The past few years has seen bitcoin enjoy a surge in popularity, and the latter end of 2017 especially, was a monumental time for the cryptocurrency, as it finally managed to break the $20,000 mark.
While bitcoin is certainly changing the way financial transactions are made around the world, it also is responsible for major changes in the online gambling industry, and poker, especially, has been quick to take advantage of the simplicity of bitcoin – something we’ll look at inside this post.
The fact of the matter is, bitcoin poker is becoming more popular than ever before – and one of the main reasons behind this, is the ease at which bitcoin can be purchased, and sold.
To begin with, we’re going to take a look at what bitcoin actually is, the history behind it, and how it works – and then, we’ll cover some of the basics surrounding bitcoin poker, and how you can begin using it. We’ll also cover sites that accept bitcoin, as well as looking at how you can get and sell it – so, let’s begin!
What Is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a type of digital currency, which is held electronically on something which is known as the Blockchain. Unlike conventional currencies (which are controlled, and produced by Governments around the world), bitcoin is decentralized; this means that no single entity owns or controls it, and this makes it very safe, secure, and privacy-centred.
Users of bitcoin can send and receive bitcoin, much in the same way you would make a Bank Transfer. The major difference, is that bitcoin transactions are instant, and can be made anywhere in the world – and this is one of the major reasons why bitcoin poker has become so popular, because players in countries like America and Canada can play, without worrying about their bank questioning their transactions.
How Does It Work?
Bitcoins are created by computers, and software works hard to solve mathematical formulas. In return, bitcoins are generated, and while it can be a little complex to get your head around it at first, you don’t really need to know the specifics of how bitcoins are created – but it’s useful to know, if you’re planning on playing online poker with bitcoin.
Bitcoin’s History – Who Is the Creator?
Bitcoin is particularly unique, as no one actually knows who created it. In 2008, a user known as “Satoshi Nakamoto” began posting on Internet forums, talking about his creation, called Bitcoin.
It’s still not known who Nakamoto is – whether it’s a single person, or a group of people – or even what country he/she/they are from, but when a research paper was released – called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Cash System”, Internet users were quick to see the potential of Bitcoin, and fast-forward 9 years, it’s become the biggest and most popular cryptocurrency on the planet.
Now, one of the reasons that bitcoin has become so popular, is – as mentioned earlier – because there’s no banks or institutions involved. The source code behind Bitcoin is completely open-source (meaning anyone can view it, ensuring there are no backdoors, or loopholes inside), and it’s been predicted to completely transform the way in which financial transactions are made in future.
Indeed, even Governments – who at first were notoriously ANTI-Bitcoin – are beginning to take notice, with the Dubai Government recently announcing they would be aiming for a “Blockchain Government” by 2020. Of course, it remains to be seen as to how much the technology actually takes off – but given its young age, it’s done remarkably well, with the popularity increasing daily.
Pros and Cons
All in all, there are very few cons associated with bitcoin – but, nonetheless, we’ll cover both the advantages and disadvantages in the following section:
Bitcoin transactions are instant. This means, the moment you send a transaction, it will appear in the recipient’s wallet within seconds, for them to spend. This works both ways of course, and means that when you get paid – or receive a withdrawal from a bitcoin poker website, for example – you’ll receive your winnings right away.
There’s also increased security and privacy using bitcoin. Whereas gambling transactions can often appear as ‘red flags’ to banks, bitcoin can be used completely anonymously, ensuring that your online gambling activities are kept private. There are also few fees involved with bitcoin, and while you do pay a small transaction fee when sending bitcoin transactions, it’s worth pointing out that they’re incredibly small – often as little as 0.01% of the total transaction.
The only main downside to using bitcoin, is that, due to the fact that it’s not widely accepted at non-online gambling establishments yet, you do have to manually sell your bitcoins. This can be done with ease on Bitcoin exchanges – and you can sell your bitcoin for money transferred to your bank, PayPal, and even cash, if you meet someone locally.
There are also occasionally some issues with the Blockchain (the technology that Bitcoin runs on), and in busy times, the Blockchain can become congested meaning transactions can take a little longer than normal.
Is Bitcoin Poker Legal?
The short answer is: yes, bitcoin poker is legal.
However, it’s a little more complicated than that, and it appears countries are currently unsure as to how to classify bitcoin.
For example, some countries refuse to classify it as an actual currency, but this is very likely to change, as its popularity continues to increase, and more and more people around the world begin to use it.
The main legal issue to be aware of if you’re planning on playing online poker using bitcoin, is the fact that you may need to pay tax on your winnings.
Don’t think that just because bitcoin is privacy-centred, the tax man won’t be watching – the US IRS has already started developing technology to track the Blockchain looking for tax-avoiders, so while it is very hard to be tracked when using bitcoin, do be aware that it is possible, and if you’re planning on playing bitcoin poker, you should be aware of the local taxation laws applicable to you.
Is Bitcoin Safe?
The act of actually making bitcoin transactions is incredibly safe, yes – but there are a few problems when you begin looking at the volatility of the currency, and this is something that you should be aware of if you’re planning on playing at bitcoin poker sites.
