Bitcoin History Part 14: The 1,000 BTC Poker Game

Bitcoin and poker have a history that stretches back to the very start. Perhaps, even, to before the start of Bitcoin as we know it, for there is evidence that Satoshi had a background in poker. What’s beyond dispute is that in March 2010, the world’s first bitcoin poker tournament took place, with the nascent digital currency serving as the unit of account. The buy in was set at 50 BTC, with the victor walking away with the then-worthless prize of 1,000 BTC.

Also read: Bitcoin History Part 13: The First Mining Pool

The World’s First Pseudonymous Poker Game

BitcoinFX” was an early Bitcointalk forum user whose claims to fame include establishing the first bitcoin to fiat exchange, which operated by email only, in 2010. That same year, BitcoinFX achieved another first when he organized the first bitcoin poker game. In a thread posted March 10 titled “The Worlds First Sudo-Anonymous Poker Tournament,” BitcoinFX wrote: “I’ve decided to run a tournament with Bitcoins ! No ‘real’ money will change hands.”

At the time, bitcoin was as close to worthless as it was possible to get, at least when measured in fiat currency terms, with the best estimates pricing 333 BTC to a dollar. To its early adopters, though, bitcoin was already immensely valuable; it’s just that it would take some time for the rest of the world to catch on. In the meantime, there were use cases to be developed, fun to be had, and “electric bottle tops” to be won as BitcoinFX described the coins that would be wagered in his inaugural tournament.

Bitcoin History Part 14: The 1,000 BTC Poker Game
The forum post announcing the first bitcoin poker game

The Half a Million Dollar Buy-In

It is disingenuous to calculate 2010’s BTC by today’s prices. Nevertheless, let the record show that if the game that took place on March 20, 2010 were to be repeated today, the 50 BTC buy-in would set you back over $500,000. As it was, it was priced at the coinbase reward for discovering a new block, and in early 2010,…

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