Signup Bonuses and Loyalty Rewards
If you're at the beginning of your online poker career, you should definitely take advantage of the different types of bonuses that various poker rooms offer. Before you do anything though, you need to learn to evaluate these bonuses, so you know exactly what you're getting yourself into when you sign up.
First of all: double check the actual offer. If it says you get $200 free, it may well be that what it really means is: you'll get your first deposit matched a 100%, up to a maximum of $200.
Check for bonus unlocking requirements next. How many FPPs (Frequent Player Points) do you have to generate per bonus dollar, and how does your bonus actually unlock. In one lump sum, or several smaller chunks?
When does the bonus expire? Mind you that no poker room out there offers you bonuses that needn't be unlocked. That would defeat the very purpose the bonus was created for. Check for the method the poker room in question uses to determine your MGR. A lot could depend on that too.
There are many subtleties tied to these bonuses, and until you don't know how to navigate your way through these treacherous waters, it'll be very difficult for you to exploit them to their full potential. Anyway, let's suppose you know all about that, and you're an expert bonus evaluator. You spot the right one right away and you steer well clear of those that are mere enticements without substance (they're pretty much impossible to unlock). What should you do then? Experience shows that signing up to several poker rooms that offer you some sort of bonuses is the right thing to do. As long as you're working towards unlocking your bonus, you'll be playing with reduced rake. That will mean a humongous edge over regular players who have already unlocked theirs.
Playing at several rooms, all of which pamper you with some sort of bonus, will make sure you'll enjoy a positive EV game time and time again.
You need to stick with the poker room at least until you've unlocked your bonus, then you can choose to stay (if you like the action and find the games are juicy enough) or cash out and move on to a different poker room where you can start over. Never create multiple accounts on the same site in order to benefit from the same bonus multiple times. You'll end up getting caught, and you'll lose not only your bonus but possibly your deposit as well.
Now let's take a look at this whole deal from the point of view of the poker room: the player comes around, plays until he unlocks his bonus then leaves. No harm done, the room still gets more money in rake than what it pays out in bonus (at least several times that money actually) but they'll have lost a player who could've stayed and played on, thus generating more money for them. The continuous migration of players will mess up statistics, poker rooms will never really know the number of active players they have, and the player will never actually take part in a true social experience that poker is ultimately meant to be.
The solution to this issue, one that will pretty much cover both the player's side as well as that of the poker room, is a good rakeback deal. Since this is a recurring bonus, the player will never feel compelled to leave. After all, he'll be enjoying rake reduction all the time. The room will have retained a potentially valuable player, and everyone's happy.
Looking up a poker prop deal can be even better. Poker propping is about providing action for the regular clients of the room, and pocketing over 100% rakeback. Some people can become winners because of these deals. There are some restrictions to playing when bound by prop status though, restrictions which you should take the time and read up on, in order to avoid nasty surprises.
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