The first online gambling sites to be accessible in Ireland were all established by the big bookmakers and targeted specifically at their sports gambling customers. It wasn’t long however before they began to add a few gambling games, which we now usually refer to as casino games onto their sites thereby starting what has become a hugely successful online casino sector. From those early days the online casinos have grown dramatically and many online casino sites now feature over two hundred different casino games for their customers to enjoy. Before the introduction of online casinos, most Irish gambling enthusiasts would probably have restricted their betting activities to gambling on horse racing, greyhound racing or football, the only possible exception being the ever popular game of bingo. Very few of us had the opportunity to play casino games at a real casino, so the only other potential gambling option was playing the slot machines in our local pubs and clubs. In the same way that the online sports gambling sites are able to offer a much wider range of sports and sporting events than a high street betting shop, the online casinos are also not restricted by lack of space or personnel so there are no barriers to them continuing to offer more and more casino games. Clearly it is primarily the huge range of games we can now play at the online casinos which has been the basis for their success, and many analysts now believe that many more people play casino games online than bet on sporting events such as horse racing. If that is true it would represent a huge change in our attitude to gambling in a country like Ireland where horse racing in particular has always been part of our culture. Most of these online casino games are of course slots games in various forms, but the traditional casino games have also played a major role in the success of online casinos. Outside of America and more recently the Far East most casinos are relatively small and are unable to offer a full range of traditional casino games let alone many slot machines. Traditional casino games such as roulette and blackjack were usually available, but baccarat, backgammon and craps were often ignored through lack of floor space. The online casino site operators are probably right in their opinion that it is mainly the slots games which have driven the increasing popularity of playing casino games online, but the chance to play some of these traditional casino games must also have played a part.
The game of baccarat is a particularly interesting example of how the ability of the online casinos to offer a full range of casino games has changed our perceptions of certain games. For most of us our only knowledge of baccarat may well have been through watching James Bond win a huge amount of money from one of his enemies, but there was little or no information about how the game is played. In fact the game of baccarat had established a reputation for being a complicated game played mostly by high rollers for large stakes. Now that we can all play baccarat online however that reputation is clearly a bit of a myth. It’s true that the rules of baccarat are a little complicated but only the dealer needs to know them, which means for most players they are irrelevant particularly when playing at an online casino. All we have to do is choose which of just two hands will win, which is no more difficult than calling the toss of a coin. A tie is possible but very rare and almost never backed by serious baccarat players.
Any discussion regarding the influence that online casinos have had on our gambling habits must include reference to the traditional casino game of poker. Although poker has a relatively long history, particularly in America very few people in Ireland were playing poker before the advent of online casinos. That situation has however now changed dramatically and out of all the traditional casino games we can now play online, poker has undoubtedly become one of our favourite casino games. Nor is the increasing popularity of poker restricted to playing the game online, almost all the major poker tournaments held around the world are now oversubscribed as enthusiastic amateurs attempt to compete with the professionals. There are now increasing numbers of people who would consider themselves to be semi-professional poker players and who now spend much of their leisure time playing poker online. The version of poker which was prevalent in the gold fields of America and on the river boats in the south was of course 5-card draw poker, but even that has changed as a result of the introduction of online poker. The most popular version of poker among serious poker players is now the Texas Hold’em format of the game. Texas Hold’em is also the poker format now used in most of the big poker tournaments around the world, but it is also the most risky form of the game for new players. The popularity of the Texas Hold’em version of poker is due to the use of community cards and multiple betting rounds which contribute to much bigger pots than those associated with 5-card draw poker. The five community cards are dealt one at a time face up into the middle of the table with each one followed by a full betting round. Even reaching the showdown stage of each hand of Texas Hold’em poker therefore requires a player to match the highest bet through each of five betting rounds, so they are likely to have made a substantial investment to reach that stage. Playing Texas Hold’em poker on one of the specialist online poker platforms is not for the faint hearted, and we should point out that most experts believe that the more experienced payer will usually come out on top in the long run. Remember that all forms of poker can be played against the house for fixed odds on every online casino site.