PokerStars has launched its free-to-play Facebook game PokerStars PLAY as a stand-alone app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

The popular Facebook game benefits from shared player liquidity with the operator’s free-play poker site, and combines poker gameplay with social mechanics.

Players can make in-app purchases to increase their virtual currency bankroll and use gesture-based controls to simulate real poker play.

“PokerStars PLAY and Mobile were meant for each other,” PokerStars’ head of communications Lee Jones commented. “Now you can get great poker action at the airport gate, your local cafe, or sitting on your back porch with a cup of coffee. Poker is meant to be fun and now it can be spontaneous too; wherever you and your smartphone are, there's a seat in a fun poker game waiting for you.”

The mobile app extends the operator’s reach into markets where the company cannot offer its real-money products, such as the US and Asia, with social gaming identified by Rational Group owner Amaya as a key growth market for the operator.

Amaya chief executive David Baazov has stated that with a huge player database and strong liquidity, PokerStars PLAY could challenge the current social poker market leader Zynga.

“While this social poker offering is not real-money gaming we anticipate social gaming will be an important growth channel for the company,” he said. “Social players show different consumer behaviours to what we find in real-money gaming, and we see it as a vertical that we can take a percentage of the consumer base.”