How are Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Revolutionizing the Way we Pay for Poker?

Cryptoknowmics  |  Mar 28, 2020

Bitcoin has permeated a number of industries in its short lifespan, as it continues on the trajectory towards one day becoming mainstream. While the retail and hospitality sectors are only just beginning to accept Bitcoin payments, online casinos were quick to adopt cryptocurrencies when they came about. There are even some sites out there that only accept the futuristic currency. Poker sites have been slow to jump on the bandwagon, but this could change as Bitcoin becomes more widely used. There are numerous benefits to allowing cryptocurrency payments at online poker sites, but there are also a few limitations which should be considered.

Blockchain-based Poker Can Solve Limitations of Web-based Poker

Poker sites should take a leaf out of the book of online casinos when it comes to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, as there are numerous benefits to using the technology. Blockchain is a way of safely storing a growing list of digital records, and was made famous by Satoshi Nakamoto when he created Bitcoin in 2009. It is a public transaction ledger on which all the payments can easily be verified independently and there is no double-spending problem involved. This means that the payments made on it are safe, secure, and reliable.

The concept of blockchain has been used by a number of other cryptocurrencies which operate independently of a central authority such as a bank. It has also become a widely used method of storing other large sequences of information. For example, poker sites could create their own blockchain to store every single hand that has ever been played at the site or to keep a reliable record of each player’s bankroll history.

The benefits of accepting Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency as payment are numerous. Just like online casinos, poker sites attract players from all over the world. So if, for example, a player from Australia logs on to a site in the US, they would be at the mercy of exchange rates and bank charges to make the international transfer when using their own currency. However, if they used Bitcoin, which is decentralized, the fees would be much lower. In addition to that, Bitcoin has generally risen in value as more of it has been mined. This is because there is a definite number of Bitcoins which will eventually exist. If players play poker with Bitcoin, they could find that their winnings are worth much more over time.

Which Crypto is Best Suited for Poker?

Bitcoin may be the best-known cryptocurrency, but that doesn’t mean to say that it will be the number one global currency of the future. In fact, there are over ten strong alternatives including Ethereum and Litecoin which are vying for mass mainstream adoption as well. At the current time, Bitcoin may be the best option for poker sites that want to start accepting cryptocurrency payments, because it is the best-known form of digital currency and it enjoys the most widespread usage. But Ethereum and Litecoin also have their advantages, with the main benefit being that one unit of each costs much less than one Bitcoin.

Some online casinos have solved the conundrum of which cryptocurrency to offer by accepting a wide variety of them. This means that they appeal to more people as different crypto enthusiasts have their own preferences when it comes to coins. They would also appeal to traders who like to play the markets and make gains from the various swings. When smaller cryptocurrencies are enjoying bullish runs, Bitcoin holders often move some of their assets into the smaller coin to enjoy the price rises before moving back to Bitcoin. These people would appreciate the option of various e-currencies at online poker sites.

Can Crypto-based Poker Attract High-Stakes Players?

With the value of each Bitcoin being so high, online poker sites that use the currency are more likely to appeal to high-stakes players than they are to those who are looking for low stakes. One of the issues with using the digital token for online poker is the fact that it will have to be broken down into much smaller denominations for people to be able to bet with it in cash games.

This can lead to confusion when converting the cryptocurrency back into fiat currency, which is why Bitcoin isn’t that prevalent in online poker at the moment. Many Texas Hold’em and Omaha players in the States have got used to their preferred payment methods and don’t want to change to something new. But cryptocurrency could help people in other countries where there are tighter restrictions on credit card payments.

As it stands, it would make more sense to use Bitcoin payments for buy-ins to high-stakes tournaments. For instance, the buy-in for a tournament could be 1 BTC. When players enrol to the tournament they receive chips of varying denominations that are unrelated to the Bitcoin payment, just as they would do if they entered a tournament with USD or GBP. With one Bitcoin worth just over $5000 at the time of writing, this theoretical scenario is likely to only appeal to high-stakes players for the foreseeable future. The other option would be to accept a smaller alternative such as Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, or Litecoin. This could appeal to players who want to play for smaller stakes.

Some of the most famous players in the world have shown that they are not concerned about the currency they are playing with. Phil Ivey, for instance, has spent most of his career using USD while playing in the USA. But in recent years the man who many regards as the best in the business have been playing in high-stakes tournaments in Macau. Over there, the 43-year-old plays with MOP$ or Hong Kong dollars.

Cryptocurrencies haven’t had a major impact on the poker industry yet, but it won’t be long before Bitcoin and others have a stronger foothold and become a common form of payment. Online casinos have benefited from providing varied forms of payment, and poker operators will have seen this success and begun to think of ways to replicate it. The world is moving closer towards scrapping fiat currencies for online transactions, as the borderless internet grows exponentially. Industries that exist solely online need to move swiftly with these changes.

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