Bitcoin was little known when it first started in 2008 but soon began to be adopted in an ever widening circle. In 2011, it began to be reported on more and more in the financial press. Since then some of the major global and international companies to use Bitcoin are, Dell, Overstock and Microsoft.
The adoption and use of Bitcoin by some companies around the world has however, caused governments to take note of this form of currency. In August 2013, Germany’s Ministry of Finance declared Bitcoin as a ’Unit of Account’ which can be used for private transactions. This has enabled Germany to tax users of the new currency. In December, 2013 China banned all banks and other financial institutes from dealing with any Bitcoin currency, later citing transparency, security, solvency and false claims over trading volumes as a reason for the ban. This made it impossible for residents to transfer their virtual money into real money and caused the value of Bitcoin to drop rapidly. The UK and the EU have also recognised Bitcoin as a form of currency. Other countries have either followed suit or are mulling over how to regulate Bitcoin. In the US however, it is not recognized as a currency but as a taxable commodity, with an IRS guidance on how to report any Bitcoin usage on tax income forms.
Buying Bitcoins for the first time instead of using traditional currencies can seem daunting but it is easy to do. There are many methods but the simplest and most straightforward way is to purchase your Bitcoins at an online exchange or broker. At an exchange a buyer and a seller are matched together whilst a broker has a supply that they sell direct to the purchaser for a fixed price. The Bitcoins are then transferred through Bitcoin addresses (which work similarly to an email but with a series of numbers for the address), which can take anywhere from 10mins to a few hours. Once received you will need to move the Bitcoin to your eWallet ready for use.
Putting it simply, these are the main points you should consider when using Bitcoin:
A virtual currency that is stored within a eWallet.
Bitcoins have a decentralized value that fluctuates according to use and demand.
Transactions in Bitcoins are broadcast within seconds and generally verified within an hour.
Transactions cannot be reversed once made.
Bitcoin transactions in the majority of cases carry no charges or fees.
For more in-depth information you can check Wikipedia’s site on Bitcoin.
Poker Sites with Bitcoin
Due to its anonymity, decentralized and transparent transfers and low fees; Bitcoin has called the attention of the online gambling industry as a great way to attract more tech savvy users, and as online poker sites keep growing in popularity it is easily to understand why Bitcoin poker sites are such an important trend for the market.
The ways to play online poker with Bitcoin can be separated into two main choices, Bitcoin only poker sites, online casinos that accept Bitcoin. But what are the differences between traditional online casino’s that accept Bitcoin and the newer casino’s that will only accept Bitcoin as a form of currency?
Differences between a Bitcoin poker sites and online casinos that accept Bitcoin
Well it’s quite obvious, but the main difference is the other payment options available in the online casino, if you opt for a Bitcoin only casino you should keep in mind that if latter on you want to switch from payment method to fund or withdraw your funds you won’t be able to do so.
The costs incurred for a Bitcoin only poker room besides the software are minimal and this is represented in better rakes per hand and other incentives such as bonuses or rewards that are passed to the players. The costs of transferring funds and withdrawing funds are also free for players compared to non-Bitcoin only casinos where these transactions may incur a fee.
The other advantage that these casinos have is the anonymity, often requiring no proof of id or email address from its users, meaning that those from countries where gambling is prohibited can play. It also means that withdrawals are actioned much faster than in other casinos where documentation may be requested. The disadvantage of this anonymity is that Bitcoin poker sites could be vulnerable to collusion and other player security issues.
The games available at Bitcoin Casinos are more or less the same as those offered at traditional casinos such as poker, roulette, slots and dice. However, you should consider that many Bitcoin casinos have not used the better known providers such as Playtech, Microgaming or Netent for their games opting instead to create their own games or acquire them from lesser known sources.
Some of the bigger Bitcoin only sites are: PokerStars, SWC Poker, Betcoin Casino and Bitcasino.
Advantages of Bitcoin in Online Poker
Transferring money to and from your online casino accounts
The requirements are much the same as with other traditional forms of payments and you will still need an eWallet to use Bitcoin but withdrawing money tends to be much simpler and faster with Bitcoin.
Unlike other casinos which requires a certain amount of personal player information and may restrict or not accept players from certain countries due to laws, the majority of Bitcoin casinos allow players to register with just a username and password, this means you would have to be more cautious selecting a reliable Bitcoin casino.
US players are able to use them
In the United States Bitcoin isn’t recognized as an official currency so as long as the state where a player lives doesn’t have its own laws making it illegal to participate in an online poker site, these players can play with Bitcoins without fear.
The Opportunity for a bigger return on their investment
Not only can players win on the tables but they also stand a chance to make a profit when cashing in their Bitcoins to real currency depending on the current trading price.
Better Rakeback for players
Due to the lower costs incurred with a Bitcoin only casino, players often receive a higher rakeback than at more conventional casinos.
Disadvantages of Bitcoin in Online Poker
Where there are advantages there are always disadvantages to be considered. Here are some of the top disadvantages to take into consideration when playing with Bitcoin.
Some Bitcoin only casinos may be unregulated offshore sites
With no regulatory body overseeing these sites, their promise that funds are kept segregated cannot be validated, meaning that a players Bitcoins could potentially be at risk. The sites will strive to convince and prove conclusively that its games are randomized and fair but again without a separate regulatory board this cannot neither be proven or disproven. So, make sure you do a quick search on the gambling platforms credentials and only subscribe to reliable and regulated poker bitcoin sites.
The fluctuating value of the Bitcoin
The value of the Bitcoin can as easily drop as rise. Unlike convention currency such as the Euro, Dollar, or Pound the Bitcoin has a commodity value much like oil, gold or wheat and can have large increases and decreases in its value from hour to hour depending on global events. We enlisted this same characteristic on the advantages as it would depend on the risk aversion of every user to decide if this value fluctuation represents and pro or a con, in any case; gambling with Bitcoin can be a double bet.
The use of Bitcoins is not completely anonymous
Although it may be possible to register anonymously at a Bitcoin poker site the use of Bitcoins can be traced back in a block chain to the financial exchange to a person’s account.
Bitcoin is not a legalized form of currency and does not have the backing of banks
Even when the main advantage of Bitcoin is to lack of manipulation from governments and financial institutions, however you should also consider this currency doesn’t have any back up from those institutions in case of value drops or major global events that may affect negatively the Bitcoin economy.
Bitcoin is an online Virtual Currency and therefore susceptible to cyberattacks
Although the programming behind Bitcoins is sophisticated so are cyber-thief’s. In 2013 the UKs Crime Agency reported that currency user’s emails were being hacked and that they were receiving spam messages demanding a ransom of two Bitcoins to fix the virus. There has also been a case of a European Bitcoin payment processor losing $1 million after a cyber-attack.
All transactions are final
With traditional banking methods it is possible to dispute a charge if it appears fraudulent, with Bitcoin all transactions are irreversible, so you should be much more careful.
Playing poker is a game of chance and strategy, and for many the use of Bitcoins is the same. The high popularity of both: online poker and Bitcoin, have consolidated one of the most important trends at online gambling: Bitcoin poker sites.
There are many advantages as well as disadvantages of using Bitcoin to fund your online casino account and play your favorite games, it’s important that you stay informed on what’s happening in the online casino world, make sure you’re fully aware of the gambling regulations of your place of residence and make a carefully research to select the best casino alternative for you.