There are a few factors to consider when looking for the best online poker bonus offers:
- Overall amount of the poker welcome bonus
- What (if any) portion of the bonus is FREE or with no deposit required
- How much you'll have to play to clear your whole bonus
While the size of the welcome bonus is a major component (most sites match your deposit up to $500 or more), it's not always the most important. For casual poker players, for example,smaller instant no-deposit bonuses worth $10 - $100 can be a better deal. As the biggest online poker guide PokerListings only offers the best online poker sign-up bonuses for our players. Click "Play Now" below to create an account and access the best poker bonus right now!
Whether you're an aspiring pro or a casual, turbo SNG loving recreational player, if you want to have any success in online poker you need to practice good bankroll management - and take advantage of free money offered to you in the form of a poker welcome bonus. Everyone wants to make their money last longer in online poker and never have to make a deposit. That's why a poker welcome bonus is so important.
Why Poker Bonuses Matter
Poker welcome bonuses were created by the best online poker sites to help attract new players. In short, whatever deposit you make the poker site will typically match with money of their own. You'll need to play some real-money poker hands to clear your bonus but the effort required is usually minimal and then the money is all yours to d what you like with. If you make sure when you're creating a new poker account that you maximize that welcome bonus, your chances of keeping your first bankroll alive will grow dramatically.
The Poker Sign-up Bonus
There are a variety of poker bonuses available on every poker site. The most common bonus is the "poker welcome bonus" or "deposit match" sign-up bonus. All you have to do is sign up and open a new account at an online poker site. The site will then match your initial deposit and pay you an amount equal to your deposit as you play.
A fairly standard example is the universal PokerStars 100% match bonus. That means, for example, if you deposit $50 you'll get up to another $50 FREE on top of that added to your bankroll. The match percentage is applicable all the way up to $600 so if you deposit the full $600 you'll be eligible for another $600. Some ambitious poker sites, such as Tiger Gaming Poker, offer match bonuses all the way up to 100% up to $1,000!
As one of the biggest and most successful poker guides online, PokerListings has the unique ability to offer every player the absolute best poker signup bonus possible. Just check out our toplist above to see what the current maximum possible bonus is; simply click on the "Play Now" button to start collecting it!
No Deposit Poker Bonus Instant
The poker welcome bonus is different from other poker bonuses like the "Instant" or No Deposit" poker bonus. An instant "no-deposit" sign-up bonus means a new player can immediately receive real money (or equivalent value in tournament entries) into their accounts. The instant no deposit bonus is usually a much smaller amount than the standard poker welcome bonus but it is very worth your time time collect.
One example of a good free poker bonus is our $8 instant bonus offered at 888 Poker right now. This money is immediately added to your account with no deposit required. Here's what you will receive:
- Instant $2 in cash and $6 in tournament tickets
Players can also then access 10 more $8 gifts for every 250 points earned (also paid out in $2 cash & $6 in tournament tickets).
The free no deposit bonus is a no-brainer when it comes to creating a new poker account. You might not turn it into six-figures at the poker tables but it immediately gives you a leg-up when starting out in real-money online poker games. Most poker sites will offer some form of free no deposit bonus including freeroll tournament tickets (free online poker tournaments with a real-money prize pool), casino free spins or free bets in their sportsbook.
Exclusive Poker Bonuses
As you can see from the toplist above the best poker signup bonuses online are usually over $500 - and well over in some cases. By using our exclusive poker bonus codes you will access the best bonuses available in the industry.
Thanks to our long-standing partnerships with the biggest online poker sites in the world we only offer the best poker welcome bonuses for our players. Players who sign up through our review pages using a PokerListings link or code not only get the biggest possible deposit match but also exclusive freeroll tournaments with very small fields.
Don't underestimate the value of these limited-field, free tournaments when you're building your bankroll. They can offer tremendous value and help you get through the most crucial part of your online poker journey - the start-up phase!
What’s the Best Poker Bonus?
Almost every online poker site offers a signup bonus of some sort but not all are created equal. Some bonuses may sound enticing, with hundreds of free dollars up for grabs, but the biggest bonuses usually take longer and require playing more real-money poker hands to unlock.
On the other hand, there are some smaller bonuses in the $50-$100 range which are much easier to access. Sometimes these are even no-deposit sign-up bonuses (see above like at 888poker) that will credit you with a few bucks without having to make any kind of deposit whatsoever.
Usually the no-deposit bonuses are smaller than the percentage match welcome bonuses but they are good value - especially if you don't have the time to unlock a big poker sign-up bonus.
It’s important to research the various welcome, sign-up and no-deposit bonuses and pick the one that’s right for you. In other words:
- Before you sign up for an online poker bonus offer, make sure you can actually play enough hands to receive the full bonus!
How to Unlock a Poker Welcome Bonus
As mentioned above, poker welcome bonuses or sign-up bonuses are not always immediately accessible. Online poker sites want people to actually play on their sites, of course, so they hold the bonus (or a portion of it) in a "pending bonus" account until players have recorded a set number of real-money cash game hands or real-money tournaments.
