The nice thing about an emerging and competitive industry is that consumers tend to get courted rather nicely. All the poker sites are hungry for new players, and as such, they’re always offering nice promotional goodies. If they could give you flowers and chocolate, they probably would.
For the new player, this means you need to keep an eye out for sign up bonus offers. These are usually available as bonus codes, which you enter along with your user-name and other information when establishing a real-money account. When you enter this code, you get a percentage or flat-rate dollar amount actually added to the amount you deposit. For instance, the poker room may add 25% to your first deposit. Drop $100 into your account, and the site kicks in another $25. This is a one-time-only deal, however. It applies only to the very first deposit that you make into your poker room account.
There’s a catch, of course. Typically, you must make a minimum deposit and play a specified number of raked hands before the additional money is added to your account. (Remember, raked hands are cash games in which the poker room skims a percentage of each winning pot.) Alternately, a poker site requires that you wager a specific amount before receiving the bonus, or it will include some mechanism for counting tournament play toward your required activity. These requirements are there to prevent people from signing up for an account, receiving the bonus, and instantly cashing out.
The minimum playing requirement to receive your sign-up bonus is typically 5–10 raked hands per dollar awarded.
Recently, many of the top poker sites have simply made this initial sign up bonus part of the process of establishing your real-money account. You don’t have to worry about where to get your bonus code; you get the extra cash automatically.
(© 2005 Deal Me In! Online Cardrooms, Big Time Tournaments, and The New Poker Book. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)
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