Getting the Most from Online Poker Bonus Deals
The online poker industry is very competitive, and sites will use bonuses to entice players to join. With a little planning, you can use bonuses, free tournament entries and other welcome offers to get your poker bankroll off to a great start. Sites will also offer bonuses to existing players, there are huge differences between the best and the rest when it comes to how well loyal players are looked after.
This guide introduces the different types of bonus for players new to the world of online poker - explaining what to look out for to make sure you do not get a bad deal.
Types of Initial Poker Bonus
The most common type of poker bonus is an initial deposit bonus. This bonus will normally be based upon a percentage of your first deposit. As examples, you might find sites offering a 100% deposit bonus up to $500, or a 25% deposit bonus up to £200. These bonuses may also have a minimum deposit amount attached.
Many sites add extras on top, for example tournament entries, software downloads or even training site membership.
You will find some real money bonuses which do not require any deposit. One example is 888 Poker, who give new players up to $88 free. This starts with $8 and then adds 10 more $8 increments as you collect points by playing real money games. If you run well early, you may never need to deposit at all.;
Some information sites have their own offers to go alongside the standard deals - including this site! Examples include $20 extra free at Titan Poker and up to $88 in real money play free from 888 Poker too. More on those at the end of this page.
There are bigger differences in the ongoing rewards offered by poker sites than the welcome bonuses. Most sites nowadays have some kind of loyalty scheme, they'll offer you bonuses based on points accumulated by playing real money games. Some of these are 'flat', while others move you up tiers based on point targets - offering bigger bonuses as a reward. The best of these is the 'VIP Club' at PokerStars. Here the top tier (SuperNova Elite) can earn players around $100,000 per year in bonuses, before you include any profits!
Tournament entries, in the form of freerolls or exclusive offers for players at certain loyalty scheme tiers are another way of looking after regulars. Often, points earned can be exchanged for goods like electronics in special stores.
Another common practice is to offer reload bonuses. This is great for recreational players, offering them a 100% match (for example) for additional deposits. Sometimes, reloads will come packaged with tournament entries. You'll also find higher points collection for playing during certain times or in certain games. Entry to qualifier games to live poker tournaments are another common way of rewarding regular players.
Missions and Challenges
A more recent way of adding interest to the games and rewarding players at the same time is via missions or challenges. Examples include 'Titan Treasures' or the missions at Party Poker. You'll be given goals of increasing difficulty (for example, cash in 3 SNGs in a row) and rewarded with tournament entries or cash bonuses. What I like about these is that they give you the opportunity to experience different games while you get the rewards.
Cashing your Poker Bonuses
Normally you’ll not receive your bonus funds right away, as you’ll have to earn them by playing poker games. You’ll generally find that bonuses are cleared by you generating a stated amount of ‘rake’ (the small commission a poker site takes from each winning pot). Some sites will require you to earn a stated amount of player points to release the bonus – this is essentially the same as rake, as you’ll earn these points through the amount of rake you generate anyway.
Some bonuses will be released in stages – for example an overall bonus of $100 might be released in ten payments of $10, while other bonuses will give you the full amount at the end of the bonus clearance period. All poker bonuses will have an expiry date, which will generally be at least a month into the future, although this can vary.
Whenever choosing a particular bonus you should always check the terms and conditions of the bonus. This is where you’ll find the full details of the bonus, and you should ensure you read these as there is nothing more disappointing than failing to receive a bonus because you have missed something in the small print.
Evaluating Poker Bonuses
There are two key questions you should ask before opting for a poker bonus:
Can I realistically generate that amount of rake at the stakes I’ll be playing at?
Will I be able to complete the bonus before the expiry date of the bonus?
If the answer to either of these questions is ‘No’ then this clearly isn’t the bonus for you. For example you might be offered a $50 bonus at one site which pays out in increments of $10, where another site offers a one-time bonus payment of $100. You might consider that it is doubtful that you’ll be able to complete the entire bonus requirements for either – in which case you should choose the smaller bonus, where you’ll earn at least some bonus money if not completing the overall requirements.
Clearing a Poker Bonus Faster
One of the advantages of playing online poker is that you’ll be able to play more than one table at a time. This will enable you to clear the bonus amounts much quicker – for example, if you were to play four tables you would be clearing the ‘rake’ or the ‘poker points’ four times quicker than when playing at one table.
Another way of clearing a poker bonus quicker is to play for higher stakes. If you are playing NL10 as opposed to NL5 you’ll generate twice as much rake.
Obviously playing more tables or moving up in stake could have an impact on your win-rate which could actually negate the bonus amount – if you’re actually losing money by 4-tabling this is not a good idea! So you should only consider playing more tables or increasing stakes if you are comfortable doing so and your win rate is not impacted greatly.
Poker Bonuses Overview
Choosing the right poker bonus can give your bankroll a great lift, so take some time to figure out which is the best for you. Many players will automatically go for the bonus with the biggest numbers attached, but this is pointless if it ultimately means you’ll earn nothing at all – be smart and make the choice which gives you the best chance of that extra money.
High Tech Gambling Specials
Here are the two offers I mentioned earlier, at Titan (for international players) and Carbon Poker (for US players).
Titan Poker $20 Extra Free
Titan Poker are part of the giant iPoker Network running PlayTech software. Most brands on this network are the big name European sportsbooks, which means the tables are full of recreational players (keeping the games profitable). High Tech Gambling readers get $20 extra cash in addition to the 200% welcome bonus at Titan. Use bonus code PBCLUB, and I'll ensure that the extra is in your player account within 48 hours (usually sooner). You'll also find a great mission-based reward scheme here, known as 'Titan Treasures'. Check out www.titanpoker.com for yourself.
888 Poker $88 Upfront, No Deposit or Card Info Needed
888 are a huge success story in recent years, and have grown to become the 2nd largest poker site online. They offer up to $88 in cash game buy-ins and tournament entries for every new player - no deposit required. This starts off with $8, then adds 10 more lots of $8 as you earn points in the games. If you like what you find (and most people do) then you can claim a 100% matched deposit bonus at any point down the line. I also recommend you check out the revamped 888 loyalty program while you are enjoying the games. See www.888poker.com for the details.
If you are based in the US, try this page for the best current US Poker Sites.