Generally the bonuses are awarded in $5-10 increments based on how many frequent player points you earn. You can unlock your poker weclome bonus (and any subsequent reload bonuses) playing any kind of real-money poker.
Many people like turbo Sit & Go's for generating frequent player points but cash games are also good. The best and fastest way to unlock your poker welcome bonus is by playing fast-fold poker cash games where you'll burn though tons of hands in a short matter of time.
In general, at least when it comes to clearing your poker bonus, it's best to try to avoid big MTTs unless you are going to play a lot of them. They are quite time consuming (especially if you manage to get deep into the money) and don't generate enough player points in a fast enough time to unlock your complete bonus.
It’s also important to note that some poker welcome bonuses have time restrictions and will eventually expire if you don’t play enough hands in a certain time frame.
» Read more about Online Poker Promotions
Different Types of Poker Bonuses That You Can Get
There are a variety of poker bonuses and even insane promotions sometimes, but most boil down to four categories:
1) Poker Match Bonus
The poker match bonus is by far the most common bonus offer and usually comes in two forms:
- Poker Welcome Bonus
- Poker Reload Bonus
In both cases the poker site will match the amount of your deposit up to a certain amount. So for example if you deposited $100 the poker site would give you an extra $100 on top of that credited to your pending bonus account. Most sites match 100% of your deposit depending on the amount. Although we have seen match bonuses as high as 200%.
Most online poker sites also usually have a minimum and maximum amount they will match. In general poker 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. Match bonus offers are usually are fairly easy to clear but for the biggest amounts you will have to play a pretty substantial amount of poker in a short time to access it all. For standard match bonuses you will be paid out in increments of $10 as you play a set amount of hands or tournaments.
The poker welcome bonus is only accessible the first time you create an account and make a deposit at a poker site. The poker reload bonus will be offered for any subsequent deposits. There is nothing preventing you from signing up at multiple poker sites and claiming all of the different welcome bonuses - in fact we encourage it for the chance to try out the different software and try out different games!
2) Poker 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.
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. These bonuses are usually for a smaller overall dollar amount than the initial sign-up bonus but still offer some extra incentive to get money online.
3) No Deposit (Instant) Poker Sign-Up Bonus
These are rarer but some online poker sites will offer instant cash or tournament tickets when you sign up and create your first account at their site. You DO NOT have to make any kind of deposit or play any real-money poker to access a free no-deposit poker bonus. This is legitimately bonus money deposited directly into your online poker account.
Usually it's a small amount of cash in the $1-$10 range. You might be restricted as to which particular poker games or tournaments you can play with it (and you of course can't just instantly cash it out, either) but it is decidedly free money you can use to play online poker with. The best online poker bonus offers typically offer some portion of their poker welcome bonus in the form of a no-deposit bonus.
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 To "Clear" Your Poker Bonus
Just because you sign-up for a poker bonus doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get it. The truth of the online poker welcome bonus is that you have to play a number of raked (real-money) hands. Then you'll actually receive the bonus cash in your account.
Players earn frequent player points based on the amount of rake they pay (either in cash games or tournament fees). 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 the full amount of FPPs.
As mentioned above you will usually have a set time frame (typically 90 days) to unlock your full bonus. Each poker site sets their own framework for how player points are allocated. But if you play a decent amount of poker (says 2-3 hours a couple of days a week) you should have no trouble cashing a standard poker bonus.
The best and fastest way to clear your poker bonus is to play fast-fold poker games such as Zoom Poker or Snap Poker. Fast-fold poker games are perfect for playing on your smartphone or on desktop as no multi-tabling is required. Once you sit at a fast-fold poker table you are then playing against the total pool of players who are also playing the same variant.
As soon as you fold any hand you're instantly moved to another table within the same group of players and dealt a brand new hand. This makes the pace of play really fast and you're never waiting for slow players to fold or play hands. Find out more about fast-fold poker games here:
Another very effective way to clear your poker bonus quickly is to play Hyper-Turbo Jackpot Spin & Go games. More on those here:
The Best Way to Clear Your 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!
Poker Bonus FAQ
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?Online poker sites generate revenue by 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. The more players they can have playing on their poker site at any one time means the more rake they are bringing in. So getting a lifetime online poker customer is incredibly valuable to every online poker site. To keep bringing in new players poker sites will pay players upfront with credited poker 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. That being said, it's in your best interest to shop around for the best maximum poker welcome bonus and maximum free no deposit bonus you can find. Because of the escalating battle to acquire and keep new players, poker welcome bonuses can reach pretty lucrative heights including well over $1,000.
How Do I Sign Up Using a Poker 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.
Where Should I Sign Up for My Poker Bonus?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 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. Once you have a certain number of FPPs you'll be able to exchange them for merchandise in the online store, free poker tournament tickets or even cash back. Find out more about playing free poker online here: Best Free Poker Sites.
And Now - To the Best Online Poker Sites
Start playing! Check out the Best Online Poker Sites section to compare our most competitive offers or for more information.
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