Any successful player will tell you that success in poker is all about extracting maximum value. You extract value by getting paid with strong hands, practicing careful table selection, and taking full advantage of online poker bonuses and deposit promotions. This is what I did in my early days as a poker pro and it paid off in spades. Poker deposit bonuses played a key role in building my bankroll when I was first getting started. I used bonuses to turn a $200 deposit into a $2,000 bankroll and was able to take it from there on my own.
Let’s start with a look at a few of the best poker bonus offers available right now:
Poker bonuses aren’t just useful for aspiring pros; they work well for anyone interested in cashing out a little extra spending cash. All you have to do is make a deposit and play poker. As you play, the bonus funds are released into your account.
How Online Poker Bonuses Work
For those who are totally new to online poker. The idea of free cash probably sounds almost too good to be true.
Well, online poker bonuses really are a good deal. Poker sites offer to add extra cash to your first deposit. The site then asks you to “clear” the bonus by playing in real money games. At most online poker sites, you earn loyalty points for playing in games. As you earn points, the bonus is released to your account.
It might help to explain how online poker sites earn money. Every time you play a pot in a cash game or pay a tournament fee, the poker site keeps a small percentage for itself. A typical poker site might keep 3-4% of every pot and 10% of every tournament buyin as its rake. The more you play, the more the poker site earns.
As you clear a poker deposit bonus, you help the poker site generate rake. You also help keep the games populated, which in turn attracts other players who also contribute to the rake. This all helps offset the cost of the promotion.
Generating rake is how all poker rooms pay for expenses and earn profits.
So, you do pay for your bonus in a roundabout sort of way. But even so, bonuses are very much worthwhile. You’re going to pay the rake no matter what so you might as well get a bonus while you’re at it. If you’re skilled enough to break even after paying the rake, your bonus money is just extra icing on the cake.
Types of Online Poker Promotions
Poker bonuses usually come in a few different forms. Each type has its own advantages, but they all offer you extra money to play poker. Finding the signup incentive that works best for you is a matter of understanding how each one works.
First Deposit Bonus
The first deposit (or welcome) bonus is what you’ll find the majority of the time. First deposit bonuses are generally largest poker bonuses available and are intended specifically for new customers.
The size of poker deposit bonuses are almost always tied to the size of your first deposit on a percentage basis. Visit any poker website and you’ll see advertisements for 100% signup bonuses.
Sometimes called match bonuses, these offers have match rates that range from 100% to 200%. For example, a 100% bonus doubles to your first deposit. Deposit 200 and you’ll end up with 400 in total. A 200% bonus triples your first deposit. Deposit 200 and you’ll get 400 on top of that for a grand total of 600.
Our advice for poker welcome bonuses is to take full advantage of them. Deposit as much as you can comfortably afford and do your best to max out the bonus. You only get a welcome bonus one time, so you want to make the most of it.
Most bonuses require you to play enough games to unlock the cash. Upfront poker bonuses are different; you get your bonus as soon as you deposit and can start playing with it right away.
There are two downsides to upfront bonuses. First, they are hard to find. You’re most likely to find this type of offer at sports betting sites that also offer poker. Second, these are often smaller bonuses with lower match rates.
A typical upfront bonus promotion might be something like 20% up to $100. Depositing 500 and get an extra $100.
No-Deposit Poker Bonuses
No-deposit poker bonuses offer you funds without requiring a deposit. All you have to do is sign up for an account and funds will be added as a thank you, enough to let you try the games and get a feel for the poker site without risking any of your own money.
In most cases, you’ll have to make a deposit before you can withdraw the bonus money. All bonuses come with terms and conditions and no-deposit offers are no exception. They’re small but they do come in handy if you’re not entirely sold on a particular site.