In the olden days (cough, say 2002 or so) if you wanted to play online poker, you more or less had to play on a PC. Meaning as far as Mac poker (or poker for Macs) went, there was none.
Or, to be generous, very little. There was an odd poker site that offered a no-download browser version but it was typically pretty, well, average. You could set up a Windows emulator on your Mac and play poker that way, but that was also less than ideal. As far as iPhone poker goes ...forget about it. There wasn't any. And any kind of app that did have "free" poker was junk.
Today is a new day. Online poker for Mac has changed dramatically over the last decade or so and even more so in the last few years. These days all the best online poker sites have a fully downloadable Mac software, a Mac poker app for iPhone or iPad and, worst-case scenario, adequate no-download poker.
In fact, if we had to fathom a guess, the percentage of casual poker players who use a Macbook Pro as their full-time instrument of choice is likely higher now than its ever been. If you're a hardcore online grinder who needs to use poker tools like a HUD, PCs are still the way to go. But for a lot of online poker players there's undeniably a growing desire for bigger and better Mac poker. And its coming along slowly but surely.
||100% up to $1,000||Play Now||Read Review|
One of the major stumbling blocks for Mac poker back then was the technical requirements of the software (and the programmers to make them specifically for OSX).
There wasn't the same amount of demand for outright Mac poker so there wasn't really a desire to fulfill the niche. Even PokerStars, which was founded by software developers and basically created the industry standard for top-of-the-line poker software, was slow to bring a full Mac poker client to market.
As Mac poker demand rose, though, and the technical reqs for running online poker software become lighter, then and only then did poker sites begin to jump on the Mac poker train. All of the biggest poker sites in the world have now devoted considerable resources to creating native OSX versions of their poker software that you can download and install directly on a Mac.
Over the last four or five years the mobile smartphone industry has driven the change in the poker industry and with the iPhone obviously one of the most ubiquitous smartphones ever, a natural Mac app was a no-brainer for most poker sites to develop.
Mac poker is here to stay, is the long and short of it. And as you can see by the toplist above you can play online poker to your heart's content with any of your Mac products at a variety of poker sites around the world.
Mac Poker FAQs
Is Online Poker for Mac Any Good?
If you're one of those old-school types clinging to your PC and wondering if a Mac could possibly match your online poker experience we can confidently say, well, maybe.
As mentioned above, if you're a hardcore poker player who grinds it our online day after day, a Mac probably won't cut it for you. The native Mac software for most poker sites is not as fully developed as the PC version. Mac poker software also isn't typically compatible with the tracker software and HUDs most poker players use for their online games.
That being said, for more and more casual poker players these days:
- Online poker on a Mac is just as good as online poker on a PC
There. We said it. Hardcore poker grinders might be gripping their hair with both hands right now but for the average, recreational poker player who wants to one-table some Spin & Gos on his or her phone or drop in and play a Sunday MTT every now and then, Mac Poker is more than adequate. For real.
Online poker sites don’t require high-end video cards so your experience should, more or less, be pretty much identical to playing on a PC. If you're comfortable using a Mac for literally everything else you use a computer for, there's no reason why you need to run out and buy a PC just to play poker.
We repeat: You Mac will be just fine for online poker. Maybe the only downside for playing online poker on Mac products is that there are a few obscure poker sites that are still PC only. But, of course, if you’re really MUST play on some obscure poker site without a Mac poker client, you can still dual boot Windows and play anyway.
What Do I Need to Play Mac Poker?
The actual technical requirements to play online poker on a Mac will vary a bit from site to site, but we can generalize a bit. For most online poker sites you’ll just need an Intel-based Mac. Mac switched to Intel chips in 2006 so basically any computer released since then should be fine in terms of processor.
For RAM you're probably going to need at least 512mb, which is a minuscule amount by today’s standards. Finally you’ll need about 50-100mb in hard drive space, which is again very small considering most smart phones give you at least 16gb these days.
