When it comes to the world of online casino games, there’s really only king – poker. Other games have huge followings as well of course, but poker is out on its own as the most popular, available everywhere on line in both mobile poker and desktop apps. With its emphasis on skill and one-on-one competition – and the large sums of money to be won – it’s not hard to see why the game is increasingly going mainstream.
As the dominant casino game, it’s no surprise that poker also boasts the most diverse range of incentives to play it. The variety of online poker bonus offers available to entice new players into the game these days – or keep existing players from drifting away – is truly impressive.
This article will cover the main types of online poker bonuses out there and explore the reasons the casinos make them. We’ll also give you some tips on how to approach the whole subject of bonus offers as a player and what you need to know about cashing them in.
Let’s start with a look at the type of offers available.
Online Poker Bonus Offers – Exploring The Options
The basic division in poker bonus offers is similar to that of other casino table games. There will usually be one set of offers aimed at new account sign-ups and another targeting existing players. We’ll go through them roughly in order.
Deposit sign-up bonuses
By far the most common type of offer you’ll come across online is the deposit sign-up bonus offer. These are a straightforward proposition. The casino offers extra money to players simply for registering a new account.
To be eligible for deposit sign-up bonuses you’ll naturally need to make some sort of deposit into the account. This is where offers vary. Some casinos will offer to match whatever the total of your deposit is in bonus cash, others will offer a percentage of the deposit amount.
The key thing with both options, as with the other bonuses we’ll be outlining below, is to always check the relevant small print attached to the offer. To avoid disappointment, make sure you understand exactly what it is you’re signing up for in advance.
No deposit sign up bonuses
With no deposit sign-up bonuses, the casino is effectively staking your initial play by offering an amount that can be wagered immediately, regardless of whether you’ve deposited any funds.
For obvious reasons, these offers tend to come with much more stringent terms and conditions attached in order to discourage abuse.
Up Front bonuses
These are a relatively rare breed of deposit sign-up bonuses with no payout requirements attached. You deposit money, you get the bonus. Simple as that.
New depositor freerolls
A great way for newbies to get their feet wet, these are free tournaments open to new accounts. The money on offer will be low but it’s all good practice!
Now let’s move on the to second class of bonuses: poker bonus offers targeted at existing accounts.
Newbie players are often heavily influenced by seemingly big-money sign-up bonuses but grizzled veterans know the long-term value is in the reload bonuses.
These are bonuses you stand to profit from every time you deposit more funds to your account. They add up quickly over the lifetime of any regularly used account so if you find a provider you like with attractive reload bonuses, it’s worth sticking with them.
Refer friend bonuses
Related to the point above, if you have a casino or poker room you’re happy with, why not spread the good word to a friend? You could be in for a nice referral cut for your troubles.
Casinos know that there’s no recommendation quite as convincing as a word-of-mouth tip from a friend. The majority of them will have a personal referral scheme in place for players. Make sure you take advantage of it!
These are a kickback of a particular percentage of the rake you’ve paid to the house, sometimes as high as over 30%. Think of it like a buy-back in a bar. The clearing requirements are usually fairly high for these but they are invaluable for serious, regular players.
This last category is perhaps the broadest. All casinos run constant one-off, bonus-based promotions and competitions throughout the year, many of them celebrity led. Poker is a glamorous game and there’s been no shortage of well-known players over the years such as Wil Wheaton, Rafa Nadal and Steve Martin. Don’t be surprised if you see a famous face pop up pitching a bonus offer!
An increasing number of playing rooms are also offering non-cash incentives to players via loyalty schemes and redeemable reward points as they seek to establish themselves as lifestyle brands. It’s an interesting trend and one you could benefit from if you play your cards right.
How To Approach Poker Bonus Offers As A Player
Before we go any further, it’s worth considering the mentality you should employ as a player when weighing up competing bonus offers. Poker is a mental game after all, mindset is always crucial.
Account hopping and bonus chasing is a habit that appeals strongly to many newer players. It’s a good, low-risk way of checking out a variety of sites and testing yourself against different player pools. Plus, all things being well, you stand to pocket a few bucks along the way.
Be wary of going too far down this road though. You risk diluting your focus and moving away from the matter at hand: improving your overall game and making real money playing poker online. You’re looking to win big long-term, not skim off a few dollars here and there on free handouts.
If you’re testing a number of bonus offers simultaneously, make sure you’ve got the bankroll to support it. You’ll only get that sign-up bonus once so planning your deposit sizing strategy is a must. You’ll also need to consider your account funding method – Paypal and Bitcoin are two common approaches here.
Overall, the the best way of approaching sign-up bonuses is as a useful, low-cost way of kicking the tires of a particular casino. The longer-term value is probably in the ongoing promotions after sign-up.
Staying Up To Speed With The Latest Online Poker Bonus Offers
With offers popping in and out of existence every day, it pays to keep on top of your current options at all times.
Your first port of call should be signing up to your casino’s social accounts to catch breaking offers as they are announced.
Some of the bigger casinos will also have a dedicated blog and/or newsletter that they use to promote poker bonuses directly to players so be sure to check these out also.
Clearing Your Poker Bonus Offers
Ok, we’ve covered the type of bonuses on offer and how to look for new ones. What about actually cashing them in?
Let’s clear up one point before we go any further. As a responsible gambler, it’s up to you to check the fine print on any bonus offer and make sure you fully understand it. Online forums are full of disappointed players blaming casinos for their own inability to read the terms and conditions. Don’t be one of those people.
Nearly all types of poker bonuses will have to be “cleared” before they can be released. This is typically done by players generating over a certain threshold of “rake” (the casino’s cut on each pot). You might see this done via points systems on some sites but it’s the same principle – you need to put money in to get money out.
One thing that catches players out when they’re starting off is that most bonuses come with expiry dates. They have to be cleared within a certain time period or the amount will be void. Set reminders for yourself when necessary to avoid this happening to you.
Another point to bear in mind is that bonuses are often cleared or released in stages. Don’t pin your hopes on instant lump-sums.
A final word of warning: many players are tempted to jump straight into multi-table play to generate the rake required for clearing certain bonuses. It’s a valid tactic but one to avoid when you’re new to the game. Learn to walk before you run.
Reasons Why Casinos Offer Poker Bonuses
Why are casinos operators offering all these bonuses in the first place? This is not a group of people reknowned for their generosity after all.
The basic reason is simple. Online poker is a rapidly growing and massively competitive industry. Casinos are in a fight to the death with each other to capture as many players as they can and keep them.
They’re also expert number-crunchers. Each bonus you see will have been carefully calculated against the casino’s expected Customer Lifetime Value. They’ll be reasonably sure they can give away a certain amount of money and still come out ahead on average.
None of that means you stand to lose of course. It simply means that casinos are using bonuses as part of an overall strategy they know will boost revenue down the line.
Other Casino Games Offering Bonuses
With what we’ve covered, you’re already in good shape for making your poker bonus decision. It’s not the only table game in town though. You’ll also find attractive bonuses on offer in all of the following:
- Blackjack: Blackjack bonuses tend to be a little less lucrative than other games but it’s still worth shopping around for value.
- Roulette: Decent monthly bonus offers and attractive deposit options are the norm in most online roulette offerings.
- Slots: Slot providers tend to concentrate on sign-up offers and free spins. There is value to be had if you look around.
We hope our short guide to the world of poker bonus offers will help you clear a path through the sometimes bewildering array of offers out there. The key overall is finding a good balance between a reputable provider, an attractive initial offer and lifetime bonuses that will pay off over the years.
Good luck out there on the tables!
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