BY JOSH H, OWNER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
2004-2016, reopened in 2017
#1 in USA, top 10 worldwide
Bovada Poker is one of the oldest US-friendly poker sites, launching in 2004. Bovada is also a popular casino and sportsbook, based in Costa Rica. Bovada has the highest USA poker traffic and fastest payouts. They also have a real money mobile app. I’ve been safe at Bovada Poker for more than a decade and they’ve earned my highest poker room rating to date.
- iOS (iPhone and iPad)
- No-Download Instant Play
- American Express (Amex)
- Bitcoin Cash
- Bitcoin SV
- Texas Hold’em
- Omaha Hi/Lo
Bovada Poker is back and all is right with the US-friendly online poker site world. Well, at least our beautifully dysfunctional offshore USA online poker world that has about as much balance as a Jenga tower set up by a 4-year old.
After a strange year-long absence where Bovada “sold” its online poker operation to Ignition Casino (I still believe they own both brands), the OG is relaunching. Bovada Poker has all the strengths and weaknesses (but mostly strengths) of the old days.
In short, Bovada Poker is the most “PokerStars-like” of anyone in the US market: tons of games, quick payouts, and a long clean history. The main difference is Bovada Poker actually has profitable games.
Perhaps best of all, the company roots of Bodog, which was one of my first toe dips into the waters of online poker back in the halcyon days of 2004, is behind it all. That matters because they’ve built an impeccable reputation for excellent payouts and player support, all while successfully still allowing American players.
Bovada Poker returns to a fully-furnished online poker mansion in the virtual ether.
Is Bovada Poker Legit?
To me, Bovada Poker is one of the most legit online poker sites in the world, simply because I’ve had such a good experience there over so many years. Also, Bovada Poker outpaces player traffic of any other US-friendly poker site by a 2 to 1 margin, regularly landing in the top 5 for the world.
Thanks to their casino-and-sports-tinged flavor, Bovada Poker also attract one of the loosest clientele of gamble-it-up online poker players on the planet. Bovada Poker is one of only 2 USA poker sites to offer real money mobile play. Bovada.lv was also the first USA poker site to offer a Mac download.
Bovada also the original trendsetter of dependable USA payouts. Other American poker rooms have caught up, but Bovada Poker was legitimately paying out players in days before it was fashionable.
Further cementing Bovada Poker’s status as a legit poker site is how long they’ve been around without payout problems or a major scandal. In fact, Bovada Poker’s old motto used to be, “Never missed a payout”.
Because of all those positives and the fact that I’ve played at Bovada Poker for more than 15 years without issue, I strongly feel they are as legit of a poker site as anyone else in the USA market.
I’ve been playing at Bovada Poker for more than a decade and trust them more than anyone else left in the USA market.
Josh H Founder of Beat The Fish
The US market is littered with some solid poker choices that have some notable weaknesses. Bovada Poker pretty much transcends that, although I’m not a fan of their no-license status. Despite that, after more than a decade playing here, I feel they’re the best all-around poker site still open to USA players.
Bovada Poker Isn’t Perfect
Before you get the idea that I think Bovada Poker can do no wrong, they can and they do. There’s also reason I’ve trusted Bovada Poker for so long and played there since 2004.
I think bovada.lv has earned their reputation as the best remaining poker site for US players. However, there are a few key issues Bovada Poker should clean up if they want to get over that last hump.
No gaming license
It’s pretty remarkable how bold Bovada Poker has been about this. Back in 2016, Bovada lost its license against its will from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. They still haven’t replaced it with a gaming license from another jurisdiction.
Although I understand Bovada’s private stance that offshore gaming licenses amount to little more than business licenses and taxes, it just looks bad to not be able to proudly display that license to prospective players.
I still trust Bovada Poker simply because I’ve played there so long, haven’t seen any major scandals there, and have never felt burned by them. Still, wouldn’t you feel that much better if they would work to obtain a new license?
It’s important to note that any poker affiliate site still claiming Bovada Poker is licensed by the KGC is either showing they haven’t updated their site in years, or are purposely misleading you so you feel better about the poker site.
Software could be improved
When the Bovada Poker software works, it works well and looks pretty. However, I still occasionally load the desktop software to an empty lobby, which can only be fixed by relaunching. Also, why are tournaments still not offered on mobile?
Back in 2017, Bovada Poker followed the trend of other online gaming sites and increased their maximum poker table rake to $4.00, up from the previous $3.00. That’s going to have a small but consistent effect on your win rate.
The Bovada Poker Bonus
The Bovada Poker bonus feels like a work in progress after they added poker back into the mix… or not, as they’ve never seemed intent on attracting the bonus-hopping unsentimental rakeback clientele.
The Bovada bonus is simple to understand and straightforward in its requirements.
You’ll get a 100% bonus on your first Bovada Poker deposit of any size up to $500.
As with every other online poker bonus under the sun, you’ll get your Bovada bonus money dumped into your bonus account rather than just added as cash. You didn’t think you were getting off that easy, right?
Even though you’ll see a drop down menu for promotion choices, you’ll automatically earn a 100% bonus on Bovada Poker play no matter what you choose. If you might play at the Bovada casino, choose the casino one. Bovada sports? Pick that. It’s all on top of the poker bonus. My favorite is: “No bonus, thank you.” Gets me for a laugh every time.
