With few exceptions, online poker bonuses aren’t simply placed into your cash account when you deposit. Learn the best ways to actually see the money poker sites love to advertise.
What is an Online Poker Bonus?
Poker bonuses look like extra money online poker rooms offer players to get them to sign up to play as a new player, or to reload their account to continue playing. They are usually expressed on an online poker site as something like, “Get a 100% bonus up to $500 on your first deposit!!!11!! We’re the best! Really and truly!”
Of course, not all poker room bonuses are created equally even if they look the same. The total amount of the bonus is not all there is to it. You also need to know what is required to clear each bonus. Continue reading to find out how important bonuses are, how to clear them and if should you be a bonus chaser.
How Important are Online Poker Bonuses?
The most important part of any poker player’s career is the bottom line. In other words, as a serious poker player you want to be as profitable as possible. It would seem that the more bonuses you can get the more profitable you will be, but this may not always be the case.
Play at a poker site where you actually win
If you are more profitable at an online poker room that does not offer bonuses than at one that does, where should you play? Let me give you an extreme example that will hopefully make this point crystal clear.
Let’s say you are the 100th best poker player in the world and the 99 players who are better than you all play at poker site ABC. The games at the limits you play are filled with these players so even with bonuses you barely break even while playing there.
On site XYZ none of the top 99 players participate so you are the best player and consistently win $50 an hour. Site XYZ does not offer bonuses and site ABC offers a bonus that you can clear at the rate of roughly $5 an hour. Where is it most profitable to play? Of course it is more profitable to play at room XYZ where there is no bonus in this example.
The entire thing comes down to where you can combine your most profitable play with the most bonuses that you can clear. If you are still learning how to be a winning player, bonuses can help keep your bankroll alive while you are improving, but don’t let the extra bonus money let you play at less than your best.
How to Clear an Online Poker Bonus
Every online poker room has different requirements for clearing their bonuses. Some of them are based on acquiring a certain amount of player’s club or VIP points while others require a certain number of raked hands above a certain limit.
Online poker bonuses boil down to paying a certain amount of rake, even if they don’t come out and say that. Most poker bonuses are released in parts instead of all at once. For example, your bonus may be released in $5 increments as you gain points.
Know the conditions for clearing
Because of all the different procedures, and they have been known to change from time to time, the only way you can know exactly how to clear a bonus at your chosen poker room is to read the terms and conditions, also known as the small print, related to the bonus.
Most poker rooms make their clearing requirements pretty clear, but if there is anything you have a question about make sure to contact the support department at the poker room. For example, do you only receive credit for hands where you contribute to the pot or do you get credit for being dealt into a raked hand?
How much bonus will you earn per hour?
I always find it helpful to try to figure out roughly how much I will earn an hour from clearing the bonus. You should know roughly how many hands per hour you play at your table limits, which can give you an idea of the rake you will contribute as most online poker bonuses are based on rake.
When you combine this information with the requirements to clear the bonus you should be able to easily determine your hourly bonus clearing rate. This is a great way to compare the bonuses between two or more poker rooms.
Should You Chase Poker Bonuses?
The short answer is probably and you should chase poker bonuses if you can do it profitably. Just in case you don’t understand what chasing bonuses means, here is a short explanation. Chasing online poker bonuses, also called bonus whoring, is playing at a large number of poker rooms in order to clear bonuses at each of them.
Between deposit bonuses for new depositing players and reload bonuses, you may be able to be clearing a bonus just about all of the time. This does depend on the availability of poker rooms, which is easier in some parts of the world than others.
In the days before online poker’s Black Friday, if you lived in the United States there were enough poker rooms that you could always be playing for a bonus. Now your choices are limited, but there are still some decent options.
It always comes down to personal profits
Some of the reasoning included in the section above on the importance of poker bonuses applies here as well. Just about every decision you make as a poker player boils down to the long term profitability. If chasing bonuses is the most profitable use of your time as a poker player then you should do it. If it is more profitable to play at one place and not chase bonuses then that is what you should do.
Final thoughts about online poker bonuses
Finding and using poker bonuses is a great way to help build your bankroll. If you are smart about determining how profitable each bonus truly is and make sure to focus on the ones with the easiest to clear terms you can really improve your hourly profit.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of how each bonus works and keep working on becoming the most profitable poker player as you possibly can.