While lots of online poker players still download the full poker software platform to play on a laptop or desktop computer, more players are moving their poker action to poker apps on their smartphones or tablets.
This goes especially for recreational or casual poker players who jump on a poker app for a few hands while on their way to and from work or play a few Sit & Go’s (SNGs) while they’re out enjoying the weekend.
While social poker apps are a popular subcategory in the app store (think Zynga Poker), on this page, we focus on the best downloadable poker apps that let you play both free and real money online poker.
Best US real money poker apps
There are numerous poker apps in the “social gaming” category in the app store, but real-money poker apps are different.
These poker apps are a slimmed-down, easy-to-use version of the full online poker client you would typically download for your computer. Unlike social poker apps, these apps allow you to put real money on the line in your poker games. It can be as small as pennies per hand, of course, but also run all the way up into the hundreds and thousands for buy-ins if you prefer.
Most of the standard poker games you love (SNGs, MTTs, etc.) are available on a poker app, although the lobby and functionality are tailored toward mobile players. That means a slightly condensed game menu and simple-to-use features for betting and gameplay.
You don’t have to play for real money on these poker apps, either; they also allow you to access all the standard play-money games offered on any online poker site.
Where can I use real money poker apps in the US?
Currently, four states are offering legalized online poker apps. Legalization has been done on a state-by-state basis since Black Friday in April 2011. The legal online poker states are:
Online poker in Michigan and West Virginia were also legalized in 2018-19, but real-money poker apps or poker sites are yet to go live. The four active states above adhere to a completely legal and regulated online gaming framework. Just like brick-and-mortar casinos and poker rooms, online poker platforms, including apps, face strict regulation and oversight.
What are the best US poker apps?
What apps should you consider for real-money poker? Here are some of the best to get started:
PokerStars app: $30 free play
PokerStars is famously the largest poker site in the world and is available in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. However, these are both “fenced-in” markets, meaning player pools are exclusive to each state. Pennsylvania has offered a large pool of players since going live in November 2019.
PokerStars is known for its great software, and that applies to the poker app experience as well. The app is available for iPhone and Android devices and offers an easy-to-navigate lobby when looking for a tournament, cash game or another option (jackpot SNGs, for example).
The actual gameplay on the app is also a strong point. You will find smooth movements for betting and raising. Tiling between a game and the lobby is simple. Simply put, PokerStars offers a great mobile gaming experience.
You can get in all the best promotions and major tournament series on the poker app and access the ultra-popular Zoom Poker games. PokerStars also offers a seamless transition between its sportsbook and casino gaming.
Available: Pennsylvania, New Jersey
Partypoker app: $25 free
Partypoker is available in New Jersey and is also a leader in the online poker industry. The site also offers access to its casino for those who might also enjoy some slots, blackjack and more.
The partypoker app is easy to use and straightforward. Finding a cash game, tournament, Sit and Go or fast-forward poker game (partypoker’s speed poker variation) is easy. The app is uncluttered and finding deposit, promotions and bonus information is also simple with a menu located at the top left of the screen.
In New Jersey, BorgataPoker and BetMGM poker also function as partypoker skins and feature the same ease of use. Their poker apps make use of the same player pool and offer qualifiers to live events at the Borgata and other partypoker series.
Available: New Jersey
WSOP/888poker app: $10 free
The WSOP app is available in New Jersey and Nevada. It is the only operator offering a shared liquidity pool with players in both states, which also includes 888poker in Delaware. Operator 888 remains the sole online client in that state.
The WSOP app and poker client are based on its partner 888poker’s software. You will find that the WSOP app offers a nice landscape view of all the action. The lobby options are visually appealing, and it’s simple to scroll among cash games, sit and gos, and scheduled tournaments.
Finding a game and registering is quick. Tapping for raises and betting is smooth and simple. You will discover that WSOP.com is an easy and enjoyable experience. The 888poker mobile app is similar, and you will find the two apps offer the same functions.
With shared liquidity, WSOP.com generally provides larger player pools, prize pools and payouts. The site also offers online bracelet WSOP Circuit events and live WSOP event qualifiers.
Available: Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware
Apple iPhone and iPad poker apps
WSOP.com, partypoker and PokerStars offer an iOS app for iPhone and iPad users with great functionality. Downloading each of them is quick and straightforward.
You can also create an account and deposit a matter of minutes on all iOS platforms. The lobby for online poker is generally compact and easy to toggle among game types.
If you’re ready to download a poker app for your iPhone, use the links above to take advantage of the excellent sign-up and deposit bonuses.
Android poker apps
The poker apps above are also available to Android device users as well. You should find similar gameplay and options as seen on the desktop version, but in a similar platform as the Apple offering.
As the Google Play Store does not offer any gambling apps, if you’re ready to download for Android, you’ll need to download directly from the poker site itself. Use the links above to do so and take advantage of the sign-up and deposit bonuses.
Global Poker app
For those not in legalized online poker states, there are other options.
For one, you can download the app of your choice right from your home and travel to a legalized state to play poker on the app. For poker players in New York, for example, where getting to New Jersey or Pennsylvania may be fairly quick and easy, this could be an option.
Another option is sweepstakes poker, which is based on social gaming and has become quite popular in the US. Global Poker is the most popular among those.
Global Poker allows you to play for free with Gold Coins, but it also offers you a currency called Sweeps Coins when purchasing additional Gold Coins.
Sweeps Coins are usable to play in separate tournaments and ring games. You can win more Sweeps Cash, which, unlike Gold Coins, can then be redeemed for real cash prizes or gift cards.