How Players Can Cash Out the Bovada Bonus
Bovada Poker will give you 30 days to clear as much of the bonus as you can, which is about average, but not as good as some online poker rooms that give 60 or 90 days.
How do you clear the bonus and convert it to real usable cash? Playing in cash games and tournaments, which will earn you Poker Points.
Naturally, Bovada Poker bases their bonuses it on how much rake you personally contribute to the pot in cash games or the amount of tournament fees you’re paying. The more rake you’re putting in, the more Poker Points and thus bonus money you’re getting out.
The weakness (or should I say designed shortchanging?) of that type of bonus system is that high-stakes players get richer while the micro-stakes newbies who could use the extra bonus money see very little.
Bovada Poker does have one answer to that, which should guarantee the smallest players at least some bonus.
Instead of a flat earn X Poker Points to release Y bonus dollars, Bovada Poker has an unusual system where it takes very few points to clear the first $50 in bonus money before it ramps up for the last $450.
Your bonus funds are easy to see with this graphic wheel in the Bovada Poker bonus section. You can actually withdraw everything at any time, but Bovada likes you to think you have to play until you’re done with the bonus.
The Bovada Poker Bonus Tiers
Here are the specific bonus release points:
- $5 in real money cash is released when you earn 15 Poker Points
- $20 more after 85 Poker Points
- $25 more after 185 Poker Points
- $50 more after 500 Poker Points
- $150 more after 1,500 Poker Points
- The final $250 after 5,000 Poker Points
Those first couple of tiers are a cinch. For example, entering $50 worth of Bovada Poker tournaments will release $5 of the bonus right away.
Bottom line: the play-through 100% offer is standard fare, but playing Zone Poker (see below) can net you a remarkable $3-5 per hour. That’s the hidden gem no else in the US can offer.
How Quickly You’ll Clear This Bonus
For Bovada Poker cash games, I estimate that you’ll clear about $.75-1 of bonus (for the first 3 tiers) per $.50/1 standard cash game per hour, which I think is about the median level of where most people are playing.
That puts www.bovada.lv at about average-to-slightly-above-average when compared to competing poker site promotions.
That drops about in half for clearing the upper Bovada Poker bonus tiers, which will be a grind.
The only other real poker-specific promotion bonus my Bovada Poker shows comes from using those Poker Points you earned to clear the bonus on real money tournament tickets.
It takes a lot. Specifically, you’ll see about $5 in tournament credits per 1,000 Poker Points, but it’s nice to have something to use these on aside from being used as an arbitrary scorecard for your cleared bonus.
This was just from playing a couple of tiny $.25/50 Zone Poker tables at Bovada Poker for a half an hour. You clear the bonus at a crazy rate with Zone.
Josh’s Pro-Tip: Zone Poker is Overpowered
This is the absolute key to clearing the Bovada Poker bonus at a ridiculous rate: play Zone Poker. It’s already my favorite thing to do at Bovada Poker, but it also serves as a pending bonus destroyer.
I reviewed how quickly Zone Poker earns Player Points, and thus clears bonus money, using some low-stakes games: $.25/50. They ended up netting me 15-20 Poker Points per table per hour.
Depending on where you are in your Bovada bonus, that could be as much as $5 per hour per table. That’s crazy good. It reminds me on an overpowered weapon in an online FPS. Let’s hope Bovada Poker never nerfs this.
New Bovada Poker Software Update
Bovada has recently updated their poker software, with the main changes being an official no-download software client as well as updated graphics.
As you can see from my browser’s URL bar, Bovada Poker looks surprisingly excellent without a download after the new software update.
The removal of a required Bovada Poker software download for desktop players is a welcome one. Downloading dedicated software for something lightweight like online poker feels outdated and I think we’ll continue to see forward-thinking poker sites go without downloads in the future. It was one of my favorite parts of newer poker site Global Poker and kudos to Bovada Poker for following suit.
With the new minimalist software, the Bovada Poker client now just gives you a handful of table options. I’ll miss you, sports-themed felt.
Along with their anonymous tables, moving away from installed software also makes it easier for Bovada Poker to keep away third-party HUDs.
I’ve always been a fan of the Bovada Poker software look and it’s gotten even more modern with subtle graphics improvements.
No-Download Play is Now Built In
After logging in at the Bovada website, you simply now click the play poker button and you immediately see the lobby right in your browser. You can play up to 4 tables in one browser window and I really like how Bovada Poker handles it.
I love the new bar at the top of Bovada Poker’s instant play window, which shows all of your open hands in one easy-to-see place. This is what the maximum of 4 tables looks like split across one browser window.
You can see miniature tables at the top of your window, which shows not only your hand at each but whose turn it is to act. It’s an intrusive and elegant way to multitable. There’s also just the option to tile all 4 tables in one window, which works fine, albeit with text getting a bit too small to read well.
Bovada Poker handles multiple tables well, splitting your window into 2 sections automatically.
As soon as you log in to Bovada Poker and click the poker section, you’ll see the lobby instantly without being prompted to download anything.
Classic Bovada Poker Software
When you’re reviewing Bovada Poker’s software, there are 2 factor you can grade: personal preference and pure functionality.
Starting with the former, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Bovada aesthetics here going back to the Bodog days. It’s flat, it’s functional, it’s dark, and feels slightly unique from everything we’ve seen in online poker software over the past 15 years.
The biggest visual customization you can make is changing the felt color and background image. Bovada Poker added several sports-themed felt backdrops, which I like a lot. I’m a sucker for anything that stands out.
