A pivotal and often times necessary facet of any online poker room is the existence of bonuses. Whether these poker bonuses are offered to new players and existing players alike, it’s a tried a true fact that these people are always looking for any and all opportunities to maximize their bankrolls. Also, the term “bonus” is not as straightforward as it sounds, mainly because a poker bonus can exist in a number of different forms. In many cases, you will even see two seemingly similar bonuses offered by two different poker rooms have requirements that completely and totally differ.

Poker bonuses, like many other aspects of the industry, are something that will serve you best when you understand them completely. Far too many players sign up and deposit at a site because they think a bonus is giving them free money. While this is, in so many words, true, the fact of the matter is that you have to do much more than simply make a deposit in order for a poker bonus to actually be yours in the form of cold, hard cash.

The following few sections are aimed at educating you more on what poker bonuses are, how they are designed, and how you can choose the site offering the best bonus for your bankroll and playing style.

Why Poker Sites Give Out Bonuses

With so many poker sites out there offering a seemingly innumerable quantity of poker bonuses, things become confusing quickly. Perhaps more confusing than any other aspect of poker bonuses is trying to figure out why they exist in the first place. The most simplistic answer that can be offered is that poker bonuses exist in order to drive players to the site that is offering the promotion.

With so many poker rooms existing online nowadays, it is easy to understand that sites have a difficult time gaining players and an even more difficult time keeping them. It is through bonuses of all varieties that sites look to gain an advantage over other competitor’s poker rooms.

Finding the Best Poker Bonuses Online

Picking the “best” bonus is often more subjective than anything else, but when it comes down to it there truly are some bonuses that are better than others.

The first metric you can utilize in order to gauge the value of a poker bonus is the reputation of the site that is offering the promotion. Sites with exceptional reputations are not difficult to find, but often new players simply look at the bonus’ bold print and completely omit the site that is offering it. A hefty bonus is no good so long as the site that is offering it cannot live up to the bonus’ offer.

Another way to determine just how compatible a bonus is with you is by viewing the turnover requirements tied to it. For those who may not know, poker sites are not in the business of simply giving money away. While most bonuses offer you “free” money, a cold but true fact of life will tell you that nothing is truly free.

Each and every bonus out there immediately adds free bonus cash to your player bankroll, but you are not able to receive that money as cash until certain wagering requirements are met. As a player, your goal is to find the bonus that offers the most lenient bonus requirements that can be fulfilled quickly. If you omit looking at these requirements, and many people do, you may end up losing all of your bonus monies before ever cashing out.

The terms and conditions tied to a specific bonus also affect how players look at it. Naturally, those promotions with stringent, confusing terms are the ones to stay away from. Transparent bonuses that can be easily explained are exactly what players are looking for, and they are naturally the best.

The Death of Rakeback

Rakeback was something that existed at a majority of poker sites up until a few years ago. Simply put, rake is the small amount of money poker rooms take from each hand’s pot; it is how the site makes a living.

Now rakeback, as you might have guessed, offered a decent percentage of the rake back to players, and depending on your skill level, you could easily make an extra couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars back into your account every month – just for playing poker!

Though once a thriving segment of the industry, most every major poker site has done away with a rakeback program. In fact, questions should be raised if you do come across a site offering rakeback, because there is likely some large underlying catch. With the exception of some sites like Americas Cardroom, most companies feel it’s not a profitable enough model to keep rakeback for long-term success.

Loyalty Programs on the Rise

Poker loyalty programs are something that have always existed, but in recent years have begun taking the place of the aforementioned rakeback model. Almost every poker room online nowadays has some sort of loyalty program, but almost none of them are the same. While some sites will offer you free money or free play, other sites offer loyal players big trips and other prizes.

The versatility of a loyalty program is such that it would serve you best to search and compare different loyalty programs before ever committing to just one. Though loyalty awards schemes are not bonuses in the traditional sense of the word, they do offer players the ability to win more money and more prizes simply for playing at a site, regardless of whether you win or lose.

Being that some people were making quite a bit of money through the now defunct rakeback programs, we are seeing a trend of loyalty awards becoming increasingly enticing. After all, poker rooms have to do something in order to lure in players and some times if you put in enough hours a day you can actually earn anywhere from 15% to 25% extra cash back credited into your bankroll at the end of the month.

Poker Bonus FAQ’s

Why do poker sites give bonuses?

The simplest answer to this is that bonuses exist in order to bring players to the site. New players are a hot commodity for poker sites and it is the goal of every poker room to bring in as many new players as possible.

How are poker bonuses released?

Poker bonuses are released once the wagering requirements have been fulfilled. When it comes to wagering requirements specifically, they vary from site to site. While one site may force you to wager 5x the amount of the bonus, another may only require that you wager 3x the bonus amount. This is why reading the terms and conditions is such a crucial thing for every player looking to sign up for a bonus.

Do I need to deposit to be eligible for a poker bonus?

In most cases, the answer to this question is “yes,” but that is not always true. There are some sites who offer up bonus monies simply for signing up. Of course, these bonuses tend to have some of the strictest gambling requirements.