Be Careful Chasing Bonuses!

05Mar10

My original goal in this blog was to play 5-10 poker sites, deposit close to the maximum and earn that amount in first-deposit bonus money. But now I feel that this is very dangerous for most beginning players.  Here’s why:

The bankroll guideline for Limit poker is 300 Big Bets. That means that for a $.05/$.10 game, you’d need $30. For a $0.10/$0.20 game, you’d need $60. No Limit poker has different requirements. Low stakes games are a $2 or $5 buy in. You should have no less than $40 in your bankroll to play 2NL. This gives you enough money to absorb some losses and still not risk going broke.

You only get a bonus of whatever amount you deposit, so beginners wishing to play these stakes would only earn $30-$60 of bonus money. Most bonus-hunting new players are greedy to make much more than that. Players could deposit more than they need for the levels, but that would leave them frantically trying to play as much as possible, and their game would suffer.

A bonus is awarded to you based on the amount of rake taken in the games in which you are dealt cards. Each site has a slightly different formula, but in general it takes a lot longer than you might assume. Like to clear a $200 bonus in a .25/.50 game, you’d need about 30,000 hands, which is a huge amount and requires a TON of playing.

Beginners should really be playing at the small stakes where there are lots of loose players (like .05/.10 or 2NL). This helps them nail down the fundamentals of Limit Holdem that are essential for any successful player and get some good experience.

But the structure of the bonuses often entices them to play at higher stakes games where they unlock the bonus faster (like .50/1 or 1/2). This puts them in way over their heads and risking their entire deposit.

I was fortunate enough to realize this and deposit a smaller amount on Full Tilt to get me rolled for .25/.50 Limit ($150). I dropped down to .05/.10 and logged a lot of hands, posted on poker forums and read books like Small Stakes Holdem by Miller, Slanksky, Malmuth. Then I played a bunch of .25/.50 and I’ve unlocked about half of my bonus so far with a month left before it expires.

While I might not get the entire $150 because it unlocks pretty slowly, it’s a much better scenario than playing out of my comfort zone, and I’ve learned a lot more in the process and gotten better.

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One Response to “Be Careful Chasing Bonuses!”

  1. Nice blog you have here! I’ve run into similar problems chasing bonuses across multiple sites. I’d recommend playing on one or two and getting rakeback, in addition to the deposit bonuses and special promotions. Keep posting and I’ll follow your progress on the tables. Cheers.


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