A few years ago, playing poker on a Mac computer or laptop involved searching for compatible poker rooms. Nowadays, just about every site has one option or another for Mac users – the challenge is finding the best out of a crowded field of operators. You can also play poker on mobile apple devices – find more in our poker for iPad and iPhone article.
You’ll find information on some of the top sites with downloadable, fully native Mac clients first below. These are the fastest and most stable systems. After that, the no-download sites are covered separately. Finally, some information on what to look for in a site before you make your final decision on where to play.
Many larger sites have spent the time and effort to recreate their systems for Mac computers. You download the software onto your machine, and play from there. This speeds things up – instead of the full ‘game engine’ you only need the card, game-state and bet data to be transferred over the internet. You will also find that download clients make it easier to work with popular tools which display statistics on your opponents across the screen.
Here are my top pics for worldwide sites that have downloadable Mac clients – after this you will find the choices for US players.
PokerStars.com: The giant of the online poker world have a fully functional Mac download. The PokerStars software is easily the smoothest and fastest in the industry and their choice of games is fantastic to the point of becoming slightly overwhelming. This is an easy top choice for more serious and experienced poker players, though the large number of ‘grinders’ mean that newer players can benefit from gaining some experience at the easier sites first.
888 Poker: Formerly known as Pacific Poker, 888 are a great choice for Mac users who are looking to build up their experience level and skills at the online tables. You’ll find a full Mac download here, which is smart, fast and gives you access to some of the easiest poker games at any major site. You can even get free money in tournament tokens and cash-game buy-ins to check out the games before you commit your own cash.
The biggest offshore poker sites have downloadable Mac clients, for US players this is Bovada.
Bovada Poker: Bovada are serious about keeping their poker tables ‘recreational’ and discouraging pros. They have policies of ‘no tools’ and ‘not too many tables’ to keep the grinders away, resulting in very easy games. Part of the global Bodog-brand, Bovada have quickly risen to become the single biggest online poker room. Their software is simple and functional, and does have a dedicated Mac download.
Sites which do not have a downloadable Mac client offer in-browser games as an alternative. Some of these run Flash, which requires that you install plug-ins or downloads which are unsupported by Apple. Others have now ported over to HTML5, which does not require an additional download and offers the same rich graphics and animations as the old Flash games.
Technology has moved on, with flash games no longer feeling unstable and jerky – though my personal preference is to download the full client where possible.
There are large variations in the level of customer support, the game selections offered, the average skill level of opponents and the bonuses + incentives offered by different poker sites. It can pay to do some research before you decide where to play. Our poker reviews page is an ideal jump off point for this research – with links to many of our detailed poker site reviews.
You should make sure that you look beyond the headline welcome bonus at different sites. The ongoing rewards and special loyalty promotions will be significant factors as to whether you stay long after you have finished with the welcome offer.