Literally every poker site I have ever visited, reviewed or even heard about has had some sort of deposit bonus for new players. This is the most common type of promotion in the industry due to its popularity among players and effectiveness at attracting new customers. Additionally, poker bonuses encourage players to actually join tables and play. This in turn makes the poker site more attractive to other potential customers.
It is a difficult task to compare new player rewards because they vary so widely in structure and clearing requirements. The maximum size or match rate of a bonus never tells the whole story. However, I was able to come up with a fairly objective measurement for different bonuses by essentially looking at how much rake you end up paying as you clear bonuses.
How Deposit Bonuses Are Ranked
The rake to bonus dollar ratio is one of the most important factors I considered when evaluating these bonuses. As you may know, all poker bonuses must be “cleared” by playing in real money games and earning frequent player points. In doing so, you are subject to the normal rake that is taken from each pot.
So, what I did was calculate how the earning of frequent player points is handled at each site. In every case, frequent player points are awarded based on the rake taken from each pot. For example, William Hill gives you 10 points for every dollar paid in rake in cash games and every dollar paid in tournament fees.
From there, it was a simple matter to calculate a ratio that shows the relationship between rake paid and bonus dollar earned. The lower the ratio, the easier it is to clear the bonus.
Being exposed to rake isn’t necessarily a disadvantage to getting a poker bonus. After all, you’re going to pay the rake no matter what – bonus or no bonus. The reason I consider this ratio so important is because it serves as a measuring stick by which we can measure how long different bonuses take to clear. The faster a bonus is cleared, the faster you get your money.
Some poker incentives look awesome at first glance with high maximum bonus amounts and match percentages. Take a closer look and you’ll find that the biggest bonuses often come with the most difficult clearing requirements. Looking at how much rake we end up paying per bonus dollar earned gives us a level playing field by which to measure bonuses.
Here’s what I found at each of the major poker sites:
- 100% up to $1,000
- Bonus Code: None needed
- Minimum deposit to get bonus: No minimum
- Clearing Requirements: 5 frequent player points per bonus dollar
- Rake to Bonus Dollar Ratio: 5:1 in cash games and about 1.7:1 in tournaments
- Time to Clear: 60 days
- Claim Your Bonus: www.bovada.lv
Frequent player points are earned at Bovada in both ring games and tournaments. You earn 3 points for every $1.00 paid in tournament fees and up to 1 point per hand played in cash games. For example, playing in a $20+$2 tournament would net you 6 poker points.
Points are awarded in cash games based on how much rake you contribute per hand. For example, if you participate in a hand against one other person and $1 is raked, you would be credited with contributing $0.50 in rake and earn .5 poker points. As an average, you earn about 1 poker point per dollar contributed in rake in cash games.
- 200% up to $2,000
- Bonus Code: POKERNEW
- Minimum deposit to get bonus: $50
- Clearing Requirements: about 28.09 frequent player points per bonus dollar
- Rake to Bonus Dollar Ratio: about 2.8:1
- Time to Clear: 120 days
- Claim Your Bonus: www.betonline.ag
The value of BetOnline’s deposit bonus was a little tricky to calculate because it is released in five stages. Each stage requires a greater number of frequent player points per dollar in bonus money. For example, the first stage of the bonus releases 10% of the bonus at a rate of 3.03 points per dollar. Stage five requires 65.23 points per dollar. I just averaged the total number of points required at each stage to give you a general sense of how many points per dollar would be required over the course of the bonus. This measurement isn’t precise, but serves as a decent measurement.
Frequent player points at BetOnline are called “pop” points. These are earned at a rate of 10 pop points per dollar paid in rake in cash games and tournaments.
- 100% up to $1,000
- Bonus Code: none needed
- Clearing requirements: 27.5 award points per bonus dollar
- Rake to Bonus Dollar Ratio: 5:1
- Time to Clear: 60 days
- Claim Your Bonus: www.americascardroom.eu
Award points are earned at a rate of 5.5 per dollar paid in tournament fees and for every dollar contributed to the rake in cash games. With each dollar in bonus requiring 27.5 points, you end up paying $5 in rake for every $1 in bonus money.
