Whilst it is debatable whether it was the introduction of online casino gambling or the televising of live tournaments which caused it, there is no doubt that there has been a huge surge in interest in the gambling game of poker. Playing poker has gone from being just a regular evening among friends to a massive gambling activity all over the world, with huge international tournaments attracting large numbers of players and even more spectators. Although the origins of the game of poker remain somewhat obscure it is generally believed that the modern game was developed in America during the 18th century on the river boats on the Mississippi or the gold fields of the west. What is known is that the idea of tournament poker gambling began in the American casinos when the ‘World Series of Poker’ was introduced in the 70’s, and there are now big international poker tournaments held all over the world including of course our own Irish Open. Many British and Irish poker gambling enthusiasts were first introduced to the game through the televising of poker tournaments on cable or satellite in programmes such as ‘Late Night Poker’, but the real increase in participation in gambling on poker resulted from the opportunity to play the game at home through the internet. Again the first online poker forum was introduced in America in 1998 in the form of ‘Planet Poker’, but other online casino gambling sites quickly followed on both sides of the Atlantic and gambling on poker is now one of the biggest online gambling activities in the world.
There are of course several different versions of poker, some of which are played against fellow poker enthusiasts with the others played against the house usually for fixed odds. The simplest form of poker gambling and the game made famous by the television westerns we watched many years ago is Draw Poker. 5-card Draw Poker follows the usual rules for all poker games played against other players, with the deal rotating clockwise round the table and some form of ante bet to start the pot. This can either be a bet placed solely by the dealer, or a contribution from each of the players to get the ball rolling as it were. In 5-card Draw Poker each player is dealt five cards one at a time and all face down, after which there is a betting round. This again follows the normal rules of tournament poker in that each player in turn clockwise from the dealer has the opportunity to fold, match the previous bet (call) or raise the bet. Each betting round continues until every player has either matched the highest bet or folded their cards. Returning to the game of 5-card Draw Poker, at the end of the first betting round each player has the opportunity to try and improve their hand by exchanging some or all of their cards. The final betting round then takes place after which the highest ranking remaining hand takes the pot. Again in common with all the other tournament poker gambling formats, if there is only one player left in the game at the end of the last betting round that is the winning hand and need not be revealed. This is of course why the game of poker is known for players being able to bluff their opponents out of the game.
The most common poker format used in tournament poker gambling throughout the world is Texas Hold’em poker. Over the last few years Texas Hold’em has become the poker gambling game for serious poker players all over the world, both in tournament play and for online poker forums. In fact we know of no poker tournaments using any other version of poker gambling. Texas Hold’em is a form of poker which uses community cards which can be used by all the players to improve their hands and encourages multiple betting rounds to increase the pot. Each player is dealt 2 cards face down, after which the first betting round takes place. The first of five community cards is then dealt face up in the middle of the table, and the remaining players then complete another betting round. This is repeated until all the remaining players have two cards face down in front of them and five community cards in the middle of the table. After the last community card is has been dealt there is a final betting round before the showdown with the best remaining hand taking the pot. The popularity of gambling on Texas Hold’em poker is down to two things. First each player has seven cards from which to choose their best 5 card showdown hand, which usually improves the quality of the hands, and second the multiple betting rounds dramatically increase the size of the pot. A word of warning to those considering playing Texas Hold’em seriously. The money needing to be staked to stay in a hand right through to the showdown usually far exceeds the initial stake and it is very easy to exceed your budget to stay in a hand. It is also a gambling game which is generally regarded to favour the experienced player in the long run, so try to know who you are playing against particularly online.
Another poker format which is similar in concept to Texas Hold’em is 7-card Stud Poker, which also provides each player with seven cards to choose from but in this case they are not community cards and each player is dealt seven cards, 3 face down and 4 face up. Another version of community card poker which is available on some online casino gambling sites is Omaha Poker. In this case each player has four cards dealt face down in front of them, followed by five community cards face up in the middle of the table, offering even more cards from which to make a good five card hand. There are a few quirks with this version of poker gambling so check out our casino gambling games section to find out more. Most of these alternative forms of gambling on poker are only available against the house for fixed odds, but they are an excellent way to learn the game.