Poker players new to Bitcoin might be unfamiliar with a few terms and concepts. Let’s start with a quick rundown of the basic bitcoin concepts.
Let’s Start With the #1 Question – What the Heck is a Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a decentralized currency that users can exchange for goods, services or other currencies online. Rather than being assigned to a person, every bitcoin unit is given a complex 26-35 alphanumeric “address“, and that address changes when the bitcoin changes (digital) hands.
Unlike national currencies, Bitcoin is a finite resource, which means there’s a limit to the total quantity of bitcoins. This makes it more like gold than the Dollar, since the US Treasury can print more money when its deemed necessary. Because bitcoins are of limited supply, their value moves very sharply with demand.
Bitcoin: Currency or Payment Method?
People might be confused on whether bitcoin is a currency or a payment method. They might see bitcoin listed among US dollars, Euros, and British pounds. Then they might see bitcoin listed among Visa, Skrill, and PayPal. In fact, bitcoin is both. Bitcoin is a crypto-currency traded over the Internet through a blockchain. It is also a branded payment method, so you’ll see Bitcoin or even “Bitcoin Pay” as a deposit and withdrawal option. For our purposes, I level bitcoin the crypto-currency in lowercase, while capitalizing Bitcoin the payment method.
Before you make a poker deposit using bitcoin, you’ll need to go to a bitcoin exchange to buy the currency. This works like any other currency exchange. Instead of changing US dollars to Australian dollars or Euros to British pounds, you exchange (for example) US dollars to bitcoins.
Poker players have a lot of options when it comes to exchanging cash for bitcoins. Coinbase, Kraken, Circle, CEX.io, BitGo, HitBTC, Coinomi, Bitcoin Core, Greenbits, Airbitz, Copay, and BitGO are just a few of the most popular bitcoin exchanges. Hong Kong has its own list of renmibi-centric bitcoin exchanges. Alternative blockchain payment methods like Litecoin and Etherium have their own exchanges or are traded alongside bitcoin.
To store your bitcoin currency, you’ll need a bitcoin wallet. A bitcoin wallet acts like PayPal or Neteller would, like an e-Wallet or web wallet. Once again, a whole list of bitcoin wallets exist: Mycelium, CoPay, and Breadwallet are three of the most popular in the online poker industry.
In fact, some poker sites recommend specific bitcoin wallets for specific mobile operating systems. Android gamblers should take a look at either Mycelium or Copay, while iPhone and iPad poker players should consider Breadwallet or Copay. These are not the only options, Electrum, Ledger, Trezor, Blockchain.info, Bither, Green Address, ArcBit, Bitcoin Knots, Armory, and mSigna are just some of the bitcoin wallets available.
How to Make Poker Deposits Using Bitcoin
If you’re concerned that bitcoin payments sounds complicated, you need not worry. Once you are wired into the system, playing online poker with bitcoin is the quickest, safest, cheapest, most private, most transparent, and safest way to fund your poker account. For players in the unregulated gaming markets like the United States and Australia, bitcoin poker deposits and withdrawals are particularly important. I’ll discuss that below, but let’s first discuss how to make a bitcoin deposit at an online card room and what Bitcoin really is.
Deposit – So you’ve purchased a bitcoin or two at a reliable exchange site, secured it in a digital wallet and now you’d like to play at your preferred Bitcoin-friendly casino. Here’s how:
- Log onto your poker account.
- Click the “Banking” or “Cashier” link.
- Select “Deposit” from the banking options.
- Choose “Bitcoin” from the offered deposit methods.
- The poker site will provide you with their wallet address, and possibly some specific instructions about the transaction. Follow their instructions or…
- …if they don’t provide any other instructions, you will need to open your bitcoin wallet.
- Click your wallet’s “Send” button. When you are prompted to, enter in the Internet poker sites wallet address and the amount you wish to deposit.
- Confirm your information is correct. Make sure to print or save your transaction. Then click “Send”, and complete the transaction.
Though the transfer is technically very quick. It may take a moment before your poker account updates with your deposit.
Once it’s in your account, you’re ready to go.
Withdrawal – When it’s time to withdraw your winnings, a Bitcoin friendly poker room may offer you the option of receiving your cashout in the cryptocurrency or exchanged for another currency. If you’re keeping your gaming anonymous or use a bank that won’t process transactions to or from a gambling site, then you’ll likely want to stay with Bitcoin. Here are the usual cash out steps:
- Log into your poker account.
- Go to the “Banking” or “Cashier” link.
- Select the “Withdraw” or “Cash out” button.
- From among the choices, choose “Bitcoin”.
- You will have to provide an address.
- Go to your bitcoin wallet.
- You’ll either need to click the “Receive” or “Generate Address” button. The Receive option will often take you to the “Generate Address” prompt.
- The new address will be a long string of numbers and letters. Provide that (and only that) in the casino page’s withdrawal field.
- Enter the amount you would like to withdraw. Please note, some online poker rooms limit how much you can withdraw and when. See their Terms and Conditions for more information.
- Click “Accept” or “Submit”.
If you’re provided with a confirmation page, save or print it for your records.
The Bitcoin transfer itself is brief. The timing just depends on when the casino will release it to your address.
10 Reasons Why Poker Players Love Bitcoin
The number of poker sites accepting Bitcoin is rising quickly as businesses around the world watch this cryptocurrency’s usage and value increase. With the price of Bitcoin running so high in the current marketplace, many of the games use subunits like millicoins. Bitcoin has a number of advantages over traditional payment methods. These days, many online poker players never would go back to using credit cards or e-wallets. Below is a short list of reasons why.
