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How to Evaluate Sign-Up Bonuses
Because it's so easy to shop around for the best online poker room, the rooms have to compete vigorously for players. Large sign-up bonuses have become one of the most important tools in attracting new players. As a new player you should definitely take advantage of this.
Sites will offer to match a percentage of your bonus up to a certain amount. An example of a high-dollar bonus would be 200% up to $600. At that rate, if you deposit $300, you'll receive a $600 bonus.
The terms for clearing this type of bonus would make it a lot more difficult to clear in the short term than, for example, a smaller bonus like 25% up to $50. So don't get blinded by all the zeros: the smaller bonus will always be easier to clear.
Be aware that on some sites, if you don't clear the bonus amount in a specified timeframe, it will be forfeited.
"How do I clear that money?" Typically there'll be a set number of "raked hands" you have to play per dollar. The actual number varies from site to site.
A "raked hand" is defined as a hand from which a given amount of money is taken after the flop for the house. The amount varies from room to room. Be sure to read up carefully about what defines a raked hand and how many you need per dollar.
"So, how do I decide which bonus is best for me?" To determine this, you have to ask yourself a couple more questions. How much you are going to play, and are you going to stick with a given site for a while?
If you are going to be playing a high volume and playing on the site for a while, you may as well go for the big bonus amount. You will clear it eventually and receive a very nice amount of free money.
If you are going to be playing infrequently and/or switching sites often, you should usually go for the sites with the smaller bonuses. You can often clear these smaller bonuses in a single month as opposed to taking several months to do so.
Get the best bonus offers available on the Web. Good luck at the tables.