Bovada Poker 2020
My review takes a look at what it is actually like to play online poker at Bovada in 2020.
Bovada is one of the few online poker rooms I recommend to my friends in the Atlanta Poker Club. This same recommendation goes for others from most states in the US, Mexico and Brazil.
Or course I do not guarantee you will win, but you will get a legit and fair online gambling experience with the Bovada gambling site. If you win you will be paid.
Disclaimer: We are affiliates. We receive compensation if you use our links to sign up at Bovada. This comes at 100% no cost to you. Thank you in advance! I hope you enjoy my in-depth review of Bovada.
Quick Info & Official Download Link
- Official URL and Download Link: https://bovada.lv
- 100% bonus to $500 *Terms and Conditions Apply
- Largest US friendly poker site
- USA players allowed except: NV, MD, NJ, DE
- +Accepts Mexico and Brazil Players
- Mobile Compatible (iOS and Android)
- Anonymous Real Money Poker
- Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, and Bitcoin accepted
I’ll share my opinions on what I like and don’t like as we go along. You make up your own mind if Bovada is right for you.
But first – a few rules.
- Rule #1: If you have or think you have a gambling problem then please visit GamblersAnonymous and get help now.
- Rule #2: Never deposit more than you can comfortably afford to lose
- Rule #3: Do not claim a bonus if cashing out in a short time frame could be necessary (bonuses come with strings attached)
With those rules out of the way, let’s get into the details of playing poker for real money at Bovada poker.
What You Will Find On This Comprehensive Review:
Sit n Go’s
Jackpot Sit n Go’s
Making a Bitcoin Deposit
Your Account Dashboard
Customizing Your Poker Experience
Mobile Poker Friendly
The Philosophy Behind The Bovada Poker Site
Bovada Focuses On Attracting and Maintaining Recreational Players – Bovada does things that help recreational poker players play more poker, have more fun and essentially have their bankroll last longer. Bovada does this in part by limiting the professionals tools used to find and exploit the recreational players.
Bovada believes that good poker games are made by the recreational gamblers. Recreational players bring money into the games. Pro’s take money out of the games.
Bovada’s guiding thought is to make poker great for the recreational players. With this philosophy in mind they’ve made a handful of interesting decisions about how poker at Bovada works.
Oh, and this is not just because Bovada care’s about the well being of the regular players. It’s because they want the regular players bankroll to last as long as possible. Why? So it can get scrubbed over and over on the rake box before it’s lost to a professional.
If a player loses all their money right away they generate way less rake than someone who plays much longer on the same amount of money. If the professional player gets the money in a few short sessions Bovada misses out on getting to rake that money more and more over time.
Sure the good players still win – the bad players just lose their money more slowly.
What Makes Them Different From Americas Cardroom and Betonline Poker? Unique Features Designed to Benefit Recreational Players
Everyone is Anonymous at the Tables – You and everyone else are just random seat numbers. Nothing identifies you to anyone else at the table. You join a table in seat “3” you are “seat 3”. You get up and move to a different table at seat 7 you are now “seat 7”.
You might be a pro or this might be your very first hand of poker ever. No one knows. This is good for recreational players.
Some positives to this are mainly that you can’t be tracked via data mining software and exploited by professionals.
On the negative side you do not get to show off your creative player names like “NutPeddler” or “MrEskimoBro”. Nor can you upload your MS paint logo you spent hours on perfecting for your avatar.
You are just a seat number. Nothing more, nothing less.
One downside is that we (the APC) can not host our online poker games there. We need player names to keep our leaderboard up to date. This is impossible with the anonymous feature at Bovada.
No Rakeback – Rakeback is where the poker site or rakeback provider pays you back a percentage of the rake you generate. For many years professional players and wanna-be professional players would only play at sites that offered rakeback. Rakeback encourages pro’s so that’s a no. They do have a customer loyalty program where you can earn some cash back once you hit certain levels but this is in house only.
