I've heard from players who have told me of three of a kind on two and three hands in a row at Three Card Poker, a roulette player who accidentally wandered behind the table and was escorted away, and a blackjack pl…

Baccarat is more popular among big bettors than average players, and I don't hear from baccarat players as often as I do from those who play blackjack, video poker, slots, craps, Three Card Poker, roulette or Mississippi Stud.

In the last few weeks, while I was focused on new slot games, a number of blackjack questions piled up. Let's try to answer a few.

Anyone who’s spent much time playing video slots has encountered ancient Egyptian themes. When it comes to pyramids, the Sphinx, scarabs and asps, there seems to be a strong archaeologist strain among slot players.

Side bets at casino table games exist for a couple of reasons. For players, they open the possibility of larger jackpots than standard bets at their games of choice. For casinos, side bets enhance revenues with house edges that are higher than on standard games.

There have long been two basic approaches to player rewards programs. The first is to reveal how many dollars in play it takes to earn a point and how many points it takes to redeem for free play, meals or other comps.

Video poker players who opt for a little low-cost fun at nickel machines usually encounter pay tables that are a couple of notches below those on games that require bigger bets.

Take a walk through the Asian games room at a large casino sometime and you’ll see a different mix than on the main casino floor. Baccarat is a must, and operators mix and match from a list that includes pai-gow tiles, Pai-Gow Poker and sic bo — along with a little blackjack or craps.

In my almost 30 years of playing blackjack, it has seemed to me that other players are getting better, with a greater percentage playing basic strategy,

My email brings more questions about slot machines than anything else. Most are of the “how can I find a hot machine?” or “how can I tell when a machine is ready to pay off?” variety.

A while back, I relayed a story from a slot player who had a pretty bad time on her first casino visit. She’s a regular player today only because a friend convinced her to give it another try, and she had more fun the second go-round.

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.