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Complete Guide to Online Poker Bonus Hunting for Dummies

Making Money from Poker Bonus


Online Poker Bonus Hunting enables you to earn real cash to build your bank steadily while improving your poker skills to be more competitive.

We share practical instructions for everyone from all over the world to pursue successful online poker whoring with useful tools such as Poker Log & Replay Poker!!


What’s Poker Bonus Hunting All About?


Poker bonus hunting or poker bonus whoring is a practice to hop from site to site discharging initial welcome bonuses.

Since poker site usually offers not only the sign-up deposit bonus to newcomers but also various cash incentives & loyalty programs to existing players, many bonus hunters play at one sight just long enough to earn the max bonus possible and withdraw their cash once they’ve cleared their bonuses.

Then, they move on to another site and start again and/or get back to the existing sites to keep exploring the ongoing bonuses.

BTW, the poker room is often provided by the casino site, so you may want to check Casino Bonus Hunting Guide – 7 Key Tactics To Beat Online Casino with +EV.

In Sportsbooks, we can make the bonus hunting completely risk-free and actually earn guaranteed income from matched betting without even single knowledge of sports betting, because we use a very simple hedging method (see further in Wrap Up section).


Poker Bonus Hunting Basic Strategies


However, unlike matched betting with a hedge, Poker bonus hunting requires consistent winning or break-even to extract a full bonus as your pure profits. If you lose much more than you win, no amount of bonus money will offset your poor poker play.

We assume the majority of those who have come to this guide are poker beginners or recreational players because if you were a very experienced player you would already know & exploit most of the available bonuses.

Then, is poker bonus hunting profitable for beginners?

Poker – Game of Skill or Chance

In order to answer that question, we need to understand the nature of the poker game.

As you are aware, a big difference between poker and casino games (100% chance, thus pure gambling) is that casino has a built-in “House Edge” which allows the house to win in long-term, while in poker, the house has no interest in the outcome, as they are an impartial provider of the services for a fee called “Rake”.

This means, in the most popular poker variations such as Texas Hold’em & Omaha Hold’em, you compete with other players rather than with the house, and one player will win at the expense of others. Besides, online poker cheating like this is extremely rare;

poker dogs cheating image

Does the difference in skill among players matter? Let me quote the comments from “The Conversation” based on PLOS One research;

We found the tipping point: skilled players can expect to do better than their relatively unskilled counterparts at least three-quarters of the time after 1,471 hands have been played.

In other words, poker becomes a game of skill after around 1,500 hands. To put this into perspective, most online players are likely to play 1,500 hands in 19 to 25 hours – and less than that if they play multiple tables at the same time.

Of course, devoted players everywhere might feel inclined to celebrate this revelation. They can bask in the satisfaction of knowing the game they love demands and rewards genuine proficiency and that in the end talent and guile will usually triumph over blind luck. Hard Evidence: is poker a game of chance or skill?

In fact, If poker relied mainly on luck, players would play to showdown and turn over their cards on the river to let luck decide the winner.

Knowing when to hold or fold is not based solely on the cards that are dealt, but a series of decisions based on skill and the actions taken by other players. Poker players contribute significantly towards their results by the actions they choose to make, so it’s a skill, not pure luck, which determines the outcome of this game.

Then, for beginners, will it be difficult to achieve even break-even at the time of completing the required bonus clearance?

Our Poker Bonus Hunting Strategies

Don’t worry, we set the following short & long-term strategies;

  • Short-Term: Make Poker Bonuses Hunting as profitable as possible
  • Long-Term: Consistently Win Poker games/tournaments by beating Fishes

Therefore we have created the below 3 guides;

texas holdem strategies skills feature image

make $1000 a month playing poker feature image

softest poker sites feature image


And, we share specific tactics to make bonus hunting profitable even for poker beginners in this guide.

Even it becomes not so profitable as you expected, it still makes sense at the end of the day, because this practice will surely develop your poker skill to prey fish for the rest of your life (BTW, PokerStar’s Poker Free School is a good course from beginners to intermediaries). 

Therefore, we believe these 3 guides will enable you to make poker bonus hunting worthwhile both in the short & long term.



