PokerStars launched their mobile app for Android and Apple devices in the UK last week after the Italian market was used as a testing ground in January. However, those hoping for an influx of casual gamers might have to wait a little longer – the app does not currently allow new sign ups or deposits meaning all new players will have to access the PC client first.
Along with its PokerStars TV and PokerStars Clock apps, the launch will give the world’s largest poker site significant exposure in the mobile marketplace. PokerStars Mobile Poker appears on the front page when searching “poker” on the iTunes UK App Store. However, many expect the more significant gains will come when the mobile client becomes fully featured with a cashier function. eGaming Review magazine reported that this will be added later in the year.
PokerStars are not the first to try and capture the mobile market. In 2009 the likes of RedKings and Aces Royal tried to capture an audience hindered by high data costs and lack of smartphone technology. PokerStars acquired the company behind Aces Royal in late 2009 after it went into administration, but it has not challenged the new wave of poker apps until now. Lets look at some of the offerings currently battling for a share of the new mobile market:
SwitchPoker offer a client that works with Android and Apple devices and has multi-tabling functionality. Their Android offering was launched in December but the site have offered mobile poker since 2010. Uniquely, the site also offers the controversial BitCoin virtual currency as a way to purchase real-money chips.
Bet24 are offering real-money poker on Android via Ongame’s client launched late last year.
TerminalPoker is a contender launched in late 2010 that offers a game very similar in format to the now defunct Rush Poker from Full Tilt. PokerStars are working on their own version of the format and are expected to launch a beta soon.
MobilePokerClub are adding their real-money offering to the mobile marketplace, PokerUpdate reported in February.
888 beta launched their Android client this month.
Although Apple began accepting gambling apps into its App Store in 2011, the policy of Android’s Marketplace remains firmly against real-money poker products. As Android grows in popularity, poker’s mobile adventure may rely somewhat on users breaking out of the prescriptive Android Marketplace and adopting the open web like they would on their PC or Mac. For the casual gamer, the fewer barriers to entry the better.