Online Poker for Mac Operating Systems

Windows PC might be the dominant favorite among operating systems, but there are still plenty of Macintosh aficionados out there who prefer the dynamics of an Apple OS, or have a deep seeded hatred for Bill Gates for being so exceedingly intelligent/wealthy/technologically pioneering… whatever the case may be. The point is, if you have a Mac, and you love online poker, you don’t have nearly as many options as the majority PC owners.

Just a few years ago, the idea of playing downloadable online poker on a Mac was unheard of, borderline laughable. It took more than 10 years after the birth of the online poker industry for programmers to really start paying attention to the fact that Mac poker players were out there, and they were not happy playing instantly via their browsers.

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Times have change – a lot. Not only has the instant-play Mac poker software advanced greatly, more big-wig card rooms are introducing download poker for Mac. Which one is right for you? That’s a hard question to answer, because everyone has their own preferences, and the region in which you reside will certainly affect which download Mac poker sites are available to you. Let’s take a look at some of the opportunities out there.

Download Poker for Mac

There are several poker sites out there with dependable, downloadable poker clients optimized for Mac operating systems. PokerStars tops the list (as it always does). Everything that comes out of PokerStars seems inimitable in this business, and if you’re not residing in the United States of America, it is probably your best bet. PokerStars has that colossal player base, more unique poker variations than anyone else, and the biggest guaranteed prize pools on the world wide web. They also have some very stiff competition at the tables, so if you’re a casual player, you may prefer something less crowded with veteran sharks.

Bovada Poker has an excellent Mac poker download, and if the name sounds familiar, it should. Bovada is the reincarnation of Bodog Poker, one of the first online gambling sites to hit cyberspace back in the mid-90’s. Bodog was finally reborn under its own domain, but it serves a limited player base, while Bovada Poker is open to all corners of the globe. The games are standard and the player base is large enough to accommodate all stakes ranges, but not so large that there’s a shark lurking around every virtually felted table.

Most recently (Dec ’12), Party Poker announced its latest poker platform, designed for installation on Mac OS-X. Party Poker is like a median between PokerStars and Bovada. They do not permit players from the USA (or Poland and some parts of Germany), and the game variety isn’t as vast as PokerStars, but there are some unique games and the network has a substantial player base with enough fish to wiggle your lure at.

Carbon Poker is another splendid choice for Mac download poker. Operating on the Merge Gaming Network, it’s a very fishy poker room that accepts players from all over the world (except Australia) and, like PokerStars, has an extensive cash game variety.

Before we move on, there’s one more thing I should point out regarding the PokerStars Mac poker client. It comes with something extra special, called PokerStars Home Games. If you’re looking for a real-money Texas Holdem poker game to play among your friends, you can create a highly customizable, private club; a home on the web for you and your friends to revisit whenever you like (unlike standard private tables at other poker sites, where the table vanishes into thin air when you leave it, requiring you to start from scratch when you want to strike up another home-away-from-home game.)

Flash Poker on Mac

Another option is to play one of the many instant-play poker rooms, powered by Flash. It is completely compatible with Mac OS, requiring only an up to date Flash Player on your system. Admittedly, Flash poker isn’t going to be as aesthetically appealing or feature-rich as the download version, but it has definitely improved over the last few years.

These days, both instant-play poker platforms and the Flash Player plug-in have seen some great advancements. They run smoother, disconnect less (more of an ISP issue nowadays) and are much more readily available.

For USA poker players, and just about everyone else, there are some great poker sites among the mix of Mac-compliant Flash poker sites. Aced Poker is a great choice, operating on the Merge Gaming Network. It has tons of special features and a sizable player base, plus an enormous range of poker variants.

Poker4Ever and Luvin Poker are both on the Everleaf Gaming Network, and while the Mac-complaint Flash version runs clean and smooth, the player base took a long walk off a short pier some time ago; not that its activity was all that significant to begin with. Near the start of 2013, the network was averaging near 250 players, but is now lucky to get 50 live bodies at the real money Texas Holdem tables at any given time. For super-casual, low-stakes games, these might make a decent stop, but not likely a permanent home.

For those who aren’t hampered by ambiguous regulatory hazards, particularly European card players, Ladbrokes Poker is a perfect destination for instant-play poker on a Mac. Part of the Prima Poker Network, it’s among the top 10 largest poker networks, powered by Microgaming. Because the majority of Microgaming powered online poker sites are extensions of a sportsbook, the player base tends to be perforated with inexperienced players who are just passing the time, waiting for the ponies to ride or the next football game to kickoff.

Emulating PC Poker on Mac

Last but not least, there is always the option of using PC emulator software to mimic Windows, allowing PC-compliant poker software to operate on a Macintosh. Unfortunately, they don’t always function quite as well as intended. The trick is to find just the right emulator, based on your Mac’s internal organs.

For a Mac equipped with a PowerPC chip, traditional emulation software is best. Essentially, it mimics the OS you’re supposed to be using (in this case, Windows PC), while running on a Mac. For every command sent to your computer, the emulation software captures the command and converts it into something your Mac can interpret. Programs like Bochs x86 PC Emulator and Guest PC will do the trick. On the negative side, PC emulators can be painstakingly slow, due to the triple-time it takes to scan, convert and recite the information.

If you’re running an Intel-based Mac OS, you have three options. You can dual boot between Mac OS-X and Windows with Apple BootCamp, which offers the best performance, but doesn’t allow you to access both operating systems concurrently. To run Windows and Mac concomitantly, try Parallels Desktop, VirtualBox or VMware Fusion. What all of the above programs have in common is that you must have Windows installed. To avoid that, you can run CrossOver Mac. You won’t have to install Windows, but the functionality is sketchy. Some PC programs work exceptionally well, others don’t work at all.