It absolutely doesn’t make an iota of difference to the games, but I really like the new sports-theme tables at Bovada Poker and the ridiculous fire effects when you win with a big hand.
Windows and Mac Downloads
For functionality, my Bovada Poker review process shows that the software is very good. You’ve got the must-have Windows version, which works fine on my 2 Windows 10 machines aside from the occasional and inexplicable endless hang when I try to launch it sometimes.
Exiting the Bovada Poker software and launching it again fixes it, but I shouldn’t have to do that.
Bovada Poker has supported Macs with their own native download since around 2009 or 2010. You can play up to 15 tables at once at Bovada Poker, mixing and matching game types. Insane.
A sampling of some of the options in the Bovada Poker software. I especially like the all-in percentages, rabbit card, and showing hand strength.
The sports-themed poker tables look nice and the rabbit-hunting and all-in percentages stand out. Fix the occasional hang and the desktop software is nearly perfect.
The Bovada Poker Software Standouts
In terms reviewing the actual Bovada Poker software feature set, I like some of the specialized rare functions. Rabbit hunting is an option, which is always good for self-mutilation.
Bovada Poker also displays your hand strength information in words along with TV-style winning percentages on all-in situations.
You can fold and show. You can also be extra proud of yourself when you see flaming cards, which means you’ve hit a full house or better or won several straight hands.
It’s inconsequential stuff, but it adds a bit of flavor to a core Bovada Poker software package that hasn’t undergone much of a facelift in years.
Just because it looks unremarkable, that doesn’t mean there aren’t several noteworthy parts of the Bovada Poker software to review further.
There are several different visual themes for the Bovada Poker software client. Here’s the rabbit card, which would have been a 4 of hearts, in action after I won a pot on the flop.
Bovada Poker Builds in a Full-Fledged Casino
One interesting feature in the Bovada Poker software is they build a Trojan horse right in: a fully-featured casino. Kind of reminds me of having to walk past the slots and Blackjack tables on the way to the poker room.
What’s kind of cool is you can launch the entire suite of Bovada casino games from the standard poker software window. Most poker sites that try to tempt poker players with casino games limit it to a gaudy Blackjack graphic.
Right underneath the Bovada Poker game types, you’ll see the Casino Games section, which has every game built in.
I’m occasionally partial to Blackjack, which is a couple clicks into Bovada’s table games section, so I kept doubling my bets until I came out ahead and could get you a screenshot of it.
Funny story on this: I’m clueless on slots, of which the Bovada Poker software lists a ton in the casino games section, but wanted to get a screenshot of a real spin. I meant to bet a quarter, but did a max spin for $2.50. I somehow got 10 free spins and watched the reels spin endlessly. I ended up with $18 and split. Dumb luck FTW.
A Tribute to Bovada Poker Anonymous Tables
Anonymous tables were controversial when Bovada Poker introduced them way back in 2011 and they continue to be for the HUD-dependent and the agenda-havers.
Anonymous tables are a game changer. Nowhere on Bovada Poker will you ever be able to track who you’re playing against. No one can be tracked, preyed upon, or followed. Not in cash games, not in tournaments. HUDs are rendered useless.
This is exactly what you’ll see at every Bovada Poker table and tournament: player seat numbers with no identifying screen names. I love it.
I Love the Bovada Poker Ban on HUDs
How does Bovada Poker accomplish complete player privacy? You’ll never see anyone’s screen name. Everyone is seen at the tables as Player 1-9 depending on which seat they’re sitting in.
Leave the table and find a new cash game? Get a new Player number. Or not if you’re in the same position.
Why do I love it? It protects everyone and levels the playing field. Recreational players don’t have to fear being tracked by regs and grinders at Bovada. They can’t be followed or end up on some public list of easy targets.
Sharks similarly can’t be avoided. You’ll never have a HUD unfairly used against you because they only work when they can tie hand histories to a screen name. No screen names here at Bovada Poker.
It isn’t just limited to Bovada Poker cash games, either. Tournament players all get the same “Player” moniker. Your results can’t be reviewed, tracked, and used against you using popular HUDs like Hold’em Manager or Poker Tracker, even after a tournament is completed
Bovada Poker led the charge against HUDs with anonymous tables, which render them useless. It’s a big reason why Bovada Poker continues to attract recreational and losing players.
I’m a big advocate of destroying HUDs and protecting recreational players. No one takes that further than Bovada Poker.
Is Bovada Legal?
Aside from regulated USA states such as Washington, Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, Bovada Poker does accept all American players.
Ever since corrupt politicians and special interests changed online poker in America forever way back in 2006, prospective USA players have wondered the same thing: “Is Bovada Poker legal for me?”
I answer this question more in depth here, but the key you should keep in mind is that simply playing online poker at Bovada or anywhere else is not illegal. In fact, it’s a huge misconception that any laws about online poker or any other casino game were even changed in with the UIGEA back in 2006.
Bovada Poker App
The Bovada Poker mobile offering was the first to do it for real money in the US, and it’s still excellent for Zone Poker and straight cash games. I love how lightweight it is for both iOS and Android. Part of it is out of necessity.
No US poker site is going to get approved or reviewed for the App Store or Google Play. No worries. Bovada Poker treats apps like a relic of the past.
This is exactly how the Bovada Poker app will look while playing a real money Zone Poker table.
