Ireland has a somewhat complex relationship with gambling, with its most recent regulations governing popular activities having been instigated more than half a century ago. Major reforms are on the horizon, but delays have hampered their implementation.
That being said, the popularity of poker demonstrates that there is a lot of love for skill-based games that also feature betting as a key component. If you are interested in getting into the poker scene in Ireland, there are lots of opportunities available, so here is a quick overview of this popular pastime in the modern era.
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The biggest event in the calendar of every Irish poker pro is of course the Irish Poker Open. It has been running for over 25 years and manages to attract big names from the international circuit, as well as appealing to local talent looking to make a name for themselves.
Interestingly enough the Irish Poker Open began life as a charity event, but in its modern guise offers guaranteed prize money of €1 million, with big name sponsors ensuring that there is plenty of coverage in the media. People from all over can tune into Sky Sports to see the final table and work out how the pros deal with a poker cooler; will they keep a level head or be lured into despair by a cruel twist of fate?
There are plenty of other tournaments aimed at pros as well as ambitious amateurs in Ireland, including the GG Poker Masters and the Norwegian Poker Championships, which in a counterintuitive twist is actually being hosted in Dublin.
In terms of the poker players from Ireland that have become globally renowned for their abilities, there are a number of big names to consider. Phil Laak holds bracelets from major US tours and continues to commentate on the sport since retiring. Roy Brindley is an Englishman who took up poker professionally following making a move to Ireland. Padraig Parkinson finished third in the World Series of Poker back in 1999 and made more than $1.6 million in his career.
If you want to play poker in a casino-style setting in Ireland, you will have to contend with the fact that such organisations are officially illegal. Recent efforts to introduce regulated super casinos fell flat, but there are still venues which effectively operate as casinos by exploiting a loophole or two in the decades-old regulations.
Dublin is unsurprisingly the main hotspot for these pseudo-casinos, although it is worth bearing in mind that to sidestep the restrictions that are in place, access is only available to members and so there is the need to sign up in order to play. Once you are on the books, you can take a seat at poker tables or try out a number of other popular games, including blackjack and roulette.
While Ireland’s land-based rules relating to gambling may be a little out of date, it has been quick to adopt the fast-growing market for online gambling and make sure that this is properly regulated and taxed. If you want to play poker online in Ireland, this is a perfectly legitimate option and there are literally hundreds of different sites which support live play against millions of other people from across the country and the world.
Many modern poker pros have honed their skills in the online space and managed to make it to the big leagues without setting foot in a casino. The accessibility and availability of web-powered poker sites is further fuelled by the fact that most top tier platforms can be played from mobile devices as well as desktop and laptop computers.
However you decide to get involved in Ireland’s poker scene, remember to always gamble only what you can afford to lose and look out for signs of problematic behaviour which should be a signal to take a step back.