Playing online poker is certainly a widely popular pastime for folks in the United States, and as each day passes many people opt to take part to see what the action is like on online poker sites and more recently launched bitcoin poker sites.
However, the online poker market in America was greatly affected by what is dubbed as Black Friday in the online poker world, which involved the shutting down of the three biggest online poker sites accepting US players, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet. It turned online poker in the United States on its head basically overnight.
Starting with the UIGEA bill that was attached to the Safe Port Act in 2006, and more recently the Black Friday fiasco in 2011, getting money into online poker sites became increasingly more difficult due to deposit restrictions between centralized banking institutions and online poker sites. Cash out time frames also suffered in the current online poker landscape in non regulate states.
With that being said, neither the UIGEA or Black Friday changed the fact that Americans are free to play online poker if it is legal according to state laws. But it’s understandable that with the online poker market as it is right now, players would be more reluctant to play on US-friendly poker sites, since it was entirely possible the DOJ has plans to go after the smaller US-friendly online poker operators.
As a result of Black Friday, playing poker online for real money meant that players were forced to play at one of the online poker sites still accepting US players that the DoJ hadn’t yet gone after or take an even more drastic measure and moved to continue playing at their favorite poker sites. This was obviously not practical for recreational players and continuing to play on traditional fiat currency US poker sites carries with it some risks.
The Growing Popularity of Bitcoin Poker
Now there is a growing demand for bitcoin poker sites, particularly among US online poker players, and there are a number of online poker websites that have started accepting this currency. In fact, there has been such growth in poker rooms accepting bitcoins that several operators have launched bitcoin only poker sites.
The bitcoin online poker boom has been at least partially fuelled by the Black Friday indictments, since a gap opened up for alternative payment processing solutions for US poker players still wanting their online poker fix (which there are many of.)
For anybody who is unfamiliar with how the bitcoin currency works and how you can use this payment method to fund your online poker account to play real money online poker games, Bitcoin is a virtual decentralized currency that no government or financial institution controls. Deposits are instantaneous and bitcoin is very secure.
#1 Bitcoin Poker Site
As one of the first bitcoin only poker sites to open its doors, SealsWithClubs is the largest and best bitcoin poker room for US players. During peak hours there can be several hundred players online active across more than 50 tables.
The anonymous bitcoin poker site offers a wide variety of poker games, including the most popular No Limit Texas Hold’em variant and Omaha Poker in limit, pot-limit and no-limit versions. Games are played with “seal chips”, which are worth exactly 1/1,000 of a BTC (one bitcoin) and can be used across all games offered on SealsWithClubs, including their ring games, sit-n-gos and multi-table tourneys. BIG BTC is SWC’s big Sunday guaranteed tournament with satellites to the BIG BTC running every single day! The direct buy-in into the BIG BTC event is 0.25 BTC (250 chips) and SWC will guarantee a prize pool of at least 10 BTC (10,000 chips).
The good news for online poker players who are considering or playing at BTC online poker sites is that the major players like SealsWithClubs have much lower rake. Cash game rake is 2.5% for regular tables. As for Heads Up tables at stakes above $0.25/$0.50 the rake is 1.3%. So as you can see the the rake playing on SealsWithClubs and other bitcoin poker sites is below the industry standard.
Getting started on SWC is quick and easy. They have a downloadable client as well as a browser-based flash client. All you need to do is to register a completely free anonymous account to access their huge selection of games via either client. You can also play SealsWithClubs poker games on your Android smartphone or tablet. The installation of the Android poker app allows you to play your favorite poker games whilst on the go, and multi-tabling is supported!
#2 Bitcoin Poker Site
Launched in 2012, mBit Casino is another great option to play online poker with bitcoin. Their poker room has been a recent addition to their casino client. You’ll be able to play online poker tournaments and cash games with players from around on the world. There’s also a variety of other casino games in their casino. The poker room is run on the new Coin Poker Network, which shares its traffic with other bitcoin online poker sites, to meet the demand of the rapidly growing bitcoin poker playing community.
Bitcoin Poker Bonuses
When making your first deposit into a bitcoin-friendly poker site, an often overlooked consideration is the signup poker bonus that a lot of the bitcoin poker rooms offer because the market is becoming more and more competitive. The bonuses will usually come in the form of a match bonus, meaning if you were to make a deposit of 1 BTC, you’ll receive a 1 BTC bonus that will be released into your account in increments, simply by playing real money bitcoin poker cash games and tournaments.
To claim a BTC poker bonus, you must be registering a new account, and you’ll sometimes have to enter a bonus code to claim the bonus. Most bitcoin poker bonuses apply to initial deposits only, so make sure you deposit as much as possible to get the biggest bonus and most value from your deposits.