Online casino platforms have been instrumental in bringing the game of poker to the masses. In years gone by, new players might have felt nervous about taking that first step, fearful that they would look foolish or might fall victim to a card shark and lose all their money before they knew what hit them.
But by playing online, beginners can start slowly on games like video poker, learning the ropes before they advance to Three Card Stud and, from there, get to games like Texas Holdem in online poker rooms.
While playing housed poker games won’t be too useful in terms of strategy or making you a better player, it will at least help you get comfortable with the online environment.
But, the less-frightening and more player-friendly environment isn't the only advantage of online poker.
There are many other upsides available to those who decide to join the action on the virtual felt, specifically in terms of pure value.
An online player can get their hands on all sorts of bonuses, rakeback deals, and promotional offers, which simply help boost their bankroll and improve their win-rate.
If you know anything about online gambling, you probably know that casinos offer some pretty generous bonuses for regular gamblers, but what about poker players?
Slots players have it easy when it comes to bonuses. If you search for the best Canadian free spins no deposit bonus, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for and what you might get. But how do these promotions work when it comes to the game of poker?
The simplest promotions work in much the same way as they do with other casino games. The platform offers a joining bonus, either matching whatever you deposit or even providing a “no deposit” bonus to get you started without any outlay on your side.
However, there is usually one major difference between casino and poker bonuses.
Your casino bonus will be issued ahead of time. You’ll get the extra cash to play with, and you’ll need to turn it over (wager) a certain number of times before you cash out.
Poker bonuses don’t work like that in most cases. Instead, the bonus will be released in smaller chunks as you generate rake and accumulate redemption points.
It’s basically the same principle, but you’re doing the wagering ahead of time. The good news about this approach is that once the money is released, it’s yours. You don’t have to do anything else to “clear” it.
Join the Elite
VIP programs are a standard fare in land-based casinos and are becoming more commonplace online.
If you play regularly, joining a VIP program makes all sorts of sense and is probably the most lucrative type of promotion from a long-term perspective.
They work in much the same way as any other loyalty program, whether with a supermarket, a hotel chain, or an airline.
The more you play, the more points you will accumulate.
These can then be redeemed against everything from merchandise, over special bonuses, to straight-up cash.
Sadly, poker players don’t have access to many great VIP programs these days. The harsh truth is that casinos would much rather see you play blackjack than poker against other people, and the rewards you get are reflective of that.
This isn’t to say that you can’t still find some decent loyalty schemes to boost your bankroll. In fact, when choosing your online poker room, you should always look for the one that treats its loyal players right and gives you a nice chunk of your rake back in one way or another.
Tournament Boosts & Promos
Tournaments are by far the most popular version of poker. Players love them because they give them a chance to have a lot of play for a reasonable amount of money, and there is always a chance of a big payday.
Therefore, poker rooms will often feature tournaments as part of their promotions in one way or another.
Freeroll tournaments take a special place in this setup. These are free-to-enter events that offer real money prizes or entries to real cash events. Sometimes, they’re available to everyone, and sometimes you’ll have to be a certain VIP level or meet some prerequisites.
These types of tournament promotions can be quite interesting and lucrative, especially if you’re a decent MTT player. That said, most of these feature small prize pools that are hardly worth the hassle, so you have to pick and choose your battles wisely.
Many tournaments also come with a guaranteed prize pool, which means the room promises that they’ll pay out a certain amount in prizes even if there aren’t enough players in the field.
For example, a $110 tournament with a $10,000 guaranteed needs 100 runners to meet the guarantee. But even if there are just 80 players, the prize pool will still be $10,000.
These can be of great value, especially if you find a room where overlays (having fewer players than required to make up the prize pool) are common. It's basically free money up for grabs, but operators continue to do it for promotional purposes and in hopes of attracting more players eventually.
Make Most Out of Poker Promotions
Finding the best and most valuable promotions is an essential part of playing online poker. As a poker player, you always need to put yourself in positive expectations spots, and many promotions help you do just that.
Depending on the type of player you are, certain promotions can be more valuable than others.
For example, serious grinders will benefit more from good VIP programs that reward loyalty and big volume. Casual players should seek rooms that offer good freerolls or occasional bonuses. Tournaments with overlays are great no matter who you are.
That's poker promotions in a nutshell, and this article should help you understand what to expect out there. If you want to know more about how things work behind the scenes, check out this piece on rake and rakeback in poker.