You’ll notice that any Mac released since 2006 pretty much fulfills those requirements so as long as your computer isn’t over 10 years old you should be just fine. Same goes for playing online poker on your Mac phone. As long as you have a relatively recent version of the iPhone you've got more than enough juice for regular online poker.
What About Multi-Tabling on a Mac?
Meh, more or less the same rules apply. If you're 24-tabling and you need a ton of speed and tiling/cascading ability and running your tracking software on the side, you're going to need a nice PC.
It'll work on a Macbook Pro for but it'll be slightly less smooth/efficient. Multi-tabling on your iPhone is fine, too, although the small screen really makes it a bit clumsy for anything more than 2 or 3 tables.
What’s the Difference Between Mac Poker and No-Download Software?
No download or "browser-based" poker software is what it sounds like: It’s an online poker client that runs entirely in a Web browser such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. Browser poker software is generally less robust than full download versions but it does have a few benefits.
One perk is that you don't have to install anything on your Mac so it doesn’t take up any hard drive space. Another is that it can be played on any device that’s capable of running an Internet browser.
No-Download poker can be useful for Mac poker players because they can be used by any computer that can run a browser. That also includes Linux if you want to get really fancy. It’s generally not as secure, however, so we tend to recommend downloadable poker sites.
True Mac poker, on the other hand, involves actually downloading a full software package to your Mac, installing it on your computer and opening it up each time you play poker.
The differences between the full downloadable Mac poker software and no-download poker are substantial. A lot of the added features you get with the full download Mac poker software - customizable tables and avatars, tracking compatibility, fully support deposit and withdrawal options etc - won't be available on the no-download browser version.
What are the Biggest Differences Between Windows and Mac Poker?
As we mentioned in the bygone days of online poker there was really no contest between Windows poker and the Mac poker version. The Windows version was far superior.
These days, though, poker sites on Windows and OSX are pretty similar. You may find a few icons in different places but pretty much all the OSX versions of a poker site's software are just ports of the original Windows version, which means everything should be exactly the same.
In fact the software is so similar that you should be able to transition pretty effortlessly from Windows if you’ve ever played an online poker site on a PC.
Can I Play Online Poker on an Older Mac?
Like we’ve been saying, you don’t really need a brand-new computer to run online poker software. Any laptop made in the last 10 years should be able to run online poker software just fine.
Considering most people tend to upgrade every 5-6 years you shouldn't even need to check if your computer is compatible. It more than likely is. Just beware of laptops with the old PowerPC architecture (pre-2006). Most online poker software was developed just for Intel processors.
Of course if your Mac is really old you could look into an online poker site that offers in-browser play.
Mac Poker Options for Windows-Only Poker Sites
What if your favorite little poker site that no one else knows about doesn’t offer support for OSX? That’s OK. A little known fact about Mac computers is that since switching to Intel-based chips in 2006 you can actually dual-boot Windows. That means you can actually install Windows on your Mac.
Of course you’ll need some hard drive space and a copy of Windows but you can absolutely get Windows running on your Mac. Once you’ve installed Windows you’ll have access to pretty much every online poker site ever invented.
Be warned, however, that you will have to re-start your computer every time you want to play on a Windows-based site.
Will I Play Mac Online Poker Only Against Other Mac Poker Users?
Nope. Whatever your operating system or computer hardware you'll have access to the full player base at any poker site. Your total player pool will depend on where you live and which poker domain you are using (PokerStars.nj, PokerStars.com, PokerStars.eu, etc)
Can I Play Online Poker on Mac iPhones & iPads?
Many online poker sites offer full mobile poker apps for iPhones and iPads these days but it may depend on whether the App store in your region allows real-money poker apps.
There are a number of regions around the globe that don’t allow online poker sites on the iTunes store. If your region does allow online poker sites then it’s incredibly easy to get online poker up and running on your Mac mobile device.
The mobile software has been optimized so that you won’t have access to the complete desktop version but it should be much easier to get into a game right away.
What About PokerStars for Mac?
