Whether you consider poker, casino games or sports betting, the online gambling industry is extremely competitive, with dozens of quality websites trying to get the attention of players and convince them to continue using their services once they sign up for a real money account. One of the best ways for such websites to attract new customers is to outdo the competition when it comes to welcome bonuses and loyalty programs, which tend to get extremely lucrative even on websites that have already secured themselves a place at the top of the traffic charts.
As you’d expect, these bonuses differ considerably from site to site, but in the end it’s not that hard to notice patterns that are replicated by almost every gambling operator working within a given niche. Below, you will find a rundown of the most common bonuses available to poker players, casino enthusiasts and sports bettors, regardless of the country they’re playing from or the amount of money they’re willing to wager. While this list is by no means all-inclusive, it should give you a general idea about what you should expect when searching for the offer that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Online Casino Offers
Online casinos tend to offer the highest bonuses of all three types of gambling sites described here, but they also have strictest conditions when it comes to clearing them. As a result, being careful about the Terms & Conditions is probably even more important than finding the bonus that will allow you to claim the highest amount of cash, which means that inexperienced casino players should be very careful about making their deposit. Some gambling specialist even go as far as to advise beginners not to pick any casino bonuses at all, but once you know what you’re doing you will have the advantage of being able to capitalize on some of the best offers available anywhere on the web.
Most casino deposit bonuses are offered to new customers only, which means that you can’t have an account with the site in question in order to be eligible for the promotion, and you have to redeem the bonus on your first payment. These bonuses are usually ridiculously big, for example a bonus of up to $3,000 with a 300% match on the amount your deposit should be considered fairly good, but not unusually generous. What’s more, some of the sites prefer to split the bonus into a number of chunks, which can be claimed on the first few of your payments. For example, a casino could offer a welcome package of $2,000, which can be claimed on the first three of your deposits. In that case, the first chunk could be a $1,000 bonus with a 300% match, while the remaining chunks could be worth $500 each and offer a 200% match. Keep in mind that not every casino site will force you to claim the bonus on your first payment only. In fact, quite a few sites offer bonuses that can be redeemed as many times as you please.
Beware of High Playthrough Requirements
While getting $3,000 with a 300% match might sound like a sweet deal, there is a pretty important catch here: the casino will require you wager both the money you received and the amount you deposited (combined) 30 or 40 times before you’ll be allowed to request a cash out. What’s more, most bonuses will require you to complete this playthrough by playing a limited number of games, which usually means that you’ll have to play the titles that have the highest house edge. If the site you pick allows you to clear the bonus by playing games with an advantageous return to player rate, odds are high that it will explicitly prohibit you from placing “safe” bets. The list of prohibited wagers can include betting on black and red in roulette, or betting on pass and don’t pass at the same time in craps. Needless to say, if you break the rules, the casino is more than likely to claim not only the bonus you received, but also all of your winnings.
Free Casino Chips and No Deposit Casino Bonuses
A few casino sites also offer free casino chips or other kinds of no deposit bonuses. These bonuses are usually very small – between $10 and $100 – and are designed to give you a taste of real money play. Most no deposit offers have strict playthrough requirements, but unlike in the case of deposit bonuses you won’t feel like you’re navigating a minefield while clearing them, as the casino won’t require you to make an investment beforehand. All things considered, no deposit bonuses are the only real way you can get free money with the online casino sites.
Online Poker Rooms
Bonuses offered by online poker sites won’t be as big as the ones offered by online casinos, but they also come with significantly less obnoxious requirements that you’ll have to fulfill in order to clear them. Generally speaking, no poker site will restrict you to playing only a few poker variants in order to receive the full amount, which means that you’ll be able to grind these promotions whichever way you please. Nevertheless, the bonuses available to new players will usually be released in chunks, which will be unlocked as you collect the site’s own brand of VIP points. Those VIP points are tied to the rake collected by the poker room, so the more you bet the sooner you can clear the whole amount. This way, the poker rooms make sure that they’re giving the money to active players instead of people looking for an opportunity to score a quick buck, cash out and stop playing on the site altogether.
First deposit bonuses are the most common promotions offered by online poker rooms, which means that almost every site will give you a chance to get some free cash on your first payment. Most of these bonuses are a 100% match on your deposit and allow you to grab between $300 and $1,000. As mentioned above, you won’t immediately have the whole amount at your disposal, and you’ll have to be fairly active at the tables to claim it. Usually, the bonus will be released in $10 chunks as you reach certain thresholds of VIP points, so you should check out the poker room’s terms and conditions to see how fast you’ll be able to actually clear it.
