What is Bitcoin?
The Bitcoin or BTC is possibly the world’s first successful decentralised “crypto-currency”. Developed by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009, Bitcoins are transferred directly from person to person and free from financial or legal regulation. Backed by military-grade key access and cryptography, all transactions made with Bitcoins are secure and verified.
The Bitcoin “protocol” is programmed to increase the virtual money supply gradually until the total number of Bitcoins in circulation reaches 21 million in the year 2140. Bitcoins are generated by heavy duty computers “hashing” transaction records and earning Bitcoins as payment – which can then be converted into cash or traded at the software owner´s discretion.
Most people using Bitcoins as a virtual currency now buy and sell their BTCs in Bitcoin exchanges – the most popular being https://www.kraken.com/ and https://www.bitstamp.net/ – after having set up a Bitcoin Wallet via https://coinbase.com/ or one of several other Internet based wallet providers. Anybody who has used an online e-wallet before (PayPal, Neteller, Skrill, etc) will have no difficulty in operating a Bitcoin account.
When Bitcoin was first conceived in 2009, many people had no idea what kind of impact this new cryptocurrency would have on how value is stored and transferred. Because bitcoins are transferred directly from person to person with no financial institution involved, the whole process is much simpler and straight forward. What’s even more unusual is the fact that bitcoins are not tied to nor controlled by any government entity. Where US Dollars are printed by the Federal Reserve, and euros by the European Central Bank, bitcoins are free from any sort of government affiliation.
Without any corporate nor governmental affiliation, one might be led to believe that Bitcoin is not a currency that can easily be trusted. The reality of the matter, however, is that each and every Bitcoin transaction is safeguarded by some of the most technologically advanced cybersecurity out there. Encryption methods ensure that while every transaction can be viewed and verified by anyone, there is still a level of anonymity that protects your personal information from ever being made public.
At its core, Bitcoin is supported by a blockchain where every transaction that has ever taken place is listed and recorded. This blockchain ensures that the total number of bitcoins in circulation can be verified by anyone and everyone. The blockchain also serves to prove that no one is out there simply creating bitcoins and hoarding them. Unlike the Federal Reserve, which does not publish just how many dollars they are printing, Bitcoin’s fundamental blockchain ensures that everyone can know how many bitcoins are in circulation at any point in time. Now that you know a bit more about what bitcoins are and how they work in the realm of modern currencies and banking, you might be interested to understand how Bitcoin has revolutionized the way in which people play poker. Bitcoin poker is a growing industry, but one that is picking up momentum at every turn.
How quickly are deposits/withdrawals processed?
When it comes to playing poker online, the speed by which you can fund your player account and cash out your winnings is pivotal in picking the perfect site for you. Generally speaking, Bitcoin transactions happen instantaneously such that a deposit will see funds immediately available to be played. Withdrawals are also processed very quickly such that withdrawn funds should almost always be immediately available in your bitcoin wallet.
Can I play Bitcoin poker across all limits?
When it comes to the level of poker you would like to play, do not fear because Bitcoin poker is available for high-rollers and penny pinchers alike. Though the exact selection varies from site to site, most reputable Bitcoin poker websites will allow you to play at stake levels ranging from low to high.
What makes Bitcoin Poker different from traditional online poker?
When it comes down to it, there is no difference between traditional online poker and Bitcoin poker. The only real difference is that, instead of gambling with US Dollars and other traditional currencies, you are instead wagering with bitcoins. This can be confusing at first, but once you grasp how the value of a Bitcoin relates to the value of currencies which you are accustomed to using, playing Bitcoin poker is no more confusing nor difficult than playing any other form of online poker.
What are the Advantages of Bitcoins?
In terms of playing online poker with Bitcoins, there are three main advantages.
No Third-Party Seizure
If everybody was using Bitcoins to play online poker, there could never be a repeat of Black Friday. Governments have no power to seize Bitcoins (which is why so many Cypriots purchased Bitcoins during their recent banking crisis) and Bitcoin owners have complete freedom to do anything they want with their money.
Legislators in the States (and France and Spain and Italy) have all become in favour of online poker since they realised that there was a way of generating tax income from poker players. As there is no way for a third party to intercept transactions of Bitcoins, and therefore no viable way to implement a Bitcoin taxation system, the proceeds from online Bitcoin poker are tax-free.
Low Transaction Costs
As mentioned on our Home Page, currency exchanges and transaction costs can make a significant difference in an online poker player´s profitability. Sending and receiving Bitcoins requires users to keep the Bitcoin client running and connected to other computers – essentially contributing to the network and sharing the burden of authorising transactions. Those who wish to play online poker with Bitcoins are thereby aiding the success of the Bitcoin network and are rewarded with low transaction costs.
What are the disadvantages of Bitcoin Poker?
The disadvantages of playing Bitcoin poker are not so much direct disadvantages as they are potential disadvantages.
Bitcoin Valuations Fluctuate
For one, the value of Bitcoin is extremely volatile (compared to other, more established currencies) and can move around quite dramatically in one day or one week. Knowing this, players may be turned off at the idea of their player bankroll being worth significantly less day over day without ever having lost any money playing poker. In the same breath, however, it must be mentioned that Bitcoin can appreciate in value just as quickly as it can depreciate, so sometimes this is an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
The story of the 10,000 Bitcoin pizza illustrates just how much the dollar value of Bitcoins has increased since the introduction of the Bitcoin in 2009 – At April 2013 values, that pizza cost just over $1.5 million! Within a day, the value of a Bitcoin can fluctuate by more than 10 percent (down as well as up) and so cashing out from a Bitcoin poker site a month after you made your first poker deposit could still result in a dollar loss or profit – irrespective of how well or bad you performed at the tables!
Wallets Can Be Lost
Another disadvantage is the fact that Bitcoin wallets can be lost. Being stored on your hard drive, a computer crash or virus threatens to make your wallet inaccessible, thus separating you from your bitcoins forever. Though wallets are seldom lost anymore, it is still something that is possible and something you should consider before playing Bitcoin poker. It is strongly recommended that your Bitcoin wallet is backed up onto a removable storage device after every transaction.
Bitcoins Are Not (Yet) Widely Accepted
It is unlikely that you will be able enjoy a successful session at the tables, cash out your winnings and celebrate with a fancy meal paid for with Bitcoins. Although more and more businesses are accepting Bitcoin as a form of online payment, it may be some time before they are of any use to you other than to fund an account with poker sites for Bitcoin poker.
Do bonuses exist?
A crucial aspect of online poker is the existence of bonuses and promotions. Whether geared towards new or returning players, promotions are an integral part of any site that is worth your time. When it comes to Bitcoin poker, bonuses exist just as they do with traditional sites. In fact, as a new aspect of the online poker industry, you will find that Bitcoin sites offer some of the most competitive sign-up and first deposit bonuses around.
Is Bitcoin Poker legal in the United States?
This is a question everyone has, and is one that is best answered by saying yes. While online poker exists in a sort of legal grey area in the United States, the type of poker that we are talking about is that which is played with currencies like the euro or USD. Because bitcoins are not recognized by the US government as being a transferrable currency, using the cryptocurrency to play poker is not against any laws related to gambling online.
Is Bitcoin Poker popular?
Since its inception well over a half decade ago, Bitcoin poker has grown to be extremely popular and extremely well-known. For players in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere around the world this version of poker has become a great, reliable alternative to traditional avenues of playing the game for real money online.
Do I have to download software?
The answer to this depends on the exact Bitcoin poker site in question. As is the case with traditional poker site, Bitcoin poker sites offer downloadable software as readily as they offer poker games that are able to operate within your browser.