Whilst poker remains popular in casinos around the world, its popularity has been globalised by the ever growing number of online poker sites. These sites have enabled players of all standards to learn how to play poker, and develop the skills required to take on opponents, at small stakes tables before testing themselves against more experienced, higher staking opponents.
A game in which players require both a certain skill-set and a decent amount of luck to take home the big-pot, poker is further glamorised via live TV coverage all over the world. Played by a host of big-pot winning poker stars and celebrities alike, the chance to complete with players at all levels of ability is a huge draw to budding amateur poker players.
Tournament play has also been a big factor in increasing online poker’s profile, with the allure of big prizes and seats at high-profile tournaments, players can try and play their way through stages and rounds of smaller tournaments – with all roads leading to the holy-grail of playing in the big league.
Even better, most online poker sites offer new customers a variety of bonuses to help them develop their skills and prowess – including a FREE welcome bonus, first-deposit bonus, and game-play bonus.
If you’re dying to try out your bluffing skills at the tables – it’s a good idea to check out a few online poker sites first so you can find one that suits your eye. Once you’ve picked your preferred poker site, hit the ‘join now’ or ‘register now’ button – and then fill in the registration form. As well as generic details such as name and address – you’ll be asked to create a username and password which you’ll subsequently log in with. You may also need to enter a promotional-code here to qualify for some of the bonuses – so keep an eye out for them.
Credit and debit cards are the easiest way to deposit funds into your account – and as the funds go in instantly you can be on the tables soon after. If you’re already a seasoned player then it’s likely you may already have an account with one or more of the alternative payment methods often available: PayPal, Neteller, Skrill (Moneybookers), Ukash, InstaDebit, Paysafecard, Click2Pay, Fast bank Transfer, Wire Transfer and Cheque. As ever it’s always wise to check the small print of the bonus offer you’re taking up, as on occasion these methods can be either excluded or conversely offer additional promotional bonus benefits!
Welcome bonuses – these are often FREE MONEY and may be credited to your account in the form of tokens that will enable you to play a variety of ‘Sit & Go games’ or ‘Tournaments’. Tokens may have the value of certain games to make them easier to use to enter small-stakes games – but tokens can usually be combined to allow entry to larger-stakes games.
First deposit bonuses – 200% is a common first deposit bonus (up to £500), but how you release that bonus will vary depending on individual sites. Often you need to spend time at the poker tables to accrue points, and when you have amassed a certain amount of points part of the bonus will be released. Points can usually be amassed at Cash Tables, Sit & Go’s and during tournament play.
Freerolls – These are tournaments in which new players can hone their skills playing a variety of poker games for free – but you will still be playing for cash-prizes, and they’re a great way of getting the juices flowing.
Combining tokens – for example, if you combine tokens say to the value of £2.20 and £3.30 you can play a game with a £5.50 entry fee. However, if you play a game with a £5 entry fee – no change is usually given.
Tournament tokens – as these are free they are non-withdrawable.
Maximum bonus – is usually determined on the amount of your first deposit, so if you know you’re going to play a lot it’s a good idea to deposit as much as you can/can afford to maximize the amount of bonus you get.
Time limit – Players will have a specified time-limit to claim their bonus entitlement. This may vary but is often 30 days. Failure to do so in this timeframe usually means you will lose the bonus option even if you deposit later.
Member Already? – If you are a member of some other part of the site’s business e.g. the casino, bingo or sportsbook – you may not be eligible for bonuses.
Free Roll Qualification – You will usually have had to make a cash deposit to qualify to play in these games – for example £10 within two weeks of opening your account. If you deposit after this qualification period you probably won’t be eligible to play the free games.
Payment method – if making your deposit by certain payment methods you may not qualify for some bonuses e.g. Neteller and Skrill (Moneybookers).
Exclusions – attempts to manipulate bonuses or abuse them will lead to immediate loss of bonuses and future promotions.
Withdrawal conditions vary from site to site – though often poker bonuses will need to be played through only once before winnings and initial deposits are made available to withdraw.
So what are you waiting for – find your favourite site, sign-up, pull up a seat and then test yourself against other poker players by utilising all the available bonuses on offer – you never know you may soon be on the plane to Las Vegas to play with the professionals.