What is a Poker Bonus & How do I get one?
Luckily, the online poker industry is a competitive one and this means that operators compete with each other to get you to play at their tables and incentivise you to stay. This is done via bonuses and other player rewards, but these come in many different forms.
This is our guide to the more commonly found poker bonuses.
Maximise Your Reward: Know your Bonuses
When you play online poker you want to make use of all the benefits you can that will help you grow your online poker bankroll.
Bonuses give you the perfect opportunity to do this as you are given numerous offers and incentives that you can use to your advantage and earn free cash and goodies.
But in order to maximise your reward, you need to understand the different bonus types and how you go about getting them, so lets take a look…
The “No Deposit” Bonus
To receive this bonus all you have to do is to download the poker site’s software and register for a free player account. As the name suggests there is no deposit required.
There are a good number of poker sites that allow you to take advantage of a no deposit bonus. They are a great way for you to get started with some free money to play with before you have to deposit any of your own cash.
Obviously giving free money away means that the poker site has to protect itself against scammers who just sign up to get the free cash without any intention to play, and they usually do this in one of two ways:
- Withdrawal requirements – With this method they credit the bonus to your account in full up front so you can play with it, but there is a play through requirement before you are permitted to withdraw the bonus.
This will be a multiple of the bonus, so for example say that you were given a $20 no deposit bonus and the requirement is to play through 10x then you would have to play poker and make bets of 10 x $20 ($200) before you would be able to withdraw the bonus.
- Release requirements – with this method a portion of your bonus would be credited to your account up front, and then as you play poker, further increments of the bonus would be released to your player balance.
This way you earn your bonus by demonstrating to the poker room that you are a genuine player and actually playing poker on their site.
The “First Deposit” Bonus
These bonuses are standard practice in the industry and offered to all new players as a welcome bonus which will match your initial deposit up to a certain amount and for a certain percentage. You can earn many hundreds of dollars, or even thousands with these offers.
For example, the offer may be 100% up to $400, in which case if you deposit $400 your bonus would be $400 for a total of $800, any smaller amount will also be similarly matched.
To qualify for the first deposit bonus, all you have do is make a real money deposit into your player account using your chosen payment method after you have opened a new account. This demonstrates to the poker room that you are a genuine player who has a valid payment method and is looking to play real money poker with them.
These bonuses can be extremely generous and very lucrative for a new player but once again there will be protection against fraud built into the terms and conditions of the bonus.
You will need to meet certain requirements before you have access to the full bonus, and this will usually involve playing poker and earning player points. The bonus will be released to you in chunks as you reach the required number of player points for each chunk.
The amount and percentage offered will vary between poker sites, so it’s important to do some research up front on who offers the best bonus both in terms of value and in how quick it is to clear. To get full details on a particular bonus offer you should look at our specific poker room bonus guides, such as our 888 Poker Bonus Guide or our Full Tilt Poker Bonus Guide.
Reload bonuses are more of an incentive for existing players to continue to play at a certain poker room rather than for new players. These are very similar to the first deposit bonus above, but apply to all deposits made by players.
The size of these bonuses will depend on a few different things with the main factor being the online poker site that you have chosen to play at. Some poker sites will offer these bonuses only for certain deposits, such as your second deposit and some will offer them on certain days, or during a certain time period as a promotion.
Once again there will be requirements to clear your bonus to protect against fraud.
Sometimes called “Refer a Friend” or similar, Referral bonuses are very easy to get, all you have to do is refer a friend to play at that online poker site.
They reward you for passing on your approval of the poker site and getting your friends to come and play with you.
These will usually be a fixed amount per player you refer, such as $25 or $50 and the referred player will need to meet certain criteria before your bonus is credited to your account. Again this will revolve around your friend playing a certain amount of real money poker and earning a certain number of player points.
There is usually no limit to how many of these bonuses you can earn and so this is a great way to boost your bankroll by getting all your friends to come and play with you at the poker site.
Cashback, VIP and Player Points Rewards
The final type of bonus that you can get is a reward for your loyalty to a poker room. Every room has a loyalty scheme of some sort, some are more lucrative than others and so you should choose carefully.
These loyalty schemes give you player points every time you play, and these build up in your account. With these points you can trade them in for cashback, for gifts and goodies in their reward shop or for free entry to tournaments and freerolls.
On a number of poker sites you can also earn a higher status, which means that as you play more and more you will be allocated a more prestigious status level, which means that you get higher rewards and earn more player points for playing the same amount, thus allowing you to build up your player rewards balance quicker.
We publish a number of guides to specific poker rooms player points and rewards systems to help you fully understand them, as they can appear quite complex at first glance. To learn more take a look at our 888 Player Points Guide or our Full Tilt Poker Player Points Guide.
Plan your Bonus
In such a competitive industry, the poker rooms really want your business, and you should make sure that they are earning that business and your continued loyalty.
With a little bit of planning and research up front then you can really take advantage of the lucrative offers that are available. You should find all the information you require to ensure you are maximising your rewards on this site so just spend a bit of time and look around.