Types Of Poker Bonuses


Let’s quickly review the popular poker bonus types.


No Deposit Bonus (NDB)


No Deposit Bonuses (NDB) is basically no risk because it doesn’t require any of your cash deposit the no-deposit bonus exists independently of any cash you throw at the casino like below 888Poker;

888poker NDB

So, it is offering a player a certain amount of money in “free play” immediately. Practically, you get a poker starting capital without having to deposit your own money. Any winnings you earn with that money are your own as long as you clear the bonus requirement.

NDB is not necessarily the registration stage but some Poker sites run as an ongoing offer like Intertops;

intertops poker no deposit bonus

Remember, an all-in-one betting site providing poker, casino & sportsbook like the above Intertops is said to be a soft site, means easy to win.


Initial Deposit Bonus


This bonus gives you a reward for your first deposit. Usually, these bonuses will match a percentage of your deposit. For example, with a 50% match bonus, if you deposit $100 you’ll get $50 just for free play.

You will have to clear this bonus, which means you will not see that bonus money until you play a certain number of hands required by the site.

Poker sites set a maximum amount they will match, but it can be large, around $300 to $500 is usually the highest most sites go but some will even match you 100% up to $1,000 on your deposit like Tiger Gaming;

tiger gaming poker welcome bonus

*Note: This Tiger Gaming is one of the softest sites (means easy to beat because there are many amateurs) with great promotions, see the details in Softest Online Poker Sites – Latest List to Prey Fish.


Freeroll Tournament


Poker sites require a tournament fee for all buy-in tournaments like $20 + $2. $20 goes to the prize fund while the +$2 is the tournament fee which is paid directly to the Poker site (house) to arrange the tournament.

All major poker sites always offer freeroll;partypoker freeroll

Freeroll Tournament doesn’t require any tournament fee but only buy-in cost, and there are many freerolls that don’t require even buy-in cost, although the prize pool is limited, like crypto exclusive poker SwC, this is entirely free & run every hour;

swc poker freerolls


Reload Bonus


If you’ve had an account with a poker room and already earned your initial deposit bonus, you can still let your deposit money make money using a reload bonus.

Typical reload is a deposit matched bonus like welcome bonus, each poker site provides unique reload like Betonline 20% Balance Boost;

betonline poker cross promotion

It says;

A large part of the sports world is currently on hold, but we want to be sure that you are ready to go as soon as the action resumes. We are rewarding a 20% Balance Boost to players who maintain their account balances up until the restart of the NBA/NHL/MLB seasons, whichever comes first. Good for up to $5,000, let this generous boost be the extra juice you need once the games resume.

It’s a cross-category promotion which proves that many players in Betonline Poker rooms came from other categories such as sportsbook & casino This means there are many poker amateurs called “Fish” with fewer pros called “Shark”. The bottom line is that there are a lot of soft games you can beat.

Anyhow, for the reload bonus, you need to keep your eyes open and really look for these bonuses, as most online poker rooms are not exactly crazy about advertising the reload bonuses to the whole world. It’s often the case that you receive an email from the poker room tempting your deposits with certain conditions.


Rakeback Bonus


Rake is a commission fee taken by a house operating a poker game, which is generally 2.5% to 10% of the pot in each poker hand. Rakeback is a cash refund of the rake, and earning a Rakeback bonus means you get back a certain percentage of the rake you pay to the house.

This kind of bonus is ideal for heavy players. An example of such a Rakeback bonus is Black Chip Poker (BCP) that offers 27% Rakeback in the cashier section, which will be effectively over 40% while clearing your deposit bonus;

black chip poker rakeback

America’s Cardroom (ACR) belonging to Winning Poker Network same as BCP provides you with a similar Rakeback offer. 

But be cautious that grinders love Rakeback, so if the site gives you very attractive Rakeback such as over 40% (industrial average seems to be less than 30%), you’d better assume there are many Sharks.



Poker Bonus – How To Evaluate Each Bonus


Bonus Evaluation based on Clearing Rule


Essentially, the poker bonus requires you to play real money games to a certain level before you can withdraw it.

