Ireland - Where the Europeans' love of Hold'em began!
It's a truism to say that the Irish love a bit of a flutter. There is the saying "the luck of the Irish" after all, and if you've seen the movie "Waking Ned" you'll know how excited the Irish can get about potentially landing a fortune on the lottery.
Poker is just as popular in Ireland as it is in the rest of the world, but players all over Europe have to say a special thank-you to Ireland for the current popularity of games such as Texas Hold'em and Omaha, as it was an Irish poker player who first brought these variants of poker over to Europe.
This poker player was the legendary Terry Rogers. Nicknamed "Red Menace" because of his bright red hair, Rogers was an Irish bookmaker and poker fan who would regularly jet over to the United States in the 1970s to watch the World Series of Poker. It was whilst over there he discovered Texas Hold'em and Omaha, two poker variants that were virtually unheard of in Europe.
When back home in Ireland Rogers formed "The Eccentrics Club" and made moves to hold the first Irish Poker Open, way back in 1980. This tournament - still held today and sponsored by Paddy Power, a member of the iPoker network just like sites such as William Hill, Titan Poker and Bet365 - is now the longest-running tournament in Europe and the second-longest running in the whole world, after the WSOP. It's also Europe's largest tournament and is run annually over the Easter weekend each year.
Of course, if you are based in Ireland and want to play poker, you don't have to wait for Easter each year to enjoy a few hands. There are plenty of online poker rooms that accept Irish players, and here I list a few of the very best:
William Hill Poker
Full Flush Poker
Very sadly, Terry "Red Menace" Rogers passed away in 1999, but the Irish and European poker worlds will always remember the man who was largely responsible for starting the growth in the interest of poker, and in particular Hold'em and Omaha, outside of the United States in the late 1980s.
Rogers is not the only Irish poker player who has had world-wide success. Noel Furlong is one of the few non-United States players to have won the WSOP main event, as he did in 1999. Noel has also won the Irish Poker title twice, in 1987 and 1989. Football fans will recognise the name of Tony Cascarino, winner of nearly 90 caps for the Irish International Football side (even though it was later revealed that it was questionable as to whether he actually qualified to play for Ireland), and who became a semi-professional poker player after he had retired from sport.
It's perhaps nice to know, if you're an Irish-based player, that every time you sit down at a poker table - online or real-world - that you're playing slight homage to the late, great Terry Rogers. I hope that "the luck of the Irish" is with you and you're soon amassing heaps and heaps of top-end poker chips!