In a world dominated by Windows and Mac users, there is still a number of people who prefers the freedom that an open operating system like Linux can offer.
Since the very first Ubuntu release, Linux has started to gain popularity with million of downloads and countless distros being created. Unfortunately, however, this popularity did not convince many poker sites to turn to Linux and create Linux-compatible versions of their poker rooms.
If you are a Linux user and you want to play online poker – have a look at this page. We have listed all the best online poker rooms for Linux and, at the same time, we have put together some useful tips that will allow you to install on your Linux machine pretty much any poker room you want.
Linux users face a bit of a conundrum if they want to play online poker because most poker sites still don't offer Linux compatible downloads.
This leaves you with two choices: utilize an in-browser version of the poker room, or use an emulator like Wine (which will allow you to run Windows platforms on your Linux machine) in order to download and run the poker clients traditionally used by Windows players.
Tip #1: Play poker on Linux from the browser
As the name suggests, you can access online poker sites on Linux through your browser. There is no download required, which makes the fact you are using Linux irrelevant.
In truth, browser-based online poker interfaces used to be of very poor quality, but more powerful computers and better Flash and HTML coding have made the experience more than passable these days.
There are definite drawbacks associated with using the browser-based option. Poker sites would much rather their players download software (so the site becomes the “default” choice when a user wants to play), and for that reason, the variety of games they offer to people playing in their browser can be quite limited.
For example, you may only have access to certain types of games, and some sites will only allow you to play in one game at a time (instead of the multiple games you can play if you’re using a downloaded client). These limitations extend to tournament play as well, with many sites not allowing players using the browser option to participate in tournaments.
Note: if you are a tournament player, this is obviously a non-starter.
Tip #2: Download your online poker client on Linux
For Linux users, the only way to download most poker clients and get them to run, is to use an emulator program.
Wine is perhaps the most popular emulator, even though its coders and many users prefer to call it a “compatibility program.” Nevertheless, Wine allows a Linux user to run poker rooms designed for Windows, an option serious poker players should look at closely.
You can download Wine at winehq.org and then install it on your Linux machine with the package manager. Configuration (to determine which version of Windows will be emulated) is relatively simple, since Wine will usually have its own submenu under “applications.” Then just right-click on the poker client and open it with Wine, and you can run the client from the applications menu.
Are the download options better than the browser versions offered by poker sites? In a word - yes. In several words, you get:
The option to play multiple games at one time
The option to participate in tournaments
Access to all games offered by the site
Practically speaking, games usually run much more quickly on downloaded clients, since large amounts of data don’t have to be transmitted across the web with each move.
Also, you can save your preferences for different games so you don't have to continually input data every time you access a site through your browser.
A word of warning about Linux poker rooms
It wasn't long ago that the number of true online poker options for Linux users could be counted on one hand.
More sites are starting to offer Linux clients now, but unfortunately, most of them are unknown brands and some are somewhat shady. Take time to fully investigate any site you’re considering before you start playing and putting up money.
As a general rule, we strongly suggest you only use brands you are familiar with, and which have been in existence for at least five years. Don't let this turn you off from Linux poker downloads if you find them; just use your common sense.
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