Android users have a great choice of real money poker games, with many sites offering dedicated apps – and those that do not offering in-browser games using Flash or HTML5. Which ones you can play will depend on your device and where you are located. This article looks at the best Android online poker sites and weighs up the pros and cons of browser games and full app downloads.
First up, you will find a list of the Android poker apps available for US players, covering both smartphones and tablets. Next worldwide players are covered – with my top picks from a large number of sites offering games for Android devices. Finally, some words on the great browser against download debate, and how to pick what is right for you.
For Android smartphone users based in the US, Carbon Poker is the only site to have a dedicated mobile client, which works through your browser. I like the simplicity of this game, with clean and clear controls and extra options kept off-screen until you need them. The animations which the Carbon Poker main client is famous for are replicated in the Android version too. At the moment, only cash games are available on Android, though this site has said that they hope tournaments (and presumably Sit N Goes) will follow soon.
If you are playing on a tablet with a larger screen size, then instant-play (non-download) poker games which are designed for bigger screen sizes also come into play. This gives US Android users the additional choice of Bovada.lv – who are a part of the global Bodog brand. This is the largest US poker site and has a ‘recreational player model’ which includes anonymous tables and a restriction on multi-tabling. With 1 table at a time, the browser game is easy to play and the Bovada games are great for players just starting out in the world of online poker.
Once we go beyond the US there is a bigger choice of poker sites, many of which have downloadable Android apps. While just about every site has one option or another to allow Android users to access the games, there are big differences in the quality of these sites and the experience level of the average opponents you will find on them.
My top pick is PokerStars.com, who are the giant of the online poker world, having more than 3 times the number of players compared to even their closest rivals – iPoker and 888. Their Android app is miles ahead of anyone else. This includes their full suite of games, tournaments and even ‘Rush Poker’ and allows you to multi-table up to 4 games at once using a smart tabbed design. The tables look and play great, with my one minor complaint being that the bet-size slider is not as easy to control as the PC version. An integrated web cashier is the icing on the cake for me. It will take a big effort by any rival site to put together a better Android client – at the moment, PokerStars owns.
Alternatives include the Android download from 888 Poker, which is very smart and gives you access to those famously soft 888 games. You might also want to take a look at the smaller site, Red Kings Poker who are part of the OnGame Network. This site were mobile pioneers. Even though other sites now have smoother Android clients, Red Kings continue to offer easy games and a real community feel at the tables. Of the other sites I like the Rush Poker client offered by Full Tilt, and expect the rest of their games to ‘go mobile’ in the not too distant future.
Android tablet users can access sites offering Browser-based poker games. Here I like Bet365, who have a HTML5 version which looks great, plays great – and has access to those crazy iPoker Network games.
This debate has a lot to do with personal preference, and there are benefits on both sides. If you want to spend the time downloading a full poker app, and keeping this updated, then you are rewarded with a far smoother and more stable gaming experience. After all, only the cards, bets and game-state need to be sent over the networks, the graphics and game-engine are held locally on your device.
If you want to quickly check out a lot of games, then the browser versions are an easy way of seeing what is on offer without going through the hassle of the full download. This can also work when the device in question is shared or belongs to your employer – making it unsuitable for the full download.
There have been huge improvements in both apps and no-download poker games in recent years. I look forward to seeing these continue to improve as we move forward.