When you play poker via a tablet or smartphone, there are some additional considerations you need to think about, in addition to the usual strategies you’d employ to play poker via a PC or in the real world.
Although the game may be the same, playing via a mobile device presents you with a number of other issues which can impinge on how successful you are at the table.
Given that the mobile poker industry is still in its infancy, but growing at a very quick rate, it is not always easy to find some useful guides, hints and tips on how to play. This is because the experts are also still learning about the many positive and relatively few negative aspects about playing poker in this way.
So with that in mind, if you are a confirmed poker player who plays at home with family and friends, in the local casino or plays regularly online via your desktop PC, what are some of the big advantages and disadvantages to playing mobile poker and what tips can we give you to enjoy playing this way more profitably?
Outlined below are ten simple and easy to follow tips that can help you enjoy playing mobile poker safely and securely from your chosen device and indeed, which device you choose to play on is the first key tip you need to follow.
Obviously, this depends on how much of a keen poker player you are as we are not advocating that you change your current mobile device for a new one simply to play mobile poker. However, if you are going to play the game regularly on a mobile device, you’ll want to do so using the device best suited to how you play.
For example, if your intentions are to play mobile poker when travelling, on the move and chiefly through a 3G or 4G connection, or a free or paid WiFi service (such as at a restaurant or hotel) then the mobility of your device should be a primary factor. As such, you may find a smartphone, such as the iPhone 5 range or the Samsung Galaxy range, offer the best option.
Another option is a mini-tablet, such as the iPad Mini, but remember if you are travelling considerably, then you would likely require the 3G enhanced version of any tablet device as otherwise you are restricted to WiFi play.
Alternatively, if you are likely to play at home of an evening while sat in the living room, or usually in a hotel after work over a WiFi connection or perhaps during a lunch hour at work over the office WiFi, then you may find that functionality rather than portability is a key factor.
As such, a tablet PC, such as an iPad, would prove a wiser investment.
The reason for this is that the larger screen makes accessing the mobile poker apps much easier and of course, on a bigger screen, the animations are much bigger and clearer.
Also if you are only going to play via WiFi, then you don’t need to invest in the 3G compatible versions of the hardware, which saves you around £100 on the device cost.
The good news is, playing mobile poker on your tablet or smartphone is quick and easy and if you are not in the position where you are looking to buy a device to play mobile poker, you still have plenty of choice. It is not that playing on a tablet if you are travelling is impossible, or playing on a smartphone is too difficult due to the smaller screen, it is simply that each type of device offers the better experience in different conditions.
One of the key issues for mobile players when it comes to playing any form of game online that may require a financial transfer, or indeed if they are shopping for any item using WiFi, is security. While connections such as your home WiFi and your 3G or 4G connection are secure, many places are now offering ‘Free WiFi’ to their guests.
This is particularly prevalent in workspaces, restaurants, coffee shops and even nowadays in town and city centres.
In one respect, this is great as it gives you a chance to play using the more stable WiFi platform, but an open WiFi network means that you cannot be sure who is ‘listening in’ to what you are doing.
Any other person with access to the same free WiFi service, if they have the ability and software, can ‘listen in’ on any transmission you make, including a payment to a poker company. This then means your credit card details, pin number and security number are in the hands of a fraudster.
Many of the top Internet security companies now strongly advise against making payments using these open WiFi networks and strongly suggest that you only make payments over secured WiFi or using 3G or 4G.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you cannot play mobile poker on these open connections, just that you should not deposit money into your account, withdraw it to your account or indeed perform any other form of transaction – financial or not - that would involve the transmission of sensitive data
One of the best things about mobile poker is that you can literally play anywhere, but this is also one of its biggest drawbacks.
For example, if you are a cash table fan and love the long, slow sessions against other grinders, eking out cash from others at the table slowly, then you are barely going to have time for 2 or 3 hands when you only have a 10 minute lunch break at work.
Similarly, if you are at home watching the children and likely to be distracted, you don’t want to be betting large sums in a ring game, or entering a big money tournament for a hefty chunk of your bankroll, if your attention is going to be drawn by squabbling children, Aunt Gladys calling your home phone or the smoke alarm going off because you have burnt tea.
