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Step-By-Step Guide to Using Bitcoin for Online Poker

Bitcoin poker

Bitcoin has long been touted as the “killer app” for online poker but it’s only recently that the major online poker sites have gone all-in on cryptocurrency.

These days Bitcoin is one of the fastest ways to get playing with zero friction and less of the frustrations that come with credit cards and bank accounts. Cryptocurrencies give players the ability to both deposit and withdraw without involving banks and allowing much more anonymity.

There’s a good chance that more and more online poker sites will be moving towards cryptocurrency and players are getting increasingly bigger bonuses for depositing with Crypto.

The downside of Bitcoin is that there is a bit of a learning curve involved with actually acquiring cryptocurrency. Some countries are more restrictive than others and almost everyone represents a unique challenge.

On the bright side once you’ve actually acquired Bitcoin the rest of the deposit process for online poker is exceptionally easy.

We’ve gone through some of the steps to help illustrate the process of depositing Bitcoin for online poker.

Please note that in most of this guide we reference Bitcoin but you could utilize pretty much the exact same process for any cryptocurrency.

The first step is, of course, actually getting some crypto.

Step 1 — Sign Up for An Exchange

In order to use Bitcoin for online poker you’ll need to actually get some Bitcoin (unless you already have some, it which case you can skip to step Step 5).

There are a few different ways of doing this. One of the easiest is to just have a friend send you some. All you have to do is set up a Bitcoin wallet and give them your Bitcoin address or your email. Agree on an amount (you’re reimbursing them, right?) and get them to send.

Most people, however, will likely have to go through an exchange. An exchange holds a number of cryptocurrencies (and sometimes regular currencies like USD or CAD) but you can think of it as a Bitcoin store if that’s simpler for you.

Picking an exchange is actually one of the more complicated parts of dealing with Bitcoin. You never know which exchange will be legal in the country you reside so it’s worth doing some research.

One of the most popular exchanges in the USA is Coinbase and it also doubles as wallet so that helps streamline the process. For the purpose of today's article we're using uphold.com, which is another popular exchange in the USA.

Once you pick an exchange you'll have to sign up for an account:

Cryptocurrency exchanges are all a little different (it’s a burgeoning industry) but pretty much all of them will require some form of verification. Here are some of the ways to verify your account (you won’t have to do all of them):

  • Provide a copy of person ID like a driver’s license or passport
  • Complete a set of verification questions
  • Void checks
  • Confirm your phone number

Keep in mind that there may be some trial and error as you attempt to verify your account. Sometimes it will take a few minutes but sometimes it will take more like a week or two.

Step 2 — Purchase Cryptocurrency

Once your exchange account is verified you’re ready to start purchasing crypto.

The first step is getting fiat currency (such as USD or EUR) into your exchange account so that you can then flip it for cryptocurrency.

Most exchanges offer a number of ways to fund your account including:

  • Credit cards
  • Debit cards
  • Wire transfer
  • Deposit directly from bank account (ACH)

This process can be quite fast in the case of credit cards and debit cards or take a bit longer if you’re depositing directly from the bank. The downside is that credit cards and debit cards charge a fee.

Once your account is funded with fiat cash you can make a cryptocurrency purchase. This part is relatively easy and shouldn’t take very long.

You should keep in mind that as soon as you have Bitcoin you’ll be exposed to the swings of the cryptocurrency. If you’re simply looking to fund an online poker account you’ll probably want to move quickly from this point.

Beware: Sometimes your bank will flag cryptocurrency exchanges as fraud. You’ll have to call the bank to verify the transaction or use Verified by Visa or Mastercard SecureCode. This might involve some trail-and-error. You’ll have to find the deposit option that works for you. Smaller transactions are also more likely to go through.

Step 3 — Get a Cryptocurrency Wallet

You can’t deposit directly from an exchange so you’ll have to get yourself a cryptocurrency wallet.

