Once upon a time, having a quick internet access from your computer was a dream come true. People asked for nothing more than a reliable, stable, and relatively fast internet connection from their homes. But, in technology, things change fast.
Nowadays, having fast internet on your PC or Mac is taken for granted in developed countries. What people want now is to have optimized access to their favorite online places from their mobile devices.
In an age where we spend several hours a day on our phones this is only natural. Most site and software developers came to understand this in the mid-to-late 2000s as the iPhone spawned a sea of smartphone copycats landed in the hands of the masses.
Online Poker Late to the Party
Online poker became a huge hit in the mid-2000s after Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event. The unknown accountant took home $2.5 million after earning his seat in the $10,000 buy-in tournament via a $50 online satellite on the PokerStars online poker site. People around the world took it to the virtual felt, thinking they could be next.
This created a huge surge in the interest for online poker and player traffic at several big-name sites increased dramatically. Everyone wanted to play poker online – and revenues went through the roof.
Sites had to catch up with player demand
Over the years, however, people started to ask for more. Like with any other online activity, more and more players wanted to have access to their favorite pastime from their tablets and cellphones.
This was particularly true for casual players, who make up the majority of customers at most online poker sites. They wanted to be able to fire up a cash game table or a tournament anytime anywhere.
Lagging behind other industries
The response from online poker sites was surprisingly slow and quite often inadequate. While other developers competed to deliver the best mobile apps they could come up with in their respective niches, developer teams behind online poker rooms seemed dormant.
Only in the past few years has there been real movement in the right direction. While the old “better late than never” adage holds true in this case it remains unclear what took them so long. The demand was there, top sites in the industry certainly had all the necessary resources, so it seems they just didn’t feel like investing in it until it had become absolutely necessary.
Worthwhile Online Poker Apps
Today, we finally have a few apps that perform well and provide players with an experience similar to what they’ve become accustomed to with desktop versions. Of course, mobile poker apps will always have certain constraints due to technological limitations, but some of the apps we have today correspond with the needs of casual players.
One app that we must mention in this context is the PokerStars mobile app. Although the biggest online poker site by far, PokerStars only introduced their mobile poker app a few years ago. The app itself has seen a number of updates, and today, it provides smooth and enjoyable playing experience.
Mobile users have access to pretty much everything the full PC or Mac software has to offer and the interface has been fully adapted for mobile use. They even solved the issue of playing multiple games at once quite well so PokerStars mobile players aren’t restricted to playing just one or two games at a time. All that being said, considering the resources at company’s disposal, it certainly took them long enough.
Another one of the industry leaders, 888 Poker has finally decided to amp it up in terms of mobile gaming. While they launched their mobile app for Apple devices around the same time as PokerStars, Android users had been left twiddling their thumbs for a long time.
According to this player study on 888 Poker, it wasn’t until 2014 that the real-money app for Android was launched. The app does feature very modern and appealing looks, but as one of the leading online poker providers, 888 Poker certainly needed to do this much sooner.
Ignition Casino Poker
This largest offshore site still accepting players from the USA, Ignition Casino’s Poker Room has also made sure to offer their players mobile access. Ignition Poker is, in fact, the new brand name of former powerhouse Bovada, which was one of the best-known poker sites in the States.
Although they’ve only been around as Ignition for a short while, the company covered all the bases from the get-go, providing full mobile access for players using all sorts of devices. The best part is that customers don’t need to download anything as they can play directly from the Ignition Poker mobile site on any browser.
What About the Rest of the Field?
There are many more online poker sites out there, but most of them seem to still be struggling with the mobile concept.
A good example is the iPoker network, which is one of the biggest networks in the world. Their mobile solutions are mediocre at best and that’s if we’re being generous. Most iPoker sites offer only very basic mobile access and a poor playing experience.
Various Microgaming poker apps are also far from rising to the challenge. Players are basically restricted to cash game tables and playing multiple tables isn’t really an option. So, while you can play from your mobile device, you should probably avoid it – and that’s not really a good sales pitch.
A Mixed Bag when it comes to Mobile Poker
Why so many poker sites struggle with developing a functional mobile app remains a mystery. With everyone else doing it one would think that online poker developers have every reason to follow the profit train.
However, the facts speak to the contrary. Apart from a few online poker rooms mentioned earlier, the rest seem to really be struggling or not trying at all.
Things will probably improve with time, but by that point, mobile gaming as we know it today might become obsolete, and most poker rooms will likely be too slow to catch up with new technologies once again.