Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

Blackjack Rules

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Blackjack rules are easy to learn for those who’ve never played and easy to remember for those who played blackjack in their childhood. Any new rules you might read about are associated with blackjack variations like Spanish 21, blackjack switch, perfect pairs, or pontoon. The casino on one side of the street might have different blackjack rules than the casino on the other side of the street, such as early surrender as opposed to late surrender or whether the dealer stands on a hard 17 or soft 17.

The basic rules of blackjack remain the same as they’ve ever been, though. I’ll go over these 21 rules to refresh your memory, then discuss a few of the common rules variations you’re likely to encounter during your trip to the casino.

Basic Blackjack Rules

In a game of blackjack, the dealer deals two cards to each person at the table. In Las Vegas and most of the United States, these cards are dealt face down. In London blackjack, the cards are dealt face up (giving you more information about other players’ cards). In most locations, the dealer has one hole card (face down) and one face card (face up), so you have a clue about the dealer’s hand before you bet. The objective of blackjack is to build a better hand than the dealer without going over 21.

Blackjack Card Ranks

The card ranks in blackjack are easy to remember. Any number cards (2-10) have the value of the numbers they display. The face cards (jack, queen, king) all have the same value (10). The ace can be either an “11” or a “1”, depending on your choice. If the ace is being used as an eleven, your hand is called “soft”, because if you go over 21, you can change the value of the card. If the ace is being used as a one, your hand is called “hard”, because you don’t have the option to change the card value.

Betting in blackjack is done before you see your cards. You choose a wager size and stack the chips in the appropriate spot accordingly. In certain instances, you can double your bet, while in others you might want to surrender half your bet to save the other half.

Getting a Blackjack

When you build a 21 on the first two cards (the deal), it’s called a blackjack. That means you need an ace and either a 10, jack, queen, or king on deal to get a blackjack. A blackjack beats any other hand in the game, including a three-card 21. If you and the dealer each get a blackjack, some casinos consider this a push, but it’s sometimes a win for the dealer (for the sake of the house edge).

Betting in Blackjack

Once you look at your cards, you can either ask for another card (a “hit”) or decline the option of another card (to “stand”). A player stands when that player is more concerned about going over 21 (“busting”) than improving their hand.

If you have a pair of cards that are the same, you have the option to split the pair and make a separate wager on the outcome of each hand. Splitting pairs on an Ace-Ace deal means you would split the aces and try to build a hand using each ace separately, which would double your wager size.

Doubling Down in Blackjack

A player can choose to double down on their original bet. Doubling down can only happen when the player is holding two cards. You can’t choose to double down after you have 3 or more. Also, when you double down, a player can receive only one more card. If you double down, 3 cards is the most you’ll have to build your hand.

Blackjack Surrender

If you think you’re going to lose your hand after seeing your dealt cards and the dealers up-card, you can choose to surrender (if surrender rules are in-play). When this happens, you are pulling back half of the chips you bet on the hand, because you’re afraid you might lose all of them. Some casinos allow you to surrender before the dealer peaks at his/her hand–an early surrender. Others don’t let you surrender until after the dealer peaks at their hand, which is called a late surrender.

Early surrender is the better option, if you see the two games beside each other (all other rules being the same). Most casinos only allow late surrender, though. The surrender rules are among the least understood at the blackjack table. While it makes sense to surrender sometimes, the rule is used too much by many players, decreasing their odds. Understand the surrender rules and when it’s a good idea before playing blackjack.

Blackjack Insurance

When a dealer is showing an ace as an up-card, you can take insurance. You make a bet half the size of your original that the dealer wins the hand. This side bet means you only lose half your original wager in the event of a house win. The insurance rule tends to favor the house, so only use this rule when you know it helps you.

Blackjack Hand

You can ask for as many cards are you want, but if it any time, the sum total of your cards add up to 22 or more, you lose. When players have finished playing their hands, the dealer plays their hand. Strict rules dictate when the dealer hits or stands. In most casinos, a dealer hits on a hard 16 and stands on a hard 17. Whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17 is more up-in-the-air.

