After nearly 20 years of writing this column - it launched at the beginning of February 1994 - I have a fair idea of what resonates with readers. After all, many of you are kind enough to tell me, via email.

One message that come through loud and clear is that players love to read about other players. My email box is flooded every time I relay a little table talk. So let's go back to the blackjack table, for some more tales told during shuffles.

Wedding Day Bliss: A man and woman joined the game, and she explained they were celebrating their 25th anniversary.

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"Our wedding was in Las Vegas," she said. "One of the hotel executives had been a business partner with my father, and he set it all up. Even having it so far from home - we live in St. Louis - we still had 75 guests. Everyone seemed happy to come to Vegas."

Her husband said that trip was they first time they'd ever gambled.

"There was just an hour between the wedding and reception, and we played in our full wedding regalia. The other players, the dealer, everyone seemed to want to make the young couple happy. Especially the bride.

"I think we lost $30 between us, but we had such fun. The pit boss wrote us a comp for dinner for two in the steak house. We didn't need it that night, but he dated it so we could use it the next. One of the other players gave my new wife a kiss on the cheek and shook my hand, and in the shake he gave me a $100 chip. I said he shouldn't do that, but he just said, 'You kids have a nice life.' And we have."

Three Aces: A 50-ish gentleman down to his last four red $5 chips asked a couple of blackjack players, "You ever play Caribbean Stud?" When I said I did, he was into full storytelling mode.

"You know what I saw a couple of days ago? The dealer had three aces, and everybody at the table beat him. Five players, and every one of them beat three aces.

"A couple of the fellas, they didnt even know they'd won. They were betting on every hand without looking at their cards. The dealer had an ace up, then had two more aces face down. And these guys are moaning, because how often are you going to beat three Aces?

"But you know what? The first lady had a straight. Then there was a flush.

Then the two guys who hadn't looked, one had a straight and the other had a flush.

"And me? You know what I had? Four Kings, that's what I had.

"You ever seen anything like that?"

Three Card Poker Newbie: The young lady with the long blonde hair, T-shirt and shorts had to show the dealer her ID before she could play. But this wasn't her first time at a Three Card Poker table.

"I learned to play last night," she said. "This is so easy. I felt like I never knew what was going on at blackjack. And craps? Forget it. I'll never learn that."

"This is better for me. I won some money last night. Dude a couple of seats down from me was dealt three of a kind, and the dealer just kept giving him chips.

"The next hand, I picked up my cards, and I couldn't believe it. I had an 8, a 9 and a 10, and they were all diamonds. A straight flush. I was so excited, I shouted, 'Would you believe it!'"

Gambling author and columnist John Grochowskis weekly newspaper column began at the Chicago Sun-Times and is now syndicated nationally. He also regularly makes TV and radio appearances about gambling. His column appears weekly.


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