If you aren’t quite sure whether you should take the leap and play on Bovada, don’t worry. I have played millions of hands there and will help you make an informed decision.
What is Bovada like? Bovada is a recreational player friendly poker site that has completely anonymous games. With high traffic, #1 in the United States, the games are among the softest in the world. Bovada shares its player pool with Bodog and Ignition and features exceptional customer service, fast payouts, and is a safe legit place to play poker.
This grinder’s in-depth review should help you determine whether or not Bovada is for you.
What is 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.
Bovada is based out of Costa Rica and is on the Bodog network. The site is well-known for its soft games and anonymous laid back atmosphere built with the recreational model.
Whether you are an occasional player or pro you will love this site. However, if you are looking for a site that offers huge rewards or
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 Bovada. This is the site I put in 90% of my volume, and as a semi-professional poker player that says a lot.
Bovada at a glance:
- Banking: Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash
- Software: PC, MAC, Mobile
- Games: Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Fast-Fold, Jackpots
- Min Cash Buy-In: 30bb minimum with a 30-minute rathole timer.
- Fish Rating: 9/10
- Sign Up Bonus: Yes. <Check Latest Bonus Amount>
- Rakeback: No, there is a small VIP program
- Summary: The most popular and softest poker site in the United States. This is definitely the best site for Tournament players and high stake cash game players.
In order to clarify the strengths and weaknesses of Bovada, I assigned a rating from 1 to 10 on seven important considerations.
Overall rating= 9.0
What does the software look like?
How is Bovada?
What makes Bovada stand out is the more relaxed atmosphere at the tables. There are no sharks preying on the weaker players with table selection or long-term statistical analysis.
Instead, it’s more like playing in an actual casino where you have to build reads on other players based on what they are doing today. This not only makes for a safer environment for recreational players, it makes the games much more beatable overall. Either way, it’s good for you!
Bovada summarized details:
- Softer than usual games
- Enough traffic to keep anyone happy
- Cash game traffic up to $2,000NL
- By far the best MTT schedule in the United States
- A very good first deposit bonus
- Ultra-fast payouts and deposits
- Legit, no major scandals
Why Play On Bovada?
If you are a player in the US, you have limited options. You can either grind out the reward system on the Winning Poker Network, play on a balanced site like BetOnline, or choose a full-fledged recreational site like Bovada.
The best reason to choose Bovada is that it gives more players the opportunity to be profitable in modern times than perhaps any other poker site in the world.
I highly recommend that you strongly consider Bovada as your place to call home. I have played tons of
My advice is to check out their website, watch how the games play on my YouTube channel, and then make your decision.
A Sample Session from My Spare Change Challenge
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.
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
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 Bovada’s website:
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 has 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
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, Bovada 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).
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 Bovada is a “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 “
How Soft Are The 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 Bovada Poker is the best option for you. And it’s not even close! Welcome back to 2008! (Well, almost)
How Soft Are the Cash Games?
I actually refuse to play poker above 100NL on any other network. For comparison sake, 200NL on Bovada plays like 50NL on America’s Cardroom. Unless you are playing 20 tables, it simply makes no sense to try to grind out a small win-rate versus tables full of regs.
If you are an experienced player, you have a fighting chance of beating the 1000NL and even 2000nl games on Bovada. There are rich whales that show up often enough to make giving high stakes a go. If you are crushing 200NL on another site, you probably would make more money playing Bovada and 3-4 tabling 600NL+.
How Soft Are the Tournaments?
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 and this happened.
Is Bovada Profitable?
Let me put it this way. If Bovada is not profitable for you, virtually no other site is likely to be beatable for your game. The cold hard truth is, if you cannot beat 50NL on Bovada, you need to do some serious work on your game and get back to the basics.
While no site is a cakewalk like it was in 2005, Bovada is about as good as it gets for mainstream legit poker sites.
How Many Players Are on Bovada?
Before pokerscout.com stopped keeping track of Bovada’s traffic, the network had 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, Bovada poker is, in my opinion, the best option for any serious player who wants to maximize his or her win rate.
