Guide to Real Money Poker Bonuses
Welcome to our full guide on Canadian real money online poker bonuses. Above we’ve chosen the best poker bonuses in Canada, but if you want to know how we came to our conclusions (and educate yourself in general about poker promos), this is the stuff you need to know.
First, we go over the basics and then dig deeper into why certain bonuses are the most suitable for certain kinds of poker players.
The Basics of an Online Poker Deal
The first thing you need to know about online poker deals is that they are not free money, no matter how much online poker rooms’ advertisements would make it look that way.
In reality, poker bonuses are money the poker room pays you back after you have first paid them in rake. Rake is the small sum taken from every pot by the online poker room.
When you receive a poker welcome bonus, they’ll pay in your bonus account. You then need to clear the bonus, after which it’s paid into your real money account.
You’ll clear your bonus by racking up poker points. You can collect points from all real money games, cash games and tournaments included. After you’ve earned a certain number of points, the online poker room will pay the money into your real money poker account.
Online poker sites like PokerStars and PartyPoker offer either straight up deposit bonuses or rakeback. Let’s have a look at each real money poker bonus type.
Deposit Bonuses in Online Poker
To cash in on your bonus, you’ll need to play first. You need to attain a certain number of poker points that you get by playing poker – any game goes, as long as it’s real money poker and you’re paying rake on the pots you’ve won.
Here’s an example from PokerStars:
Deposit for the first time, and you’ll get a $600 real money poker bonus, matching 100% of your deposit. For each $1 you rake, you gain four poker redemption points. When you reach 180 redemption points, you unlock $10 of your $600 bonus. So basically you’ll need to rake $45 to get $10 to clear the bonus in $10 increments.
To clear the full $600, you’ll need to rake $2700 (45 * 60) in total. It may seem like a lot, but it’s certainly doable especially if you play multiple tables. But just a forewarning: PokerStars software is so good, you’ll find yourself multi-tabling in no time.
How Do Rakeback Deals Work?
Rakeback deals are worth more money and the deals are a lot more long term than one-off deposit bonuses or free poker money offers. Rakeback returns rake to you with a pre-set percentage, like the poker cashback deal you’d get at a Canadian poker site like PartyPoker. Rakeback returns you the money from the rake you’ve paid over time. You always pay rake when you win a pot post-flop.
Say you play a hand of $50 No-Limit Holdem in a 6-max table, with full $50 stacks. You’re in a blind vs blind battle against an aggressive opponent, and both of you shove your chips in the middle. Your JJ holds up against his 99, and you pull in the $100 pot.
Of the $100, you’ll pay $2 of rake to the house. If you’re on PartyPoker’s 40% cashback deal, you’ll get $0.8 of the rake back.
As a one-off, it doesn’t sound like much. But the rake really piles up when you play multiple tables. Some grinder pros rake $2000 in a day if they put in a big shift of 6-tabling. That’s $800 in 40% rakeback alone!
Different Bonus for Different Type of Players
No single poker bonus in Canada would be the best for all players. Different stake sizes, type of poker game played, etc., all affect what the best promotion to go for is.
Most players don’t really consider the subtler points of bonuses. They go for the bonus that offers the largest bonus amount. It’s precisely the wrong thing to do: maximum size of the bonus is, in reality, irrelevant for most players. We’ll show you a bit later how this seemingly silly declaration is accurate.
Before we go into detail about bonuses, we’ve divided players into three main groups. Each of these groups requires different kinds of bonuses:
- Small stakes players (Texas Holdem or Omaha up to NL50 or PL50 – in other words a ring game where big blind is $0.50 or less)
- High stakes players (bigger stakes than above)
- Tournament players
Small Stakes Players
Small stakes players often think that bonuses are not that important, since the stakes are so low.
That’s not true.
In fact, real money poker bonuses matter MORE to small stakes players than to anybody else. This is why you should take advantage of the best rakeback offers in Canada you can find atop this page.
The bonuses and the poker cashback are important because low stakes players pay more rake relative to their stakes than high stakes players. The bonuses aren’t that important for Daniel Negreanu, but they’re absolutely vital for thriving of a small stakes player.
So why and how do small stakes players pay more rake relative to their stakes? It’s because of rake systems used in online poker favour higher stakes.
Real life example:
- Playtech’s iPoker-network has the same rake cap for $0.10/$0.20 no limit Texas Hold’em cash game as it does for a $10/$20 game
- The rake cap starts to benefit players when the pot reaches $40
- Pots of $40 or over are rare in low stakes games
- Pots of $40 happen almost every hand at a $10/$20 game
- The result: Small stakes players pay a bigger portion of rake out of their winnings
Best way of combating bleeding your winnings out in rake is to get a poker bonus that is suitable for small stakes players.
As a small stakes player, you need to be on the lookout for three things:
- What percentage of the rake does the bonus pay back to you?
The higher the percentage, the better it is for you. We’ve included this percentage in the detailed analysis of each poker bonus listed above.
- What kind of installments is the bonus paid in?
This is super important: you want a bonus that’s paid in installments of $10 or less, or the ones you can trigger whenever you like. Small stakes players don’t rack up poker points as fast as medium to high stakes players. If they pay the poker bonus in big installments, there is a real danger that you end up losing a lot of points if you don’t reach the required point total in time. Sometimes the time limit may be as short as a month.
- What else do you get?
If the bonus includes other extras, like free tournament tickets, all the better for you. However, note that any freeroll tickets are virtually worthless: freerolls tend to have so many players and so small pots that playing them is a waste of time.
High Stakes Players
If you play high stakes (when it comes to clearing bonuses, high stakes is NL100 / PL100 and above), you can pick any poker bonus listed on our site and clear it.