How Poker Bonuses Work
A deposit bonus is a real-money incentive offered by poker sites to new players. These bonuses are issued as a percentage match rate of each player’s first deposit in order to encourage players to sign up and make a big deposit. Ever since the first poker site offered a bonus, poker players have used these bonuses to build their bankrolls and earn a little extra money.
Unlike most “free” money deals on the internet, poker bonuses are a legitimately good offer. Once you sign up and make a deposit, you earn out your money by playing in cash games and tournaments for real money. Many of these bonuses are offered at a 100% rate, which means your first deposit is doubled.
The process of earning out your bonus is commonly referred to as “clearing” your bonus. This is done by playing poker at the tables and earning frequent player points. The exact details are a little different at every poker site but that’s the gist of it. As you play at the tables and rack up those frequent player points, the bonus money is released in chunks of $5.00 or $10.00.
Get The Most Value For Your First Deposit
Competition is tough in the online poker industry so poker sites are always giving away bigger and bigger signup incentives. As nice as big welcome bonuses may be, it’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully. Some poker sites make it difficult to clear their bonuses while others are much more liberal.
When ranking the best poker sites for each bonus, I tried to find a good balance between big bonus offers and easy clearing requirements. I found that the average poker site is willing to give away anywhere from $500 to $1000 at a match rate of about 100% to 200%.
The match rate is another important thing to consider when ranking sites by welcome offer. A poker site that gives you a 200% gives you more value per dollar deposited. For example, a $100 deposit at a site with a 100% welcome bonus would give you an extra $100 in bonus cash. Likewise, that same $100 deposited with a 200% welcome bonus would give you an extra $200 in addition to your original deposit.
In addition to the bonus, I also look at the overall quality of the poker site. If you’re going to make a deposit at an online poker site, it’s important that you do it at a trustworthy site. It’s also important to do it at a site where there is enough action at the tables for you to clear your bonus.
How To Claim Your Initial Deposit Bonus
If you decide to sign up with any of my recommended poker sites, you can claim your bonus by using one of our links to visit the poker site. If there is a bonus code, you will need to type in the special bonus codes that I list here. These days, it’s about fifty-fifty. About half the sites you visit require a bonus code and about half don’t require a bonus code at all.
Poker promo codes are entered either when you sign up for an account or when you make your deposit. They may also be referred to as “referral codes” or “promotion codes.” Many sites require no code at all these days. I’ll always let you know if you need to type in anything special to claim a bonus.
Poker deposit bonuses come in different sizes and with various restrictions. The poker deposit bonus selection is very competitive as poker sites are always trying to dominate the market with their own lucrative bonus offers. The top poker deposit bonuses are very attractive at luring new players over from the competition.
For example, it is not uncommon for poker sites to offer a 100% match bonus on a player’s initial deposit worth up to a certain amount. A $500 deposit made in conjunction with a 100% bonus would give you a total bankroll of $1,000.
However, poker sites do not automatically give you the bonus cash as soon as you make your first deposit. Instead, they require you to clear your bonus by earning VIP or bonus points by playing at real money ring game tables and participating in tournaments.
Choosing Between Multiple Offers
When you find yourself considering a few poker sites, one of the first things that will catch your attention is each site’s maximum bonus amount and match rate. The best poker bonuses always give you at least 100% added to your deposit up to a maximum of $500 or more. Sometimes you’ll even find bonuses worth upwards of 200% and $5,000.
Even more important are the clearing requirements. It’s hardly any fun having to play hundreds of hands to release small packages of your bonus cash within a 30 day limit. The best poker sites for bonuses have reasonable clearing requirements where you earn frequent player points on every dollar you contribute to a real money poker pot and on every dollar you spend in tournament buy in fees. As you earn these loyalty points, most poker sites release your bonus in increments of $5 or $10.
It’s important to take your time when looking for a new welcome offer. A lucrative bonus will immediately boost your poker bankroll and make it possible for you to enter into higher stakes games and tournaments. The best deposit bonus sites will even offer you a match bonus on second and third deposits.