Some exchanges also offer their own wallets, which are really good for small amounts of crypto but most users that have large balances like to use their own personal wallets (there have been instances of exchanges shutting down and not reimbursing users).

Wallets are what Bitcoin owners use to keep their cryptocurrency safe. There are a variety of wallets including the following:

  • Online
  • Mobile
  • Desktop
  • Hardware
  • Paper

The most popular method is online but online wallets are considered the most vulnerable to hacking because they are connected to the internet. Mobile is another popular method that’s considered safer and better for in-person transactions.

Desktop is safer than online but can be problematic if your computer breaks down or you misplace it (in the case of a laptop).

Hardware wallets are basically USB sticks that interface with your computer to access your online account. Because they are physically stored offline they are considered the safest but are also the most expensive. There’s also a risk of losing them. They are generally considered one of the most secure ways to store Bitcoin, however.

A paper wallet is just a printed copy of your generated public and private keys. This method is essentially 100% secure but awkward because you’d have to type out your 34-digit key every time you want to make a transaction. Also, you might misplace the piece of paper.

Most online wallets are free and if you’re just using to transfer to an online poker account they are probably the best way to go.

Step 4 — Transfer to Wallet

Once you’ve purchased cryptocurrency it’s time to transfer it to your own personal wallet.

This part should be fairly easy. Most wallets and exchanges will guide you through the process of transferring cryptocurrency.

Generally you’ll pick the amount you want to send and then use two-factor authentication to confirm the transaction.

Find your wallet address and just copy it into the exchange transfer form. These days some wallets and exchanges offer a QR code so you can just scan it with the app from your phone and skip copying and pasting your address.

Step 5 — Sign-Up for an Online Poker Account

Signing up for an online poker site is usually a straightforward process that involves providing some combination of your real name, phone number, an email address and your personal address.

Here are some of the most popular poker sites on OddsShark.com:

Some people might be surprised to learn that an online poker site requires some personal information but operators have that in place to avoid allowing underage gambling on their sites.

This is what the sign-up process looks like on Bovada.lv:

Generally you’ll sign up for an online poker site, pick a password and then they’ll send you a confirmation email. At this point most poker sites have play money games so you can actually play around with the software before making a deposit.

At some point in this process you’ll have to download the actual software for the online poker site (some online poker sites have you sign-up first then download the software but it can also be download then sign-up in some cases).

We would also suggest using a link from a site like OddsShark so that you can take advantage of exclusive sign-up offers. You just have to click the link for download and you’ll gain access to site-exclusive perks such as a bigger sign-up bonus.

Step 6 — Send Bitcoin to Online Poker Account

Thankfully using Bitcoin (or any other cryptocurrency for that matter) to make a deposit on an online poker site is one of the easiest ways to make deposit.

Most of the time first-time depositors will be playing online poker within 15 minutes or less of making a Bitcoin deposit.

The process may vary slightly between online poker sites but it should generally look something like this:

  1. Navigate to cashier (or deposit) tab in the client or website.
  2. Select Bitcoin or cryptocurrency
  3. Input the amount you want to deposit
  4. Copy the poker site’s dynamic Bitcoin address (or scan the QR code on your phone).
  5. Open your Bitcoin wallet.
  6. Select “Send” in your Bitcoin wallet.
  7. Paste the poker site’s address.
  8. Input the amount you want to deposit and click send.
  9. Wait 10-15 minutes.
  10. Play poker.

This is what the dynamic Bitcoin address page for Bovada.lv looks like:

There’s no doubt that using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency for online poker requires a bit of learning curve. The upside is that once you’re familiar with the process it’s actually one of the easiest ways to make a deposit with far less friction than the traditional wire transfer or credit card.

Once you have Bitcoin you can skip the first four steps of this guide and simply sign-up for a new poker site and deposit using Bitcoin. It makes it incredibly easy to hold a number of different online poker accounts if you like to try out different software.

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