Online poker is something of a mystery to me. Having never been a huge gambler - my staple being a flutter on the horses - I've never been tempted by the idea of playing poker against some faceless keyboard warriors.
Admittedly, this blinkered view is probably skewed by my experiences of 'face-to-face' poker being very costly ones - and also my limited knowledge of the said online pursuit.
My first real experience of this phenomenon was over a regular Sunday lunchtime chat - accompanied by a pint - with a team-mate following our Sunday morning football matches. So blown away was he by this 'new' craze (you can tell this was a few years ago) that he would happily talk at great, and far too detailed, length about its 'addictive' qualities.
I must confess to the 'a' word ringing a few alarm bells - poker being the ultimate form of gambling - but I've spoken to him on numerous occasions since our football playing days ended, and not once has he mentioned The Priory. I'm therefore assuming that all is good, particularly given he no longer mentions online poker... or is that because he daren't mention it... or he can't mention it?!
Perhaps I'm thinking too much...
In recent years - with my football career long since consigned to the history books - online casinos have fallen off my radar somewhat, albeit one can never be totally unaware given the plethora of advertising - online, TV and traditional - and spam mail.
Only relatively recently has online poker returned to me as a faint bleep, and was due to a pure chance encounter with a documentary on an obscure satellite channel. So obscure I can't even tell you which channel it was - but what I can say for certain is that I happened upon it due to a desire to steer clear of soaps and 'reality' TV.
The programme was made in the US and was focussed on individuals who make a living by playing online poker. Now I confess right now to being a tad wet behind the ears - and apologies to those who are already au fait with these things - but the numbers being discussed were astronomical.
I was already aware that traditional poker was played by professionals - there are Poker World Tours for heaven's sake - but for a bloke to earn something akin to $4 million for a few hours play was almost too much for my small brain to process. Apparently the nasty old US government have temporarily put the kibosh on online poker my shutting down their major online sites, albeit they expect these laws soon to be amended to permit it to be played 'within regulated jurisdiction'.
Either way - and whichever way you look at it - it's massive business. A trawl through www.cardschat.com gives one an idea of exactly HOW big this business is. One of the leading online poker forums, it provides links and discussion pieces on all variants of the game - useful for a numpty like me who has taken fifteen years to catch on!
If only I'd heard of www.cardschat.com back in my footballing days... just think of the earache it would have saved me!