Poker Bonus Terms and Definitions
July 28, 2006  
2006 Randy Saylor  

Smart players do a lot of things that set themselves apart from gamblers. Reading and studying books is one way to advance. Analyzing previous hands, and studying statistics about yourself and your opponents is another way. The best, and easiest, is taking advantage of deposit and reload bonuses offered by the various sites.

Bankroll restraint is a practice advocated by the serious players. If you want to advance to higher limit games, you simply must have a growing bankroll, or else you are gambling. The sites offer a variety of bonuses that can help your bankroll grow.

This is free money, and you might as well take advantage of it. If you are going to play $1/2 limit, you can probably find a good, fishy game at almost any site. Why not be in the process of clearing a bonus at the time? Some advanced bonus chasers clear over $10,000 per year just in bonuses alone. Some of these players even use the rule of never playing a site unless they are earning a bonus at the time.

Bonus Chasing Terms Defined

T&Cs (terms and conditions): All sites list their specific terms and conditions for clearing bonuses. It is important to read and understand these. If you cannot find them (or don’t understand), email support for more information.

FPPs (frequent player points): Almost all sites have a player rewards program, and most are based on a point system. Points are used to earn rewards, such as a cleared bonus, merchandise, or entry into freeroll tournaments.

Bonus Code: A code that must be entered to receive a bonus. The site or email referring you will tell you if you need to enter a specific code.

Bonus Clearing: Playing the required amount of hands or time required to have the bonus credited to your account.

X: The most common way of expressing the play requirement for clearing a bonus. A 5X dealt bonus means you must play 5 raked hands for every dollar of bonus. (By the way, 5X bonuses are becoming quite rare as sites move to 7X or 10X bonuses.)

Dealt Raked Hands: Some sites award bonuses based on the number of raked hands you play. A raked hand is defined as one in which you were active at a table (not sitting out), received cards (even if you fold preflop), and the pot was large enough for the site to collect a rake (percentage) on the hand.

Contributed Raked Hands: This is a nefarious rule that some sites have implemented. It means that you must contribute money to the pot in order to be credited with a raked hand. Although you can still chase bonuses at these sites, check the number of hands required in order to make sure you are not better served spending your time elsewhere. To clear such a bonus in a reasonable time would require you to play a very wide range of hands preflop, which is usually detrimental to your bankroll.

Release Increment: This tells you how your bonus is paid out. Some sites add the bonus to your account in $5 or $10 increments as you earn enough points for that portion. Other sites credit your bonus only after you have cleared the entire total. Some bonuses are credited instantly and others happen the next day. Make sure you understand the release terms so you don’t get stuck short of funds if you go on a losing streak.

Expiration: Some bonuses have no expiration date. Others expire after a set amount of days (usually 7, 30, 60 or 90). Don’t waste a bonus if you will not be able to play it off in the required time.

Maximum Percentage Bonus: Bonuses offered as percentages usually have a maximum. Terms may be expressed as: 20% deposit bonus ($100 max). This means you will get 20% of whatever you deposit in bonus, but even if you deposit over $500, you cannot get more than $100 in bonus.

No-deposit Bonuses: Although this is becoming more rare, a few sites offer these, which give a new player money to start playing games. These bonuses are hard to find, must be asked for, and often take several days to receive. The free money cannot be cashed out without a lot of play, but any winnings can be.

Merchandise Bonuses: This is becoming much more popular, as sites offer a book or other goods as part of a deposit bonus. Larger sites also have a “store” where frequent player points can be cashed in for merchandise, free money, or free tournament entries.

Account-Specific Bonus: Sometimes a certain group of players qualify for a bonus not available to other players. You may receive an email telling you to use a specific bonus code, but that code may not work for your friend. This is most likely an account-specific bonus.

Freeroll Bonus: Some sites give you free entry into a restricted new-players only tournament that awards cash with no entry fee. Make sure to check the promotions page of the online poker room so you don’t miss one of these.

Cashier: Most sites allow you to access your own bonus clearing details directly from the cashier window. There is usually a button or tab that opens a second window with this information. These windows tell you your current number of earned points, when the next portion of bonus releases, and the bonus expiration date.

Stackable Bonus: These are offered at sites that allow you to be clearing multiple bonuses at the same time. For example, Poker Stars offers bonuses that are stackable and have no expiration date. This means you should take advantage of the bonuses whenever they are (rarely) offered, since you can clear them at your leisure. If you have an unearned bonus there, you will not lose it by taking advantage of the new offer.

Overplay: Although rare, some sites have restricted habitual bonus chasers who play only enough hands to clear the bonus, then cash out. The simplest way around this is to overplay the bonus requirements by about 10%.

Wagering Requirement: This type of bonus is usually found at casino sites. The bonus is cleared by wagering a certain percentage of the deposit. For example, to clear a 20x WR $100 bonus, you would have to wager $2000 total (perhaps 400 hands of blackjack at $5 per). This is mentioned in relation to poker because sites like Pacific Poker that are the poker offerings of large casino sites may have such a requirement.

Withdrawal Terms: Most sites allow you to deposit to earn a bonus (even though it’s not cleared yet), then withdraw the money instantly, 24, or 48 hours later. You can then clear the bonus with other funds you have at the site, or wait until you are able to deposit later.

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