How to Play Bovada Poker on Mobile
All you have to do is visit Bovada Poker from your phone or tablet. Sign in to your account and click poker. On iPhone and iPad, you previously saw a message asking you to save Bovada to your home screen and launch it from there. However, now you can play right in your browser as soon as you log in.
You’re in. Seriously. There’s nothing to download or overload our app-averse brains.
You’ll see 2 options: Zone Poker and Cash Games. Pick your stakes, turn your device sideways, and off you go.
After a lot of review, the Bovada app responsiveness has been fine on my iPhone 6S Plus, although I occasionally have to exit the “app” and reopen it to get it to load the lobby or tables.
That mirrors the same issue I’ve experienced on desktop an something Bovada Poker should fix ASAP.
Cash games and Zone Poker looks and works identically to the Windows/Mac big siblings, sharing the same tables and players.
You’re limited to the red flat visual theme, which is kind of a bummer after the stellar sports-themed Bovada Poker additions to the desktop versions.
Here’s the lobby display for Bovada Poker mobile. It’s very sharp aside from the lack of tournaments and multiple tables.
Bovada Poker is one of the only US poker rooms to offer mobile. Zone Poker should come with a Surgeon General’s warning for addictiveness. Tournaments and multi-tabling are all that’s missing.
The Two Drawbacks to the Bovada Poker App
Bovada Poker had a years-long head start on the clueless US competition for mobile, with only BetOnline recently trying to make a battle of it. Bovada has, however, left out a couple of key essentials in its app, namely:
- No tournament or Sit and Go support
- No multiple table support
I can understand the argument for Bovada leaving both out, as longwinded tournaments would be more comfortable at a computer and switching between tables on mobile is unwieldy.
We’re also living in an age where we don’t really care what’s “comfortable” or “optimal” on our phones or tablets. We use them for everything, ergonomics be damned. The fact is that other poker sites have solved this and Bovada Poker should add in support for both, pronto. Give players the option.
For now, the absolute best use for the Bovada Poker app is Zone Poker. You can play it in short bursts and still see a lot of hands and there’s no need for multiple tables since you’re constantly busy with the lone Zone table.
The Secret No-Download Bovada Poker
Bovada Poker’s no-download play has to be “hacked” in a way to be able to use it at all. You won’t ever find any links to it if you’re using a desktop. Note that this has now been replaced by the official Bovada Poker no-download web software.
Bovada Poker would much rather you download the full software, invite them into a cozy installed place, and let you rack up the rake with multiple tables and tournaments.
Bovada doesn’t want you to use the no-download version, but it’s there for the taking if you want to take Bovada Poker for a spin without downloading anything or you’re on a machine you can’t download on.
Here’s the “hack” I discovered while making this Bovada Poker review: instant play and mobile are one in the same at Bovada Poker. That’s why you can play on a tablet or phone without downloading an app. Who says you can’t access it from a desktop? It totally works and it’s a can of corn for your overpowered PC/Mac.
Bovada Poker doesn’t advertise it anywhere, but you can absolutely play it on any browser without downloading anything.
Bovada Poker instant play is going to look a little wonky because they expect you to be on mobile. It still works perfectly well if you’re fine with a single cash or Zone Poker table.
Here’s Bovada Poker’s no-download “hack”
Here’s what you need to do: Visit Bovada from any browser, log in to your account, and manually type in the following to your browser’s address bar: m.bovada.lv/poker. You’ll see the poker room immediately open up in your browser, allowing you to choose your Zone Poker or cash game limit of choice. Whee, and off you go.
Real money games in your browser with no download required. You’re still bound by the same obnoxious limitations as Bovada Poker mobile: namely the lack of tournaments or multi-tabling, but that’s a first-world problem. At least instant play is possible at all.
Bovada’s Zone Poker: Fast-fold for US Players
If you’ve played Zoom Poker at PokerStars or are as old as I am and remember when Rush Poker first came out at Full Tilt Poker, Zone Poker at Bovada will be instantly familiar to you.
It’s also so engaging that addictive personalities might find a new binkie.
Zone Poker is Bovada Poker’s version of fast-fold. What that means is that every Zone Poker is grouped by the limits they’re playing.
With Bovada’s Zone Poker, as soon as you click that “Fold Now” button you’ll see a new table form and be dealt a new hand.
Which Zone Poker Limits Fill Up
Bovada Poker almost always gets enough players for:
- $.05/.10 (during peak hours)
- $.25/.50 (during peak hours)
- $.50/1 (during peak hours)
No one really talks about it, but I think Zone Poker is one of Bovada’s main X factors in beating their US competition.
How Does Bovada’s Zone Poker Work?
As soon as you fold a hand, you’re instantly brought to a new table full of other players who have also just finished a hand. Blinds are determined by who has gone the longest without paying them.
I love Zone Poker as I’ve always loved fast-fold, and I’ve heard from a number of Bovada and Ignition players whose minds are similarly blown when they try it for the first time.
I think Zone Poker and its ilk are the best evolution that computers have enabled for poker. We’re all inherently using a piece of technology to play online poker, so why not use it to make the game faster and more engaging?
You’ll see up to 300+ hands per hour per entry and, on review, I believe you can have up to 4 Zone Poker entries simultaneously, with 2 seats per limit. That equates to 4-5 standard Bovada Poker cash games, meaning you can see more hands in less time at a single table and increase your win ceiling similarly.
Bovada is the only one in the USA to offer anything like Zone Poker. You’re always doing something and can play the equivalent of 4-5 cash tables in 1.
