Enjoy online poker games and win — without making a deposit
You don’t need a big bankroll to win real money playing online poker in Canada. In fact, it is possible to start with no deposit at all. You can take advantage of free marketing offers, receive free money or free tournament entries, and kick start a big poker bankroll.
This page has everything you need to get the best from no deposit poker sites in Canada. You will find how this type of offer works, what games to play, and how the no deposit deals compare to the matched welcome bonuses below. At the end of the page, you will find a detailed FAQ. This has you covered for all those small and important traps to avoid.
How do no deposit poker bonuses work?
Online poker sites will frequently advertise small amounts of free play simply for signing up. The amounts range from $10 up to $88. You download desktop software or an app, register your account, and verify your e-mail. The poker site then credits your account with tokens allowing buy-ins for cash games or entry for tournaments.
The specific games that you can use them for will vary from site to site. Some no deposit bonuses give you tokens to play super-fast ‘Lottery Sit and Goes’. At the other end of the spectrum, you get credit that can be used for any game.
What these no deposit poker bonuses have in common is that you can’t simply withdraw the money. To ‘clear’ your bonus, you need to play through the amount given multiple times. This can be anywhere from five to 25 times. This gives you a realistic chance of building a poker bankroll from scratch, while protecting the poker sites from too many ‘hit and run’ attempts.
In return for their cash, the poker rooms get the chance to show you their software, games, and features. They are betting that many players will stick around and become long-term customers.
How to claim a no deposit poker bonus
Claiming a no deposit bonus is simple. First, you need to follow the links provided here at PlayCanada.com. Second, make a note of any bonus codes used by the poker site.
When you get to the site, simply download the software (or smartphone app). Then register your account. Note that most reputable sites require back up ID documents, often when you make your first withdrawal. This means it is important to use accurate/recent personal information when you create your account. Email verification is a standard step for many sites.
There are terms and conditions attached to no deposit bonus offers to take note of.
The key one is that only one person per household can claim a no deposit deal. This is also applied as one person per device. You need to ensure you are above the legal age for gambling in your province to claim a no deposit deal.
Canada no deposit poker sites: bonus codes
Some poker rooms use bonus codes. These codes can either be generic, or specific to the individual website that referred you. If you are claiming a special offer like a no-deposit deal, you will be asked to input your bonus code when you register your account. Deposit bonuses (including reloads) can be used after registration. These are used at the cashier when you make a deposit.
Free poker vs. no deposit real money poker games
Real money poker sites offer no deposit deals. Games are completely different when real money is at stake compared to free play/social poker apps.
A key difference is that people are more selective in the hands they play when real money is at stake. This will apply even at the smallest buy-ins — though as you move up in stakes, playing too many hands is a way to lose your bankroll fast.
In free social poker games, people play almost every hand, calling bets with any hope of winning. In real money poker, position at the table, bet sizes, and hand reading all come into play. Anyone playing more than around 15% of hands will put themselves at a huge disadvantage. Play in free games is often ‘passive’. Many players will limp in and call bets, hoping to improve their hand. Again, this is a losing style in real money games, especially against moderately experienced opponents.
To compete in real money games, you need a grasp of poker math, odds, and outs. You need to understand the basics of equity, and how this applies to tournament situations. You also need to actively watch your opponents, taking notes on their playing styles and any weaknesses you can exploit later.
Poker games available for no deposit bonus play
Poker has evolved in multiple directions in recent years. The old split of cash games, tournaments, and sit and go’s has splintered into enjoyable and fast-paced variations. Below is a quick overview of the different games within each of the traditional categories. Note that you need to check the terms of each no deposit poker bonus to see which games you can play.
- Cash games: Most games where you simply bet and call with real money are in no limit Hold’em format. Within this game you get different table sizes, buy-in levels, and speeds. Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, Stud Poker, Draw Poker, and mixed games are also popular at the bigger sites.
- Fast fold poker: This format uses pools of players instead of fixed tables. You move to a new hand with others from your pool when you fold or when a hand ends. It is used for cash games and for tournaments. The final table will revert to the regular fixed table format.
- Poker tournaments: You buy-in and get a stack of chips. Bet sizes increase, forcing action, until one player has every chip. Poker tournaments pay between 10% and 15% of the field, with the biggest prizes for the final table. There are 100s of variations in buy-in, games, table size, and speed. Knockout tournaments with bounties, satellite qualifiers, and rebuy/re-entry events are popular variations.
- Sit and go tournaments: If you don’t have time for a bigger tournament, then smaller ones that start as soon as enough players have joined make a great alternative. The standard format is a single table of nine players, three whom which get paid. Variations include multiple tables, 50-50 prize structures, knockout games, and game variations.
- Lottery sit and go’s: This format has different names on different poker sites. It is a common target for no deposit bonus deals. Typically, they are three-handed super-fast games with short chip-stacks. The twist is that you only find out the prize pool (which can be up to 10,000x your buy-in) after the game starts.
Sites continue to innovate, with short-deck games and other entertaining variations being introduced all the time.
Playing freerolls with no deposit poker bonuses
A freeroll is a poker tournament with real prizes that does not cost you any money to enter. This is a popular way to award new players bonus money. While most freerolls have big fields and small prize pools, winning one can give you enough of a poker bankroll to have a legitimate shot at the real money tables.
One big advantage of freerolls is that many players don’t take the games seriously. You will see some people going all-in every hand, others sitting out, and many inexperienced opponents simply playing badly. This gives you a genuine (if volatile) shot at winning money with steady, solid play.
Freerolls are not always small scale. As you climb levels in loyalty schemes at some major poker sites, you will get tickets for free entry into tournaments with bigger prize pools, or qualifiers for online poker events.
No deposit bonuses vs. welcome bonuses at Canadian poker sites
The biggest bonus deals advertised by poker sites that welcome Canadian players need a deposit. They are matched bonuses, where the poker site matches the amount you deposit with bonus funds. A typical deal is a 100% match, up to between $200 and $1000.
For most sites, there is no need to decide between a $10 or $20 no deposit bonus and the larger matched welcome bonus — you can take both.
Simply sign up, enjoy your small no deposit bonus, and then take advantage of the matched bonus afterwards. It is important to check the terms and conditions of the bonus deals. These will specify rules on time gaps allowed and which games you can play.
Both welcome bonuses and no deposit poker bonuses at online poker sites require playthrough. You need to use your bonus funds multiple times at the tables before they are converted into cash that can be withdrawn. This is known as ‘clearing’ a bonus. It is usually based on points you earn from tournament entry fees and rate paid. Playthrough rates vary between poker rooms, so it is always worth comparing the deals.