BitCoin Poker – Is It Really a Thing?

It’s strange for an old-school guy like me to think that a virtual currency is being used to play poker.

I’m used to using what I’d consider traditional payment methods to fund my own action – cash, credit cards, and eWallets. A few months ago, I couldn’t have told you what BitCoin is if you’d sat down and patiently explained it to me for an hour first.

BitCoin poker is, really, a thing. A few poker rooms and other gambling sites are now accepting BitCoin as a payment method.

So what is it? And how is it being used to fund online poker accounts?
What Is BitCoin?

Bitcoin is a virtual currency invented in the year 2008 by a person going by the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto.” The first mention of the currency was in a document sent to a cryptography mailing list made up of just a few people. Not much is known about the person (or people) behind the pseudonym, and they left the project altogether in 2010.

It’s interesting that the project was first mentioned among a small group of cryptographers – BitCoin was invented to exist without the need for a financial middle man. Taking banks and fragile world governments out of the equation produces a more stable and equitable currency, and it means that BTC (the currency’s acronym) are immune from seizure or asset freezing. Or so the theory goes.

So what is a BitCoin? You can’t hold one in your hand, in the traditional sense. It exists in the same way that an email exists – stored in a digital cloud. One important thing to note, for those of us used to fiat money, there is no FDIC or other insurance for your BTC.
Why Use BitCoin?

Here are some popular reasons suggested by blogs and message board posts:

BTC is crypto-currency, which means using it is completely private and anonymous.
Yes, transactions are recorded in a public log, for accountability purposes, but names of people involved in transactions are kept secret, hidden behind a generic wallet ID. There’s a dark side to this – goods can be bought or sold online and authorities can’t easily trace the people involved. That means lots of people are participating in illicit activity (see the story of The Silk Road for a perfect example) using this currency.

BTC allows you total control of your money.
Its value can’t be manipulated by any outside entity. Essentially, using BTC turns you into your own bank. The currency’s lack of physical production costs and non-existent need for storage makes it even easier to handle at the end-user level.

Big companies are bringing it into the mainstream.
BTC wasn’t well known until 2011, when the mainstream press got word of its early and rabid adoption by the Technorati. Now, thousands of businesses all over the world accept it as a mainstream payment method, including some surprisingly big names. You can buy your next Dell laptop with BTC, or shop for a cheaper alternative at Overstock.com. Cities saturated with tech geeks now have ATMs where you can exchange cash for BTC, and the other way around.
How Does BitCoin Poker Work?

The reason BitCoin struck me as so strange initially was simple – I am used to traditional (known as “fiat”) currency. So is everyone reading this – it’s what we’re used to, so any alternative feels a little strange.

The first thing a poker player who wants to use BTC needs to do is exchange their native currency for their new virtual currency.

The popular method of purchasing BitCoin is to deal with an exchange or brokerage. Exchanges are places where buyers and sellers are matched based on their bid criteria, while brokerages hoard large collections of BTC that they sell on-demand at a variable rate.

Exchanges and brokerages are pretty much identical for the end-user. It literally takes a minute or two to complete the transaction.

The BTC are then transferred to you through your unique Bitcoin wallet ID. Think of it as a hyper-focused email address for virtual currency. What’s neat about that is you can send money to anyone in the world using BTC, the same way you can send an email across the globe in a second.

Your wallet ID (BTC address) will be a randomized string of letters and numbers, anywhere from 27–34 characters long. That wallet ID is also the place buyers will send cash – which makes the whole email address analogy easier to understand. BitCoins can be sent or received from anywhere, or even sold among friends or in person.

Now that you’ve got your currency in your virtual wallet, it’s time to transfer it to the poker room of your choice. After confirming that the room you want to play at accepts BitCoin, simply send the appropriate amount to their wallet ID. It takes anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for the BTC to appear in the receiving account.

As an added bonus for poker players, transferring with BTC is totally free, thanks to the virtual nature of the currency. It costs nothing to send and receive virtual money, so you shouldn’t expect any additional transfer fees from your poker room’s cashier department.

