What are the best iPhone / iPad apps for poker?
Poker has come a long way since the early days of Windows-only downloads. You can now enjoy browser-based games and even find dedicated apps for poker on iPhones and iPads. These are reserved for the biggest international brands – which have the development teams and number of players using Apple devices to make this worthwhile.
This page covers all you need to know to play poker for real money on devices running oSX. Here is what you will find:
Many of the earliest browser-based online poker games used Adobe Flash as the base software. While this has come a long way since the earliest, laggy versions – it is still not compatible with Apple devices. This was a deliberate choice by the late Steve Jobs.
Fortunately, the best iPhone online poker sites have evolved. Many now use a mix of Java code and HTML5 to power their instant-play functionality. If you prefer an old Flash site, then you also have the option of installing the Chrome browser on your iPhone – along with a plugin to enable Flash.
Some of the earlier iPhone models are no longer capable of handling the poker room apps or instant play. If you have anything earlier than a 5S, then you will almost certainly need a hardware upgrade before you play poker for real money.
Today’s real money poker environment is very much optimised for desktops (preferably with multiple monitors). Multi-tabling, software tools and note taking all need space. When it comes to mobile poker – there are many options – the big question is whether poker is suited to this format.
Where poker sites have downloadable apps, I’d recommend you take it. This is a much better overall experience, and in the case of PokerStars, will allow you to multi-table. The big advantage is that you download the graphics and animations onto your phone – so you don’t need to initialize these from the network each time you play.
Apps usually come direct from the poker site’s website – rather than via the app store. If you go to the site with your iPhone or iPad, you’ll be directed to download (where available).
Unfortunately, apps are the exception and not the rule. Many more poker sites (including the big offshore US brands) use instant play and do not have apps at all. Most smaller rooms can’t justify the expense, and others believe that the browser-based gaming is sufficient. While this may be true in some cases, I feel there is a lot of work to be done before many smaller sites are truly compatible with mobile Apple devices.
There are not too many choices, and no download apps for iPhones or iPads. You will find games to enjoy in your browser. I see these are extensions of the main sites to enjoy while you are on the move – and not replacements for the old download clients.
BetOnline.ag / Sportsbetting Poker: These sites have an instant play client which works for Apple devices. You can get started by scanning a QR code on the main ‘mobile poker’ page. This will give you a choice of the (cash game heavy) game selection at these sites. While up to 4 tables can be played at once, this software may not be stable enough (yet) to cope with multi-tabling.
Bovada: Bovada also offer an instant play client which will work on iPhones (4 and up) and compatible iPads. This will allow you to reach the ‘Zone Poker’ games, which is the biggest US fast-fold poker format – or the regular cash game tables. Tournaments are not available via Instant Play at Bovada.
When you check out the biggest sites, you’ll find apps as well as instant play clients that work with Apple devices. Only the top brands have apps. You will find these for PokerStars, 888 Poker and Bet365. All require download and installation – and will let you reach a lot of different game formats – multi-tabling up to 4 tables in the case of PokerStars or Bet365.
As with the US sites, Instant-play clients have their limitations for iPhone and iPad users. You’ll find these work (using HTML5 instead of Flash). At the same time the play can involve lags, and multi-tabling is difficult.
At the moment, only one poker brand – 888 Poker – accept Apple Pay for deposits. This makes the process of installing the app and depositing to play for real money completely within the Apple infrastructure. At the time of writing this option is only available in selected countries. I hope to see more sites (especially those which have already developed iPhone apps) to join this list in the near future.
While we wait for Apple Pay to take off as a mainstream poker deposit option, there are plenty of established options. The biggest factor in what is available to you is your location. US players are restricted by laws covering banking transactions with offshore poker rooms – and Canadians are affected by these laws too. Outside of the US, things are very easy – it is more a case of which deposit and withdrawal methods suit you the best here.
As you will see above, International players currently have a lot bigger choice of poker sites to enjoy on iPhones and iPads. The biggest brands are the place to head for downloadable apps with full functionality.
At the moment the offshore US sites have instant-play options, which will work on your Apple devices. These are limited in game selection, and in the ability to effectively multi-table. The best of these is the Bovada instant-play option – which features their speedy ‘Zone Poker’ game.
Watch this space – I hope to be bringing US readers news on new iPhone / iPad poker developments in the not too distant future.