Fortunately, the best mobile poker apps offer a range of games that are ideally suited to players who want to, or can only play for a few minutes, right up to those who want to settle in with their iPad for several hours of grinding at the tables of an evening.
So if you are pushed for time, select a game like Speed Poker (it comes under many other names too) which is a high-speed variant of Texas Hold’em and allows players to fold hands quickly and then be immediately dealt in to a new hand, rather than waiting to see the resolution of the hand they were playing.
This is an ideal form of poker for players who have limited time or who want to play a lot of hands in a short space of time. It may not be the purest form of poker, but it is a great way to play lots of hands in a relatively short space of time (and it is growing in popularity for precisely these reasons).
One room offering this style of poker is Full Tilt Poker. They give you a great incentive to try it out, considering new signups can cash in on a Full Tilt Poker free poker money package - no deposit required.
If you are likely to be distracted, then avoid the higher stakes games and tournaments and instead stick to the microstakes games and lower stakes tournaments. Then if you are distracted and because of it end up losing, you won’t lose anywhere near as much as if you were in a big money games.
Alternatively, if you do have time to play and can focus, then by all means, play up to your most comfortable levels, according to your bankroll limitations. Mobile devices are perfect tools for enjoying the higher stakes games, just as much as the micro stakes.
If you travel long distance, such as on airplanes or trains for example, then enjoying mobile poker is a great way to pass the time. It is likely that you’ll have to play your games using 3G or 4G rather than WiFi in this situation and as such, you need to be careful.
The problem you may have when playing over a satellite connection is that occasionally while travelling, you may hit a black spot where your signal cuts out. At best this is mildly annoying, but if you have a fantastic hand and are about to make a big call for big money, when your signal cuts out, by the time you’ve logged back in, you won’t be pleased to find that in your absence the software automatically folded your hand as you were unable to bet.
Once again, a small dose of common sense here makes this easily avoidable. When travelling, stick to free play games or microstakes games, so that if your connection does cut out for any time, then any potential losses you incur won’t be huge.
You’ll still pass the time playing great mobile poker and you won’t endure the frustration of having a big win snatched from you by your signal dropping out at the last minute.
If you are going to be using your smartphone or 3G or 4G enabled tablet to play mobile poker then it is very important that you understand that if you go over your allotted monthly allowance, or download a large amount of data, then you may be subject to additional charges.
This is particularly pertinent for mobile poker players who may be travelling across national boundaries where they may be charged significantly higher fees for connections in foreign countries. In this scenario, even just a few games of mobile poker can quickly run up heavy costs on the wrong type of smartphone or tablet tariff.
As a precaution, contact your network provider and check carefully for roaming charges or other costs which may be incurred when playing mobile poker. You may find that changing to a different tariff could save you a great deal of money and allows you to play mobile poker without running up a large monthly mobile bill.
We’ve touched upon this briefly under point 3, but it is important to note that distractions can come in many forms and with mobile poker, you are more likely to encounter many different types of distraction compared to being sat at home on your desktop.
A poker player who isn’t fully focused on their game is a weaker player than one who is and as such, if you are going to play using a mobile device, then you need to try and limit distractions. In the real world however, this can be very difficult, if not impossible to do.
So think carefully about which games you want to play.
Why spend $5 entering a MTT, when you only have an hour for lunch and if you progress in the tournament, you won’t be able to complete it because you’ll have to go back to work? Can you really play poker seriously, while eating lunch with several colleagues and joining in with their banter, or while you are waiting for an important call which could come at any time?
In situations like this, if you do want to play anyway, then always play for smaller stakes. It is very easy to lose when playing Texas Hold’em when you are 100% focused, it is therefore highly likely you’ll lose money if you are not 100% focused on what is happening at the table.
Keep stakes low and you’ll limit your losses while you are being distracted.
There are an increasing number of poker apps available now for mobile devices and it is fair to say that they are a mixed bag.
Some of them (such as Party Poker, Full Tilt Rush Poker and Bet365 Poker) only focus on cash table games and/or speed poker, with no options for Sit & Go games, or Multi Table Tournaments.