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:
When Are the Peak Traffic Times on Bovada?
The peak times on Bovada are evening times between 7 PM Eastern and midnight. The highest traffic days are Friday through Sunday.
If you have not experienced a Friday night on Bovada, you simply have to try out the site now. You can thank me later.
Which Cash Game Format Has the Most Traffic?
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:
Cash Game Limits
All stakes except $2,000 NL have a 30 big blind minimum buy-in and 100 bb max buy-in.
Here are the details:
|Stake||Min Buy-In||Stake||Min Buy-In|
Which Tournament Format Has the Most Traffic?
While it’s impossible to tell what the exact traffic is due to the anonymous games and auto-seat feature, I am guessing that Jackpots get the most traffic. They fill fast and the games only last a few minutes.
If you are looking to play a ton of tournament hands fast, Jackpots are the way to go.
What Are 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. 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 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.
Deposit options are subject to change, please check the website for the latest methods.
What Are the Deposit Limits and Fees?
|Bovada Deposit Method||Min Deposit||Max Deposit||Fee|
How Fast Do Deposits Get into My Account?
Credit card deposits, if they go through, usually happen instantly. Bitcoin usually takes just a few hours. My last deposit with Bitcoin took about 2 hours.
Does Bovada Accept PayPal?
Unfortunately, Bovada nor any other major poker site in the US currently takes PayPal.
Does Bovada Accept Bitcoin?
Bovada takes Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. (Click here to earn $10 free for using Bitcoin)
How Safe is My Money?
Bovada is 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.
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 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
How Does Bovada Payout
My last payout came to my Bitcoin account within 2 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.
You have multiple options for withdrawing money from Bovada:
- Wire Transfer
- Check By Courier
Payout options are subject to change, please check the website for the latest methods.
How Long Do Payouts Generally Take?
Payouts happen super fast on Bovada! 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. For the fastest possible service, I recommend Bitcoin. (Click here to earn $10 free for using Bitcoin)>
Are There Any Withdrawal Fees?
The vast majority of the time, payouts are free. The fee schedule is as follows:
|Bitcoin||Free||$10||$9,500||Within 24 hrs|
|Bank Transfer||Free||$1,500||No Limit||10-15 days|
|Courier Check||Free||$100||No Limit||10-15 days|
Fee schedule subject to change. Be sure to check the site for any updates to payout options.
How is the customer service?
The customer service at Bovada has always been outstanding, based on my own personal experience. I have never had one bit of trouble getting any issue I had solved quickly. I recommend calling over emailing for fastest service.
How Do I Contact Bovada?
How Does the Bovada Bonus Work?
Bovada has an average bonus amount for the industry, 100% up to $500 at the time of this writing (check current bonus). It is automatically given to new players who sign up.
How Easy Is It to Clear the Deposit Bonus?
The Bovada bonus releases very quickly. This is the schedule for how the bonus is released:
|Level||VIP Points||Bonus Released||Total|
To give you some perspective on how fast this clears, you can expect to get about 6,000 poker points a month by playing 30ish hours a week at 100NL. This is totally doable for a lot of players.
Earning Poker Points
You can earn between .05 and 1 poker point every time you pay a tournament buy-in or cash game rake. Here is the rake schedule for both cash games and tournaments:
|Amount Raked||Poker Points Earned|
|$0.01 to $0.04||0.05|
|$0.05 to $0.24||0.10|
|$0.25 to $0.49||0.25|
|$0.50 to $0.99||0.50|
|$1 to $4||1.00|
Are There Any Tips on Clearing the Bonus Faster?
My advice is to forget the bonus and just play your normal stake and game. Rather than trying to chase a bonus and trying to maximize how much you clear, just enjoy the added hourly rate and don’t allow yourself to fall into a sub-optimal or uncomfortable playing style.
How Can I Spend Poker Points?
There are only two ways to spend your points. You can either buy tickets for tournaments or you can use them to get casino bonuses. Unless you are an avid casino player, I would recommend spending them on tournaments tickets only.
