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The Best Mac Poker Sites for 2021

A few years ago – say, maybe 3-5+ – you’d be hard-pressed to find a poker site that offered an instant-play option, much less a download for Mac users.

Who can say why that was? Maybe Windows users far outnumbered Mac users to the point where poker sites didn’t think it was worth the effort. Or maybe Windows is easier to develop software for.

Who knows?

What we DO know is that things have changed. Mac poker players have far more options today than they did a couple years ago. Not only in terms of compatibility, but also in terms of the number of poker rooms available to them.

Our primary goal is to show you which of those rooms are the absolute best for Mac poker players to join. You’ll find our top picks in the list below.

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Our second goal is to explain the options available to Mac poker players in terms of how they can play poker from their Macs, as well as the pros/cons of each of those options.

Our third and final goal is to answer all the common questions we receive and/or have seen online from players who want to play poker online from their Apple devices.

Let’s get started.

Options for Mac Poker Players

Below are the different options available to Mac users, and the pros and cons of each one. That way, you’ll have all the information you need to determine the best option for you.

Here are the different ways you can play online poker (for real money) from your Mac:

Emulator

Chances are you’re familiar with emulators, as many Mac owners use them to run some Windows programs, like Word.

But you can also use emulators to run other Windows-based programs, such as 100% of all online poker sites.

A couple of the more popular options include:

  • Parallels Desktop
  • VMware Fusion
  • Virtual PC for Mac
  • WinOnX
  • Boot Camp

You can see more options by clicking on the link provided.

The pros and cons for going this route include:

Pros
  • You can download the poker software and have access to all the games, features, etc.
Cons
  • You might experience poor performance, depending on the emulator you use and how well it’s updated.
  • Some emulators are unsupported, which means that if something goes wrong, you won’t have anyone to help you.
  • Some emulators cost money. Wouldn’t you rather use that money to play poker?
  • There might be a learning curve to use and/or get the most out of the software. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time playing poker?

Many of the cons are downsides you’d experience if you got the emulator for other purposes, too – it’s not necessarily associated with poker. But it’s something you’ll want to keep in mind anyway, especially if you didn’t otherwise have plans to use an emulator.

Instant Play

This is our favorite option, for reasons we’ll explain in just a second.

An instant-play poker room is identical to an instant-play or browser casino. If you don’t know what that is, it’s very simple:

Instead of having to download software to access the poker room, you access it from your browser. You log in, choose your games, play, etc. – everything – from your browser.

All the major browsers are supported – you can use Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. For the best results, we recommend you stick to the first two.

Here are the pros/cons to going this route:

Pros
  • There’s no download needed. This means you don’t need to use up your Mac’s resources that you could use for other programs.
  • You have a ton of flexibility. Since you can play from your browser, you’re not limited to any one computer like you are when you’re using a download. So long as you have internet access, you can play poker online.
  • Most poker rooms offer this as an option (IF they offer anything for Mac users).
  • It’s the fastest way to get started. Create your account and log in. You don’t have to wait for software to download.
Cons
  • We’ve noticed that many instant-play poker rooms have fewer options or features compared to their download. Chances are this is due to what’s possible or reasonable to build for the browser versus an entire downloadable program. Not only that, but an instant-play room needs to be compatible with multiple browsers. The most common features/options that are lacking include sizing tables, the number of tables you can play at once, and the ability to use the instant hand replayer.
  • This goes for graphic and game-play quality, too. You might find that it’s not as good as the download, though in our experience, the difference is negligible.
  • There will be evidence in your history that you played online poker (since you played from your browser). This is easy enough to get rid of, though, assuming you remember to do it after every session.

As we said, this is our favorite option…but there’s an exception or two. We’ll explain what that is after we talk about your last option.

Download

This is an option you’re likely familiar with. Well, maybe not, since you’re on a Mac, and most poker rooms don’t offer compatible downloads for Mac users.

(Sorry to rub it in!)

But what we mean is that this option is self-explanatory. You’ll download the software and play poker from your computer.

Here’s the good and bad that comes with this:

Pros
  • Native software means it was developed for YOUR computer. That means it should work better than any of the options mentioned above. It should have less (if any) bugs or other technical issues, too.
  • Graphic and game play should be much better than what you’ll experience playing from your browser.
  • You’ll have full access to features, games, options, etc. That includes resizing tables, playing multiple tables, having access to the hand replayer, and so on.
  • Chances are better that you can use your HUD and other 3rd party programs, assuming THAT poker room accepts it.
Cons
  • Good luck finding a poker room that offers a Mac-compatible download.
  • You don’t have the flexibility of playing from any computer you want like you would when playing from your browser, unless you have no problem downloading the software to every computer you want to play from.
  • There’s still evidence of you playing poker from your computer. And this is arguably harder to get rid of it.

