A Real Player’s Review of Ignition Poker & Bovada

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I have played millions of poker hands and on just about every poker site out there. By far, Ignition & Bovada are my favorite places to play. Since they are virtually identical and both found on the Bodog network, I have decided to just review both sites in one comprehensive article. My goal is to pass on what I have learned so that you can make an informed decision. With that in mind, I’ll start by giving you seven excellent reasons for you to consider playing poker at Ignition Casino or Bovada:

  1. Soft Games
    Anonymous games make it virtually impossible to bum hunt which makes for a player with more fish spread around equally among tables. You will not find a softer legal and legit poker site that is available to US poker players. In poker our goal should be to make the most money possible, right? So, if you agree and want to play against bad players and maintain the highest hourly rate or ROI possible, then Ignition or Bovada Poker is the best option for you. And it’s not even close! Welcome back to 2008!
  2. High Traffic
    This network has the 3rd most traffic of any poker site in the world & nearly double the traffic of it’s nearest US competitor. Huge game selection allows anyone to find action 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whether you play cash games, tournaments, or sit and goes, Ignition & Bovada poker is the best option for any serious player who wants to maximize his or her win rate.
  3. Stellar Reputation & Not Rigged 
    Bovada, and now Ignition, have a huge fan base that continues to rave about the amazing customer service and payout or cash out speeds available on the network. You can rest easy knowing that the site is legit, not rigged, and legal for you to play. Most of my playing bankroll is kept on the site if that tells you anything. I have no doubts that it is safe and secure.
  4. The Best Tournament Schedule For US Players
    If you love MTTs and are in the good old USA, then this network is definitely the best option you have for making money. There are numerous guarantees daily and multiple weeks to month-long series through the year. Can you say max ROI?
  5. Quick Releasing Deposit Bonuses
    Both sites have very nice deposit bonuses that release very quickly. Offers do sometimes vary, so please click the deposit coupons below to check the latest offers.
  6. Numerous Deposit & Pay Out Options
    There are many ways to both deposit and payout. For deposits, you can use Visa, Visa Gift/Pre-Paid Card, Mastercard, or American Express with a minimum deposit of $20. Or, you can go with the cryptocurrency option and use Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash with a minimum deposit of $10. To withdrawal, you have four options. You can cash out to Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash as well as via a wire transfer. If those don’t work for you, they will send a check out by courier!
  7. Super Fast Payouts
    My last payout came to my Bitcoin account within 5 hours. That’s fast! I haven’t withdrawn with any of the other options in years. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the typical timeframe is 5-10 business days for a wire transfer and 8-15 days for a check by courier. Some have gotten them a bit faster and some a bit slower. I guess it depends on where you live in the world.

I understand that you may have a lot of questions and other things you’d like to know about this poker network. To that end, I have a convenient table of contents so that you can get the answers you want fast. You may also want to check out the FAQ at the end of this review as well as the popular YouTube videos I created as a companion to this guide. Also, be sure to check out the Ignition or Bovada websites to current updates. If I missed anything, please let me know at jim@automaticpoker.com!


Table of Contents


Deposit Bonus Coupons

If you decide to give one of these sites a try, don’t forget to get your free money! By clicking on the coupon below you will be directed to the poker site where you automatically obtain your deposit bonus. The great thing is that the bonuses on Ignition and Bovada clear faster than any other poker site I have ever played on. Not only is it free money, it’s fast free money!

A coupon to receive an $1,100 bonus to Ignition Poker

Bovada Poker Coupon for a 100% bonus up to $500


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Overview

Let’s cover a few of the more pressing questions you might have about this network. Keep in mind that I have dealt with these folks for over 10 years so I have a pretty good idea about how things operate. I am a real player and not writing this as a shill for Ignition or Bovada. This is the site I put in 90% of my volume, and as a semi-professional poker player that says a lot.

What Is Ignition & Bovada?

Originally launched in 2004 as Bodog at the very beginning of the poker book, the site rebranded as Bovada in 2011 after Black Friday. Then, out of nowhere in 2016 the sale of Bovada to Ignition is announced. Surprising, Bovada reopened its doors in 2017 less than a year later. To this day, the circumstances of the whole affair are really strange and no one has explained exactly why or what happened. Even stranger is the fact that Bodog has remained open all this time, servicing many parts of the world selectively.

Based on informed speculation, it is likely that all three skins are actually owned by the same company. The reason they appear to have done this is to diversify their interests based on legal concerns in numerous different countries. We all know what happened to Full Tilt poker after they had the rug pulled out from under them by the DOJ.

Why Should I Trust Your Opinion on Ignition & Bovada?

I’ve logged over 2,000 hours of play on this network. I started playing on the original skin, Bodog and then played Bovada from 2012 until 2016 when Ignition Casino bought them out. I have been playing there ever since.

