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How to Evaluate Online Poker Bonuses

One of the main ways in which online poker sites compete against one another is by offering sign up bonuses to all new players. These bonuses are always offered as a match percentage basis of a player’s first deposit. For example, many poker sites will match your first deposit at a 100% rate, up to some maximum dollar amount.

Poker bonuses are a great way to build your bankroll because poker sites really do give you extra money. However, that does not mean all poker bonuses are equal to one another in quality. When it comes to evaluating poker bonuses, you have to be careful that you find poker bonuses that offer the best all around value. There are several key factors that you should look at when choosing a poker bonus:

#1 - The Dollar Size of the Bonus

The overall size of a poker bonus is important to note because it ultimately determines how much of a boost your bankroll will receive once you clear the bonus. Most poker bonuses max out at somewhere between $500 and $1,000. This one factor alone does not tell you how much value the bonus offers, but it does serve as a good starting point.

Everything else being equal, the bigger a bonus is, the better. But remember – if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If a poker site offers a bonus that is significantly higher than $1,000, you will naturally want to be a little skeptical. One of the biggest legitimate poker bonuses that comes to mind is the one offered by Bodog Poker. They are currently giving all new players a 110% bonus that maxes out at $1,100.

#2 - The Percentage Match

The percentage match you get on your bonus is almost as important as the size of the bonus itself. The greater a percentage match you get, the easier it is to max out the bonus. For example, Ultimate Bet has a 111% match bonus. If you deposit $500 at that poker site, you’ll get an extra $555 on top of your deposit. This is currently one of the best percentage matches offered in the industry.

If you have a large bankroll, the percentage match basis doesn’t matter as much because you’ll probably max out the bonus regardless. However, with smaller bankrolls and smaller deposits, the percentage match takes more significance. Those of you with smaller bankrolls should go with bonuses that have the highest percentage match before you go after the biggest overall bonus. By doing so, you can build your bankroll up and then take full advantage of the biggest bonuses later in your poker career.

#3 - Clearing Requirements

The clearing requirements of each poker bonus are just as important as the factors discussed so far. A poker site can offer you a million dollar poker bonus, but it’s completely worthless if the clearing requirements are so high they make it impossible to ever see any of the money.

Every poker bonus comes with clearing requirements. These requirements are used by poker sites to make sure you actually play poker rather than just deposit, get the bonus, and run. These clearing requirements usually state something along the lines of “you must earn 10 frequent player points per $1.00 of bonus money.”

Make sure you check the clearing requirements of each poker bonus before you sign up and deposit. The requirements are almost always listed somewhere on the poker site’s webpage. Fortunately, most poker sites have sane clearing requirements. Even so, it never hurts to double-check before you make that first deposit. You can also use this factor to break any ties between poker bonuses.

#4 - Extra Perks

Some poker sites also offer players extra perks such as freeroll tournament entries to all new players. In most cases, these extra perks are not worth considering. You’ll be lucky to find a “new depositor freeroll” that has a prize pool of $1,000. These extra perks are good for casual players but the prize pools are just way too small to make them worthy of consideration from serious players.

One exception to this rule are the new player freeroll tournaments offered by Party Poker. All new players get a chance to participate in up to $30,000 worth of freeroll tournaments during their first 60 days at Party Poker. These tournaments include a daily $100 freeroll, a weekly $2500 freeroll, and a monthly $10,000 freeroll. The prize pools in these tournaments can actually give you a nice bankroll boost.

For more information, make sure to check out our rankings of the best online poker bonuses, as well as this list of our favorite poker bonus guides.

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