Decentralized Poker 1.0 - Best Decentrealized Poker Rooms in Development

Written by Esoteric Veritas @ Dapp.Tech
Last Updated 11th August 2018. Originally Published 14th June 2018.


The provably fair Poker DApps – for players, by players – are here to shake up the online poker industry.

For decades now poker players around the globe have dreamt of a future where online poker is provably fair with instantaneous deposits and withdrawals.

We’re not just talking about Bitcoin Poker or Crypto Poker, but the inevitable move towards decentralized poker rooms with no 3rd party in the middle holding power to cheat the players. Well now the race is on to build the first truly trustless decentralized poker platform (or Poker DApp), complete with a provably fair Random Number Generator (RNG) based on Blockchain technology effectively killing the “it’s rigged” argument once and for all.

In this article we’ll…

  1.  Discuss the problems solved by creating a truly decentralized online poker room and
  2.  Publish the details on FIVE of the most promising Poker DApp / decentralized poker projects that are at mid-late stage development and approaching a mainnet decentralized poker launch.

It might surprise you that the idea of Decentralized Poker isn’t a new one, the concept of “Mental Poker” has been around since the 70’s, but it’s only now coming into fruition.

Mental Poker

The “Mental Poker” term was coined  to describe the field of solving the problems required to create a trustless and decentralized online poker game (or any other form of fair randomly shuffled card or non-card game over a long-distance).

Mental Poker is the common name for a set of cryptographic problems that concerns playing a fair game over distance without the need for a trusted third party. The term is also applied to the theories surrounding these problems and their possible solutions. The name comes from the card game poker which is one of the games to which this kind of problem applies. A similar problem is flipping a coin over a distance.

In a physical card game, this would be relatively simple if the players were sitting face to face and observing each other, at least if the possibility of conventional cheating can be ruled out. However, if the players are not sitting at the same location but instead are at widely separate locations and pass the entire deck between them (using the postal mail, for instance), this suddenly becomes very difficult. And for electronic card games, such as online poker, where the mechanics of the game are hidden from the user, this is impossible unless the method used is such that it cannot allow any party to cheat by manipulating or inappropriately observing the electronic “deck”.

In poker, this could translate to: “How can we make sure no player is stacking the deck or peeking at other players’ cards when we are shuffling the deck ourselves?”. [1]

However, a trustless and distributed Random Number Generator (RNG) isn’t the only issue facing online poker.

Decentralized Player Funds

Decentralized player funds refers to deposited player account funds being kept in a completely trustless decentralized and secure manner, transparent and secured via verifiable blockchain smart contracts. When decentralized funds are implemented correctly, the software developers, poker-room management and its staff will not have access to deposits assigned to a player so it becomes impossible to misappropriate even a single dollar of player funds.

The management of player funds has also been a highly contentious issue in the past (see Full Tilt & Black Friday https://www.cardplayer.com/poker-news/13127-black-friday-the-day-that-changed-online-poker). To this day many large poker rooms have excessively delayed withdrawals (especially the rooms that offer profitable “house-edge” casino games where players can loose money to the ‘house’) thus encouraging long-pending withdrawal cancellations and more gambling turnover.

Centralized currency custodians have for centuries known that during almost all but the worst possible market conditions, they only have to hold a fraction of the actual deposited funds to adequately service regular day-to-day withdrawals. This realization has led to the birth and rise of Fractional Reserve Banking, which has lead to wealth inequality, bank bailouts and the birth of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Blockchain.

So it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to understand why…

Poker’s true Holy Grail is Decentralized Player Funds with Instant Deposits & Withdrawals

The world’s largest online poker room, Pokerstars has recently moved away from its sole focus of providing only poker games, and has controversially added a range of “house-edge” casino games and sportsbetting. Unfortunately for the players these “house-edge” offerings now give Pokerstars additional profit incentive to systematically further delay requested withdrawals, as the simple fact is that a portion of lengthy pending withdrawals are cancelled by impatient players and a portion of those funds are instead donated to “the house”, gambled away playing highly profitable “house-edge” casino games.

One thing that really irks poker purists is when money won on the poker tables is then removed from the poker community and is instead donated to ‘the house’ playing such unwinnable odds games.

There’ll be no more systematically delayed withdrawals…

Well for the most part at least. The one thing that may still hold up the occasional withdrawal, is accusations of cheating by a human or the room’s automated AI detection. Detecting and dealing with rule breakers is an important aspect of operations at any respectable Poker Room, whether it be online, a live card room, centralized or decentralized.

AI & Machine Learning

Thankfully some of the Poker DApp projects have team members with valuable experience at some of the largest centralized online poker rooms in the world. The behemoths have been using Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning to detect cheats for years. Harsh penalties such as lifetime bans and total player fund confiscations combined with high-tech AI detection systems seem to have caught and/or deterred most of the value-stealing rule-breakers that were once becoming a highly visible and truly concerning problem. A challenge for upcoming poker DApps is implementing both a verifiable trustless game logic and an effective AI collusion/cheating detection system into a fast, secure, high performance online gaming app that can compete with traditional online poker rooms.