Those are our thoughts.

We think the instant-play poker room is the best route to go – and in most cases, you’re not going to have a choice, as that’s what most Mac-friendly poker sites offer.

However, serious (professional) players should look for and choose a download if/when available. Everything from game play to graphics to game and feature options will be available – and better. And that’s far more important than the convenience of going the browser route, in our opinion.

How to Find the Best Mac Poker Site

Finding the “best” poker site for Mac users isn’t any different than finding the best poker site for everyone else.

For that reason, we’re not going to string this section out. What we’re going to do is give you a checklist to use. Just go through each question and check it off.

  • Do they accept players from your country?
  • Do they have a good reputation?
  • Do they have the poker games, variants, and stakes you want to play?
  • Do they have promotions you want to (and are able to) clear? Do they offer bonuses, VIP programs, freerolls, and more?
  • Do they have a large enough player base that you can play games whenever you want?
  • Do they have the Mac-friendly option you want (download, instant play, etc.)?
  • Do they have the banking options you want to use? Are their fees/limits reasonable?

There you have it. Go through this list, and the more of these questions you can check off, the more likely you’ll enjoy playing there.

Conclusion

As we said earlier, it’s far more common nowadays to find a poker site that offers some kind of Mac-friendly option than it was a couple years ago.

Your biggest hurdle is finding a poker room with the option you want to use. After that is finding a poker room that offers all the options available to Windows users (or as many as possible).

The fastest way to figure this out is to use the recommendations in our list above. Read the reviews if you need more details.

Beyond that, just use the checklist above, along with your own list of games, stakes, etc. that you want, and make sure you do your due diligence.

Mac Poker Frequently Asked Questions

Here are our answers to the most common questions we’ve received or have seen regarding playing online poker from Mac computers.

Are there Mac-friendly US sites?

Yes. Ignition Poker is one example of an instant-play poker site.

However, according to BeatTheFish.com, they’re also a good example of an instant-play poker room who has omitted features that Windows users have access to via the download.

Can you still claim bonuses?

Yeah, nothing changes here.

In fact, we can’t ever remember seeing a poker room who hasn’t offered any bonuses or has offered different promotions to Mac users.

What about Linux OS users?

You won’t find any downloads for Linux. However, if you have Java or Flash installed onto your computer, and you can use one of the common browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE, etc.), then you should be able to play from your browser.

Can I play all the same games from my Mac that Windows users can?

That depends on the room.

As we mentioned above, Ignition Casino is one example of a room who offers a Mac-friendly option, yet their instant-play room doesn’t offer tournaments or SNGs.

The best way to know which room does and which room doesn’t is to read our poker site reviews.

I’m just playing for fun – what’s the best option for me?

You should have no problem playing for free, though you’ll want to remember that your options will vary from room to room.

Unless you want access to all the features, options, and top-notch graphics – which arguably isn’t a big deal for play money or rec players – we highly recommend going the instant-play/no-download route.

I’m a serious player – what’s the best option for me?

If it’s an option – and at most sites it WON’T be – we recommend downloading the software. Other than better graphics and game play, you want access to all the software features, poker games, and so on. You want access to all the stuff that matters to serious players.

What are the system requirements to play from my Mac?

This depends on where you play. Chances are if you’ve bought your computer within the past five years, you’ll be good to go.

It may also depend a little if you’re going to download the software or play from your browser.

But to give you a better answer, here’s what PokerStars recommends:

For Mac users our software requires Mac OS X 10.7 and the minimum system configuration for our software to function correctly is:

  • 512MB RAM
  • 1024×768 screen resolution or higher
  • 60MB free disk space
  • 56k dial-up Internet connection

The above requirements will not have a fast performance, but the game will be still playable. The recommended system configuration is the following:

  • 1024MB RAM
  • 1024×768 screen resolution or higher
  • 100MB free disk space
  • 128kbps or faster DSL or Cable Internet connection

Most poker rooms will have a page that explains what tech requirements your computer needs to meet or exceed in order to use their software. If not, you can always ship them an email.

What’s the best browser to play in?

Safari is a safe bet. We’d also recommend Google Chrome. But any major browser should be fine.

Is playing from Macs safe? What about browser-based poker rooms?

Yes. They use the same encryption technology their downloads use (which is similar, if not the same, as the tech used by online finance companies).

A quick way to check is to see if the site is secured. Just check the address bar in your browser – it’ll tell you whether the site is secure, or at least Google Chrome does.

ill I only compete against other Mac users when I’m playing online?

No. You’ll play against the poker room’s entire player pool.