What is Ethereum and how does it work?
A blockchain is an autonomous database made up of connected blocks that cannot be modified once created. For cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, blockchains are used as a public ledger of transactions that is decentralised, secure and verifiable. However, blockchain technology can be used for more than just cryptocurrencies. Ethereum is a blockchain platform released in July 2015 that uses smart contracts to distribute computations in exchange for ether, Ethereum’s own cryptocurrency. A smart contract is a piece of software that can enforce agreements between two parties without the need for a contractual clause or third party arbitration.
How is it used for poker?
Uncle Finney’s Poker uses a smart contract called E4ROW – short for ‘Ether for the Rest of the World’ – as an escrow to hold each player’s ether whilst they play and allocate it accordingly once the game has finished. Uncle Finney’s Poker never handles any player funds: this is left entirely to E4ROW, which charges a small 2% escrow fee. Using smart contracts has a number of benefits over conventional online poker. Firstly, because funds are not being held by an online poker room, you don’t have to worry about losing your money if the site gets shut down. Secondly, it saves times as you do not have to register an account or deposit any money. Lastly, you don’t have to pay any rake other than the escrow fee, which is much lower than what online poker rooms charge.
Is Uncle Finney’s Poker any good?
As it stands at the moment, the app is very minimal. It only offers heads-up Five-Card Draw and features a very simple user interface. It’s certainly not designed with hardcore poker grinders in mind, but anyone who is familiar with Ethereum and enjoys a casual game of poker can certainly have some fun with it. While the app may not offer much at the moment, it represents an exciting new prospect for online poker. Blockchain technology poses a serious threat to online poker rooms who cannot match the transparency, convenience and reliability that smart contract poker apps could potentially offer in the future.