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Picking up your perks for signing up

The easiest way to make money is to have someone hand it to you, right? Well, that basically happens when you sign up as a new poker player on many, if not all, of today’s online poker sites. It may seem like a throwback to the old crazy days of the Internet when companies gave away a free yacht when you bought a pound of dog food…and told investors they’d figure out how to make money off those customers later.

But it all makes sense to the online sites, because poker is incredibly “sticky.” If you start playing at a certain site’s place, it knows that you’ll probably keep coming back. In these heady days of the Jetsons, where one or two clicks to download software from some other site just seems like way too much “work,” poker sites figure that you’ll stay put after you start playing. So they assume that the money they give you now will end up back in their pockets in the form of rake sooner or later.

Sites typically offer you a percentage of your initial deposit as a bonus – something like 20 percent. That means if you open an account with $100, your site gives you an extra $20. Sites always have a cap set at a maximum dollar amount, however. Something like $100 from the site’s side.

Now before you go running off, depositing and withdrawing like a crazed bank clerk, you need to be away of a mild catch that comes with getting free money: You have to play a minimum number of hands to get your bonus. The hand restriction varies, but you typically have to play something along the lines of five times as many hands as you have dollars in bonus due to you, or you have to play at tables where the total rake the site takes while you play is equal to your bonus.

Before you transfer money for the first time into an online poker site’s vault, be sure to read the fine print of its bonus offering closely.

Try to deposit in a way that allows you to maximize the bonus the house is willing to give you and still achieve your goal of actually receiving the bonus.

Don’t Judge a Bonus by its Cover

Say you’re considering a site that gives you a 20 percent bonus on your first deposit of up to $500. You could conceivably get $100 added to your account if you don’t mind ponying up the full $500. Close examination of the fine print shows that you have to play at tables taking an equivalent amount of rake ($100 in this case) before the site gives you your bonus, but the site has no time limit on how long it can take you to earn your bonus.

If you’ve playing the site for free and decided you like it, it may be worth your while to go ahead and sink $500 and play until you hit your magic number. The site cashier keeps you informed of where you stand relative to earning your bonus.

Now say you’re in the same bonus situation, but in this instance you have a time limit as to how long you can take to earn the perk (the site must get the $100 rake in the first 30 days, for example). Now the situation gets more difficult. To get a rough feel for how much rake you may generate, go watch a full hard currency table at the dollar limit you’re interested in. Keep track of the rake the house takes over several minutes, and then do the necessary math to figure out how many minutes you have to play to earn your bonus. This observation should give you a pretty good idea as to whether you can reach the amount of play you need within your bonus time limit

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