With this guide you'll be able to make the best choices for your own taste and enjoy iPhone poker to the max. It's not hard to get a poker app up and running on your iPhone, but there are a number of choices to make.
Poker apps for the iPhone and the real-money issue
A number of poker applications are available for the iPhone. We'll walk you through the ones we liked the most, see below.
However, one drawback of all these iPhone poker applications is that they won't let you play for real money.
This is not due to any lack of imagination from the part of the software developers, though. Instead it comes down to a no-gambling policy that Apple has chosen to implement on the iPhone platform.
Maybe this policy will be loosened up eventually, but at the moment to play real money poker on your iPhone you have to take some extra measures. We'll show you how below.
How to use the iPhone poker apps
In the meantime, you can enjoy a game of poker on the iPhone just like any other game you can play over a mobile device. You can use iPhone poker to socialize with yiour friends, challenge your own skills, or just kill off some time.
The gameplay often feels pretty much like real poker, or at least real online poker, so except for the fact that you cannot cash in your chips, you are getting a full-fledged online poker experience.
How your poker game is affected
Will playing poker on the iPhone help you get better at poker? Well, it depends on how you use it.
The AI opponents of the iPhone will not play as well as human opponents in real-money games.
AI players are typically loose and passive - probably the worst playing style you can come up with in poker.
So, playing against AI opponents only isn't likely to improve your poker skills very much beyond the basic "what can I do when it's my turn?"
Also, you can learn some patterns for how a poker hand develops. You get to see the flop often and this is a good way to build an understanding for poker.
When you play real-money poker, most hands will not reach the showdown, so it's much harder to figure out what actually took place during the hand.
The basic poker app iPhone Poker is simple to download and fun to play. There's only one problem. It's not actually poker.
Well, it is a kind of poker, but it's video poker. It's basically a slot machine using playing cards. You place a bet, receive five cards, draw as many new cards as you like, and see if you hit anything.
The game uses a common 9/6 full pay structure, but of course you won't be playing for real money.
In video poker, you play to make your best hand. There are no opponents, so bluffing and raising and folding and making hard decisions are not part of this game at all.
Apple Texas Holdem
The other basic iPhone poker application is Apple Texas Holdem, created by Apple itself.
This is real poker, as opposed to the video poker application described above.
Apple Texas Holdem is a rather small and plain program. Nevertheless, it offers some nice features.
You can choose to play against the usual computer opponents - OR against up to eight friends through a Wi-Fi network!
With this last feature, Apple Texas Holdem steps into the "social sphere". You could easily be spoiling a perfectly good party by sitting around and playing poker.
Apple has used the particular user interface of the iPhone to good effect. Maybe not surprising but still great.
For example, you can tap the screen to check, which feels really cool, and you can drag chips into the pot using your fingers.
With that said, Apple Texas Holdem cannot really compete with the next poker app in our list.
Zynga Live Poker
The most exciting iPhone poker application right now is definitely Zynga Live Poker.
It's a social game, designed for social platforms such as Facebook or MySpace. It's become astonishingly popular and actually beats all the regular online poker sites with light-years when it comes to the number of enthusiasts.
For iPhone users, the good news is that you can access this social game platform using your iPhone. (Otherwise we probably wouldn't have mentioned the game here.)
Zynga Live Poker has the advantage that it plays just like actual online poker. You don't need to gather up a bunch of friends or play against stupid computer opponents.
In Zynga Live Poker, you go online for real and can join in holdem poker games with anyone else in the world who has the Zynga application, either in their iPhone or on Facebook.
This game opens up the world of real online poker for us iPhone users, and somehow there's just no way back. This is what online poker should be like.
Except, of course, that you can't deposit real cash and try to win it back before the rake gets you.
Both Zynga Live Poker and Apple Texas Holdem are available through the iTunes app store.
Real-money poker on the iPhone
At this writing, no real-money poker applications have been developed for the Apple iPhone platform, as we mentioned above.
Apparently, poker sites have some security issues with the iPhone platform. And more importantly, Apple doesn't admit any type of real-money gambling in their app store.
Nonetheless, since it's possible to run a web browser on the iPhone, it's also possible to enjoy a game of no-download poker on your favorite portable gadget (dude, that's the iPhone.)
Many poker sites offer no-download poker in the form of Java software that you can run in the web browser. In these apps, you play the same games of online poker as on your PC or Mac.
That is, cash poker for more or less unlimited stakes at your own discretion.
However, before you can start playing real-money no-download poker in your iPhone web browser, the web browser needs to support Java. You can set this up using an iPhone installer service like the built-in Installer or third party Cydia.
Check the Apple homepage for more information on this.
Remote controlling your computer
Then there's another way to play real-money poker on your iPhone. This is only for hard-core computer whizzes who know more about computers and phones than how to email or call you mother, respectively.
This trick is as simple (in theory) as it's astonishingly cool. First, start a regular game of online poker on your ordinary desktop computer. You know how to do that.
Second, control that game remotely from your iPhone. Does it sound bizarre? It's more than bizarre, but it works!
You accomplish this by setting up a so called VNC connection between your iPhone and you PC using TightVNC on your PC and Jaadu VNC on your iPhone. (These are just examples of software that can be used.)
When you have a connection between iPhone and PC, your computer screen appears on your iPhone screen - it's magic!
Now, by controlling the mouse and keyboard using the iPhone, you easily perform any tasks on the PC that you could have done sitting in front of it. Such as raising and re-raising and three-betting weak opponents off their money.
Or going busto in five minutes - that's your choice.
So, there are some suggestions for Texas holdem poker on the iPhone - with or without real money, locally or with the rest of the world, easily or a bit more complicated.
Enjoy it and let us know if there's anything we forgot to mention here.