Pilot Heidi Kennedy
Head of Casino Operations
Head of Casino Operations
Hello, fellow internet interstellar traveller. If you’re here, then we know two things about you: one is that you’re probably a big fan of poker and the other is that you’re looking for the best way to explore the vast unknown of the online betting universe. That’s understandable, as there’s so much out there and it’s ever-expanding.
The issue people have when looking for the right betting options for them isn’t a lack of choice. In fact, it’s an overabundance of choice. We know, we know, there are worse problems to have. Plus, we suppose if you wanted to find a good operator, then it wouldn’t be too hard. But that’s not good enough for us. We don’t just want you to settle for something good – we want you to have the perfect betting experience for you.
Now, not only is there a lot out there, but there’s a lot to betting sites now as well. That’s why we’re focusing solely on our poker bonus comparisons here. We’re going to break down how our poker bonus comparisons actually work. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One is so we can show you how much thought and effort goes into all our comparisons. The other is to help you figure out which things to prioritise while looking for the best poker promotions.
With that in mind, let’s take a gravity-defying leap into everything you need to know about our poker comparisons.
A lot of people reading this may have the wrong idea about poker promotions – and it’s understandable why that would be the case. For quite a long time, poker was a bit of an afterthought in the world of online gaming. In many places, it still is.
There’s several different reasons for this. Despite poker’s popularity – and it’s an immense level of popularity – many operators prioritise other things. That’s not necessarily a negative. They may simply have different target audiences, with some preferring sports betting or casino slots, for instance. But we think one of the main reasons that poker was a little late to the game compared to something like slots is simple: it’s complicated. Immensely complicated, in fact.
Creating software that allows people to bet against each other in real time is an incredible undertaking. That’s why for a long time, bookmakers made do with a few video poker options, and why many still do.
Just to be clear, we’re well aware that poker has been online for a while now. What we’re saying is that for a long time, across many jack-of-all-trade bookmakers, it was not a focus. You had, and still have, many examples of operators that have practically everything except dedicated poker software. And we think the reason for this is complexity. It’s also why some of the best poker bookmakers focus solely on that game.
It also means that sometimes, poker promotions aren’t available. If poker is low down on an operator’s priorities, that would be expected. You may be disappointed to discover that is the case on a bookmaker you’re signed up to. That’s just the reality of some operators right now, we’re afraid. However, there’s no need to be concerned. Simply set your course for another voyage.
The reason we say not to worry about one operator in particular is really simple: the betting solar system is a vast one. Even if a few bookmakers you have checked out don’t have quality poker promotions, you can rest assured that they are out there. In fact, they’re out there in absolutely immense quantities. All that means is that you’ve been unfortunate in what you have looked at so far.
Essentially, the entire online betting constellation is jam-packed. Imagine an asteroid field full of operators as far as you can see, and you won’t be far off. Therefore, you can find pretty much whatever you want betting wise. Indeed, you can find vast quantities of it. You just need to know where to look, and we’re here to help you navigate the mind-boggling level of choice out there.
We also want your standards to be sky-high when it comes to quality too. Often when people haven’t come across great poker promotions before, they don’t know what quality to expect. That could lead them to settle for less, and that simply won’t do.
“But wait!” – we hear you cry across a distant sky – “how will I know what a good promotion looks like?” Here, we’re going to take you through five of the key things we look for when making a poker bonus comparison. That way, you can see how we do it and on top of that, it will contextualise for you what makes a good promotion.
It’s important that you view this journey as a partnership. Think of us as the Buzz Aldrin to your Neil Armstrong. That’s because we’ll help point you in the direction of quality promotions, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide where to land. Hopefully, through seeing our process, that can give you some coordinates for your ideal poker betting destination.
We start exactly where you do and that’s with those all important first impressions. We understand you should never judge a book by its cover. However, we do think there’s value in that initial promise. It should immediately draw you in. Something that can be explained in a sentence often makes a great promotion.
Before we go on, let me explain what we mean by “the hook”. It’s what you first see of a promotion. It could be an advertisement, pop-up or an email. You may have found it by searching the promotional page itself. It’s what you see before you click to check the further details. Usually, it’ll come in its own box or banner. It might say something like ‘£50 free bet’, with an image of some poker chips. We try and get a sense as to how others may feel when they read these titles and any other additional information provided.
An important side note here is that, unlike some other markets, poker usually has its own promotions. In some instances, it’s not immediately obvious. Take e-Sports promotions, for example. They’re often included in sportsbook promotions. However, that’s not always immediately clear. That makes getting that first impression tricky. That’s not the case with poker. Promotions should be immediately obvious. It may even come in its own poker promotional section, or it could be on a site which exclusively offers poker.
Now, this only works because it’s the first giant step for our comparisons. The point of doing this first is to provide contrast later, which we’ll discuss at the end of this section. A big mistake people make is only looking at this surface level. They often end up disappointed when they discover the reality later. Of course, we won’t be making that kind of mistake.