Once everyone, including the dealer, has filled out their hands, it’s time for the winners to be rewarded and the losers to pay up. The dealer settles where the chips go and you move on to another hand of blackjack.

Written by randy

November 28th, 2011 at 9:31 am

Posted in Gaming

Best NES Video Games

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Best NES Video Games

For many people, the original Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES) is the high water mark of video gaming. As an older gamer myself, I have a soft spot for the simple 8-bit gaming system of my youth.

Here are the best NES video games in my humble opinion. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to use printable GameStop coupons for these games, since NES games are no longer sold new in video game stores. To find these great vintage games, you’ll have to dig through garage sales and on eBay.

5. The Legend of Zelda

The original Zelda game and still the greatest in the mind of most true Zelda fans, the 8-bit game doesn’t have much of the flash (or the buttons) of later editions, and Link is fairly small and weak compared to later incarnations, but the original adventure is still ten times harder than any other game. The classic Zelda music made its first appearance here, and all later editions of Zelda (including the more popular SNES versions) owe a huge debt to this NES classic.

4. ExciteBike

One of the first games I remember where you could pretend to be the game designer, ExciteBike had two basic gameplay versions. One was a standard race against your opponents game and the other was a version where you designed your own track. My brothers and I spent hours trying to build the most impossible courses for each other, and we often pulled it off. ExciteBike is probably responsible for my carpal tunnel syndrome.

3. Rampage

This arcade game classic ported to the NES still haunts my dreams. I was young the first time I played Rampage on the NES and it was quite a nightmare. No version of Rampage has been better than the NES original that seemed endless.

2. Spy Hunter

More than just a spy game or just a racing game, Spy Hunter was one of the first hybrid video games I ever remember playing. Changing weapons, pulling into the truck for upgrades, and chasing down bad guys has never been more fun.

1. Double Dribble

Today’s sports games are so complex it seems like you ought to earn a salary while you play them. Double Dribble offered little in the way of extras, just good clean NES basketball fun.

The NES will always be my favorite video game system because it was my first. Thinking about these old games has me itching for that tiny square controller and a pack of Pop Rocks.


Written by randy

September 2nd, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Gaming

Agricola Rules Summary

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I’m posting this Agricola rules summary because I’ve recently discovered the game, and I really enjoy it. Summarizing the rules helps me better understand how to play Agricola, which will make it easier for me to teach it to my friends. (And without friends to play Agricola with, what good is it anyway?) I know of at least one other site that summarizes the Agricola instructions, and I’ll try to do at least as good a job explaining the game here.

Agricola is an agricultural development game for 1 to 5 players. It takes between 30 minutes and one hour to play. Each player get a farmyard. The game also includes game boards for game actions and another board for major improvements.

At the beginning of each game, you play a couple living in a two room hut. Your goal is to improve your family’s living circumstances. The game has 14 rounds, and during each round, EACH member of a player’s family gets to take one action.

During the game, family members take actions like tending crops or repairing fences. Some turns include a harvest phase, which you MUST plan for. If you don’t, then you won’t have enough food to feed your family.

The most important strategy in Agricola is to have a large family. With more family members, you get to take more actions per turn.

Written by randy

August 16th, 2011 at 11:56 am

Online Poker News

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On April 15th, when 3 of the biggest online poker websites were shut down, online poker players were left without a whole lot of options when it came to finding large-scale online enterprises where they could meet with thousands of online poker players around the world. The Department of Justice shut down three of the largest sites – Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker.

