Online poker offers unique opportunities that are not generally present in live games. The exploding popularity of poker has led to a widespread network of online gaming providers that are eager to capture your gambling dollars. As a result, poker rooms routinely offer bonuses to lure and retain players.
Creative marketing and generous bonus offers are staples of online gaming these days, so it pays to tap them for all they are worth. Every provider handles bonus payouts in their own way, but there is plenty of free bonus money available for the taking – especially for new players.
Types of Bonuses
Finding the best bonuses starts with understanding how online casinos reward their customers. Several types of bonuses dominate online poker rewards, including:
Perhaps the most lucrative free poker money grab online, this player reward is reserved for newbies. To lure a steady stream of fresh poker talent, online vendors typically match first-time deposits, up to a certain dollar amount.
Some welcome bonuses are expressed as percentages of a player’s initial deposit, such as ’100% match of first deposit, up to $200′. In the example, a player making a deposit of two-hundred would expect to be rewarded with a $200 welcome bonus poker credit at the site. Welcome bonuses are capped at various levels to keep reward programs within reasonable limits.
Welcome bonus distribution varies according to provider preference, but getting your hands on your welcome credits usually involves meeting some type of performance standard. And bonuses are dispensed in partial installments that reward you for reaching preset milestones. A common welcome bonus structure might impose a certain number of hands or a specific amount of wagering to qualify for funds. Fifty dollars wagered, for example, might earn a $10 welcome bonus installment for a new player.
Understanding the terms and conditions of your online poker bonuses is essential to maximizing your bank roll using house money. Sign-up bonuses represent the same type of rewards as welcome bonuses, reinforcing the fact that these are one-time offers – only extended to players who are first-timers to a particular site.
Making the most of sign-up bonuses is made easier by following these proven strategies:
Use large initial deposits to ‘limit-out’ on welcome bonus matches. If an online poker provider is willing to match your deposit up to $200, then don’t leave money on the table by making a $100 buy-in.
Play multiple tables to satisfy your welcome bonus requirements faster. When your welcome bonus terms require you to log a certain number of hands, in order to claim your free credits, playing two tables at a time gets you there twice as fast. Some welcome bonuses impose time limits on satisfying reward requirements. When time is of the essence, multi-table play is especially effective for locking-in free credits.
Tournaments and high-stakes rounds are used to satisfy wagering requirements that unlock welcome bonuses. The effect is similar to playing multiple tables, when higher wagers mean faster bonuses. A portion of each tournament entry fee is applied toward releasing bonus credits, and tourney play can also be used to accumulate ‘points’ that earn bonuses.
Sign-up at multiple sites. You are a new player to each site you have never joined, so tap first-deposit offers and other welcome bonuses at more than one site.
No Deposit Bonuses
Essentially a spin on welcome bonuses, no-deposit bonuses are the closest thing you’ll find to free-money poker windfalls. Instead of matching opening deposits dollar for dollar, casinos that offer no-deposit bonuses simply provide a stack of real chips for you to play with. Because they are not matching funds you’re depositing, online casinos that offer these bonuses impose stringent eligibility requirements.
While no-deposit bonus money is real, and can be wagered in cash games, players cannot withdraw the bonus funds until they have wagered significant amounts of chips. Once these conditions are met, however, players are allowed to keep the bonus bucks, in addition to any winnings they have earned with the no-deposit credits.
Time limits are common features of no-deposit bonuses; requiring players to meet their marks within certain time frames. Failure to meet the conditions of the offer forfeits the bonus and any associated winnings.
Like the frequent flyer miles of online gambling, reload bonuses reward players for ongoing patronage. As players add more money to their existing accounts, poker providers kick in with low percentage matches that pad online bankrolls with house money. Terms and conditions of reload offers vary between online poker sites, so understanding each offer is essential to making prudent deposits.
Just as other companies reward existing customers for bringing in new business, online poker providers offer referral programs that reward the practice. Programs work like this: When you entice another party to sign-up at a particular site, you are in line to receive bonus gaming credits there. The caveat: You don’t get your referral bonus until your associate has logged a preset number of hands or wagers.
Just like whales get comped in Vegas, some virtual players enjoy VIP perks from online casinos. Online poker sites use a variety of standards to establish VIP status, so its up to you to make the proper marks with your service provider.
Free poker money has a nice ring to it. Consider these appealing opportunities provided by online poker bonuses:
Play with house money from the get go. There is a comfortable safety net in place when your early online poker play is subsidized by the house. Bonuses, especially welcome credits, pad your bankroll when you need it most.
Finance your learning curve with sign-up bonuses. You’ll surely make some missteps as you get a handle on your favorite online poker games, but with bonus credits in place, you can afford to learn on the fly. Bonus cash cushions instill confidence in emerging players, allowing them to focus on the game, rather than on their dwindling bankrolls.
Real-money poker comes quickly. Most sites offer free-play options that help players with software and procedural concerns. With first-deposit bonuses, players rapidly move from practice-poker to real-money games.