This certain level, namely bonus clearing requirement is measured either based on “rake” (the commission a poker site takes from each winning pot, ranging 3 – 10%) or acquiring points for playing poker – this is essentially the same as a rake because you’ll earn these points through the amount of rake you generate anyway.

Typically, bonuses will be released in stages, like a total bonus of $100 might be released in ten payments of $10, but some bonuses will be given the full amount at the time you complete the clearance.

Importantly, all poker bonuses have an expiry date, and unless you can meet the clearing requirements before the set period, your bonus will be forfeited.

Let’s examine how these work by using Americas Cardroom (ACR) 1st 200% deposit bonus using cryptocurrency;

ACR first deposit bonus

T&C says;

• Minimum deposit to qualify: $25
• ONLY new players are eligible, and only on computers which have never been used for Americas Cardroom Real Money Play.
• Bonus = 200% of First Deposit up to $1,000.
• Your 200% First Time Deposit Bonus will be paid out in increments of $1 for every 27.5 Award Points Earned.
• Award Points previously earned do not count towards the bonus requirement.
• The portion of the rake or tourney fees used to feed either ‘The Beast’ or ‘Sit & Crush’ weekly points races do not accumulate Award Points towards releasing your bonus.
• Please keep in mind that you have 60 days to play the First Deposit Bonus through, and that you must release it before the 60 days are over, in order to earn your bonus.
• Contributions made for tournament fees are updated every 24 hours.

Say we deposit the minimum qualified $25, then the total bonus will be $50. Since the tournament fee varies by each tournament, let’s simulate assuming all $50 bonuses to be cleared by the award points through ring games (any non-tournament game like cash game).

The ACR’s separate T&C says;

Earning Award Points IN CASH GAMES
As we use the Weighted Contributed Rake methodology to calculate your points, you will earn Award Points for playing (contributing), but also for how much (weighted) you contribute to the pot on each hand.
Award Points are awarded at a rate of 5.5 APs for each $1 in rake generated

Let’s calculate a few parameters as follows;

  • Required Rake: $250 = $50 bonus x 27.5 points / 5.5 points
  • Rake %: assuming average 6.5% (median of 3% & 10% range)
  • Required stake you play in ring games: $3,850 = $250 / 6.5%
  • Clearing Requirement against deposit & bonus: x51 = $3,850 / $75 ($25 + $50)
  • Bonus return rate: 20% against rake ($50 / $250)
  • You need to complete this within 60 days as stated below

Then, how to evaluate the above numbers?

A Few Tips to evaluate Bonus

You can review the parameters as;

  • The more points you get for every $1 paid in rake and the fewer points you need for every $1 of bonus money, the better. Usually, if the former is good then the latter is not good, vice versa. The return rate against rake varies from 10 – 40%.
  • The longer the clearing period, the better. The period range is 30 – 89 days.
  • The earlier the release of bonuses, the better. Nowadays, the majority of bonus is released in increments either fixed size or % of the total bonus. The smaller the released unit like $1, the better than $10 because the release is faster.
  • When it comes to matching bonus, needless to say, the higher the % is, the better, which means 100% match bonus is better than 50%.
  • The bigger the bonus size, the better as long as you can complete within the clearing period



Key Tactics To Make Poker Bonus Hunting Profitable


Terms & Conditions (T&C)


Firstly, the promotion rule differs site by site (even game by game on the same site), I can’t stress more that don’t forget to read the T&C of each bonus offer carefully.

I know it’s boring, but spare reasonable time to go through to avoid any unpleasant surprise after paying a lot of effort to clear. Some T&C is concise like Sportsbetting ag.

sportsbetting poker welcome bonus t & c

As said before, an all-in-one betting site providing poker, casino & sportsbook like the above Sportsbetting Poker is said to be a very soft site, which means easy to win see details.


Play Low to Mid Stake Game


Bonus hunting is aimed to achieve at least break even, then playing many games with the lowest stakes increases your chance of not losing big due to the low variance as well as learning the ropes of playing poker online & practicing your poker strategies.

