Introducing a new table game to the public isn't as simple as hitting on a concept that's fun to play, gives the house a reasonable edge and convincing a casino to try it. There's a seemingly endless series of hoops a game developer must jump through.

Building a successful slot machine involves multiple elements. There needs to be an eye-catching theme and graphics to attract players, intriguing elements such as bonus events and jackpots and the right math to yield a mix of payout frequency and shot at a big payoff.

When I've relayed readers' stories of back-to-back jackpots, they've generally focused on big wins. A thousand dollars for a video poker royal flush qualifies; $2.50 for three bars on a three-reel slot or $1.25 that just covers your bet for a pair of Jacks, not so much.

Video poker players have long been told their chances of drawing a royal flush on any given hand are about 1 in 40,000.

In discussing Three Card Poker, I've often mentioned that the house edge on the most common Pair Plus pay table is 7.28 percent, while the original version had a 2.14 percent edge.

I never volunteer advice on strategy while playing in casinos, but the temptation was strong in early May when I found myself at a Mississippi Stud table where a new player — let's call him Bill — was being coached by a friend.

A long time ago, I attended a seminar in which Peter Griffin, the late mathematician and author of "The Theory of Blackjack," told the imaginary tale of Mr. Fourteen.

I’m not a superstitious sort. I don’t carry lucky icons, wear lucky clothing or perform good-luck rituals while I play. I’ve been known to egg on my brother Jay in his jackpot dance, probably to the amusement of surveillance rooms everywhere.

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.