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One of the tricky things about online gambling is navigating the sea of online gambling sites.
The ocean is full of them. Some are friendly schools of fish and dolphins. Others …are sharks. But unlike actual dolphins and sharks, it’s hard to tell which sites are friendlies and which want to seek their teeth into you.
This couldn’t be truer for American online gamblers.
US gamblers have to play at offshore sites. Most are licensed and regulated, sure, but not by the US government. There’s little realistic or reasonable recourse if and when you’re ripped off.
These waters are far murkier to swim in than international waters. Which is why you should join a legit and trustworthy site. Nothing else matters; not the games, not the promotions or banking options; nothing matters if you’re splashing around in shark infested waters.
Which is why we recommend Bovada.
Bovada has been in the online gambling industry for more than 15 years. They’re not without their flaws, but they do a good job in the areas that count the most.
What’s more is you won’t find any current (legit) complaints on forums or message boards. The most recent complaints we found are from 5-7 years ago.
The bottom line – Bovada is legit and we recommend them to everyone, but especially to first timers. You can’t go wrong getting an account here.
If that sounds good to you, go ahead and create your account now.
For everyone else – the following is an overview of the betting options, games, promotions, banking option, and anything else you need to know about Bovada before signing up.
Let’s get started.
Bovada has one of the largest and diverse selections of betting markets for US bettors.
Here are the markets you can bet on:
They offer all sorts of bets. You can make live bets on outcomes like who will get a hit next, who will catch the next pass, strike out or throw an incomplete pass. But you can also make normal pre-game straight bets, parlays, props, spreads, moneylines and futures.
eSports is an area we’ve been paying attention to recently. The industry generated nearly $500 million in revenue in 2016, a 51% increase from the previous year.
Naturally, sportsbooks have started to pay attention. That includes Bovada. They’ve been taking action on eSports matches for about 1-2 years now. Currently they offer odds on the following games:
It’s possible these options change as some matches or seasons come and go.
One thing they don’t do well, I think, is allow you to filter based on league or tournament. You have to choose which game you want to focus on first, before you can filter down to league or tournament. For example, once I choose Counter-Strike, I’m then able to choose ESL One: Cologne, Hellcase Cup or European Minor Championship 2017. These should be top-level choices.
The other thing I’m not seeing, but think I should, is the option to bet live. So far, I’ve only seen the option available on international (non-US) betting sites. So, why doesn’t Bovada? They don’t offer live streaming, either – in-house, Twitch or otherwise.
The last thing I’m seeing, but don’t quite care for, is that the one match I’m able to compare to other US sportsbooks, Bovada’s a little stingier on their pricing. But that’s only for one match, and not necessarily an indication of all their (eSports) lines.
Despite all that, they’re still the strongest eSports option I’ve seen so far available to US bettors. The reason for that, so far, simply boils down to the quantity of matches/games/leagues covered.
The minimum bet is $1. And you can place your bet from all major devices including desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets.
That’s the good news. Now let’s talk a bit about where they may be average, or where they fall short.
For one thing, their max bets range from $100 to a couple thousand, depending on the market and bet you’re trying to make. This might be okay for most recreational players, but large spenders and/or professionals will probably want to check out Bookmaker instead.
Experts also complain about the late lines and dual pricing. But Bovada does this because they choose to focus on recreational players.
Pat Morrow, the head NFL odds maker at Bovada, recently answered a few questions in a Reddit AMA. Here’s what he had to say about their late lines:
“We get this one a lot and its dictated largely by our player base. Because our players are more of the recreational variety (smaller bets with bets coming closer to game time), we don’t traditionally see a lot of handle, especially in relation to our game day handle when we post early. In terms of raw numbers, ~80% of our wagering for an NFL event comes in about an hour before it kicks off.”
Chances are most recreational players won’t notice or care.
Now, as far as their dual pricing –
Experts say they offer two rates – one for recreational players and another for professionals. Recreational players will get the better prices – which may not be more than half a point or a full point different. But that adds up when you’re talking about betting thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your account.
So, if Bovada thinks you’re a competent bettor, they’ll give you the more expensive pricing. Experts say that, if you plan to find and exploit opportunities, you should take full advantage of whatever you find on your first bet. Because after that they’ll probably have you pegged.
