When we think of pivotal locations in the making of modern-day poker, we think of Western saloons and more recently, the neon-emblazoned casinos of Vegas. The high-rolling, thrill-seeking game of Texas Hold’Em is irrevocably linked to America. Little do most people know that poker owes an integral part of its legacy to a more humble, and significantly smaller, country in the Irish Sea.
Texas Hold’em Gets its Start in….Dublin
In the early 80s, Texas Hold’Em was largely unknown across Europe except in Dublin, where a man by the name of Terry Rogers founded the continent’s first – and now longest-running – Texas Hold’Em tournament, the Irish Open. Rogers was a well-known bookmaker who’d been heavily involved in Irish horse-racing throughout the 60s. He’d been to Vegas, befriended Binion, liked what he saw – and wanted to bring it all back home with him. So he did. Quite literally.
The year was 1983. Eurythmics had just released ‘Sweet Dreams’, and Daniel Negreanu was celebrating his ninth birthday. The wee lad was old enough to watch last year’s ‘E.T.’, but definitely not old enough for the newly released ‘Scarface’. In England, Thatcher secures a second term through a landslide election, whilst Scots debate the latest sighting of the Loch Ness Monster. Across the sea, Ireland was making poker history thanks to an impressive guest list composed by Rogers.
The bookmaker legend invited a number of poker pros who had caught his attention from his journeys in the USA; Stu Ungar, Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, Tom McEvoy and Puggy Pearson being amongst those who agreed to give Dublin a visit. What followed next was a shambles of missing passports, drunken tournament directors, stolen money, cultural misunderstandings, great craic and one of history’s most iconic poker games.
Watch the short PokerListings documentary for the story of how one hilariously disorganised poker club produced five Main Event finalists, and how one eccentric man’s dream turned Dublin into the poker capital it is today.