Using Bonuses To Build Your Bankroll
by Jason Kirk  

Building a bankroll is one of the most important things a poker player can do. A sufficient bankroll allows you to play the game of your choice on a regular basis without fear of going broke. It also allows you to keep your poker money separate from the rest of your finances, which can save you and your family a lot of headaches. Besides simply putting in time at the tables, there is another way to bulk up your bankroll: bonuses.

Almost every online poker site offers bonuses in some form or another. One of the most popular bonuses is the new player bonus, a reward for giving your business to the site. Reload bonuses are also common, giving you a little something extra when you add money to your account. Something to keep in mind when signing up for a new player bonus is that you should make sure to deposit enough money to claim the maximum bonus, because you won't ever be able to claim this bonus again. You can miss out on a lot of money across several sites if you don't initially deposit enough money. It's better to hold off on claiming these bonuses if you can't afford to make these larger deposits. Something else to consider is whether the site you want to play at is part of a bigger network that pools players. Many networks only allow you to have one account, so choosing the site within that network that offers the best bonus is very important.

The way your bonus money is cleared depends on the site you're playing. Some sites will allow you to earn points toward clearing the bonus by playing tournaments, but many will only allow ring game play to count toward bonus requirements. And when it comes to playing ring games, not all sites are created equal because the definition of a raked hand differs among competing poker rooms. Where at one site all you have to do is sit at the table and be dealt a hand that ends up being raked, another site will require you to contribute money to the pot before the hand will count toward clearing your bonus. These distinctions are very important considerations, as they can affect how much money you will have to risk in order to clear the bonus money.

Another factor to consider when you decide whether you want to try to clear a bonus at a particular site is how long it will take you. There are several common methods for distributing bonus money at the various poker sites, and they will affect your decision about whether to try to claim a bonus. One method is for every raked hand to be worth a certain amount of bonus money, and for your bonus to be distributed to you in increments (e.g. Site X gives you 5 cents for each raked hand and releases $10 when you play 200 raked hands). Another method - and one that's very beneficial to you as a player - is to require a certain number of raked hands to be played before the entire bonus amount is released into your account. With bonuses that use this method, the number of raked hands required is usually a multiple of the total amount of the bonus (e.g. 1000 raked hands to clear a $100 bonus, a 10x multiple.) Bonuses that are released all at once are often smaller than those that are released in increments, but they're almost always easier to clear, too.

Finding out about bonuses at various sites is the biggest key of all to making the maximum money possible from them - after all, you can't make money you aren't aware is out there. Reload bonuses are often easy to learn about because most sites regularly send e-mail messages to their players informing them of such promotions. When it comes to new player bonuses, though, some research can pay off because there are so many poker sites out there today that you might miss out on a lot of easy money if you just stuck to the more well-known sites. There are several web sites that constantly keep track of such bonuses; among the best are and the interestingly-named

Building a bankroll through time at the tables is tough work, so it's worth the effort to scout out some bonuses to supplement all your hard-earned money with a little bit of easy cash. Make sure that you understand the terms of every bonus, and you should find your bankroll growing in no time.

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