And …that’s about it.
The worst part about Bovada’s sportsbook is that they’re not as pro-friendly as other books, between their betting limits, late or more expensive lines. Only a small percentage of bettors will probably care, though. If you’re one of them, you’ll probably want to get an account at a site like Bookmaker, too.
Bovada’s casino is strong. What we like about them is there are lots of game variations that you won’t find elsewhere. And they’ve only gotten stronger in this area as they’ve brought on additional software partners and upgraded their site.
Let’s look at (or, at least most of) their games, along with any pros and cons we see.
They seem to have fewer blackjack variations than I remember seeing from them in the past. Even then they offer more than the likes of Top Bet, and have just as many as BetOnline and Planet 7s.
Not much to report here. They have a good selection of table games.
If we HAD to find a downside, it’d be that Bovada doesn’t yet offer any live dealer games. That would certainly take their blackjack and card game section to another level.
What we like about their slots section is all the variety. You’ll be able to choose from options like:
And loads more.
Our biggest complaint here is you won’t find any licensed slots. Think slots based on actual movies, video games, comic books, celebrities and more. But that’s just the lay of the land – because Bovada is an offshore casino catering (illegally) to American players. Which eliminates the possibility of working with software companies like Microgaming or IGT who offers these types of slot machines.
But it’s a minor complaint considering all that they DO offer.
No much to report here. This is a solid selection of video poker games. It’s also great to see that some of them, like jacks or better, can be played in multi-hand variations.
Again, not much to report here. This is a decent selection of ‘other’ games if you’re more a fan of scratch tickets, bingo or keno.
They have lots of mobile games now, too. More so than I remember them having a year or two ago. I think that’s because when they redid their site, they likely used HTML5 or some other mobile-friendly programming language. Their entire site is mobile responsive – no app, special mobile site or download needed.
For that reason you’ll find they have LOTS of mobile games. Far too many to list here, which would only be a list of duplicates from the lists we posted above. Overall, they have a super-strong online casino. Easily one of the best available to American players.
One thing I am REALLY impressed with is how it no longer appears they’re working with software company Betsoft. Betsoft was in the news (along with Betcoin) for rigging their progressive jackpots and not paying a player who hit one.
This was in the news mere months ago – and it wasn’t long before then, if not around that time – that Bovada was still working with them. To see them pull Betsoft’s games off their site shows integrity.
And if you know anything about offshore US-friendly casinos, you know integrity is in short supply. And if you don’t believe me, just take a look around at the casinos who STILL work with Betsoft.
Back in 2004, there was a small poker site launched under the name of Bodog by billionaire Calvin Ayre. After serving the online poker industry for about 12 years, this platform easily became a top 5 poker site in the world. Eventually, the company split into two different sites for their American customers due to legal reasons in August of 2016. These two sites are known as Ignition and Bovada.
During the time of this split, Bovada was supposed to handle the sportsbook and casino bets for American Players, while Ignition was meant to handle the poker traffic. Even though they are serving the USA, they still do not allow players to sign-up from the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware Maryland or Nevada. They recently sent out a warning email to players in these states to withdraw their funds because they will be closing accounts based in these states on October 2nd, 2017.
In August of 2017, they changed Bovada by adding in its own poker room. However, the Bovada poker room is essentially the same poker site as Ignition Poker. They both have the exact same tournaments and cash games available on both sites, the only minor differences are in the VIP Clubs and the software graphics.
Bovada is by far the #1 option for US players to play on since the field sizes are huge in their tournaments, and the competition extremely soft. It is very tough to find another poker site in the USA that can match Bovada’s poker room in these 2 categories.
As far as game selection goes, they leave a little bit to be desired. The only 3 games that you can play in the poker room are No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, and Omaha Hi/Lo. It is true that these are 3 of the most popular poker games in the world, but most sites offer far more games than this. Another unique feature of this site that is beneficial to beginners is the fact that there are no screennames. Every player is issued a player number, and they keep that number as their player name for the duration of each tournament or cash game.
This means that any notes you take on a player will disappear immediately when the sessions or tournament is over, and every player gets to start over with a fresh image every time they play. This greatly benefits recreational players because they cannot be followed by professionals and no one will ever know what their tendencies are at the start of each session.
