If you are a mobile poker fan, then 2014 promises to be a boom year for the industry. With several key players in the poker market believed to be readying their own mobile poker app or service for release, the choice of mobile poker providers is increasing all the time.
However, your smartphone or tablet is capable of much more than simply being a device which facilitates you playing poker when out and about. Used correctly, and with the right apps and software downloaded onto it, your device can become a very powerful tool which can perform any number of key functions for a serious poker player.
So in this article, we are going to look at how you can set up your chosen device to give you the best poker experience possible and to do that, you are going to need a number of different apps.
In each of these sections, we’ll quickly review some of the best options available allowing you to make the most informed choice as to which app would suit you best.
The aim of this article is that all poker players, from the beginner through to a professional standard player, can get the apps they need on their device to facilitate better, more profitable, poker play via their mobile.
So to before we take a look at which apps we need, lets answer the first critical question, should you play via smartphone or tablet, and once you have made a decision, which devices best suit your needs?
Smartphone v tablet: which is the best option for mobile poker?
Of course, before we even consider the types of app you need on your device, we need to answer the simple question of which device is the best for the mobile poker player; the smartphone or the tablet?
In truth, there isn’t a simple answer to this question, both devices have their positive points and their negatives.
A phone, such as the iPhone 5S, or any Android-compatible smartphone such as the Samsung Galaxy range, offers greater portability than a tablet as it is smaller, easier to carry and fit in a pocket and also, it comes with 3G (or 4G) as standard, meaning you can get online anywhere that your phone has a signal.
The downside of the phone is that the screen on which you play is generally pretty small.
One of the most cited complaints reviewers have of poker apps is that it can be rather fiddly to use some of the features of the software (such as the bet slider bar, rather than the default bet buttons) on a device with a small screen.
Of course, if you have a tablet, then screen size is not an issue and certainly the bigger screen helps display the game more clearly and accessing these additional features is not a problem.
However, a larger screen means that the device isn’t quite as easy to carry about with you in your pocket (you may need a bag or carry case for an iPad) and there is also the fact that the basic tablet devices don’t come with a 3G or 4G connection as standard.
You can buy a tablet with 3G or 4G connections, but they tend to cost £100 (or thereabouts) – more than the WiFi only versions.
So both the smartphone and the tablet have their positive and negatives for the mobile poker player and in truth, the best device for you will be decided by how you are going to play poker on it.
If you are traveling around a lot and will be playing on-the-go, or when WiFi is not readily available, then a smartphone is clearly the way to go. If you will be playing more often when WiFi is available and you tend to be in one place, such as at home of an evening, or in a hotel room, then a tablet may be your better choice.
The good news is here that this isn’t a Hobson’s Choice – regardless of whether you opt to play on a smartphone or a tablet, you will find it a rewarding experience. Just how rewarding depends on a lot of factors, but a great place to start is by ‘kitting out’ your device with the right apps to enhance all aspects of your poker.
And in the next section, we’ll learn exactly which apps we need to do precisely that.
Which apps do you need to download onto your smartphone/tablet?
When you are getting your chosen mobile device set up as a mobile poker platform, it is obvious that you are going to require a mobile poker app. We will, in due course, take a look at which of these apps are worth considering for download.
However, what many poker players fail to realise is that their device can be a powerful tool for teaching, analysis, record keeping, statistics and much more.
When these apps are utilised effectively, your device becomes much more than simply an outlet to play poker: It becomes an invaluable tool for tracking your bankroll, analysing and improving your play, tracking your statistics and of course as a tool to teach you more advanced poker skills and techniques.
So before we examine which poker room apps to download, let’s take a look at other types of poker app which you should outfit your iPad with.
1. Hand recognition apps
As a beginner player, it can be somewhat confusing (not to mention, embarrassing and potentially costly) to play a hand to the showdown, reveal your cards and punch the air in celebration, only to find that your hand wasn’t actually the best at the table and that instead, another player is pocketing the pot.
Recognising what the top hand when the cards are shown is important and the quicker you can do this, the better and fortunately there is a brilliant app available that teaches beginner players precisely how to do this.
