Over the last seven days Bitcoin has plummeted over 20 percent to a 14-month low to $3,523 as of Tuesday.
That’s been the overall story of Bitcoin over the last year. The cryptocurrency is down 80 percent from its record high last December and hundreds of billions of dollars have been knocked off its market cap.
It’s bad news for crypto fans but it also may have ramifications for the international high-stakes poker circuit.
Professional poker players, who tend to have a fair amount of disposable income during certain times of their careers, were huge proponents of Bitcoin during the cryptocurrency’s historic ascent to just under $20,000 in late 2017.
The rise of the cryptocurrency no doubt helped fuel some of the biggest poker games in the world, although the exact amount will likely never been known.
Bitcoin a Unique Solution for Poker Pros
There are plenty of fervent Bitcoin enthusiasts on the internet but the cryptocurrency offers something special to high-stakes poker pros who are regularly trying to move large amounts of money in order to play tournaments or cash games around the world.
Bitcoin gives high-stakes poker pros the ability to transfer huge amounts of money to fellow players without having to worry about bank fees or government oversight.
Take for instance the $1-million buy-in WSOP Big One for One Drop tournament. Even the best high-stakes players generally don’t buy in for the full amount so they sell action to friends and investors. Bitcoin, in certain situations, can assist with that.
For players who didn’t get around to converting Bitcoin to cash, it wasn’t a huge problem as the cryptocurrency was essentially on an upward trajectory since 2015.
It also helps that Bitcoin and online poker have a very similar demographic with a large number of young, tech-savvy, math-oriented individuals who are not risk-averse.
There were plenty of players who benefited from the insane run that Bitcoin went on in late 2017 that saw the cryptocurrency shoot from $3,700 to $19,783 in roughly three months.
There’s obviously no telling exactly which poker pros held or currently hold Bitcoin but Doug Polk, Tony G, Ryan Riess, Dietrech Fast, Jason Les and Haralabos Voulgaris have at least discussed the cryptocurrency on social media.
Here’s a collection of reactions about Bitcoin’s precipitous drop from some of the most followed poker pros on Twitter:
Might have to do another Bankroll Challenge where I turn whatever I have left of my money into something just moderately depressing$BTC— Doug Polk (@DougPolkPoker) November 24, 2018
BTC is crashing and I bought some at the top. This sucks a lot but can’t sell, damn. Just too crazy to do that. Now it would be really crazy to buy some real low despite big losses, who could be that insane? ME! I might be that insane! Hahahaha— Daniel Cates (@junglemandan) November 23, 2018
Thoughts and prayers with US poker players that convinced family members to buy Bitcoin this time last year. Enjoy the turkey and humble pie.— Sam Grafton (@SquidPoker) November 22, 2018
Do you have odds on how many poker players are going to come out of retirement in 2019?— Geoffrey Tomes (@GeoffreyTomes) November 25, 2018
Gulp.— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) November 19, 2018
Anyone looking to buy a plane?
Unclear Future for Crypto-Based Poker Sites
While Bitcoin’s plunge could have ramifications on the high-stakes scene, it also might have an impact on the future of online poker.
Online poker sites have practically been licking their chops when it comes to Bitcoin adoption. For years online poker has essentially been restricted by payment processors, which have to go through legal red tape to service online poker sites.
Withdrawing and depositing real-money funds has always been the biggest bottleneck for online poker sites, which makes it easy to see why they might be interested in a decentralized digital currency like Bitcoin.
Thus far Bitcoin adoption in the online poker industry has actually been surprisingly slow. SealsWithClubs was one of the first sites on the market but licensing issues in Nevada led to chairman Bryan Micon getting raided by U.S. authorities.
Since then a number of sites have taken a stab at Bitcoin-based online poker but have mostly fallen short.
The upcoming Virtue Poker, which bills itself as a decentralized peer-to-peer poker platform built on Ethereum (which is another cryptocurrency), seems to be chugging along toward a public release.
Overall the recent drop shouldn’t have that much of an impact on cryptocurrency-based sites but less volatility would probably be helpful for upcoming sites in the long run.
Of course the big question for high-stakes poker pros and everyone else is just how far the digital currency giant will continue to fall.