PokerStars has been renowned for having the best poker software in the industry so it was disappointing for many Mac users it took so long to get a native, downloadable Mac client.
But enough about the past ... it's here now and that's what matters. The fully downloadable Mac PokerStars software is very good and satisfied a ton of desperate Mac users dying to play proper online poker.
What you get with the PokerStars Mac client are all the same great bells and whistles of the regular Stars software plus the amazing game and tournament selection PokerStars is renowned for.
A couple of specific poker game types - Jackpot Spin & Gos, Zoom Poker - are particularly great for playing on your iPhone, iPad or Mac laptop. For those who don't know what those are:
- Spin & Gos are PokerStars Jackpot SnGs where you buy-in for anywhere from $1 to $30 and the prize pool is multiplied randomly before the tournament begins. Spin & Gos are played as 3-handed hyper turbos with 2-minute blinds and players all in every hand after the time clock hits 12 minutes. They're fast, fun and impossibly easy to play and win.
- Zoom Poker (or "Fast Fold Poker" as it's also known) is great for one-tabling because as soon as you fold your hand you're whisked away to anther table with a brand new hand. You never have to sit through hands you're not involved in or wait for inattentive multi-tablers to time out on you. Just click fold and you're gone!
The PokerStars iPhone/iPad app is also very good. Fast, smooth and intuitive you can pick up and play your favorite PokerStars games seamlessly with the Mac app. You can download the Mac app at the App store or from the PokerStars website.
You can download the full PokerStars Mac software right from our PokerRoomsOnline review and get our $600 sign-up bonus. Just click "Play Now" or "Download Now" on the review page:
What About 888Poker for Mac?
888Poker also has a fully downloadable Mac poker client and a separate Mac Poker app for iPhone and Android. With the full Mac download or the app you can access all of 888poker's great cash game and tournament variety alongside their huge bonuses (Up to $888). You can also access their full sportsbook and casino.
Some of the best 888poker games for playing on a Mac are:
- BLAST Jackpot Sit & Gos
- Speed Poker
As you might have guessed these are 888poker's version of Spin & Gos/Zoom Poker. The only differences with the 888poker versions are the turbos SnGs are played 4-handed. Read more about both and get the massive $888 bonus via our 888poker review page:
Can I Play Mac Online Poker in the US?
Absolutely you can. There are a couple of caveats, though. As of 2018 online poker has only officially licensed and regulated in four US states: Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware & Pennsylvania. More states (California, Michigan) are likely to be added soon but for now those are the only states with real, legal online poker sites.
If you live in (or are visiting) one of those states, though, you can easily play online poker on your Mac. PokerStars, 888poker (WSOP), partypoker, Pala Casinos ... all have fully downloadable Mac poker for US players.
As for the other 46 states ... there are "rogue" poker sites who are licensed (in some cases) overseas who do offer online poker (and online poker for MAc) to US players. We don't, however, recommend playing on an unlicensed poker site from the USA. Not because it's illegal (online poker has never actually been illegal in the US and still isn't) but because you don't have any guarantees your winnings will be paid out.
For the complete rundown on US Mac Poker Sites, visit our US online poker page here:
Free Online Poker Games for Mac
If you're only interested in playing free online poker games on your Mac, that's no problem either. In fact you have a ton of options. You can play:
- Free downloadable poker apps on your iPhone
- Play Money Poker games on real-money poker sites
As for the free Mac poker apps, just a quick cruise through the App store will show you how many free poker apps there are out there but, after trying out dozens and dozens of them, we have to say most are pretty poor. One free Mac poker app we can recommend is:
Playing free play-money poker on a real-money poker site is an even better way to go. You can download the full mac software and create an account and then stick entirely to the free money games while still getting to use the amazing poker software itself.
You'll get a bunch of free play-money chips when you register a new account and you will have tons of chances to win more through free rolls and play money games. You can even buy more play-money chips in the poker store.
On most real-money poker sites you will also be given tickets to freeroll tournament where you can win REAL Money for poker play. Learn more on our poker room reviews page: