Overview – Black Chip Poker was created in 2008 and switched from its initial network, Merge Network, to the Winning Poker Network in late 2012 (a move which led to a significant surge in its popularity). The decision to change poker networks was motivated by their aim to improve the speed of withdrawals and the quality of customer service as well as providing a more comprehensive array of attractive games and tournaments for players.
The Competition is more than decent, with as many as 5,000 players logged on simultaneously during peak periods. The site does lean slightly towards the more experienced player, it attracts more serious skilled customers than it does recreational “fish”, so for those just getting familiar with poker it may not be the best spot. In saying this, there are a number of low-stakes tables as the site recently has added softer tables in an attempt to increase traffic even further. The numbers tend to fade away slightly between 2.00am and 8.00am EST, although there is still a good deal of action due to players from Europe and Asia playing on the site. Most tournaments are scheduled to suit US players but there is always a game about to start that other players can get involved in.
Cash Games are fairly varied and taking place 24/7. The site allows players to get involved in multiple games simultaneously, up to 40 games at one time. The choice of games include No Limit, Pot Limit and Fixed Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo, 7 Card Stud and 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo. There are plenty of low stakes games being offered. Stakes typically range from a few cents up to $3o, sometimes higher in peak hours. The stud games rarely run except during peak hours.
Bonuses are generous, with a 100% match of your first deposit being offered up to $1,000, and players are also able to play in up to four new depositor freerolls. Minimum deposit for the initial bonus stands at only $50.
Tournaments are unique by industry standards and the site does excel in its impressive variety. Generally poker tournaments have a predetermined number of payout spots depending on the total number of entrants and this continues until everyone but the last person standing is eliminated. Black Chip does offer this form of tournament and it also provides the option of time based tournaments – whereby the tournament stops and payouts are determined after a designated amount of time. Other alluring promotions exist such as the rake race and satellites to win a seat to a world class event. The Sit n Go and multi-table guaranteed tournaments run every day of the week, around the clock. The Sunday Night $50,000 tournament, with a $215 buy-in, is one of the most popular of the Black Chip Poker tournaments – once a month the prize is even bumped up in value to a whopping $100,000. Players have opportunities to accumulate points from cash games and playing in tournaments, and subsequently use them towards buying in to future tournaments. The site also offers reload bonuses and something called “The Beast” – a twice monthly rake race which distributes more than $200,000 each month in cash prizes and tournament entries.
Software on the site is satisfactory, it allows players to customise their tables and use a variety of special features. The use of third party software such as Hold ‘em Manager, for example, is also available.
Banking is fast and effective, mainly as a result of the site’s switch from Merge to Winning Poker Network. Processing time is now remarkably faster, equal to sites like BetOnline. Using bitcoin on the Black Chip site is total simplicity itself, with players only required to insert a dollar value for their deposit (a bitcoin conversion option will then appear) and on the following page, type in the the 34-digit address to send the deposit from their ewallet. Bitcoin withdrawals are similarly straightforward. The only problem would be the use of Coinbase as an exchange service, as it is somewhat hesitant of being associated with online gambling. Players should just try to use an alternative ewallet.
Customer Service is quite satisfactory, being offered to all players via live chat, phone, or email. It also has a social media presence, on Facebook and Twitter, to provide further options for players to contact customer support to raise a complaint or ask guidance.
Why join? Black Chip Poker is arguably one of the better poker sites available in the US and definitely the largest US-facing poker room that accepts Bitcoin as a viable currency. Its an excellent site for promotions, rewards and tournaments, and is particularly attractive for more experienced players.