Bovada Review for 2018
Bovada has the best reputation of any online gambling site serving United States players.
Look at the discussions of other casino, poker, or sports betting sites in any active player forum. What's the biggest complaint for most of them? It's hard to withdraw your money.
Players don't complain about getting paid their winnings from Bovada, because they have the best customer service in the industry. For that reason alone, Bovada is worth your consideration.
But that's just one of many reasons to play there. This review looks at the pros and cons of gambling at Bovada.
What Makes Bovada a Great Choice
Most online gambling sites specialize. For example, PokerStars offers poker, almost to the exclusion of all other games. Slotland offers slot machine games and nothing else. Most online casinos only offer casino games. Most sports betting sites tack on poker and/or casino as an afterthought.
Bovada, on the other hand, is a one-stop shop for gamblers, and they don't skimp on one product to the exclusion of others. Not only do they offer a world-class sports betting operation, but they have state-of-the-art casino software and one of the best poker rooms online. They even offer betting on horse racing.
Sports Betting Review
Bovada's sportsbook has a good reputation among players. Do your own forum and message board searches – the biggest complaints you'll read have to do with the posting time for some of their lines. Bovada has an easy to use interface and bet slip, a good set of customer promotions, and (best of all, if you live in North America) makes sports bets available to Americans and Canadians.
Bovada's focus is North American customers, so of course their sports coverage mirrors the interests of Americans and Canadians. You can wager on all of the major American and Canadian pro sports leagues – football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and motor sports. As for bets at the college level, Bovada covers NCAA football and basketball, with some coverage for tournaments in other NCAA sports.
Bovada Sports Betting Lines
Outside of those popular sports, the list of available markets at Bovada includes: soccer, UFC, tennis, golf, boxing, rugby, cricket, darts, snooker, horse racing, and wagers on entertainment events like the Oscars. The variety is good, particularly if you have traditional North American sports tastes. The inclusion of some alternative sports (snooker, anyone?) gives the site some bragging rights in terms of their market coverage.
Bonuses for Sports Bettors
First-time sportsbook depositors can earn a 50% deposit match bonus worth up to $250. This bonus requires a 3x deposit plus bonus rollover.
You can earn 200% of the first deposit of any friend you refer, up to $100 per referral. This bonus also requires a 3x rollover on the amount earned.
The minimum bet amount for all Web-based wagers is $1. The minimum for parlays and teasers is $50. The minimum for Straight and If bets is $100.
The maximum wager amount allowed depends on the game and the type of bet you place. For example, the maximum wager on point spread bets ranges from $500 (on MLB and WNBA wagers) at the low end to $2,000 (on college football and the NFL) on the high end.
Bovada has put together a really handy chart of all their betting limits. To find the maximum wager size for a specific bet, just find it on this chart. You may have to scroll down to find the game you're interested in.
Bovada’s casino is a robust product, with a generous signup bonus, multiple progressive jackpots, instant play games, and a free $10 chip for players trying out the mobile casino for the first time.
Software and Casino Games
Bovada uses Betsoft and Realtime Gaming software to power their games. The table games selection is impressive. All of the standard table games you'd find at any traditional land-based casino are available, including baccarat, blackjack, craps, and roulette. Newer table games like Caribbean Draw Poker, Caribbean Hold'em Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Let 'em Ride, and Pai Gow Poker are also available.
Both American-style and European-style roulette are available. Multiple blackjack variations are also available, including single deck, double deck, and more exotic variants like Face Up 21 and Super 21. All told, you’ll find over 20 different table games to play.
Bovada Roulette Table
Bovada also offers a wide variety of slot machine games—over 100 of them, in fact. These include traditionally-themed games like Diamond Dozen and Sunken Treasure, but you'll also find unusual games like It's Good to Be Bad and The Big Heist on offer here.
Over 30 of these games are state-of-the-art 3D slot machine games from software provider BetSoft. These games feature new and entertaining animation, sound effects, and storylines. In fact, these storylines are as important to these games as the cutting edge effects. Good Girl, Bad Girl and Greedy Goblins are two of my favorite games.
Their other slot machine games, including their progressive jackpot games, are powered by casino software stalwart Realtime Gaming.
Bonuses and Promotions for Casino Players
Bovada may not have the most impressive welcome bonuses on the Internet, but they do deserve a thumbs-up for posting regular updates to their promotions, and for laying out their rules in a way that's easy to understand.
The following promotions available to casino gamblers:
100% Match Bonus up to $1,000 for Casino (Redeemable 3X)
50% match up to $250 for Sports
150% Match Bonus up to $1,500 (Redeemable 3X) in Casino
50% up to $500 for Sports
On Tuesdays, table game favorites (roulette, blackjack etc.) pay out $10 for every $250 a player wagers on them.