Along the way, I have played numerous other places including Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, America’s Cardroom, Black Chip Poker, Cake Poker, Intertops, and BetOnline. I would have played on more sites but options are limited for Americans. Also, while I specialize in cash games I have also played thousands of MTTs, STTs, and Jackpots as well as over 100,000 hands of PLO. This experience gives me a unique insight into how poker rooms work and what the pros and cons are in comparison to each other.

I am a real player with real facts. If there’s something I don’t like, I include it in the review. Fortunately, Ignition and Bovada get a lot more right than they do wrong. Sure, no network is perfect but in my opinion, these guys are currently blowing all of the other sites out of the water.

Who Is the Target Audience?

While the target audience for Ignition is definitely gamblers and recreational players, there are just enough features available to attract pro poker players as well. In my opinion, even if there were no added value, this would still be the site to play since the softness of the playing field alone adds plenty of value. There’s nothing better than Friday night on Ignition or Bovada. It’s possible to still find 1-3 fish on every table, even at 500NL and above! They don’t call it free money Friday for nothin’.


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Why I Play On This Network

I simply love both Ignition and Bovada. The anonymous play makes for an over-the-top fun social experience. Since the players cannot be tracked, I never seem to make it through a session without laughing out loud at some point at some of the comments made in chat. A guy on my tables was recently calling anyone who bought in for less than 100 big blinds a “peasant”. Classic! I guess the anonymity makes players much more uninhibited on how they are willing to talk to each other. However, most of the time, the comments are not mean but rather obviously all in good fun.

As for the games themselves, while the software is a bit bulky and slow to load at times, the cleanness of the layout and sophisticated social features more than makes up for any of the negative laggy aspects you might experience. And while you can only play 4 cash game tables at once, you can still achieve a reasonable number of hands per hour at around 230-250… even higher on Zone poker tables. Also, if you are an MTT player, there are no maximum restrictions. Feel free to register for 5,10, or even 20 tournaments at once and rack up that hourly rate.

Overall, I am thankful to have Bovada & Ignition poker as an option in the United States. The site continues to be a model for what a poker network should be all about. Online gaming is supposed to be fun and safe for everyone, even the grinders. Ignition gets this right above everything else. Additionally, due to the fact that the soft games allow anyone to achieve their highest win-rate possible today, playing on Ignition should be a no-brainer for any poker player who wants the best experience possible when he or she logs on.


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Banking Options

What are all of the deposit options?

Deposits are fast and easy on this network. If you have any problems during the process don’t hesitate to call them at 1-888-263-0000 for Bovada or 1-855-370-0600 for Ignition. I once had an issue depositing with my Visa card. They solved the problem in less than 2 minutes and I was in the game playing very quickly.

Here are the current deposit options.

  • Visa Credit, Debit, Gift, or Prepaid cards
    Cards must be eligible for international purchases. US/Domestic only cards will not work.
  • Bitcoin
    Bitcoin is the easiest way to both send and receive funds from this network. If you don’t have a Bitcoin account, you can get a free $10 by signing up through this review.

Is there a cashout fee?

The vast majority of the time, payouts are free. Here is the exact fee schedule:

  • Bitcoin: Free cashouts
    Minimum: $20 Maximum: $9,500. One cash out allowed per 3 days.
  • Check by Courier: 1 free payout per month, $75 after.  Min: $100.  No request limits.
  • Bank wire: 1 free payout per month, $50 after.  Minimum: $1,500 Maximum: $1,000,000.  One cashout allowed per 7 days

Note: Deposit and withdrawal options are subject to change at any time. The poker client will always have the most up to date information.


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Security Information

This network has been in business since 2004 and there has never been a legitimate case of someone losing their money or being ripped off. Even so, no poker site is immune from scandal or the effects of legislative powers around the world. My advice is to never keep more than the absolute minimum to play your chosen stake on any poker site. Also, only play the sites that have a long-running positive track record when it comes to solid security. Ignition and Bovada definitely fit the bill in that regard.

What About Rigged Games?

As far as being rigged, that should not be a concern for anyone playing on this network. Sure, bad beats will happen. They will happen in any online or live casino and with great regularity. In my numerous years playing on Ignition/Bovada, I have amassed a pretty extensive database and all frequencies appear to be perfectly in line with what one would expect based on random card generation. But don’t take my word for it. If there were anything amiss, there are a lot smarter people than me who would notice it very quickly and blow the whistle.

After all, rigging the game makes absolutely no sense from a business perspective. Exactly who would they rig it against and would the risks of getting caught and having a huge scandal really be worth it? I mean they only make money off the rake anyhow, what do they have to gain by selecting a chosen few to benefit from a rigged game?

What About This Business of Rigging the Games to Benefit Bad Players?

