I’m From the USA. Can I Play?
Yes. Many bitcoin-accepting poker rooms cater to USA-based players.
It’s much easier for USA-based players to play online poker in Bitcoin than in dollars. While there are some dollar-accepting poker rooms, depositing and cashing out can be a pain (not to mention super slow). When you deposit, play in and cash out bitcoin, everything suddenly becomes much easier.
You’ll find our recommendations for USA-based players in the list above. Alternatively, you can always sign up for a VPN service, set your IP as Canadian and play at any bitcoin poker room you wish.
Are There Any Bitcoin-Specific Poker Strategies?
Yes there are. While the normal Texas Holdem strategies apply, for extra income you can take advantage of the always controversial bum-hunting strategy.
Bum hunting is a poker strategy where a good player chooses to play at cash game tables where there are one or more super-poor players. For additional advantage, the bum hunter will usually try to sit in position (to the left of) to the bum.
Bum hunting is a lucrative strategy. Target a “fish” (poorly skilled player) with your superior skills and positional advantage at a 6-handed no limit texas holdem table, and you’re guaranteed to make money.
Bum hunting is controversial because poker rooms hate it. Bum hunting creates a poor experience for the bums, who are lucrative customers, so poker rooms have tried stopping better players from hunting the worse ones. One method of stopping bum hunting is not showing (or randomizing) players’ nicknames, so you can’t identify the bums easily.
Amusingly, bitcoin poker rooms’ worst aspect (lack of players) makes them the best poker rooms for bum hunting. There’s usually only a couple of cash game tables open, so by watching them, you can easily see every single player’s skill level. Identify the bums (there are going to be a few, BTC-accepting poker rooms generally have less skilled players than PokerStars) and start playing against them. This way you can make serious BTC without the skills of Tom Dwan or Daniel Cates.
Bonus strategy tip: after identifying the bums, sit down at a new table with stakes slightly lower than the table where the bum is sitting. They’re going to be delighted by the chance to play with lower stakes, while more serious players are going to ignore the table they consider to be beneath them. This way you’ll often end up with a short-handed table with you, a bum or two and at most one other skilled player. There’s never going to be an easier way of making money playing online poker than this.
How Do I Get Started?
Choose a poker room, download its client and start playing.
Getting started with bitcoin poker is as easy as choosing a poker room. Simply go to one of our recommended poker rooms and sign up. After signing up, you’re instructed on how to download the site’s poker client.
Downloading a poker client (software you install on your computer to play) isn’t technically required, as most sites also feature browser-based playing. However, you do want to play with a downloadable software.
While playing no-download poker with your web browser sounds like a fun idea, in practice the downloadable poker clients are much more reliable and easier to use for vital things like playing many tables at the same time.
After you’ve installed your poker client, you’re good to go. Deposit some cash and start playing. Alternatively, if you’d like to test the waters without depositing you can always play a few freerolls first.
How Do You Review Bitcoin Poker Sites?
Players, players, players. While the are many criteria for reviewing a poker site, by far the most important one is how many players play at the site.
Poker sites need a lot of players. If there are not enough players on a site, the action is dead. You can’t enjoy an evening of poker if there aren’t tables or tournaments open with the stakes you prefer.
The fact that you need a lot of players is a big problem for bitcoin-using poker players. For some reason, the big time fiat poker rooms like PokerStars, Betsson and others haven’t adopted bitcoin. This problem means that bitcoin-using poker players need to play at BTC-only poker rooms, which in comparison to the older fiat sites are tiny.
Where a site like PokerStars has tens of thousands of players at the tables, at Betcoin Poker (our favorite BTC poker site) you’ll find a few dozen players. The difference is huge, but not all hope is lost. You can still get a tournament or two and a decent cash ring going.
When we review poker sites, other things we take into consideration are the poker client, bonus and if you can play mobile. The poker client is an important one because a crashing or just plain bad software can make playing, especially multi-tabling, straight up agony. A good bonus is a practical way to boost your bankroll, and mobile playing is a straight-up must have.
How do I know the poker room is legit and not a scam?
Play at reputable poker sites that have a long, positive reputation in the BTC community.
If you’re used to playing at fiat sites (ones that take USD, Euro, etc.), you might wonder why bother questioning if a site is legit or not. Well, while all big fiat poker rooms are legit for sure, there have been some very dubious bitcoin poker rooms in the past. Things are always a bit wilder on the bitcoin side of things, and players have come across every scam in the book from all-seeing bots to rigged games.
So how do you know you’re playing at a legit site? The only way to know is to play at a site with a good reputation. That reputation needs to be earned over multiple years. At the top of this page, you’ll find our list of sites we consider reputable and which, according to our background research, have a solid reputation at bitcoin forums.
Note that the lack of verifiably fair multi-player poker games doesn’t mean anything. Of course, verifiably fair games would be nice to have, but when it comes to poker, they are simply too much effort for the poker operators. That and reputable sites like Betcoin.ag already have proven their games fairness to get their gambling license, so they don’t want to do the same work twice.
How Do Bitcoin Poker Bonuses Work?
You collect poker points that release bonus cash to your account. This same rakeback-like system is in use at fiat sites.
Poker bonuses work differently from casino bonuses. Overall the poker bonus system most often used at cryptocurrency and fiat poker rooms is much fairer to players than any casino bonus system.
Here’s how poker bonuses work 99% of the time: You make a deposit, and the poker room matches with some percentage, which is usually 100%. So for example, you deposit 0.5 BTC and receive another 0.5 BTC in bonus money.
