While most no deposit bankroll deals are offered by reputable providers and quality rooms, there are some things you should look out for when evaluating a bankroll. These things fall loosely into two categories: Things that decrease the effective value of a bankroll and things that indicate the bankroll is outright deceptive.
Factors that can decrease the value of a bankroll aren't necessarily deceptive, nor do they indicate that something is suspicious about the offer. What we're talking about here are just aspects of the fine print that can, on closer examination, make a bankroll less valuable than it might have seemed at first glance. We cover all of these factors in our individual reviews of bankroll offers, but it's still worth taking a few sentences to talk about each one to help you better understand how free bankrolls work.
Withdrawal Restrictions: This is the big one when it comes to free bankroll fine print. While rooms are more than willing to give you free money to play poker, some are less willing than others to let you withdraw that money. Some rooms require you to make a deposit before you can withdraw, while others have play targets that must be met before you'll be able to request a cash out. Review these terms carefully, as being able to cash out your winnings is really the whole point of getting a free bankroll in the first place.
Bankroll Structure: All of our bankroll offers (and almost all free bankroll deals) are presented as a single number, but that number often indicates the total potential value of the bankroll. Most bankrolls - especially larger ones - are paid out in installment, with some amount given upfront and additional amounts released as certain targets are met. Depending on how much you play, a bankroll with a smaller overall but larger upfront amount might be a better bet than the big-ticket bankroll with a tiny starting payment.
Time Limits: Nothing lasts forever, and that includes free bankrolls. The time frames for bankrolls are quite different from offer to offer; some bankrolls have to be used within a few days, while others give you several weeks to earn the entire value of the bankroll. As a result, consulting the terms regarding your time frame is a critical part of evaluating a bankroll - after all, if you can't earn the whole bankroll in the time alloted, then the bankroll isn't actually worth quite as much as you thought.
We screen the bankrolls we offer here on InstantPokerMoney fairly thoroughly - all of the offers we list are either provided by major rooms with solid reputations, or offered by bankroll providers such as PokerStrategy and YourPokerCash that have extensive track records of treating players fairly. When you leave IPM and look for bankrolls on your own, however, you could come across offers from less-than-scrupulous operators. Here are a few red flags that should be cause for concern when you're examining a bankroll offer:
Credit Card Required: This is a fairly common conditional for a casino bankroll, but not for online poker bankrolls. If a room requires that you submit your credit card info before you receive the bankroll, you should look very carefully at that room and that offer. Now, it's not uncommon for a room to request information like this before you make a withdrawal - by law, they need to verify your identity before sending you funds. What you want to look out for is rooms that demand this information upfront, as they might be asking you to take too great a risk for the potential reward.
Just Fill out This Quick Application: A common tactic among lower-tier bankroll providers is to force you to trade something - perhaps filling out a credit card application or an insurance quote application - in order to get a bankroll. While this is not inherently a scam, it's generally unnecessary for poker players to jump through these sorts of hoops to get a bankroll. Plus, such applications generally involve disclosing some pretty personal details, and you can never be quite sure who you're providing that information to. Skip these offers - they're making you do things for free bankrolls that you just don't need to do.
Any Bankroll That Also Promises a Cheat or Hack: Be very, very wary of offers like this. Generally, what's actually happening is that you're being offered a bankroll to trick you into downloading and installing some sort of program on your computer. These programs - which are often billed as a way to "hack" the poker room - are almost inevitably virus-laden and immediately put your system at risk. There is no way to hack a poker room - at least no way that someone is going to be giving away for free or paying you to download. Not all poker software is malicious, but you should do extensive research before downloading and installing anything from a poker site you're not very familiar with.