When we looked at the range of betting stakes that are offered, we were very pleased as there seems to be something for everyone. The Sit and go tournaments vary in buy-in from $1 to $200. The cash games range from $0.02/$0.05 all the way up to $10/$20 blinds. The multi table tournaments range from $1 all the way up to $500 during some special tournament series. The zone poker tables range from $0.02/$0.05 up to $1/$2. In addition to all of this, they include freerolls for those players that are suffering from a low bankroll but still want to see some flops.
Zone Poker is a special type of game that is offered in the cash game format only. The unique feature of this game is that whenever a player folds their hand, they are immediately moved to another table and instantly dealt another hand. This allows each player to play about 3 times more hands per hour than usual. Some other sites offer zone-style tournaments as well, and we would love to see Bovada implement this eventually.
The multi table tournament schedule on Bovada is hands down the best schedule available to US players on the entire internet. Even though the poker room is determined to cater to recreational players, there are enough tournaments for professional players to play a full tournament schedule every day. Fortunately, all tournaments are shared with the players on their sister skin Ignition, helping the site maintain the highest traffic in the USA right now. Below we have listed the major daily tournaments in chronological order.
These tournaments are all freezeouts with standard payout structures, except for the Thousandaire Maker which pays out in $1,000 increments for every $1,000 in the prize pool. There are buy-in levels for everyone, and it is very possible to win a lot of money in one day for a minimal investment. Sundays and Wednesdays are especially large on Bovada, and they offer numerous special tournaments that are not available on other days of the week.
Sunday’s being bigger than normal is standard across the industry, and the main tournament to watch for is the $100,000 guaranteed that costs $162 to get in. Wednesday being huge is a product of their ongoing Wild Wednesday tournament schedule, and it’s safe to say that the buy-ins and prize pools vary wildly.
Bovada is known for being a little light on the promotional side of things when it comes to their poker room. They do at least offer a 100% Poker Welcome Bonus which is good for up to $500 on every player’s first deposit. The main reward for poker players on Bovada is the poker points. These points accumulate with every game we play, to the tune of 3 points for every 1$ in rake that we paid.
The points can then be traded in for either poker tournament tickets, casino bonuses, or sports bonuses. The sports bonus is a fresh new edition and is a great idea because a lot of poker players happen to bet on sports as well. If we were tasked with improving the promotions on Bovada, we would implement a tiered VIP system that gives players incentive to play more. As it stands right now, Bovada is dead last in the poker industry when it comes to giving frequent players rewards, and this is a direct result of their controversial business plan of appealing to strictly recreational players.
Another way they could greatly improve the poker tournaments on their site is to bring back the tournament leader board. They used to give amazing prizes for the best poker players on the site, but they got rid of this feature back in 2010 for some reason.
As longtime users of Bovada’s poker room, we can confirm that their software needs improvement and it seems to get worse after some updates. For example, after the latest update, the font in the lobby is now blurry and nearly unreadable from a short distance. They also changed the tables so that they cannot be sized as small as they used to.
They most likely did this to keep professional players from playing a lot of tables at once. However, this logic would be silly on their part as the site maximum for number of tables running at once is still set at 15. One great thing about this poker room is that even though the servers crash often and tournaments get cancelled before they are finished, they successfully pay everyone the money that their chip stack was worth. We have experienced this firsthand at least 5 times, and are comfortable in saying that Bovada will always strive to make these refunds correctly and quickly.
Outside of all these flaws, we will say that the tables are aesthetically pleasing. They come with numerous options for table color, card colors, and animations. We also enjoy the rare feature called the Rabbit Cam. This is an option that anyone can utilize to see what card WOULD have come on the turn or river if the betting had continued. While this does not serve any functional purpose, some players think it is fun to see what would have been if they stayed in the hand.
Although Bovada is the number one poker site available to American players right now, they still have some improvements that they can make. While we enjoy their tournament selection, easy games and large player base, we really wish that they would improve their aging software and skimpy promotions.