No HUD (Heads Up Display) Software – This software sits over the top of your online poker table. It shows stats on every player in real time based on the entire history of hands the players database has on you. It is used to exploit your weaknesses and instantly give the professional significant data insight into how you play even though they may have never played a hand with you before in their lives.
HUD’s are not allowed at Bovada.
The downside is if you are a player who wants to use a HUD then Bovada is not for you.
Cash Game Seating is Random – You choose your game, table size, stakes and buy-in amount. Bovada sits you at a table of their choice that matches your selections. You can not table select looking in the lobby.
In addition to randomly seating you, this cash game seating method provides solutions to issues that arose in the past. In short, it keeps more games going more often. I discuss this more down below in the cash game section of the review.
These steps are taken to encourage the recreational players and discourage the pro’s. In turn this makes for better overall games for me and most likely you.
Now that you know the general overview of what you can expect when you sit down to play poker at Bovada, let’s take a look at the different types of poker you can play here.
Lobby and Software
Download the Bovada poker client and create your account if you have not yet done so. The download should take moments to minutes depending on your internet connection. It’s free.
You can test everything out playing in the free money games and get a feel for how it works before making a deposit. You will not lose your bonus opportunity if you do not deposit right away. You can always get your bonus later if/when you make a deposit.
Once your account is created and the software has downloaded you will be taken to the lobby.
Let’s take a look.
Here’s the lobby.
Along the left you see your account details.
- Your playable balance (I currently have $32.45 dollars)
- Your tournament tickets
- Your “poker points” total
- Links to the cashier
- More account details
- Bonuses you can accept when you are ready
- Settings tab (change table color, background, noises, rabbit hunt and more)
Farther in the review I will go over the deposit methods and some of the settings you can tweak and adjust for your personal preference.
- Zone Poker
- Cash Games
- Sit & Go Tournaments
- Jackpot Sit & Go
- Scheduled Tournaments
- Casino Games
Poker Games You Can Play
Zone Poker is commonly known as “fast fold” poker. As soon as you click ‘fold’ you are re-dealt into a new hand with a new set of opponents.
I call it “Poker on crack.” Not that I’ve done crack, but you get the idea.
How it works is as soon as you hit the fold button you are re-dealt in right away at a new table against new opponents. You do not have to wait until the other players finish the hand to get right back in the action.
Zone Poker Details
- 6 Players Per Table Only
- Texas Holdem
- Omaha Hi/Lo
- Stakes range from $.02/$.05 up to $2.50/$5.00
Personally I do not play a lot of zone poker. I like to play in a regular style cash game where I can watch hands play out and learn my opponents as best I can. Even with players being anonymous you can start to learn that the player in seat two is overly aggressive or that the player in seat 6 is playing tight.
Others absolutely love the high speed pace of play you get at Bovada’s Zone Poker. It’s fast so especially if you just have a few minutes and want to play as many hands as possible then zone poker might be right up your alley.
I played Zone Poker for a little while at the lower stakes because I only have $32 bucks left in my account. I’ve lost most of my deposit reviewing the casino and sportsbook side of Bovada. Blackjack and the Falcons got me!
I am going to try and run it up playing poker.
The pace of getting a new hand dealt you after you fold is really quick. It is seconds at most and usually less than a second a new hand is dealt.
You can click the ‘fold’ button at any point and you are moved to a new table and dealt in a new hand.
I was playing zone poker that had 50+ players in the player pool. I assume if you are in the games with a smaller player pool that it is likely a longer pause in-between hands while you wait for the table to fill with opponents.
Other than the speed of action, Zone poker is the same as your typical cash game. Buy in, play as long as you want and leave whenever you are ready. Speaking of the regular cash games, let’s move ahead to those.
Real money poker, non tourney style. This is what I usually like to play when I jump online. It’s your typical cash game.
Cash Game Details
- Omaha Hi/Lo
- No Limit
- Pot limit (omaha games)
- Fixed limit format
- Heads-Up tables
- 6 Handed Tables
- 9 Handed Tables
- No-limit Holdem stakes range from $.02 / $.05 up to the $10 / $20 blind levels
- Fixed limit holdem starts at .25/50 and goes up to $30/60.