Josh’s Pro tip: Mix Zone Poker and Mobile
Want to try the closest thing to mixing chocolate and peanut butter in online poker? Mix Zone Poker with mobile, which Bovada Poker was smart enough to do.
Got 10 minutes sitting by the pool, waiting for commercials, or a 4-hour baseball game that would put mere mortals to sleep? Grab your phone, load www.bovada.lv, and get in a few dozen hands of real-money poker. No waiting, easy in and out, and something that will actually entertain you in short bursts.
Bovada Poker Fish Rating (Hint: It’s Fishy)
There are literally no table stats with the exception of average pots for Zone Poker, and the experience seems just like every other online poker room of the past 15 years.
Once you start to play at Bovada for awhile, though, you’ll understand my Fish Rating. I know because I’ve played at Bovada Poker since 2004. They were notably loose back then and that’s saying something for those insane days.
I also took records for my old review before Bovada Poker switched over to Quick Seat to back it up.
Bovada Poker has been one of the only online poker rooms that hasn’t been hit by the general drying up of games in recent years.
Measuring Bovada Poker’s Fish Metrics
When Bovada Poker still displayed it, the flop and average pot numbers for cash games were insane. In an era where 20% seeing the flop is decent and bore-fests like PokerStars go down to the so for digits, Bovada Poker was hitting 30-40% for 9-seat tables.
That would sometimes climb to 50% for the 6-seat tables that dominate the lobbies these days. Average pots were between 30-40x the big blind.
ELI5 on that? More players seeing the flop at Bovada Poker than they should for more money than they should. That combination equals greater variance and greater, easier profit. That’s a tradeoff you should make every time.
Take the typical Bovada clientele, throw in things like anonymous tables, Zone Poker, and Quick Seat, all of which appeal to recreational players, and it’s like adding WD-40 to the hinges.
Interestingly, Zone Poker is the only game type at Bovada that shows game metrics. It still sports nice loose numbers, but it will always be a bit lower than traditional cash games.
Why are the players at Bovada Poker so loose? Probably for the same reason every crossover poker, casino, and sportsbook outfit features worse players than a poker-focused poker site: Bovada appeals to players who are there to be aggressive and gamble.
It’s also so easy for sports and casino players who don’t know a whole lot about poker just jump in and try to emulate the thrills they see on things like TV poker.
There’s a reason why Bovada Poker reviews so well at poker forums like 2+2 and Reddit: the games are simply easier, wilder, looser, and any other synonym your thesaurus spits out.
Zone Poker is only slightly less fish-filled
The only hit you’ll see to those fishy game metrics will come in fast-fold Zone Poker, simply because of its nature. With Bovada Poker Zone players able to fold and see a new hand within a second or two, it eliminates the boredom and lack of engagement that leads to playing too many hands at classic cash games. Expect a 10-15% drop in flop percentage for Zone Poker.
Bovada Poker Game Limits
Bovada Poker Quick Seat
I thought that Bovada Poker was already doing all they could do combat HUDs, sharks, and grinders by anonymizing everything, but they found another weak link I totally missed: cash game stats.
In nearly every lobby ever in online poker, which you’ll see in my reviews, you’ll see a list of games available with basic stats like the percentage of players seeing the flop and the size of the average pot.
Standard stuff. Experienced players also knew to jump on the looser tables with higher stats like moths to a volcano.
This is the only screen you’ll see now when choosing a Bovada Poker straight cash game. No more lobbies with table lists.
Why Bovada Added Quick Seat
The problem, however, is that the weak loose players that are the lifeblood of online poker still get preyed on indirectly. If you’ve got a bunch of them at a Bovada Poker table, the stats go up, the sharks see it, and soon enough they’re all fighting for open seats to bust the noobs. You also get imbalanced tables with 20 players on a waiting list while the rest languish.
No more. With Quick Seat, Bovada Poker has totally done away with the lobby system altogether. It’s a little jarring at first, but the logic of why they’re doing it makes sense.
For Bovada cash games, you can only choose the limit, the table size, and your buy-in. The Bovada Poker does the rest, automatically seating you at a random table that meets your specs.
It seems like a worthy tradeoff, but Bovada players who like less popular formats like heads-up, high stakes, or Omaha have no idea if a table is even going at that limit. You can find yourself matched up to an empty table.
With Bovada Poker’s quick seat, you choose your game, limit, buy-in, and table size, but the software picks the table for you.
Zone Poker is Immune
It’s worth noting that Bovada Poker’s Quick Seat doesn’t apply to Zone Poker, meaning you can still review metrics in a standard lobby for Zone. It’s interesting to see how each limit is playing, but it isn’t very useful, though, since they’re averaged stats for the dozens of tables formed every second. You can’t target specific tables in Zone Poker.
Bovada Poker Deposits
Bovada Poker has always excelled at banking, the benefit of a positively ancient history in the online gambling space.
These days, it’s streamlined more than anyone else. Bovada Poker deposits are mainly limited to 2 options for US players publicly: Bitcoin and credit cards. They have added Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, Zelle, and Vouchers as well.
If you have any questions about the former, I just finished a huge tutorial on everything to do with Bitcoin and poker.
I’m a Bitcoin zealot, firmly believing (knowing) that every US online poker deposit issue would be solved if every player took the 12 minutes to understand it.
