Best Poker Bonus
Of the ~290 bonuses listed in the PokerBonus directory, PokerStars' deposit offer ranks highest.
Many players rate PokerStars the #1 online poker site for having e.g. the most traffic, the lowest rake, or the widest range of game types - if they thought back to when they first signed up and were clearing their welcome bonus, they'd probably add that to the list too. Here's why.
The PokerStars $600 (or equivalent in other currencies) welcome bonus clears in instalments of $10 for every 200 VPPs you earn, 5.5 VPPs being earnt for every $1 in rake paid.
Doing the math that's 10/(200/5.5) = 27.5% equivalent rakeback, a rebate of 27.5 cents on every dollar in rake you pay, until the bonus expires or you clear it all.
On some rooms the rakeback value of initial deposit bonuses is 6.67 - 25%. Don't be fooled by large deposit offers of e.g. $5,000. The best poker bonus is the one lowering the cost to play (the effective rake) the most.
Days to Clear
PokerStars allows you 4 months to clear as much as the bonus as you can. The standard on the majority of poker sites is 90 days, on some as few as 30 days.
In addition, you can split your deposit into up to three deposits, if you don't wish to deposit $600 in one go. Each separate deposit will be it's own bonus - e.g. three deposits of $200 - with 4 months to clear. These three deposits can be made within a window of 60 days of each other.
By staggering your deposits, you can take up to 6 months to clear the full amount.
As mentioned the bonus is released into your account in $10 increments. Bonuses on some other rooms clear in instalments of up to $50, or have no instalment plan at all - miss meeting the clearing requirements, and you get nothing.
Such 'all or nothing' bonuses are negatively graded in the PokerBonus grading system.
On some poker rooms it simply isn't possible to clear the full bonus, with the range of games, stakes and player traffic on offer.
For example a room's deposit bonus of $5,000 may seem generous yet require $75,000 in rake paid over 90 days, on a room with 1,000 players at peak times and no stakes higher than $3/$6.
PokerStars peaks at 30,000 players in cash games alone, with smooth 24-tabling possible and action at every stake level.
Maybe you're a microstakes player, and will only clear a small bonus - you'll still be able to clear more than on other rooms since PokerStars has so many microstakes games running. Limit Holdem grinder? PokerStars is one of the few rooms with LHE traffic.
Read more about what makes a good value poker bonus and the PokerBonus rating system here.
Micro FR NL Grinder
Player A enters his details into the bonus clearing calculation tool on the PokerStars download page - he plays 1,000 hands per day of $0.10/$0.25 Full Ring No Limit Holdem.
He plans to deposit $1000, a conservative 40 buy in bankroll for 25NL.
The calculator outputs his bonus size (the full $600, as PokerStars' bonus is 100% up to $600) and how much of it he will earn - in this case $600, all of it.
He will earn that $600 in 111 days, allowing for 11 days off, and clear a little over $5 per day.
SSLHE Heads Up Pro
Player B waits for action against weak players and gets in around 200 hands per day at his stakes, $1/$2 Limit Holdem. He inputs this volume on the PokerStars download page.
He plans to deposit $2000, a conservative 1000BB bankroll for LHE.
The calculator outputs his bonus size (the full $600 again) and how much of it he will earn - in this case $424, for $3.48 per day.
He may consider adding some $2/$4 volume to help clear closer to the full bonus.
Already have a PokerStars account? The Yachting Poker bonus is similar in value, cleared in €5 instalments.