The recent World Series of Poker saw the biggest top prize for the main event ever claimed by a single player; Norway’s Espen Jorstad outlasted 8,662 other poker players to win $10m in front of the watching world. TV cameras covered the event, and thousands more were in attendance in Las Vegas. There were more players than ever, up by almost 2000 from 2021. Is that the start of a new poker boom?
It could be. In 2003, Chris Moneymaker’s win ensured player numbers rose exponentially until the 2011 Black Friday event. That also came on the back of an inspirational poker film, Rounders, which gained popularity months after it left the cinema. We recently had Molly’s Game, now available to stream on Netflix, and a headline win. The difference is Jorstad didn’t qualify online; Moneymaker did. Interestingly, Moneymaker couldn’t do that today; there is no legislation for real money online poker in Tennessee, where he played whilst qualifying in 2003.
After Black Friday, poker became much more regulated, and only a handful of states currently offer real money games. However, poker legalization is happening across the United States, albeit slowly. Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan all allow real money games and have providers working the states. Connecticut and West Virginia have provisions but have yet to license a provider. They’re waiting for nearby states to legalize online poker, such as Massachusetts and Virginia, so providers have a larger market to aim at.
That means that currently, of the 50 states, 45 do not have real money games online. That means all those poker fans, new and old, have to make do with free-to-play sites. Luckily, they’re plentiful, so if you wish to play online but live in a state with no provision, these might be a perfect compromise.
Governor of Poker 3
The Governor of Poker has a storyline to follow and offers multi-player options. It is a freemium model, much like other poker apps, which means you can play for free until the chips run out, and then buy more to keep going. Be warned; there is no payoff here; if you win big, there’s no withdrawal.
There is a solid storyline to follow, where you start in a dusty barroom playing at the bottom and work your way through the industry to the bright lights of Las Vegas. It will give you plenty of poker experience when your state legalizes poker.
Zynga Poker feels like a real money site; it is slick, well-presented and packed with features. The company has recently changed hands due to its long, proud gaming history and shows in the app’s quality. You might have played this before, as it’s one of the oldest poker apps out there, but it got a huge update and overhaul a couple of years ago, decluttering the menus and adding new features.
It’s also one of the best-populated apps worldwide, with even more players than real money apps. That means lots of people to challenge you and let you hone your skills for those future cash games you might play.
World Poker Club
World Poker Club is fairly standard in terms of its offering; it has Texas Hold’em, multi-player options and a chance to play with other people around the globe. What makes it stand out is the unique gesture system, so rather than hitting buttons, you double tap to check/call, drag up to raise wagers, that sort of thing. Whilst it’s an obvious innovation, it feels really fresh and makes games much easier to navigate.
It’s an average game, and there are better apps in terms of graphics and gameplay we haven’t mentioned, but in terms of accessibility, this one feels like it is a Royal Flush rather than a pair of sixes.
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