Computer technology and in particular the internet has completely changed the way we live our lives. Increasing numbers of us rely on computers in our workplaces, and when we get home the internet allows us to do our shopping, manage our bank account and pay our bills without leaving the house, all of which increases our leisure time and allows us to spend more time with family and friends. Even then we can’t always escape the influence of the internet and the devices we use to access it. Those of us who enjoy gambling as one of our leisure activities for instance, will almost certainly spend at least some time on one of the many online gambling sites we can now access. Whether our preference is for sports gambling or casino gambling we can find far more options online than anywhere else. We are no longer restricted to gambling on horse racing, greyhound racing or football, we can follow almost any sport or sporting event online. Similarly the range of gambling games now accessible on the online casino gambling sites is beyond anything we have ever seen before. The online casino gambling sites have probably had more influence on our gambling habits than the sports gambling sites, particularly when you look into the reasons for the current surge in interest in gambling games such as poker. There are other gambling games which have attracted a much bigger fan base as a result of the introduction of online gambling sites, particularly for example the game of bingo, but bingo already had a strong following whereas the rise in interest in poker began from a very low base. The game of poker has of course got quite a long history, particularly in America where 5 card draw poker was the gambling game of choice in the gold fields and on the river boats where professional poker players earned their living playing against unwary travellers. In Ireland however in common with many other parts of Europe, playing poker was not a particularly popular gambling activity because there was nowhere for the general public to access a game. Playing poker was therefore confined to a few poker schools among friends in somebody’s home. The introduction of online casino gambling sites however, with their huge range of new games changed almost everything we had become used to in terms of access to gambling games, including of course the traditional casino games such as poker.
Many of the big online casino gambling site operators now even offer specialised online poker platforms where players can compete with each other at all levels, There are online poker sites for beginners as well as the poker platforms aimed at the increasing number of serious poker players. The influence of online poker sites has even changed the game itself, and 5-card draw poker is no longer the poker format of choice for serious poker enthusiasts. Texas Hold’em poker is now the favourite version of poker for serious players and it is also the poker format now used at most of the big poker tournaments around the world. The major international poker tournaments, including the Irish Open are a perfect illustration of how poker has become so popular since the advent of online gambling, because they are nearly all oversubscribed. Whereas not that long ago these poker tournaments were almost exclusively the preserve of professional poker players, nowadays they have been joined by huge numbers of serious amateurs itching to try their luck in the big time. Many of the major tournament organisers are now even forced to run qualifying rounds to determine who gets a seat at the main event, such is the surge in interest in the game of poker.
As we have already pointed out the game of choice for serious poker players of the modern era is the Texas Hold’em format of the game. Texas Hold’em is actually a very different game to 5-card draw because it uses what are known as community cards which are available to every player. Each player is initially dealt two hole cards face down in front of them, after which there is the first of many betting rounds. Five community cards are then dealt one at a time face up into the middle of the table, with a further betting round after each card is dealt. Each remaining player then forms their 5 card showdown hand from their two hole cards plus the five community cards, which is therefore a selection of the best five cards from seven. Clearly the chances are that the showdown hands are likely to be higher ranking because of the option to choose five cards from seven, but the main reason why Texas Hold’em poker has become so popular is the multiple betting rounds and the bigger pots which inevitably result from that. Texas Hold’em poker is considered by most observers to be a gambling game which rewards skill and experience as well as luck, so potential new players would be well advised to gain experience before getting involved in any serious games. Remember that whilst the final pots are usually bigger as a result of the multiple betting rounds associated with the Texas Hold’em format of poker, so is the financial commitment necessary to even reach the showdown stage of the game. When playing Texas Hold’em poker the agreed table stakes rarely have any influence on how much a player needs to stake on each hand. Almost every online casino gambling site offers a full range of different forms of poker, including Texas Hold’em and they can all be played for fixed odds against the house. There is no better way to learn the nuances of the game than to gain experience in this way, because the way the hands develop during each stage of the game is very different when playing Texas Hold’em poker compared to 5-card draw. What can look like a good set of hole cards may turn out to look totally different as the community cards are dealt.