Bitcoin for Online Poker

by James Carter on February 19th, 2015.

Will Bitcoin Save USA Poker Players?

Bitcoin poker sites have become more and more popular, although they still have low player traffic and, well, the fact that you need to Bitcoin to play on them. It's not a comforting idea to play poker with Bitcoins when the currency's value in US dollars might sink any day.

Bitcoin Online Poker

Furthermore, Bitcoin does nothing to local state laws, many of which prohibit its residents from participating in games "contingent on chance" (even if only partially), or "games played with cards," or directly prohibiting "poker" or "online gambling."

So technically, in many states, you'd still be breaking the law if you played US online poker with Bitcoins.

The benefit of using Bitcoins to play internet poker is that you don't have to use USA banks to handle the transactions, which solves one huge problem for all US poker players with the exception of those living in states where online poker is legal and regulated (namely Delaware, Nevada or New Jersey): USA banks are prohibited from processing money transfers to and from online gambling sites.

How USA Players Deposit Without Bitcoin

The common way for USA players to transfer money to poker sites that accept USA players is to either use a combination of credit/debit/gift cards and check withdrawals or using a money transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram®.

While card deposits are a fast and an easy way to deposit money to USA poker sites - especially with VISA-branded cards, which get accepted more often than Mastercard or Amex cards - using a check withdrawal takes weeks, perhaps even months in some cases.

So you get the money into your player account fast but you have to wait for a long time to get it back, except for sites like Ignition and True Poker that return your money in 1-2 weeks.

And you won't be able to convert checks into cash if the bank finds out that the money came from an online poker site.

Money transfer services require you to go to a live location to send and pick-up the money, although the transfer times are acceptable: you can deposit the money to your account within a day (even hours, perhaps) even receive the money back within a few days.

Is it easier to use Bitcoin for Online Poker?

Using Bitcoins is easy once you've purchased them; certainly it would be easier to play US online poker with Bitcoins than it's to play with current deposit and withdrawal methods that are available to US-citizens.

For example, here's how a well-known Bitcoin casino called Satoshi Dice explains how you can fund your gambling bets with Bitcoin:

The SatoshiBet Bitcoin game operates with zero confirmations, meaning the time it takes for you to send a transaction and receive your winnings is near-instant.

You place a bet by sending bitcoins to one of the addresses listed in the bet options table. SatoshiDice sees this, evaluates win or lose and generates a return transaction. www.satoshibet.com

But the problem with Bitcoins lies in the currency rate: it's a currency that just a few days ago lost 25% of its value in dollars. I would much rather use the banking methods described above than worry about my currency losing a significant portion of its value overnight.

Poker Sites that Accept Bitcoin

Note: I have never used any of these online poker sites that accept Bitcoin. This is not a list of "proven" Bitcoin poker sites - in fact, just about the only thing I know about these sites is that they accept both Bitcoin and USA players and have some player traffic as well.

Site Average Traffic Accepts USA?
Seals with Clubs 110 Yes
Switch Poker 16 Yes

The state of Bitcoin online poker sites are still taking baby steps, but Seals with Clubs gets OK traffic and even peaks at 200+ players.

Conclusion

In case playing online poker is legal where you live, I recommend playing at a site like Ignition or Carbon Poker instead of Bitcoin poker rooms simply because you get to play with US dollars, at sites with strong track records and you'll have a lot of opponents.