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Poker Bonus Terms Dictionary

When navigating the complicated world of poker bonuses, you may come across terms you aren't familiar with. When you're talking about earning bonus money -- money for nothing -- you better make sure you have a good idea of exactly what it is you're earning and how you earn it.

Here's a list of twelve common poker bonus terms along with a brief description of their meaning:

Bonus Whoring

It may sound like a derogatory term, but to call someone a "bonus whore" in the world of online poker is usually a compliment. Bonus whoring refers to the practice of signing up with multiple different poker rooms and risking as little money as you need to clear bonuses at all the different sites. You can extend your bankroll really easily by taking advantage of different bonuses around the web.

Clearing Requirements

Online poker rooms aren't in the business of just handing out free money. Almost every bonus you earn has what is called a "clearing requirement". The way to earn your bonus money is to "clear" your online poker bonus by playing lots of poker. Good news for poker players, since you were probably signing up to play poker in the first place.

Your poker bonus will be "cleared" as soon as you play a specific number of hands (all raked by the house, of course). The number of hands required to clear your bonus varies from site to site, but for most poker rooms it equals ten times the amount of the bonus you are trying to clear.

Let's say you earned a $100 bonus -- to clear it under a ten to one system, you have to play 1000 hands of raked poker. If you aren't interested in handing out rake money on the way to earning your bonus, most poker rooms online allow players to clear bonuses in unraked tournaments as well as raked poker play.

Contributed Rake

Online poker rooms don't always let all players in a raked hand earn rake money toward clearing their bonuses. If a poker room uses a contributed rake system, only those players participating in a hand will pay rake, and therefore not every player earns rake credit toward earning their bonus.

Incremental Bonus

An incremental bonus is one of the most commonly advertised poker bonuses. An incremental bonus is exactly what it sounds like -- bonus money that pays out real money in small incremental amounts based on how much play you're giving the poker room. Yes, you'll earn real money with these bonuses, but the amount you earn is tied up in how much you play and sometimes how well you perform.

Many online poker rooms offer a points system wherein you earn a certain amount of cash per "point". Incremental bonuses are nice, but there's nothing like a lump sum bonus to make you want to take part in a room's action.

Initial Deposit

Your initial deposit is the amount of money you open your online poker account with. This first deposit is really important to people looking to earn bonus money, as often the size of your initial deposit directly affects the bonus money you can earn. A high initial deposit leads to a higher bonus, up to a certain limit.


You’ve used the word without knowing exactly what it means -- the ubiquitous "management", the mysterious group that controls all of your play at online poker rooms. They are difficult to pin down, just try finding out the names of specific managers the next time you call customer service. They have complete control over your participation in a web based poker spot. Management are the guys looking to turn a profit.

No matter what any of these guys tell you, they aren't on your side, they don't "love winners", they're looking to run a profitable business. That's why they control the distribution of poker room bonuses.

New Depositor Freeroll

If you are interested in online tournament poker, joining a site that offers a new depositor freeroll bonus could get you a seat at that poker room's freerool tournaments. New depositor freerolls are open to any new player to a poker room that makes their first deposit within 30 days of registering their account.

These bonuses hand out freeroll tokens for tournaments with different purse totals. These tokens allow new members access to tournaments that other players don't have entry to. This is a good way of learning to play in online poker tournaments without putting any of your own cash on the line.

No-Deposit Bonus

No deposit bonuses are exactly what they sound like -- free stuff you earn just for signing up with an online poker room. Casinos offer no deposit bonuses to convince people to play by giving them money in their poker rooms.

Poker Rewards Program

Playing poker at an online room could turn a poker hobbyist into a hotshot VIP. Most online poker rooms offer their playing members some kind of reward system. While you play poker online, you earn points for different things, such as your success and the amount of poker you play. You then earn points based on those statistics to use toward more bonus money, prizes, and even entry into special tournaments.


The rake is the poker room's "take" in exchange for providing games. This is almost always a percentage of the pot taken by the house during each hand of poker, but the word "rake" can also mean a time based collection, such as a certain amount of money taken by the poker room every thirty minutes or every hour.

For players interested in poker bonuses, the most important aspect of a room's rake is the impact that your bonus money can make on that rake amount. Think of poker room bonuses as money earned against that room's rake.

Reload Bonus

These bonuses go into affect when you reload your account with cash a certain number of times. Like initial deposit bonuses, they are only good up to a certain amount. In most cases, reload bonuses also have clearing requirements, just like initial deposit bonuses.

Selective Offer

You read this word mostly in the fine print at online poker rooms. Usually, it goes something like this -- "Management reserves the right to offer selective promotions, bonuses, and other promotions to a select group of players. Management is not obliged to disclose different criteria by which players are selected for these offers," and on and on.

This is a big "cover your ass" move on the poker room's part that basically says that they don't have to offer all their bonuses to all their players. Most bonus programs are "selective offers" that some players won't earn either because they're beating the poker room up for loads of cash or because the poker room just doesn't want to give away the farm to every customer.

Shared Rake

Under the shared rake model, players receive credit for contributing rake as long as they were dealt into a hand - regardless if they folded preflop or went all-in.

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