Bitcoin Poker Sites Expanding Amid Uncertain Environment
Today FlushDraw checks in on the Bitcoin scene, where a couple of more online poker sites accepting Bitcoins are on the verge of going live, even as a Bitcoin-related bust in Texas in recent days shows clearly that the virtual online currency is increasingly going to be monitored by US authorities.
As of earlier this year, there were three sites accepting Bitcoins as a form of deposit and withdrawal: SealsWithClubs, WinPoker and Switch Poker. Soon, it looks as though that number will swell to between five and seven.
Of interest to Bitcoin watchers are the latest developments at Michael Hajduk’s Infiniti Poker, which has been in development since late 2010 or early 2011, was promised to go live in the middle of 2012, and still hasn’t quite made it live.
However, things appear to be getting close for the site, which has long proclaimed that it will be accepting Bitcoins as a transaction medium. The latest step forward was a “beta” (test) event of the site’s software on Thursday night, attended by several of the site’s already-sponsored pros. In addition to inviting the public to join its beta-test period, Infiniti has also announced a newsletter for prospective players to track the site’s progress.
Meanwhile, other sites are emerging as well. Another startup is the curious Satoshi Poker, a site themed with plenty of “Anonymous” imagery (right) and which is clearly a play on the popular Satoshi Dice site, which has been the world’s largest Bitcoin-operated online casino, and was also in the news of late for being sold for 126,315 Bitcoins — which is, more or less, about $11.5 million at recent exchange rates.
Satoshi Poker doesn’t seem to be connected to Satoshi Dice in any way other than the use of the name of Bitcoin’s founder as a marketing ploy, nor are we at FlushDraw recommended it or any other Bitcoin site. It’s just a note in the way of a news update, that this niche is growing.
Then there’s this curious effort, called Live Bitcoin Poker, which is among the more laughable efforts to date. Check out this screen grab of its home page, which I think represents the biggest rip-off of player likenesses since Pharaoh’s Poker Palace tried to sell online poker players on a webcam-poker site back in 2007.
I know I’ve seen the original that this image was tweaked from before, but whether it came from Poker After Dark or PokerStars or NBC Heads-Up Championship, I just can’t remember. Anyhow, PPP quickly went belly-up; I’d expect this ragtag effort to do about the same. It’s hard to paint yourself as a legitimate site when the first thing you do is to rip off others.
Here’s another curious effort — BTConTilt.com. This one is very much marketed toward former US customers of Full Tilt, right down to trying to imitate the “Tilt” font as it appears in the BTConTilt logo, at right.
Here’s yet another one, Poker Dominicano, which screams rinky-dink to me based on its website.
Yet all that is to be expected. A lot of these sites are going to be cheesy, untrustworthy, fly-by-night operations, and yet the general shift towards these startups is slowly taking shape.
And as we noted earlier, governments are also starting to take notice. Just a week ago, the US’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) fired another warning shot over the Bitcoin bow by indicting a Texas man for a purported Ponzi investment scheme based on Bitcoins.
In that episode, reported in mainstream pieces such as this one, Trendon T. Shavers is alleged to have created a “Bitcoin Savings and Trust” entity which was an investment vehicle based on Bitcoins, except Shavers allegedly diverted most of the investments made by others to his own use. Classic Ponzi, new vehicle.
Bitcoin poker? It’s not here yet in any meaningful way, but its a symptom of a situation: There’s a market of waiting US online poker players just waiting to be served — a pressure, if you will, that needs release. That these sites are popping up is a sure sign that that pressure is going to burst.