However, things are changing with one presidential candidate supporting online poker sites. Gary Johnson, a presidential contender in the Republican party has officially supported online poker by putting a message on his website that says, “Support me for President, and I’ll support your freedom.” This same presidential candidate has gone on record to state that the government should not be restricting lawful commerce that is not harmful to anyone. Gary Johnson was the former governor of New Mexico. The presidential candidate suggests that online poker players should participate in their freedom by donating small sums of money to his presidential campaign. It is certainly a good boost to online poker players’ dreams that they have someone of the caliber of presidential candidate supporting their efforts even if they can’t get enough support for him to elect him to president. Gary Johnson supports prostitution, gambling rights, abortion rights, marijuana, and not going to church, so he is not likely to get enough support for the Republican nomination.

Even though Barack Obama is a keen poker player, that didn’t stop his Department of Justice from shutting down the poker sites.

John Pappas, the executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) – believes that Jonnson genuinely cares about securing online poker players’ rights, and Johnson realizes that there’s a large voting block out there that believes in his stance on not just poker but other personal issues as well.

Pappas also said that he’s a genuine and down-to-earth guy that talks the talk and walks the walk. This was at a lunch in Washington, D.C. that Johnson had with Pappas and other supporters of online poker. Johnson is serious about taking this issue to Washington, and he is not merely tepidly saying that he likes poker while not supporting it in its online forum as well. Of course, this is a sensitive issue for most Americans as gambling is considered inappropriate for some and a source of valuable entertainment and taxable income for others. Gary Johnson supports the latter view.

Written by randy

June 15th, 2011 at 7:13 am

Playing Games Is Economical

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I love to play games. They’re one of the most efficient ways of spending your entertainment dollar. You can buy a Monopoly game for around $20 or $25 and get hours of entertainment for that expenditure. If you compare that with the cost of going to the movies, then you’ll see that you get a LOT more hours of entertainment for your money. A movie ticket costs $10 nowadays in some markets, so for the price of a single evening at the movies, you can enjoy dozens or hundreds of hours of entertainment playing board games.

It doesn’t matter what kind of personality you have. There’s a board game out there aimed at you. If you like war games, you can play Risk or A Game of Thrones. If you’re the cerebral type, you can play abstract strategy board games like Go or Chess. If you’re a fantasy fan, you can play games Descent, which is similar in theme to Dungeons and Dragons.

Card games are a lot of fun too, and that’s even MORE economical. You can buy a deck of cards for a dollar. And there are hundreds of games you can play with a deck of cards. You can play poker, blackjack, spades, bridge, and rummy. If you’re by yourself, you can play solitaire. Card games are awesome. You can find all kinds of information about card games here: Play Card Games.

Everyone has a computer now, too, and the Internet is loaded with sites where you can play video games for free. It doesn’t matter what kinds of video games you like either. You could play Scrabble on the Internet, or you can play vintage arcade games from the 80s like Galaga. Or heck, if you like slot machines, you can even play online slots. (Learn more about that at sites like

Written by randy

June 1st, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Gaming,internet

Multiplayer Poker Online

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You have lots of options if you want to play poker online. But those options start to dwindle when you start taking into account what kind of poker you want to play. For example, if you want to play poker for real money, and you live in the USA, you’re going to have trouble finding a site that will cater to you. Or suppose you want to play five card stud. Relatively few sites offer 5 card stud, because not very many people play it any more.

Legal issues prevent me from recommending someplace to play Texas holdem for real money, but I can recommend a great place to find free multiplayer poker–Zodiac Holdem. Lots of sites offer free poker games, but many of them aren’t offering multiplayer functionality. And to me, if you’re not playing with other people, well…you’re not really playing poker at all, are you?

The rules for playing multiplayer poker at Zodiac Holdem are the same as you’ll find elsewhere online. It’s a Texas holdem game, so each player gets two hole cards. The computer deals 3 cards face-up, the flop. Then there’s another card, the turn, and then another card, the river. Rounds of betting happen between each stage of the deal. But of course, since this is a free “for-fun” poker game, you don’t wager real chips, just play money chips. It’s a lot like playing Monopoly, only more fun.

Written by randy

May 31st, 2011 at 10:35 am

Posted in Gaming

What is 7 Card Stud?

