Poker is an American institution, as much a part of our culture as the rodeo, apple pie and rock ‘n’ roll.
It found its way here after the civil war, developing from a French parlour game called poque, and throughout history has contributed to the rich tapestry that is our American history. Today, we hosted the biggest poker tournament in the world, the World Series of Poker, contested in Las Vegas, the poker capital of the world.
That makes it all the more surprising that online poker is only allowed in seven states, and operators only offer games in five. In 2011, after eight years of the poker boom, the authorities pulled the plug on a host of top operators, and the industry has been recovering ever since. You can still find great poker apps offering real money games, but only in five states.
That doesn’t mean you can’t play and enjoy a slice of American history. There are lots of free-to-play poker apps which you can turn to for your poker fix. Here is a handful of the best.
Appeak Poker operates on what is known as a freemium basis. You can download and play it for free, but you’re only given a limited number of chips daily. If you lose those and wish to play for longer, then you must buy chips with real money. Crucially, this is not the same as a real money game because you cannot withdraw your winnings, nor do they have real-world value. The game is good fun with plenty of options. It uses Texas Hold‘em as its basis, a poker variant made popular in the seventies, which, as the name suggests, originated in Robstown, Texas. There are tournaments to participate in and plenty of other users on Appeak to pit your wits against.
Governor of Poker 3
Governor of Poker is another freemium poker game, but unlike Appeak it also has a story mode for you to complete. You begin your poker career in the dusty bar rooms of the Wild West, and although fictionalized, it is also where poker had its first cultural impact. You must work up to more illustrious surroundings by winning games and completing mini-missions and daily challenges. You can play with friends, there’s a world leaderboard to keep an eye on, and if you bust out, you can always buy back in. Beware, every penny you spend in the real world is gone; there’s no withdrawing your winnings.
If Governor of Poker is a free-to-play adventure-style game, Zynga Poker gives you the impression of being anything but. The user interface, graphics and sound feel exactly like a real money game. It’s a slick app, well produced and built upon many years of experience. It has a long history of more than 14 years, and after the 2011 Black Friday crash, it became the world’s most populated poker site, with 38 million registered players. That number has dropped off today, but the app still has plenty of features, tournaments and variants to keep you coming back for one last hand.
Even though these apps are free to play, you’ll be required to log in. Make sure you protect yourself by checking out our piece on password managers, helping keep your accounts safe.