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At this point in time, there is a strong likelihood that you have at least come across the word “Bitcoin,” or “cryptocurrency.” Even if you haven’t, there is a strong chance that you will hear one or both of these words at some point in the near future. Bitcoin is important because it is revolutionizing the way in which currencies work in the modern world, and is quickly changing the landscape of online poker around the world.
As for the history of Bitcoin, it can be traced back to the first few days of 2009, when creator Satoshi Nakamoto—which is really just a pen name of someone no one has ever identified—unleashed it to the world. As you could have probably guessed, the first few years saw Bitcoin grow at a very slow pace, primarily because so few people had heard about it.
Over time, the Bitcoin name became increasingly well-known, particularly in China, Japan, and the United States. Nowadays, Bitcoin is extremely close to being considered a household name, and is being used by people the world over. It has also spawned hundreds of “alt coins” that are currently being used by millions of people all across the globe, which are similar to bitcoin but just go under different names and have much smaller market caps.
What It Is and How It Works
For those who do not know, Bitcoin is a currency just like the US Dollar or British Pound, with the two main exceptions being that it exists solely online and is not produced by any government or financial institution. Unlike the aforementioned currencies, you cannot hold or exchange Bitcoin like you can traditional paper money, otherwise known as fiat currencies.
Knowing this, there are probably a load of questions running through your head. While we will dig deeper into the functionality of it all a bit later, all you need to know that it works exactly like money. You can exchange it with other people, buy goods, and even use it to pay for services. The reason Bitcoin is so unique is that it is not tied to any government, and exists only in limited quantities.
Rather than the US Dollar, for example, which is printed seemingly endlessly year in and year out, there are only 21 million bitcoins that will ever exist. No additional bitcoins can be created, and no single user is able to hoard all of them. This is something that is ensured by the blockchain, which is by all accounts the foundation of the Bitcoin network and that which allows it to function.
Though “blockchain” may be yet another confusing term to be thrown on the pile, it is really nothing more than a public ledger whereby all transactions that ever take place are stored. The fact that every transaction is made public means that you, me, or anyone else can be assured of the legitimacy of Bitcoin as a currency. Despite its public nature, the blockchain serves only to list the transactions that take place and nothing more.
This means that while you and the person to whom you might be sending money are aware of one another, absolutely no one else in the world can know who Person A and Person B in any given transaction are. The encrypted nature of it all serves to make Bitcoin appeal to those who want extra security in their financial dealings. In fact, there are many people who consider monetary transactions via Bitcoin to be even safer than those happening with modern day financial institutions. After all, big banks can be and have been hacked in the past.
Now that you know more about what, exactly, Bitcoin is and how it functions, we will get down to the nitty gritty of how you can take advantage of it in order to play online poker. The following will be a simplistic step-by-step guide that should serve you well. Before we go any further, however, we need to explain what an exchange is. In short, a Bitcoin exchange is the marketplace where you can purchase, trade, and sell Bitcoin. What’s more, most exchanges nowadays also operate as Bitcoin wallets. When you think of Bitcoin wallets, you can liken them to e-wallets such as PayPal, or even your online bank account.
Signing up at an exchange is simple, and purchasing Bitcoin is even simpler. If you have ever purchased anything online, you are more than capable of purchasing Bitcoin.
How to setup your Bitcoin wallet:
• Choose a Bitcoin exchange and sign-up.
>> Signing up is easy and usually involves you providing some personal information such as name, date of birth, and address.
• Link a bank account, e-wallet, or credit/debit card to your Bitcoin exchange account.
>> This allows you to purchase Bitcoin that can inevitably be deposited to play online poker.
Using Bitcoin to fund your online poker account:
Once you purchase Bitcoin, it can be stored in your wallet for as long as you choose. If you wish to take that Bitcoin to deposit into an online poker player account, the following applies:
• You will need to have the wallet address of the online poker site at which you wish to deposit.
>> The wallet address is the encrypted set of (usually) 34 characters, including numbers and letters.
• This is how the transaction can take place, be stored in the aforementioned ledger, and your identity still be concealed.
• Select the amount of money (Bitcoin) you would like to deposit, and complete the transaction.
