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Online Poker, Bitcoin Style: a Quick Primer for the BitCoin Poker Beginner

The world of online poker has become one of the shining beacons of the modern e-commerce landscape. One of the biggest drivers of this new reality was the resurgence of games like Texas hold'em during the last decade. Consequently, even ordinary folk who'd otherwise have no interest in gambling are taking to the web to try their hands at online games of chance. In spite of a few legal stumbling blocks here and there, the industry is stronger than ever. One popular gambling trend that's emerged in recent years is Bitcoin poker, an entirely new way to play cards online.

What Are Bitcoins?

Let's start off with a brief overview of what Bitcoin is and how it works. Simply put, Bitcoin is a digital currency that exists solely in the realm of cyberspace. It's reliant on a peer-to-peer network that uses a public ledger known as a blockchain to determine who owns what at any given time. As a result, all transactions are public knowledge though the identities of participants are generally private. Security is ensured through the use of nearly impervious public-key cryptography. Once you've acquired a Bitcoin balance, you can use it to facilitate financial transactions online.

Bitcoin Pros & Cons

Bitcoin has a lot going for it both in theory and in practice. For starters, each Bitcoin is unique and can't be counterfeited. Furthermore, the distributed nature of the currency makes confiscation difficult. In addition, transactions can be conducted with little or no overhead. On the other hand, Bitcoin is subject to wild price fluctuations that make it a less than ideal store of value. Since transactions occur outside of established financial networks, there's little protection against fraud or theft. If someone hacks your Bitcoins, there aren't many ways to get your money back.

The Bitcoin Poker Universe

Now that Bitcoin has become an accepted exchange medium on the web, all sorts of businesses are accepting it as if it were hard currency. E-commerce businesses of all kinds take Bitcoin, including online poker forums. The great thing about Bitcoin insofar as online gambling is concerned is that it's not yet accepted as "real" money by most countries around the world. Your winnings aren't taxable as such as long as they're in Bitcoin form. Bitcoin poker sites operate much like normal sites, expect that they value chips relative to the current price of a Bitcoin valued in any given currency.

Getting Started with Bitcoin Poker

To play online poker using Bitcoin, you'll need to set up a Bitcoin wallet. Think of it as an email account of sorts. These wallets are basically programs that let you join the peer-to-peer Bitcoin network and conduct business. Once you've done that, you'll need to obtain some actual Bitcoins. Though you can create Bitcoins on your own by "mining" them, that approach is generally cost-prohibitive. Instead, purchase Bitcoin on an exchange such as Mt. Gox and add them to your wallet. Now, you're ready to sign up for a Bitcoin poker site.

Popular Bitcoin Poker Site

Once you've funded your Bitcoin wallet, you can join poker sites and play to your heart's content. There are couple of sites out there, but the one we recommend based on player feedback is Seals with Clubs.

Seals will require you to use your Bitcoin wallet to fund your account and withdraw your winnings. If you feel like cashing out your winnings at a particular time, you'll simply need to submit a request wherein you'll supply the address of your Bitcoin wallet so that funds can be transferred. The technical details of how this works are beyond the scope of this quick overview. Rest assured that Bitcoin transactions are more or less instantaneous. You can then exchange your Bitcoin for dollars at an exchange or funnel it into another online Bitcoin poker account.

The Future of Online Poker?

At the moment, Bitcoin is a convenient way to play poker on the web with as little overhead and hassle as possible. Whether you're in it solely for profit or just enjoy a bit of diversion, Bitcoin poker is a sound alternative to more "established" venues that rely solely on your debit or credit card. Some think that Bitcoin is the future of money. That may or may not pan out in the long run. For the time being, Bitcoin poker is as legitimate as any other form of online gambling that you can find and just as safe.

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