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Home / Features / Tablet, computer, or phone: Which devices are best for online poker?

Once upon a time, online poker was brand new. The only option for playing it was on a big desktop computer and dialing into the sites through a modem (remember those?).

Today, online poker has become a standard way to enjoy the game, its popularity rivaling and in some cases exceeding that of live poker. The technology of the internet has advanced as well, making it much easier to get online and play via high-speed connections.

Options for playing online poker have expanded as well, with poker sites now routinely offering multiple ways to play. These include playing on a tablet, a computer, or even your smart phone.

Playing over the computer means either playing via a web browser or downloading the site’s client and opening it to play. Meanwhile using a tablet or phone usually means downloading the poker site’s mobile app and installing it.

The experience of playing online poker over a desktop computer or a laptop hasn’t changed too much over the years, aside from being much faster and efficient than during the early days. Meanwhile mobile online poker has grown by leaps and bounds of late, making tablets and phones some players’ preferred method of playing.

Each method has both positives and negatives. Players’ personal preferences, including how they like to play the game, will determine the best device for playing poker for them.

Here’s a quick look of factors that determine the pros and cons of playing online poker on a tablet, on a computer, or on a phone.

Playing poker online on a tablet

A “tablet” is technically a mobile device, although in practice most people don’t use them the same way they use their smart phones. Usually people use tablets indoors, connecting to the internet via wi-fi. In this way they are like desktop or laptops, only they allow users more freedom of movement.

When it comes to online poker, many players prefer playing on tablets. Screen sizes vary, although in most cases they are close to the size of a piece of paper (hence the name “tablet”). That means they generally rival laptops in terms of screen size, although there are many smaller tablets that are popular, too.

Tablets afford the same mobility as smart phones, with the increased screen size making it easier to multi-table and perform other operations including in-game actions. Meanwhile playing on a tablet means the player isn’t stuck at a desk and can easily move about while playing.

While you can attach a keyboard to a tablet, most users do not. That means (like with phones), tablet users touch their screens. That means playing poker without a mouse or trackpad, which can make performing certain game-related actions a bit more difficult for some.

When it comes to picking the best tablet for online poker, many find the iPad or iPad Mini tablets a good choice of poker tablet. Those who prefer Android devices might consider a Samsung Galaxy or Lenovo tablet.

Playing poker online on a computer

For many, playing online poker on a desktop or taptop computer is the best alternative.

No matter what online poker site you choose, playing on a computer means being able to take full advantage of all the site’s capabilities. There are generally many more table settings and preferences available. Multi-tabling will always be easier to manage on a desktop or laptop versus tablets and phones.

Poker is a game that requires attention and focus. Generally speaking, your chances of success increase if you can avoid distractions while playing. Playing on a tablet or phone might mean having greater freedom of movement, but it also likely will invite additional distractions when you play.

If you are a casual player who isn’t necessarily worried about focusing intently on opponents’ tendencies and other aspects of game play, being distracted like this might not matter to you. But for some, playing online poker on a computer provides a more immersive experience that improves their ability to focus and thereby makes the game more rewarding.

Lex Veldhuis at the laptop

Lex Veldhuis at the laptop

When it comes to choosing a desktop or laptop for your poker computer setup, you don’t necessarily have to worry about all of the factors gamers consider when looking for a good gaming PC or Mac. Online poker sites generally don’t require especially huge demands when it comes to memory, computing speed, graphics or audio. That means your hardware setup for online poker need not be as “tricked out” as it would be for a gaming PC.

In other words, when choosing a computer on which to play online poker, you should probably choose a brand and model you like for other reasons, too. Consider also getting a large-sized screen, especially if you like to multi-table.

Playing poker online on a phone

It’s incredible how many uses smart phones provide, including for playing games. Indeed, one often sees the latest iterations of iPhones, Google Pixels, Samsungs, and other models specifically advertised as the best mobile phone for gaming.

Picking the best gaming phone again often comes down to variables such as display size, computing power, and battery life. Much like with computers, online poker players don’t necessarily need all the bells and whistles in a gaming phone (as gamers might need). That said, some online poker sites work a lot better than others when accessed via smart phones.

As is the case with many online poker sites, the PokerStars mobile app is available both for Android and iOS (Apple) smart phones. Many consider it the one of the best poker apps, in part because of the way it incorporates site features like table chat, multi-tabling, quick seating, and more.

For most aspects, playing online poker on your phone affords a lot less flexibility than you find via other methods. In fact with some sites certain game types available on the desktop or laptop version of the site are not available over your phone.

That said, being able to play on-the-go can be a big plus for many. And while a wi-fi connection is preferable, phones enable playing while in transit as long as you have a reliable cellular signal.

There are so many different ways to play online poker, both in terms of how players approach the game and the variety of devices they can use to access the games. Think about your favorite aspects of online poker, then find the method best suited for you.

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