The Fine Print Behind Online Gambling Bonus Offers

By: Mike Hellmer

If you have never opened an account with an online casino, poker room, or sports book you may be wondering if the bonus offers are legitimate. We are all aware of the wisdom in the sayings, “If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is” or “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. So what’s the catch? When a casino offers you $100-$1000 in free money should you dismiss it, assuming that there are all sorts of strict requirements, making it too difficult to achieve the pay-out?

The quick answer is no. These offers are for real and in most cases the required terms and conditions to receive the pay-out are typically quite easy to achieve. Some are as simple as making small minimum deposit of $50 to $100. Some require, in addition to minimum deposit, a minimum, but achievable, level of play.

How are the online gambling sites able to give away free money and remain in business? The answer is simple. In most cases they get the entire bonus back and more. Casinos live by the odds that all casino games are in their favor and that eventually you’ll lose your original deposit and the bonus. Online poker rooms, on the other hand, get the bonus back by taking a rake (usually 5%) of every pot.

Let’s take a look at the various “free money” offers and the requirements for full cash-out access to the money. The requirements (the catch) are found in the terms and conditions of the bonus offer on the site.

No Deposit Required! Some casinos and poker rooms offer free money without any initial deposit requirements. These offers legitimate and you will be able to play at all the real money tables and slots. The typical catch is that you will need to make at least one deposit before the bonus plus any winnings are released. For example, if you receive a $10 bonus and have $50 in winnings from that bonus, you will have to make a small deposit to your account before the $60 is released for withdrawal.

First Deposit Bonus. To entice you to deposit real money into an online gambling site, a first deposit bonus is almost always offered. The interesting thing is not that they all do it, but the very wide range of bonuses offered. You’ll find one online site offering a 10% bonus while one of its competitors offers 200%.

All online gambling sites have a maximum bonus limit. So a site that offers a measly 20% bonus could have their maximum bonus set to $200 (deposit $1000) while the site that offers the whopping 200% bonus could have a maximum bonus set to $100 (deposit $50).

Poker Room First Deposit Bonus. The catch for a poker room is that you will have to play a minimum number of raked hands and there may be a time limit. For example, to receive a $50 bonus you may have to play 100 raked hands in 60 days. The raked hand requirement is typically easy to achieve; however some of the very large bonus offers are more difficult. Sometimes these large bonuses are paid in installments.

For example, to receive a full $200 bonus the poker room might require 500 raked hands with $20 released every 50 raked hands. If you’re new to online poker, don’t be discouraged by the number of raked hands required; a typical online table will play 50 to 100 games per hour.

Casino First Deposit Bonus. The catch for an online casino is that you will have to wager a required amount before the bonus is released for cash-out. The typical online casino will deposit the bonus into your account soon after you make your initial deposit. Some deposit bonuses are instantly deposited at the same time as your deposit.

Some casinos require that you claim your deposit bonus by filling in a simple form. In this case the bonus may not get credited to your account for 1 to 3 days. Even though the deposit bonus has been credited to your account and you can use it to wager, you will not be able to withdraw the bonus portion until you meet the wagering requirements.

The wagering requirements typically state that you must wager 10 to 20 times your deposit plus bonus to release the bonus for cash-out. For example, you deposit $50 and receive a $10 bonus. The casino has a wagering requirement of 10 times your deposit plus bonus, which means that you will have to wager $600 (10 x $60) for the $10 bonus to be released for cash-out.

Sports Book First Deposit Bonus. The catch for an online sports book is that you will have to wager a required amount before the bonus is released for cash-out. The typical online book will deposit the bonus into your account soon after you make your initial deposit. Some deposit bonuses are instantly deposited at the same time as your deposit.

Some books require that you claim your deposit bonus by filling in a simple form or sending an email. Even though the deposit bonus has been credited to your account and you can use it to wager, you will not be able to withdraw the bonus portion until you meet the wagering requirements.

The wagering requirements typically state that you must wager 3 times your deposit plus bonus to release the bonus for cash-out. For example, you deposit $100 and receive a $20 bonus. The online sports book has a wagering requirement of 3 times your deposit plus bonus, which means that you will have to wager $360 (3 x $120) for the $20 bonus to be released for cash-out.

Reload Bonuses. Reload bonuses are very typical for online sports books, but occasionally you will see them offered in online casinos and poker rooms. The reload bonus simply offers a bonus on deposits made after your initial deposit. The requirements are generally the same as the first deposit bonus requirements.

Before making a deposit at an online gambling site, be sure that you understand the requirements for the bonus to be released for cash-out. You may have to drill down a page or two to get the information. If the bonus requirements seem difficult to achieve then consider another gambling site.

© 2004 by Michael Hellmer
Mike Hellmer is a long time poker enthusiast and the webmaster of Molly’s Poker and Gambling Portal

The Evolution of Video Poker

The Evolution of Video Poker

By: David Olsen

Video poker has been around for over 30 years. It started out when casinos noticed that many people liked to play cards but were too scared to actually sit down at a poker table. Video poker allowed these players to play poker without having to look their opponents in the eye. With the explosion of online casinos Video Poker’s popularity grew exponentially. This growth in turn led to the development of new versions of video poker. Here we’ll take a look at some of the more important developments in the video poker world.

1. Multi Hand Video Poker

Multi Hand Video Poker is like “normal” video poker on steroids. As its name implies, you’re playing more then one hand at a time. Common variations include Jacks or Better (of course), 10’s Or Better, Deuces Wild and more. The Games come in 4, 10, 50, and even 100 hand versions. Multi hand video poker is an exciting twist on standard single hand video poker. Today, most online casinos have at least one multi-hand version.

2. Power Poker

Power Poker is Microgaming’s version of Multi-Hand Video Poker and is probably the most popular multi-hand version on the web. Currently there are 11 different Power Poker Games in 4, 10 and 50 hand versions. Playing Power Poker is like playing the single hand version of the game. You start with the same 5 cards in each hand. You then select the card(s) you wish to hold. The remaining cards are discarded and new cards replace the discarded ones. Winning hands are determined by a redefined payout schedule.

3. Progressive Video Poker

Progressive Video Poker is yet another exciting variation of good old video poker. Progressive Video poker follows the same rules as a non-progressive version of the same game. The difference is in the payout of the royal flush. Often times, progressive jackpots build through multiple casinos, so potentially the pot can be huge. When playing a Progressive machine, it’s crucial to play the max coins on every play, that’s the only way to win the jackpot.

4. Online Poker Rooms

Online Poker is not technically a video poker; however, since there are obvious similarities between the two, I felt a brief overview should be included here. In video poker you are playing against a machine, winning and losing hands are determined by a static payout schedule. However, when you’re playing online poker, you are playing against real people. There is no predetermined payout schedule, you can win as much as your opponents are willing to wager on each hand. Also, and more importantly, Online poker allows you to bluff, meaning in theory, if you’re a good enough bluffer, you can have the worst hand at the table but still win, if you’ve been able to convince your opponents to fold. This is the main reason for the huge popularity in online poker.

Lastly, as you can see, video poker continues to evolve. What started out as a game for would-be poker players who were too intimidated to sit down at a real table, has, with the advent of Online Poker, come full circle. Today a poker player can sit down at a virtual table with players from around the world. Amazing.