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How to play Balatro on your Android device

How to play Balatro on your Android device

Balatro Android

Balatro is a deck-building game where you play poker hands in an attempt to score points each round. This “poker roguelike”, as its makers call it, has been a smashing success since its launch earlier this year, and is available on Windows, Mac, Switch, Xbox and PlayStation.

Given its pick-up-and-play nature, it's perfect for playing on the go, which you can currently do using a Switch, Steam Deck, or a Windows handheld like the ROG Ally X. You will notice that none of those devices are particularly compact, and the maker has already committed to launching official iOS and Android versions. Before that happens, those of us addicted to the game can generate their own Android app. Here's how.

Step 1: download the game on Steam and Balatro Mobile Maker

First of all, this method requires the user to own the Steam version of Balatro, which costs S$14.50. Install it. From there, we'll make use of a tool hosted on Github called Balatro Mobile Maker. On the releases page, download the file balatro-mobile-maker-beta-0.8.3-win-x64.exe, and run it on your Windows PC. If you only have a Mac, there's also a version there that will require some additional steps to run in Terminal, as detailed here.

Step 2: Generate the Android app using Balatro Mobile Maker

Whether on Windows or macOS, you will see a terminal window that will guide you in building your own Balatro APK, so you can sideload it onto your device. In the process, it will download tools to get this done, and will also clean up those files at the end. The program will automatically find the Balatro files it needs if your Steam installation are in the default folders. If Balatro Mobile Maker is unable to find your game, just copy your Balatro.exe or Game.love file to the same folder as balatro-mobile-maker.

Balatro Mobile Maker
Credit: Screenshot by John Chan/Can Buy or Not

The yes (Y) or no (N) questions Balatro Mobile Maker asks are mostly straightforward, with Y being the best answer for most of them. There are a few to take note though.

Would you like to automatically clean up once complete?

  • It may be a good idea to answer N on the first attempt, in case you need to build another version with different settings if the first one doesn't work. Answering N will leave the downloaded tools in the folder so the next time you run it, you don't have to download them again

Would you like to build for iOS (experimental)?

  • If you have the ability to sideload to an iPhone or iPad, this tool can also create an iOS version for you. For the vast majority of us, answering N to this is the correct answer

Would you like to apply the FPS cap patch?

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  • If you answer Y to this, you can cap the game's frames per second (FPS) on your device. The next question will ask you what FPS you want to cap it at. Just leave it blank to set it to your device's refresh rate.

Would you like to apply the CRT shader disable patch? (Required for Pixel and some other devices!)

  • Answering Y to this will disable the visual effect that makes the game look like it's being played on an old CRT display. Answer Y if you are using a Pixel. I went with N, and it worked fine for my Android retro handheld and a Samsung Galaxy S24.

Step 3: Install it on your Android device

From there, it's just a matter of copying the generated balatro.apk file to your Android device, and installing it. The game has full touch capabilities, and worked seamlessly on a 6.2-inch Samsung Galaxy S24 smartphone. The experience should be even better on an Android tablet, which has a larger screen.

Balatro Android retro console Android smartphone
Credit: John Chan/Can Buy or Not

I also tested it to work fine on an Android-based retro console, the Anbernic RG Cube, with its joystick and buttons working without a hitch. However, the small 4-inch square display of the RG Cube made text hard to read, so it's not a great experience. If you are installing it on an Android-based retro console, use one with a 4.7-inch or larger display, like a Retroid Pocket 4 Pro.

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