The Complete Guide to the Biggest US Friendly Poker Network - PaiWangLuo
The Bovada Network (officially the PaiWangLuo Poker Network) is not just the biggest pool of players for the USA and Canda – it is way bigger than the rest.
To put this in perspective, PaiWangLuo sites get more than 2000 concurrent cash game players at peak times. Compare this to the closest rivals. The Winning Poker Network comes in second, with 450 at peaks. Chico is 3rd, getting around 240 cash game players when busy. After this the sites are tiny.
It is not just the big number of games which makes Bovada, Ignition and Bodog the go-to picks. These games are noticeably easier to beat than those at rival poker networks.
This guide shows you what to expect from the PaiWangLuo US (and Canadian) poker rooms in detail. The list below shows you what you will find below:
- Summary of the sites on the PaiWangLuo / Bovada Network
- What is the ‘Recreational Player Model’? (and how this keeps the games easy)
- Bonuses, promotions and Loyalty Rewards
- Detail of the different games. Includes cash games, fast-fold, tournaments, sit n goes and satellites to live / major events
- Depositing and withdrawing at PaiWangLou sites
- Security, Licensing and Customer Support
PaiWangLou Poker Network Sites
There are 5 sites in total, though only 2 are available for US players. 3 of these (Bovada, Ignition Poker and Bodog.eu) pool together their players. The other two are the Asian-focused Bodog88, and Bodog India – these have separate pools and will not be covered in depth here.
Below you’ll find info on the main 3 PaiWangLuo Network sites – along with screen shots to show up the differences in the designs (click on those to check out the homepages / latest offers for yourself).
This is the biggest US ‘skin’ of the PaiWangLuo Poker Network. It was rebranded from ‘Bodog’ in 2011 – though kept the software and design of the old brand. Bovada is a portal offering sports betting and casino games as well as poker. It is hugely popular with sports bettors. Many of them find their way to the poker tables.
Bovada are the only US site big enough to effectively run fast-fold poker pools. It is also the only US site with a mobile poker option that works. This offers Zone Poker. Software can be downloaded for Windows or Mac. After you see how soft the games are, you won’t mind the dated feel of the client!
New players at Bovada get a 100% bonus up to $500, this clears in tiers (meaning you wont miss out if you run out of time before getting the full amount).
There are also plenty of promos, including bad beat and high-hand reward as well as one-off deals. You can check out the latest promos over at www.bovada.lv
This site is more recent. It started when Bovada temporarily closed their poker room. They transferred accounts to this new ‘skin’ in 2016 – only to reopen in 2017, giving people the option to come back. Ignition have a distinctive grey and orange branding, though is essentially the same site. The games, rewards and promotions match between the two rooms.
You can have accounts at both sites, though you won’t be able to log on at the same time. Many players have taken advantage of the welcome bonuses at both skins (I recommend you do this, it is essentially free extra cash!).
Ignition Poker also run a casino, though not a sports book.
Check out www.ignitionpoker.lv for the latest promos.
From Canada, you can reach a lot of the big international poker networks. The recreational player model keeps Bodog as a popular option.
You’ll play against opponents from Ignition Poker and Bovada at the tables at Bodog. Most of the promos are the same, though there are some differences in the VIP rewards system. Once again, the welcome offer is cleared in chunks, you can get a 100% match to $500 (or more of you deposit using Bitcoin).
Canadian players can check out the latest deals over at www.bodog.eu
PaiWangLuo Sites Poker Bonus Deals
The welcome offer for Bodog, Bovada and Ignition Poker is almost the same. All sites offer a $500 poker bonus if you deposit with credit cards. If you make the easy switch to Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies – you’ll get bigger bonuses at the sports book or casino sections too.
Standard Welcome Offer
What I like about this welcome bonus compared to other poker networks is the easy to clear chunks.
You’ll get a 100% match on your first deposit with a credit card (including pre-paid), or crypto.
This is cleared via points you collect at the tables, these are easy to get. Here is the schedule:
- 15 Points = $5
- 85 Points = $20
- 185 Points = $25
- 500 Points = $50
- 1500 Points = $150
- 5000 Points = $250
You have 30 days to clear this bonus.
Loyalty Points Have Value
Those points have value – and they are not just for bonus clearance. While you are clearing the bonus at any of the PaiWangLou Poker Network sites, you essentially earn double.
Every 200 points you collect gives you $1 in tournament entries. If you are a winning player (and have the time to play tournaments!), then the value of these will be obvious. You can also use them for weekly freerolls and qualifier events.
You can also use your points to buy bonuses for the sportsbook (Bovada and Bodog) and casino (all 3 sites). This gives you a slightly better return – though keep in mind there is a play-through requirement depending on which bonus you take.
This system is designed for recreational players (see a pattern here?). It does not match the rakeback deals at other sites. What you’ll find is that the recreational model + lack of effective rakeback means that the pros play elsewhere. The tables are much softer because of this.
Other Promotions and Special Offers at Bovada Network Sites
One-off promotions change all the time. This is not the most active network when it comes to unique / interesting promotions. Most of these feature special tournament events. These include 12 days of Turbos and the Black Diamond open.
