Nevada Signup Bonus Comparison: Ultimate Poker Vs.

Johnny G - October 17, 2013

Ultimate Poker sets up its new players with a $50 deposit bonus close to the industry norm but with a slight twist, while is giving out seven $100 freeroll tickets.

Let’s analyze the expected value (EV) of these current signup promotions for those who have not yet jumped into the proverbial regulated pool.

Ultimate Poker: $50 FREE CASH IN 3 EASY STEPS!

The first deposit bonus at Ultimate Poker is pretty much your standard deposit X, earn Y base points (called XP on Ultimate) within so many days, and get awarded Z. When it’s all said and done, the bonus is just a disguised short-term rakeback offer since base points are derived from rake.

Here are Ultimate’s three easy steps:

  1. Make your first deposit, minimum of $50, to your Ultimate Poker account.
  2. Earn 1,500XP in 90 days.
  3. If you qualify for this promotion, your Ultimate Poker account will be credited with $50.

Ultimate awards 10XP for every $1 in rake, which means 1,500XP is equivalent to $150 in rake. This tells us the value of the offer is equivalent to a 33% rakeback deal ($50 to player for raking $150) for the player’s first 1,500XP earned. But wait a minute…

Good Ol’ Variance

The 33% has a bit of variance in ring games due to how Ultimate awards XP. They use the Winner Take All method. Meaning, the winner of the pot earns all XP awarded for the rake of the hand. So the odds of this bonus actually being worth 33% rakeback to a player are really low over the relatively small sample of hands needed to earn 1,500XP. It could be much higher or much lower.

For instance, without going into an overly complicated lecture on variance, players that experience a hot run of cards and win more pots than average while clearing the bonus will have a higher rakeback rate than the players that can’t hit a draw and aren’t winning many hands. The theoretical difference between actual rake paid of these two players by the time they clear their bonus can be significant, which affects the resulting value when the $50 is credited.

Overcome Variance with a Large Sample Size

If you “run bad for life” or are really nervous about not getting your full 33% rakeback, then play the smallest stakes possible. That will yield the largest number of hands needed to clear the bonus and, thus, giving you the best chance of being close to that mark. On the other hand, you could just play tournaments or sit & go’s and get the exact 33% rakeback on your tourney fees. Welcome Week Freerolls

WSOP has a completely different promotion going on right now for its new real money players. They are offering entry into one $100 freeroll a day for the first seven days after a new player makes a $10 minimum deposit.

Calculating the EV of a freeroll is pretty simple if we start with a couple assumptions:

  • Uniform distribution of prize pool ($100)
  • Number of players registered for each freeroll

In other words, think of it like a lottery raffle where every possible outcome from first to last place has equal probability. This allows us to define the EV for one participant as the prize pool divided by the number of entries.

According to, is peaking around 171 cash game players. Consequently, the number of players eligible to play in the Welcome Week Freeroll each night has to be relatively small. The minimum number of players required is four and the maximum is irrelevant because it’s 8000.

Here’s a look at the EV based on different possible field sizes:

Avg. EntriesEV per FreerollEV for All 7 Freerolls

This means if a player participates in all seven freerolls and the average number of entries is a conceivable 25, they should expect to make $28.

Seven is not a Large Number

Tournament poker has extremely high variance. To get to the long run one must play in thousands and thousands of tournaments. Therefore, over only seven freerolls, it’s possible one could experience some awful run-bad and go zero for seven on finishing in the money, or one could run like a god and end the promotion with over a $150 score.

One good thing about the Welcome Week Freerolls is players are not required to buy in to a ring game or other tournaments to generate rake to clear a bonus. And the minimum withdrawal permitted is $10, so if you are skunked on the freerolls and want to give up, you can!

Apples and Oranges: In the End, They’re Both Fruit

The first two poker rooms to launch in Nevada offer significantly different bonus structures. Ultimate virtually says rakeback while says freeroll, but both add value to one’s first dive into US regulated poker.