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Bovada Poker

History

Bovada.lv is one of the longest-standing poker brands serving the United States. It was launched by Calvin Ayre[1] in 2011 as an offshoot of the respected Bodog gaming empire. Bovada exclusively traffics in the United States although in the past it was active in other markets, such as Latin America. Bovada has earned a solid professional reputation over the years due to the customer service offered and the consistency of player payouts. The site is not licensed by any US state, but it can operate in nearly all of them thanks to its Curacao Gaming License.[2][3]

Player Traffic and Game Availability

Bovada's poker room is a part of the Pai Wang Luo Poker Network[4]. The Pai Wang Luo Network combines traffic from many different operators thus creating a larger player pool and subsequently a larger amount of available poker games. Bovada shares games and players with Bodog88, Bodog.com, and Bodog.eu, as well as Ignition Casino.

One partner, Ignition Casino Poker, represents the largest online poker room available to US-based players. It has both cash games and tournaments happening virtually all the time, and thanks to the mutual connection to the PWL Network, Bovada shares the same games and tournaments. Like many online poker rooms, the games are more heavily concentrated at the lower end of the stakes spectrum at non-peak hours. However, during peak hours, active games can be found at most every blind level up to the maximum offered stakes of $2,000 buy-in poker games.

One factor attributed to the success of Bovada's continued growth is that of a strong player community[5] and aggressive online marketing, both directly, and through affiliate marketing channels where the Bovada brand is well received and widely advertised.

Poker Software

Bovada Zone Poker Lobby, 2022

Bovada[6] offers its own proprietary software that lends itself to usability. The poker lobby allows for the segregation of game by type and stake level. Included in these options are cash games, Sit & Gos, tournaments, and a separate section for Zone Poker – a fast-fold poker variant that lets players receive a new hand upon folding the previous one, speeding up the gameplay significantly.

Bovada has set itself apart from most other competitors by being one of the first brands to offer anonymous tables. Instead of screen names and other identifiers, players will see generic designations, like “Player 1,” “Player 2,” “Player 3,” et cetera. This makes it nearly impossible for individuals to track and identify other players with tracking tools. What’s more, it allows for a player’s own privacy to be protected at all times.

The Bovada software underwent a significant update in 2019, which changed the graphical appearance of poker tables. In addition, they added a browser-based option, which allows logged-in players on any operating system to join cash games or tournaments immediately.[7]

Bovada Cash Game Interface, 2022

Poker Game Variations

In terms of the selection of cash games, NLHE, PLO, PLO/8, L08, and FLHE are all present. These games are available in heads-up, six- and nine-player varieties with stakes arranged from micro-sized penny games to multi-thousand dollar high stakes tables. Most of the active games will be found at the micro- and low-stakes levels throughout the day, but at peak hours, the medium- and high-stakes tables are also occupied. Bovada is unique in that the poker software hides full games from the poker lobby, obfuscating the active amount of games currently being played, and thus it is difficult to fully ascertain how many games are running at any given time.

The games range from as small as $0.02/$0.05 to as high as $10/$20 in big-bet formats while climbing as high as $30/$60 in fixed-limit forms of poker. No Limit Hold’em is the most widely played game on the site, but most other variants see at least some action.

$1/$2 Cash Game on Bovada

Rather than the traditional lobby and waitlist that most other poker rooms offer, Bovada has a Quick Seat feature that chooses a table automatically based on parameters selected by the player. Quick Seating mandates that players choose a game type, stake level, and table size, and they will then be automatically taken to a table that matches their demands.

Tournaments

Bovada’s tournaments are a major feature of the site, totaling more than $1.5 million in guaranteed prizes every week. Buy-ins for tournaments can range from as little as $1 to as high as $300 and beyond.

There is a weekly Sunday tournament with a guaranteed prize pool of $100,000 that can be bought into for $162.

Something worth noting about Bovada’s tournaments is that they do not offer many opportunities to buy back in multiple times. In fact, many events do not offer players any opportunity to rebuy.

Texas Hold’em tournaments make up the large majority of those on offer, however, there is a reasonably even spread of game types in the tournament lobby, especially on weekends.

Tournaments at Bovada can grow rather large especially when one of the site's recurring series is running, like the Golden Spade Poker Open.[8] These massive events feature a number of qualifying routes as well as direct buy-ins, and the prizes are always significant in size. The exact sum of cash awarded in these large series always varies, but it regularly reaches into the seven figures.

Sit and Goes

Sit and Go tournaments span across many types, including Double Ups, Triple Ups, Regular, Turbo, Heads-Up, 6 player, and 18 player. Buy-ins for these tournaments can be as small as $1; however, the high-end SNG buy-ins exceed $200. The majority of SNG events are made up of No Limit Hold’em, but Omaha game types can also be found.

Jackpot Sit and Goes are a three-person type of SNG where multipliers determine the prize pool. This is an event that can drastically increase the amount of money the eventual winner will walk away with should the right multiplier be hit. Multipliers range from 2x all the way up to 1200x. Jackpot Sit and Goes start players with 300 chips and run at hyper-turbo speed.

Casino and Sportsbook

Bovada is also home to a sportsbook and casino in addition to its poker offering. The sportsbook, as it mainly targets a United States audience, focuses heavily on the sports and leagues most popular throughout North America. The casino was once small and not especially noteworthy; however, Bovada seems to be putting an increasing emphasis on this product in recent years. The casino offers numerous table games, slot machines, and specialty games.

Regulatory Bodies and Owners

Bovada was owned and operated by the Morris Mohawk Gaming Group[9] since 2011 when it was completely disassociated from the Calvin Ayre name, which had come under fire. Due to corporate restructurings and sales since that time, the ownership structure of the company is currently unclear.

Though there is no US regulatory body governing the actions of Bovada, the brand has become known as one that can be trusted by players the world over. Although online poker is considered legal in the United States on a Federal level,[10] there are a few states from which Bovada refuses to accept sign-ups: Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada. In 2021 Bovada ceased to offer its services to players from the state of New York for unknown reasons.[11]

References

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