Over the last twenty years we have seen a huge advance in the quality of computer graphics, mainly driven by the success of the gaming industry and the desire for ever more realistic computer games. The idea of playing gambling games online however was much slower to become an established leisure activity even though it is certainly catching up in terms of popularity. The recreational gaming sector was of course driven by the introduction of specialist games consoles such as the Playstation, whereas the online gambling sector was initiated by the leading bookmakers following in the footsteps of most other high street businesses by establishing an internet presence. Initially the bookmakers clearly set out to target and attract their existing sports gambling customers, but it wasn’t long before they also began to introduce a few gambling games onto their sports gambling sites. The idea was to try and maximise the returns on their investment in their growing online gambling business and to encourage their sports gambling clients to spend a bit more time on the site in the hope that they would gamble a little bit more. We now know of course that not only did the introduction of gambling games appeal to their sports gambling customers, but that decision created a whole new online gambling sector which we now refer to as online casino gambling. The success of these first online casino gambling sites was almost certainly down to a very wise choice in the range of gambling games the bookmakers decided to offer. These included a range of traditional casino gambling games such as roulette and blackjack which of course are very familiar to regular casino visitors in Ireland, plus a number of other traditional casino games such as craps and baccarat which are not usually available in our real casinos. Then there were the number games based on the concept of bingo. In spite of the bingo clubs suffering slightly as a result of the smoking ban, the game of bingo remains one of the most popular mainstream gambling games we have and was almost guaranteed to prove successful when made available online. Most of the gambling games we can now play online are of course slots games in various forms, and who hasn’t enjoyed a flutter on the slot machines at some time or another, but there is another gambling game which has seen a remarkable comeback as a result of the online casino gambling sites. The game of poker is rapidly becoming one of the most popular of all the traditional online gambling games, and now even has specialist online gambling sites dedicated solely to providing access to poker games for serious poker players. The game of poker is of course not new and most of us have seen old western films in which almost every saloon scene includes a game of 5-card draw poker. This was the poker format of choice in the American gold fields and on the old Mississippi river boats where the first professional poker players earned their living. Nowadays of course the poker game of choice for professional poker players and the growing band of serious amateur poker players is the Texas Hold’em format of the game. The game of poker has become so popular that almost all the poker tournaments around the world are now oversubscribed and many need to run qualifying rounds to allocate places in the main event. It is also the popularity of these poker tournaments which has made the Texas Hold’em version of poker the game of choice for anyone contemplating taking up poker seriously.
For the benefit of any of our readers who are not familiar with the various different versions of poker we have detailed all the rules in our individual gambling games pages here at gambling.ie, but here is a brief introduction to the Texas Hold’em format of poker for those interested in giving it a go. Texas Hold’em is played with each player holding two hole cards face down and five community cards dealt face up into the middle of the table which are available to any player when they form their best 5 card poker hand for the showdown. There are also multiple betting rounds associated with Texas Hold’em poker, which is one reason why it has become so popular among serious poker fans. A betting round is the same whatever form of poker being played, and usually starts with the player immediately to the left of the dealer placing an opening bet of at least the minimum table stake. Each player clockwise around the table can then match that bet, raise the bet or fold depending on how they perceive the quality of their hand. Each betting is only complete when all the remaining players have staked the same amount of money on the hand. In the Texas Hold’em version of poker the first betting round takes place after each player has been dealt their two hole cards. The five community cards are then dealt one at a time with a further betting round after each card has been dealt, so that there are a total of five betting rounds before reaching the final showdown round and six in total for any player reaching the stage of being a potential winner. This means of course that the pot is usually far bigger in the Texas Hold’em format of poker than most of the other versions of the game, but so is the stake necessary to reach the showdown round. For this reason we would suggest that Texas Hold’em may not be the best version of poker for beginners, and that it would be advisable to learn the game by playing simpler formats. All the online casino gambling sites offer a wide range of different poker formats, all of which can be played against the house for fixed odds. If you have not played poker before or have limited experience there are a range of poker games which are fun to play and allow you to learn with minimum risk.