You will find freerolls running (for poker points).
There is a bad beat and Royal Flush bonus. For the bad beat (aces full of kings must be beaten on a Texas Hold’em table with both players using both hole cards), you get 50x the big blind. This is capped at $100. You need to e-mail support at your site within 48 hours to claim it. You get 100x the BB, again capped at $200, for a Royal using both hole card. For both, only cash games count.
The one-off promos are often themed on live poker events (including the WSOP) or the online tournament events like the Black Diamond Open. It is always worth keeping an eye on the websites to make sure that you don’t miss out.
Ignition are better at listing the bonuses (you don't need to search!). Check out www.ignitioncasino.com for the latest.
Canadian readers will find www.bodog.eu very easy to navigate.
Bovada / PaiWangLuo Poker Network: What is the Recreational Player Model?
A problem at many poker sites (both US and International brands) is that ‘regulars’ take over the games.
Poker can be profitable at small stakes for players who sit in 10+ games and play a solid, tight strategy. They make a few dollars per hour for each table, adding up to a decent ‘wage’.
The problem is that these players ‘suffocate’ the games. Fish don’t last long - or have an enjoyable experience - when 4 of their 5 opponents are multi-tabling grinders.
The Bovada Network sites came up with a solution for this. They call this the ‘Recreational Player Model’. It is designed to discourage multi-tabling ‘grinders’ – keeping the games soft and enjoyable for recreational poker players.
And it works!
Here is what is involved:
- Anonymous Play: Instead of screen names, you play with a seat number, or an entry number for a tournament. This means as soon as you stand up, your history disappears – there is no way for the grinders to target / follow bad players.
- Tools Banned / Discouraged: Pro grinder use tracking tools to spot weaknesses in opponent’s play and identify recreational players. Anonymous games mean only the current session can be tracked. This also means that grinders are more likely to move to networks where these tools can give them an edge.
- 4 Tables Max: Stopping winning players from sitting in 10+ games make a big difference to the balance at each table. At Bovada, Ignition and Bodog Poker, you can only play 4 cash game tables or Sit N Goes. Multi-table tournaments are not restricted.
Sure, there are some good players on this network. What you’ll find is that these restrictions go a long way to making the games soft. If you want to enjoy poker against other recreational opponents without dozens of grinders sitting in most of the games – then PaiWangLuo sites are the way to go. This is a big reason that Bovada features heavily in my Fish-o-Meter widget - where you can find the softest poker sites for your game picks and bankroll.
Games and Poker Variations at PaiWangLuo Poker Network Sites
All poker networks offer cash games, tournaments and Sit N Goes (plus fast-fold for bigger ones). Here you will find what makes PaiWangLuo poker sites different.
Until you try anonymous tables for the first time, it is hard to appreciate how big a difference these make. Messing up a hand (or getting a bad beat) just feels way less personal… somehow detached from ‘you’. If you leave the game, even if you re-join right away, nobody will know it is you!
No-Limit Hold’em dominates the games. Information below starts with this. There are some notes on the other poker variations below this.
Cash Games: The regular cash games range from the micro-limits up to $5 / $10 blinds. There is the usual mix of 2, 6 and 9 handed tables. Buy-ins are 100 big blinds.
Zone Poker: This is the fast-fold variation. You will find these games on Chico sites. Bovada is realistically the only site with enough players to create big enough pools to make this work.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept, then the idea is that you go to a brand-new hand the instant you fold. To make this work you join a pool of players. For every hand you are combined in a 6-max game with players from your pool. As soon as you fold, you start a brand-new hand with other players. You can even fold out of turn, with the players in your current hand only seeing this when the action gets to you.
Without that waiting time for others to act, these games are super-fast. You’ll play 200 hands an hour per table. This format is also available on mobile devices. It is a great way to get a lot of play in without the need for a big screen.
Here are the max buy-ins / blinds for Zone Poker. The highest levels only attract small pools of players (and a lot of good ones), though the smaller buy-ins are both busy and soft.
Poker Tournaments: First, the bigger ones. The biggest weekly tournament is the ‘Sunday $100k Guaranteed’, this has a buy-in of $162 and a guaranteed $100,000 prize pool. It kicks off at 17:00ET. There are plenty of qualifier games, and plenty of players who take a shot – keeping the field soft. The biggest games take place twice a year. There are two events, including the huge the Black Diamond Open. These last 10 or so days - and include a series of bigger buy-in events which finish with a $500,000 guarantee.
There are $5 million in tournament guarantees every week. Plenty of action for players up to $55 buy-ins, with the majority of games in the $5.50 to $22 range. As usual you’ll find rebuys, turbo games and 6-max variations. In tournaments you keep the same number (based on your entry time) for the duration – though essentially these are still anonymous.
Sit N Goes: More action for SNG fans than at any other site. You’ll find plenty of standard games up to $22 buy-in with a few higher-stakes games. Not too much to say here, not too many variations.