Other apps, such as 888 Poker and PokerStars, do offer a wider range of different poker games (including cash tables, speed poker, MTTs and Sit & Go events). You can even download an app like PKR3D, which offers players a more graphically intensive and immersive poker experience, rather than a simple 2D depiction of the cards.
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What the right app is for you depends very much on what type of poker you enjoy playing.
If you are a cash table grinder, then you tend to have the biggest choice of apps at present as most apps offer cash table play. There’s less choice if you enjoy MTTs or Sit & Go games, but there are an increasing number of apps that do so (and more slated for release in 2014).
However, before you register with a site and download the app, it is always a good idea to check what new player bonus you are eligible for. Most of the best poker sites offer bonuses of free cash and entry into freeroll tournaments with cash prizes as an incentive to join.
So, double check what the requirements are for you to qualify for this when you sign up. This is important as not all sites automatically award these to new players. Some require that you enter a promotional code when you join up or another similar process to access the offer.
It is well worth doing this as you can boost your initial bankroll considerably by taking full advantage of a top quality mobile poker bonus for new players.
Another room renown for great bonus offers is Bet365 Poker. We are excited to feature a Bet365 Poker UK bonus offer - just follow the link to claim it.
It is also worth remembering that even if you only use your smartphone or tablet to play mobile poker while you are out and about, then there is always the very real risk of either losing, misplacing or having your device stolen.
Unfortunately, seeing as these items are often expensive and highly desirable, it is tempting for opportunistic thieves to try and get their hands on your item.
While your iPad is relatively secure in terms of viruses thanks to the four digit passcode encrypting your sensitive data, for the theif with the right software, cracking this code is relatively easy and then they have access to your device and the data on it.
You can increase the strength of the passcode by changing it to a longer passcode in settings, you can also set the retry time to 15 minutes, meaning that if you enter the wrong passcode, you must wait 15 minutes to re-enter it.
There are also apps which allow you to remotely wipe sensitive details from your device, and even track its location. Indeed several stolen devices have successfully been tracked down using apps such as Find my iPad/iPhone or similar.
However, the best defence against loss or theft is firstly, to have your item insured (if it is not already insured under your home contents insurance) and then to always keep it with you when travelling, never leave it out of sight and keep it close to you in a protected bag, or closed inside pocket.
One of the best things about mobile poker is the sheer number of different apps available. Although many are simply versions of free to play poker, or video poker, there are an increasing number of very useful apps for the budding poker player.
There are now apps that can teach players how to speed up their hand recognition, how to manage their bankroll effectively and analyse the statistics to show where they are winning their money and where they are losing it.
There are a large number of highly impressive poker tuition apps, often promoted by some of the world’s biggest poker stars, such as Phil Ivey, which can take players beyond the basics of the game and into the complex strategy of top poker tour professionals.
By using apps such as these, alongside the experience you gain playing mobile poker, you can make quick and often drastic improvements to your poker game.
What is nice about some of the top tuition apps, such as Insta Poker, is that rather than simply be told what you should do, you learn by playing through a real professionals hand, who will then explain why the decisions you made were good, or bad.
Using these apps is a great way to inform and improve your game, as well as monitoring your statistics so you can keep track of your bankroll and get an accurate overview of just how good a poker player you are.
It is also important to remember that this article has been written at a time when mobile poker is still fast emerging as an industry and that what is available at present, is likely to be dwarfed by the amount of apps available in 12 or 24 months time.
There are a number of big developments planned for 2014, including imminent releases of mobile poker apps by a host of top providers across the UK and beyond. It also seems certain that some of the apps currently available, will undergo a radical overhaul and redesign to include many other additional features.
Of course, this will also mean that there will be an increasing number of poker related apps available for players to download and use alongside the apps that facilitate their real cash play.
The final tip therefore is for mobile pokers to keep their eyes open for any new mobile poker downloads.
Not only are they likely to be improved over the older software used by companies, but they may also come with new player offers and other attractive enticements to get you to sign up and play.
This means that you’ll get more for your money and will play on a better, more stable app which is likely to have more choice than many of the apps currently available on the market.
Mobile poker is a fast emerging market, so keep tabs on the latest releases regularly to ensure you are getting the game you want, at a price you can afford.