Bovada Poker Review

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Bovada is now the largest online poker room that accepts U.S. players.  It has three times more players than Winning Poker Network, the second largest U.S. online poker network.  Bovada peaks at about 3,200 players each night, according to PokerScout.  Players looking for the best game selection should check out Bovada before downloading any other room. We recommend Bovada Poker as the best site for US players.  On a scale of 1-10 we currently rate Bovada Poker as an 8/10.  You might be wondering why we would rate Bovada Poker as an 8/10 if we rate it as our top site.  Currently no US poker site deserves to be rated a 10.  However Bovada is a solid choice and our recommended poker site.

Use this link to sign up at Bovada Poker and receive a $1,000 bonus.

There is a long list of reasons why U.S. online poker players should choose Bovada:

  • Triple the cash game players of any other American online poker room
  • Fastest cashouts for U.S. players – Some players report cash transfers in less than 24 hours
  • One free check withdrawal per month
  • Low-skilled competition
  • Management dedicated to recreational players including intentional software deficiencies
  • $1,000 first deposit bonus that returns about 30% cashback
  • $100,000 guaranteed tournament every Sunday
  • Frequent tournament series

test drive bovada

No U.S. facing online poker room is perfect.  Bovada has several flaws, although they are mostly intentional in an attempt to retain recreational players and discourage winning players.  These include:

  • Anonymous poker tables
  • No waitlists
  • Inability to view full tables
  • Management that refuses to listen to player suggestions
  • Few player rewards, including no VIP program

What we like about Bovada – Bovada, and their sister site Bodog, are very respectable brands.  They have always paid their winners.  When processing gets tough in the U.S. they are quick to admit it and quote realistic processing times.  They even offer players one free check withdrawal a month.  Bovada has fast payouts.  Players that request Western Union will receive their cashout in 1-3 days, though a fee of about 10% is charged for this service.  Bovada has dedicated poker support by phone.  These phone support people are available 24 hours a day and are well trained.

What we do not like about Bovada – Poker at Bovada is a neglected product that seems to be managed by people that are out of touch with poker players.  They are so stuck on retaining recreational players that they do not even try to attract serious players at all.  This attitude seems to have paid off, but it still shows an arrogance on the part of management. I am not a fan of the anonymous tables.  That is because it is hard to track players to see if anything shady is going on.  This should not be an issue with micro and low limit games but I would be concerned playing high limits there.

Has There Ever Been a Scandal at Bodog/Bovada?

Bodog has been a part of two issues.  They bounced back from both of them.  When Bodog moved to anonymous table it was quickly discovered by online data company HH Smithy that the data packets sent by Bodog still included player names.  This left players without the capability of mining out usernames at a huge disadvantage.  Bodog did not handle the publicity well.  One of their forum reps quit over it too.  Bodog quietly fixed the bug within days.

In February 2012, Bodog and other involved including Calvin Ayre were charged with illegal gambling by the U.S. Department of Justice.  The domain name was also seized.  That domain forwarded to at the time.  Bodog laughed it off and the gaming sites did not miss a beat.  None of the parties accused have been located by U.S. authorities.

How to Deposit at Bovada

U.S. Bovada deposit options include Western Union, MoneyGram, credit cards, and bank wire.  Bovada will cover Western Union and MoneyGram fees for deposits of $300 or more.

How to Withdraw at Bovada

U.S. Bovada withdrawal options include check by courier, Western Union, MoneyGram, and bank wire.  Western Union and MoneyGram are not available to all players.  Most players that have this option available also deposited by this option.  Bovada offers U.S. players one free check withdrawal per month.

History of Bovada

Bovada is the U.S. facing online poker room for Bodog.  All U.S. players were moved from Bodog to Bovada on December 14, 2011.   Bovada is owned by the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group.  This group already serviced U.S. players before the move so the only thing that was different after the move was the website.

Bodog has long been one of the most respected online gambling companies in the world.  The Bodog brand was launched in 1994.  Bodog Poker was launched in 2004.  Even though Bodog’s sports book was one of the biggest in the world, the poker room could not bring in the players to keep their tables populated.  Bodog did not market it much.  It seemed that poker was something that they felt they had to offer to be competitive but treated it like a nuisance.  The poker room even failed to grow after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act passed when most other poker rooms that stayed in the U.S. thrived.  Black Friday thinned its competition even more and it is now the largest online poker room that accepts U.S. players.

Bodog started a network in the past few years.  This network focused mainly on Asia through their partner Bodog88.  This helped to bring in more players to the poker room and made the already fishy games even better.

Bodog is fixated on what they call the Recreational Player Model.  This aims to attract players that do not take poker seriously and discourages professional players from playing at Bodog and related rooms.  This model includes removing waitlists from the lobby, removing full tables from the lobby, penalizing affiliates for referring winning players, and making their tables anonymous.  These anonymous tables just show a number for each player seated at a table.  There is no way to know if a player seated at the table was the same player that you played yesterday or someone that just signed up today.  This has been the most controversial practice of Bodog to date.

