There is obvious untapped potential for poker games playable on mobile devices. Full Tilt Poker’s fast-paced Rush Poker in particular is a great fit for this format. The relative speed of the game makes one-tabling it more tolerable, and the general aesthetic of speed poker fits well with that of the on-the-go smart phone/tablet user.
While I see tremendous potential here, the current Rush Poker application, playable on Android devices, hasn’t quite got it right yet. It’s close: the graphics are clean and crisp, the interface is uncluttered, and all of the information you need is easy to find and read on a small screen. The major problem is that the bet slider is extremely difficult to control. This combined with the generally short time to act allotted in Rush Poker games and the occasional lag left me intermittently timing out and folding or settling for a bet size that was merely in the neighborhood of what I wanted.
On my Droid X, the application was somewhat slow to load and connect to the server initially, but once it was up and running, the lag that I experienced on the Verizon network, even from rural Texas, wasn’t in itself unmanageable. The only problem is that it ate a second or so off of the time that I had to fiddle awkwardly with the bet slider.
The familiar radio boxes to “Fold to Any Bet” or “Call Any” aren’t available, which isn’t really a problem since you can only play one table at a time anyway, nor is there a chat box. When applicable, an “Auto-Fold” button appears prominently on the screen in case you want to fold and move on immediately to the next hand. Otherwise, buttons to “Fold”, “Call”, or “Raise” appear when it is your turn to act.
Clicking “Raise” brings up more buttons and a slider. Your options are “Minimum”, “Pot”, “All In”, or the amount that you select with the slider. Maybe I’m still new to the whole touch screen thing, having had my smart phone for only a few months, but I found it virtually impossible to pin the slider down on exactly the amount that I wanted. Playing 1/2 NL with play chips, I could reliably get within 1 or 2 chips of the amount I wanted to bet, but even lifting my finger off of the screen after selecting my size sometimes caused the slider to shift slightly higher or lower. In the half-hour that I played, I both timed out and made incorrect bet sizes more often than I actually bet the amount that I wanted using the slider.
To be fair, the application is still in its public beta testing and restricted to play money games. Hopefully they can either improve the bet slider or provide a virtual number pad to enter bets manually. Maybe it isn’t so bad if you’re playing on a tablet. What lag issues there are will presumably improve as cellular networks get faster. I wouldn’t recommend playing Rush Poker Mobile for real money in its current incarnation, but it makes me extremely optimistic for the future of mobile poker applications.