- PLO and PLO Hi/LO stakes range from $.02 / $.05 up to $10 / $20. Fixed limit versions run from $.05/$.10 up to $30/$60.
It is a pretty standard offering for cash games.
Finding your seat is where things are a little different than other online poker rooms.
Cash Game Seat Finder
The only way to get a seat is to use the seat finder. Once you choose your game type and number of people at the table click next.
The above screen shot is what it looks like just before you are taken to the table for your seat. If you are used to the more traditional online poker lobby where you could view the table, see flop %’s and get an idea for what you were getting into before you sat down, then you will not find this here.
On a personal level I prefer finding seats the “old fashioned” way. See all the tables running in the lobby and pick your game. But I understand the reasons why they do it this way.
Bovada does not want you to be be able to table select using the information given in traditional lobby’s. Remember, they want to make the recreational players have their bankroll last as long as possible. The longer the ‘fish’ keep their money the more they play and the more they rake. When the pro’s get the money, they withdraw it and remove it from the poker ecosystem.
Plus they want the guys who are gambling over in the attached sportsbook to jump over and play without being swarmed by sharks nearly instantly. They want that money spread around the poker ecosystem (and raked more and more). They do not want the professional players to get it and withdraw.
Having recreational players at the tables makes for good games that pro’s will want to join and play anyway. The recreational players make the game, not the pro’s. Bovada understands this.
Plus, the seat finder solves other issues as well. Like clogged up waiting lists.
If players can see all the tables going and table stats then what inevitably happens is a huge waiting list forms at the juiciest looking tables and other tables going short handed or empty.
Players will see one table is full of action with 50% players seeing the flop and a huge average pot size and they want in on this game, understandably. There will be a big waiting list with none of the waiting players actually playing. You’ve got players looking around in the lobby for a game to join but none of them sitting down to play.
With the seat finder if you want to play you’ll get put in a seat and that’s it. If you don’t like your table feel free to leave and go back to the game finder for a new seat.
The seat finder also helps them avoid “Bum Hunting”.
Bum hunting is the term given to the act of searching out specific players just to sit down and play against them. Pro’s have software that alerts them whenever certain players on their list sit down to play online and they come swarm.
This can’t be done on Bovada. First because everyone is just a seat number you do not know who is who and secondly you can not pick your seat.
Using quick seat options brings you into a game of your choice at the stakes you provide but without the luxury of choosing a table from the lobby.
Again I don’t love this method but I understand it.
One thing I don’t like about it is they do not show any information about any games running at your preferred settings. I like to play fixed limit Omaha Hi/Lo. Often I will go through the seat finder and be sat down at an empty table. What if there is a game running at stakes higher or lower than my choices? What if there are games going but I’m the odd extra man who has to wait for a seat?
While I understand the seat finder, these are some of the things I don’t love about it.
It’s a bit of a gamble whether or not a game is even available if you play some of the less popular formats, such as fixed limit games.
Whether you love, hate or are indifferent about the seat finder the results seem to show that the games are more filled and in general the games are overall better and more lively.
I like to think of the cash game seat finder like going to the podium at a live casino and telling them your game and stakes you want to play and they give you a specific seat.
Cash Game Rake
Here’s a screenshot of the rake for cash games.
And if you are a heads up or fixed limit player the rake schedule is:
The rake is fairly standard for online poker in 2020 *according to our tequila loving friend over at professionalrakeback who compared all the US offshore sites rake schedules.
It caps at $4 per hand and they start taking rake on the first $.20 in the pot instead of waiting for the pot to reach $1. These changes were made back in 2016.
Keep in mind you do earn poker points back on your play which you can redeem for tourney tickets and bonuses. I cover the rewards program later in the review. For now let’s look closer at the games.
*Spry and J.B. from ProfessionalRakeback enjoyed a shot of tequila or two at La Destileria during a conference in Cancun in early 2018.