Another reason to double-check the rules is that most sites require you to clear the bonus within a specific timeframe – usually about 90 days. If you don’t manage to clear the entire amount, you forfeit the remainder of your promotional money – but unlike casino sites, online poker rooms will never touch any of your winnings. As a result, poker deposit bonuses are always worth claiming, just keep in mind that clearing them will usually involve a lot of grind and multi-tabling, especially if you’re planning to play on the lower stakes.
No Deposit Poker Bonuses
No-deposit poker bonuses are even harder to find than their casino counterparts, especially since most online poker rooms simply won’t advertise them on their websites. As a result, if you want to claim a no-deposit bonus to play poker for real money, you’ll have to search for one of the offers on the large affiliate sites, such as PokerStrategy. The amount of money you can receive from a no-deposit bonus is usually around $50-$100, which is rather impressive if you consider the fact that you won’t be expected to actually make an investment.
Nevertheless, you have to keep in mind that the terms and conditions will usually require you to do more than just creating a new account with the poker site in question. For example, PokerStrategy requires all players who want to receive a no-deposit bonus to complete a short course that teaches them basic poker tactics and concepts to ensure that you won’t act carelessly and lose your money as soon as you start playing. Furthermore, much like deposit bonuses, most no-deposit promotions require you to grind VIP points to release the full amount, but if you play well it is more than possible to advance up the stakes and start a successful poker career using this limited amount.
Rakeback deals are crucial when it comes to maximizing your winnings, as they allow you to claim a percentage of the money that would otherwise go to the poker room for hosting the games. Whether you plan on playing cash games or tournaments, securing a good rakeback deal should be one of your important long-term objectives. Keep in mind that most sites offer rakeback only to some of the most active players, which means that you’ll have to accumulate a massive amount of VIP points in order to qualify. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t be discouraged by that since grinding for rakeback is a long term investment which might mean the difference between losing, breaking even and turning a profit over the course of a year.
Sports Betting Sites
Sports betting sites have more in common with poker sites than casino sites when it comes to the bonuses they offer, which means that you generally won’t have any reasons to worry about losing your promotional money due to a fine-print clause hidden in the terms and conditions of the sports-book you picked. Nevertheless, you have to remember that the bonuses available on sports betting sites generally won’t be as lucrative as the ones offered by poker or casino sites, which means that you probably shouldn’t focus solely on them when picking the right sports book to play on.
Free Play bonuses are very similar to first deposit bonuses available on poker and casino sites. The only difference is that you shouldn’t expect such massive amounts of money, as the biggest free play bonuses available with online sports books rarely exceed $300. What’s more, those bonuses usually match your payment 25%-50%, which is significantly lower than the 300% offered by online casinos, or the standard 100% found in poker rooms What’s more, you have to keep in mind that most free play bonuses will be credited to your account based on the amount of money you wager, usually in 10%-20% increments.
In sports betting lingo, juice is the automatic commission for taking bets. Consequently, finding a good reduced juice offer is the equivalent of finding a good rakeback deal with a poker room as the end result is pretty much the same – placing your bets will cost you less money, which means that your profitability will skyrocket over prolonged periods of time. To give you some idea of how profitable a reduced juice offer is, most sites will require you to risk $110 for every $100 you could win on a given wager.
A reduced juice offer will usually reduce this requirement to $105, which means that your odds will increase significantly, enabling you to take more risks or simply settle for higher profits with a conservative approach. Keep in mind that reduced juice offers usually apply to a limited number of sports, which means that while you’ll find plenty of reduced juice propositions for NFL, NCAA, NBA or UFC, you’re very unlikely to get any for some of the more exotic sports that usually come with low betting limits.
Most cash back offers allow you to claim a percentage of your losses, which makes them somewhat inferior to reduced juice bonuses. In both cases, you’re getting a small percentage of the money you’d otherwise have to give up, which increases your profitability in the long run. Nevertheless, while reduced juice offers apply equally to winning and losing bettors, cash back offers will allow you to cut down on your losses whenever you’re having a particularly bad month. Consequently, I’d recommend picking reduced juice over free play and free play over cash back.