How Decentralized?

Not all “Decentralized Poker Room” projects will be so quick to go full decentralized, removing all of their centralized man-in-the-middle power. Building a high-performance, secure DApp is easier said than done, often an insanely technical and highly ambitious undertaking. Some rooms will likely stay partially centralized, even just to allow them to operate within regulatory compliance.

One project that looks to be going all the way to the river on their first hand with the Mental Poker challenge is Virtue Poker. Rather than building simpler centralized versions first, Virtue are focusing solely on building a truly decentralized immutable Poker DApp, one that is censorship resistant and non-reliant on any centralized 3rd party to function or operate.

Virtue Poker are building a truly decentralized Poker Room on Ethereum with provably fair RNG & Decentralized player funds.

Decentralized poker provides additional opportunities to further tackle cheating and corruption from within, the ‘inside jobs’ where someone in the development team could potentially code in a Superuser account that can see other players hole cards, as we saw years ago in the UltimateBet scandal (see https://upswingpoker.com/ultimate-bet-absolute-poker-scandal/).

Extortionate Rake Takes Money & Players Off The Tables

Pokerstars and other centralized Poker Rooms make their profits by charging a commission (rake) from each pot won (for cash games) and from each buyin (for tournaments). With an unsustainable strategy that seems to be ever-increasing rake (house commission) to the point where it now seems that most profitable players make far more profit for Pokerstars than themselves. It’s not uncommon for a player that makes say on average $30k profit per year to pay upwards of $50k in rake to Pokerstars that same year. If Pokerstars was rake-free (like some of the Poker Dapp projects featured below) that player would have instead profited $80k for the year.

The huge rakes charged have certainly taken a toll on the industry over the last few years, adversely impacting on the amount of regular active players. The reasoning for this is simple, huge rakes turn slightly profitable winning players into unprofitable loosing players who have nothing to show for their investment of time. Many of the new Decentralized Poker Rooms in development have a totally new and innovative monetization model, charging a very low rake or no rake and running at a loss for a while, with intention to charge a $1-$5 monthly membership fee once they’ve achieved a healthy player base. However, that’s not the innovative part as charging these minuscule fees will likely barely cover the expenses to breakeven let alone see the Dapp developers and stakeholders make a decent return on their hardwork, so the actual innovation is ‘tokenomics’, being that they’ve created their own limited supply decentralized “utility token” cryptocurrency, which will be used as the poker chips or ‘currency’ needed to play on the tables. Deposits and Withdrawals in the platform’s own cryptocurrency that can then be bought or sold on the market for Bitcoin or USD, without the pesky interference of the traditional banking sector. New users, new demand, limited supply and speculators in the market could contribute to a significant increase in the value of these tokens as platform adoption increases. When this happens and as token demand exceeds supply in the free market, the developers (“the house”) and stakeholders with skin in the game (“the players” and “the investors”) may see a rise in the value of their holdings.

This business model has the added benefit of indirectly incentivizing the early adopters, contributors and poker players who hold a stake to help market, promote and grow the platform’s player base, as extra demand can increase the value of their crypto poker bankroll or ‘stake’ in the platform. Using Bitcoin as an example, if a player had won USD$20k worth of BTC playing poker in 2016, then by the end of 2017 that player’s bankroll would’ve grown to be worth more than USD$400k even without playing a single hand of poker that year. On the flip-side, crypto volatility can swing both ways… if a player won USD$20k in BTC in December 2017, it would today now be worth only around USD$8k.

For those that want to minimize currency exchange risk to their bankroll’s dollar value, there are widely used stable coins pegged to a fiat currency such as the USD… my favorite BitUSD (traded on the Bitshares Decentralized Exchange), the controversial central-bank-like Tether USDT & the newer Ethereum based DAI, along with cashing out to actual fiat currency. All possible options to consider when you want to minimize fluctuations to your bankroll’s value.

Open Source Transparency

Some Poker DApp projects will utilize open source code, where end-users can have verifiable confidence in a DApp’s trustworthiness without having to understand the code themselves if others they trust and people publicly can verify its authenticity and safety.

Open source software also allows any interested 3rd party to view, test and verify parts or the entirety of a project’s code before that actual code goes live. In other words, it gives members of the public full auditing & contributor access allowing for external contributions to debug and polish the workings of the all-important smart contracts before igniting the engines on a potentially unstoppable freight train… the immutable public blockchain DApp.

Decentralized poker rooms look set to shake up the multi-billion dollar online gaming industry in the not-so-distant future.

