If you’re deciding whether to join a mining pool or not, it can be helpful to think of it like a lottery syndicate – the pros and cons are exactly the same. Going solo means you won’t have to share the reward, but your odds of getting a reward are significantly decreased. Although a pool has a much larger chance of solving a block and winning the reward, that reward will be split between all the pool members.

In bitcoin’s case, the current difficulty level is so high that it’s practically impossible for soloists to make a profit mining. Unless, of course, you happen to have a garage full of ASICs sitting in Arctic conditions. If you’re a beginner, joining a mining pool is a great way to reap a small reward over a short period of time. Indeed, pools are a way to encourage small-scale miners to stay involved.

What to mine?
Of course, bitcoin is not the only currency out there – we sort out a lists of mining pools for your chosen cryptocurrency in 2014 under SHA-256 algorithm :-
Bitcoin(BTC), amkoin(AMK), arkhash(ARK), AsicCoin(ASC), battlecoin(BCX), ben(BEN), Betacoin(BET), bonuscoin(BNS), bitpeso(BTP), coin2(C2), cryptoeagle(CREA), continuumcoin(CTM), dem(DEM), devcoin(DVC), ferengicoin(FER), FireFlyCoin(FFC), freicoin(FRC), fastcoinsha(FSS), hongkongcoin(HKC), IXCoin(IXC), cryptoloot(LOOT), mazacoin(MZC), Namecoin(NMC), orobit(ORO), OpenSourceCoin(OSC), pmc(PMC), PPCoin(PPC), ptcoin(PT), pwnycoin(PWNY), scotcoin(SCOT), shacoinnew(SHA), speedcoin(SPC), STLcoin(STL), takicoin(TAK), teacoin(TEA), Tekcoin(TEK), Tigercoin(TGC), terracoin(TRC), unbreakablecoin(UNB), Unobtanium(UNO), version(V), wearesatoshi(WAS), Joulecoin(XJO), creds(XXC), Zetacoin(ZET), zimstake(ZS)

Pool rewards
When deciding which mining pool to join, you need to weigh up how each pool shares out its payments and what fees (if any) it deducts.

There are many schemes by which pools can divide payments. Most of which concentrate of the amount of ‘shares’ which a miner has submitted to the pool as ‘proof of work’.

The most basic version of dividing payments this way is the ‘pay per share’ (PPS) model. Variations on this puts limits on the rate paid per share; for example, equalised shared maximum pay per share (ESMPPS), or shared maximum pay per share (SMPPS). Pools may or may not prioritise payments for how recently miners have submitted shares: for example, recent shared maximum pay per share (RSMPPS).

Here is the list of popular Mining Pools for your information :-

Reward types & explanation:

