Bovada Poker Reopens for Players from the U.S.

BovadaNearly one year after it migrated its players to the Ignition Poker skin, Bovada Poker has suddenly reopened for players from the U.S., Brazil and Mexico.

Remember Bovada Poker? Of course you do. For more five years after Black Friday, it was the leading U.S. facing online poker site for cash game traffic and shared its player database with Bodog.eu and Bodog88.com to create one of the biggest poker networks in the world. Then, last August, the site announced its online poker operations were closing and invited players to join Ignition Poker.

Yesterday, the site suddenly announced it was to start providing online poker again for U.S., Brazilian and Mexican players. The announcement prompted speculation about the motives behind the decision – especially as players from all three countries already have options for playing on the Pai Wang Luo Network (formerly the Bodog Poker Network).

Bovada Poker is Back. But Why?

Most of the speculation surrounds the decision in July by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland to drop felony charges against Bodog founder Calvin Ayre and three others who had been accused of providing an illegal gambling service and conspiring to launder money. The charges were reduced to a misdemeanor, and Ayre took a $300,000 slap on the wrist for his “illegal” actions.

However, as the charges were filed in February 2012, and the Bodog empire has continued online gambling operations under various nom-de-plumes ever since, the two events are likely unconnected. A more viable explanation is that sports bettors on Bovada complained about the lack of online poker action and the site did something about it – albeit in a rather rushed manner without prior warning.

So is Bovada Poker the New Ignition Poker?

Although the two sites are identical skins on the Pai Wang Luo Network – sharing the same player base, cash games and tournaments – they will operate independently of each other. There is no need for online poker players at Ignition Poker to close their accounts and move back to Bovada Poker, unless they want to take advantage of the sports betting opportunities currently unavailable at Ignition.

Bovada Poker is advertising a first depositor poker bonus of up to $500, but players who were playing at the site prior to migrating to Ignition Poker will not be eligible for the bonus. Furthermore, if a player with neither an account at Ignition Poker nor Bovada Poker compares the respective first deposit offers, they will find Ignition´s bonus is bigger in size and has more favorable clearing requirements.

What Impact will the Reopening of Bovada Poker Have?

Probably very little. As the site will service poker players in countries where identical options exist, the only players likely to create a Bovada Poker account will be the limited number who are eligible for the bonus. As these players will likely stop playing on their existing Pai Wang Luo Network skins to play on Bovada Poker and clear the bonus, any impact on the joint player pool will be minimal.

Few players (if any) will leave other U.S. facing networks to join Bovada Poker – especially while events such as OSS Cub3d are in progress. Nor is it likely that Brazilian and Mexican players will abandon their “white label” poker sites ahead of the major tournament series hosted by PokerStars, Party Poker and 888 Poker – reinforcing the argument that Bovada Poker reopened to appease its sports bettors.

Of course, this could all change if UIGEA-style proposals are passed in Brazil – closing a loophole that allows PokerStars, Party Poker and 888 Poker to provide a service to Brazilian players. Then, Brazilian players would have no option but to convert their fiat currency bankrolls into Bitcoin and play at an online poker site that accepts the cryptocurrency – an online poker site such as Bovada Poker.