One huge disappointment is discovering a poker promotion isn’t available to you. In fact, you may not realise that a whole betting site is actually restricted. In either case, there are two key reasons for this: geographical and banking restrictions.
In both instances, it’s often not the operator’s fault. Some things are simply beyond their control. For instance, it’s standard for some e-wallets to be prohibited from bonuses, or they may not carry the banking option you want. Obviously, a judgement needs to be made based on the specific restrictions. We would compare a poker bonus less favourably if the restrictions were unreasonable. That said, the more people a promotion is available to, the better. Of course, what matters to you is whether those restrictions affect you specifically. But, as reviewers, we have to consider things more generally.
Another key point on who can use a betting site is to do with new and existing players. Some promotions are only available for new accounts. Others are available more generally. If you’re an existing customer, this is an important distinction. One thing we don’t take into consideration is multiple accounts. That’s because practically, no bookmaker allows you to access a bonus multiple times via different accounts. It’s so broadly unacceptable that we view it as entirely standard.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of what makes a poker promotion valuable, let’s talk about creativity. This is often a really overlooked part of the equation. You may be reading this thinking that you don’t care how creative a promotion is. What you’re interested in is the objective value offered. And we can understand that reasoning. But, why not have both? Greater creativity in any form doesn’t affect the level of value offered. Remember, there’s a huge amount of choice out there. There’s no reason for your expectations not to carry you to the moon and back.
So, what do we mean by creative? Well, it could be a wide variety of things. On a simple level, it could come down to presentation. The promotion could have neat graphics and a well-presented idea that helps articulate the imagination behind it. The difference between a bonus that’s poorly designed and one which has been expertly crafted is huge. It’s like seeing the stars shine brighter than ever before.
The promotion could also be creative in the concept. This is harder to come by. With so many sites out there, a lot of the feasible ideas have been used already. So, it’s very impressive when we see something original. It could be a strange prize, it could be a way to bring users together, or a whole new promotional idea entirely. In any case, poker sites should be about enjoyment. We should never lose sight of that – and creativity in the promotions are a great way of keeping that as a focus. That’s why we take it so very seriously.
We talked about the objective value before. Well, this is where you find it. The terms and conditions are what sees a promotion soar or crash land. They’re the rules by which the bonus works. We actually covered some of the terms and conditions earlier. Indeed, geographical and banking restrictions are conditions. They could state that you cannot use Neteller for a bonus, for example. These cut-and-dry terms can make a great promotion spin out of orbit and become useless. However, a lot of terms are fair and reasonable, such as the multiple account restriction we mentioned earlier.
Vital terms include things like wagering requirements and time limits, especially for things like free bets and various sign up bonuses. It could be the criteria you have to fulfill to get to a reward level. If you have to bet a fortune for a small reward, that’s not a great promotion. These are just some examples: really and truly, every term and condition is an important one.
This is the crux of any poker bonus comparison and it comes down to a few questions. One is whether the terms offered are reasonable and two – and this is absolutely vital – is whether, when everything is said and done, they offer tangible value to the average user. Can you reasonably reach the terms and actually get the bonus that’s offered? If so, what is it? Finally, is it worth the effort?
We really try to be as practical as possible here. We always ask ourselves, would we, or any average person’s experience be improved as a result of using this promotion? Ultimately, that’s what a bonus is supposed to do: make your site experience better.
Now, this is where we put it all together. At the start, we really pay attention to how we initially feel about the promotion, what it offers and how it excites us. At this point, we compare that initial feeling to how we feel now after we’ve really gotten to understand what the promotion is all about.
We try to imagine how the average user would feel using our experience as a baseline. We especially consider whether a person would be disappointed if they didn’t realise the full terms. Not only is this a mistake people commonly make, but we view it as an important indicator. We then contrast what the suggested value is with the real value after the terms and conditions. The closer, the better. This helps with a poker bonus comparison, and is also a great operator integrity test too.
The reason a lot of general promotions aren’t utilised on poker is very simple: many of them just don’t logically work. A free accumulator bet, for instance, doesn’t make sense in the world of poker, neither does an enhanced odds offer. It’s like if Earth had Jupiter’s rings – some things just don’t go together.
This is also a big part of the reason why we think some people are confused when it comes to poker promotions. So, to help clear things up, we’ve broken down five of the most common poker bonuses you can expect.
Well, really any promotion that’s only available to new customers counts here. That’s the only thing that makes it a welcome offer. That said, there are some options that are more popular than others.
Usually, a poker welcome bonus would offer you some extra money alongside your deposit to play with. They could match your deposit, for instance, meaning that if you bet $10, you would have $20 to play with. That would be a fairly typical example. Terms and conditions are, of course, alway vital. However, we would say nowhere does that apply more so than here. Specifically, pay attention to the terms attached to your withdrawal of any winnings made with the bonus funds.
