Wagering Requirements / Play Through
Of course it’s natural to want the biggest bonus, but is the biggest bonus always the best? Very often not, but it depends on your situation.
Most sites are willing to give bonuses, especially to new members, but naturally they also want you to stick around and keep using their site after you receive the bonus. That’s why most bonuses have a ‘playthrough requirement’ which you must satisfy before you can obtain or cash out the bonus. This is also known as ‘clearing’ the bonus. On some sites you’ll have the bonus credited to your account immediately after fulfilling the initial requirements (eg. making a 1st deposit), but you can’t actually withdraw the bonus cash until you’ve ‘cleared’ it. On other sites the bonus is gradually credited to your account as you work towards the ‘clearing’ the full amount. The requirements are different for each site so players must read the conditions to find the exact rules.
Usually the playthrough requirement is based on the amount of rake that you are contributing to the site through playing regular games of poker. ‘Rake’ is the percentage of the pot that the site takes for itself from each game. So in order to receive the bonus (or to cash out the bonus) you need to play through many games until you have contributed the specified amount of rake. Some sites may talk about bonuses requiring you to build up ‘loyalty points’ or similar, but ultimately it’s the same concept : more games = more rake for the site = your bonus is ‘cleared’. Keep in mind that if luck is not on your side then you may need to make more deposits in order to keep playing to clear the bonus. On the other hand if you are skilled, and with some luck, you may be able to clear the bonus with only your initial deposit.
Since the playthrough requirement is based on the size of the bonus you receive, that means the bigger the bonus the more you’ll need to ‘play through’ before receiving the bonus. Larger bonuses often have more difficult requirements to clear them. Often there will also be a limit on the length of time you have to reach the required playthrough requirement and claim your bonus. Also some specific types of poker game may not contribute to the playthrough requirements, or may contribute less – for example tournament rakes are often calculated differently (this will be explained in the site’s bonus rules).
It may not be realistically possible for you to reach the required wagering conditions within your budget and within the time that you have available to play. Of course this is very dependent on your own situation so if you wish to claim a bonus you will first need to check the conditions carefully to decide if it seems reasonable for your time and budget. Playing at higher stakes will result in higher rake, and therefore a faster route to clearing the bonus – but playing above your regular or ‘comfortable’ level of stakes may result in loss of your bankroll… On the other hand, playing at very low stakes will result in low rake amounts and so clearing the bonus becomes a tedious and perhaps impossible task.
Here is our recommendation : Join sites based on the enjoyment value, not just for the bonus. Then you will be more likely to meet the playthrough requirements since you enjoy playing there and so will play on the site more often. If you haven’t met the bonus requirements by the end of the allowed time period then at least you’ve enjoyed yourself.
One more tip : A smaller bonus will often be easier to clear due to the lower requirements. So if you’re not a high stakes player then don’t worry about big bonuses, it’s better to try for a small bonus and actually clear it, than try for a big bonus and not meet the requirements.