Bovada Changes Their Rewards System
In early 2019, Bovada made some changes to how their rewards are handled. There are now tiers and instead of points, you earn “miles.”
Basically, every poker point you earn now gives 5 Bovada miles. You can then use those miles in exchange for casino bonuses or tournament tickets. Here is what it look like:
I have not had time to move up through the levels yet, so I am not sure what the benefits of each are. They do have more info on the site, however. I am not sure if the levels are actual “
|Reward Level||Redemption Rate|
|Steel||2,500 Miles= $1|
|Chrome||2,250 Miles= $1|
|Bronze||2,000 Miles= $1|
|Silver||1,750 Miles= $1|
|Gold||1,500 Miles= $1|
|Platinum||1,250 Miles= $1|
|Titanium||1,000 Miles= $1|
|Diamond||1,000 Miles= $1|
The so-called cashback levels listed on the site are really misleading. They claim 6% cashback for the lowest level but it only comes out to .006% cash back and can only be redeemed for casino bonuses
Redeeming Tickets Is Still Best for Poker Players
If you are a poker player, your best bet is to still use your points on tickets. However, don’t expect to earn a huge rate of return for rake spent. To illustrate, here are the reward levels and the cashback equivalent when converted to tournament tickets for the Steel level:
|Ticket||Cost In Miles||Rake Paid||“Rakeback”|
|Any $2.20 Tournament||6000||$400||.6%|
|Any $5.50 Tournament||15,000||$1,000||.6%|
|Any $7 Jackpot SNG||18,500||$1,233||.6%|
|Any $15 Jackpot SNG||40,000||$2,667||.6%|
|Any $162 Tournament||450,000||$30,000||.5%|
Time for Me to Calm Down, This Isn’t a Huge VIP Site Anyway
Okay, so I am a bit disappointed that they made the rewards system even worse. The silver lining is this is supposed to be a recreational site anyway. Adding in huge rewards just wouldn’t make any sense and might attract way too many “pros” to the site. I’d rather keep the games soft, but that’s just me.
Is Bovada Legit or Rigged?
No, the sites are 100% legit. Today, this should not even be a consideration for a serious poker player. 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 poker would make it right. They seem to really care about their patrons having a safe and fun experience.
Bovada has 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.
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
Are Rigged Games Something to Be Concerned About?
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.
Inmy numerous years playing on 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?
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 Is Bovada Legal?
Except for specific jurisdictions, online poker is not illegal to play in the United States! Bovada is 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 Bovada Regulated?
This is one knock against Bovada, but not really a serious one. In 2016 they lost their license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and never sought a new one anywhere else.
The good news is that a license doesn’t really ensure that a site will be any good. Other regulated sites in the past have done some really bad things, ie. Full Tilt or Ultimate Bet.
The biggest thing that controls how good a poker site is, or any business, is their track record on treating their customers and conducting business. Bovada, so far, has good marks in those areas.
Are There Bots on Bovada?
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.
What Random Number Generator Is Used?
Bovada uses a pseudo random number generator (RNG) that has a computational algorithm that produces a sequence of numbers that is impossible to be anticipated mathematically. The RNG is tested frequently by a 3rd party for compliance with industry standards.
What Countries Are Excluded From Playing On 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.
Here are the countries who can play on Bovada:
- USA, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela
Can People in Every State Play in the United States?
Unfortunately, people who live in a few states cannot play on Bovada or due to regulations:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Washington (Has a law that prohibits online gambling)
How Are the Tournaments on Bovada?
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?
Here is a Sunday tournament schedule to give you an idea of what’s offered:
The 100k Guaranteed is the biggest tournament of the week at this time. It is affordable, has lots of satellite opportunities, and is generally really soft.
Does Bovada Have Freerolls?
Players who frequent the casino part of Bovada and achieve “Chrome” status can take part in a weekly $2,500 freeroll which takes place on Thursdays at 9:05 PM ET. You must be a Chrome player or above to be e
What Are the Satellites like on Bovada?
