Poker makes for a confusing category in mobile gaming today. For one thing, the narrative surrounding the genre doesn’t match the reality. The story has long been that online poker is “dead” in the U.S., yet if you search for it in the app stores, you’ll find well over a dozen apps available for download.
For another, once you actually start looking through those apps, you’ll find that it’s difficult to tell the difference between them, at least at a glance. They all seem to make the same claims and offer the same features; in some cases they even look similar to one another.
In short, there are a ton of apps in a space long purported to be dead, but they appear to be almost indistinguishable from each other. So, how can you navigate the category if you –– like millions of other Americans –– are actually interested in playing some mobile poker?
Here are a few things to know about the category in 2022…
Poker caught the pandemic wave
For all of the tragedy it brought on, it’s been said that the pandemic was a dream come true for gamers. Data has shown that people played more games of all kinds throughout the worst of the pandemic, launching the global games market on a trajectory toward $219 billion in worth by 2024.
This spike in activity occurred across all different kinds of gaming, and it’s worth noting that this includes poker. Multiple major poker providers including GG Poker and 888poker (supporting both online sites and apps) reported jumps in new user registrations.
As a result, it’s fair to say that poker apps are currently more popular than they’ve been in years (and perhaps ever).
Also Read: 10 Best Flash Casino Games
Legal status varies by state
While it’s true that poker activity has surged, it also remains the case that cash poker –– that is, games played with real money on the line –– is only legal in certain places. Currently, there is statewide poker legalization in just seven states: Nevada, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Michigan, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
A further four states (Illinois, Indiana, New York, and Virginia) are actively considering the matter. In the rest of the country however, people are still unable to legally access cash poker games on apps or websites.
There are apps for everyone
Despite the note on variance in legal status, it is still the case that everyone has access to poker apps. For those who live in states where real betting is not permitted on poker games –– or for those who simply don’t want to play for real cash –– the following are some popular options:
Zynga Poker – A socially oriented poker app with millions of players, Zynga makes it easy to play online with friends via a connection with Facebook.
Texas Hold’em Pokerist – More simply known as “Pokerist,” this app is known for presenting digital quality in particularly rich and satisfying visual form.
PlayWPT – Though it’s a bit cluttered with graphics (including emojis players use to express themselves), PlayWPT offers a huge variety of games and tournaments, and is sometimes cited as an excellent training platform in addition to being a fun place to play.
Meanwhile, for those in the U.S. who both want to play for cash and are legally allowed to in their states, these are some of the go-to apps:
PokerStars – Arguably the signature name in online poker, PokerStars is known for its celebrity partnerships, its live tournament events, and a massive player base.
Americas Cardroom – This app is set up as a competitive, high-stakes environment for those who really want to aim for the big bucks in mobile or online poker. It also got a boost in popularity via a partnership with Chris Moneymaker –– the former amateur who helped to put the World Series of Poker on the map in a big way in the early 2000s.
WSOP.com– This app offers a clear, professional, and intuitive interface that makes the games a pleasure to play. It’s also connected officially to the real-world WSOP, and even runs satellite tournaments connected to the World Series.
As a final note, it’s also worth knowing that some real-money poker apps (such as PokerStars) also allow free, just-for-fun games.
Poker has caught on in game streaming
Finally, we’ll also note that activity on poker apps has caught on in streaming as well. Alongside data relating to the general rise in gaming during the pandemic, it is also clear that people are watching others stream gaming activity far more frequently.
Now, it’s true that some large platforms such as Twitch have made an effort not to support the broadcasting or viewing of material that involves betting. However, they have also specifically decided to allow poker streaming, which means that some of the aforementioned poker apps now have places in the game-streaming world as well.
PokerStars in particular has a very active Twitch channel with more than 300,000 followers who tune in to watch poker action.
There’s no doubt that the poker category in mobile app stores can be a little confusing. It’s difficult to know what’s permitted, what’s popular, which apps are best, and so on. But we hope this overview has been clarifying, and we’d love to see you back for more content on all things apps soon!