Sit n Go Tourneys
They offer a fairly standard range of SNG tourneys. From heads up tourneys to 6 handed, 9 handed and 27 person tourneys these games are open on demand. I do not play much SNG poker anymore so I didn’t get in the games myself. Instead I watched the lobby to see what was going on.
A tip to quickly find the action in the SNG’s is to sort by the ‘Enrolled’ tab along the right hand side. Click ‘ENR’ with the pyramid pointed downwards and then just scroll up to the top. The SNG’s with the most entrants will be listed there.
The turbo events and hyper turbo’s seemed to be the most popular. I saw plenty of lower stakes ones shoot off as well as a $200 6 person hyper turbo.
Holdem is the most popular type with a few omaha SNG’s as well.
They have normal size stacks and turbo and hyper turbo flavors.
They also offer what they call “beginner” sit and go tourneys where a higher percentage of the field gets paid out. These are designed to payout more players and keep beginners bankrolls intact longer.
Tournament sizes go from heads up, 6 man, 9 person and 27 person tourneys.
SNG Styles of events range from “All-In” sng’s where everyone starts out with 2 chips and are instantly forced all in every hand until a winner emerges, to hyper turbo’s with 500 chips and 3 minute blinds to regular turbo events with 1500 chips and 5 minute blinds.
Normal SNG’s have 1500 chips and 10 minute blinds.
In addition to the variety in amount of gamble vs poker play you want to have in your SNG’s they also have payouts that range from winner take all to triple up, double up and “beginner” format. Beginner events pay out more of the field on a flatter pay scale.
Overall I say the SNG action is decent.
Bovada is the largest US facing online poker site with a solid 25% more volume than the nearest competitors over at the Winning poker network (ACR, where we play our online league at). The action at the SNG’s was nothing like it used to be a years ago when online poker was flourishing in the USA. Back then you could barely get a seat without the others filling up.
You will have to wait a minute or two until a half hour or so depending on the stakes and games you are playing. The smaller turbo SNG’s are firing off at a fairly brisk pace, but the 3 table, 27 person sng’s are taking an hour to fill during the mid day afternoon. Ah, to reminisce of the good ole times.
Jackpot Sit & Go
These hyper turbo tournaments give you a chance to buy-in and possibly end up playing for a jackpot prize instead of just the normal payout.
How it works is that one out of every ‘x’ tournaments trigger a multiple of the buy-in of up to 1200 times. So if you are playing on the $2 tables you could hit the jackpot and play for $2400 of real money. If you are playing the $60 games you could be playing for $72,000.
- Hyper-turbo format
- Three Players (you vs two others)
- Mobile friendly
- $2 up to $60 buy-ins
- Jackpots are multiples of the buy-in – up to 1200X for the mega jackpot
- If a jackpot multiplier hits at 120x or higher then all three places are paid with second and third getting 10% of what first place gets
- Start with 500 chips and 3 minute blinds (hyper turbo style)
- House holds 7%
How often do the jackpots get triggered?
The biggest jackpot is triggered 1 in 100,000 times. The lesser jackpots are hit more frequently.
Here’s a screenshot of the jackpots prize pool frequency probability chart I snagged from their website:
Of course I had to play.
I jumped in a $2 event and when it did not qualify for any jackpot I more or less just started going all-in with anything halfway reasonable. I finished second for no money. I think I’m the kind of player Bovada is catering towards.
There are a lot of tournaments to join. On an average day there are at least 15 or so different guaranteed events with over $75,000 in guarantee’s.
- Daily at least $75k in guaranteed tournaments
- $100k guaranteed every Sunday
- $25k daily events
- Buy-in’s range from $1 to $300 high roller events
- Turbo’s to Monster Stacks
One thing I do like about the tournaments is that they are constantly updating the offerings with seasonal promotions. Usually these involve guaranteed events. During the holidays the are doing “12 Days of Turbo’s” with some bigger prize pool turbo tourneys on schedule.
During other parts of the year they have their own ‘Online Poker Open’ with all sorts of tourneys.
Sunday’s are the biggest day for tournament poker. There is a $100k guaranteed tournament at 4pm EST every Sunday. It is a direct buy-in of $162 or you can win your way in via a wide range of satellites.