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Most people are familiar with one or two poker games, namely 5 card draw and Texas holdem. These games are pretty well burned into our brains from popular culture and a few other sources. But the world of poker is populated with lots of other awesome varieties.

7 card stud is just such a game–a poker variety that is different from games like draw or holdem. Here’s a quick guide to the game of 7 card stud.

The third most popular poker game online, 7 card stud is a fairly straightforward poker variant. The game of 7 card stud is a variation of stud poker–any poker game in which players are dealt a mix of face-down and face-up cards is called “stud.”

Because there are so many cards on the table, many people think 7 card stud is one of the more stressful and difficult games of poker out there. Like most poker variants, 7 card stud is a game of memory, skill, and strategy.

Playing the Game

Before the deal, each player must put an ante into the pot to receive two down cards (called “hole cards”) and one face up card. The player with the lowest face up card (aces are high in 7 card stud) must begin the betting action with an initial bet that is called the “bring-in.”

The bring-in bet must meet the required minimum amount for the game in question. Play moves to the left, by either calling (a bet equal to the previous opponent’s bet), a raise (a bet higher than the previous opponent), or a fold (which is like resigning).

After all betting is finished, a fourth card is dealt face up to each player who hasn’t folded.

The player with the highest hand showing face-up starts the action. Because there is no bring-in bet requirement after the first betting round, players don’t have to fold until there is a bet. Once there’s a bet, players left in the game have to either call, raise, or fold.

A fifth card is dealt face up followed by a betting round, and then a sixth card is dealt face up followed by another betting round. The seventh card is dealt to each player face down, and the final round of betting begins. Every betting round is often called a “street” (the third card is called “third street”, the fourth card is called “fourth street”, etc.)  all the way through seventh street.

Just like Texas holdem and Omaha, the best 7 card stud players have what is known as a “tight and aggressive” style–they can read players faces, hands, and game situations and alter their betting and play style to match. The game of holdem often rewards poor poker play because of short-term changes in the game, but 7 card stud doesn’t reward poor play due to variance. Put in layman’s terms, there’s less “luck” in 7 card stud than in holdem.

7 card stud is not nearly as popular as Texas holdem or as easy to play as good old five card draw, but it rewards good card-playing skills far more than any other variant.

Written by randy

April 15th, 2011 at 9:17 am

Posted in Gaming

Learn How to Play Texas Holdem

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As recently as the late 1990s, the only poker you’d see on television was an occasional game in an old cowboy movie. By 2004, ESPN and other cable channels were regularly broadcasting poker tournaments, most often playing Texas holdem. Some blame the rise of Internet poker, others the popularity of pop culture related to poker in general and holdem in particular, like the movie Rounders. Whatever the reason, there’s been a bona fide explosion in the popularity of Texas holdem and poker over the past decade or so.

Learning how to play Texas holdem is a requirement for people who want to learn to play poker. The most popular game at any online poker room, and the standard game for poker pros and poker wannabes, Texas holdem is to poker what ballroom dancing is to Dancing With the Stars, part and parcel of what the world of poker is all about.

If you want to learn how to play Texas holdem, you have lots of online advice to choose from. For the most part, learning the basic rules of the game invented by Amarillo Slim et al in the Lone Star State can be achieved at any site advertising “Texas holdem basics.” It’s only when you want to start learning holdem strategy that you need to be more choosy.

So how do you find a reputable place to learn to play Texas holdem? Follow these three simple rules:

1. Don’t Trust Google

If you don’t know a flop from a flip-flop or the river from the Mighty Mississippi, you won’t have any idea of which of the millions of “Texas holdem” instruction pages is worth reading. Trying to pick out a good Texas holdem instruction page from such a wide pool of options would be like a Texan trying to sing a hymn in Japanese. Avoid randomly picking a site from a lineup of Google results, and you’ll avoid most of the rotten Texas holdem instruction.

2. Do Your Homework

Join a poker forum and ask for help finding a good set of basic holdem instructions. People at poker forums are generally friendly and happy to help.

