Quick Guide to Poker on the iPhone

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03 September 2009, Created By: Sean Lind
Quick Guide to Poker on the iPhone

Update - it's here!! Check out our updated list of the best iPhone poker sites online!

Every iPhone-wielding poker player wants to know the same thing: How can I use my iPhone to play poker?

As most poker-playing iPhiles already know, Apple will not approve any application which can be used for "gambling."

For this reason, no poker sites have written native iPhone poker software. But that doesn't mean people aren't trying to find a way to work around the problem.

In-Browser Poker Rooms

Lots of poker sites offer full-featured play from inside a standard web-browser. Since the iPhone comes equipped with Safari, you might be thinking that you're home free.

Unfortunately, it's not quite that simple.

Almost all online poker rooms who offer in-browser play use Adobe Flash as their framework. This means to use the rooms, you need to have a browser that supports Flash (and has it installed).

At this time the iPhone doesn't have full Flash support, meaning the rooms do not work.

iphone fakestars

Adobe has said Flash would be coming soon to the iPhone, but there have been no official developments past that statement. Here's hoping it will come with an upcoming Firmware.

One site, Absolute Poker, offered a Java based in-browser room. Unfortunately, Absolute Poker doesn't exist anymore and iPhone Safari doesn't really handle Java either.

You can install Java on your iPhone, but as far as I know (and I'm a pretty big geek), full-functioning Java support is not possible from the iPhone Safari at this time.

The Other Option

The other working option I've come across isn't really an iPhone solution at all. In theory you can use a remote-viewer app such as LogMeIn or iTap to remotely connect to your home computer.

While in theory any VNC viewer app should work, such as Mocha, I found Mocha to be too laggy and slow to be practical.

Using your iPhone as a controller you can command full functionality of your personal computer, including playing poker using the native poker software you already have installed.

Although I have successfully gotten this to work, I've found using anything but iTap or LogMeIn is far too laggy to be practical. As LogMeIn costs $30, I'd recommend iTap at $15 as the better choice.

In short, other than this one pseudo-option (which isn't 100% reliable for real-money play), there's no way to play real poker on an iPhone at this time.

If you would rather play free-money poker on a legitimate iPhone app, there are a bunch of choices for you.

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Official iPhone Poker Applications that Don't Suck

 

Zynga Live Poker (free)

iphone zynga

Hands down this is the best poker app available from the app store. Best of all it's free, connects to your Facebook or MySpace account and pits you against live players.

On the downside, you're only playing for fake chips and bragging rights.

Software is decent, but I'd rather lose some of the pretty graphics and speed up the game play, as each hand takes forever to play out.

This program is available in many different versions. Basically if you pay for it, you get a lot of free chips and the ability to play tournaments.  If that doesn't matter to you, stick to the free version.

Rating: As close as you can get to playing for real.

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MegaPoker Online (free)

iphone megapoker

This is very similar to Zynga.

Since this is the direct competition for Zynga, it only makes sense to closely compare the two apps.

When it comes down the details, MegaPoker Online has fewer players and not as slick of an interface.

Rating: Would be great if Zynga didn't exist.

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iphone timer

 

Tim's Tourney Timer ($1.99)

This app does exactly what you'd want a tourney timer to do.

Blinds and structures are customizable, and the timer runs even if you use other apps on the phone.

Unfortunately the timer alarm won't sound unless the app is actually on the screen.

But hey, at least you don't lose the timer because someone phones you.

Rating: Absolutely worth it for anyone running a simple home poker game.

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Poker Income ($1.99)

This poker stat-tracking app includes a timer for live games, customizable interface, reports and comparisons, and full backup/export capabilities.

There are a couple more apps out there that do this (such as the Hot Poker Log ... no I didn't make that name up) but this one does it the best.

Rating: Beats the crap out of carrying a notebook and a pen.

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HeadsupFree (free)

This app is kind of cool. The only problem is you can't play it unless you have another person in the room with an iPhone (or Touch) with the program on the same wireless network.

But since the program is free, I'm not complaining.

Rating: If you have poker friends with iPhones, try it out.

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Official iPhone Poker Applications that Suck

Poker Superstars III ($0.99)

iPhone superstars

 

 

Don't waste your money. This game is clearly for non-poker players who like to watch the shows on TV.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Rating: Lame balls.

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Imagine Poker ($2.99)

iphone imagine

 

Have you ever wanted to pretend you're Napoleon and play against famous people such as the Mona Lisa and Blackbeard?

I know I haven't.

Rating: Barely fit for gambling toddlers.

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BikiniPokerFree (free)

iphone bikini

It's video strip poker, only the girls are cartoon and don't get naked. As lame as it is to play video poker simply to see a cartoon girl in a bikini, I still played it for 15 min.

Rating: Maybe if the girls took all their gear off it wouldn't be a complete waste of time.

Actually, no. It would still be a waste of time.

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There are countless other poker apps available in the app store. Other than the ones I've listed here, I haven't come across one that seems worthwhile to even try out.

If I'm wrong and there's a great app I've missed, let me know in the comments.

For now, keep your fingers crossed (or send an email or two to Adobe) that Flash for the iPhone will be released shortly.

 

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