Within a matter of moments, the Bitcoin that was just sitting in your exchange wallet will then be transferred to your online poker player account. It is really that easy. When it comes to withdrawing from an online poker player account, the process is the inverse. You need to provide the poker site with your Bitcoin wallet address so that they can dispatch the selected funds to you. As it was with a deposit, this process is typically quick and easy.
Bitcoin’s Legitimacy as a Currency for Online Gambling
As you could have probably surmised by now, Bitcoin did not exactly catch on like wildfire when it was first created. Though its rise to fame was a slow one, its emergence in the online gambling world was a bit faster than you might be led to believe.
When Bitcoin was first being adapted by the online casino and gambling industry, its appeal was not only the ease and quickness with regard to the transaction times, it was also the anonymity that was behind every transaction. For people from the United States, this was especially appealing as many forms of online gambling exist in a grey area of sorts, where it is considered to not be legal, but not be illegal either. It is a confusing landscape in the US, but that is exactly why people turned to Bitcoin—to avoid any sort of confusion that might arise.
In the US—and other parts of the world—Bitcoin evolved into a preferred choice for online gamblers because it, in most parts of the world, was not recognized as a legitimate currency. Though you could use it to pay for goods and services, governments the world over refused to recognize it as a legitimate currency. What this meant for many people around the world was that they could gamble online with Bitcoin, earn all sorts of money, and be able to avoid taxes and other gubernatorial obligations on the merit that Bitcoin, according to the government, is not actually a currency.
On top of all of that, even if a government were to recognize Bitcoin as currency, the anonymous nature of just about every transaction meant that people could still make use of the cryptocurrency without having too many worries. As time has moved forward, governments began slowly but surely recognizing the currency, and its reputation grew as a result. Though Bitcoin is still fighting to be considered wholly legitimate by the powers that be around the world, it has made massive strives since its humble beginnings in the early parts of 2009.
Best Sites to Store Your Bitcoin
In terms of the exchanges and wallets that you might be best-served by, we have highlighted a few of the most popular below. Before we get into the individual sites and services, we first need to explain the concept of “cold storage.” When it comes to Bitcoin, cold storage is a way to ensure that your bitcoins are never touched, tampered with, or stolen. Because Bitcoin exists solely online, and is stored on wallets that exist on hackable websites, there is a chance that your wallet can be hacked and the funds stolen. Though the odds of this happening are not very great, the risk does exist.
If you choose to utilize cold storage, you are quite literally taking your bitcoins offline, thus making them unhackable. In the simplest of terms, you can think of it as taking your bitcoins and placing them on a removable disk. Once on an external device, your bitcoins are completely safe and free from harm. Of course, the one pitfall with regard to cold storage is that if you lose your storage device, you will have lost your bitcoins forever. There is absolutely no recourse and your Bitcoin will be gone forever.
If you do not trust yourself to take your bitcoins offline and store them remotely, most Bitcoin exchanges and wallets offer that service for a fee. When you think of a Bitcoin exchange/wallet cold storing your Bitcoin, think of it as a bank storing money in a vault. Though effective and nearly entirely safe, this method of storage is also the most expensive.
By all accounts, Coinbase is the top choice when it comes to both wallets and exchanges. The reason this is so is due to the fact that Coinbase is so incredibly easy to use, and even easier to sign up for. On top of that, it has been in the industry for such a long time that they adhere to the utmost standards when it comes to safety and security. A
ccording to just about every source, Coinbase utilizes security measures that are on par with the banking industry standard. Of course, with such excellent service comes some higher fees, but the fees are not egregious by any stretch of the imagination.
Bitstamp is a great exchange that, like Coinbase, has been in the industry since 2011. It is equally easy to use and is utilized by people the world over. Theone difference between Bitstamp and Coinbase is that Bitstamp tends to charge fees based on just how much Bitcoin is being exchanged, rather than charging a flat fee based on the method of transfer chosen.
As is the case with any well-respected Bitcoin exchange, Bitstamp has awesome security, top-notch customer support, and all of the additional services that you would expect to find from an exchange so popular; including cold storage.