Bovada Game Selection

Like most rooms, Bovada’s main game is No Limit Texas Hold’em.  Fixed Limit Texas Hold’em is also popular.  There are also regular games at Pot Limit Omaha and Pot Limit Omaha High/Low.  There are even a few Fixed Limit Omaha High/Low, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud High/Low games.  Bovada offers U.S. players the second best game variety behind Merge Gaming.

Zone Poker

Zone Poker is a fast fold variant that moves at four times the speed of standard tables.  Players are moved to a new table immediately after folding.  Each table is a new draw of players.  Zone Poker uses anonymous tables.  Action may be found at No Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha with blinds of $.02/$.05 and $.05/$.10.  More limits will be added as demand increases.  Bovada is the only U.S. friendly site to offer a fast fold version of online poker.

Bovada Bonus

Bovada offers new players a 100% up to $1000 first deposit bonus.  The bonus clears at a rate of 10 Poker Points for every $1 in bonus.  One Poker Point is earned when about $1 in rake is taken from the pot.  The exact formula depends on the game’s limits.  Players must contribute to the pot to earn Poker Points.  Tournament players earn 3 Poker Points for every $1 in tournament rake paid.  The bonus is released in tiers starting when a player earns 100 Poker Points.  Additional tiers are 500, 1500, 3000, 6000, and 10,000 Poker Points.  Bovada does not offer any reload bonuses but players may make multiple deposits to claim the first bonus.  In other words, the first $1000 in deposits at Bodog will earn a 100% bonus, regardless of how many deposits it takes to get there.  Any bonus not cleared will expire 60 days after each deposit.

Use this link to sign up at Bovada Poker and receive a $1,000 bonus.

Bovada VIP

In keeping with their recreational player model, Bovada does not offer any VIP program.

Bovada Promotions

Poker Points to Tournament Tickets – Players may redeem Poker Points at a rate of 100 per $1 to enter certain guaranteed tournaments.  There are also freerolls that may be entered with Poker Points.

Royal Flush Bonus – A player that makes a Royal Flush using both hole cards at Texas Hold’em will win 50 times the big blind up to $200.  Players must contact support with the hand number to claim this bonus.  Heads up games do not qualify.

Bad Beat – A player that loses aces full of kings or better at a Texas Hold’em table will win 100 times the big blind up to $1000.  Both players must use both hole cards.  Heads up games do not qualify.  Players must email support with the hand number to claim this bonus.


test drive bovada

Bovada Poker FAQ

How can U.S. players deposit at Bovada?

Bovada accepts Visa, Mastercard, Western Union and MoneyGram for U.S. deposits.  Standard credit cards are typically declined.  International prepaid debit card deposits are usually successful.  These include Green Dot and Netspend.  Green Dot charges a $5.95 per month maintenance fee but it is waived if $1,000 or more is loaded or there are at least 30 monthly transactions on the account.  Netspend charges $9.95 per month but the fee is lowered to $5 if $500 or more is deposited during the month.

Players that wish to deposit cash can visit a major retailer or check cashing store that is an agent for Western Union or MoneyGram.  The fees will be in the 5-10% range, but Bovada will reimburse fees on deposits of $300 or more.  Bovada will add the fees paid by a player using these cash transfer deposit methods directly to their account.

How can U.S. players cashout at Bovada?

Bovada offers four withdrawal options; Western Union, MoneyGram, check and bank wire.  The software’s cashier refers to Western Union as Money Transfer.  The fees for Western Union withdrawals are as follows:

• $100 – $249 Fee: $50
• $250 – $499 Fee: $75
• $500 – $999 Fee: $100
• $1000 – $1499 Fee: $150
• $1500 – $2000 Fee: $200

MoneyGram is referred to in the cashier as Rapid Transfer.  These fees are as follows:

• $100 – $200 Fee: $20
• $201 – $400 Fee: $30
• $401 – $600 Fee: $45
• $601 – $800 Fee: $60

Checks have a $3,000 maximum and wires have a $5,000 maximum.  Bovada allows players to receive one check or bank wire for free each month.  Additional withdrawal requests have a $50 fee.  Bank wires will also incur fees from intermediary banks, as well as the receiving bank.  An intermediary bank may charge as much as $50, while the receiving bank will charge a fee of about $20.

How long does it take to receive a cashout?

Western Union and MoneyGram cashouts arrive in 12-72 hours.  Checks arrive in about one week.  Bank wires are processed in 2-4 weeks.

What is the Bovada Poker bonus?

The bonus is 100% up to $1,000.  This is the same bonus no matter which affiliate you choose.

How does the bonus clear?

The bonus clears at a rate of 10 Poker Points for every $1 in bonus.  It releases in increments after a Poker Points requirement is met.  The bonus is released when 100, 500, 1,500, 3,000, 6,000 and 10,000 Poker Points are earned.  Any bonus not cleared after 60 days expires.

