How to Play Poker on iMessage on an iPhone

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How to Play Poker on iMessage on an iPhone

Key Points

  • Poker is a game of skill, strategy, and luck, and the best players know how to master all three components.
  • The value of different poker hands determines the outcome of the game, with a Royal Flush being the best hand and a high card being the lowest.
  • Bluffing is an important aspect of poker, where players pretend to have a better hand to make their opponents fold.
  • To play poker on iMessage on an iPhone, you can download the PokerUp app from the iMessage Store and send invites to your friends to start a game.

The iPhone makes it fun and easy to play classic card games with friends entirely over text. With just a few taps, you can set up a poker game, invite your buddies, and start playing right from your iMessage chat. But how do you play poker on iMessage on an iPhone in the first place? Whether you’re a poker pro or a total newbie, we’ll walk you through the simple steps to get your virtual poker night going without ever leaving your iMessage thread.

The Basics of Poker

Poker game.
To play poker on iMessage, you must first learn how the game works.


Just because poker is one of the most popular card games known to man doesn’t mean it’s straightforward. Many have no idea how it works, let alone how to play Poker on iMessage on an iPhone. It’s a game of skill, strategy, and luck. The best players know how to master all three of these key components and leverage them to win the game. 

Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck. The goal is to win chips or money from the other player/s, though it doesn’t always have to involve a financial stake. You can use any object you choose, so long as you have something to add to the pot. At the start of a game, each player is dealt a set of cards — usually five. At the end of the game, the player with the best hand wins.

This simple definition makes it sound a lot easier than it actually is. You see, the key to mastering poker is understanding the value of different hands. The best hand you can have is a Royal Flush: an Ace, a King, a Queen, a Jack, and a Ten from the same suit. The lowest hand you can have is measured by a high card, where the highest card in a hand determines the overall value.

Poker Hands Ranked By Value

HandCards Required
Royal FlushAce, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 of the same suit
Straight FlushFive consecutive cards of the same suit
Four of a KindFour cards of the same rank from mixed suits
Full HouseThree cards of one rank, two cards of another
FlushAny five nonconsecutive cards of the same suit
StraightFive consecutive cards from mixed suits
Three of a KindThree cards of the same rank
Two PairTwo cards of one rank, two cards of another
One PairTwo cards of the same rank
High CardWhen none of the above hands are present, the player with the highest card wins the game

Playing the Game

The game is played in rounds with players taking turns clockwise. In each round, you can choose to “check” (pass the action to the next player), “bet” (put something into the pot), or “fold” (set down your hand (without revealing it) and giving up anything you’ve put in the pot). This continues until all players have either folded or matched the highest bet.

One of the most crucial aspects of poker is what’s known as bluffing. This is the term used to describe the act of pretending to have a better hand than you actually do to make your opponents fold. Bluffing requires at least a basic understanding of psychology, which gives you the ability to read your opponents’ reactions.

First-timers might not be masters from the outset. Remember: poker is a game of skill, strategy, and luck. It takes a lot of practice to learn how to outwit your opponents while still making the best decisions for your hand and also reading your opponents’ actions. Playing poker on iMessage on an iPhone is a good way to practice.

How to Play Poker on iMessage

Now that you have a better understanding of the game, let’s walk you through how to play poker on iMessage. While the iMessage feature can be found on iPads and MacBooks in addition to the iPhone, these tips are best suited for the latter of the three. Follow along with each step below, paying close attention to the photos to guide you along. And, try not to get the wise words of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” stuck in your head as we go.

Step One: Open iMessage

Apps in iMessage.
Tap the Plus icon next to the keyboard to reveal iMessage apps.


First, open iMessage and tap the conversation thread where you want to begin your game. Once in the thread, tap the Plus ( + ) icon to the left of the text box. This will reveal a menu of available iMessage features.

Step Two: Tap Store

Apps on iMessage.
Scroll to reveal more apps, including the iMessage Store.


Scroll down or tap the More icon. This will reveal a longer list of iMessage features and apps — including the iMessage Store. Tap the Store icon at the top of the list to reveal a special App Store curated for iMessage.

Step Three: Download Game

PokerUp app in iMessage Store.
Download PokerUp from the iMessage Store.


Tap the Search icon in the top right corner of the iMessage Store. Then, type “Poker” into the search box. The top result should be a game called PokerUp: Social Poker. This is the best option to play poker on iMessage available today. Hit “Get” and wait for the download to finish.

As a note: Your PokerUp download also comes with the full version of the app. You should find it on your iPhone’s home screen. Practice your game and play other poker game variations in the full version of the app before facing off against a friends in iMessage!

Step Four: Hit Play

Play button on PokerUp app.
Tap Play to start a new game.


Once the download is complete, hit “Open.” This will close you out of the iMessage Store and reveal the PokerUp interface within your iMessage thread. Tap the “Play” icon to start a new game. This will place an invite in the text box.

Step Five: Send Invite

PokerUp invite in iMessage.
Send the invite to kick off a new game.


Lastly, hit the Send button to send the recipient your invite. They will need to accept in order for the game to begin. Once they do, it’s time to start your game of poker! Play on. With luck, you’ll be unstoppable in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I start a game of poker on iMessage?

You can start a game of poker on iMessage by downloading the PokerUp app from the App Store, opening it within your desired iMessage thread, selecting “Start,” and sending the invite to a friend. 

Can I play iMessage poker with Android users?

Unfortunately, iMessage poker is exclusive to iPhone users, so Android users cannot participate. You must play with other iMessage users only. Android users will not be able to see your invite from their end.

What poker variations are there?

Two of the most popular variations of poker are Texas Hold’em and Omaha. These versions of the classic game tweak the rules a bit while still retaining the same basic principles of the game and its hands.

Is iMessage poker played with real money?

No, iMessage poker games use virtual chips for fun. It doesn’t involve any real money or actual gambling. You will not be charged actual funds for playing poker on iMessage.

How is the winner determined when playing poker on iMessage?

The player with the most chips at the end of the game is the winner. Don’t worry if you end up losing — you can always play multiple rounds to see who ends up with the most chips for ultimate bragging rights. 

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