The casino category is among the busiest in all of mobile gaming. Accordingly, there seem to be almost countless poker games available in app stores. This makes for a lot of fun for those who enjoy the game, particularly given that most of the apps can be played for free, without any requirement of real-money betting.
At the same time though, it can be hard to navigate the category. Some apps aren’t made as well as others, and the high-quality ones are often the most challenging. So how can you get the most out of them?
To some extent it’s just a matter of trial and error, as well as practice. But we have some specific tips that may help you to more fully enjoy this exciting corner of the mobile gaming world as well.
Practice in Games with No Stakes
As stated, lots of poker apps are available for free. But you’ll still have stakes within the games, whether that means chip counts, player rankings, fake money to play with, etc. This can lead to a sense of pressure even if it’s all just a game, which is why it’s a good idea to first practice poker in other games with no stakes.
One option is to find a PC game you can download, which will involve fake money and chips, but won’t have any of the social elements you find in a lot of poker apps. Alternatively some console video games, such as the latest from Grand Theft Auto, have poker mini games within them. There, too, you can play completely casually and get a sense of what it’s like to play poker in a digital environment. It’ll make you better when you do find the app you want to dive into.
Play Other Card Games
Particularly if you’re new to poker or cards, it’s a good idea to play around with some other card games as well — the kind not associated with casinos or betting. The simplest option in this regard is Solitaire, a one-player game that can train you to get more familiar with the cards and how they rank against one another (and which according to a write-up on Inc.com teaches good decision making as well).
Another option is Hearts, which will train you a little bit in what to expect from a dealer and how to strategize against other players. Spending a little bit of time with games like these will likely help you to learn poker more quickly when the time comes.
Know the Hands Inside & Out
We just mentioned that playing other card games can help you to get a sense of how cards rank against each other. It’s also a good idea to get a specific feel for how different poker hands rank, so that you can make quick decisions once you’re active with the app of your choice.
Knowing immediately what wins between, say, a two-pair or three-of-a-kind (it’s the latter) will make you a better player. Hand-ranking charts on Poker.org give you a complete rundown of different hands that you can study for this purpose, and you can also download a “cheat sheet” to have with you while you play.
Avoid the Gimmicks
With so many poker apps available, you’ll find that there’s a lot of variety in how they present and handle themselves. A lot of the variation comes down to larger trends in gaming. Per Tech Times’ look at gaming on-the-go and what makes a good mobile game, highlighted factors like story, graphics, and genre as vital keys. This makes perfect sense, but applying them to poker and casino apps has yielded mixed results.
There are definitely some apps that are so focused on presenting animated characters, genre backgrounds, and impressive graphics that they sacrifice some gameplay or gaming options. If that’s what you like, then by all means go for it. But for the most high-quality poker experience, you’ll generally want to steer clear of over-the-top publicity gimmicks.
Expect a Learning Curve
Last but not least, expect a learning curve! If you’re new to poker, you’ll learn a lot with some of the tips above, but you’ll still need to play for a while before you really get the hang of it. If you know the game but you’re new to digital poker, it can take some getting used to. And even if you’ve played poker online but you’re trying out a new app, there will still be some changes. In all of these cases, you’ll be in for a better time if you accept that there will be a slight learning curve from the beginning.