Already use the best banking method Bovada Poker and online poker has ever known? You’re set. Bovada Poker will generate Bitcoin QR codes on-demand. Send as little as $25 with no fees. Get your real money credited to your account.
Bovada Poker offers very few deposit options, but I kind of like it. Online poker players need to adapt to Bitcoin. They accept credit cards at a very good rate, but I wouldn’t mind if Bovada Poker ever moved to Bitcoin-only.
On Credit Card Deposits for the Cryptocurrency-averse
Still partying like it’s 1999 and need to use a credit card? Bovada Poker uses some clever processors that result in fewer declines. On review, I would estimate that probably 70-80% of USA-based credit cards are going to work, which is at the upper echelon.
Besides being better in every way, if you want to get the lowest minimum deposits and never have any fees for a Bovada Poker deposit, just use Bitcoin.
There’s some controversy on Bovada Poker credit card deposit fees. For years, they’ve had a line for a 5.9% fee. For years, it’s always been crossed out for me. Granted, unless it’s a test, I’m not going to be depositing via credit card.
It’s very possible that Bovada Poker waives the fee for your first credit card deposit or after a certain amount of time has passed. In my opinion, it’s much ado about nothing either way.
My snarky conclusion: Bother to learn Bitcoin and you never have to deal with credit card nonsense or banks again.
My sensible answer: 5.9% is a fair enough fee to pay Bovada for better processors that will actually accept your deposit.
Granted I haven’t done many (any?) deposits at Bovada Poker via credit card since Bitcoin came along, but the fee has been crossed out for me every single time I’ve checked it over the years. It probably will be for you, too.
Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV
Bovada Poker has quietly added a few deposit and withdrawal methods to their traditionally-sparse cashier. Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV are now deposit options, giving you a couple of extra cryptocurrency options instead of the tried-and-true Bitcoin.
I believe that the folks in charge of Bovada are big supporters of Bitcoin Cash specifically, so I’m not surprised to see them hope to spur adoption and encourage its usage by adding it.
Interestingly, you’ll also now see a Zelle option in the Bovada Poker cashier, but it isn’t just straight Zelle-to-Bovada, which would be excellent.
If you aren’t familiar, Zelle is peer-to-peer money transfer system offered through many banking apps. It’s as simple as Venmo or PayPal. However, with the Zelle option at Bovada Poker, they’re just showing you top sellers on the Local Bitcoins marketplace who accept Zelle for their Bitcoin.
You send in Zelle to a stranger with marketplace credibility at LocalBitcoins, get your Bitcoin, and then send it over to a Bovada cashier address. Bovada is happy to make it easy to get your deposit, so they streamline it very well. It’s kind of a cool system if you’re averse to getting Bitcoin the traditional way, but I’ve never been a fan of using Bitcoin marketplaces.
Bovada has added several new deposit methods, including Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, and the Voucher system.
Bovada’s Instant Bitcoin Deposits are a Big Deal
I’m no stranger to Bitcoin poker deposits by now. However, I had to make a Bitcoin deposit with Bovada Poker after they reopened. I thought I was used to the drill. Set up your deposit in the cashier, send it from your wallet, and wait for it to confirm on the blockchain before your funds get credited.
That last part protects the merchant in case you choose some ultra-low fee and the transaction never confirms.
I’ve made lots of poker and non-poker Bitcoin purchases and that’s just the way it goes. The wait time is usually about 15-45 minutes for transactions thanks to the beautiful success of Bitcoin these days.
Bovada Poker shocked me when they credited by Bitcoin deposit instantly. That’s pretty amazing. I sat down at a table and, sure enough, it was available to use. That’s a risk taken by Bovada Poker to make deposits run smoothly and keep us impatient players humming. That moved Bovada Poker up a notch in my book.
Bovada Poker Deposit Options
Bovada Poker Payouts
For years, Bovada Poker seemed to be the only US-friendly poker room that knew how to handle payouts.
An excellent payout system has always been Bovada’s core and that didn’t stop when the world went crazy and split up the online poker market between the haves and the USA.
The surviving US poker competition has largely caught up, but that doesn’t make what Bovada Poker is doing any less impressive.
Simply put, I’ve been getting withdrawals from Bovada Poker for over a decade now. They’ve never experienced any sort of payout scandal. I trust them with my bankroll and I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to say in my review that other players should as well.
That trust isn’t from naivete, but simply because Bovada poker has come through for me time and time again.
The 3 main methods you can use for Bovada Poker payouts. Even though you should be using Bitcoin, the others are still nice to have. Wire transfers are an especially rare luxury.
Is Bovada Safe for Payouts in Bitcoin?
What does that mean in real terms? Again, you have my sympathies if you’re a Bitcoin-averse Luddite. For my Bitcoin brethren:
- You get the lowest minimums
- You never have to think about fees
- You can get 3 of them a week if you’d like
I was honestly a little disappointed in how Ignition handled Bitcoin withdrawals when they took over for Bovada Poker. I was waiting up to 2-3 days (first world problem, I know), which was among the slowest for my trusted US poker sites and simply not very Bovada-like.
Now that the real king is back on his throne? We’re talking near-instant Bitcoin payouts. No one in the world is touching Bovada Poker’s Bitcoin payout speed.
If you’re Bovada Poker, why not keep a big Bitcoin reserve to pay out players right away? You keep players happy, loyal, and you’ve got millions in Bitcoin making you more millions every day.