As for the games being rigged toward bad players, by what measuring stick would the site consider someone a bad player? Putting in place some sort of complicated algorithm to benefit one person or another seems like a huge investment. Last time I checked, poker sites were about making money, not investing large sums of money to screw a particular portion of the population. Call me crazy, but common sense makes the notion of rigging laughable.

How Safe is my Money?

Based on their long history, you can play on this network with confidence knowing that your money is as safe here as it is anywhere. In fact, I have no qualms about keeping reasonably large amounts of money on the site even when I am not putting in much volume. Every single time I have ever gone on a hiatus I always come back to find my money till safely present in my account. And while I have had my share of downswings and then some, I know that it is just short term variance and not some conspiracy to steal my money.

Overall, All signs point toward both Ignition and Bovada being completely legit with no evidence whatsoever of having ever been rigged. The poker site makes money no matter who is winning. If any shenanigans ever occurs, trust me, people in the poker community will find it very quickly. I have had upwards of $10,000 on this at various times over the years and have slept like a baby at night knowing my money is probably much safer than it would be under my mattress!


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Areas Eligible to Play on Ignition and Bovada

Not everyone in the world or in every US state can play on this network. I have contacted the poker sites to gain an updated list of who they serve and here are the findings.

Countries Allowed To Play

As far as eligibility to play, this is where Bovada and Ignition differ slightly. Here are the countries who can play on each site:

  • Bovada Eligible
    USA, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela,
  • Ignition Eligible
    USA, Australia

Which US States Cannot Play?

Unfortunately, people who live in a few states cannot play on either Bovada or Ignition due to regulations:

  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Washington (Has a law that prohibits online gambling)

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Site Features

1. No Long-Term Opponent Tracking

Games are anonymous on this network so you cannot track opponents except in your current session. At first, not being able to maintain a long-term Hold’em Manager or Pokertracker database on Bovada/Ignition, might seem like a huge detractor. However, the fact that no one else can track YOU as well, offsets the “problem” by a huge margin. You no longer need to worry so much about balancing your game, and can instead focus on getting back what making money in poker is all about; exploiting weaker players and maximizing against them.

2. Hand Histories After 24 Hours

All hole cards are visible once you download your hands after 24 hours. This allows players the unique experience of knowing exactly what their opponents had in all situations. Ah, the possibilities when it comes to analyzing your game as well as the regs. You can also use the card catcher to load the hands into tracking software, for review.

3. Skin Customization Features

Unfortunately, you cannot add your own custom look to the site as everything is controlled server side by Ignition. However, there are several attractive skins for your client that are available right out of the box.

4. Added Entertainment Value Only Features

There are plenty of site features that improve the user experience, especially for recreational players.  All-in percentages are listed, there is a fold and show option, rabbit hunting, and attractive animations that occur after you make very strong hands.

5. Mobile Gaming

Bovada Mobile Poker

Ignition has a mobile gaming option where you can play on any device you desire. Zone Poker is a popular option for mobile gamers. The completely anonymous atmosphere makes the need for a HUD obsolete. If you are not familiar with Zone, it is fast-fold poker, very similar to Zoom on Pokerstars. At this time, players are limited to cash games for mobile play. Hopefully, they add tournaments and sngs soon!

6. No Auto Rebuy

Most sites have a feature where the site will automatically reload chips into your stack based on the criteria you set. This is one feature that I wish the developers would add to Ignition and Bovada. Currently, if you lose your entire stack and don’t rebuy quickly, you will be sat out for a hand. Annoying.

7. No Rakeback

I am actually glad there is no rakeback offered.  This is because many strong players do not play anywhere without rakeback. If this keeps them away from this network, I am just fine with it. We wouldn’t want the waters overfished, would we?  🙂

8. Short Stack Friendly

The minimum buy-in is 30 big blinds and there is no rathole timer, allowing you to come and go from tables without having to wait a long time to get back into the action. You never have to worry again about crashing and then not being able to rejoin a table. As a bonus, fish love to play a short stack and the fact that Ignition and Bovada allow them only makes the games that much softer.

