Bitcoin has been the most successful decentralized currency, providing internet users with a secure, anonymous way to move money online. Some online poker players prefer Bitcoin for the utmost discretion it affords, hiding sensitive private information from would-be scammers and thieves while ensuring your money reaches its end destination safely. Aimed primarily at those in countries where online gambling is otherwise restricted, it is still a payment method of choice for poker players worldwide looking for a secure and fast way to transfer and withdraw their funds.
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Not necessarily the easiest method for beginners looking for a viable payment method, the security and anonymity of the Bitcoin format makes it nevertheless an attractive proposition. Money exchange is instant, and with exchange rates constantly fluctuating, it introduces the potential for your winnings to actually increase in value relative to your local currency before you convert them to cash.
Why Bitcoin for Online Poker?
Since the dawn of the online poker phenomenon, processing payments has always been one of the biggest challenges for online poker site operators.
Poker is played for real money. It’s just not the same game when there are no stakes. That’s the reason that even the smallest home game tends to have some sort of financial commitment whether its dollars or pennies.
The problem is that processing payments and real-money transactions around the world has created issues for online poker sites and gotten them downright banned in some countries.
Some of the issues with real-money currency and online poker that have popped up over the years include a lack of anonymity, properly holding players funds in a segregated pool and long processing times for withdrawals.
Bitcoin has some interesting real-life applications where high-stakes players are able to move money from one another without paying huge fees to banks. Of course they do those transactions entirely at their own risk.
Still, a large contingent of the online poker industry views Bitcoin as a potential godsend for the game. Here are some of the specific reasons why:
Despite the potential, Bitcoin acceptance has been relatively slow at the major poker sites. Of course you could always convert your Bitcoin into real-world currency and then play online poker using the proceeds but that essentially negates the entire reason to use Bitcoin for poker in the first place.
The real white whale for the online poker world is a Bitcoin-only poker site that would be playable anywhere in the world regardless of gambling restrictions. A site like that would likely attract hundreds of thousands of players and moving money around would be both easy and cheap.
Problems with Bitcoin for Poker
Of course it’s not all perfect with Bitcoin and there are some problems with using it for poker.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that Bitcoin has historically been so volatile that its own rapidly-fluctuating value might give you pause when it comes to converting into real-life currency.
It’s one thing when the currency is going up and suddenly everyone who has Bitcoin for playing poker is that much richer but it’s another matter when the cryptocurrency takes a big dive and suddenly your bankroll isn’t what it used to be.
Another issue is security. While the Bitcoin enthusiasts boast about the security of the technology there is still a potential for human error. There are many stories of people losing hard drives with millions of dollars of Bitcoin on them.
It’s not an issue for most Bitcoin users but it’s important to be extra careful when dealing with crypto. Some poker players aren’t ready for that amount of precaution.
In summary here are some of the potential problems with using Bitcoin for online poker:
Deposits via Bitcoin are reasonably straightforward, once you have signed up for a Bitcoin wallet and mined, or purchased, your first coins. The exchange nature of dealing in Bitcoin means the process is a little more convoluted than you would otherwise expect, but players who use Bitcoin usually have a good understanding of this process anyway. Deposit fees are generally non-existent and the processing times are usually ahead of other payment methods, given the lack of risk involved.
Withdrawal processes are similar, and there are usually shorter time frames involved than when compared with other types of payment methods. On withdrawal, unless you hold a Bitcoin balance as a matter of course, you need to exchange for your local currency, which can open you up to adverse exchange rates that could cost you money. However, this is offset by the lack of applicable fees, or significantly lower fees in the event that there is a charging structure in place. Finding a secure exchange can also be difficult but more and more reputable exchanges are popping up all over the world.
Bitcoin POKER FAQs
There are a few common Bitcoin questions players ask before making a deposit:
Am I Recommended To Use Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is best used for those who are unable to transact via other methods or for those who generally hold a Bitcoin balance. While it is a little more technical than other forms of payment, it can be learned, and poker players choosing to go down this route gain a lot in terms of anonymity and overall privacy as they play. Be prepared to be in for a bit of learning if you decide to go down the Bitcoin route for poker.
Do All Poker Sites Accept Bitcoin?
Not all sites accept Bitcoin, but an ever-increasing number do. There are even sites out there specifically targeting Bitcoin players, which can make the whole process of depositing and withdrawing funds significantly easier so long as you are familiar with Bitcoin.
Is Bitcoin An E-Wallet?
Strictly speaking, no, although the functionality in practice is much the same. Bitcoin is a currency in its own right, and you need to buy and sell bitcoins to move money in and out of your account. This means you are subject to fluctuating exchange rates, just as if you were playing in any other currency from that which you commonly use.
Can I Withdraw Bitcoins?
Yes, most casinos accepting payments in this way will also be comfortable in allowing bitcoin withdrawals. However, unless you regularly spend with bitcoins, you will need to then convert your balance to your local currency, which requires you to sell your bitcoins, like you would with any other foreign currency.
What About Other Cryptocurrencies?
The online poker industry has actually been slow to adapt Bitcoin so there are very few sites that will allow use of something like Ethereum or Litecoin.
On the other hand there has been a number of sites, which have introduced their own crytocurrency tokens. The idea behind these sites is that so-called Initial Token Offerings (or ITOs) help fund the site but can also be used as currency on the site. The tokens will potentially have value of their own and can be traded for other cryptocurrencies.
Interestingly some of these sites have gone beyond just using crytocurrency as a unit to wager but also taking advantage of the underlying technology behind Bitcoin.
The blockchain has been used to facilitate shuffling and encrypting the deck in addition to keeping players funds safe. Most of this is still conjecture and we’ve yet to see a mainstream online poker site breakout using exclusively crytocurrency but it may happen in the future.