Be alert that Bovada Poker will probably tie up funds that were given a bonus on if you haven’t completed it yet. Just forfeit the rest of it if you want to get a payout immediately. Bovada Poker lets you keep what you’ve already cleared. Also, check out that Bitcoin processing time!
For all the howling about withdrawal fees at Bovada Poker, you get a free one using any method once a month. Much better, use Bitcoin and you can get a free one every 5 days if you want.
Paper Checks via Courier at bovada.lv
For the Luddites, Bovada Poker is more robust in withdrawal methods than in its deposits. The classic check via courier option is still around and my payout reviews show you’ll get it in about 7-14 real calendar days. You get to experience the thrill of seeing the Fedex driver walk up to your door with an envelope.
Wire Transfer is rare and appreciated
What I think is a lot cooler, however, is the wire transfer option Bovada Poker has for high-stakes players. It’s rarely offered by poker sites and nothing beats it if you need traceable funds dumped right into your bank account. The sticking point is the $1,500 minimum, but if you score a big tournament win or go on a cash game heater, you’ll appreciate it being there.
Bovada Poker has increased the payout amounts and frequency of their withdrawal methods in addition to adding vouchers.
Bovada Poker Payout Methods
The Bovada Poker Voucher System
A new addition that you’ll see in the Bovada Poker cashier is the voucher system, which is a really interesting idea. Vouchers are essentially gift card numbers that can only be redeemed at Bovada Poker.
Bovada also created a marketplace forum for trading vouchers, so players can buy, sell, or trade them directly to each other. To even host an official player-to-player marketplace is pretty unique and I haven’t seen official poker site forums like this for years.
How is this useful? Let’s say you want to make a deposit at Bovada Poker, but only have funds in Venmo or PayPal. You haven’t learned (or don’t like) Bitcoin and your bank is weird about charges from online poker sites. You can offer, say, $100 of your Venmo for someone’s $100 Bovada Poker voucher. You can do the same thing in reverse if you want to cash out some of your Bovada Poker balance for something someone is offering on the forum.
Vouchers are basically an official way of eliminating players having to go to third-party forums if they don’t want a withdrawal using the official payout methods.
Bovada Poker is now one of the only poker sites to add an official marketplace forum, which allows players to buy or sell vouchers to each other using methods like PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle.
Bovada Poker Tournament Schedule
It’s interesting how different poker sites have become from each other when it comes to the tournament schedules. Each one seems to favor a different style, which allows players to be selective.
That also makes rating the Bovada Poker tournament schedule very subjective.
I’m an old-school tournament player who was weaned on the romanticized online poker boom days of the early 2000’s so my poker tournament review Bovada comes from those sensibilities.
Interestingly, Bovada Poker carries anonymous tables all the way through to every tournament, guaranteeing you won’t be spied on by HUDs.
Bovada Poker tournaments stick to my personal recipe
In no particular order, here’s my personal recipe for tournament perfect:
- A guaranteed prize pool
- Slow blinds
- 9 or 10-seated tables
- Freezeout format
- No hanky-panky BS, like paying for lottery spins to avoid busting out
In other words, a wider chasm between skill and luck. It just so has it that Bovada Poker has stuck with that recipe over the years, which is like comfort food to my grizzled online poker soul.
About 90% of Bovada Poker tournaments are either guarantees or satellites to other guarantees. If you’ve got the same sensibilities, you’ll probably be satisfied as well.
That isn’t to say Bovada Poker doesn’t have any sort of variety on the tournament schedule.
Bovada has a handful of turbo short stacks every hour for you crazy young’uns, but they’re balance by almost as many slow-blind deep stacks as turbo short stacks. Score.
I do also have a bit of a sweet tooth for Bounty tournaments as well, which Bovada Poker calls Knockout. In Knockouts, a portion of your buy-in (usually ¼ to 1/3) becomes a price on your head to whomever eliminates you. It’s a fun way to loosen up the action a bit and allow you to recoup your buy-in or even profit without actually reaching the money.
Get used to see these words listed in almost every Bovada Poker tournament. It’s a beautiful sight.
Bovada Poker’s tournament schedule won’t turn many heads, but they turn mine because they’re running 90% guarantees without rebuy gimmicks or lottery-style nonsense.
My daily Bovada poker tournament highlights
As for the actual Bovada Poker tournament schedule, it’s busy enough. During the peak hours of evenings and weekends EST, you’ll see 6-8 tournaments per hour with a good spread of buy-ins from about $3-75. Because they’ve got the traffic for it, most Bovada Poker tournaments will draw anywhere from 200-800 for the player pool.
Some of my everyday evening highlights include:
- $25,000 guaranteed short stack for $50-75
- $10,000 guaranteed for $75 with $25 bounties
- $4,000 guaranteed Hold’em or Omaha H/L with slow blinds and deep stacks for $20-30
- $1,000-1,500 guaranteed with deep stacks for $10
No rebuys or add-ons in any of these is like music to my ears.
The Triple Up Sit and Go format is popular at Bovada Poker. The top 3 finishers all get equal prizes of triple the buy-in.
Here you can see how quickly most Sit and Go’s will start at Bovada Poker and which formats are most popular.
The big guarantees at www.bovada.lv are on Sundays
As has become standard in the online poker world, Bovada Poker also saves their biggest tournaments for Sundays. Here are the highlights:
- $100,000 guaranteed for $150
- $50,000 guaranteed for $250
- $30,000 guaranteed turbo deep stack for $50
A competing US-friendly poker site like America’s Cardroom has bigger tournament numbers. They even occasionally go to $1 million guarantees.
