Editors' Picks - The Best Poker Bonus Offers
Almost every poker site on the Internet offers a sign-up bonus for making your first deposit but not all bonuses are created equal. At PokerListings we’ve worked painstakingly hard to create a huge database of online poker sites and then handpicked the ones with the best bonuses on the Internet.
There are a variety of factors to consider when looking for the top online poker bonus. First of all the size of the bonus is obviously important as some sites will match your deposit up to several thousand dollars.
Unfortunately you don’t get that money right away, as online poker operators want to make sure you actually play a few hands on their respective sites. That means you usually have to hit a pre-set criteria to unlock your bonus. This usually means you have to generate a set number of frequent player points.
On the other hand some bonuses are very easy to unlock but not very big. It’s important to recognize how many hands you’ll be playing because there’s no point in going for a $2,000 bonus if you’ll never play anywhere close to the amount of hands required to unlock it.
Sometimes the smaller bonuses worth $10 or $20 are a better deal for casual players. As the biggest online poker guide for the last 10+ years, PokerListings is in a unique position to negotiate the best sign-up bonuses for our players.
About PokerListings Best Poker Bonus Offers
So, you want to play online poker. An integral part of starting an online poker account is making sure that you get the best bonus at the best online poker site of your choice.
Unfortunately the process can be complex and those who are new to the online poker scene will likely have a lot of questions. We're going to cover the fundamental aspects of getting a good poker bonus below.
What is a Poker Bonus?
A poker bonus is simply a cash reward from an online poker site to players who make a deposit and play real-money poker hands.
Why Do Online Poker Sites Offer Bonuses?
Poker rooms generate revenue from collecting a small percentage from each pot in cash games or by charging a small entrance fee in tournaments in addition to the buy-in.
This is called rake. More players equal more rake, and getting a lifetime customer is incredibly valuable to every online poker site.
To keep bringing in more players, poker sites will front players bonus cash so they have a better chance of building a bankroll and continuing to play at the poker site. It's a win-win situation for both sides.
What Kinds of Poker Bonuses Are There?
There are a variety of poker bonuses but most boil down to four categories:
1) Match Bonus
These are by far the most common bonus offers. Essentially with a match bonus, the poker site matches the amount of your deposit up to a certain amount.
For example if you deposited $100 the poker room would give you an extra $100 on top of that. Most sites will match 100% of your deposit depending on the amount.
Most online poker sites will usually have a minimum and maximum amount they will match. In general the sites stick close to a minimum deposit of $10-$50 while the maximum can be in the thousands.
Keep in mind that most match bonuses are not awarded instantly and you have to play a certain number of hands on the site to "release" them.
2) Reload Bonus
From time to time rooms will offer a "Reload" bonus to its players. A reload bonus is simply a cash reward for a player who deposits more money into his or her account. Usually this follows the same matching format as the initial deposit, albeit it's usually for less money.
Like the sign-up match bonus, you don't receive the money instantly. It's released the same way as the initial sign-up match bonus - by playing a set number of real-money poker hands.
3) Instant Sign-Up Bonus
These are rare but some online poker sites will offer instant cash when you sign up. This money is deposited directly into your online poker account. Usually it's a small amount of cash in the $1-$10 range.
4) Referral Bonus
A referral bonus, which is called a "Refer-a-Friend" bonus on some sites, is given to players who personally get other players to sign up at the same poker site. Bonuses are usually in the $25-$50 range and are dependent on how many hands the player you referred ends up playing.
How Do I "Clear" My Bonus?
Just because you sign-up for a poker bonus doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get it. The untold secret of the online poker bonus is that you have to play a number of raked hands to actually receive the cash.
Players earn frequent player points based on the amount of rake they pay and earning the right amount of FPPs is usually what unlocks bonuses. Some bonuses are released in increments (the standard seems to be $10 at a time) and some are released as a lump-sum payment when a player has earned a certain amount of FPPs.
For instance at one of the most popular online poker sites a player has to earn approximately 1,667 FPPs to clear a $100 match bonus. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.
How Do I Sign Up Using a Bonus Code?
There are generally two ways to sign up for a poker bonus.
1) Deposit Code
A deposit code is usually a combination of numbers and letters that you enter when you are going through the signing up process. There will be a field that asks for a deposit code or bonus code and as long as you enter the correct code you'll be eligible for a bonus.
2) Download Link
This method is even easier than a deposit code. You simply click a link on a site that offers poker bonuses and you're eligible for the bonus.
What's the Best Way to Clear My Bonus?
The bottom line is that you're going to need to play a number of raked hands to clear your poker bonus. But there are several tricks that can help you reach your goal faster and easier. Here are some tips to get you started:
1) Bigger Can Be More Difficult
As a general rule, the larger the bonus is the harder it is to clear. If you don't want to spend a lot of time at the tables grinding you may want to stick to a smaller bonus in the $10-$50 range. Then again with many bonuses paid out in increments, it may not hurt you to aim big.
2) Read the Rules
Make sure you understand how many days you have to clear your bonus. This is obviously important if you want to have a shot at getting all of the bonus cash.
Take a look at the expiration date of your bonus and then calculate how much poker you plan to play in that time. Some rooms also offer "Happy Hour" specials where you can earn twice the FPPs during select times.
3) Choose the Bonus for You
There are a wide variety of bonuses out there so make sure you chose the one that's best suited to your style of play. Consider factors like expiration time of the bonus, amount of FPPs required to clear the bonus, difficulty in generating FPPs and whether the bonus is paid out in a lump sum or in increments.
A $500 lump-sum bonus isn't going to do you any good if you are nowhere near the 5,000+ FPPs required to clear it. You might be better off taking a tiny instant bonus of $5-$10.
4) Put in the Time
The bottom line is that if you want some of that free cash then you're going to have to get out there and play!
Where Should I Sign Up?
We're obviously biased at PokerListings.com but we don't use the slogan "World's Best Poker Deals" for nothing. Securing the absolute highest sign-up bonuses from the biggest and best online poker sites in the world has been our primary goal since entering the industry.
Don't take it from us, however, go ahead and search the internet for other top affiliates. We think you'll be hard-pressed to find better sign-up bonuses. Check above this article to see some of our best offers.
How Do I Know How Many Frequent Player Points I Have?
You should be able to get a frequent player point total in the cashier tab on most sites.
Some sites show your FPP totals in real-time so it can be fun to leave the window open and watch your points accumulate while playing. This also gives you a good idea about how fast you generate FPPs.
Check out the Best Online Poker Sites section to see our most competitive offers.