Online Poker Bonuses

Poker promotions - coins

Playing poker online for real money is great. But playing and earning free cash is even better.

Most of the big, legal poker sites offer a bonus of one sort or another. Whether it's a welcome bonus that offers cash for earning player points, or a VIP scheme that rewards longer-term play, sites are falling over themselves to give customers some free money.

Bonus details can vary drastically from site to site, but generally they work the same: play enough games in a set time period (say, two months) and you'll trigger free cash.

Why Are Bonuses Great?

  • Earn free cash, just for playing
  • Build up a VIP loyalty scheme for even bigger bonuses
  • Faster withdrawals to get your money quicker

What Are Poker Bonuses?

While bonuses differ, they generally operate in the same way. 'Player points' (or 'Frequent Player Points') are earned every time you play for real money.

So, whether you're playing a cash hand, a Sit 'n Go, or MTT, you'll earn points that go towards a points pool.

Points are awarded in different ways, but for cash players you'll earn points every time you contribute rake to a pot. For Sit n' Go or tournament players, you'll earn points for every fee you earn.


Cash Games
A site offers 10 points per $1 of contributed rake. You play $0.50/$1.00 for a week and contribute $50 of rake during your sessions. You will then earn 500 player points.

The same site offers 10 points per $1 of fees in tourneys or SNGs. You play 20 SNGs in a week at a buy-in of $10+1. Therefore you earn 10 points per game, and 200 points in a week.

Typical Bonus Types
Bonus guide - Typical bonus
  • Welcome bonus
  • Reload deposit bonus
  • SNG and tournament leaderboards

Welcome bonuses are the most common type of deposit bonus at a poker site. When you make a first deposit at a site it will be matched to the same amount (or sometimes more) and there's usually a limit on how much you can claim.

You'll have a time limit to "play through" enough raked games or tournaments to earn the same amount of cash absolutely free from the room.

Welcome Bonus Example
You sign up for an online poker account and deposit $500. The site offers to match it 100% and you have a month to earn a set amount in rake and fees. You play 1,000 SNGs with the buy-in as mentioned above and earn 500 player points, triggering the bonus cash easily. Welcome bonuses can be good for online sites as they ensure players don't leave to go and play somewhere else. If you pick a bonus that makes sense for you, it can definitely reap rewards.

Reload Bonuses
Great for loyal real-money customers are reload bonuses which reward you by depositing cash and playing. They're a good option for players who might have missed out on a welcome bonus, but pay attention to the clearance rate; sometimes the 'play-through' point system is much lower on reloads than a traditional welcome bonus.

Tournament Leaderboards
Leaderboards are a great way to earn bonus cash and compete with your fellow players. You play as many games as you can within a timeframe, and earn points for your finishing position. The top 5 or 10 players at the end of the bonus share out the prize money.

These "mission"-style leaderboards are appearing more and more these days as they encourage competition, and players can take to social media to brag about their wins.

Leaderboards pay weekly or monthly and there's sometimes thousands in prize money being given away. Better still, leaderboards are split into buy-in levels, so you can play at a comfortable stake and still have a chance of bagging some cash.

VIP Clubs and Stores
Bonus guide - VIP Clubs
    Benefits of VIP clubs:
  • Regular cash rebates
  • VIP tournaments and exclusive live events
  • Bragging rights to your friends
  • Buy merchandise from the online store

For professionals or amateurs who can multi-table well and rack up a lot of hands, a VIP program might be the way to go.

Loyalty schemes are offered at most legal sites, and players can earn cashback, tickets to live events, or exclusive merchandise in return for keeping up regular play. Merchandise can include poker chipsets, clothing, and - for the biggest pros - cars and holidays.

Most VIP schemes are tiered, with new players automatically entered into the bottom rung. Maintain your VIP status by racking up enough raked hands and points and you'll progress to the next level.

Picking The Right Online Room

Finding the right bonus is about finding the right poker room. Consider opening multiple accounts (there's nothing to stop you) as long as you find reliable, legal sites that can be trusted to pay out.

Bonuses can only be triggered if you play enough poker, so find a site that has a steady stream of traffic. There's nothing worse than needing to multi-table six cash games for a month when there are barely enough players to fill a single table.

And check the bonus requirement. One site may award $1 per 40 points while another may offer the same cash reward for double that amount; do your homework and don't get stung.