You know how Bovada Poker does it? Unlimited re-buys, late registration until the cows go home, and insipid things like lottery spins to reverse your bust-out. If you like that style, you’ll probably be bored at Bovada Poker. For my money, I’ll take Bovada Poker’s slow one-buy guarantees.
Jackpot Sit & Go’s
Bovada Poker was late to the party, but they’ve now added Jackpot Sit and Go’s. They’ll occupy a prominent space in the poker software.
Jackpot Sit & Go’s are 3-player poker tournaments with 3-minute hyper turbo blinds. Blinds start at 10/20 and players only have 500 chips. The winner drags the whole prize pool.
I’ve honestly been surprised by how much momentum Bovada Poker has gained since special interests took a few more cheap shots at the USA online poker market on Black Friday.
The kicker is that the prize pool is determined at random. You’ll see a slot machine reel animate and show you the number before each Jackpot tournament. 75% of the time the prize will be 2 times the buy-in and about 25% of Jackpots will yield 5 times the buy-in.
There is also a very small chance that the prize pool could be 120, 240, or even 1,200 times the buy-in. The chance of drawing the largest Jackpot is 1 in 10,000. Bovada Poker likes to post when this happens and, so far, that’s been about 2 or 3 times a month.
Jackpot Sit & Go buy-ins are offered at $2, $7, $15, and $30.
I’ve played some Jackpots that only take 2 minutes, but even especially nitty ones never take more than 10-12 minutes. Jackpot Sit & Go’s can be a fun novelty because of the ridiculously fast action and the chance at big prizes. However, experienced players will likely grow tired of the shove-or-fold tendency of Jackpots.
The biggest change Bovada Poker made was adding Jackpot Sit and Go’s to mobile. That means they’re the only tournament type you can play on your mobile or tablet. Since they don’t take much of a time commitment, it makes a lot of sense.
Bovada Poker Traffic
I’ve honestly been surprised by how much momentum Bovada Poker has gained since special interests took a few more cheap shots at the USA online poker market on Black Friday.
Perhaps it actually did Bovada Poker a favor, knocking out the competition for them.
Bovada Poker has grown in player traffic several fold over the past several years, aided by one of the only squeaky clean reps in US-friendly poker and smart moves like anonymous tables.
Along with Ignition Poker, Bovada is part of the PaiWangLuo poker network. This is the largest offshore poker site network in the world open to USA players.
That being said, reviewing raw player numbers at Bovada Poker is tricky, as they no longer even show a list of cash games in the lobby to get an idea of how many cash players/tables are active. Bovada posts no total player count anywhere.
This is an old screenshot from when Bovada Poker still showed cash game numbers. Bovada wouldn’t display full tables, but you can see some high-stakes games going and very liberal flop percentages.
Bovada Poker has had at least double the traffic of any other USA competition for several years now.
The raw numbers on Bovada Poker players
Concrete numbers we have to go on are by tournaments, which do show the number of players that compete in each event.
Player traffic at Bovada Poker tournaments is excellent, with the less popular events bringing no less than 200 players and the bigger guarantees 800-1,000.
That’s more than anyone in the USA poker market short of America’s Cardroom, which produces similar figures.
Antiquated third-party online poker traffic tracking site (what a mouthful that was) Pokerscout reviews Bovada Poker traffic between #5-8 in the world, but I’m more bullish, especially considering even they can only list cash players as “estimated”.
The bottom line is that I’m confident Bovada Poker has the most traffic in the US. I think the fact that they’re the only ones in the US attempting fast-fold (Zone Poker) is telling.
The only concrete Bovada Poker traffic numbers you can get anymore are from tournament entries, which are very high. You can see examples of some of the high-traffic tournaments here.
Bovada Poker Player Support
A memory that sticks out to me about my Bovada Poker review from the old days is they were one of the first to offer telephone player support. They’re still doing it 24 hours a day.
I’ve also always gotten the impression that the customer support reps were actually based out of Bovada rather than outsourced to your favorite third-world call center.
My favorite antisocial internet advent – live chat – is available from any Bovada Poker browser window.
Email – which seems like the modern equivalent of “snail mail” – should get you a response within a few hours.
What else can you say about the Bovada Poker support? Hopefully you’ll never need it. If you do, they offer the trifecta and were one of the first to do it. +1.
Visit Bovada Poker’s actual website with a browser and click this easily-missed button to open live chat. Here’s the Bovada Poker support phone number as well.
Bovada Poker Review Conclusion
In conclusion, my Bovada Poker review shows this to be my best recommendation for US online poker players. Bovada has been legit for many years and I’ve never had a single payout problem.
Bovada Poker has one of the only real money apps and the most players of any USA poker site. The Bovada Poker bonus is 100% up to $500. That’s also valid for the Bovada casino or the sportsbook with no bonus code needed.
- #1 in USA player traffic
- The only fast-fold in the US
- Anonymous tables eliminate all HUDs
- A real-money Bovada Poker app
- The gold standard for US payouts
- Only some tournaments on mobile
- Software occasionally can’t connect
- Increased rake levels to $4 maximum
- No official license
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Bovada Poker Review Scores
- Deposit Bonus – 90%
- Fish Rating – 90%
- Software – 80%
- Deposits – 90%
- Payouts – 100%
- Tournaments – 90%
- Player Traffic – 100%
- Player Support – 90%