9. Multi-Tabling Options

For hardcore players who like to play a ton of games and maximize their win-rate, here are the multi-tabling options for this network:

  • 4 Table Maximum For Cash Games
    This may be a detractor for some of you. Even so, before you consider this a deal breaker, let me point one thing out to you. Since you can likely play a higher stake on Ignition than you can on other sites, you do not need to play as many tables to achieve the same hourly rate or higher. Furthermore, since you can find fish up to the highest takes available, the sky is the limit on the win rate you can achieve. If you have ever dreamed of moving up and playing mid or high stakes, the dream is still alive on Ignition for any serious player.
  • No Limit On Tournament & Jackpot Games
    If you are an MTT or Jackpot grinder, then you can play as many games as you want without hitting a cap.
  • 4 Table Maximum For Zone Poker
    For Zone, you can play two tables of each stake for a maximum of four tables. This allows someone to play pretty much as many cash game hands as they want.
  • 4 Table Maximum On Standard SNGs
    Unfortunately, SNGs work just like cash games as you can only play four at once. I’m not sure if this is a bug in the software but that’s the way it has been that way as long as I can remember. By the way, if you mix SNGs and cash games, you can still only have 4 tables up at one time. I once had a notion to try 6-tabling with 4 cash games and 2 SNGs and it not allow me to do so. However, if you are an SNG player and simply have to have more action, I recommend loading up a couple supplemental MTTs or Jackpot games while you grind four SNGs.

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How Anonymous Games Work

One of the unique features of this network is that you never know who you are playing with. Instead of screen names being displayed, everyone is assigned a number at the table. The idea behind the concept is that long-term notes cannot be kept in order for stronger players to gain an unfair advantage and prey on weak players who may still be learning the game.

Ignition MTT Table

How Anonymity Affects the Games

At first, anonymous games may seem like a huge disadvantage for players who are used to having long-term stats and tracking opponents in their database with a HUD. However, the loss in your ability to have deep reads on your opponents is generally more than offset by the fact that the games are typically much softer than you will see on non-anonymous sites. That is because regs cannot just camp out the lobby and wait for weak players to sit down at a table and then pile into the waitlist. In that type of atmosphere, you typically end up on a table full of strong regs and only one mark. That is if you are lucky enough to get seated at the table before the “fish” leaves.

The Recreational Poker Model

In order to maintain a healthy player pool where all of the money does not rapidly ascend to the best players, many poker sites are migrating more toward a recreational poker model. By not offering huge rewards for players to grind out insane hours, the better players become less focused on maximizing rakeback and bonuses and instead looks to slow down and maintain the highest win-rate possible over fewer tables. The ultimate effect is that tables become less “reg-infested” which creates an atmosphere much friendlier to those just playing occasionally for fun.

On Ignition and Bovada, it’s virtually impossible to track weaker opponents which makes for a much more consistent experience when you sit down at a table. The normal makeup of a table will include one or two really good players, 2-3 average players, with the rest of the seats being occupied by recreational players. Even so, the games are not completely anonymous.

Session Stats Can Be Tracked Via a HUD

This network is actually not completely anonymous. While long-term statistics and notes cannot be maintained on other players, it is still possible to keep track of what other players are doing in the current session. This can be of great benefit to good players while not giving them an overwhelming advantage or the ability to prey on weaker players via predatory table selection. These stats can be manifested via a HUD, accomplished by purchasing third-party software.


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How to Use a Hud on Ignition and Bovada

There are two ways to use a HUD on this network:

  1. Hold’em Indicator
    Hold’em Indicator is a stand-alone program that tracks player statistics. Of course, on Ignition & Bovada it only keeps session stats. I have used this program for over 10 years and highly recommend it.
  2. Ignition/Bovada Card Catcher
    If you prefer to use your Hold’em Manager or PokerTracker HUD then you can do so by using a hand converter and card catcher. I have also used this software for years and it works surprisingly well.

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Games Formats Offered

1. Cash Games

Stake Levels

Finding a game at your desired level won’t be a problem on this network. Games start at 5NL ( 2c/5c) and go all the way up to 2000NL ($10/$20) for 6-max and full-ring. The great thing is that multiple games are almost always running at every stake offered. Both micro-stakes players and high rollers can get into the action pretty much 24/7. Stakes offered:

Stake|Minimum Buy-In
  • 5NL | $1.50
  • 10NL | $3
  • 25NL | $7.50
  • 50NL | $15
  • 100NL | $30
  • 200NL | $60
  • 500NL | $150
  • 1000NL | $300
  • 2000NL | $1000

2. Tournaments

Ignition or Bovada is currently by far the BEST choice for MTT players in the US. The fields are the softest for real money poker of any site I’ve ever played. The schedule is well structured and there are tons of reasonable buy-ins with large guarantees. The site even has a couple of huge annual tournament series. These include the Black Diamond Open and the Golden Spade Open.

The cool thing is, that they divide the series in two, one cater to micro players and the other to mid and high stakes player. Buy-ins range from $1.10 all the way up to $162 and even higher during their series. They have something for everyone.

I have personally had great success in these tournaments with an ROI of over 50%. I can’t believe how soft they are. One night I took a break from cash games one and this happened.

8k gtd win

An extra $1,800 to the bankroll was a nice boost!

