Sign-up bonuses are what poker sites offer new players as an incentive to join and play at their site. Most sites offer is what’s called a Welcome Bonus / Signup Bonus / Deposit Bonus. These are all exactly the same.
You’ve seen these high welcome bonus numbers splashed loudly on banners scrolling along the top of all the most popular poker sites and their affiliates.
“Get up to $2000 cash back!”
“Get $88 dollars for free!”
“100% match bonus up to $500!”
Those are a lot of numbers, and they all look promising, I mean, who wouldn’t want to sign up for a poker site and get a bunch of cash deposited into your account just for signing up! Of course, there’s A LOT of fine print when you sign up as a new member at a poker site, and as tempting as those high cash numbers look, there’s a lot more to claiming those welcome bonuses than you probably think, which is why I’ve written this guide to understanding welcome bonuses – so you can cut through the jargon and really understand what it takes to claim that money.
MATCH DEPOSIT BONUSES
What many poker sites will offer their new sign-ups is what’s called a match deposit bonus. What this means is that the poker room will match a specified percentage of your first deposit. For example, if the poker room offers a 100% match bonus up to $100 on any deposit over $10, and you deposited $100 – you would be eligible to get an additional $100 from the poker site, leaving you with $200 to start. However, there are some requirements that must be met in order for you to claim that bonus.
Often, one of the requirements you have to fulfill is you have to play a certain number of hands in order to qualify. Sometimes the site will assign points for every hand you play, and over time, as you acquire these points, you edge closer and closer to the point number they’ve decided will qualify you for the bonus. For the site in our example (which is based on an actual site that I researched) the points required are about 30 times the amount you initially deposited, just to claim that additional $100. So in reality, you’ll be spending thousands of dollars, in order to claim $100. And you’ll usually only have 30-60 days to do it in.
A good rule of thumb to follow, if you actually want to find a deal that makes sense and you could realistically clear, keep your eyes open for the smaller bonus offer, since they generally have much more realistic and easier clearing requirements. Not only because the dollar value is less, but also because they won’t make it a requirement that you to play as many hands or earn as many player points.
Clearing Your Bonus
A crucial part of these welcome bonuses that is often overlooked when you see those big numbers is that there are set times in which you can clear the bonus. Depending on the site, this can range from 30 days through to 180 days. What this means, is that if you aren’t a very regular player (every day) then it’s very likely that you won’t have time to clear the bonus at lower stakes.
Also worth mentioning is that some sites will give you a bonus on more than one initial deposit.
There is a fairly tried and true method for determining what the welcome bonus being offered by a site is actually worth, and its fairly simple to calculate.
First, take the total bonus amount and the total amount of rake you need to pay to clear the bonus. Then, divide the rake by the bonus amount. The higher the percentage, the better the value. Generally, percentages under 10% are considered low, whereas anything above 25% is above-average.