It’s called “Poker Skills –Best Hand” and it is available on the iPhone and iPad at present (though not Android) and it is free to download from the App Store.
The app comes in the form of a simple test where you are given a full set of five community cards, plus three pairs of pocket cards and in the quickest time, you must pick which of the three sets of pocket cards produces the best hand.
Answer 10 questions like this as quickly as possible to set the best time.
This is a simple, fun and somewhat addictive way to learn about recognising the best hands and by playing, you soon find that your ability to pick the best hands rapidly increases in speed.
2. Poker training / tutorial apps
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or even an accomplished poker player, there is always something more you can learn about the game and your smartphone or tablet can be a powerful tool in helping you further educate yourself about this fascinating game.
There are a lot of poker tutorial apps available on the market, with new apps being released frequently too. This situation is likely to continue as the mobile poker market continues to grow throughout 2014 and beyond.
Outlined below is one of the best tutorial apps that I would recommend.
This app takes you through a number of scenarios in the hands of real-life poker professionals and at each point in the betting, you are given a number of options of bets to make.
The better the option you pick, the more coins you receive as a reward and after you make your selection the app explains why this was a good, or poor, decision to make.
While the initial download of Insta Poker is free, you can buy optional add on packs of different aspects of the game, such as how to play small pairs, high stakes cash games, short stack strategies, winning at the final table and many more.
These packs can be bought individually, or as a large bundle of 23-hand packs for £39.99.
These may represent a superb investment for the solid poker player seeking the information required to take their game to the next level.
3. Poker income / bankroll tracking apps
As you develop as a poker player from a novice, into a stronger, more advanced player, then the importance of maintaining your bankroll and ensuring your poker income matches your expenditure (or ideally, exceeds it) is more relevant than ever.
Another free app Poker Income Ultimate, can perform this task for you admirably, although there is a Pro version also available for £6.99.
The beauty of this app is that what it lacks in graphic design, it makes up for in usability and data analysis. You can analyse your poker game in so many ways with this tool, even down to how much money you spend on tips and meals while playing.
As well as showing you your total profit and loss in poker, your $ per hour rate and the amount you typically win in a session on average, Poker Income Ultimate gives you even finer detail when you delve into the app further.
You can even see the days and times where you tend to play better, the types of game you are more and less profitable playing and how you perform in cash games against tournaments.
Tracking your stats is a vital skill for top quality poker players and this app is a great starting point for those seeking to get more data and information about their poker play and income.
4. Poker odds calculator / strategy apps
If you play in some of the online poker rooms like Bet365 Poker, then you will have come across software like PokerPal. This is software which sits on your PC and analyses your hand when you are playing poker and gives you all the odds and statistics about your hand.
For a beginner, this type of software is a real boon as it provides you with the information that top players have at their recall, which you usually take many months or even years to develop.
Playing via a mobile app however, software like PokerPal is not yet compliant with mobile devices (though this may change in the future), so for the time being if you want this type of software to help you when you are playing in a mobile poker tournament or cash game, you need to find another alternative.
A great app for this purpose is PokerCruncher, which is available for iPad, iPhone and Android devices from around £3.99.
This is a good example of when the software can be quite troublesome to use on a smaller device as some of the features are relatively small and the display does have a lot to it, so it is much better viewed on an iPad or other tablet.
This is an excellent app for learning about calculating poker odds, the number of outs, hand ranges and much more and is best suited to beginner players who have a good understanding of the basics and want to improve their skills still further.
There are many other poker apps you can download if you so desire, including timer apps (ideal if you are having a timed game at home around the table), free poker apps (which are useful for non-cash play but where the actual experience is somewhat unlike playing for real cash) as well as other utilities.
What you need is really up to you and what you feel is needed to give you the most help with your poker game.
It should also pay dividends to keep track of what apps are released across 2014, as it promises to be a big year for mobile poker in general, with some big names and big apps set to hit the market.
So now your smartphone or iPad has the right tools you need to improve yourself as a poker star, we can look at the best poker rooms to play at.
Although you don’t have as much choice as a mobile player compared to playing online via a PC, there are still several great options to pick from.
Which poker apps should you download to play?