Daily Tournament Schedule

Time (ET)|GTD Prize Pool|Buy-In|Starting Chips
  • 7:00AM | $3,000 | $55 | 5,000
  • 8:05AM | $1,500 | $33 | 10,000
  • 9:00AM | $2,000 | $82 | 10,000
  • 2:00PM | $3,000 | $33 | 10,000
  • 4:00PM | $2,000 | $55 | 5,000
  • 6:30PM | $500 | $7.70 | 3,000
  • 7:00PM | $4,000 | $33 | 5,000
  • 8:00PM | $25,000 | $55 | 5,000
  • 8:55PM | $10,000 | $109 | 2,500
  • 9:00PM | $4,000 | $22 | 5,000
  • 9:15PM | $8,000 | $55 | 10,000
  • 9:30PM | $1,000 | $3.30 | 10,000
  • 10:00PM | $10,000 | $109 | 10,000
  • 10:15PM | $2,500 | $11 | 10,000

3. Zone Poker

Zone poker is Ignition and Bovada’s answer to Pokerstars Zoom. Basically, instead of playing on a table of static players you are instead part of a player “pool” of dozens or even hundreds of players. At the start of each new hand, a random table is created that is populated with a full table of players derived from the player pool.

  • Pros of Zone Poker
    During a hand, players are allowed to “fast-fold” anytime that they wish and move on to another hand. You no longer have to wait for a hand to finish before you get dealt more cards on another table. The beauty of this is that it allows you to maximize your hands per hours. Playing 200-300 hands per hour as part of a single player pool is not uncommon. The cool thing is that you can buy-in to multiple different games and essentially multi-table. This allows for an insane amount of hands per hour.
  • Cons of Zone Poker
    While you are able to play a larger amount of hands you also are unable to gain significant reads on your opponents. In my opinion, Zone is not true poker in that you basically are required to just play a nearly complete vacuum game without making any real adjustments based on the table dynamic. Additionally, these games seem to be full of regular players who camp out the games and inundate much of the player pool. For whatever reason, it seems that weaker players and fish favor the traditional tables. Also, the minimum buy-in is 50bbs for Zone. What this effectively does is shut out a lot of players who prefer to play a short or cap-stack strategy. This may well be the reason the games are not as soft as on the regular tables.

4. Jackpot Poker

Jackpot poker is a sit & go style game where three players compete for a prize pool that is determined at the start of each mini-event. If you have ever heard of spin and go poker on Pokerstars, this is virtually the same thing with games typically only lasting a few minutes. Jackpots are essentially a skilled lottery that rewards players who put in a large amount of volume.

How Is the Gameplay in Jackpots?

Each player starts with 500 chips in a hyper turbo format. The blinds go up every 3 minutes so it doesn’t take long to get to the push-fold phase of the sit & go. Successful strategies vary across a wide spectrum. Some players like to play tight and wait for push-fold to become involved. Others get right in there and mix it up early to try to build a big stack for the later stages. The beauty of jackpots is that you don’t have to wait long for your next game if you bust out.

What Jackpot Stakes Are Available?

Buy-In|Main Jackpot Prize|Typical Wait Times
  • $2 | $2,400 | A Few Seconds
  • $7 | $8,400 | A minute or less
  • $15 | $18,000 | 1-3 Minutes
  • $30 | $36,000 | 2-6 Minutes
  • $60 | $72,000 | 5-10 Minutes

*Odds of playing for the main prize is 1 in 100,000

Are There Jackpot Omaha Games?

No, currently jackpots are only available for Texas Hold’em.

What Is the Rake for Jackpots?

The site withholds 7% of the buy-in as rake. This makes it very tough to beat this games as the margins for profit are slim in a hyper turbo format. Unfortunately, you also do not earn VIP poker points in jackpots.

5. Freerolls

Players who frequent the casino part of Ignition and achieve “Chrome” status can take part in a weekly $2,500 freeroll which takes place on Thursdays at 9:05 PM ET. People who play poker only are no longer eligible for the freerolls.

6. Satellites

There are numerous satellite options for players wishing to try to get into some of the bigger buy-in tournaments more cheaply. Buy-ins range from $1 all the way up to $82. Once you win a satellite you are issued a ticket for the appropriate tournament. Tickets have to be used in the right tournament and cannot be traded in for cash. Unfortunately, being a “pro’ satellite player is not really an option on this network.


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Are There Any Cons or Issues to Be Concerned With?

When it comes to Cons it’s all a matter of perspective on this site. Some of the items I am going to include on my list can actually be considered a pro by some players. Let’s go through them:

1. Software Issues

The software on this network has gone through quite an evolution over the years. Back in the mid-2000’s, it was a very simple program that actually worked quite nicely. Then, when Bovada came around the software made a big leap to one of the more modern designs at the time. Things, for the most part, ran very smoothly and I was happy with the overall look and feel of it.