Young People and Gambling Report 2018

Today the Gambling Commission published its Young People and Gambling Report which reveals that over the last year there has been an increase in the percentage of 11-16 year olds who gamble and an increase in the percentage who are classified as problem gamblers. Here, Commission Executive Director Tim Miller sets out how protecting children from harm will remain a top priority for the Commission and how it will strengthen protections for children whilst working with others to make gambling safer.

The report we have published today shows that 14% of 11-16 year olds in Britain gambled in the previous week and 1.7% are problem gamblers. There’s no doubt that these are figures that should make people sit up and pay attention and recognise that there is no form of gambling that is risk free. And we know that young people’s early experiences of gambling can shape their future relationships with it. But whilst discussions about children and gambling might conjure up images of groups of kids being allowed to sneak into the local bookies or sitting alone on their iPads gambling on an online casino, our latest research paints a more complex, and perhaps challenging, picture.

The most common activities that children gamble on are not those that occur exclusively within licensed gambling premises. Casinos, online gambling, bingo and bookies do not feature in the most prevalent forms of gambling in this age group. Instead we found children preferred to gamble in informal environments, out of sight of regulation – private bets between friends or playing cards with their mates for money. We also found them gambling in places where parents were or might be expected to be present – scratchcards from the supermarket or playing fruit machines in pubs.

Just in the last week we found that nearly 90% of the pubs across England that were tested failed to prevent children from gambling on their fruit machines. These are businesses that are not gambling companies but nevertheless have a duty to protect young people from being harmed. Of course, none of this will divert us from our core duty to protect children from those forms of gambling offered by the companies we regulate. We continue to take action when children are not properly protected by gambling companies and keep raising the standards of protections in place.

Earlier this year we set out our proposals to strengthen age verification for online gambling sites, including putting free to play games behind an age check wall. And in October we introduced new rules which mean we can directly take action, including imposing fines, against gambling businesses that break advertising rules (such as advertising that appeals to children or glamourises gambling). But our actions alone won’t stop children being exposed to the risks gambling can pose. Protecting children from harm requires a joined-up approach: a strong, effective regulator; parents and teachers who understand and talk about the risks that can come from gambling; businesses, both in the gambling industry and outside, that act responsibly. It is by working hand in hand that we can help to keep our kids safe.

The Popularity Of Online Gambling – Top 12 Reasons Why Betting On The Internet Is So Popular

Internet gambling offers almost all of the appealing elements of traditional casinos, and additionally:

1. Gamblers can play in the comfort of their own homes – no need to go to a casino.

2. New players can learn how to play with step-by-step tutorials without feeling embarrassed that they do not know the rules (as compared to traditional casinos).

3. Online gambling websites offer exciting, modern interfaces that may be especially appealing to younger players and / or those who enjoy video games.

4. New players can initially bet with “play money” which eases the transition to making wagers with real money.

5. Online gambling (especially online poker) tournaments have produced champions who go on to televised poker tournaments – thus becoming idols for those who wish to do the same.

6. Online gambling websites often use celebrities for promotion and at times they even take part in the tournaments, which further adds to the glamour and excitement.

7. The online format of internet gambling allows for games that are simply not possible in traditional casinos.

8. Internet gambling provides an opportunity (albeit a very small opportunity) to win money from home.

9. Online gambling websites make huge profits and have large budgets for advertising.

10. Online casinos often have loyalty programs to encourage more frequent and higher bets.

11. Online gambling is typically faster paced than the games offered in a casino.

12. Younger players who would be turned away at a casino can lie about their ages and easily access online gambling websites.

What Reasons Do People Give For Gambling Online?

According to a study by the American Gaming Association (2006):

Convenience (48%)

Fun / excitement / entertainment (24%)

More comfortable (24%)

Able to win money (9%)

Anonymity & privacy (6%)

Explanations for the popularity of online gambling according to Wood et al. (2007)

Convenience, comfort and ease of internet gambling

An aversion to traditional land-based casinos

Prefer the pace and format of online gambling

Perceived potential for larger wins and lower costs to play