People who are interested in betting on poker tend to be very passionate about it. They will generally spend a lot more time than other bettors. For instance, the difference between someone who likes to casually wager $5 on the World Cup and a seasoned poker player is night and day. It’s like being on the opposite ends of the Milky Way, on different planets entirely.
Due to this, poker is the perfect betting option for a reward/loyalty scheme. Essentially, this provides you with benefits the more you play and the more you bet. The quality here is really simple: what do you get compared to the time, money and effort you have to put in to redeem it? Every other example here could be part of a reward scheme. They could also include real life prizes and cash prizes.
Tournaments are very much the lifeblood of online poker. They are like the pull of gravity, keeping everything together. They also make a really great basis for a promotion.
Now, there are many different kinds of promoted tournaments you can find. Indeed, some may just be regular tournaments they have chosen to advertise on the promotional page. However, we will only consider it a bonus if there is something to sweeten the deal. Luckily, free to enter and heavily discounted tournament entry is very common. Often, you can get this as part of some other promotion, like a loyalty deal.
One type of promotion we always appreciate is a freeplay option. Now, we went back and forth on whether to include this. Unlike regular promotions, it’s usually available all the time and without any restrictions. However, we certainly would consider it a bonus.
Like we said, it’s hard to keep the technical side of poker sites/apps running. Offering practise games where people can play for nothing is something of a strain on that software. That’s why it’s a very nice addition when we can find it. Essentially, this means you can get some poker practise in before take off.
Some promotions offer additional cashback on the games you play. To be clear, this should not be confused with rakeback. Rakeback is where you get a percentage of the portion of the rake – which is the money taken by the poker site (how they make their money) – that’s given back to you.
Extra rakeback or especially generous rakeback for some games can be a promotion of their own. Indeed, they can often be among the most lucrative. On top of that though is also any cashback promotions. This is any promotion that gives you a percentage of your money back, usually a portion of losses over a set period.
We’d like to point out that this is only meant as an overview of common examples. Really, the sky’s the limit in terms of what bookmakers can do with promotions. It’s down to how generous they want to be and what they can conjure up.
It’s also worth mentioning that these examples often go by different names. Betting sites like to put their own spin on things in terms of how they are marketed. Don’t be fooled though, if you understand these five simple promotional types, you have good footing for bonuses in poker generally. Really, what separates most of them is not original ideas, but how they are executed. This means quality offers backed by quality terms and conditions.
These poker bonuses don’t exist in the vacuum of space. They aren’t some lonely star at the far end of space. They are not only part of a team of other promotions, but are also a part of a betting site. Even when we are focusing on a poker bonus comparison, that context is vitally important.
Let’s say, for instance, that an operator has a promotion that’s suitable for serious, expert players, such as a loyalty scheme that really rewards putting the time in. This is all well and good. However, if that’s all that’s available promotions wise, it’s a flaw. There’s nothing there to help attract more casual poker users. Now, this doesn’t mean it becomes a bad promotion, but it would be a better promotion if it was complemented by an accessible sign up offer.
That’s just one example but it shows you how outside influences impact the quality of the bonus. The loyalty scheme doesn’t change in that scenario but the context surrounding it does. The reason we would view this as being the case is simple. These promotions are a reflection of the scope of the audience that site appeals to. Having one but not the other narrows that scope to an extent.
Think of it like the tournament pool. If there’s a site with tournaments suitable for low stakes casual players and expert high rollers, both are better as a result. Those same tournaments could exist by themselves, but the outside context of a lack of variety impacts them. It’s the same with the site quality in general.
Part of this exists on a really basic level. If the operator is generally bad, it doesn’t matter how good the poker promotions are. If you can get good cashback but can’t trust the banking options, that former point becomes irrelevant.
You can also have a situation where the promotions don’t reflect the rest of the site well. Say, for instance, if you take that loyalty scheme example and apply it to a site with a very casual user base. That is less common, but still a useful example.
The point we’re making is that while poker bonus comparisons are important, they are still just one part of the equation, and you’ll want to keep that in mind to get the best online betting experience possible.
The reason we say you should keep that in mind is because ultimately, it’s you who decides which poker promotion is best for you – just like it’s you that decides which betting site is best for you. You’re the captain of your own betting spacecraft. What we do is provide you with comparisons to help you navigate that decision and direct you towards quality options. The reason we can’t just say which is the best promotion is that it isn’t that simple.
While some promotions are objectively better than others, some are just different. Promotions are a pretty wide expanse. Even amongst those that can be categorised similarly, there’s often a different target audience. That’s why part of our poker bonus comparisons is considering two things. One is whether the promotion is good and the second is who it is good for. That second part requires some help from you because you need to identify what kind of poker player you are and what would best benefit you. Only then will our directions send you to the correct constellation.
When you do so, we don’t want you to forget what we said about high expectations. Always remember that the betting sites are there trying to entice you, not the other way around. You are the one with the power here. That means you can be as picky as you like – you have the whole world in your hands.