The only question that remains is which order you want to clear them in.
Our suggestion is simply to start getting the bonuses, and then settle on the site that a) gives you rakeback long-term and b) makes you feel at home. It’s always essential for you to like the software and the games, so that you can do what you do best – win.
If you play seldomly and have a laugh playing here and there, don’t worry about rakeback or deposit bonuses too much. What you want are soft games where you can have fun longer and win at times, instead of running to a bunch of sharks circling you. Unibet Poker is the way to go, as they don’t allow any use of external software while playing cards. It makes much softer games.
For high stakes grinders, Party’s Diamond Club Elite is currently in April 2019 the best online poker bonus for grinders who look to play put in a massive amount of hands and hours. They’ll give you 60% rakeback! Read more about PartyPoker’s Diamond Club Elite here.
One legendary Party Poker grinder is a 10-year poker pro Alec Torelli, who regularly updates his Youtube channel with top-notch analysis of the hands he’s played over the years.
Real money poker tournament players benefit immensely from good bonuses. This applies to players of scheduled normal poker tournaments, sit’n go and spin and go tournaments equally.
The reason tournament players benefit a lot from good bonuses is two-fold:
- Tournaments have super-high rake compared to real money cash games
The pricing of online tournaments has gotten better over the years, but tournaments still often have fees of up to 12% of the buy-in. Nobody would play in a ring game with a 12% rake, but tournament players may not have an option.
- Playing poker tournaments is a swingy business
Money earned by clearing bonuses can keep your bankroll healthy during a dry spell.
As a tournament player you should keep your eye on these things when you choose a bonus:
- What percentage of tournament fees does the bonus or rakeback offer return to you?
The higher the percentage, the better.
- How big installments is the bonus cleared in?
Tournament players don’t rack up poker points as fast as cash game players, so you want the bonus to be paid in as small installments as possible. Otherwise, you end up losing a lot of points when the bonus expires (note: worst possible bonus for you would be one paid in one lump sum).
- Does the poker site have enough tournaments?
It’s got nothing to do with bonuses but is still vitally important. Even the best poker bonus ever does not help you, if the site doesn’t have enough tournaments running.
These things do matter. Just as an example here is a real-life example of how choosing between two bonuses from the same poker network can have a huge impact on your bankroll.
Online Poker in Canada Q&A
What’s the best online poker bonus in Canada?
PartyPoker’s rakeback, hands down. You can get up to 60% in cashback from Party, with 40% the most realistic level to attain. You only have to rake $480 in a week to earn the 40% cashback.
To get the full 60%, you’ll need to rake a staggering $200,000 in a year. That’s about $16,500 per month, so you’d have to at least 6-table 1/2 NL Hold’em or PL Omaha 8 hours a day. It’s a huge task unless you are a real grinder who can take those kinds of tables and hours of intense playing.
In the end, for a year’s work that’d be $120,000 in cashback alone – plus the money you’ll make playing poker. Not at all a bad pay for a year of work, eh?
Can I change my poker screen name?
It entirely depends on the online poker room where you’re playing in. If you’re playing at PokerStars, you’re out of luck and married to your nickname ever after.
But you can choose a site that allows you to change your nick. Two quick examples: At PartyPoker, you’re allowed to change your screen name every half a year. So after 180 days pass, you’ll get to choose another nick if you wish to do so.
Get the poker sign up bonus at Unibet, and you can change your poker screen name every day if you like. There are no limits to changing your nickname, so no one can have a read off of you just by the nickname you’re using.
What’s the best free money poker offer for Canadians?
It’s 888Poker’s $88 Free Play. Check the top of this page to claim your $88 free play bonus. The games at 888 are very beatable, too.
Do I need to pay taxes on my online poker winnings?
If you play online poker in Canada and are Canadian, you may be subject to income tax if you’re deemed a professional poker player. The Canada Revenue Agency sees you as a poker professional if your income derives solely from poker.
Break-even or losing players don’t have to worry about poker taxes in Canada. CRA has tried to tax a losing/break even player in Radonjic vs. CRA poker case but failed to do so as the Federal Court saw that CRA couldn’t do such a thing. For players who play just as a hobby, taxation is never an issue.
If you are a professional poker player who’s regularly winning, we warmly suggest you report your winnings to the CRA. Then you’ll be off the hook forever as you don’t have to be nervous about any tax audits they may decide to do at some point.
Is Daniel Negreanu the best Canadian poker player to ever live?
It’s a resounding YES. Mr. Negreanu is number 2 in the world in tournament winnings, having racked up over $50 million Canadian dollars in tournaments – just behind Justin Bonomo from the US. The legendary Erik Seidel (8 World Series of Poker bracelets) rounds out the top three.
Negreanu is also an astute cash game player, having played – and won – in ultra-high stakes for a long, long time.
For online poker pros, Mike “timex” McDonald from Waterloo, Ontario surely gives Negreanu a run for his money. McDonald is just as brilliant cash game player as he is a tournament player.
One Last Tip
We recommend a two-poker-room approach to playing. Whether you play cash games or tournaments, play at one big site (like PartyPoker) and at one smaller one like Unibet
Playing at PartyPoker ensures you can always get into action, as its player numbers are astronomical. While their biggest competitor PokerStars has plenty of tables going as well, the games are a lot tougher.
This means that a good solution is to only play at PartyPoker while waiting for a tournament or a seat at a cash game at a softer real money online poker site. Then do the bulk of your playing at the softer site like at the always profitable Unibet. Unibet doesn’t allow any external software to be used while playing, so you’ll get an even playing field if you aren’t using Hold’em Manager when playing.