Here’s the FIVE Decentralized Poker Rooms that you should know about in 2018 – 2019…


No Limit Coin

Poker is LIVE (Centralized RNG & Player Funds)

Decentralized Poker Mainnet Release: TBA

  • NoLimitCoin Poker - A Decentralized Poker Room Built on NoLimitCoin BlockchainBlockchain: NoLimitCoin
  • Gaming License: TBA
  • Decentralized Player Funds: No, in the works
  • Provable RNG: No, in the works
  • Accepts Crypto: Yes
  • Accepts Fiat: Yes
  • Fee / Rake: Rake-free
  • Website: https://nolimitcoinpoker.com
  • Bonus:
  • GET 50 FREE NLC2 COINS WHEN YOU SIGNUP NOW
  • NO DEPOSIT REQUIRED

Edgeless

Decentralized Poker Mainnet Release: Q4 2018

  • Edgeless - A Decentralized Poker Room Built on EthereumBlockchain: Ethereum
  • Gaming License: Yes. Curacao eGaming License.
  • Decentralized Player Funds: Yes
  • Provable RNG: Yes
  • Accepts Crypto: Yes
  • Accepts Fiat: TBA
  • Fee / Rake: TBA
  • Website: https://www.edgeless.io

Virtue Poker

Decentralized Poker Mainnet Release: Q4 2018

  • Virtue Poker - A Decentralized Poker Room Built on EthereumBlockchain: Ethereum
  • Gaming License: No
  • Decentralized Player Funds: Yes
  • Provable RNG: Yes
  • Accepts Crypto: Yes
  • Accepts Fiat: No
  • Fee / Rake: TBA
  • Website: https://virtue.poker

CoinPoker

 Poker is LIVE (Centralized RNG & Player Funds)

Decentralized Poker Mainnet Release: Decentralized RNG Only Q3 2018

  • CoinPoker - Centralized Poker Room Using Only Cryptocurrency

    Blockchain: Ethereum, Scheduled Q3 2018

  • Gaming License: No
  • Decentralized Player Funds: No
  • Provable RNG: In the works, Scheduled Q3 2018
  • Accepts Crypto: Yes
  • Accepts Fiat: No
  • Fee / Rake: Rake-free
  • Website: https://coinpoker.com

*TBA = To Be Announced


Decent.Bet

Decentralized Poker Mainnet Release: Q3 2018

  • Decent.Bet - A Decentralized Poker Room Built on VeChain ThorBlockchain: VeChain Thor
  • Gaming License: Yes. Commonwealth of Dominica Internet Gaming License.
  • Decentralized Player Funds: Yes
  • Provable RNG: Yes
  • Accepts Crypto: Yes
  • Accepts Fiat: TBA
  • Fee / Rake: TBA
  • Website: https://www.decent.bet

Once the global poker community sees ultra-low raked decentralized poker rooms working smoothly, online poker will never be the same again.

These days multi-billion dollar industries can be disrupted in what seems like light speed thanks to the viral effects of social media and great incentive structures. Such a disruption could see the redirection of billions of dollars of revenue away from the behemoths Pokerstars, Party Poker and 888, with a new contender having a chance to take the title of ‘world’s largest online poker room’.

Recently in the crypto universe – much like physics – things are moving fast and accelerating.

Click to Enlarge

For instance, Binance (Currently the #2 crypto exchange in the world) took less than 180 days (or 6 months) to go from a Day 0 Startup with $0 in Revenue to become a unicorn company worth more than $1 Billion. After 143 days it was already ranked in traded volume #3 Global cryptocurrency Exchange.

Don’t blink Pokerstars.

Fun Fact: The honourable Satoshi Nakamoto was interested in the evolution of Decentralized Poker and included a Poker Lobby in his original Bitcoin code.

Decentralized poker is a game changer for online poker & a potential killer app for crypto.

 by Esoteric Veritas


Updates on the above projects coming soon. Stay tuned.

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NoLimitCoin Poker : No Rake Online Cryptocurrency Poker Room, Fantasy Sports & Decentralized Currency


If you have any other notable mid-late stage decentralized poker room recommendations that I’ve left out please let me know in the comments below or get in touch with us via our contact page. Also contact us if any of our information is incorrect or in need of an update, thanks!

Dapp.tech is a trusted publisher of Decentralized Application (Dapp) Technology News.


Disclaimer: This is not investment, legal or financial advice. Always do your own research and seek counsel of qualified advisors before investing yours or anyone else's money.
Written by EsotericVeritas @ Dapp.Tech. Originally published 12th June, Data current as at 12th June 2018. Minor Updates on 25th June 2018. Additional Updates 3rd July 2018 & 11th August 2018. | Source [1] : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_poker | Feature picture source: Wild Poker IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/wild-poker-floyd-mayweather/id1166578249?mt=8 Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.playtrex.wildpoker&hl=en_US Web: http://www.playtrex.com/#games


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