Here’s why; the price of bitcoin can undergo HUGE swings. For example, it’s not uncommon for it to lose, or gain as much as 20% of its value in a 24-hour period, and this of course, means that you run the risk of losing money if you own bitcoin, and it drops in value before you’ve had a chance to sell it.
Now, thankfully, despite the dips in price, bitcoin has – so far – proven itself to be very resilient to price changes, so you should be OK – but as a general rule of thumb, you’ll probably want to sell your bitcoins as soon as possible, so that they’re not simply sitting around in your Wallet.
Poker Sites That Accept Bitcoin
The number of sites that accept bitcoin is small – yet this figure is growing as more online gambling companies begin to embrace the currency.
Some of the major names that do accept Bitcoin as a payment method, include BetOnline, Americas Cardroom, and Ignition Casino, and while it’d be nice to see more companies and websites accepting the currency, rest-assured this should change dramatically over the coming year.
Playing online poker using bitcoin is becoming easier, and as more online poker sites accept bitcoin, it should become even easier with time.
Getting Started with Bitcoin
In order to begin using bitcoin to play poker online, you’ll need to first set up a Bitcoin wallet. This is essentially the same as a bank account, and it’s instant, and free to set up. You have a few choices when creating a Bitcoin wallet, but the most popular, is to use what’s known as a Bitcoin exchange. This is where you can buy, sell, and store bitcoins, and some of the major, trustworthy exchanges include LocalBitcoins, Coinbase, and Bittylicious.
Now, once you’ve set up your wallet (it takes only a couple of seconds), you will be presented with a wallet address. This will look something like: 1F1tAaz5x1HUXrCNLbtMDqcw6o5GNn4xqX. We’ll now look at how you can deposit and withdraw to your chosen Bitcoin poker website.
How to Deposit Using Bitcoin
In order to deposit to your chosen Bitcoin poker website, you’ll need a few things. First off, you need to have a wallet set up, like we talked about in the step above. You’ll then need to ensure you actually have bitcoins available inside your wallet to send.
(You can purchase bitcoin from the exchanges, or other websites.)
Once you have bitcoin ready, you simply need to log in to your chosen Bitcoin poker website, head to the cashier, and select the Bitcoin option, for depositing. They will then provide you with a Wallet address – much like the one we looked at just a few moments ago – and you then copy and paste this address, and head back to your Bitcoin Wallet.
From your Bitcoin Wallet, you simply need to click “send”, enter the address you just copied over, and enter the amount of bitcoins you wish to send. Once you’re happy, click the send button, and your funds will appear in your poker account within a matter of seconds!
(Note: Some wallets allow you to change the Bitcoin-sending fee alongside each transaction. Without getting into the complexities in this article, the transaction fee basically dictates how quickly your transaction is processed. If the Blockchain network is congested, you’ll want to set this fee to a higher amount, as this will help your transaction complete faster, and without delays. It should be pointed out, however, that this is rarely needed, and should only really be used when there are very slow confirmation times on the network.)
How to Withdraw Using Bitcoin
When you win and want to withdraw your winnings, doing so is fairly simple.
You’ll need to first head to your Bitcoin Wallet, where you will either see a receiving address, or a tab/button that says something like “Receive”. Basically, you’re looking for your Bitcoin Wallet address, which you’ll need to copy.
You then simply need to head back to the cashier section at the online Bitcoin poker site you’re playing at, where you follow the regular withdrawal process. Where they ask for your Bitcoin Wallet address, simply paste in the address you’ve just copied over from your Wallet, and once they process your withdrawal, you’ll see the funds in your Bitcoin Wallet, for you to use in a way you like.
Playing Poker Using Bitcoin
One of the biggest questions players have when looking into playing poker games with bitcoin, is whether they’ll actually be playing with bitcoin – or whether the poker site will change the cryptocurrency into another format, like the U.S. Dollar, or the Euro.
The short answer is; it depends on the site.
Most sites appear to be adopting an approach where bitcoin ISN’T the currency actually played with, and this is probably a good thing for the meantime, as bitcoin can be confusing, especially given its price fluctuations and volatility.
Some sites may offer players the chance to choose which currency they play in – but again, this appears to be on a site-by-site basis, and there are certainly no norms, or steadfast expectations yet. The only real sure-fire thing, is that more and more sites are beginning to accept bitcoin as a payment method, and it’s very likely we’ll see this trend continue over the coming months.
If you’re unsure about whether the site you’re thinking of joining accepts bitcoin as a payment method or not, then simply head to the site itself, and you’ll find yourself able to easily get the information and guidance you need.
If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, just head onto the live chat function, or send an email to the poker site’s support team, and they’ll be more than happy to help you out.
Playing online poker using bitcoin may be a relatively “new concept”, but it’s something that’s been quick to catch on, and the popularity is only likely to increase, given the large amount of publicity surrounding bitcoin, and its practical day-to-day uses.
One thing that is worth remembering when you’re choosing to use bitcoin, is that you’ll want to make sure the Bitcoin poker site you play at is safe.
Remember to do your research into how Bitcoin works, as this will help things to become a little clearer for you – and above all else, have fun, and enjoy playing poker using a hassle-free, instant payment method.