Problems started when they changed the way cash games worked and “quick seating” began. I understand why they did it: to make game selection more difficult for pros. While I agree with the premise, in practice all it essentially did was make it very difficult for anyone to play four tables at once. Add to that a couple of years of intermittent periods of heavy crashes and I can officially say that the entire concept should be scrapped.

Besides, the anonymous games already make the site friendly enough to recreational players so why fix something that isn’t broken? Luckily, the software has mostly been fixed and crashes seldom happen anymore. If you are a tournament player you should have no problems at all. I have never once been kicked out of a tournament or sit and go.

2. Increased Rake

The funny thing is, I didn’t actually hear about this until recently. The announcement was somewhat under the radar for a long time. It wasn’t until after I had played over 100,000 hands in 2017 that I even learned about it.

The good news is that I didn’t really notice any significant drop in win-rate. Maybe this is because a lot of the regulars left the site? I really have no idea but I was able to grind from 5NL all the way up to 400NL in just a few months after starting with $25.

The fact is, while I don’t like anything that is going to hurt my bottom line I understand that the margins for poker rooms are very thin. I would rather lose a couple bucks per hour off my win-rate than have the site close down completely. Even so, this actually makes fish and formerly break-even players lose even faster which is a really bad thing. On the bright side, they didn’t make any rake changes to tournaments or sngs. Here is a list of the rake changes, collected directly from Ignition’s website:

Ignition/Bovada Rake Changes
  • Rake will be collected at $0.01 for every $0.20 in the pot, instead of the previous $0.05 per $1.00
  • Max rake will be moving on Heads-Up Tables from $0.50 to $1.00
  • Max rake will be moving on Pot Limit and No Limit tables at stakes higher than $0.10/$0.25 from $3 to $4

3. No Official License

I’m not really sure this even qualifies as a con but, for full disclosure, I thought it should be included for information purposes. Since September of 2016, Bovada and Ignition have been operating without an official gaming license. However, this was not a matter of choice as they were forced to relinquish it due to a new policy by the Kahnawake Gaming Commision to no longer license any casino that services players from the US.

Once again this is part of the fallout from Black Friday. In fact, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement was the main driver of the change in policy. Why a gaming commission from Canada is allowing another country to dictate their policies is beyond me. I’m pretty sure there are good reasons but this is not something we should be blaming the poker sites for. I guess I am a bit biased since, in order to keep the license, no one in the USA would be able to play!

It is likely that they will obtain a new license at some point from a different jurisdiction like Curacao, Costa Rica, or Panama.

4. Lack of VIP Rewards

There is a definite lack of value to be had on this network. This is done on purpose as part of their “recreational model” since big VIP rewards typically only really attract professionals who in turn pray on the weaker players.

The good news is that the increased win rate you will almost certainly enjoy here will make up for the lack of rakeback or lucrative VIP system you might be used to on other sites. That being said, Ignition is not completely void of promotions. They do offer VIP points which about to about 3% rakeback effective (more if you are a really strong tournament/SNG player).

If you are looking for a site that offers more value, try America’s Cardroom or Black Chip Poker.  Or, if you prefer a balanced site, try BetOnline or Sportsbetting Poker.

5. Anonymous Games

If you are a player who likes to use a complicated HUD and form complex reads on your opponents based on history, this is not the network for you. Since only session stats can be tracked, it’s impossible to know who you are sitting with at a table since Ignition and Bovada are “clean slate” sites. Once you leave a table everyone’s read on you disappears and you get a fresh start the next time you sit down. For some players, this type of “readless” poker is a deal breaker. Personally, I love anonymous games since it seems to attract many more recreational players than I see on other poker sites.


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Promotions

Here are a few other ongoing promotions you can take advantage of occasionally:

  • Bad Beat Bonus
    Both Ignition and Bovada offer a bad beat bonus if you lose with Aces full of Kings or better. Win up to $1,000 at 100 times the big blind. The money is not automatically paid out when you win, you have to email support to receive the pay out.
  • Royal Flush Bonus
    You have to use both hole cards to take advantage of this promotion, but if you do, you win up to $200 at 50 times the big blind. Once again, you have to contact support in order to receive the money from this promotion.
  • Casino Bonuses From Poker Points
    This is a fairly recent addition and great for players who occasionally like to dabble in the casino side of the site.  You can buy casino bonuses with your poker VIP points and clear them at your favorite table game. Go to the “account” tab under “my poker” to buy these bonuses.
  • Refer-A-Friend
    If you refer people you know to the site, they will give you a bonus of up to $100. The great thing is, there is no limit to this. You can send as many people as you care to.
  • Weekly Freerolls
    Weekly poker freeroll tournament tickets are given to casino enthusiasts as a reward. The freeroll takes place every Thursday at 9:05 PM ET.

