Update: Unfortunately we can no longer recommend Bovada for playing poker online. Instead, we suggest playing at BetOnline.
Catering specifically for players from the US, with the exception of just a handful of states, Bovada is bound to be of interest to American players. The site has only been around for a few years but forms part of the longstanding Bodog poker network.
So is Bovada poker safe? Well, Bodog — the company behind the Bovada poker site—has 20+ years of experience running online poker rooms, so this isn’t some new, small-time operation we’re talking about.
In short, yes, it’s safe. But is it worth playing at? For that, you’ll need to read on for our Bovada Poker review.
Bovada Poker Bonus Info
Bovada has a welcome bonus of 100% up to $1000. This is about average as poker bonuses go, but you get 60 days to unlock it and the bonus is issued in installments based on the number of Poker Points you accrue…more on that below.
Something to take note of is that Bovada specifies on their website that bonuses are for recreational players only, not professional poker players. Exactly what constitutes a professional player is a bit of a grey area, but this is definitely worth considering.
However, you do need to get your deposits made within 24 hours after creating your account, as this figure is what the 100% Welcome Bonus is based on.
Clearing the Bonus
You can also earn points by playing in tournaments. Specifically, you’ll get 3 Poker Points for every $1 you spend on tournament entry fees.
It takes 5,000 poker points to unlock the entire $1,000 bonus. To put that into perspective, you could achieve this by spending a little over $1500 on tournament entry fees.
If you get lucky, place in a couple of tournaments and reinvest your winnings, it’s not at all inconceivable to think that you could manage this within a couple of months.
Bovada Poker Software
The software used at Bovada is the same as on the rest of the Bodog network. It’s nothing fancy, but it certainly does the job and there are a few nice touches that players will enjoy.
Among these are Zone Poker, which moves you to a new table with the same blinds to reduce time spent waiting for folded hands to end, anonymous tables, a selection of playing card designs (including animated cards) and a rabbit cam that lets you see what the next card dealt would have been when a hand is over.
These little touches, many of which aren’t available in the average online poker room, might not seem like much but they all add up and definitely earn the Bovada poker download option some points in my book.
Downloading And Device Compatibility
Bovada is available on both Mac and Windows, with a poker client for each. Online poker sites with dedicated Mac clients aren’t always easy to find, so players with an Apple computer will be very glad to find the option of Bovada poker for Mac.
Bovada poker for iPad and smartphones is a slightly different story. There are no dedicated mobile apps, but you can access Bovada on a smartphone (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry etc.) or tablet (such as an iPad) using their responsive mobile site.
This offers an experience that actually feels pretty close to a native cellphone app, and the sliders and large tap buttons on Bovada poker for iPad are very slick.
Deposit & Withdrawal Options
Because the site is aimed at US players, Bovada poker cashout options might seem limited compared to what you may have grown used to seeing on international sites – Ukash, ecoPayz, Paysafecard etc. are notably absent.
In fact, the only Bovada poker deposit options are credit cards, including Visa and MasterCard, and Rapid Transfer. You can also use prepaid gift cards provided they’re authorized for ‘International and Online Purchases’.
No fees are charged on the first deposit you place after your Bovada poker download, but additional deposits incur a 4.9% fee when using Visa and 6.9% when using MasterCard. This might sting a bit, as most international poker sites don’t charge fees for using credit cards.
You can make one free withdrawal per month, using either Rapid Transfer or a check by courier, but additional withdrawals incur a $50 processing fee.
There’s a decent range of games on offer at Bovada, more than the standard Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha you find on many international poker sites. In addition to the two games listed above, you can also choose from:
- Omaha Hi/Lo
- 7-Card Stud
- 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo
With $2 million guaranteed every week – including their Big Deal $100K Guaranteed – and Nightly Majors, Turbo Tournaments, weekly $5k freerolls available you’ll find plenty of Bovada poker promotions and tournament action to enjoy if that’s how you prefer to play.
Level Of Competition
Because Bovada offers an attached sportsbook and casino, you can find lots of casual players who are trying poker for the first time or just enjoy playing an occasional hand.
If you’re a beginner, this means you won’t feel like a fish out of water while you get used to playing after you download Bovada poker. If you’re an experienced player, you can enjoy honing your skills against players who may be prone to silly mistakes or bad bets.
Hits & Misses
- Fairly limited range of payment options, and fees on Bovada poker cashout transactions using credit cards
- Software is fairly basic and may lack features players are used to
- Good ‘Welcome to Bovada’ deposit bonus and monthly promotions
- Nice variety of games beyond Hold ‘Em and Omaha
- Bodog caters specifically for American players with the Bovada poker US offering
- Decent flow of traffic, albeit less so at higher stakes tables
There’s one group for whom it’s an easy choice to play with Bovada poker: US players who don’t want to use international poker sites. This is even truer for those who have previously used sites in the Bodog network.
Fairly soft competition, a healthy welcome bonus and a good flow of players make this a great place to pass some time and play a few hands.