The Winning Poker Network (WPN) has added Bitcoin as both a deposit and withdrawal currency, making it the largest internet poker network to accept the cryptocurrency. WPN, likely not coincidentally, is also a U.S.-facing network, giving American players an option for funds transfers as traditional means are not always viable with current online gaming laws in place.
A representative for WPN originally made the announcement on Two Plus Two last Friday, saying that at first, only deposits could be made with Bitcoin and not cash outs and transactions were capped at $25,000. Withdrawals were put in place this week.
Bitcoin has gained increased popularity over the last couple years as people around the world look for ways to conduct financial transactions outside the usual government regulated banking systems. One problem with Bitcoin, though, is that its value can fluctuate wildly. The last couple weeks are a prime example of this. On January 2nd, one Bitcoin traded at $314.59. In two days, it was down to $263.63. It rose again, but on Wednesday, the value of one Bitcoin was down to $177.28.
That is nothing compared to Bitcoin in 2013. At the beginning of the year, one Bitcoin was worth a bit over $13, but the market went wild at the end of the year and at the beginning of December, a single Bitcoin was trading for around $1,200. In a couple weeks, it crashed down close to $500 before getting back up to over $900 at the beginning of January 2014. Holding Bitcoin is clearly more risky than holding U.S. Dollars.
One nice thing about the Winning Poker Network’s implementation of Bitcoin is that upon deposit, they are converted into U.S. Dollars, which means that players do not have to worry about Bitcoin price fluctuations while their funds are on the network. Upon withdrawal, the funds are converted back to Bitcoin and transferred back to a player’s Bitcoin wallet.
The Winning Poker Network is comprised of about a dozen poker rooms, the most notable of which is America’s Cardroom. One room, BetcoinPoker.com, already used Bitcoin as a currency, but the cryptocurrency has now gone network-wide. WPN is not a huge network, but with a seven-day average of 450 cash game players (figures courtesy PokerScout.com), it still ranks amongst the top 20 sites or networks on the internet. It is much bigger than the largest Bitcoin-only site, SealsWithClubs.com, which is only averaging 100 cash game players.
The Bitcoin deposit option can be found under the Deposit tab of the WPN cashier (obviously) and then by clicking on the Popular e-Wallet button. After a player enters a U.S. Dollar amount he wants to deposit, the system then displays how many Bitcoin must be transferred and to what address. A small exchange fee is charged, but players who have tested the system so far say it is reasonable.