There is no doubt that the introduction of online gambling sites has dramatically increased our gambling options across all areas of potential gambling activities. It started of course when the leading bookmakers decided that they could no longer ignore the internet, and began to invest in the technology and software necessary to establish an online presence. Because it was the big bookmakers who were taking this step, the first online gambling sites were naturally aimed at enabling their existing sports gambling customers to place their bets online rather than having to visit their local betting shop. The option to place bets online certainly made life easier for sports gambling fans, but the online sports gambling sites also offered significantly more gambling options than most betting shops. Suddenly we were not restricted to our normal gambling activities such as horse racing, greyhound racing or football, we could access a whole range of other sports and sporting events. Quite literally the world was our oyster because we could even bet on sporting events taking place on the other side of the world. The next stage in the development of online gambling was even more dramatic in many ways, because it not only significantly increased our gambling options, it also attracted many new gambling enthusiasts. The addition of a few gambling games to the original online sports gambling sites started a whole new online gambling sector, which we now call online casino gambling. It is often argued that the success of online sports gambling was almost guaranteed in Ireland because we already had a huge number of sports gambling enthusiasts who could probably easily be persuaded to gamble online rather than trek to their local betting shop. We also had an existing group of gaming enthusiasts who regularly visited a real casino or a high street bingo club, but the introduction of gambling games online has swelled that number considerably and that is almost entirely due to the massive range of gambling games on offer. The slots games in particular now have a huge fan base online, but there is another traditional casino gambling game which has benefitted massively from the growth of online casino gambling and that is the game of poker. Whilst many of the gambling games featured at our online casino gambling sites are new, poker has been played around the world for many years. Many of us will remember that almost every film western with a scene in a saloon also featured men playing 5-card draw poker. This form of poker was also the main gambling game in the American gold fields and on the Mississippi river boats during that period in our history, but it had since fallen out of favour in many parts of the world including here in Ireland. Some of our real casinos would occasionally arrange a poker tournament for their members, and there was a hard core of serious professional poker players competing in the big poker tournaments, but playing poker was not a common gambling activity amongst the general public. Some would argue that the renewed interest in poker started with some poker tournaments being televised by the satellite television companies and that may be true, but the real surge in interest undoubtedly began when we could all play poker online. Most online casino gambling sites now offer a range of different forms of poker on their site, all of which can be played against the house for fixed odds and small stakes. The interest in playing poker is however now so strong that there are also many specialist online poker platforms specifically set up to enable serious poker players to test their luck and skills against other enthusiasts from all over the world.
Playing poker online has become so popular that there are many more people who now consider themselves to be professional or semi-professional poker players than ever before, and almost all the major international poker tournaments are now so oversubscribed that they need to hold qualifying rounds to win a place at the main event. Even the game itself has changed since the introduction of online poker gambling. Whereas 5-card draw poker was historically the game of choice for serious poker players, almost every poker tournament in the world nowadays uses the relatively new Texas Hold’em format of poker, and this has become the only version of the game played by serious poker players online. The popularity of Texas Hold’em is down to the use of community cards, which in turn leads to multiple betting rounds and big pots. For those of our readers who are not familiar with the Texas Hold’em format of poker, we have detailed the rules on our individual gambling game pages here at gambling.ie, but here is a brief summary. Each player is dealt two cards face down in front of them, followed by the first betting round. Five community cards are then dealt one at a time face up into the middle of the table, with each new card followed by another betting round. The remaining players will then form their best five card poker hand from any of their two hole cards and the five community cards face up in the middle of the table. The most obvious thing to remember when starting to play Texas Hold’em poker is that the minimum table stake bears no relation to the money you are likely to need to commit to even reach the showdown round. New players should always take that into account, particularly when playing on one of the specialist online poker platforms where your opponents may be far more experienced than you. Poker is undoubtedly an exciting gambling game requiring a mixture of skill and luck, but not everyone will be successful playing on the poker circuit. Remember that every online casino gambling site features a range of different poker formats which can be played against the house, including Texas Hold’em. This is definitely the best way to learn the game and potentially far less expensive.