The introduction of online gambling has undoubtedly been as successful as the move to online shopping, but there is one element of that success which stands out above everything else. Online sports gambling has been a success primarily because of the convenience of being able to place our bets from home on our computer or even through our mobile phone rather than having to go to our local betting shop, but the advent of online casino gambling is another matter entirely. The ability to play a huge range of gambling games online has created a whole new interest in gambling as a popular leisure activity across a wide cross section of the population. When the big bookmakers first established their online sports gambling sites they were primarily targeting the already large community of sports gambling fans, but when they decide to add a few gambling games to those sites they began to appeal to a very much wider audience than ever before. In Ireland of course we have always been very keen on our gambling on horse racing, and that will clearly always be a primary sports gambling activity, but we are also apparently open to the idea of playing gambling games online as is evident from the increasing popularity of the online casino gambling sites over here. The range of gambling games we can now play online is vast but there is one particular traditional casino gambling game which has really taken off since online casino gambling became widely available, and that is the game of poker. Clearly the game of poker is not a new gambling game and has been played all over the world for many years, but the introduction of online casino gambling has definitely revived its popularity throughout the almost every gambling community in the modern world. The vast majority of the gambling games featured on every online casino gambling site are slots games in various forms, but there are also a full range of the more traditional casino games on most sites, including of course a variety of different versions of poker. Many of us have had the opportunity to play traditional casino games such as roulette and blackjack at our local real casino, but most of us have had very little chance to play poker on a regular basis. Some of our casinos have organised the occasional poker tournament for their members, but very few of them have been able to offer poker as a regular option. As a consequence playing poker had become a very rare leisure activity enjoyed by just a few friendly poker schools usually held in someone’s house for friends and family. The introduction of online casino gambling has however changed our attitude to playing a whole range of gambling games which had perhaps become gradually less popular over the years, and the game of poker is one of those games. In fact of all the games which have seen a surge in popularity since the introduction of online casino gambling poker has probably seen the biggest increase in regular players of all of them.
The game of poker has in fact gone from a game which had almost become the preserve of professional gamblers to being a game played by vast numbers of what many politicians describe as the general public. It’s true that there has been a renewed interest in games such as bingo since the introduction of online casino gambling, but that is not on the same scale as the increase in the number of people now playing poker on a regular basis compared to the days before online gambling became widely available. Even the major poker tournaments such as the Irish Open, which used to be the preserve of professional poker players have now become oversubscribed to the point at which many of them now need to organise qualifying rounds simply to decide who will get a place at the main event. There are now hundreds of people in Ireland who would call themselves semi-professional poker players because they play regularly on one of the new online poker platforms which have sprung up since the online casinos gave the game a boost.
There are of course several different versions of poker ranging from the simplest and most widely recognised 5-card draw poker to the modern favourite of serious poker players Texas Hold’em poker. Almost all of us will remember watching the old westerns at the cinema or on the television in which there was nearly always a scene in the saloon featuring men playing 5-card draw poker, but nowadays most serious poker players would rarely play that form of the game. Texas Hold’em has become the poker game of choice for most modern poker enthusiasts, and almost every major poker tournament in the world now uses the Texas Hold’em poker format rather than any of the alternative versions of the game. All the online casino gambling sites offer a whole range of different poker formats which can all be played for fixed odds against the house, but the specialist online poker platforms invariably concentrate on the Texas Hold’em format of the game. The appeal of Texas Hold’em is that the use of community cards and the ensuing multiple betting rounds tends to lead to much bigger pots and better quality hands. The Texas Hold’em version of poker uses five community cards which together with the two “hole cards” dealt to each player means that each player has seven cards from which to select their best five card poker hand. Each community card is dealt one at a time face up into the middle of the table, and there is a new betting round after each card is dealt. The pot is therefore boosted quite dramatically from the initial minimum table stakes paid by each player at the beginning of the game, and the winner clearly has a big reward. If you are thinking of playing poker at one of the specialist poker platforms, remember that although the pots