Jackpot / Lottery SNGs: A new addition – 3-handed games with random prize pools
Other Poker Variations on the PaiWangLuo Network
Omaha is growing at most sites. You’ll find some decent action in cash games for both PLO and PLO8 at Bovada, Bodog and Ignition. This does include some higher-stakes action, though naturally the games up to $100 buy-in are the busiest. You will also find some limit variations.
Depositing and Withdrawing from PaiWangLuo Poker Network Sites
There is a big incentive to use cryptocurrency for both deposits and withdrawals at Bovada and Ignition poker. You’ll get a bigger (double) bonus for casino and sports betting, and also super-fast and free cash outs.
I understand that some players have reservations about crypto, especially in light of recent volatility.
What you’ll find is that you don’t need to hold any crypto for long. You can buy some from an exchange, deposit within minutes and cash out / send to a debit card equally as fast. For me the flexibility outweighs any volatility risk by a long way. Of course, things can also work out in your favour!
Here are the possible deposit methods:
- Credit Cards: This is the easiest method, as long as the banks process the request. Like all the offshore US poker networks, payment processors are used to get the money through. Visa and MasterCard both work. This works out a lot of the time. If your card does get declined, then contact support – they are specialists in payments, and very helpful too!
- Prepaid Credit Cards: Make sure you work with the support team before you buy a pre-paid Visa. These work well, though you do need to make sure you get the right brand.
- Crypto: You can use Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash. As mentioned above, this is well worth the trouble of setting up a wallet and exchange account. Not only will you get a bigger bonus (casino and sports), the cash outs can be almost instant (range from 1 hour to a couple of days).
- Money Transfer: This is also known as person to person transfer. It uses popular brands that you’ll find in kiosks in malls. You send the money to a rep from the sites. It can feel odd, wiring cash to a foreigner. Don’t worry, this is a reliable deposit method!
- Bank Wires: If you are a high-roller, ask about Bank Wires. Again, this involves payment processors. Remember, Bitcoin / Crypto is a solid alternative these days.
PaiWangLuo Network Withdrawals
If you made your deposit using a credit card, you’ll get the money back via a paper check. You get one free per month. This will be sent to your home address via a courier. This is definitely not the quickest cash out method. You will find it is reliable. No worries with US banks, you can deposit these checks no problem, and spend the money once it has cleared
The best way to get your money out of Bovada and Ignition is via Crypto. You’ll already have an exchange account if you deposited this way. You don’t need to send the money from there back to your bank. I recommend getting a debit card. You send crypto to the card, switch it to dollars, then use it in an ATM or in store.
Money transfer will involve fees (the sites pass these on to you), and the other option (Bank Wire) is really only for the VIPs.
Security, Licensing and Customer Support at the PaiWangLou Poker Network
Bovada and Ignition Poker gave up their license voluntarily back in 2016. Under many circumstances, I’d be wary of this. At the same time, these sites have the best reputation for support and fast payments of any US poker site.
My view is that this is a safe network. At the same time, there is no point taking unnecessary risk.
The best way to balance risk and reward is to keep only the money you need for the next couple of sessions online at any one time. Again, crypto is the best way to do this… fast, cheap and easy!
Security: Games are tested for fairness by Gaming Labs International. This is an independent auditing company. They run millions of hands and found the games to be completely random.
Support: Solid, especially when it come to payments. You can contact them via telephone, e-mail or live chat from each of the sites’ homepages.
Bovada / PaiWangLou Poker Network FAQ:
What States can Access Bovada / Ignition?
There are 4 States that Bovada / Ignition don’t allow play from. These are Nevada, Delaware, Maryland and Washington State. Recently, New York players were welcomed back to the tables.
Do Bodog88 and Bodog India Pool Players with the Other Sites?
No, both of these sites run independently of the main network.
Can I Have an Account at More than One PaiWangLuo Site?
Yes. You will not be able to log on to more than one site at the same time. This is a great way of enjoying two deposit bonuses!
Do PaiWangLou Sites offer Rakeback?
No. The loyalty program replaces a flat rakeback deal. This lets to earn points which can be exchanged for tournament entries or casino / sports book bonuses.
Is My Money Safe on PaiWangLuo Poker Network Sites?
I rate this is the safest of the offshore networks, based on a long history of fast payments and great support. There is always an element of risk with these sites (from the US government!). While I rate this network as safe, I also recommend that you only keep the money you need for your current games online. Moving to crypto will make it easy to reload and withdraw quickly – a great way to manage those ‘unknown’ risks.
Wrap Up: Planet Mark’s Closing Thoughts
This network is the biggest and the softest for US / Canadian players. Those anonymous games are controversial. Some people prefer the old-school system of using screen names, others enjoy the ‘freedom’ of not being tracked.
For US players, Bovada is the longest-running site. This is my recommendation based on their long-standing reputation for great support and fast payments. Grab a $500 welcome bonus (more with crypto) and find out for yourself the big difference that the ‘recreational player model’ makes now over at www.bovada.lv
Canadian players will find Bodog.eu a lot softer than places like Stars or Party. Again, a big welcome bonus for crypto users. Check out www.bodog.eu for yourself now!