Making A Deposit – Bitcoin Example
I’m going to deposit $100 worth of bitcoin and show you guys exactly how it works. If you want to follow along here is what you will need. For a more detailed bitcoin example you can see this ultimate guide to bitcoin and online poker over at KAP.
1. Your private bitcoin wallet (I like GreenAddress.it – it’s free) .
2. Bitcoin (I already have some but I will show you how and where to get some for yourself using coinbase or localbitcoins).
For this example I’m using GreenAddress.it for my bitcoin gambling wallet. It’s free and reliable bitcoin wallet for iOS. It also appears secure and you own your private keys yourself which is the “key” to owning your bitcoin.
One quick rule about bitcoin and gambling…DO NOT USE the Coinbase wallet that is built in to deposit or withdraw directly to or from an online casino. Only use the built in coinbase wallet to buy and or sell bitcoin into $USD.
Always use a personal wallet (greenaddress) for your bitcoin transactions IN-BETWEEN the online casino and Coinbase. This is to protect your Coinbase account. It is against their terms of service if you transact with an online casino utilizing their built in wallet. You do not want to lose your Coinbase account as they are the easiest way to sell your bitcoin back in to US dollars.
Getting your first bitcoin will be the most tedious part of the process for you. It can be done via credit card at Coinbase by everyone within a few minutes depending on how busy they are. Secondly you can buy from a REPUTABLE seller on LocalBitcoins.com using a variety of payment methods. Once you buy your bitcoin, send it from Coinbase to your wallet.
I already have bitcoin in my GreenAddress wallet. I’m ready to deposit at Bovada. I open up the cashier on Bovada and click Cashier > Bitcoin.
Bovada displays a QR code to deposit my bitcoin on.
Once I have my deposit address, I open up GreenAddress, my bitcoin wallet and scan the QR code.
Here’s what my GreenAddress wallet looks like once I scan:
I type in 100 in the USD column and it calculates the corresponding amount of bitcoin. From there I click review and send. This takes me to a screen that I’m not showing you but it gives you another chance to re-confirm everything including the address and the amount and fee (my fee was $0.23) and click ‘send’.
Once clicking send it’s back to Bovada to see the money showing up in my account. It took a two minutes to show up in my account. This could be faster or slower depending on the bitcoin network traffic but in general this takes moments to minutes.
Boom, the money is there and I can get back to playing poker.
Your Account Dashboard
Bovada makes finding relevant info about your account easy and upfront. There are a lot of features that you can look at with your account.
Click on the “Account” box (with the briefcase icon) to access your account dashboard. Let’s take a look around.
Here is your account dashboard home page. You have a few main tabs:
- My Account Dashboard
- My Poker Tab (with sub-tabs)
- Poker Points
- Play Money
- Points to tickets (where you turn your poker points into tourney entries)
- Tournament Tickets)
- My Bonuses
- Bonus Dashboard
- Poker Bonuses
- Hand History
You can see the most important stats here right away including your money in, out and if you are up or down. You can access your poker points history, your tourney tickets hand history, your transaction history and information about your bonus offers.
I like that all your account information is accessible via the site. You can track your progress on clearing bonuses, see your transactions, track your poker points and in general keep up with your account.
For poker players Bovada keeps things very simple when it comes to the poker bonus offer. You get a 30 day period where you can earn up to 100% of your first deposit back in bonus money (up to $500) by earning poker points.
This is a free bonus and it does not lock you in to not withdrawing or meeting a rollover requirement.
Here’s how it works.
Automatic “Free” Poker Bonus
- 100% bonus
- $500 max
- The bonus is based on the total of your deposits made within 24 hours of your initial deposit
- Earn poker points for 30 days to earn your bonus
- Bonuses earned on a points level (below)
- NO rollover on the bonus. When you earn it it’s earned. It’s essentially a “free” bonus.