What games are available at Bovada?

Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha High/Low, Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Stud High/Low

What is Zone Poker?

Zone Poker is a fast fold variation that allows players to play up to 300 hands per hour.  A player that folds is immediately taken to a new table.  A new hand is dealt when new players fill all available seats.

What games are available in Zone Poker format?

No Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha are available in limits of $.02/$.05, $.05/$.10 and $.10/$.25 blinds.

Why are there no usernames at Bovada?

The Bodog Poker Network, which is Bovada’s poker partner, uses the Recreational Player Model.  One of the features of this model is anonymous tables.  All cash game players are assigned a number that correlates with their seat number at the table.  Tournament players are assigned a number that is used throughout the tournament, even after a player is moved to a new table.

Bovada uses this model to prevent recreational players from being stalked by sharks.  While poor play may be noticed and noted, all information is lost as soon as the player gets up from the table.  That player will be anonymous once again when they take a new seat.

Some players have concerns that anonymous tables are prone to abuse by colluders.  Bovada hand histories will show all players’ hole cards 24 hours after the hand ends.  This allows players to enter this information into a hand replayer or study them manually.  Any inappropriate play can be reported to Bovada security, which also follows the action closely.

These features were controversial when they were first launched in late 2011.  Some players left Bovada over it.  The writer of this article was one of the players questioning this online poker business model.  Bovada proved its critics wrong and is now the largest U.S. facing online poker room.   It is nearly three times larger than its closest U.S. friendly competitor and there have been no publicly discussed scandals involving the room’s anonymous tables.

Where are the full tables?

Another Recreational Player Model feature is the removal of full tables from the lobby.  This prevents third parties from collecting data and it also makes it impossible for players to get on a waitlist.  This helps start fresh tables.

Does Bovada rakeback exist?

Bovada and its network partner Bodog do not allow rakeback.

Does Bovada offer reload bonuses?

Bovada does not offer reload bonuses.

Are there Bovada table mods?

This post describes a number of ways Bovada players can change the appearance of cards and tables.

How do I earn Bovada Poker Points?

Poker Points are earned at cash games and real money tournaments.  Tournament players earn 3 Poker Points for every $1 in tournament fees earned.  Cash game players earn points based on the following chart when contributing to the pot:

Bovada Poker Points earned per Rake

Rake Points
$0.01-$0.04 0.05
$0.05-$0.24 0.10
$0.25-$0.49 0.25
$0.50-$0.99 0.50
$1+ 1.00


How do I exchange Poker Points into Tournament Tickets?

Bovada players may exchange Poker Points into tournament tickets at a rate of 100 points for every $1 in tournament buyin.  This equates to about 3% rakeback for tournament players and 2% rakeback for cash game players.

Does Bodog Own Bovada?

Bodog does not directly own Bovada.  The Morris Mohawk Gaming Group is the listed owner.  It is located on the Kahnawake Reservation just outside of Montreal, Quebec.  Bovada pays licensing fees to Bodog for access to the network.

Where is Bovada licensed?

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission is Bovada’s gaming regulator.

Do Bovada and Bodog share player pools?

Yes, Bovada and Bodog share all tables and tournaments.

Does poker tracking software work at Bovada?

Tracking software works at Bovada buts its usefulness is limited due to the anonymous tables.  It is impossible to know who a player seated at the table is because they are assigned a number instead of a username.

Does data mining work at Bovada?

Data mining does not work on Bovada for the same reasons tracking software is not especially useful.  It is impossible to know the identity of the players seated at a cash game or tournament table.

Does Bovada offer mobile poker?

Bovada offers mobile betting, but has yet to release a mobile online poker client.

What is Bovada’s phone number?

Players may call Bovada Poker support at 866-909-2237.  General Bovada support is available at 888-263-0000.  Both are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There is also a contact form on Bovada’s website for email support.  Live chat is not available.

Does Bovada offer a Mac Client?

Yes, Bovada offers a Mac client.

Can you play on Bovada if you live outside of the US?

Bovada is only available to US players.  The Bodog brand is available to players in other North American countries and islands in both the Atlantic and Pacific.  Bodog88 is available in Asia and is available in some parts of the European Union.  Poker is not available in all countries.  It is important to check with support to make sure your country is accepted.  This is based on current location, not on residency.

How many Bovada tables can you play at one time?

Bovada players may open up to 4 tables at one time.

What states are banned at Bovada?

Bovada does not accept new players from Louisiana, New York, Utah or Washington State.  Louisiana makes playing online poker a crime punishable by a fine of up to $500.  New York has a state law that was used in the federal Black Friday indictments and the US Department of Justice has been shown to be interested in online gambling within the state.  Utah passed a law in 2012 that made online gambling illegal and requires the state to opt out of any potential federal legislation.  Washington makes enjoying any form of online gambling a felony.

 Use this link to sign up at Bovada Poker and receive a $1,000 bonus.