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
Are There Ever Overlays?
I can’t remember the last time an overlay happened on Bovada. This is a good thing, however, since the guaranteed amount is almost always exceeded. Check out this $50 buy-in which exceeded its guaranteed amount by nearly $12,000:
How Are the Sit and Go Games?
This is one weak spot on Bovada. There are very few traditional SNGs that run, even at peak times. However, this is a common trend among poker sites in recent years.
Even so, an SNG player should still be able to find enough action to keep him busy. Even 3-table SNGs run up to the small stakes level. Just don’t expect to mass multi-table them.
Are There Jackpot SNGs?
Yes, you can play Jackpots on Bovada. 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.
Are There Double-Up SNGs?
Yes, there are double-up and triple-up SNGs on Bovada.
What is Zone Poker?
Zone poker is 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.
Is There a Play Money Option?
There is an active play money crowd that populates Bovada. 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.
How Are the PLO Games on Bovada?
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.
Is Mobile App Gaming Possible on Bovada?
Bovada 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!
- Android OS 5 or higher is required
- iPad 3 or iPhone 4 or higher are required
How to Play Bovada on iPhone
You do not have to download an app to play mobile poker on Bovada. Just go to the website from your mobile device and click on the “Poker” tab, sign in, and start playing.
Are Casino and Table Games Offered?
Yes, Bovada has just about every possible Casino style game you can imagine. 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
Casino games include:
- Table Games with 19 different types of blackjack, roulette, craps, and more.
- 183 Slots of every variety and type.
- 15 Video Poker Games including all the common favorites and novelty games.
- 21 Specialty Games from Keno to Bingo.
- 45 Progressives
Is Sports Betting Possible?
Bovada does have a sportsbook that you can make use of. Just login to the website and click the “Sports” tab.
Software & Client Info
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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Skin Customization Features
Unfortunately, you cannot add your own custom look to the site as everything is controlled server side by B
There are three basic skin options for tables:
1. A Modern Look in 6 Color Choices
2. A Traditional “Racetrack” Look in 6 Color Choices
3. 5 sports themes:
Card Deck Skins
There is only two looks you can choose from for the card faces, regular or 4-color. You may choose from 6 different card backings as well. Nothing fancy here, but the stock stuff doesn’t look bad.
What Are the Maximum Number of Tables That Can Be Played at a Time?
On Bovada you can play up to 4 cash games and/or SNGs at the same time. There is not limit to how many MTTs you can play.
What Are the Typical Game Speeds Like?
I typically see about 60 hands per hour on 6-max cash game tables. While this may seem slow, it’s actually a good kind of slow since it’s mainly due to the rampant limping that goes on across all stakes.
Multi-Tabling Features and 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 Bovada 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 Bovada 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.
No Auto Top-Off
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 Bovada. Currently, if you lose your entire stack and don’t rebuy quickly, you will be sat out for a hand. Annoying.
Are Short Stacks Allowed?
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 Bovada allows them only makes the games that much softer.
Do HUDs Work on Bovada
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, 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.
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
Downloadable 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.
How to Use a Hud on Bovada
There are two ways to use a HUD on this network:
- Hold’em Indicator
Hold’em Indicator is a stand-alone program that tracks player statistics. Of course, on Bovada it only keeps session stats. I have used this program for over 10 years and highly recommend it
. BovadaCard 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.
There are plenty of site features that improve the user experience, especially for recreational players. All-in percentages are listed, there
Ongoing Promotions & Added Value
Here are ongoing promotions that you can take advantage of on Bovada:
- Bad Beat Bonus
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.
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.
What Are Bovada Poker Miles?
Formerly known as poker points, you now collect poker miles instead. You get 15 miles per $1 in rake. This is actually the weakest VIP system of any network I’ve ever seen. Even so, on a recreational site any amount of rewards are just gravy.
Are There Reload Bonuses?
