All about Poker Bonuses - Poker Strategies

The size of the poker bonus on offer seems to matter to a lot of poker players; if it didn’t, the poker rooms wouldn’t make such a big deal about what they are offering.

There is no doubt about it, a nice big bonus number is attractive to many players that are looking for a new home.

But there is more to a bonus than just the amount of cash that is on offer. Instead of trusting random online poker sites about what is a good bonus and what isn’t, you should learn how to determine the worth of any offer for yourself.

If that is what you would like to do, then here is how you do it.

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding to deposit to a new poker room, like the reputation of that room, the security, popularity, software and so on. When you have got all that checked and you are happy, then have a look at the terms of the bonus, looking specifically for these important points;

  • The rate at which the bonus money is released
  • The percentage match
  • The time limit for completing the wagering requirements
  • The increment in which the bonus is released

By far the most important factor is the rate the cash is released in. By this I mean how much rake you need to pay in order to release the first allowed increment.

You can work this out as a percentage, and that will make it easier to compare bonus offers across different poker rooms.

After you deposit, you have to earn or release the bonus cash – they don’t just give it to you. The terms governing the release of the bonus are called the wagering requirements or rollover.

The easiest way to do that is to look in the terms and conditions and find the part that tells you how many player points you get for every dollar you spend on tournament buy-in fees. It is important to note that I am referring to the fee on the buy in and not the whole amount. A $20 + $2 tourney has a $2 fee for example.

Now before you tell me that you don’t play tourneys and will only be on the cash tables, let me explain that the reason we use tournament dollars as the standard is to make things easier to compare. This works just fine for cash players or tourney players, it makes no difference at all.

If that part seems a bit complicated right now, don’t spend too long on it – there will be a working example further on in this article.

The next most important factor is the time limit on the bonus. Some can be as low as thirty days, while others can be a year long, or even unlimited. A short time frame is not a good thing, and if the bonus is worthwhile when you have considered everything else, then you must work out how nmany actual hours it will take you to release the bonus, and then see if you can play that amount of hours within the specified time. If you don’t think you can complete it all in the allowed amount of time, then the minimum increment will possibly be the deciding factor for you.

The increment of bonus release can be highly important, especially in the context of a bonus that has a short time limit for the completion of the wagering requirements. Some bonuses will be paid out in reasonable amounts, such as $10.00, but some other bonuses are only paid out in full once all the requirements have been met. Those are tricky and you have to watch out that you don’t make an effort to reach the needed points, only to fall short and not release a single penny of the bolnus that you were initially playing for. One more important point about the increment is that with those that pay out in reasonably small and achievable amounts, you can quickly get to the point where you are using some of the poker room bonus cash to release the remainder of the bonus.

And finally, the percentage match. This is really only a factor if tyou have two competing bonuses to go for, but only have the time, or inclination, to do one. The way that poker rooms advertise their percentage match amount you might think that it was of great importance, but that is not really the case at all. A good value bonus will be even better if you can get a higher percentage match, therefore having more bonus cash to play for. A bad value bonus probably won’t be improved by having a larger bad value amount on it.

Ok, those are the factors, now let’s get to a working example.

Let’s look first at the current Americas Cardroom first time deposits bonus. It is a 100% deposit match up to a maximum of $1,000.

You have 60 days to complete the wagering requirements. The bonus is paid out in increments of $1.00, for every 27.5 Award Points you earn at the poker tables.

Looking further into the terms and conditions we can see that you earn 5.5 award points for every one dollar you pay in tournament fees.

A quick calculation tells us that you will need to pay $5.00 in tourney fees to generate enough award points to release one dollar bonus. (5.5 x 5 = 27.5).

One dollar for $5.00 spent in fees comes out at a rate of 20%.

Now let’s look at the current deal from Bovada Poker. It is also a maximum of $1,000 at 100% match. This bonus is also time restricted to 60 days. It is released in increments, but the amounts are tiered. So for your first 100 points earned you get $10.00 of the bonus released. But then you need to earn a further 400 points in order to reach the mext amount of $40.00. The target after that is 500 points to release $100.00 That is not straightforward, so we will coem back to it shortly.

When we look into the details we can see that you earn 3 points for each $1.00 spent on tourney fees. Some fancy calculations later and we arrive at a figure of $16.66 that we would need to spend on tourney fees in order to release the first $10.00.

That gives an impressive rate of 60% return.

For comparative purposes then we can say that to release the full $1,000 at Americas Cardroom we would have to pay $5,000 in fees. To release the full $1,000 at Bovada we would need to pay $1,666 in tourney fees.

So you can see clearly that the Bovada bonus is much better value on a straight up comparison between the two offers.

Of course the finer details will matter more to individual players. If you don’t think that you will play enough in a 60 day period to reach the full bonus amount, you may be better off taking the Americas cardroom bonus which is less of a return, but pays in one dollar amounts.

And of course, as Bovada only takes Americans, that may influence your decision too.