Want to run Windows on your Mac so you can play on iPoker (Titan Poker, CDPoker), Bodog, UltimateBet and other online poker platforms that are Windows-only. In addition, if you install Windows, you can play on the native Windows client for OnGame poker (bwin, PokerRoom, etc), Absolute Poker, PartyPoker and many others. While those sites may offer a Java web-based client that runs on OS X, we at Mac Poker generally believe that you’ll have a richer overall gaming experience if you play on downloadable online poker clients. That means you can play on Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars on a Mac — but that everything else would require Windows for the best possible experience.

There are a few ways to get Windows clients to run on your Mac hardware:

First, virtualization technologies. Programs like VMWare and Parallels can run a virtual instance of Windows within OS X. This is a derivation of technologies like Virtual PC which have existed for years. However, VMWare and Parallels are significantly more advanced than Virtual PC and they offer a virtually seamless Windows computing experience.

The second option is to install WINE, which is an open-source project that was started by linux enthusiasts who wanted to run Windows-only programs on their linux installation. Since OS X is derived from FreeBSD, the WINE project was able to branch into a project known as Darwine, which is the Mac version of WINE. Darwine allows some .EXE applications to run on a Mac. However, Darwine is compllicated to use and it can be buggy to run a Windows poker client via Darwine. We generally recommend that only programmers attempt to use Darwine on a Mac.

Third, you can use Apple’s official Windows installation program, known as BootCamp. This article explains how to install Windows via BootCamp.

The first step is to run the BootCamp assistant. You can find the BootCamp assistant in Applications -> Utilities -> Boot Camp. When you run the assistant, it will automatically partition your hard drive. This means that you’re creating a virtual split in your hard drive to allow Mac OS X to run off of part of it and Windows to run off of the other part. While the BootCamp assistant is extremely simple, you need to make a decision at the time you partition your hard drive. The decision is a few fold.

a) Do you want to be able to have read/write access to your Windows partition when you’re running OS X? Or is simply read access good enough?

b) Do you need more than 32gb of hard drive space in your Windows partition?

c) Do you want to be able to store files larger than 4gb?

Obviously, everyone wants read-write access and to be able to store large files, etc. However, these are your options:

  1. Windows partition in NTFS format (any size that your hard drive can handle). You will only have read access to your Windows partition, but you’ll be able to store files larger than 4gb in your Windows partition.
  2. Windows partition of 32gb or less in FAT32 format. You will have read/write access to your Windows partition, but you cannot store files on your Windows partition of greater than 4gb. Some media files (such as a Bluray movie) can easily go over the 4gb mark. But if you’re not dealing with large media files, you will not have to worry about a filesize over 4gb. And, of course, the main limitation to FAT32 is that you need to keep your Windows partition under 32gb (that’s the maximum size that FAT32-formatted hard drives can handle).

So anyway, you need to make a choice at this time. While you won’t have a choice about the partition format, you’re basically going to have to decide whether you want a hard drive partition bigger than 32gb and whether that’s worth giving up read/write access from the OS X partition. So, select a partition size and go ahead and finish the assistant.

Once you finish the assistant, you’ll be able to either come back to Boot Camp later or install Windows immediately. Assuming you have Windows XP SP2+ or Windows Vista, go ahead and put in your Windows CD when prompted. You’ll then be auto-rebooted and your Mac will automatically start to install Windows. Everything from this point is easy, except there is one tricky spot. That occurs when you have to format the Windows partition.

When you arrive at the screen where it asks which drive to install Windows on, you should reformat the partition. However, do not DELETE the partition then recreate it. If you do that, you will not be able to install Windows properly! So simply select the BootCamp partition and reformat the partition in your desired format. I highly recommend using the “quick” format as opposed to normal. It doesn’t make a big difference and regular formatting can take quite awhile.

Once you get through the formatting part, you’re basically home free. Finish up the Windows installation and start up Windows for the first time on your Mac. Then you should put in the OS X Install Disc 1 that came with your Mac — note that it must be the same disc that came with your Mac in order for the correct drivers to be on the disc. If you try to use a disc from a different Mac model, you will have problems. Anyway, put in the OS X disc, then install all of the drivers. Apple’s drivers for Windows are, in my experience, basically flawless. You should have a perfectly functioning Windows installation on your Mac in about 1 hour from start to finish! Enjoy playing poker on every site.