While it may not offer an app, Global Poker offers easy mobile play with instant play from a browser. The experience is smooth, and the gameplay flows well.
The lobby isn’t too busy and it is simple to navigate.
You will find ring games and tournaments easily. Like other poker sites, you can use the app for major tournament series as well. The site also features excellent customer service, simple deposit and cashout options, and plenty of playing options.
Global Poker began adding even more to its tournament offerings in March 2020, with several interesting daily events featuring big guarantees. The site also beefed up its Saturday and Sunday majors. There is, really, something for every bankroll.
Note: As Global Poker is regulated as a sweepstakes product, you can get free Gold Coins by mailing in a request to the home office, too.
How do I download a poker app in the US?
One great thing about using a real money poker app is that you can qualify for bonuses and free play money for simply signing up. That can add up even more when making a deposit.
Those looking to take advantage of some of those bonuses and free cash should use the links above for exclusive USPoker bonuses and offers. After downloading, you have a quick process to sign up.
You’ll need to provide some basic information, including:
- Phone number
Poker apps offer similar security measures to the traditional poker software. Downloading a poker app will also require downloading authorized geolocation software to make sure you are physically within the state offering legal online poker.
Note: Players don’t have to be in the state to download the app or deposit into an account. If you plan to travel to a legal poker state (e.g., Nevada, PA or NJ), getting started ahead of time is just as easy. You’ll also qualify for the bonuses and free money.
When you’re in the legal state, simply break out your mobile device and start playing. While you might not find every game or tournament option you’d find on the full desktop poker client, the app will offer a wide range of game options. Some of those can include:
- Free-to-play games
- Real money cash games
- Sit & gos
- Fast-fold (speed poker) games
- Jackpot SNGs
- Major tournament series events
Free poker apps
It’s important to note that real-money poker apps are still always free to download. You can also play for free with virtual currency or “play money” on any real-money poker app.
This offers a great way to learn the app, practice your skills and simply have some fun. Creating a new account on a poker app will also come with some free money or tournament tickets to take a shot at a couple of real-money events.
Unlike social gaming poker apps, there is (usually) a higher level of play on an app for real money. Players with no “skin in the game” are much less likely to fold, and the game isn’t really close to what one might experience in a real live poker room.
Poker as a game is entirely different when played for money. Some of that real-world play also carries over to the play-money experience on a real-money poker app. The quality of play on the poker app may be slightly better and improved over what social gamers are used to, as well.
This is a good thing, though, as it makes the games far more predictable and better prepares you for eventually diving into real-money poker games. If you’re looking for the best free poker apps solely for social gaming, check our page here:
Are real-money poker apps safe?
Online poker apps offer a safe and secure playing environment. Just like traditional land-based casinos and poker rooms, operators must meet strict licensing requirements and regulations.
That means all player information and funds are secure. Unlike unregulated, offshore sites, legal online poker operators have systems in place to offer numerous player protections — and are required to do so by state laws and regulations.
Online poker platforms, including apps, also work toward the prevention of player collusion. Each operator monitors gameplay in this way, and player collusion and discrepancies are commonly discovered by monitoring software. This technology can help assure players of a square game.
You can look for the following when it comes to online poker apps and the operators themselves.
These are signs of a safe and secure poker site:
- State-approved partnerships
- Reputable companies
- Approvals and inspections by state gaming commissions
- Mainstream deposit and withdrawal methods
- Excellent support and customer service
Can I deposit and cash out on a poker app?
After setting up an account, making a deposit using an app is easy and safe. There should be several mainstream deposit options, and all these can usually be used via an app as well. Some of those may include:
- E-check bank payments (ACH transfers)
- Visa or Mastercard
- Wire payments
- E-wallets such as Neteller
These may also be a means of cashing out any winnings. Many poker apps also offer deposits and cashouts at the cashier cage at their partner casinos. Banking is as fast and efficient as most other online retail experiences.
Poker Apps FAQ
Can I multi-table on a poker app?
Yes, and some mobile apps offer ways to make this easier. That small screen may not be as conducive to tiling through numerous games, but playing a few tables is possible.
Can I access the same games and tournaments on a poker app?
For the most part, yes. While some events and functions may not be available, most tournaments, cash games, sit and gos, and other games are usually also on the app. Players can expect a similar experience they’d find using a desktop or laptop computer.
Can I cascade tables on a poker app?
Yes, but there may be reduced numbers, and it will depend on the app and operator. Playing more than one game or event is possible, however.
How many players use the poker apps over desktop?
More and more players are using mobile devices, and surveys show that 10% of all time spent on an average person’s phone is for gaming. It’s a good bet a good portion of that is poker. Poker apps offer the flexibility of playing wherever and whenever a player wants as long as they’re within the boundaries of a legalized online poker state.
Sweepstakes poker apps can be played freely across virtually all states (it’s only off-limits in Washington) and player pools and growing rapidly.
How much data do I use on a poker app?
If using Wi-Fi, players don’t have to worry about data demands. When using cellular data, some apps may use only eight to 10 megabytes per day.
Can I see poker odds on a poker app?
Most sites and apps offer tutorials on learning how to play so you can learn the odds and what to expect. Some may also offer odds on certain hands as the game progresses or is in action. Playing for free offers a nice way to learn and get accustomed to the game and individual gameplay of each app.
Can I play casino games and bet on sports through a poker app?
Most apps offer this seamless feature, and player funds can be used for other forms of gaming. However, Nevada has only legalized poker and sports betting. Pennsylvania and New Jersey also offer other forms of online gaming. Delaware also offers limited online gaming.