Online poker has been around for a while, but it’s only recently that smartphone options have become anywhere near acceptable for the serious player. Small screens, laggy gameplay, and poor graphics, amongst other things, used to make it nothing more than a novelty option.
In 2021, however, smartphone poker is a viable alternative to playing on your desktop. For the uninitiated, here are 6 tips to get you started.
Practice First (for Free!)
The worst thing about joining a live poker table as a newbie is that, well, you’re a newbie. The nervous sideways glances, sweaty palms, the doubts, the bonehead moves. It’s all part of the initiation process when you first start playing. The problem? It can get expensive in a real hurry.
Playing poker online has a distinct advantage over live tables: you can play for free. Most casinos will allow you to play without having to put anything down, allowing you to get to grips with poker itself.
If you’re a veteran, running a few free rounds is also helpful, as it gives you the opportunity to get acquainted with the app layout. You don’t want to be fumbling around the controls when playing for real cash.
Once you’re through with the free rounds, you can take advantage of the multiple joins offers smartphone casinos have, whether you’re looking to play online pokies, poker, or classics like blackjack or roulette. While it can be a little challenging (but not impossible) to actually turn this into real cash due to the wagering requirements, it gives you a very nice initial cash flow.
Own a Decent Smartphone
If you’re just looking to play a one-off game, stick to your old iPhone 5C (or whatever older model you own). It’s obviously not worth upgrading for just a couple of rounds of poker.
But if you’re serious about playing on a regular basis, an old phone is going to drive you nuts before too long. The screen is far too small, the graphics won’t perform as they should, and the overall laggy experience just isn’t worth it.
If you’re looking at smartphone poker as a serious alternative to playing on a computer, you’re going to need a model with a decent spec. I’m not saying you need the latest and most expensive iPhone or Samsung, but you’re going to want a nice screen size, retina-level graphics, and solid processing power.
Watch Your Internet Connection
When you’re in the middle of a game, the last thing you want is to disconnect. You never have to think about this when playing at home, but when you’re travelling or out in a cafe, having a reliable connection is paramount.
You don’t need to be connected to WiFi, as these days most cell providers offer decent speeds. If you can watch Netflix with Standard Definition, online poker shouldn’t be a problem. Check out SpeedTest.net to run a test of your average speed before you play.
I would generally advise being stationary, however. It seems like an obvious tip, but I’ve had a number of friends get kicked out of games because they ‘forgot’ they were playing on public transport. Going through a tunnel while on a train and desperately trying to refresh your game as you hold pocket aces; not an experience I’d recommend.
Want to Win? Don’t Use Poker as a Time-Waster
Most smartphone games are used in bed (pro tip: don’t do this), public transport, or, ahem, while using the restroom. Absolutely fine, we all need a time-waster when there’s nothing else to do.
But when it comes to online poker, I wouldn’t recommend this approach. It sets you up for losing. Smartphone poker should be approached just as seriously as a live table at a casino or playing on your desktop setup. That’s the way you make money in the long term.
Sure, if you’re happy to lose small amounts of money to pass the time, fine. Just don’t expect to win serious money.
Headphones are a Must
Unless you’re in an ultra-quiet environment, headphones are an absolute must when it comes to online poker. This isn’t just about hearing what’s going on in the game itself, but also about drowning out anything that’s going on in the background.
Winning at poker requires concentration, the ultimate focus. Even the best players can make the wrong move if they’re not in an environment that’s conducive to winning.
It’s also more enjoyable. Headphones give you the opportunity to immerse yourself fully in what’s going on, which enhances the gameplay experience. If you can afford the more expensive noise-cancelling variety, even better.
Keep a Record
Final tip: keep a record of your wins and losses. And I’m not just talking about a simple win/loss count, but a detailed play-by-play (or as close as you can get to it). It’ll help you elevate your game next time you join a table, and ensures each experience builds on the last.