Like most other guys in their early 20’s, I also became fascinated with this card game, known as Texas Hold’Em. I started to read up on the rules and learn to play the game first using free play/fun money sites so it didn’t cost me anything. Then I bought books and joined a few online forums to learn more and improve my game. I spent a lot of time studying!
As time went by, I became a decent poker player. I never really made a killing, except for a few 1st places in some online tournaments, but I didn’t loose a lot of money either. Unfortunately I was very bad at keeping track of my wins and losses so I can only guess that my losses were limited and when taking into consideration how many hours I spent playing poker – and enjoyed it – it was probably better spending some money on playing poker than wasting them by going to the cinema once a week or whatever. (TIP: Keep track of your wins and losses, you’ll thank me later!).
Back then, around 2005 or so, I had a long train commute to work every day. What better way to spend that time other than reading poker books? Well, play poker, of course! Luckily there was one site which offered a downloadable java client for some mobile phones and even offered real money play against other real players. Awesome!
Unfortunately, also back then, the screen on my Sony Ericsson phone was rather small and the wireless data network not very good. The whole mobile online poker experience became a “because I can”-thing rather than an enjoyable and entertaining thing as you know from a desktop computer. Don’t even bother playing an online poker tournament because you could so easily be disconnected from the mobile network and miss that important hand that could win you the tournament…
Now it’s 2010 and we have mobile phones with huge touch screens and data networks that offers several Mbit download connections. We also have stupid governments who keep insisting that online poker is all about luck, not skill, and then they ban online poker in their countries. That’s why poker players in the United States has had very few sites to play poker on for the past years, because their government doesn’t want people to play online poker (when in reality it’s probably because they don’t want to send the money out of the country to overseas companies, which is why that law was nicely tucked away inside a counter terrorist act, I guess).
The bottom line is, now we have the technology to play online poker where ever we are – for those of us who would like that opportunity – but very few providers. There are, however, ways to play browser based poker but the experience is just not as great as if it was with a dedicated mobile app. Also, the major poker sites doesn’t, as far as I know, offer any browser based versions of their software that would run on a device that doesn’t fully support flash or java. You could play at lesser-known poker sites but you would probably be very limited in table selection due to very few players being online plus you would have to consider how safe the site really is, now that you’ll have real money in your account with them.
Another obstacle is Apple. I doubt we’ll see a real money poker app in their App Store anytime soon – maybe if/when the US government decides to allow online poker again, then maybe, just maybe, Apple will allow these gambling apps. I think, if that time ever comes, there will be restrictions and licensing issues to consider as well. Likely the poker sites will have to be licensed in the US and have special permits to offer online poker within the United States.
Right now, I’m afraid online poker on the iPhone is several years out into the future – if it will ever happen.