We fear that they are not attempting to fix the issues they have, as they mainly hurt frequent and professional players. Their company motto has been to appeal to recreational players for quite some time now. Luckily for them, they do not have much competition in the US online poker market. This means that recreational players will most likely have a large website that caters to their needs for many years to come.
Bovada has several offers running at the moment, for both casino and sportsbook customers. Here’s what they got, and the details for each one.
You can redeem both offers up to 4 times, for a max of $2,000 for slots and $1,000 for other games.
You’ll need to meet the rollover requirements for each bonus before you can take advantage of the next one.
The slots rollover is 25x on both the deposit and bonus. This is very reasonable given that most other casinos are in the 35-50x range.
The ‘other games’ has a 40x rollover. You cannot clear the offer playing single deck blackjack, double deck blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, craps, roulette or any mini game. Everything else appears to be fair game.
This is a cash back and reload bonus offer. For the cash back you’ll get points for every $10 you bet. You can later exchange those points for cash. Every 100 points will get you $1 in bonuses.
Here’s how many points you get per $10 bet:
On top of that you can get your hands on one of these reload bonuses every week:
Get paid for playing blackjack on the weekends. For every 200 casino points you earn playing blackjack, you’ll receive a $10 bonus. You can collect up to $100 every weekend.
Get a $10 bonus for trying out their mobile casino. Bet more than $250 between Monday and Sunday and the bonus is yours.
Make your way to the tables to play blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, war, etc., and when you bet $250 or more, you’ll receive a $10 bonus the following Wednesday.
Play $500 on slots and you’ll get a $20 casino bonus. This is available only on Thursdays and it has a 20x rollover.
This is their exclusive VIP rewards program. Members will receive weekly deposit bonus offers, personalized service, cash rewards, expedited payouts, and more.
This is good for both the sportsbook and (horses) race book. You’ll get a 50% match up to $250. This has a 5x rollover. Bovada lets you use this offer in their casino, too, in which case it has a 30x rollover on both your deposit and bonus.
Horse Racing Rebates – You’ll get up to 5% back on all your racebook play every Tuesday. Here’s how that works:
Earn money on every friend or family member you send to Bovada. You’ll get a 200% match on your friend’s deposit up to $100. This has a 5x sports / 5x horses / 30x casino rollover.
That wraps up their current offers. But these do change often, so we recommend bookmarking their promotions page, as well as getting signed up to their email newsletter.
Here are the deposit and withdrawal options Bovada accepts.
For deposits, you can use:
For withdrawals, you can use:
You get one free check cash out per month. Every payment thereafter will cost you $50. The max you can cash out per check is $3,000.
The sucky thing is they charge a 4.9% fee on credit/debit card payments. This pales in comparison to some of the fees Ignition charges for plastic (which starts at 5.9%), but is still relatively high considering that most rooms (outside the US) don’t charge anything for debit/credit card payments.
Other than that, it’d be nice to see more banking options. But we understand this is difficult for sites like Bovada to do.
That said, Bovada has a reputation for delivering cash outs faster than any other US gambling site. Right now they’re time frames are in the 7-10 day range. That’s impressive when you consider they have far more customers and cash out requests than their competitors.
Some people might even say that – when compared to their competitors – the fact that Bovada pays their customers their winnings is impressive.
If you have any questions about banking, the games, promotions or anything else, you can reach Bovada by email or by phone at 1-888-263-0000.
Unfortunately, they don’t have live chat. But they’re one of the few gambling sites who reply to messages so fast live chat isn’t really needed.
Like we said earlier, Bovada is easily one of, if not the best gambling site for American gamblers. Hand downs. Unfortunately, they currently exclude players from five states (as seen in the image below). If you happen to reside in one of those states, we’d highly suggest BetOnline, as they accept all states and are another top choice for US residents. Check out our full BetOnline review here.
Bovada has a long, positive history of running fair bets and games. They have a reputation for paying their players, and paying them fast. They have integrity, too, which they’ve shown by removing potential fraudster Betsoft’s games from their site.
So, while Bovada does have a few shortcomings, they darn near look like benefits or perks compared to what many of their competitors offer. They’re that strong a gambling site.
And it’s for that reason we recommend them to all our readers. If you don’t have a sportsbook or casino account, check them out today.
You won’t regret it.