Thus, selecting the low stake poker table such as $0.25/0.5 ($0.25 for small blind stake & $0.5 for big blind) or up to $0.5/1.0 will minimize the risk (if you want you can use micro stakes like $0.01/0.02 which is good to start in the new site to practice).

As you have seen, deposit bonuses work in percentages and if you get the max bonus from a big bonus like 100% match up to $1,000, it will take a lot of time to release your bonuses.

But, for the beginner, suggest taking a tight and risk-averse style. You get in and out with their bonus money hoping to either break even or make a couple of bucks at the tables. Your profit comes from the bonus & any winnings you make during the clearing period.

You should consider this as a good learning period rather than feeling tedious process in the poker site where tough players (shark) are few and filled by the recreational players like ignition;

ignition anonymous play


Know-How Long Will Take To Complete Clearing


Will I be able to complete the bonus before the expiry date of the bonus? It’s definitely the question you must answer before committing to the bonus. The followings are a few tips to shorten your clearing period;

  • Cash Games or Tournaments: Cash games almost always earn faster than large tournaments or small SNG games. Playing at a low-stakes cash game will earn points that could more than double compared with sitting in a tournament. (BTW, as you imagine, hitting the final table in the tournament is quite rare for beginners, so don’t be seduced by a big prize).
  • Games to Play: Four card games like Omaha Poker tend to earn players more points. Hi/Lo games earn even faster due to players regularly going all in and splitting a pot. When it comes to the most popular Texas Hold’em, tends to accrue less rake per 100 hands because players are more conservative, but you may not waste time locating available tables at any time.
  • Fast-Fold games: It has the advantage of getting a lot of hands in every hour, which enables you to collect points efficiently.
  • Multi-Tabling: Only if you feel comfortable, play more than one table at a time or/and move up in stakes, surely these are the short cut.


Bankroll Management


The underlying concept of poker bankroll management is to prepare enough buy-ins to ensure that you do not go broke due to the variances of the game. Here are a few tips for poker bankroll management by type of game & playing style;

  • No-Limit Texas hold ’em Cash Games: you may want to prepare between twenty and twenty-five times the buy-in amount. In other words, you divide your bankroll by 20 to find out what you can risk per game.
  • Limit Cash Games: you’re required to have a bigger percentage of the game’s buy-in, but given the smaller buy-ins, you don’t need a large bankroll. 200-300 times the big bet amount is ideal.
  • Sit and Goes (Sit ‘N’ Go) Tournaments: you should have a bankroll that is at least 50 times the size of the buy-in. For example, if you plan on playing at $10+1 sit & goes, your initial deposit to be at least $275, with a bankroll of about $550.
  • As kept saying, try to play tight & aggressive, a.k.a. TAG, then you would usually be able to go through with a smaller bankroll than lose & passive but emotional players. Emotional play creates large swings, which require a larger bankroll to absorb the impact.


Avoid Shark and Play with Fish


As I already used a few times in this guide, in the Poker industry, we call “fish” the easy opponents which means the players who may not be very skilled and can be outplayed, while “shark” refers to the skilled & tough players.

It’s very important for you to avoid Sharks and compete with Fish as much as possible. For full details of these important strategies, go “Softest Online Poker Sites – Latest List to Prey Fish” though, here, just let us summarize several tips on where you can locate fishes, namely Fish Rader;

  • Relatively low traffic sites like Nitrogen or SWC 
  • Banned HUD, restricted multi-tabling numbers & allow anonymous game sites like 
  • Bovada, Bodog & Ignition,
  • Low cash games – limit hold’em tables at $4/$8 stakes or lower
  • Low cash games – no-limit hold’em tables often at $1/$2 stakes
  • Low buy-in Sit ‘N Go
  • Low buy-in tournaments, usually $10 or lower
  • The sites where overlay tournaments are common
  • Cash game tables near the start of a major tournament (tournament early losers try to win money back in a cash game)
  • Players who post in chats are probably fishes (grinders rarely pay attention to it)
  • Players who use poker slung in nickname using may have good basic knowledge
  • Players who rarely raises but occasionally does are most likely to be unskilled
  • Players who use auto-rebuy to normalize their stack size have often enough experience.

Once you realize that any of the other players at the table are highly skilled, move on to another table and take advantage of the guppies there.

