Bitcoins are now available for both deposits and withdrawals on the Winning Poker Network (WPN), one of the larger US-facing online poker networks in operation today.
The move followed the acceptance of Bitcoins for deposits at some WPN sites, including America’s Cardroom, earlier this month.
In the initial rollout, players will be able to withdraw up to $10,000 in Bitcoin in any single transaction, with an expected processing time of 24 to 48 hours.
This method will be available to American players, which will make this the fastest way for players in the US to cash out, comparable to the fastest methods available to players in other countries serviced by WPN sites.
Unlike Seals with Clubs, the move will not turn the network into a Bitcoin poker site. On that site, players not only deposit and withdrawal in Bitcoin, they also play using the cryptocurrency.
That won’t be the case on WPN, where all games will be played in US dollars.
That will require a currency conversion for Bitcoin users; WPN is currently averaging four leading Bitcoin price indicators to come up with the conversion rate at any given time for deposits and withdrawals.
This is not the first time a major online poker site has accepted Bitcoins as a payment method.
Perhaps the first major network to offer the option was iPoker, which saw one of its skins, WinPoker, start accepting the online currency in March 2013.
More recently, Michael Mizrachi has backed Get Lucky Poker, a startup Bitcoin poker room.
Bitcoin has some advantages for poker players, particularly those in the United States who want to play on offshore sites. Because of the UIGEA regulations, banks and other financial institutions are barred from processing online poker transactions.
As a decentralized cryptocurrency, Bitcoin avoids the financial system entirely, which helps explain why sites like WPN’s skins can process payments and withdrawals without significant delays.
The anonymous nature of Bitcoin may also appeal to players who are nervous about being financially linked to online gambling sites.
That’s not to say that Bitcoin doesn’t come with some disadvantages as well.
There have been plenty of questions about just how secure Bitcoin really is, with many users losing the currency because of problems at major exchanges like Mt. Gox, smaller scale scams, or by having their virtual wallets hacked.
The virtual currency is also notoriously volatile when it comes to its value: after the value of a BitCoin rose from a little over $100 to just under $1,000 in the course of a few weeks in late 2013, the price of a coin has fallen ever since, now sitting at about $220 per coin at the time of this writing.
That volatility could prove to work in WPN’s favor. Since players are playing in dollars, they won’t have to worry about keeping track of the changing value of a Bitcoin when they consider the stakes they want to play at, something that could be a concern at Bitcoin-only sites like Seals with Clubs.
Combined with the larger player pool available at WPN, this could make the network a more attractive destination for Bitcoin users, hurting the smaller Bitcoin-only rooms.