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Top-10 reasons to play at SwC Poker

2 March 2015

After Seals With Clubs shut down on Feb. 20, I withdrew my balance to my Bitcoin wallet. For the first time in probably a decade, I didn't have a real-money balance in an online poker room.

I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the transaction was processed; I can't remember ever receiving a withdrawal from an online poker room the same day I requested it since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement ACT (UIGEA) passed, and I certainly can't remember it happening when a poker room was shutting its doors.

Last Thursday, less than a week after Seals With Clubs shut down, SwC Poker launched. The "rebrand" is a 2.0 version of Seals With Clubs, with Bryan Micon running the operation from Antigua. I figured I'd give the new software a try, and so far, I'm very impressed. SwC Poker may just be the best bet for Americans looking to play online poker for something of value, and it's also a great option for anyone else in the world that wants to play poker for Bitcoin.

Here are 10 reasons to play at SwC Poker.

10. Keep your username, and your "krill"
If you had an account at Seals With Clubs, your account name has been transferred over to SwC Poker. You just need to claim it by requesting a new password in the new software (you'll need to have an e-mail address linked to your account; if you didn't have one before, you can add one here).

In addition to keeping your password, you'll also keep all your loyalty points, or "krill," which give you access to freerolls and rakeback.

I hadn't played a ton of poker at Seals With Clubs, so I was only about halfway to the first real reward —a 0.6-Bitcoin freeroll held every 100 hours. It's nice that I won't have to start back at square one, and can now envision working my way up the ladder to even start getting some rakeback.

For players that had logged a lot of time and hands at Seals With Clubs, this could be incredibly valuable, as the top tier offers 50 percent rakeback.

9. Improved software
Let's be honest, Seals With Clubs’ initial software was a pretty weak offering. But the newly launched SwC Poker interface might be the best online poker interface I've seen yet. The client is incredibly user friendly, the graphics are outstanding, and while they're still working out a few bugs, it seems to be operating pretty well in its first few days.

One of my favorite features is that your krill count now updates in real time in the client. Previously it only updated every 24 hours, and you had to go to the website to see how much you had.

8. New games
Seals With Clubs only had Hold'em and Omaha games when it shut down, but the new version of the software includes lots of new offerings, like Stud, draw games, mixed games, and even dealer call and open faced Chinese poker. The OFC games are incredibly popular, and include fantasyland and tournaments.

7. Active games tab
Less than a week into its operation, SwC Poker understandably has pretty low traffic. It would be annoying to have to click through every game type to find active games, but the active games tab lets you find ring games to jump into easily.

6. Simple deposit/withdrawal process
If you live in the United States and play online poker, you know that depositing and withdrawing funds from online poker sites has become a real ordeal since Black Friday. I've played a bit on sites that allow American players using free bankrolls supplied by the sites, and I've even cashed out a couple times. Those sites have sent me checks from all sorts of shell organizations — one came from a "consulting firm" that thanked me for the "freelance work" I had done for them.

The reasons they use cloak and dagger tactics is the UIGEA. The 2006 law makes it illegal for banks to process unlawful online gambling transactions. Whether online poker is lawful or unlawful is ambiguous, so these types of transactions are often disguised (illegally) by the sites.

That need to disguise transactions disappears with Bitcoin. While it sounds more complicated to buy Bitcoin with U.S. dollars, deposit and play with it, withdraw Bitcoin and then sell it for U.S. dollars, it's actually simpler than online poker transactions outside of the intrastate regulated sites in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

A deposit takes an hour or two to appear in your account, and it usually takes anywhere between 12 and 24 hours to process a withdrawal back to your Bitcoin wallet.

5. Global player pool
I've played on in Nevada, and before it folded, on Ultimate Poker as well. in particular had pretty good liquidity for a state with less than 3 million residents, but SwC Poker draws from a global player pool. The site's traffic is pretty paltry right now, especially when compared to PokerStars, but given that it accepts U.S. players and that the software upgrade is such a huge improvement on the original software, I could see the site growing at a substantial rate in the next year or two.

4. Freerolls
Ten years ago, every online poker site was offering freerolls. Today, sites still offer freerolls to players that meet certain monthly qualifying standards. There aren't many, however, that offer freerolls to anyone who wants to sign up, including players that have never made a deposit.

SwC Poker offers freerolls to players who have generated enough Krill, with the top qualifiers eligible for 5,000-chip freerolls (worth five bitcoins, with a USD value of about $1,300, at today's trading rate) about once a month. But the site is also offering five-chip freerolls ($1.30) every hour or two as it tests out its software, and Seals With Clubs used to offer 54- and 66-player sit-and-go 20-chip freerolls (about $5.20) that ran to completion, and then another one would open up. It remains to be seen whether or not those freerolls will run again on the new SwC Poker, but given that nearly everything else from the old business is rolling over, it seems logical to assume that those tournaments will run once the site is completely up and running.

3. Gamble twice
I have to admit that I wasn't a big fan of playing poker for something that fluctuates wildly in value when I first tried Seals With Clubs. It can be downright depressing to win a ton of Bitcoin, only to find out that everything you've won has disappeared because the value has dropped. But it's also a lot of fun to go through the swings, so long as you're not gambling with money you can't afford to lose. I like having a little bit of exposure to Bitcoin, because if the value ever explodes again, I'll be the happy recipient of unexpected gains. And if the value craters, oh well, it's not money I couldn't afford to lose.

2. Because freedom
In case you haven't heard, part of the reason Seals With Clubs shut down was because its Chairman, Bryan Micon, saw his home raided by the Nevada State Gaming Commission, had his computer equipment seized and was put in handcuffs, despite the fact that he was never arrested or charged with a crime.

Micon has moved to Antigua and is running SwC Poker largely on his own, as the original backers behind the project have decided it isn't worth the risk to continue running it.

I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know if operating a Bitcoin-based online poker room breaks the law in the United States. But I do know that the treatment Micon endured seems excessive. If you want to support the cause of online poker freedom, you should be playing at SwC Poker.

Listen to Micon's story of the events of Feb. 11 below.

1. They did it the right way
I have to admit that when I first found out that Seals With Clubs was shutting down, I figured my 0.17 Bitcoin were gone forever. Then my withdrawal landed in my Bitcoin wallet two hours after I requested it.

The transition to SwC Poker has been impressive every step of the way, and it seems pretty clear that player funds were segregated, as they should be. I see no reason to believe that this won't be the case with SwC Poker, and I feel more comfortable with my funds there than I do at any other site that allows players from Massachusetts to play.

Add in the fact that the rake is lower than any other online poker site and that the loyalty program is incredibly player friendly, and I see no reason to play anywhere else — at least until there's a site that is regulated at the federal or state level where I live.
Top-10 reasons to play at SwC Poker is republished from
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.