Friday, May 30, 2014

The Case for Bitcoin at the World Series of Poker

Won't fit a suitcase, will fit a BTC wallet (photo: Joe Giron/WSOP)
Each year at this time, thousands of poker enthusiasts descend upon the Las Vegas Valley  to participate in the storied World Series of Poker (WSOP), often bringing with them untold sums of cash in order to participate. The buy-ins to these events scale up from the $500 Casino Employees Event to the uber-high roller $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop. Even just for the limitless cash games running alongside the WSOP, the cash on hand with players boggles the mind.

So it comes as little surprise that reports came on the first day of the Series that players at the Rio have had their hotel rooms robbed of cash and valuables. While hotel theft of valuables is an issue across the hospitality industry, the loss of large sums of cash can be directly avoided by poker players at the Series if the WSOP high command would do one, little thing...

Adopt bitcoin. 

Naturally, as the founder of Blacks In Bitcoin, I am going to be biased. However, as a poker player, I am always astounded by how much cash changes hands at large poker festivals such as the WSOP. While our bankrolls depend upon larger than average walking around amounts of cash, bitcoin is a simple, elegant solution to poker players becoming walking, international traveling targets for theft and robbery.

Caesars Entertainment! Allow me to enumerate the benefits of accepting bitcoin at the cage:

- Digital, quick transactions of large sums of cash in the same amount of time it would take to count it out for the cameras, if not quicker.

- Meet my friends Coinbase and Bitpay. They have an excellent track record in helping large businesses accept bitcoin transactions and instantaneously convert them into the currency of their choice, eliminating any bitcoin price volatility risk.

- Potentially more international player participation as the traveler will no longer be burdened by additional customs and banking hassles due to traveling with large sums of cash.

- Heightened player safety, as they are no longer walking targets.

Players! It is my pleasure to remind you of the convenience of using bitcoin at the cage:

- I repeat: No more walking targets.

- Getting your money in and out of the country in a form other than cash is now cheaper
and easier than ever (even cheaper than an "out of ATM network" withdrawal or traveler's cheques).

It's like a bank in your hands (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
- You can access your bitcoin wallet on that smartphone you keep checking between the glacial pace of live poker hands. And if you ever lose that phone or it gets stolen, you can just go to any Internet connected computer to check on your bitcoin wallet and move the funds to another wallet if you would like. If you lose cash or have it gone.

- Increased peace of mind that your money is safe while you play.

I am sure the poobahs at Caesars and WSOP would have to run this up the flagpole with the ever-present Nevada Gaming Control Board for approval. However, with so much infrastructure continuing to be built around "the Internet of money," bitcoin is not a fad - it's big business. I see no reason why bitcoin shouldn't be a viable option by next year's World Series.

Test it out at a few WSOPC (Circuit) stops over the next year to work out the kinks. Because if you won't bitcoin, I am sure the eagle eyes of the poker landscape from the European Poker Tour to the World Poker Tour and beyond, will bitcoin.

Edwardo Jackson is an author, poker player, and avid user of social media who stumbled upon bitcoin in March 2013 when working with Upworthy. He thinks about bitcoin - a lot.


  1. Feel free to join the discussion of this on Reddit as well: