Whereas the introduction of online gambling does not appear to have had any effect on the number of people enjoying gambling on their favourite sports and sporting events, it has undoubtedly led to an overall increase in the number of people playing gambling games. Here in Ireland we have always enjoyed our sports gambling, particularly gambling on horse racing, but there is no evidence to suggest that the convenience of being able to gamble on our favourite sports online has made sports gambling more popular or more widespread within the population. The online casino gambling sites however have definitely attracted many more people to the idea of regularly playing gambling games, and they have even led to a resurgence of interest in some of the more traditional gambling games such as poker. Part of the reason why we have seen such an increase in the overall number of people playing gambling games is that the numbers prior to the introduction of online casino gambling were relatively small when compared to those involved in sports gambling, so the base line was much lower to begin with. Most people however would also point to the much bigger variety of gambling games we can play online as one of the most likely reasons for the increase in numbers of regular players, particularly the huge array of different slots games available on most online casino gambling sites. The rapidly growing popularity of the game of poker also indicates that the ability to play more of the traditional casino gambling games online is also having a significant effect on the numbers of people playing gambling games online. In fact the game of poker is probably the biggest winner from the introduction of online casino gambling, and is now so popular that there are even specialist online poker platforms where serious poker players can compete with other enthusiasts almost twenty four hours a day. There is no doubt that the resurgence of interest in poker began with the introduction of gambling games onto the big sports gambling sites operated by the bookmakers, but it is no longer confined to the internet. Serious poker players are now so keen to get involved in the game that many of the major tournaments that used to be the preserve of professional gamblers now have to run qualifying rounds to determine who actually gets to enter the tournament proper. Even poker tournaments such as the Irish Open are now often oversubscribed as more and more new poker fans want to try their luck in the big time.
There are of course several versions of the game of poker, some of which are relatively new. Most of us would recognise the 5-card draw format of the game from all the saloon scenes in all the westerns we were able to watch in our younger days, but most serious poker fans nowadays are more likely to prefer to play versions of poker such as Texas Hold’em rather than 5-card draw. In fact almost all the big poker tournaments held around the world now use the Texas Hold’em format of poker rather than any of the alternative versions of the game. For those of our readers who have never played Texas Hold’em poker we have detailed the rules on our individual gambling games pages, but here is a brief summary of how this version of poker differs from the 5-card draw format of the game. Each player is first dealt two hole cards face down in front of them, after which the first betting round is held. The dealer then deals the first of five community cards face up in the middle of the table, which is then followed by a second betting round. That process is then repeated until there are five community cards face up in the middle of the table, after which each remaining player will form their best five card poker hand from their two hole cards and the five community cards in the middle of the table. The community cards are of course available for any of the players to use in their showdown hand, which changes the whole dynamic as to what may be a winning hand. The Texas Hold’em version of poker is popular in part because the option to form the best hand from seven cards rather than five tends to lead to higher ranking hands in the showdown, but primarily because of the number of betting rounds. The fact that a betting round is held after each community card has been dealt leads to much higher pots for the winner than most other formats of the game, and that is the main reason why it is the most popular version of poker for serious players. That also means however that the maximum table stake often agreed at the beginning of a game bears no relevance whatsoever to the amount of money which needs to be staked to reach the showdown stage of the game, a fact which potential new players need to bear in mind when they first start to play Texas Hold’em poker. At this stage we should also recommend that potential new poker players start with the simpler versions of the game, all of which are readily available on almost every online casino gambling site. These games can all be played for fixed odds against the house and are an excellent way to learn the ranking of the hands and get the feel of how to enjoy playing poker successfully. There is plenty of time to ensure that you understand the more complex versions of poker before becoming involved on the specialist online poker platforms most of which focus on the Texas Hold’em format. Remember that you rarely know who you are playing against on those sites or how experienced they are, so take care and keep the stakes low until you see how the game is going. Texas Hold’em poker is a fantastic game but it is also a game in which experience invariably counts in the long run.