There are almost never any reloads for poker. There are pretty much only reload bonuses for games of luck, ie. casino games.
Is There a Bad Beat Jackpot?
There is a bad beat jackpot. If you lose with Aces full of Kings or better, you can win up to $1,000 at 100 times the big blind. You will have to email support to request the bonus as it is not automatically given
As is standard with most other poker sites, no rake is taken before the flop nor in uncalled pots. This works the same in both No-Limit Hold’em and Omaha games.
I compared the rake between this network and Pokerstars and found it to be pretty much in line. Bovada is lower for some stakes and Pokerstars is higher for others. Here are the rake levels found on this network, taken directly from their site:
|NL/Pot Limit up to $25NL|
|Number of Players||Rake / Pot||Max Rake|
|2 Players||$0.01 / $0.20 in pot||$0.50|
|3-4 Players||$0.01 / $0.20 in pot||$1.00|
|5+ Players||$0.01 / $0.20 in pot||$2.00|
|Stakes Higher than $25NL|
|2 Players||$0.01 / $0.20 in pot||$1.00|
|3 Players||$0.01 / $0.20 in pot||$2.00|
|4-5 Players||$0.01 / $0.20 in pot||$3.00|
|6+ Players||$0.01 / $0.20 in pot||$4.00|
Does Bovada Have 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? 🙂
Who Is the Target Audience on Bovada?
While the target audience for Bovada 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
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
Bynot offering huge rewards for players to grind out insane hours, the better players become less focused on maximizing rakebackand 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 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.
Should I Play on Bovada?
I simply love 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.
We Are Lucky to Have Bovada
Overall, I am thankful to have Bovada 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.
Why Should I Trust Your Opinion on Bovada?
I am a real player who has been around the game for over 10 years. I am a best-selling poker author and have spent countless hours teaching and researching better ways of playing poker. I have learned what it takes to win on every poker site and am giving that information away for free to anyone willing to listen.
I have played literally millions of hands on just about every poker network out there. Through hard work, I have managed to become a marginally big winner along the way. Here is the graph from my brief play in 2018.
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
I am a real player with real facts. If there’s something I don’t like, I include it in the review. Fortunately, 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.
A Brief History of Bovada
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.
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.
It Is Confusing as to Why Bovada Was Sold Then Reopened?
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.
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.
I have maintained a very high win-rate on 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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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:
How to Download Bovada?
To download Bovada, click the link below and click the “start playing” button the site. You can then sign up and start playing.
Bovada 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 Bovada. Soft games? Check. High traffic? Check. Safe and legal games? Check. Enough said.
I don’t get much time to play anymore and instead write about poker and try to find ways to improve the lives of poker players. I give honest reviews of poker products and sites.
With the limited choices in poker sites today, Bovada is a really good option. It’s, in fact, the best option if you want to use a Hold’em Manager or Pokertracker HUD. Otherwise, go with <alt poker site>
A Quick Note About
It took me a lot of hours (actually 3 days) to write this review. I tried to only include details that I would want to know before joining a new poker site. I left out a lot of the fluff that other reviews include just to bolster their word count. If I missed something, please let me know in the comments.
If you appreciate my honesty and the hard work I’ve done please click on one of the signup links in this review. That way I get a few pennies from the poker site for my hard work. It would make my day.Jim
If you have heard all you need to know and are ready to play, then click the link below to claim your sign-up bonus. Thanks for reading and good luck at the tables!
Is it legal to play poker online? Save for a couple of US states, it has never been illegal to play online poker. The UIGEA of 2006 only outlawed banks doing business with gambling websites. There is even some gray area since poker is officially known as a game of skill and does not qualify as gambling.
Can you still make money playing poker? If you work hard on your game and/or play on the correct poker site, you can totally still make money at poker. My win-rate has stayed about the same since 2012 at 8bb/100 on average.
Are Bovada and Ignition the same? Bovada and Ignition are two separate skins on the Bodog Network. Although I am not sure, it appears that they are owned by the same company. Which one you choose all comes down to 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.