3. Ask Someone Smarter than You

If you a Texas holdem fanatic who seems to have a good head on his shoulders, don’t be afraid to ask him for advice on finding out how to play the game he loves. Heck, he might even want to instruct you himself. Just make sure you really trust the guy you learn from, and that he isn’t the guy running your local friendly game. He might be trying to work an angle on you.

Texas holdem is a great game with a steep learning curve–but once you learn the basics of how to play, you’ll be hooked just like millions of other holdem players around the world.

Written by randy

April 13th, 2011 at 10:51 am

Posted in Gaming

Good Online Poker Articles

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The Internet is full of good opportunities to turn yourself into a better poker player. There are poker articles on pretty much every subject you can think of, from lessons on learning to bluff with confidence to basic “how to play poker” instruction. Learning to play poker is a combination of spending time playing poker (whether it is in a free-money game at an online poker room or in a cash game at the office party) and reading up on poker tips and tricks from people with experience.

The trick is to find well-written poker articles with good information in them, avoiding slapdash “articles” written to fill space on blogs or poker bonus review sites. Once you’ve spent some time reading the good stuff, it should be easy to tell if a poker article is legit with just a brief skim of the article. But until you know what to look for, here’s some advice on how to find good online poker articles.

1. Join an Active Poker Forum

The online forum is the university system of the Internet–since the early days of the Internet, forums and message boards for every topic under the sun have popped up. A poker forum’s activity level is a good indication of its value–if you’re thinking of joining a forum but you notice that there’s been little traffic and the membership is small, you should keep looking.

2. Learn to Identify Repeat Information

The vast majority of “poker articles” are just rewrites of other people’s poker advice posts. Any fool that can stitch together 300 words can “write” a poker article by changing a few words here and there and reposting the new version as their own unique information. Once you’ve spent some time digging around for poker strategy and other articles, you’ll become familiar with the type of poker advice that gets written and rewritten a hundred times over.

3. Mix Up Your Strategy

Reading 7,000 poker articles from the same source (or worse, from the same author) is a good way to get stuck in a poker rut. Gathering a list of ten or twelve valuable sources of poker articles is a good idea, as it keeps your approach to the game of poker fresh. Rehashing the same tired advice hundreds of times over is a great way to ensure you’ll never make money playing poker.

There’s lots of free poker articles online, which naturally means there’s lots of bad poker advice. Do your homework, do a little research, and try to stick to advice that passes the smell test: if it smells like BS, it probably is.

Written by randy

April 13th, 2011 at 9:40 am

Posted in Gaming

Family Game Night

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Family game night is a cherished tradition for many people. Most of us can remember the family gathering around the dinner table for a massive game of Monopoly or a few hands of a favorite card game. This tradition goes back as long as human history–back to a time when playing games meant something besides plugging in an Xbox or Playstation.

Popular family games are everything from really intellectual thinking-man’s games like Trivial Pursuit all the way down to games aimed at young children like Chutes and Ladders. What makes a game good for family game night?

1. Easy to Play

Popular board games such as Battleship and Monopoly tend to have a slightly steep learning curve. That means it might take a game or two before everyone learns the rules. When picking a game for family game night, make sure that everyone in the family has the skills to play the game. You don’t want to leave anyone out, even the youngest child.

2. Replay Value

Good family game night games should have high replay value–that means that your family can play them again and again and not lose interest. Word games, like Balderdash or Boggle, have high replay value because the words and gameplay are always a little different. Children’s games like Sorry! or Chutes and Ladders have less replay value, but might be good for younger players.

3. Educational Value

You might want to consider playing more educational games, especially as your children get older. Trivial Pursuit and more kinetic games like Cranium or Pictionary are perfect for being educational and still fun.

These aren’t the only criteria for picking a game for family game night, but it is a good place to start. Match your family’s specific needs to the games you can find at your neighborhood toy store and get ready for hours and hours of fun with your family.

Written by randy

April 1st, 2011 at 9:47 am

Posted in Gaming