- This bonus does not affect your ability to withdraw or cash out
- *Different than the casino and sports welcome bonuses
How do you earn points? By playing real money poker and paying rake on the following schedule:
My take on the bonus is just look at it like some free money you earn by playing your normal poker game. Do not deposit more than you usually would just to try and maximize this bonus but do take the time to play as much poker as you can in the 30 days after your first deposit. You’ll earn some or all of your deposit back into your account with no strings attached.
Additional Bonuses – Casino, Sports and Crypto Bonuses
If you want to gamble in the casino or bet on sports you can take advantage of two bonus offers. If you deposit with bitcoin then you can take advantage of additional bonuses.
Most of the sports betting and casino bonus money come in the form of free plays that have significant rollover requirements that have to be met before any of this money can be gambled in the poker room.
- 100% match up to $1000 redeemable three times
- Extensive rollover requirements – 25x rollover
- Some games contribute more than others to the rollover – some games do not count at all
- Always check T’s and C’s at the site itself but just know that if you accept a bonus then you can not withdraw until meeting the requirements
Sports Betting Welcome Bonus
- Bonus 1: 50% up to $250 with Visa, Mastercard or AMEX deposits
- First deposit only
- 5x rollover
The sports bonus comes with some strings attached which is common.
There is a 5X rollover. Rolled over means that your total betting action must meet the amount you deposited plus the bonus you received.
If you withdraw before meeting the rollover requirements then you forfeit the bonus funds as well as any money won wagering the bonus. The bonus money can not be wagered in the live dealer casino or poker room – at least until after all other requirements are met.
- Sports bonus of 50% deposit up to $500 with Bitcoin*
- *Bitcoin deposits must use bonus code: BVSBITCOIN50
- **Casino bonus of 150% up to $1500 redeemable 3X
- **Bitcoin deposits must use bonus code BVCBITCOIN150
Customizing Your Experience
The next tab we are going to take a look at is the ‘Settings’ tab.
You can personalize how you interact with the Bovada poker software. Click on the Settings tab and this is the ‘Table Settings’
There are a handful of colors you can choose from and you can change the look of the cards. You can turn sounds on and off and even by sound category.
If the chat is toxic you can block it all. Standard stuff really.
Next is the game play settings:
I won’t describe everything you can do here since you can read it but the cool things to me are the ‘ All-In Percentages and the corny as it is, ability to Rabbit Hunt. It adds a bit of entertainment value to the softrware. I do make a habit of turning off rabbit hunt if I’m going to play in a bigger tourney or if I really want to focus. I like that you can turn these settings off or on.
You can also select your preferred seat area so you will always end up in this position on your screen regardless of which seat you are in.
You can also set your default buy-in amount for the cash games by selectiong how many big blinds you want to buy in for. It’s just a way to speed up the finding a seat process. These can all be tweaked or left alone to the default settings if you prefer.
Mobile Poker Friendly
As of mid 2018, the mobile poker at has the entire lineup available to play from your phone. Just visit https://m.bovada.lv/poker and sign in to your account via your mobile device.
You can play all the cash games, tourneys, sng’s and jackpot games. You will need either an android device or an iPhone 4 or newer.
They have a fairly robust casino built into the poker client.
If you click on the ‘Casino Games’ tab you can play craps, roulette, tri-card poker, video poker and slots.
Hey it’s like Harrah’s in Cherokee! Win money in the poker room and then go downstairs to the casino and blow it all at the table games! Been there, done that… at least once.
Yikes…! I’m going to try and stick to the poker and maybe a few friendly wagers in the sports side. Of course a few hands of blackjack won’t hurt that bad. And I have been running good at three card poker so…
In addition to the casino they have an awesome sportsbook. You can check odds, place bets and gamble to your hearts content at Bovada.
Plus when you win you will get paid. They pay out and have, and I’ve been working with them since we started the APC back in 2004.
You can do this all for free or real money.
There are very few online poker sites I am comfortable recommending today.
Bovada is my personal favorite and the one I recommend the most.
If you want to get signed up and give them a try, just click this link now. You can play 100% for free until you are comfortable gambling for real money, if ever at all.