Poker Geeks Left Out in the Cold by Apple (but Loving Android)

Posted on 01:57 PM

Apple’s iPhone has been a huge success and its iPad tablet has gotten off to a hot start as well, but Apple’s strict policy towards gambling apps in the App Store have left a lot of poker geeks out in the cold. In many ways the iPhone and iPad are the poker players’ dream device, letting them enjoy all the action on the fly and cram in a few hands here and there when they have some spare time, whether at work, waiting for friends, or working on ActionScript projects like how to create a gravity like a Mario platformer.

The only hitch in those plans is while there are a ton of poker apps available for the iPhone and iPad, none of them let poker fans play on the two major online sites — Full Tilt and PokerStars. Apple has adopted a strict policy to the types of apps it approves for listing in the App Store and so far any app that can be used for real money wagering at a site that accepts US players has gotten the cold shoulder. Throw in Apple’s refusal to support Flash (which rules out the possibilities of players using any of the available Flash-based no-download poker rooms or casinos) and you’ve got a lot of frustrated poker players ready to chunk their iPhone out the window.

Frustration with Apple isn’t new for poker players, as it took years for all the major sites to provide Mac poker clients for players. While there’s no great solution to the current problem, it’s an area in which owners of Android devices are having the last laugh. With much looser restrictions on what can be distributed in the Android Market, many poker app developers are focusing on Android apps instead. Full Tilt has already made some of its real money games accessible through an Android app, with other online poker sites to follow shortly.

As was the case when developing poker sites for Mac clients, online operators have to balance a lot of factors when developing clients and apps, and potential market size is an important one. While some have held back on developing Android apps for poker and casino gaming, the rising popularity of Android devices is making it a market that can no longer be ignored, likely resulting in more and more poker apps coming to the Android Market soon.

Olivier MacLennan