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Software

This is one area that has seen massive recent improvements in stability and aesthetics. The software is attractive and functional, and due to recent changes, is no longer as slow and clunky as it was a year or two ago. I just love the “out of the box” look of the various themes found on the site. The design is just amazing looking, in my humble opinion. Check out the screenshots below and see for yourself.

[metaslider id=”1617″]

Cash Game Software Issue

As I mentioned previously, the only thing I don’t really care for is the forced “quick seat” feature for cash games. I understand why they made the change, but I think the negatives far outweigh the benefits. Sure, it makes it even more difficult for skilled players to table select but the anonymous games had already done a good job of that. Here are 3 reasons they should just go back to the old way of doing things for cash games:

  1. It’s Hard to Get 4 Tables Up
    The way the feature works, the “quick seating” will just give you one of the empty seats available. It’s usually not hard to get the first two tables going, but that third and fourth can be downright annoying to get seated at. Instead of just looking for an open seat in the lobby, now you have to constantly open and reopen tables over and over again. Instead of focusing on playing, you are forced to concentrate on getting that last table or two going. Sometimes the process takes a minute or so, sometimes you seem to spend the entire session screwing around with the software.
  2. Freaking Heads-Up
    Oh, by the way. Every time you open a table and it’s not populated, you end up seated alone on an empty table or you are sat heads-up with someone. I am pretty sure there are heads-up specialists exploiting this feature and starting tables. I have actually considered doing this as a matter of course for my last table or two but find it hard to concentrate on playing a 6-handed started and a heads-up strategy at the same time.
  3. Occasionally Causes Crashes
    While trying to get that last table up, sometimes you have to close and reopen the table 10-50 times. All this extra strain on the software occasionally causes the entire client to crash. Not only do you not get that last table up, you also lose your other three and have to restart the session from scratch. Very frustrating.

If you are having this issue with quick seating, one solution is to mix in 9-handed tables or 6-handed if you are a full ring player in order to fill that last slot or two on your multi-tabling grid. This should solve your problem. Otherwise, you may just want to resign yourself to being a 3-tabler.. which costs you hands per hour. It also costs the network valuable rake that you are no longer able to produce. If for no other reason, they should go back to the traditional seating method to help the site’s bottom line.


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Rake

I compared the rake between this network and Pokerstars and found it to be pretty much in line. Bovada and Ignition are lower for some stakes and Pokerstars is higher for others. Here are the rake levels found on this network, taken directly from their sites:

Rake Chart Ignition Bovada


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Suggested Strategy

I have maintained a very high win-rate on Ignition and Bovada for many years, check out the final video from my “spare change” bankroll building challenge for proof.

I know these games as well as anyone and don’t mind passing along that info to you. Here are 3 tips and adjustments you might consider making when playing the anonymous environment on this network:

  1. Play Exploitative Poker
    Forget about balancing on this network. You no longer have to worry about your opponents tracking your play over thousands of hands and exploiting any imbalance you might have in your game. Therefore, you should look to fully exploit whatever tendencies the players on your table seem to exhibit over the first few orbits. If they seem tight then steal close to 100%. Of course, if you see someone else who seems to be adjusting as well and stealing every time, then 3-bet bluff them with a high frequency. Don’t worry about c-betting too much or folding to 3-bets too often. Just work to profile your opponents as quickly as possible and make exploitative adjustments fast.
  2. Buff Less, Value Bet More
    Due to the overall loose-passive nature off the games on this network, you definitely don’t want to make a habit of trying to run complex multi-street bluffs with a high frequency. Instead, value bet a wider range than normal and take a general bet-fold strategy. Don’t get caught with the 2nd best hand when facing aggression against the typical passive reg or fish on this network!
  3. Use a HUD
    In order to get the best reads as quickly as possible, you should definitely have a way of tracking session stats. Either use Hold’em Indicator or a card catcher and use a simple HUD that gives you a basic idea of what your opponents are doing. Here’s what my HUD looks like.
HUD Bovada Ignition

Hold’em Indicator is on the left and Tournament Indicator is on the right


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Bovada & Ignition Poker FAQ

Is Bovada or Ignition Poker Rigged?

No, the sites are 100% legit. Today, this should not even be a consideration for a serious poker player. Ignition, Bovada, and all other major poker sites now in operation, now have seen years and years of play, without a scandal of any sort. This leads me to have only one conclusion. Legal online poker is as safe to play, if not safer, than even live play. In fact, I have not read or heard of any legit incidents where someone was cheated in a hand or the software made an error. And if such an occurrence did happen, you can rest easy knowing that Bovada and Ignition poker would make it right. They seem to really care about their patrons having a safe and fun experience.

How Is Ignition & Bovada Legal?

Except for specific jurisdictions, online poker is not illegal to play in the United States! Ignition & Bovada are legitimate companies that are simply filling a void in the market and giving legal access to millions of people who have limited options in the current climate. You can check your eligibility above. (click to scroll to the eligibility section)

Is My Money Safe?