The bonus money doesn’t just land on your account. Instead, it’s kept separate from your funds. Now you need to play real-money poker to release the bonus money onto your account.
You’ll receive poker points based on your real-money gaming. Typically the points are tied to the amount of rake that you end up paying to the poker room. Then when you play enough and get a certain number of points, a chunk of your bonus money is released to your account.
Continue clearing the money, and eventually, you’ve either cleared it all, or you run out of time, and the rest of the bonus is gone. Either way, the money you’ve released to your account doesn’t have any extra clauses attached, it’s yours, and you can do what you want with it.
If you’ve played poker for a while, you’ve realized by now that the bonus system described here is essentially rakeback (where a site pays you back a certain percentage of the rake taken from you). That’s correct; nowadays poker bonuses are so close to being rakeback that it’s almost impossible to tell the difference besides the fact that poker rooms really want to call them bonuses instead of rakeback.
Can I play bitcoin poker with my iPad / iPhone / Android mobile device?
Yes you can. The best BTC poker rooms have a mobile version of their software available.
Poker is one of the few gambling games that is still in 2018 easiest to play on a computer. Most poker players like to multitable (play at more than one table at once), which is, and forever will be, easiest on a desktop computer with a nice monitor and a mouse.
That being said, mobile poker software has come a long way from its early days. Playing on a touch-screen device is nowadays pretty comfortable at least up to 4-6 tables. Hard-core poker players with tons of experience, a good phone, and a decent poker client can handle even more.
You’ll find the best mobile poker client at Betcoin. Its software is available for every popular device: desktop version is good for PC / Mac / Linux, and the mobile software works on iPad / iPhone and Android devices.
Note that out of the well-known Bitcoin poker rooms SwC Poker (Seals with Clubs) does NOT have a mobile version of its software.
What is the Best Site for Bitcoin Freerolls?
Betcoin has the most freerolls (by a huge margin) out of bitcoin-accepting poker sites.
Freerolls are a fun way to test out new poker sites. You get to play for real-money prizes for free, so you’ll get a good feel for how the level of competition at the site is, how good its poker software is and so forth.
When it comes to freerolls on bitcoin-accepting sites, you don’t have a lot of choices. There are only a couple of sites that have BTC-paying no-deposit tournaments.
Your best option for freeroll tournaments is Betcoin. The site’s poker room isn’t super busy, but it has so many scheduled freerolls that you can play them any day of the week.
What makes Betcoin’s freerolls doubly attractive is that winning isn’t all that difficult due to the low number of competitors. Instead of thousands and thousands of players like at PokerStars, you’ll be running against a hundred or two at most.
Is Bitcoin Poker Legal?
Yes it is. If it isn’t specifically declared illegal where you are, it’s legal to play poker with bitcoin.
When it comes to the legality of online poker, things are not simple, to say the least. There are at least three things to consider.
First, there’s the view of the country where you happen to be at right now. Some countries think it’s their business to dictate what you can or can’t do with your own money, so some say that you’re not allowed to play online poker. Most countries are cool and don’t care one way or another.
Secondly, there’s the view of the country where the gambling takes place at. Poker sites have their servers in countries like Malta, Antigua, Curaçao, Montenegro and others places which hand out gambling licenses. They say that of course poker is legal, the actual gambling transactions take place in their country and they specifically state it’s as legal as legal can be.
When it comes to bitcoin, there’s an additional twist. Some countries don’t consider Bitcoin to be money. So while some countries limit online gambling, they don’t limit bitcoin gambling as gambling is defined as something you do with money. And since Bitcoin is not money, what you do with it can’t be gambling. Confused yet?
So there you have it. I think the best answers to if bitcoin poker is legal are: depending on where you are it probably is and on the other hand, who cares? No player has ever been busted for playing poker with cryptocurrency. You can always ask for legal advice or ignore the whole thing, use a VPN connection and ante up.
Can I Play Other Poker Games Besides Texas Holdem?
Yes and no. While games like Omaha, Telesina, and different stud variations are available at bitcoin-accepting poker rooms, they don’t get a lot of action.
Online poker is mostly Texas Holdem. More specifically, now in 2018, it’s all no-limit Texas Holdem as fixed limit games died years ago. This is a problem for those players who’d like to play something else, maybe something like 7 card stud.
Bitcoin-accepting poker rooms and poker networks are much smaller than the biggest fiat poker rooms. This size issue adds to the problem, as the fewer players you have at a poker site, the less likely you’re going to get a ring going at a game that’s not Holdem.
So, this all being said, if you wish to play stud, Telesina, Chinese poker or triple draw in BTC, forget about it. There just isn’t enough players to get a decent ring (or a tournament) going in any of them.
The only not-Texas-Holdem game that you can realistically expect to play is pot-limit Omaha. Betcoin usually has at least one Omaha cash-game table open and features occasional Omaha tournaments. Sometimes you can even have a high-low Omaha cash game going, but for that, you need to be the brave one to sit down first.
I’m From Canada, Can I Play?
Yes you can. Just not at Bovada / Bodog.
There aren’t online gambling brands better known in Canada than Bodog and its sister brand Bovada. Both sites take bitcoin and feature online poker. However, if you try to register at the sites from Canada, you’ll find out that you’re blocked. The sites won’t take Canada-based players at the moment.
You could try to register at Bodog or Bovada via a VPN, but that’s a bad idea. The sites operate mostly in fiat-money, which means that (unlike bitcoin-based gambling sites) they check your ID and utility bills at some point.
Instead of trying to wiggle your way to Bodog or Bovada, choose one our recommended poker sites. They all accept Canadian players.