Will You Be Playing Online Poker on Your Cell Phone?

by Lou on January 7, 2006

Just as I made the turn onto National Trails Highway, there in the middle of the desert a few miles from what is the almost ghost town of Amboy, CA, I had an insight. I was heading home to Palm Springs from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where I had been hired to do a poker seminar and host some poker games by one of the firms taking place in the show. I was taking the “back way.” It was miles of empty desert instead of a crowded freeway, which gave me plenty of time to think as I drove.

Much of the talk at the show centered around new outlets for distributing content. Now that broadband is able to fill television and computers with content unimagined even a few years ago, the next big thing seemed to be the cell phone.

It seems that the cell phone of the future will provide significantly more content than you might imagine. Even now, broadcasters such as ESPN are preparing to distribute programming to very small cell phone screens. They just can’t rebroadcast television’s Sports Center on a cell phone. Instead, they have to shoot everything with much tighter shots, and create graphics tailor-made for a very small screen.

All of this led me to think about poker’s future on cell phones. After all, games or all sorts have been a staple of cell phones for a few years now. Sure, you’d have to reconfigure the graphics, but that can be done. And while it might be difficult to navigate between two or three game s on a cell phone, and taking notes about your opponents would be difficult at best, even on cell phones with full keyboards, surely you could play poker online at one table, and that might be quite sufficient for the really mobile player.

But then I began thinking about the frequency of dropped calls. It’s one thing to lose a phone call when your car drives under some power lines, through an area where reception is poor to non-existent, or you’re inside a building where reception is blocked or shielded. All you have to do is place the call again and take up right where you left off.
But that’s not so easily done when you’re playing poker. Whether you have ten dollars or a thousand dollars riding on a hand and are disconnected because you entered a cellular dead zone, your battery just died, sun spots in the atmosphere are wreaking havoc on reception, or your phone is just balky and made up its mind to quit on you, it’s no fun to see that money go bye-bye because of poor reception.

Regardless of how cool the next generation of content rich cell phones may be, they are still subject to the whims of unreliable connections that bedevil us all. And while dropped calls are an annoyance, they are not nearly as annoying as dropped money due to unreliable connections would be.

Until the reliability factor increases, I think I’m gonna forego cell phone poker games unless I play for really small stakes, where the money is nearly meaningless and I’m playing just for the fun of it. While I might download tunes, send email, watch Sports Center or do scads of other things that cell phone technology will support, I’ll probably forego poker until the connections are a lot more reliable. Until that day comes, I’ll just have to wait until I’m no longer in motion, can take out my laptop, find a good wireless connection, and play poker that way. That’s probably as mobile as I intend to be until cellular connectivity improves dramatically.

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