Playing poker with bitcoin has become extremely popular because countries like Australia and the United States have pretty much outlawed online poker.  Citizens of many countries have no choice but to use Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin if they want to play a few hands of Texas Hold’em or Omaha online. As a result, two distinct groups of cryptocurrency poker rooms have emerged and they are both battling it out to attract online players.

Bitcoin Exclusive Poker Rooms

The oldest bitcoin poker room still in existence is SwC Poker.  The site was launched back in 2012 as Seals With Clubs but was relaunched as SwC in 2015 after the original founder got into trouble  with Nevada authorities for operating a gambling site without a license.  SwC recently upgraded their poker client and now offers multi-table tournaments, Sit & Go’s and a wide variety of cash games.  The revamped software also allows you play real money bitcoin poker from your Mac, PC, Android or iOS device. However, despite this poker room being around since 2012, they still only attract about 100 real money players at peak times.

Nitrogen Sports is known for its sportsbook but they also offer online poker and casino games to their players.  Even though Nitrogen Sports is one of the busiest cryptocurrency bookmakers, their poker room is also depressingly quiet.  A major drawback with crypto-exclusive poker sites is the fact that they are not part of major poker networks like PaiWangLuo Poker or WPN.  This means that you will only find action at lower levels and guaranteed prize pools for tournaments will be pretty small.

Despite the lack of players, bitcoin-only poker rooms are here to stay because they offer better anonymity.  What they lack in traffic, they make up for in privacy. Both SwC Poker and Nitrogen Sports poker allow you to sign-up and start playing without having to provide any KYC or AML documentation, making them perfect for poker player who want to remain anonymous.

Bitcoin Friendly Poker Sites

Back in April of 2011, the United States government seized the bank accounts and URL’s of major online poker rooms like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker because the sites were operating illegally in the United States.  Dozens of banks accounts were also also seized and online poker players ended up losing millions of dollars. After “Black Friday”, as it became known, the world of online poker in the United States changed dramatically and it became near impossible for U.S. citizens to use their credit and debit cards to play at online poker rooms.  

Thankfully, this all happened around the same time that bitcoin began to gain in popularity.  Because bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency that can’t be censored, governments around the world were not able to stop their citizens from using it to deposit and withdraw from their favorite casinos, poker rooms or sportsbooks.  Major offshore poker rooms like Americas Cardroom and Bovada Poker soon took notice and started accepting a wide range of cryptocurrencies, including Dash, Litecoin, Ethereum and of course Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency poker players could now easily deposit and play at major online poker rooms that were part of high-traffic poker networks.  They also benefited from the high quality poker software and apps that these poker giants had developed for both desktop and mobile devices.  However, these sites have their own drawbacks. For example, it is impossible to remain anonymous when you play on major networks because you will be put through the same KYC/AML procedure as players who deposit and withdraw using dollars or euros.  These centralized poker networks are also more prone to cave in to government pressure and threats. Both the Winning Poker Network and the Chico Poker no longer accept players from Australia following the governments decision to ban online poker there.

Conclusion

In all likelihood, both types of bitcoin poker sites will continue to flourish.  If you are concerned about anonymity or live in a country like Australia, then you will likely favor sites like SwC that require virtually no personal information.  Poker players who prefer to play at high-traffic poker rooms and use feature rich poker software, will likely opt for bitcoin-friendly poker sites like BetOnline and Americas Cardroom.

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