Anyhow, don’t forget to use Poker tracking Software including HUD (heads-up display – it’s software that displays your opponents’ gaming statistical history) to spot fishes. For beginners, the best HUD is;

holden manager logo

Since: 2007 (one of the HUD pioneers)

License: Lifetime up to 3 PCs

Feature: Easy to install / Multi-language support

Support Sites: 12 Major Poker Sites + Free Hand Grabber

Price: $100 for the most popular package (see a full price list)

Payment: Card, PayPal, Neteller& BTC

Offer: 15 Days Free Trial

Claim Free Trial

Note: With all the features of Full stats (customizable to make the feed less cumbersome), In-depth analysis (adjustable based on skill level) & Post Game Analysis (focusing on your core skills by finding your leaks) make HM3 the best HUD for Beginner/Casual Players (Active forum is available).

Holden Manager 3 is the tracking tool not only for HUD but also to analyze your poker hands namely finding your leaks & studying opponents to spot their weaknesses. 

For full details, go to Best Hud for Poker – Head-Up Display Software


Start with Replay Poker


If you’re really new to Poker, suggest you start up with Replay Poker;

replay poker interface, because this site is ideal for beginners to practice poker bonus hunting for the below reasons;

  • It is strictly a play money site, and you can learn & improve your poker skill by making all your newbie mistakes without losing $.
  • Although it’s no real / cash games, thousands of players are always in (no sharks) and play seriously and you can play in a friendly and supportive environment.
  • Many ring game tournaments run around the clock in a variety of poker variations and you can access various promotions like Freeroll, which enables you to simulate how you can extract bonuses.
  • You can play with the free chips, but if you need more, you can buy 60,000 play chips for just 99 cents and 60,000 chips is quite enough for you to practice a lot.

We also listed another free practice site in “Texas Holdem Strategies – 3 Simple But Critical Skills“, just FYI.



Online Poker Bonus Hunting Wrap Up


Whether you are hunting poker bonus or not, you don’t want to;

  • be a fish who likes loose & passive playing style, taking risks gets emotional with wins and losses, and rarely follows the recommended percentages or bankroll management
  • be a player who is likely to view poker as mostly based on luck
  • be a player who wastes all the bonuses & loses deposits in the end.


  • You want to approach the game with a disciplined and structured playing style by sticking to the strict bankroll management
  • You want to play tight & aggressively (TAG) in small stake NL, which means play only a few best hands & fold everything else. You’ll be playing in the low-limit games to make every fundamental right in many games. then you are bound to see that skill wins out
  • You want to attempt to take advantage of luck when it visits them and how to minimize the effects when it visits its opponents
  • You will not only scoop all the bonuses nicely but also consistently achieve profitable winning in the end.

Hope these will help you start a profitable poker bonus hunting journey.


Matched Betting Advantage Play


As briefly said at the beginning, in the sports betting category, we use matched betting to make guaranteed profits from bookmakers’ bonuses. If you’re not familiar with this method, suggest going to Matched Betting Instruction Index.

BTW, matched betting is often thought to be effective only for UK players, NO, it can be workable for everyone in the world by using this method.

Advantage Gamblings

We use 6 Advantage Plays (or Advantage Gambling) which are based on Mathematical Edge to Beat the bookies & casinos.

For sports betting, on top of the matched betting, you can use Sports Arbitrage & Value Bet On Proven Software / Tipster (Handicapper) / System. These methods don’t require the time & effort as Poker demands and the methods to extract profits Reliably with Completely Risk-Free or Limited Risk. So, if you’re interested, go to those links and take a look.

Watch the video showing the life of the professional poker player who expanded his scope into sports betting (he run Trademate value betting system – see details);


Besides, our other pillar to achieve our vision of “Enabling Ordinary People to Make Extra Income ” is 3 Passive Trading.

In fact, there is a lot of commonality between poker games & financial trading (see Two Skill Based Plays – Poker & Investment), so if you are good at poker, you must have good fundamentals for the trading as well.



Good Luck!!


Joshua Walker (bio)

Editor – Global Extra Money (GEM)


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