Recent years have borne witness to the rise of a new type of currency. Now, players around the world can use cryptocurrencies instead of fiat currency to play online poker.
Cryptocurrency is the brainchild of Satoshi Nakamoto. In 2008, Nakamoto announced a peer-to-peer electronic cash system – a system he called Bitcoin.
Bitcoin has grown to be the largest and most recognizable cryptocurrency. Many other cryptocurrency options have also come to market, like Litecoin and Ethereum.
Still, much about cryptocurrencies is shrouded in mystery. Satoshi Nakamoto is known to be a pseudonym only, and no public record exists of his actual identity.
A cryptocurrency is a medium of transfer between parties that occurs using unique bits of code. Each transaction is recorded in a blockchain and can be seen by all users of the currency.
A blockchain is the permanent record of all transactions with that particular currency. Until the transaction appears as a new block of data in the blockchain, it is not a confirmable exchange and has not actually occurred.
Confirmations can only occur with the approval of miners. Miners are individuals whose job is to verify the validity of the transaction and broadcast it to the network.
For their efforts, miners are compensated with units of the cryptocurrency. So, it is fair to say that each cryptocurrency begins and ends with the actions of miners.
Cryptocurrencies offer many advantages to users. Some of the biggest reasons to try crypto are:
No system is without flaws. Some of the reasons to stay from cryptocurrencies are:
Regardless of any misgivings, cryptocurrencies offer a solution to parties wishing to make certain types of online transactions. This group of people includes online poker players.
For poker players, playing online is an attractive alternative to finding a brick-and-mortar establishment near their physical location. Players can log on and sit in games with people across the world.
However, the process of placing real money online ranges from a minor nuisance to a genuine problem. While some governmental and banking entities are supportive of these transactions, others are skeptical or hostile to the idea of playing cards on the internet.
The situation in the United States is especially dodgy. Playing poker online is not illegal, per se.
However, the combination of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibited banks from dealing with gambling sites, and antipathy in several states has allow a black market of poker sites. Sites are forced to operate in secret and conceal transactions as overseas merchant purchases.
Not only is player money secure, the games themselves are, too. Both sites use blockchain technology for randomizing shuffling, making it nearly impossible to cheat the system.
So, this flexibility is proving attractive to various existing and potential operators. Many gray or black market sites have added deposit options for various cryptocurrencies.
However, some sites are popping up that conduct business entirely in cryptocurrencies. The most notable example of this trend is CoinPoker.
CoinPoker conducts business using its own proprietary cryptocurrency, known as CHP. CHP ties its value to well-known currency Ethereum, and the site allows direct exchanges between the two systems.
Because transactions occur in crypto, games are more secure due to the blockchain technology underlying every transaction. Deposits and withdrawals occur instantly because there is no middleman needed to confirm each transaction.
Players don’t even have to provide personal information and data typically necessary to open this type of account. It is possible to become a CoinPoker player without providing a credit card, banking information, or even a phone number — the site offers identity verification through blockchain-based Civic.
Another offering based on crypto is Virtue Poker, which operates on the Ethereum blockchain.
Neither is currently available in the US.
Traffic on CoinPoker is usually 130 people every 24 hours with a peak around 1,000. That figure should rise as more people try out a different type of site.
However, the site also just completed the first annual Crypto Series of Poker. The prize pool guarantees stretched into the millions of CHP.
Players on CHP tend to focus on the tournament side of things. There are many freerolls that can give players a shot at CHP without any risk.
All in all, there are several reasons to look closer at cryptocurrency play. It’s certainly safer than dollars in an offshore account.