Similar to the table game bonus above, but aimed at slots players. This is a $20 bonus payout available for bettors that drop $500 on a small group of slots that changes on a weekly basis.
Live Dealer Games
The software at Bovada Casino is great. Everything functions as expected, and it's as user-friendly as anyone might hope it would be. But it's still just software.
The one thing missing from their casino product are live dealer casino games. I don't know if they have plans to add this to their offerings, but if they do, then Bovada's casino product will be flawless and complete.
Let's talk about Bovada's Poker Room.
They sold their poker room off about a year ago to Ignition Casino. And that sucked for Americans, because Bovada was one of the most trustworthy and highly trafficked poker rooms available post-Black Friday.
But the suck was short-lived, because Bovada has relaunched their poker product. And with the exception of players living in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Nevada - US players are allowed to join.
And if you have an account on the Ignition Network? That's okay - you can have accounts on both networks without any problems. The two networks will operate independently.
Now, with the news brief out of the way, let's get into what Bovada's poker room has to offer.
Network and Traffic
Bovada is on the PaiWangLuo Poker Network. Prior to Bovada relaunching, the network consisted of Ignition Casino Poker, Bodog and Bodog88. Now Bovada calls this network home, too.
The coolest part is that, according to PokerScout.com, they're currently #1 in US traffic (7th in traffic overall). This means that Bovada is as good as it gets for Americans. If you can't find games or volume you want to play here, you're out of luck.
Bovada's Cash Games and Tournaments
Now let's talk about Bovada's games.
One thing to keep in mind while reading this section is that we're writing this review shortly after they relaunched their poker room.
And while I don't expect them to be as slow going as a new poker room would, I do expect that it'll take a few weeks, maybe even a few months for Bovada to get up to speed.
So, the following information probably won't reflect where they may be in terms of traffic, games, stakes, etc. a few months down the line.
With that in mind, what do they have to offer?
I downloaded their poker software to take a look. It looks the same as it did before they sold everything off. The layout's identical - you'll find your account information, cashier, bonuses, settings, etc. in the left-hand sidebar. The game types and stakes are listed at the top-right, while the lobby is directly below that.
- Zone Poker
- Cash Games
- Sit & Go Tournaments
- Scheduled Tournaments
Let's look at what they have to offer in each section.
This is Bovada's fast fold poker variant.
They offer Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi and Omaha Hi/Lo. The betting types you can choose from include no limit and pot limit. The stakes range from .02/.05 to 1/2.
There were 4 fuller (40+ players) hold'em tables running when I reviewed them, and another one that looked like it was just getting started. There were games running at all stakes, too.
The first thing that happens when you click on the Cash Games tab is that a quick seat filter pops up.
- Practice Mode: On/Off
- Game Type: Hold'em, Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi/Lo
- Limit: No Limit, Pot Limit, Fixed Limit
- Number of Seats: 2, 6, 9
The next step is to choose your stakes. There are too many combinations to list here, but I checked out a few options.
- NLHE 6-Max: .02/.05 to 10/20
- PLO 6-Max: .02/.05 to 10/20
- PLO Hi/Lo HU: .02/.05 to 2.50/5
I think the .02/.05 to 10/20 range will be standard across the board, unless you play heads-up or a fixed limit game.
The next step is to choose how much you want to buy-in for. They give you the table min and max, or you can enter however much you want between these two numbers in the Other box.
Then you'll chose whether you want to wait for the big blind, and if you want to auto-post the blinds. Then you click the Take My Seat button.
I didn't make a deposit (yet), so I wasn't able to check out the tables.
Anyway, everything looked pretty standard. The biggest thing that stood out to me is that they don't have the traditional cash game lobby anymore, where you could choose tables based on different stats. The quick seat feature eliminates this.
I've seen other rooms take a similar approach. The idea is to prevent better players from using stats to find the fishiest / softest tables. They force you to sit at whatever table's available instead, which levels the playing field.
This isn't too big a surprise, honestly. Bovada's been progressively been moving towards a recreational-player dominate player base.
This feature supports that initiative.
Sit & Go Tournaments
- Tournament Type: Single Table, MTT, Qualifier, Live Event
- Card Game: Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi/Lo
- Their buy-ins range from $1.05 to $210 (including fees).
They don't have the option that allows you to see what tourneys are already in progress. That makes it hard to see if these games are firing, and at what kind of pace.
As best as I can tell, it looks like some of their PLO SNGs are firing. I didn't expect that. There was a $5 game waiting to fill, and one lone person at a $100 table.
