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How Can Poker Rooms Give Away "Free Money"?

Poker Bonus WhoringThe most common way for online poker rooms to draw in new players is to offer them a plethora of bonuses. These bonuses often take the form of the poker room matching the initial deposit their customer makes up to a certain dollar amount. For instance Cake Poker offers $660 in free deposit bonuses, while PokerStars offers $600.

But how do poker rooms actually make money by offering these sign-up bonuses? Wouldn't they lose money, or at the very least, not make any money by returning the total dollar amount of deposits? Read on to learn how online poker sites manage to make a profit while still offering big bonus bucks.

How Online Poker Room Bonuses Work

Nothing in this world is free. Although online poker rooms offer matching bonuses, they are not immediately available to players. Before they can earn their "free" cash, users have to spend money on the tables. This is measured either by the amount of money raked from hands a player is involved in or by acquiring points for regular use of the service.

Typically, the player will earn around $1 in bonus money for every dollar in rake accrued. This might sound like it is still leaving the poker site breaking even at best, but rake is not earned on dollar-per-dollar basis. Online poker sites typically take around 5% of any pot as fees to the house. To earn a single point towards your bonus money, $20 will have to be risked at the table.

That's still well and good as money tends to change hands quite a bit over the course of a day of poker. However, it is possible for a player to spend their entire $600 deposit and end up with only 60 of the nearly 3000 points they would need to claim their deposit bonus. A consistent loser at the tables will not earn enough money clear their bonus on their first deposit.

How This Benefits The Poker Rooms

A player who has run out of money but still wants to earn their "free" bonuses is likely to deposit more money into the poker room, this time without any bonus money applied. Not only does it keep a player active on the site, but it brings in a bigger cash flow due to players chasing after a bonus that is no longer split evenly between the poker room and the user.

Even if the player manages to beat the house and earn their bonus on a single deposit, it still benefits the poker room. Due to rake, money is constantly evaporating from circulation in the system. If every player were to break even every day, they would still be losing five percent of their cash every day. By enticing people to bring new money in AND paying bonuses out without a deposit, they ensure that there's a fresh source of cash to keep games lively.

Summary: Reasons Why Poker Rooms Offer Bonuses

  • Players rarely complete the bonus requirements in a single deposit
  • It keeps money flowing onto the site
  • It encourages new sign-ups

How Bonuses Benefit The Players

If all this sounds a bit mercenary, well, it is. Online poker rooms need to make a profit like anyone else. But that doesn't mean that bonuses are exploitative or unfair. A good player can see some serious benefits from online poker promotions and a beginner player who is losing more than they win can still recoup some of that loss thanks to the bonuses.

Many players make a habit out of "bonus whoring", a practice that involves playing at one sight just long enough to earn the max bonus possible and then withdrawing their cash once they've cleared their bonuses. Then, they move on to another site and begin again.

This is a good strategy for getting the most out of every dollar of rake pulled from your pot, but it is only worthwhile for consistent winners or players who break even. For those who are just starting out at online poker, it is usually best to just fin d a place with a reasonable bonus rate that is easy to understand.

Which Online Poker Bonus Is Best?

What online poker bonus is the best is often a matter of taste. Some rooms offer high returns on small deposits while others offer better VIP programs. It is important to decide what you want out of your poker room so you can make the best decision.

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