Yes. Bovada/Ignition are one of the most rapidly growing sites in the world and is completely solvent.  There have been no delays in their payouts, so you can play with the confidence that your hard earned cash is safe.

Can people in every US state play?

Unfortunately, people who live in a few states cannot play on either Bovada or Ignition due to regulations. Those states are Nevada, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey. Washington state also has a law that prohibits online gambling.

Where Is Ignition & Bovada Based?

Both poker sites are located in Costa Rica.

Are Bots a Concern?

I have no data or way to confirm it but I am pretty sure there are bots on every single poker site in the world. Even so, it is very difficult to beat the games as a human player. Imagine trying to get a bot software program to be able to profitably navigate all of the nuanced situations that are faced during any given session. At best, these bots are likely break even or slight losers. It’s actually a good thing to have a bot on your table since they are very easy to beat and will not be adjusting to your play.

So to answer the question, no bots are not really something to be worried about. Also, I am pretty sure that poker sites have measures in place to hunt down and ban bot accounts. Ultimately, the threat of playing against bots is nothing to lose sleep over.

How long do payouts generally take?

Super fast! I have cashed out numerous times over the years and most have been processed within 24 hours. Bitcoin typically takes less than 48 hours to hit my account. In fact, my last payout took about 5 hours.

What Is the Customer Service Phone #?

  • Bovada
    1-888-263-0000
  • Ignition
    1-855-370-0600

What Is the Traffic Like?

The traffic is by far the highest of any poker site that allows US players. The cool thing is the makeup of the player pool. This is up for debate, but in my experience, the breakdown of the various player types on this network is as follows:

Ignition Bovada Player Pool Breakdown

*Based on my experience, I used the WAG (Wild Ass Guess) method to come up with these numbers

How Are the PLO Games?

In my opinion, there is no better place in the world to play PLO. Game selection is huge, with tables running all the way up to 2000PLO nearly all the time. When I play PLO, this is the only site I even consider sitting down at.

Do HUDs work?

Yes, however, for session stats only via tracking software. You can use Hold’em Manager or PokerTracker HUD via a card catcher or Hold’em Indicator. If you decide to use Hold’em Indicator (like me), you can still download your hands for review in HEM or PT, via the hand converter.

I like to play casino and table games, do these sites have those?

Yes! You name a game and they pretty much have it. I myself have been guilty of partaking of the blackjack tables from time to time. They also have the typical table games like Roulette, Baccarat, Caribbean Hold’em, and of course all of the slots game imaginable. These sites also have a single wallet system, so you don’t have to constantly move money back and forth, which can be very annoying.

Is Sports Betting possible?

Absolutely! However, only Bovada has a sportsbook at this time.

Are There Any Freerolls?

There is a $2,500 freeroll every Thursday at 9:05 PM ET, but in order to qualify for a ticket, you have to play a bunch of casino games and get “Chrome” status.

Is there a play money option?

There sure is. You can play $2/$4 cash games. Everyone starts with $1,000 play chips that can be reloaded if you run out. All you have to do is turn on practice mode on the “cash games” tab, as shown below.

Practice Mode Play Money Ignition Bovada

What Is The History of This network?

Bodog Poker was launched in 2004. In 2011, Bovada was introduced to serve US players. After 5 amazing years of success, the poker rights are sold to Ignition Casino in 2016. One year later, Bovada is back and using the same player pool as Ignition and Bodog. I am still confused as to exactly why this was done and I’m not sure anyone outside the companies knows the details of what transpired. The good news is that players now have three different choices of where to play, depending on where you are in the world. US players can choose between Ignition and Bovada.

Which should I choose, Ignition or Bovada?

At this point both sites appear to be identical is just about every way. It all comes down to your personal taste, visit both websites and choose the one that you think feels best to you. Many players might pick one or the other based on how the client looks. No matter which one you pick, you can sleep well at night knowing that you are playing on a top-notch, quality online poker site.


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Video Reviews

Here are in-depth video reviews that show how gameplay works on both Ignition and Bovada. As a bonus, I also give a tutorial on how to use Hold’em Indicator so that you can have a HUD for your sessions if desired.


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Summary

Ignition poker has established itself as the model for all future poker sites. They have found the right balance between catering to the pros while also not destroying the fun for the recreational players. There is no doubt that this network is the best place to play for anyone living in the United States. No matter whether you play cash games, tournaments, or sit and go’s, Ignition or Bovada is the place to be.

I have personally played on this network for over 10 years now, so I know what I’m talking about. Let me summarize by covering the reasons I love Ignition and Bovada. Soft games? Check. High traffic? Check. Safe and legal games? Check. Enough said.


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