Which poker app is best for you depends very much on your preferred type of poker game (cash tables or tournaments), your ability level and available bankroll.
Here are our suggestions for beginner players, cash table fans, poker fans looking for something a little different and lastly, experienced higher stakes players.
1. Beginner players – a great app to download is 888Poker
If you are a novice player then you want a poker room that offers you a choice of different games to play (cash table, Sit & Go and tournaments) and a decent introductory offer with some free cash to play with on site.
In this respect 888Poker is without doubt your best choice at present.
There’s a wealth of different poker options available on the app including cash games, speed poker, Sit & Go tournaments and multi table tournaments, with enough of a range of buy ins and stakes to cater for those who want to play for Microstakes, up to those who want to wager considerably more.
Their introductory offer for new players sees you given $20 worth of tournament tokens no deposit required, plus a sign up bonus when you do make your first deposit.
Best of all, the level of play at the tables is variable and by targeting specific games and tables, beginners can experience a few wins relatively quickly after sitting down at the table, which is always a positive for a new player.
Given the total package, 888Poker is certainly an app for poker beginners to consider, and may well be a good option for more experienced players too.
Sign up today and you can get an 888Poker no deposit bonus code and get £12/$8 without putting up any cash of your own.
2. Cash table fans – a great app to download is Bet365 Poker
If you are a poker purist who eschews the tournament tables and Sit & Go games, for the thrill of cash table gaming alone, then the good news is that you have more options available via mobile than fans of either of the other forms of poker game.
What is particularly good about the Bet365 Poker app is that for cash table fans, it is essentially as simple as it gets to load up and play.
There are a choice of cash table games, a traditional version and a speed poker version, simply select which one you want to play, the desired stakes you want to play for and then the software will find you an available seat.
Alternatively, you can sort through a list of available tables and take a seat at whichever one has an available seat at the stakes you want to play at.
Bet365 Poker also offers access to its Premium Tables, which is a real boon for those who want to earn as many Merit Points as quickly as possible on their Bet365 account, chiefly because you earn merit points twice as fast on the Premium Tables as you do the standard ones.
With $5 for simply registering, plus up to a $1,000 new player bonus, there is also the chance to realise a hefty player bonus depending on how much you deposit.
Bet365 Poker doesn’t offer tournaments or Sit & Go games at present, but for cash games for players of all abilities, it is certainly worth a look.
For those looking to shake things up, new signups to the room are eligible to cash in on a Bet365 2014 poker bonus code, no deposit required.
3. Poker fans looking for something a little different – a great app to download is PKR3D
For a real change to the usual 2D poker table presentation, players can download the PKR3D app.
While the menu driven system is typical of all other apps, once the poker table loads up it is a different story with a 3D representation of the table and the players.
You can even get your virtual self to perform a number of tricks with the chips while waiting, as well as interact with players in a number of ways.
When you go all in, your player stands and when they fold out of a hand they sit back in the chair. If a player is taking too long, you can yawn and when you win a game, you get a tickertape celebration and a nice mock up newspaper front page email celebrating the fact.
If you are looking for an app that does mobile poker slightly differently to the norm, then PKR3D is well worth downloading for the 3D experience alone.
The app is probably best suited to beginner to intermediate players given the options available.
4. Experienced higher stakes players – a great app to download is PokerStars
Lastly, for the biggest and best mobile poker experience with a host of cash table games, Sit & Go events, speed poker and massive multi player tournaments, ranging from micro stakes games, up to those for the serious high rollers, then the PokerStars app is quite simply a must have download for your tablet or smartphone.
It isn’t the easiest to navigate if you are a total novice and as such, I’d recommend that only players who have used other apps and have a bit of mobile poker experience use the app, chiefly because there are so many options and the standard of play on the site is generally much higher than on other mobile poker apps.
However, what you get is a site that offers a virtually limitless poker experience from freeroll and micro stakes games of all types, up to games for the top poker professionals costing thousands, if not more, to buy into.
So with all these apps on your smartphone and tablet, you are now ready to enjoy the full mobile poker experience. Let’s hope the time you spend playing online via your mobile device proves as profitable as it will enjoyable.