Winning Poker Network Implements Bitcoin Deposits
The Winning Poker Network, one of the larger US-facing online poker networks, has implemented Bitcoin-based deposits and withdrawals on a network-wide basis. In doing so, WPN becomes the first significant online poker network to implement Bitcoin-based transactions in conjunction with real-world currencies, unlike a growing handful of standalone, Bitcoin-only sites that are denominated only in that virtual currency.
WPN announced the addition of Bitcoin usability in unusual fashion, in the form of just a few brief messages posted on major poker-discussion forums by network officials. Over the weekend, WPN moved the Bitcoin-deposit feature out of a beta-test mode and into live operation, making it operational on all of the network’s skins, including America’s Cardroom (ACR), the largest site on the network.
ACR, which true to its name is a US-facing site, is the de facto flagship offering of WPN, if not officially designated as such. The Winning Poker Network, featuring ACR and about a dozen other sites, ranks as the fourth-largest US-facing site, allowing Americans to participate against players from other jurisdictions. According to traffic-monitoring site PokerScout, WPN ranks about 22nd globally.
Though the brief announcement was significant in a network-wide sense, it isn’t the first exposure for Bitcoin transactions on WPN. The network already was home to a Bitcoin-only skin called Betcoin, which operated by pre-converting Bitcoin deposits from its players into US dollars, the operational currency of the network’s games. Withdrawals were then handled in a reverse manner by that site, being reconverted to Bitcoins, or BTC, before being sent back out to players’ online wallets.
A similar solution appears to be in place for the WPN network as a whole, saving the network the inherent arbitrage risk of keeping a large quantity of Bitcoins in an on-network wallet. By accepting a reasonable exchange-processing fee — and some WPN players have already reported such an exchange fee is in place — the network can limit its exposure to Bitcoin price fluctuations. In recent months, Bitcoins have slid dramatically in value, and are now available for less than $200 each.
How the advent of Bitcoin processing impacts or enhances WPN’s overall size remains to be seen. While the virtual currency continues to garner mainstream acceptance, its use still requires a certain level of technical proficiency on the part of its users. Numerous Bitcoin-only online-poker and online-gambling sites have debuted over the past couple of years, though it would be an overstatement to declare such sites as proliferating on the online scene.
The largest such Bitcoin-only online poker site on the market, SealsWithClubs, still averages barely 100 cash-game players, and has only recently cracked the top 50 tracked networks in terms of player traffic in PokerScout’s listings.
As for Bitcoin’s arrival at WPN, the network’s designated forum spokesman, “Winning_TD (Tournament Director),” posted several screen shots showing the new process in action. As illustrated by the WPN rep, the Bitcoin option currently appears within the “Popular eWallet” selection area within WPN’s deposit and withdrawal functions, though it may soon receive a separate tab:
As noted by the WPN rep, despite the current use of the word “Pending,” on the final screen in the transaction process (last image of the four above), the image is actual static; depositing or withdrawing players must verify independently the transaction’s completion through their own online wallets. That’s a standard part of Bitcoin usage, anyway.
Here’s the complete list of Winning Poker Network sites, led by America’s Cardroom, by far the largest of the network’s offerings in overall player size:
The Winning Poker Network has been in existence in some form since 2001, making it one of the longer running offerings. The network was originally launched as the Yatahay Network and operated under that name for more than a decade, changing to its current WPN moniker at the start of 2012.