A poker website’s software represents the main way you’ll interact with the site as a player. The quality of a site’s software platform will probably determine how much you like the site overall.
In this article, I’ll highlight the best software platforms available to US players. I’ll also discuss some details about popular poker software features, and speculate on the future of online poker software.
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Popular online poker platforms include names like Williams Interactive, Leander Games, NetEnt, and Microgaming.
What makes a superior software platform? The availability of a variety of game styles, the inclusion of a variety of limits, and overall player-friendliness. In my opinion, the three US-facing poker sites below have some of the best software available.
Take note that the sites on this list accept US-based players. Solid poker software available to customers from Europe and other parts of the world didn’t necessarily make the cut.
BetOnline Poker – If you’re looking for simple, streamlined poker software, this site is among the best in the business. Suitable for both Mac and PC users, it’s easy to navigate and doesn’t get bogged down with flashy graphics that add nothing to the game. System resources are never taxed, and the lobby is packed with easy-to-navigate options ranging from heads-up cash games to tournaments.
CarbonPoker – Compatible with Windows, Mac, and Android, this site’s software manages to walk a fine line between visual appeal and practicality. The range of games is impressive, providing player favorites (Texas Hold’em, Five-Card Stud) and lesser-known options (Badugi, Triple Draw). Their table statistics are also helpful, allowing astute players to analyze the tendencies of their opponents for future consideration.
America’s Cardroom – Part of the Winning Poker Network, this medium-sized site is powered by software from Yatahay. This isn’t one of the more-popular poker rooms in the world, but it is active, and the software is decent. For one thing, the software hosts all the usual poker styles available online. The software is also very functional, with plenty of useful player features built in, like hand histories and multi-tabling ability.
Poker Software Features
Here are details on two of the most popular special features in the online poker market today.
Two-dimensional online games have been the norm since Web-based poker premiered in the 1990s. These days, online poker sites are offering 3D poker to their customers. While the rules are exactly the same, the presentation is noticeably different due to the more lifelike quality of the graphics.
The chips practically jump off the screen in this version of the game, and in many versions, sound and visual effects simulate the feel of a crowd of players around you.
Is 3D poker any better of an experience than the traditional online version? That’s a question of personal taste more than anything. I have a brother-in-law who has no interest in enhanced graphics. With him, the quality of the game is based entirely on the level of opposition and the size of the pots. A lot of players would disagree with him, however, crediting the 3D experience with providing entertainment during even the most lackluster hand.
Live Dealer Games
One of the hottest options for card players right now is the live dealer function. Instead of looking at a screen generated by sterile computer graphics, the customer sees a real person staring back at them (although the dealer can’t actually see the player).
At the moment, no multi-player poker games are offered online with live dealers. Instead, the player competes heads-up against the dealer in games such as Casino Hold’em and Texas Hold’em. A wide range of casinos now offer this options, including William Hill, Unibet, Betway Casino, BetVictor, and 888 Casino.
Another plus for players is that the dealers tend to be young and attractive, with slender European females being the most common. However, gay and female poker players can also find handsome male dealers if they search the right casinos.
For those with no illusions about why they’re choosing the live option, select establishments even allow customers to choose female dealers wearing Playboy bunny attire. Come to think of it, it’s probably a blessing that these women can’t see what customers are doing on the other side of the screen.
The Future of Poker Technology
These are ideas I’ve had over the past year or two about what I’d like to see in online poker software. Obviously, there are no sources to back any of this up, but it is fun to think about.
Improved Speed – I remember the days of the dial-up modem, and I never fail to be amazed at how fast modern Internet connections have become. There’s no reason to expect these advances to stop, so poker players of the future can look forward to computer speeds that are even quicker than what they’re used to.
Increased Mobile Gaming – An increasing number of casinos and poker rooms are going to offer mobile gaming, and the number of games being offered should rival what’s available on your PC or Mac.
Increased Live Dealer Options – While live dealers currently offer a one-on-one experience, expect multi-player options in the near future. With the innovations brought about by Skype, I wouldn’t be surprised to see players able to look at the actual faces of their opponents.
Holographic Gaming – If technology keeps increasing at such a blistering pace, we might even see holographic poker in our lifetime. I know this sounds a little too much like Star Trek for some, but people a century ago would have laughed if you described the Internet to them.
Those of us that get into things like software platforms have a lot to look forward to, particularly if the US market opens up again in the next few years. Since competition drives change, changes to the technological landscape should bring about immediate changes in online poker play. Of course, if the US poker market doesn’t improve, there’s no reason for US-facing services to do much to improve their software.