  • CPPSRB – Capped Pay Per Share with Recent Backpay. [1]
  • DGM – Double Geometric Method. A hybrid between PPLNS and Geometric reward types that enables to operator to absorb some of the variance risk. Operator receives portion of payout on short rounds and returns it on longer rounds to normalize payments. [2]
  • ESMPPS – Equalized Shared Maximum Pay Per Share. Like SMPPS, but equalizes payments fairly among all those who are owed. [3]
  • POT – Pay On Target. A high variance PPS variant that pays on the difficulty of work returned to pool rather than the difficulty of work served by pool [4]
  • PPLNS – Pay Per Last N Shares. Similar to proportional, but instead of looking at the number of shares in the round, instead looks at the last N shares, regardless of round boundaries.
  • PPLNSG – Pay Per Last N Groups (or shifts). Similar to PPLNS, but shares are grouped into “shifts” which are paid as a whole.
  • PPS – Pay Per Share. Each submitted share is worth certain amount of BC. Since finding a block requires <current difficulty> shares on average, a PPS method with 0% fee would be 25 BTC divided by <current difficulty>. It is risky for pool operators, hence the fee is highest.
  • Prop. – Proportional. When block is found, the reward is distributed among all workers proportionally to how much shares each of them has found.
  • RSMPPS – Recent Shared Maximum Pay Per Share. Like SMPPS, but system aims to prioritize the most recent miners first. [5]
  • Score – Score based system: a proportional reward, but weighed by time submitted. Each submitted share is worth more in the function of time t since start of current round. For each share score is updated by: score += exp(t/C). This makes later shares worth much more than earlier shares, thus the miner’s score quickly diminishes when they stop mining on the pool. Rewards are calculated proportionally to scores (and not to shares). (at slush’s pool C=300 seconds, and every hour scores are normalized)
  • SMPPS – Shared Maximum Pay Per Share. Like Pay Per Share, but never pays more than the pool earns. [6]
Name Location TH/s[1] Merged Mining[2] Reward Type Transaction fees PPS Fee Other Fee GWK STM GBT Launched Variance Forum Website
50BTC Germany/USA/Russia No PPS or PPLNS kept by pool 6%[3][4] 1.5%[3][4] Yes Yes 2011-11-11 User[5] link link
ABCPool.co USA No PPS[6] kept by pool 5% Yes No No 2011-08-02 Diff 1 link link
alvarez.sfek.kz Kazakhstan 0.06 No PPLNS kept by pool 0% Yes 2012-04-19 Diff 1 link link
Bitalo USA/Europe 1.1 No PPLNS shared 0% Yes Yes 2014-04-08 Dynamic link
BitClockers USA/Europe NMC PPS kept by pool 8% Yes 2011-05-27 Diff 1 link link
BitcoinMining.Co USA No kept by pool kept by pool 2% Yes 2013-08-13 Diff 1 link link
BitcoinPool.com USA No Prop. kept by pool 0% Yes 2011-03-08 Diff 1 link link
Slush’s pool (mining.bitcoin.cz) France 677 No Score shared 2% Yes 2010-11-27 User[5] link link
BitMinter USA/Germany 370 NMC PPLNSG shared 1% Yes Yes Yes 2011-06-26 User[5]/Dynamic link link
Blisterpool USA/Europe 0.4 Devcoin + bonus[7] PPLNS shared 2% Yes Yes Yes 2014-02-01 User[5]/Dynamic link link
BTCPoolman UK/Europe 0.5 No Prop. shared 2% Yes Yes No 2013-03-01 Diff 1 Twitter Register
BTC Guild USA/Europe 6600 NMC PPLNSG shared 2% Yes Yes No 2011-05-09 User[5]/Dynamic link link
BTC Oxygen Europe No PPS kept by pool 2% Yes Yes 2012-11-01 Diff 1 link link
BTCMine USA 0.1 No Score kept by pool 0% Yes 2011-03-11 Diff 1 link link
BTCDig USA 7 No DGM kept by pool 0% Yes 2013-07-04 User[5]/Dynamic 20SPM link link
BTCmow Europe No PPLNS kept by pool 2.5% Yes 2013-05-31 Diff 1 link link
btcmp.com Germany 1.4 No PPS kept by pool 4% Yes 2011-06-28 Diff 1 link
BTCWarp USA No Score kept by pool 0% Yes 2011-07-29 Diff 1 link link
Coin Miners USA No PPLNS kept by pool 0% Yes 2014-02-27 Diff 1 link link
CoinLab Protected Pool USA No PPS kept by pool 2-5% Yes 2012-08-09 Diff 1 link
Coinotron Poland No DGM kept by pool 0% Yes 2011-07-06 Diff 1 link link
DeepBit Germany 0.1 No PPS/Prop. kept by pool 10% 3% Yes 2011-02-26 Diff 1 link link
Eclipse Mining Consortium USA/Europe/Australia/Asia 246 No DGM/PPS kept by pool 5% 0% Yes Yes Yes 2011-06-14 User[5]/Dynamic link link
Eligius USA 4000 NMC105% PPS[8] CPPSRB shared 0% Yes Yes Yes 2011-04-27 Dynamic: 32 shares/m link link
GHash.IO Netherlands 7000 NMC, IXC,Devcoin PPLNS shared 0% 0% No Yes No 2013-07-01 User[5] link link
Give Me COINS USA, Europe 25 NMC PPLNS shared 0% No Yes Yes 2013-08-12 Dynamic link link
MaxBTC USA NMC DGM kept by pool 0% Yes 2012-03-15 Diff 1 link link
Merge Mining Pool USA 50 NMC, IXC,Devcoin DGM shared 1.5% No Yes No 2012-01-08 User[5] link link
Multipool USA, Europe 40 NMC, IXC,Devcoin Prop. shared 0% Yes Yes No 2012-03-15 User link link
MuPool USA/Europe 6 No PPLNS shared 0% Yes Yes Yes 2014-02-23 Dynamic link link
Ozcoin USA/Europe/Australia 4 No DGM/PoT shared on DGM 1%/2% No Yes No 2011-06-07 User[5]/Dynamic link link
PolishPool Poland/USA/China 5 NMC IXC DEV PPLNS/PPS shared 0% 0% Yes Yes Yes 2013-07-07 User[5]/Dynamic link link
P2Pool Earth (P2P) 170 Solo[9] PPLNS shared 0% No[10] No[10] No 2011-06-17 User[5] link
pool.itzod.ru Russia 38 No RSMPPS shared 0% Yes Yes Yes 2011-08-01 User[5] RUEN link
PolMine Poland 700 NMC SMPPS shared 1% 0% Yes Yes Yes 2011-06-13 Dynamic/User link link
Triplemining Europe 7.5 No PPLNS[11] kept by pool 0% Yes Yes Yes 2011-06-28 Diff 1 for getwork/GBT, dynamic for stratum link link

Shares are a tricky concept to grasp. Keep two things in mind: firstly, mining is a process of solving cryptographic puzzles; secondly, mining has a difficulty level. When a miner ‘solves a block’ there is a corresponding difficulty level for the solution. Think of it as a measure of quality. If the difficulty rating of the miner’s solution is above the difficulty level of the entire currency, it is added to that currency’s block chain and coins are rewarded.

Additionally, a mining pool sets a difficulty level between 1 and the currency’s difficulty. If a miner returns a block which scores a difficulty level between the pool’s difficulty level and the currency’s difficulty level, the block is recorded as a ‘share’. There is no use whatsoever for these share blocks, but they are recorded as proof of work to show that miners are trying to solve blocks. They also indicate how much processing power they are contributing to the pool – the better the hardware, the more shares are generated.

The other factor to consider is how much the pool will deduct from your mining payments. Typical values range from 1% to 10%. However, some pools do not deduct anything.

Starting to mine with a pool
Having decided which currency to mine and which pool you’ll work for, it’s time to get started. You need to create an account on the pool’s website, which is just like signing up for any other web service. Once you have an account, you’ll need to create a ‘worker’. You can create multiple workers for each piece of mining hardware you’ll use. The default settings on most pools are for workers to be assigned a number as their name, and ‘x’ as their password, but you can change these to whatever you like.