Bitcoin, blockchain tech and crypto in general are set to
disrupt the entire world and the process has already begun. Today I
wanted to look at the poker world in particular and how the ability to use a
decentralized currency and build on the blockchain promises to transform the
There are many blockchain enthusiasts within the poker
community, some who have made a lot of money in trading crypto, some who enjoy
playing in Bitcoin, some who can see how blockchain tech will ensure fairness
of their game and some who simply recognize just how big this technology is and
how it will change the world.
To learn more about poker’s relationship to crypto, I spoke
with a professional poker player, Daniel, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Daniel first heard of crypto-currencies about five years ago when one of his
friends got into mining, but due to the complexities of the practice, Daniel
didn’t take much notice. Shortly thereafter, professionals in Daniel’s
circle started buying Bitcoin to trade and make a profit using MTGOX, a
platform that was also a bit complicated for Daniel’s taste. It wasn’t
until he heard of Coin Base that Daniel got involved with Bitcoin.
“This exchange seemed quite easy to operate, and at the time
the only thing you had to do in order to buy Bitcoin was connect a bank account
and place an instant order, similar to trading any sort of stock or security
through E-Trade etc”, Daniel shared.
Daniel is a big supporter in Blockchain’s ability to disrupt
many industries- including poker and casino- and believes many don’t even
see it coming.
“Mark my words when I say that the ability to utilize the
nature of cryptocurrency is going to change the way everything works in this
world”, he said.
The growth of crypto-currencies and their popularity is
exponential now and according to CoinMarketCap.com, at present there 850
cryptocurrencies and 210 assets that are part of a $136 billion market cap.
Only a week ago the same market cap was just breaking $100 billion.
“If you’re paying attention to this, you can’t argue that
this concept won’t bleed into the poker world sometime soon”, said Daniel.
Online poker players have had a history of geographical
limitations and frozen funds, take the aftermath of “Black Friday”, for
example. As crypto-currencies become more mainstream, poker players will
no longer have to worry about losing their right to play based on location or
losing their funds.
“The nature of cryptocurrency is to take control away from
governments and banks, with the goal of being personally responsible for your
own money and ‘becoming your own bank’. By taking this power from them, poker
players will be able to act freely and place bets as they wish without worry of
their funds being frozen or taken away from them (which we’ve seen in the past
by not only banks, but also some online poker sites freezing funds as well)”,
However, it’s not only crypto-currencies that are set to
disrupt online poker as we know it, it’s also the underlying blockchain
technology that can ensure fair play for everyone.
“What could revolutionize the industry is the ability for
poker players to have each transaction (aka each poker session) recorded in a
blockchain ledger the instant that a session finishes, and the player to have
the ability to have sole control of these funds. I could see a new crypto
wallet being opened for a session, whereby the poker software takes control of
the private key and public key to make transactions (hands, decisions of
winning vs losing funds). Its all really quite complicated, but it can be done
for sure”, said Daniel.
There are many online gambling platforms already using the
Ethereum blockchain as a base for their offering, but the new school of thought
is the Bitcoin blockchain may be a better bet. When asked what he
prefers, Bitcoin or Ethereum, Daniel responded with Bitcoin.
“I think Bitcoin is the safest of the two. Its tried and
true. Bitcoin has been around for nearly a full decade now, while Ethereum is
hardly 2 years old”, said Daniel.
“I personally think Bitcoin will continue going up, while
Ethereum will bubble and disappoint a lot of people comparatively. I also think
that ICO’s (initial coin offerings) are a great thing for the future. However,
I do think that some people are blindly investing in them, and the long term
will not be good if that trend continues”, he added.
While most of us are aware of terms “Bitcoin”, “Blockchain”
and “crypto-currencies”, understanding what they are and how they work is a
different story. Self-educating ourselves on these terms is something we
should all be doing and mandatory for those who are already buying and
“Realize that this is REAL MONEY. This is no different than
cash in your hand. It’s new, it’s risky, and it’s also rewarding”, shared
“If you’re interested in learning about crypto, I’d suggest
buying some with the plan of holding it. While holding it, go out and do some
research to understand exactly why you’re investing. Overall, the most
stable crypto coin is going to be Bitcoin, so if you delve into the others (mainly
ERC20 tokens or new blockchains), just realize that the risk is significantly
amplified”, he said.
“For anybody interested in crypto, be understanding of the
culture that you’re about to enter. People in crypto are anti-establishment,
hate banks, and are against corporate centralism. Respect these rules,
contribute to the community, and focus on more than “just the money” and you’ll
be just fine”, he added.