The Holdem tables had far more tables loading and firing. There were tables with players across the whole spectrum of stakes, though it looked like most of the fuller tables with were at $10 or under.
So, there's some action - much more than I remember there being in the past.
The only other thing worth noting is some of their variants
- Beginner Turbo
- Triple-Up Turbo
- $50k High Roller Semifinal
- Mad Monday Main Event Qualifier
- Mad Monday Mini Main Event Qualifier
- Nightly $25k Semifinal
The bottom line - there's plenty to do here if your SNGs are your cup of tea (as they were/are mine).
Their tournament section sort of hits you in the face. There's a lot going on here, evident by all the different tournaments listed in a variety of colors.
- Type: Regular, Special, $100k GTD, Satellites, Private, Mad Monday
- Card Game: Hold'em, Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi/Lo
Buy-ins range from $1 to $250+$20.
- Nightly $4k PLO Hi/Lo
- Mad Monday Mini Main Event Qualifier
- Nightly $25k Semifinal
- $100k Semifinal
- $50k High Roller Semifinal
- $50,000 GTD (High Roller)
- $100,000 GTD
- $12k GTD ($25 Knockout)
- $10k GTD (10k Chips, 10 Min Levels)
- $2k GTD ($25 Knockout)
- $4k GTD (15 Min Levels)
I noticed lots of $500, $1,000 and $2,000 GTD tournaments, too. A lot of these you can buy into for $5 or less, which I think is a decent value.
The other thing I noticed are all the satellites. Instead of buying in directly for tens or hundreds of dollars, you can try to win your seat for as little as $1.
Now, I didn't see all the tournaments Bovada offers. So, here's one batch of tournaments they advertise on their site - just to show you how much they have to offer.
|Nightly Major Tournaments|
|Time (ET)||Tournament Name||Guaranteed Prize Pool||Buy-in||Starting Chips|
|8:00 PM||$25,000 Guaranteed SS******||$25,000||$55||5,000|
|8:30 PM||$8,000 Guaranteed DS *||$8,000||$11||2,500|
|8:55 PM||$12,000 Guaranteed**||$12,000||$109||2,500|
|9:00 PM||$10,000 Guaranteed SS ***||$10,000||$22||5,000|
|9:15 PM||$15,000 Guaranteed*****||$15,000||$55||10,000|
|10:00 PM||$10,000 Guaranteed Turbo SS****||$10,000||$109||5,000|
|10:15 PM||$10,000 Guaranteed (10K Chips)*******||$10,000||$11||10,000|
|11:00 PM||$5,000 Guaranteed Turbo SS||$5,000||$33||5,000|
The takeaway here - they have lots going on in the tournament department. But, if I remember correctly, tournaments were Bovada's strongest suit.
Software Compatibility & Features
Bovada only offers a download. However, they have a download for both Windows and Macs. Any computer released in the past 5 years should be plenty good enough.
They offer mobile poker, too. I didn't see it advertised heavily thorough their site - I found it by accident. But they offer Zone Poker and cash games. You can handle your banking, change a few settings, and more, all from your mobile device.
I tested both ways - the download and my mobile device. Other than a short bout of downtime - which I chalk up to people finding out about them and overloading their servers - everything worked flawlessly. Nothing has changed there.
They still have plenty of features and options, too.
- Anonymous tables. Everyone is identified using a number instead of a screen name. You can take notes and make tags, but they only last as long as you play with that player.
- You can play up to 15 tables at once.
- You can play in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.
- Spotlight. This light follows the action around the table. I like it because you can look away for a few minutes, then come back and know immediately who's turn it is.
- Background and card backs. There are 10+ table backgrounds and 5+ card backs to choose from.
- Four color decks
- Show pot total
- Show bet value
- Show hand strength
- Show game play animation
- Rabbit card
- Show all in percentage
- Tile or stack your tables
Pretty standard, yet very helpful options to have.
And there you have it. Nothing's really changed in this department other than the quick seat feature I mentioned earlier.
But that's okay, because I always thought Bovada's software was solid.
Bovada has one poker promotion - their Welcome Bonus.
Their welcome offer is a 100% match offer up to $500. You'll earn the bonus in chunks as you play real money hands and earn points.
You earn points at the rate of 3 points for every $1 paid in tournament fees. For example, a tournament or SNG with a $10 fee will net you 30 points.
For cash games, you'll earn anywhere from .05 to 1 point for every hand where you contribute .01 to $3 in rake.
This is how Bovada will pay you your bonus, based on your level and the number of points you accrue:
|Level||Poker Points||Bonus Issued||Total Bonuses|
Your bonus will be issued the day after you reach a level.
