Bitcoin, blockchain tech and crypto in general are set to disrupt the entire world and the process has already begun. Today I wanted to take a 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 industry.
There are a number of 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 starting 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 CoinBase that Daniel actually 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 at the moment 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)”, explained Daniel.
However, its not only crypto-currencies that are set to disrupt online poker as we know it, its also the underlying blockchain technology that has the ability to 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 a number of 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 investing.
“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 Daniel.
“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.