- Transaction speed: Depositing or withdrawing your bitcoins is just a matter of moving an encrypted set of numbers from one user to another, so it doesn’t need to pass through companies’ networks. As a result the exchange occurs quickly.
- Anyone can use it: No matter where you are in the world, no matter what your credit score is or if you even have a bank account, you can use your bitcoins at any merchant that accepts the currency.
- Gambling with actual bitcoins: With many poker websites, you won’t need to convert your bitcoins into another currency. You deposit them, play poker with them, withdraw them.
- No exchange rate fees: When you use Bitcoin for every step of the process you won’t get hit with extra fees.
- More opportunities for US players: There are inconsistencies in gambling laws from state to state, as a result there are major payment services that are blocked from allowing poker transactions in America. Bitcoin is free of this type of regulation.
- Fast Payouts: When an online poker site pays winnings in bitcoins, the withdrawal reaches your Bitcoin wallets in 1 to 15 minutes.
- Secure Transactions: Blockchain technology assures your poker payments are safe and secure. Identity thieves would have to break into your home to steal your bitcoin payment code.
- Privacy Maintained: Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals have a layer of anonymity which credit card and bank account payments simply do not.
- Blockchain Record: If any disputes happen, the transaction is listed on the blockchain and simply cannot be challenged. This benefit will improve in the near future. New methods are being launched to make blockchain payments more transparent than ever.
- Emerging Technology: Bitcoin gambling is the future. Some visionaries claim they are inventing blockchain gambling tools (Sp8de, Ouroboros) that will make a 0% house edge gambling and 0% rake possible. While this sounds pie-in-the-sky to me, these guys are seeking Wall Street investors.
Balanced against the many advantages of Bitcoin and/or blockchain poker deposits is the fact the bitcoin poker crypto-currency is a volatile market right now. If you do not like volatility, then the benefits of Bitcoin online poker site deposits might not outweigh the downside.
Bitcoin Safety Tips
There are good risks and bad risks. Good risks can be found by keeping your accounts safe, doing research and reading reviews. Using Bitcoin irresponsibly is a bad risk. Make sure to practice the following:
- Research cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges before committing to one.
- Research online poker rooms before handing over your money.
- Never share your wallet password.
- Never provide your private key during transactions.
- Avoid financial transactions, even with anonymous encrypted currencies, when connected to an unsecured public wireless network.
Bitcoin Creation & Management – How Does it Work?
The Bitcoin system is designed to be limited to 21 million bitcoins. Currently there are over 14 million in circulation. Additional bitcoins are released into the system when “mining” groups utilize complex computer setups to solve incredibly difficult algorithms. These intensive problems get harder to crack, and release fewer bitcoins as the maximum limit approaches. This keeps the inflow of new bitcoins under control even as microprocessors improve.
Every bitcoin transaction is kept on a ledger, a copy of which every bitcoin holder owns. Thus the system is fully transparent to the entire community. Bitcoins are purchased or traded over exchanges. Once you buy or trade bitcoin units, you require wallet software to secure and encrypt your currency to keep it safe.
What is the Value of a Bitcoin in USD?
As of the second week of April 2018, one bitcoin equals 9279.75USD. Its value fluctuates more rapidly than established controlled currencies. For instance, at the end of August 2017, the bitcoin was close to 5000USD. In early 2018 it was about 19,000USD.
Bitcoin units tend to use the “฿” symbol. There are also subunits, which are helpful for buyers and merchants when the value is so high. These subunits are:
- centicoin or cBTC = .01 ฿
- millicoin or mBTC = .001 ฿
- microcoin or μBTC = .000001 ฿
- satoshi = .00000001 ฿
The “satoshi” was named after Bitcoin’s anonymous creator who (or whom) was known as Satoshi Nakamoto.
Most Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where I can I buy bitcoins?
There are many cryptocurrency exchange sites online from where you can purchase bitcoins. Be sure to research these sites before using one.
2. Where do I keep my bitcoins?
You’ll need to get a digital wallet. As with exchange sites, there are tons of wallet sites. Research!
3. Will the Bitcoin poker room charge fees for bitcoin-based deposits?
Most poker sites won’t. And if they do, usually the fee is small. Check the site’s Terms and Conditions for their deposit fees.
4. Are there limits to how many bitcoins I can deposit or withdraw?
Every site will have minimum and maximum rules for deposits, and there may be limits to withdrawal amounts as well. The poker room’s Terms and Conditions page should lay these out.
5. The poker site offers a great welcome bonus. Can I get it if I open my account with bitcoins?
Yes, you’ll be eligible for the welcome bonus. In fact, some of the best online poker sites have exclusive offers for Bitcoin players.
6. Is Bitcoin a real currency?
Though the word “cryptocurrency” may sound threatening, it just refers to secured, encrypted, controlled money. So when you’re playing online poker, Bitcoin is just another currency. You can have fun playing poker with it just like dollars, pounds or euros. A win feels like a win in any currency.
Bitcoin poker sites exist which cater only to those who prefer virtual currency. Most legit online poker sites provide a wealth of payment options, including credit cards, e-Wallets, prepaid cards, bank wire transfers – and bitcoin. Even among blockchain poker players, some prefer Litecoin or Ethereum. Increasingly, though, poker sites need to accept Bitcoin payments, because it’s a better and more secure service than most other deposit and withdrawal methods. Pick a Bitcoin wallet, buy some crypto-currency in a Bitcoin exchange, and start using Bitcoin poker sites.