Since online poker
first rose to new heights in popularity following Chris Moneymaker's unlikely 2003 WSOP Championship win - a tournament he qualified for playing a $39 online poker
satellite - the internet has been abuzz with new players trying their hand at the game that turned a 27 year old accountant from Tennessee into an instant millionaire. However, by this time a large portion of Windows users had migrated to Macintosh computers for a variety of reasons, and support for the Mac at online poker sites was developed at a very slow pace.
Technology and demand have encouraged the production of Mac Poker software thoughout the online poker industry. More and more, online poker sites are releasing online poker software developed specifically for Max OS X, with many more still in development. Several online poker rooms have made the transition from beta testing to alpha versions of Mac poker clients.
History of Mac Poker
Oddly enough, the very first real money online poker site opened the same year (1998) that Apple released the iMac - a wildly popular computer who's sleek, stylish design and long-awaited hardware updates pulled in Apple's first annual profit since 1995. The iMac was followed by a whole line of new and increasingly popular products, including the iBook, the Power Mac G4, the PowerBook G4, and the Mac Mini.
Coupled with the decline in quality that plagued Microsoft during these years, and a triumphant marketing campaign by Apple promoting Mac products to the general public, Apple soon gained a stronghold within the personal computer industry. Unfortunately for Mac users, third party software was still being targeted primarily toward the Windows operating system, and online poker was no exception.
For years, Mac users had only two viable options. One: play the extremely limited, instant-play Flash and Java poker games
eventually provided by online poker sites to players who were not able to download their native software. Or two: install a "PC Emulator" or virtual computing environment - such as VMWare, Parallels, or Bootcamp - which allows Mac users to install a Windows operating system (or any other OS), facilitating the download and installation of the online poker client. The second option worked pretty well for those who were willing to buy the required software in order to make it work. However, the majority of Mac poker players were relegated to the instant-play online poker games.
The online poker industry was not oblivious to the demand for Mac poker compatibility. Mac users wanted an online poker client that could be installed and run as easily on a Mac as it was on a Windows PC, and the number of people switching to Apple products continued to grow. The race to provide the ease, reliability and sophistication of a native poker client for the Mac was on.
Presently, there are several online poker rooms available to Mac poker players who desire to download and install a Mac-compatible native poker client on to their computer, with many more internet poker sites still in the development phase to oblige this seemingly reasonable request. Mac poker compatibility is slowly but surely catching up with the market's demand.
How to Download and Install Mac Poker Software
A number of online poker sites have completed beta testing of their native software for Mac poker players, and have released stable, reliable online poker clients for the Mac that are incomparable to the instant-play versions.
After choosing which Mac poker client to download, first be sure to read the Mac system requirements before downloading the installation files. Most online poker software created to run on the Mac is compatible with Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or higher. Those running older versions are encouraged to upgrade to the latest version of Mac OS X before downloading a Mac poker client. Some Mac poker clients may require the Java Runtime Environment for Mac OS, which can be downloaded and installed for free. Mac users who have been playing Java-based instant-play online poker successfully can be assured that the JRE is already installed.
Once it is confirmed that the user's computer fits the Mac poker system requirements, the installation package can be downloaded by clicking the online poker site's "download" link for their Mac poker client. Any previous versions can be replaced by the newer Mac poker version. The installer should launch immediately upon completion of the download. Alternatively, the user may be prompted to drag the file icon into their Applications Folder, dock, or Desktop, from which the online poker client can be launched.
The user can then open the Mac poker client (if it doesn't open automatically upon finishing the installation process), and log into their existing account, or create a new one if they have never registered with this online poker site before. Once logged in, the Mac poker experience will be as close to the PC version as the online poker room's software development team has managed to create thus far. One can expect regular updates that continue the effort to fulfill the needs of Mac poker players.
No-Download Mac Poker
The download-free, instant-play versions of online poker rooms don't exist solely for the purpose of catering to Linux and Mac poker players. A number of people, regardless of their operating system, login to their online poker accounts from office computers during their lunch breaks at work, or when killing time at a friend's house or a location with publicly accessible computers. In such situations, downloading the native software for the poker client is neither desirable, nor necessary.
Instant-play online poker games provide swift accessibility to almost any computer from nearly any location. Depending on the online poker room that is chosen, the latest version of either Adobe Flash, or Java Runtime Environment will be required in order to launch the web-based online poker lobby. Despite the advances in supplying Mac users with quality, native Mac poker software, there may still be instances in which Mac users want or need to access the instant-play poker games. Especially if one has become particularly attached to an online poker room that has yet to develop a viable alternative.
Playing Mac Poker with a PC Emulator
A number of home Mac users have encountered the issue of requiring a Windows-only application to run on their Mac computer ever since the 1998 introduction of the iMac. A number of programs have been developed in order to allow Mac users to install a Windows operating system directly onto their Mac computer.
Bootcamp is a program developed by Apple that enables users to install a Windows operating system onto a Mac computer by partitioning the hard drive. What this means is that a portion of the hard drive is dedicated to the Mac OS X, and another portion will contain the Windows operating system and all the files that go along with it. When starting up the computer, the user will be able to boot up either the Windows or Mac operating system, depending upon what programs they will be using. This will allow Mac poker players to utilize the Windows poker clients, and any other Windows-only applications. The only real downside is that one has to restart the computer in order to switch between the two operating systems, and cannot access programs from both at the same time.
Another option for Mac poker players that solves this problem is an emulation program such as Parallels or VMWare Fusion, which allow Mac users to run Windows within the Mac OS X operating system. This is the most convenient option for Mac poker players who want access to their Mac programs while playing online poker in their Windows poker client. Unfortunately, running two operating systems side-by-side requires a great deal of memory, therefore only Mac users with a significant amount of RAM are recommended to use this option for playing online poker on a Mac.