No Mobile for Multi-Player Poker

Mobile games are the rage. In some jurisdictions, mobile gaming … real money wagering … is hot. Some companies are even working on poker for mobile devices. Not video poker against the house, but real money, multi-player poker. I think that’s nuts!

Let’s review. Real money poker is a time-based, sequential game. You act, and then I have to act. If I don’t act in time, the system acts for me … check or fold. That’s it. Buh-Bye Dan. All-in disconnect protection, where it is available, might help me once or twice if I lose my connection, but abuse of all-in protection has resulted in most sites limiting or not offering it.

Now, put me on a bus or a train. Even in countries with great cellular infrastructure, mobile means connections get weak or completely disrupted. Sure, I can be sitting in a station or at an airport, and a couple hours of poker, playing from my smart phone, might be a great way to spend two hours waiting for a departure. But do I really want to risk being in a big pot, with the nuts, while riding on a bus, train, or in a car? Not me!

I simply don’t see mobile technology as quite ready for a time sensitive, high stakes wagering game. Any gaming where a player has time constraints, and multi-player poker certainly fits that description, is not a good candidate for mobile devices at this stage of the technology.

Any gaming company that rolls out real money multi-player poker on mobile devices would be wise to cap the stakes and to avoid pot limit and no limit varieties. Yes, even multi-table tournaments, where the prize pool could be large, are unwise for mobile device access. Pity the customer service representative who has to deal with a player using a mobile device who got folded at a critical point because of a loss of signal. This could make dial up seem downright reliable in comparison under some conditions.

Setting aside tablet devices, most mobile devices have fairly small screens. Touch technology allows for easy to use user interfaces. But consider the perils of designing a poker table interface for a mobile device. Put the fold, check, and raise buttons too close to one another, and add in a few untimely bumps in the road, or poorly steered piece of luggage as the player acts, and the wrong action could be selected. Sure, the GUI designer could add an “are you sure” step for all critical decisions, but that would take away from the flow of the game, and slow the player’s response.

Call me conservative, but I just don’t see mobile and real money multi-player poker as a happy marriage.

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