Stop hanging around and play some cards on your iPhone

Nov 4, 2011
Card

There was a time I wanted to be Mike McDermott from the movie Rounders. Check out this clip to see what I mean. Coincidentally, it was also around the time references to that movie were new and interesting. But anyway, I’m not that good at math and occasionally lack the patience to play certain hands properly, so this […]

There was a time I wanted to be Mike McDermott from the movie Rounders. Check out this clip to see what I mean. Coincidentally, it was also around the time references to that movie were new and interesting. But anyway, I’m not that good at math and occasionally lack the patience to play certain hands properly, so this life of fictional poker dominance was never in the cards for me, so to speak.

That didn’t stop me from hanging around sites like PokerStars and local casinos dropping $20 here and there just for the thrill of it. It was fun to play cards with other guys and feel the hair stand up on the back of your neck as that last card dealt could save you and your bank roll. I told you I wasn’t very good.

Since the online poker world went bust, I’ve been playing a lot less. But it hadn’t really occurred to me until recently that the iPhone might be an interesting place to find a card game. For all the fun that playing a live poker game is, I’ll take the option where pants are optional every time. But a quick survey of the poker app landscape reveals quite a wide selection.

I may hate their annoying Facebook games but Poker by Zynga (free) might be the best available option for mobile players. You can sit in at a table and waste your battery away, or play quick sit-n-go tournaments that will be familiar to anyone who ever haunted PokerStars not so long ago.

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If you like the feel of Poker by Zynga but want something a little less Zynga, Poker by PlayPhone, also free, works well. It looks a lot like Poker by Zynga but the camera feels slightly pulled back in Poker by PlayPhone. It doesn’t really make a difference one way or another, but given that these two games are free, it probably won’t hurt to try them both and see which you like better.

While those apps and others make up the more standard fare, there’s quite a few poker apps that operate on a whole other wavelength. Poker Pals ($0.99) may have the suites and numbers you’re familiar with in a deck of cards, but the game is anything but.

Related iPad App List: Poker Apps For iPad

Instead, Poker Pals plays more like Scrabble than a game of Texas Hold ‘Em. Players create the best hands they can via a grid system filled with enough cards to make even the most casual of sharks a bit uncomfortable. Anyone seeking a traditional poker game should look elsewhere.

For something else a bit different, there’s Pai Gow Poker ($1.99). I’ve seen this at casinos numerous times but it never seems like a wise idea to bet money on a game you don’t really understand, which means I’ve never actually bothered to figure out the rules. If you’ve been through the same experience as I have, this would make a decent teaching app. After all, losing $2 to Apple is tremendously preferable to losing lord knows how much to a casino dealer.

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I’m sure that one day the laws that are currently holding down the online poker game in the U.S. will be lifted, and a sense of normalcy will be returned to degenerates like myself everywhere. But until that time, don’t forget that the iPhone in your hand could just as easy be holding a straight flush of poker apps.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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