Poker, unlike practically any other game at an online casino, relies on technique and skill as well as just plain luck. This means that poker is a game where you stand a good chance of coming out on top, if you play your cards right.
But it’s not only about the hand you are dealt, because you can also get some extra value with a poker bonus. Maybe you already know about the different types of casino sign up bonuses, but what makes poker bonuses different and how do they work? Let’s dive in.
What is a poker bonus?
A poker bonus is a reward or incentive for poker players, offered by pretty much every online poker room or casino. If poker is your game, then you need to find a poker-specific offer. This is because a poker bonus is a little different to a run of the mill casino promotion.
The purpose of the bonus is the same, however – to encourage new players to sign up at a site, or to give existing members an incentive to play some more. They are often advertised in a similar way to regular casino bonuses, for instance as a deposit match.
With a deposit match, the poker room gives you a percentage of your deposited cash on top. For example, a 100% match up to $500. In this case, when you deposit $200 you will get another $200 in bonus. The maximum bonus you can get is $500 when you deposit $500, giving you $1000 in total. So, how does this differ from any regular welcome offer?
How poker bonuses are different
With a regular casino sign up bonus, you get the casino credit and use it to play whichever games you like. You must also satisfy the playthrough or wagering requirements, which are there to prevent the casino from losing too much money on these offers.
Poker differs from other virtual casino games, which are controlled by a random number generator and involve the player against the house. With poker you play against other people, so the casino doesn’t want to hand you a big lump sum of bonus cash in one go.
Why is that? Because if you join a table and lose all that bonus in a short time, then it ends up in the pocket of other players and the house loses out. So instead, the poker room releases the full value of the bonus only in increments that depend on how much you play. As you play, you are also generating rake for the poker room, which is the percentage of the pot that the house takes.
Let’s look at an example to make this clearer. Say you have a $200 poker bonus, and the poker site will release 10% at a time. You play until you earn the first $20 chunk, which will be based on how much you have wagered or how many points you have collected.
Some sites give you each $20 after the same amount of wagering, while others switch it up each time. However the poker room decides to do it, the result will be similar – cash bonus released gradually as you play poker.
Poker bonuses – the good
Poker bonuses offer far better value than most casino promotions, and they create a win-win scenario for the player and the provider. For a start, each increment of bonus released is in actual cash, meaning that you could simply withdraw it if you so wished. The poker room doesn’t lose out either, since by playing you are generating more rake than the value of the bonus overall.
This rake would be generated as you play with or without the bonus, so it is in the interests of the player to accept the bonus offer. It is also recommended to make the most of a poker deposit match bonus, by making a larger initial deposit. Larger deposit matches may take longer to clear, but for regular and enthusiastic players this should be no issue. Poker rooms allow a generous amount of time to earn the bonus, typically between three and six months.
Poker bonuses – the bad
There is actually not too much negative to say about poker bonuses, although some are better than others. Be wary of sites where offers expire after just a month or so, as you may not have time to earn the full bonus amount. It can be challenging to earn the bonus release on low-stakes games as well, so for less experienced players the bonus may be of less value in the end.
The best way to clear the bonus is to play multiple tables at the same time, and to up the stakes. Of course, this is only practical if your poker ability is at a certain level. As you get better at poker, the bonuses become more worthwhile.
Other poker bonuses
The bonus type that we have described is by far the most common and popular offer to be found at online poker rooms. There are some other promotions that you will find, for example tokens for various tournaments. These tokens are usually offered alongside regular poker bonuses as an added extra.
You may get the chance to qualify for a major competition such as the WSOP, or tokens of a small dollar value to enter and play in a smaller tournament.
Choosing a good poker bonus
When you are deciding which poker bonus to choose, look beyond the monetary value. Examine the terms and conditions carefully, and consider how easy or difficult it would be to earn the bonus. Steer clear of sites that ask you to get everything done in just a month.
The most important thing of all is to select a poker room with a good reputation and proper licensing. The site you choose will depend on where you live, but all good operators are fully licensed and regulated. Digital security is paramount, especially where financial transactions are involved.