One more thing, and this is really important - you'll have 30 days to clear the bonus. This isn't much time when you compare it to the 3-6 months many other rooms give you.
I recommend you figure out what games, stakes and number of tables you can play, and then create a short-term schedule for yourself.
For example, 5,000 points breaks down to 167 points per day. Say you play $10+1 6-max turbo SNGs, and you can play 5 reasonably at one time.
So, for every 5 tables you play you'll pay $5 in rake. This will give you 15 points towards your bonus. This also means you'll need to play a little more than 50 SNGs (33.5 sessions) per day to clear the bonus in time.
The bottom line - make sure you do a little math before you claim the bonus to see what it'll take for you to earn the entire amount.
That way you can take full advantage of it.
Bovada has a solid poker room.
Nothing much has changed, other than the quick seat feature they added. And that has only further cemented them into "recreational player friendly" status.
Some pros might not like this, especially seeing as how Bovada has the most traffic/volume for Americans.
Bovada doesn't allow HUDs, permanent note taking, data mining, or anything else pros use to give themselves an edge.
Between that and the 15-table limit, and many pros will be discouraged from playing here.
The bottom line - if you're still grasping onto your HUD like it's a security blanket, then Bovada's unlikely to be the room for you.
Other Gambling Options at Bovada
Here are details on the games gathered under the site's "Specialty Games" category.
Bovada customers can place wagers on racing events at 60+ North American tracks, both major and minor courses. You'll find wagers on big-name courses like Aqueduct, Calder Race Course, Turfway Park, and Pocono Downs among dozens of others. Most races are eligible for both futures and exotic props.
Horse race fans who enjoy summer racing can wager on The Pacific Classic and other warm-weather events even when horse racing's season isn't in full swing.
Wagering types allowed include the traditional "Win / Place / Show" wagers as well as Pick Threes, Pick Fours, Daily Doubles, Exactas, Trifectas, and Superfectas on the majority of races covered.
Two Racebook-specific promos deserve mention – race bettors can take advantage of the same bonus offer as sportsbook customers – a 50% deposit match bonus worth up to $250.
A weekly rebate deal is also in place specifically for bettors that wager on horse racing – this rebate can be worth as much as 5% of your weekly losses.
This section is dedicated to a Virtual Racebook and a few other games: Bonus Bingo, Keno, "Scratcherz" (lotto-style scratch card games), and Sic Bo. These are all longshot bets, true "specialty" games in the sense that not many casino gamblers are probably that into playing them.
The Virtual Racebook is exactly what it sounds like - a horse-racing video game that allows real-money wagers. The game is easy enough to play – the odds are available in two formats, and you can even place some of the more complex wagers in the sport. The race itself takes about a minute, and is animated but not particularly well. In "free play" mode, I only had patience for two races. If you like betting on the ponies, you might be into this one. I've bet on live horse racing, and this is really nothing like it.
The eSports betting section of Bovada can be found on the All Sports tab (an additional drop down below the popular sports on the left-hand side of the screen). It's a bit tough initially (as with most sites) to tell how extensive their games offerings are as they only list the current bets available and there is no master list anywhere of what they offer year round.
When we checked the site last, these were the offerings available. As we continue to check the site to update our reviews, we will add any new leagues or bet types that we see in this list.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Dota 2
- League of Legends
- Other E-Sports (This included country versus country battles at the Hearthstone Global Games.)
The main screen showed you the "macro bets" or the big bets on who would win the matches. If you wanted to make more specific bets maybe on winning specific maps or stages of the tournament, you could click a more bets tab under each league, and a new window will come up with the different options. There is also a convenient drop-down menu at the top left of the screen that we initially missed that allows you to show all bets for a specific league. An additional drop-down became available for bets within each league but wasn't necessary at this point as there weren't that many bets. Although, as the sport grows, it's clear that Bovada is prepared to handle the expansion which is a huge plus.
We didn't see any live stream options on Bovada which isn't really a big deal as we've only seen that at a couple sites so far. Overall, the eSports platform on Bovada looks good and definitely looks set up to grow as the sport grows in size.
The trouble that Bovada faces when it comes to financial transactions is that they deal exclusively with people in the United States. That population traditionally struggles with gambling website deposits, thanks to American legislation that restricts how banks handle betting cash. The site has three different methods available to their customers for deposits.
North American citizens can use their Visa cards to deposit money into an account at Bovada. That includes branded debit cards attached to a checking account as well as that company's popular credit cards and some prepaid products as well. If that sounds too easy – there's a slight catch. Depositing using a Visa product requires you pay a fee of 4.9%. It's not so bad when you think about it this way – depositing $100 would cost you just under $5. Still, that's a significant bite out of your bankroll, so you may want to consider one of the other options on this list.
