If you ever visited a poker site there is little doubt you’ve seen welcome bonuses advertised to lure new players to make a deposit and play for real money. These bonuses offer new players a chance to get a bonus of 100% + on their initial deposit. So with a 100% bonus if you deposited $10 and met the requirements you would get $10 of free money. The bonuses are not paid upfront and require players to rake or contribute a certain amount of fees within a certain time frame in order to clear the requirements and release the bonus money. Requirements vary from site to site but in general these are time sensitive, meaning you need to rake x amount within x days from depositing.
So just how easy are these bonuses for new players to get? That’s the question I wanted to find the answer to. Now I could have just posted a chart with rake / tournament fees but that wouldn’t have been any fun or take into account how many games must be played over the promotional period. I also wanted to find out how easy it was to clear a bonus with one minimum deposit.
Now I’m no pro, so I didn’t go into this thinking I would crush every game and clear my bonus quickly. I just wanted to get a sense of how many games per day I would have to play to get my hands on my bonus money. So I set out to find out just how easy it is for beginner players to get their bonus money. And I found out that on a minimum deposit (typically under $25), it takes playing in a whole lot of games.
The site I selected to play at had these bonus terms: 100% bonus. 90 days to clear. $50 in rake / fees. I don’t play in cash games so I set out to clear my bonus playing in super turbo sit-n-go’s, which I played the entire time. So I made my $10 deposit and headed for the low stakes. Knowing that I shouldn’t head straight for a $10 game I chose stakes that were roughly 1/10th of my bankroll or $1 per game. Now at these stakes the tournament fees are quite low, meaning I would have to play in a ton of games, win or lose, to get my bonus.
To give you an idea of how many games are needed to be played, here is an example. Say a tournament has a $1 entry fee where $.10 goes to poker room fees and $.90 goes to the prize pot. At these stakes you would need to play 500 games in 90 days, which is on average 5.5 games every day for 90 days, and again win or lose. Now I jumped a couple of times between stakes and at the stakes I played at I would have had to play somewhere between 500 and 800 games in 90 days.
So how did I do? Not very well. I started out ok and built my bankroll to +50% from where I started at so I jumped up a level in stakes in order to decrease the number of games I would have to play. I also tried multi-tabling which was a complete disaster. After losing a few games in a row my bankroll took a beating so I dropped down to my original level and continued to grind out games. Some days I played 5+ games, some days none. If I lost a few games in a row I would take a break from playing so I wouldn’t go on tilt. After about 60 days in I realized that I was not playing in nearly enough games to make the deadline so I started playing more trying to find my grove. Towards the end, about 2 weeks from my bonus expiring, I felt the pressure to get in as many games as I could before the deadline to see if I could reach my goal. I made it to 1 day before the 90 day cut off and busted my bankroll. In total I played 164 tournaments and made it 29% of the way to clearing the bonus, which is not even close.
Now I have no clue how good the average poker player who signs up for a welcome bonus is, but at the lower stakes playing 500+ tournaments in 90 days takes some commitment, especially to clear it without having to re-deposit, which was my goal. Personally I don’t believe many players who make minimum deposits clear their bonuses on their first deposit and may have to reload their account in order to generate the fees needed to unlock their bonus money. It just takes way too many games.