There is very little doubt that the internet and the development of the associated technology which has provided so many of us with easy access to it has proved to be as effective in changing our everyday lives as the industrial revolution was for our ancestors. There is almost no aspect of most of our lives which has not been affected in some way by the internet and many of us have almost become totally dependent on access to the internet for everything. Many would argue that the most important aspect of this online revolution has been the growing power of the social media platforms, because they have become the source of all news and information for so many of our young people. Over recent years we have all seen both the benefits of this easy access to information from across the world, and of course the downsides when fake news stories and propaganda are also widely broadcast. Nevertheless most of us would argue that the plusses of the easy accessibility of the internet far outweigh the downsides, and we continue to take advantage of it for much of our daily activities. Access to online gambling for instance is still a relatively recent development, but sports gambling fans and casino gambling enthusiasts are increasingly using online gambling sites for these activities. The online gambling sites, particularly the casino gambling sections of those sites have provided us with far more choice than ever before, and there are now hundreds of different gambling games available across a growing number of online casino gambling sites. The first online casino gambling sites were introduced as part of the big sports gambling sites operated by the leading bookmakers, but we now have access to a growing number of smaller specialist online casino gambling sites offering an even greater choice of gambling games for us to try. The vast majority of these gambling games are of course slots games in various forms, but there is one traditional casino gambling game which has really surged in popularity since the introduction of online gambling, and that is the game of poker. Of all the traditional casino gambling games which are now available to us online, poker is the one that has caught our attention more than any of the others. The game of poker is clearly not a new game, and most of us probably remember the old westerns in which almost every scene shot in the town’s saloon featured men playing poker. It was also the gambling game of choice in the gold fields of America and on the Mississippi river boats where professional poker players earned their living. Over recent years however, certainly here in Ireland the game of poker had largely disappeared from view except for the odd poker school run by a group of mates at one of their homes. Some observers would say that the resurgence of poker started when some satellite television channels started to broadcast poker tournaments, but the real explosion in interest took off when poker became available as an online gambling game. All the online casino gambling sites offer a full range of poker formats which can be played for small stakes against the house, but there are also now a number of specialist online poker platforms which allow serious poker enthusiasts to compete against each other. The availability of these sites has dramatically increased the number of people who would call themselves serious poker players, and this has translated into many of the international poker tournaments being so over-subscribed that they need to hold qualifying rounds to decide who can enter the main event.
The original version of poker which we all knew from the aforementioned westerns was of course 5-card draw poker, in which each player had the option to change some or all of their cards following the opening betting round. There was then a second and final betting round and the winner took the pot. Nowadays the most popular poker format among serious poker players is the Texas Hold’em version of poker, and this is the version of the game used in almost every poker tournament around the world. Texas Hold’em is a very different game to the simple 5-card draw version of poker, with the use of community cards leading to many more betting rounds and far more risk. Each player is dealt two so called hole cards, face down in front of them after which the first betting round takes place. A betting round is the same in all forms of poker and usually starts with the player immediately to the left of the dealer making an opening bet of at least the minimum table stake. Each betting round is only complete when every remaining player has staked the same amount. After the first betting round in Texas Hold’em five community cards are dealt one at a time face up into the middle of the table, and each of these cards is followed by another betting round. When all the community cards have been dealt each remaining player forms their best five card hand from their two hole cards and the five community cards in the middle of the table, which are of course available for every player to use in their show down hand. This means that every remaining player has gambled through five betting rounds to reach the show down stage of the game, leading to much bigger pots for the winner but clearly much higher stakes being wagered on every hand. The popularity of Texas Hold’em among serious poker players is of course due to the potentially bigger pots generated by the multiple betting rounds. It is however widely acknowledged that Texas Hold’em poker is a game in which the experienced player will generally hold the upper hand in the long run, so new players should be very wary of getting involved in high stakes games on an online poker platform without knowing who their opponents are and how much experience they have.