Rapid Transfer (Moneygram)
Rapid Transfer is a payment transfer system run by Moneygram. It's becoming a common deposit method for American customers, and it is available at Bovada. Because it's run by Moneygram, you can make your deposit at any kiosk or shop that handles Moneygram transactions or you can do it online or on the phone. Transaction time is about 24 hours, and you'll pay about $15 for most deposits, though Bovada will refund you the fee if you deposit $300 or more.
You can also withdraw via Rapid Transfer at Bovada Casino. Withdrawals are limited to winnings of between $100 and $2,000, and it's expensive, costing between $40 and $150. The transfers take from a week to ten days to complete, according to the site.
Withdrawing by check is the most-popular way for customers to get money from their Bovada account. Checks are delivered via Fed-Ex from Canada, and the site says they can arrive in as little as three business days, depending on where in the US or Canada you live. You can also take one totally-free check withdrawal each month; otherwise, each check will cost you $50.
Bovada has two options customers can use to contact their support staff – an online contact form and a toll-free phone number. The site promises a response to contact form submissions "within 4 hours," and an email I sent to them got a response inside an hour, so I tend to believe them when they say that. If you prefer to talk to someone, the contact number is available twenty-four hours a day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bovada does not cheat. They don't have to.
In the sportsbook, Bovada makes its money from the vig, which is the commission they charge for each wager. When you have to wager $110 to win $100, it's easy to see how the sportsbook remains profitable.
Besides that, Bovada would have to find a way to affect the outcome of a professional sports game. That's so unlikely that I'm not even going to address it.
In the casino, Bovada offers standard casino games. If you know anything about casino games, you know that the casino has a mathematical advantage because of the rules of each game. Cheating isn't necessary for the casino to make a profit.
In fact, online casinos who cheat with rigged software would make less money, because they'd have fewer players. News travels fast on the Internet, and reputation is more important than anything else in the gambling industry.
In the poker room, Bovada makes its money from the rake, which is a percentage of each pot that goes to the house. No cheating is necessary to make a profit.
When you investigate a crime, you look for things like motive and opportunity. The same can be done when investigating cheating in an online gambling site.
In Bovada's case, where's the motive to cheat?
They have an excellent reputation that they would destroy. All of their betting activities are already profitable. They have no motive.
Compared to most other sites in the industry, payouts at Bovada are very fast. Most players report receiving their checks within 2 to 3 weeks.
Bovada is a seven-day a week, 24 hours a day casino and Live Chat Customer Service is also available to players 24/7.
Bovada does accept players from the United States, depending on the state where the player lives. Bovada does not accept new accounts from players living in Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, or Washington.
The Morris Mohawk Gaming Group is a private online gaming company based in Canada. After Bodog left the USA market in 2006, MMGG negotiate a license to use that brand to market their gambling products. In 2011, MMGG decided to transition customers to a new brand, Bovada.
The short answer is that Morris Mohawk Gaming Group is Bovada's parent company.
If a line has a red outline, it means that the maximum for that particular wager has been reduced. They have various reasons for reducing the maximum bet you can make, and they can remove that red outline shortly before the game starts.
The blue line means that these wagers have restricted options. You cannot parlay a point spread with the total from the same event.
Once you've submitted a wager to Bovada, and once they've received it, you cannot cancel or modify that wager. This is a standard policy at sportsbooks, and you can expect this policy to be strictly enforced. If you're not responsible for you wagers, you shouldn't place them.
Be sure to review all of the information you've submitted for a wager before clicking on the "Place Bet" link.
Their site uses SSL encryption in order to protect your information. Older versions of browsers might trigger security alerts. If you receive such a message, check to make sure you're using the most recent version of your browser. Internet Explorer 7 or higher is optimal, although you can also use Opera or Firefox if you have a newer version.
Bovada operates best on computers using Internet Explorer 7 or higher. They recommend using a Pentium class computer with at least 32MB RAM and a high speed (56k+) Internet connection. Users have reported problems using the AOL default browser, so stick with Internet Explorer, even if you're an AOL customer.
Bovada Casino is one of the best-reviewed US-facing gambling sites, offering a wide variety of betting products under one roof to customers that have a difficult time finding safe and legal online wagers.
The site uses a fun blend of software platforms as well as twenty-four hour customer service options to provide a user-friendly experience.
If Bovada would offer live dealer casino games, it would be close to a perfect place for Americans to gamble. As it is, I still say North American customers don't have a better option for sports betting or casino gambling than what's available at Bovada.