Play Poker with Bitcoin
Bitcoin poker has grown substantially over the last few years, and many industry insiders expect the trend to increase exponentially over the next decade. This form of gambling rests within uncharted territory, but it provides an exciting opportunity for those willing to take the plunge.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a form of virtual currency that can be traded like any other commodity. It’s not affiliated with any nation or financial institution, and it runs on a public platform that allows anyone to get involved. Exchanges and transactions are resolved through the solution of complex mathematical codes meant to assure security, and the individuals who perform these actions are known as “bitcoin miners.” In exchange for helping the system operate, these individuals receive new bitcoins for their efforts.
Sites known as Bitcoin exchanges allow players to use cash or credit to purchase coins, and these can later be converted back into money if you can find a willing trade partner. In some parts of the world, Bitcoin ATM machines have been springing up to assist with financial conversions.
Users keep their bitcoins in a virtual wallet, and they can open it with a unique verification code. If the code is stolen or misplaced, the currency will be inaccessible. If the owner has their PC stolen, there’s also the chance of the wallet being lost forever or opened by a third party (if they have access to the code).
How Does Bitcoin Poker Work?
Bitcoin poker works just like any other poker site, except deposits and withdrawals take place at an accelerated rate. The player deposits bitcoins instead of cash, and they can then receive an equivalent number of chips to wager with (naturally, the same applies when depositing to a Bitcoin casino).
These sites offer all the same games you’ve come to expect, as well as rakeback programs and player rewards. Veteran poker enthusiasts should have no trouble making the transition, but newbies should also find themselves right at home. (Here's more about how to use Bitcoins and security considerations.)
There are a number of reasons why a player might want to give Bitcoin poker a try. Here are some of the most commonly cited examples:
- More Rakeback
The term “rakeback” refers to the amount of rake or entry fees returned to players as a means of keeping their loyalty. Bitcoin sites often use a non-traditional rakeback system, and these are frequently more generous than their established counterparts.
- More Fish
Bitcoin poker sites tend to have more rookie players than traditional sites, allowing experienced gamblers to clean up.
- Access to Larger Player Pool
Bitcoin poker websites accept players from around the globe, so you’ll be able to gamble with a more diverse selection of people. This is a major plus for those from U.S. states like Nevada and New Jersey, where all legal players are required to be physically present within their borders.
- Faster Transactions
While regular poker sites can take weeks to execute withdrawals, those that rely on Bitcoin can get funds to players within a matter of hours.
- Possible Higher Return on Investment
If you win $100 at a traditional poker room, it’s always going to be worth $100. That’s not the case with bitcoins, however, as their value fluctuates over time. The chips you win might be the equivalent of $500 one day, but that amount could increase to $600 within a relatively short period of time. Then again, things could go the other way, too.
While not all Bitcoin online poker wesites operate this way, some allow players to participate without requiring lots of personal information. As long as they can fund their account, the individual is approved for play.
In fairness, Bitcoin poker isn’t without its potential problems. In order that our readers can weight both sides of the issue, this section presents some of the possible drawbacks to using the virtual currency. As you read, you may notice that some of the strengths mentioned above can also be weaknesses under certain circumstances.
- Volatility – The value of each individual bitcoin can fluctuate over time, which makes it similar to a commodity such as oil or gold. While the overall trend is for the currency to appreciate in value, there’s also a chance that the bottom could drop out.
- Lack of Anonymity – While Bitcoin does offer a great degree of privacy, it’s not as completely anonymous as some users would like to believe. Some transactions can be traced back to their source via the block chain, so keep this in mind if you’re a poker player looking for a 100% anonymous gaming experience (which you’re unlikely to get anywhere else).
- Taxable Income – Just because Bitcoin is a virtual currency doesn’t mean that you won’t have to pay taxes on your winnings. The situation is still a grey area in many countries, but you can expect that to change as the brand continues to grow.
- Unregulated Websites – Traditional poker sites are licensed and regulated by certain entities to ensure a quality experience for the player. Even this system fails at times, as some jurisdictions are more stringent than others. Since Bitcoin poker rooms are largely unregulated, the potential for corrupt games and shady business practices are even higher.
- Not Supported by a Bank – Government-backed currency can maintain its value during tough economic times, and faltering banks can be bailed out. Since Bitcoin has no affiliation with a nation or a banking industry, there’s no lifeline for investors if the whole experiment goes belly up.
- Anti-Gambling Laws May Still Apply – While some nations have yet to recognize Bitcoin as an official form of currency, that doesn’t mean that you can play poker without facing potential consequences. In the U.S. state of Washington, for example, it’s a felony to risk anything of value on a game of chance. This would certainly make Bitcoin poker a risky proposition within the state, and similar restrictions may apply in other parts of the world. Before you get started, it’s always wise to talk with a lawyer and examine your options.
Bitcoin poker may very well be the future of online gambling. The service offers lightning-fast transactions, as well as the possibility of seeing your winnings actually increase in value while sitting in your account. The lack of a backing bank or government makes the whole affair somewhat speculative, but this sense of financial freedom is largely the reason why Bitcoin has prospered in the first place. If you’re a poker enthusiast who enjoys being on the cutting edge, give it a try.