Online Poker Secrets and Tips
Freerolls are completely free tournaments, which poker sites organise either for all players in the room or for some who have fulfilled certain conditions (having collected a certain number of player points during the month, etc.).
Winnings range from small cash prizes to tournament tickets for other free or paid tournaments.
- More about freerolls (free poker tournaments)
- To view our current list of exclusive freerolls (for players only – see terms and conditions)
How to unlock your bonuses
As mentioned above, bonuses offered by online poker rooms come in different forms, as does the way they are awarded.
For those who are not directly offered bonuses, their release involves playing a certain number of hands (or participating in a certain amount of tournament play), usually within a limited period of time (usually 90 days).
For this reason, it is a good idea to play as many hands as possible during the first few weeks, in order to recover as much of the bonus amount as possible. Then you can take the pressure off a bit.
Qualifying online for the biggest live tournaments
This is the dream of almost every player: to be in a prestigious tournament somewhere in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations.
If this is possible, one must of course keep in mind that there are few chosen ones, or at least that the road is long. But not impossible…
Several options are available. The first is large tournaments with several thousand players. A real butcher’s shop where luck will be of paramount importance.
It is also possible to try your luck in “step” tournaments. These are sit-and-go tournaments (usually at a single table), where you have to try to finish in the top places to win a ticket for the “sit-and-go step” on the next level up. And so on until the last tournament which offers a package for the big live tournament.
For example you start with a $1 sit-and-go step 1, trying to win your ticket for a $10 sit-and-go step 2, and so on. Note that you can start at any stage you like. But of course the higher you want to start, the more capital you need, otherwise it’s too risky.
The good thing about these “step” tournaments is that even if you don’t win a ticket for the next step (usually only the winner or even the 2nd), you can still win a ticket for a step tournament of the same level if you finish in the place right after.
Multi-tabling (playing at several tables at once) is a preferred way to play poker for players looking to make a buck, often professionals.
Today most software programs allow multi-table play, even offering features to make it easier to play in this mode (reduced tables, logical organisation on your screen(s)…).
Multi-tabling is not easy and requires a sharp mind and a lot of practice. Obviously playing on 2 tables at the same time will not be insurmountable, but will double your risk of error.
Multi-tabling is usually done for money games, but it can also be justified if two tournaments you are interested in are played at the same time.
As a general rule we would not recommend it for beginners. Master the game first, and then see if you want to speed things up.
If you like to play cash games but the game is not fast enough for you, you can also go for the recent variant of “fast poker” offered by more and more rooms (Zoom Poker, Speed Poker, Go Fast,…). If you don’t like the hand you received or don’t want to play it anymore, simply fold and you will be immediately moved to a new table and with a new hand!
Player Points and Loyalty Programs
Some players don’t always know it, but all online poker rooms today offer a loyalty programme or at least a points system, and sometimes even a shop.
You earn player points (called differently depending on the site) according to a scale. This scale is based on the amount of commissions (levies, or rake) that you pay to the room when you play (see below).
The accumulated points can then be used to “buy” tournament tickets, bonuses, various items in the room shop, or even collect cash directly.
So always keep an eye on your balance and especially on the benefits that these points entitle you to. Also check the conditions (multiplier coefficients according to your activity, validity date, etc.).
> Find our detailed comparison of online poker room shops
Please note that PokerStars has launched a new loyalty system in 2017 based partly on a lottery system (see our Stars Rewards guide).
Rake: The Poker Room Commission
One of the questions you may ask yourself when you start playing online poker and you are not familiar with the world of online poker is how online poker rooms make their living.
It’s actually quite simple. When you play a game for money, a levy is taken from most of the pots – a percentage of the pot. This is “capped” at a certain amount so that the levy remains reasonable, especially when the stakes are high, and in any case to stay within a reasonable limit in relation to the players’ investments.
Also, make sure you always play in a room that has a “no flop no drop” rule.
For tournaments it is even simpler, the withdrawal is the second amount indicated on the tournament prize. So for a tournament with an entry fee of $10+$1, $10 goes into the total prizepool divided between the paid seats, and $1 goes into the pockets of the hall.
Rake and money
Of course, this may not seem like much at the small limits, but it is thanks to the volume of games that a venue can make big profits.
The player, on the other hand, will have every interest in trying to pay as little as possible.
This is why rake is an element to be taken into account when deciding whether or not to play in a room. To be honest, it must remain within market standards. For tournaments it is usually 10%, but it can be a little higher for cheaper tournaments (while on the other hand the “fee” tends to go down for tournaments with higher buy-ins).
As an example, a $5+$0.50 tournament is in the norm, while a $5+$2 tournament would clearly be stealing.
Although it is no longer effective on the sites available today, rakeback is an advantage that we wanted to mention. In essence, it’s a part of the rake that you’ve helped to generate, which the venue gives back to you as a loyalty reward. That’s why rakeback is mainly of interest to big players.
Concerns about the legality and safety of online poker have always been a major concern for players.
Fortunately, most poker rooms now have people working full time to hunt down fraudsters and cheaters of all kinds. And although nothing and no one is ever infallible, cases of collusion or online robots are fortunately not so frequent.
As far as legal poker is concerned, the law on the Opening of the Gaming Market makes things much simpler today: the rooms under official licence delivered by the ARJEL will be the only ones officially authorised to carry on their activity for French players.
Concerning taxes, if poker is not your main activity, you do not need to declare your winnings. Things get more complicated if you make a living from poker and it is your main activity. It is then advisable to check with the competent authorities and your tax office if you want to be in order and avoid certain setbacks.
To find out more about the problems to watch out for in online poker, you can learn more by reading our series of articles on the most common online poker scams.