The online casino tips and strategies I publish on this site typically focus on what works rather than what doesn’t work. After all, why spend time on things that are likely to waste your money?
Having said that, there are a few poorly-thought tactics that receive such considerable attention from would-be gamblers that ignoring them does more harm than good.
That’s the case with bonus whoring.
It’s an old strategy, so there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across it while looking for legitimate online casinos. The important thing to realize is that it’s ineffective in today’s online gambling environment.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let’s back up a few steps and define bonus whoring. Then, we’ll take a look at how the tactic works and the reasons it’s a terrible idea.
Casino Bonus Whoring Explained
At its simplest, bonus whoring is a way to build your bankroll using the bonus money you receive when you register and deposit funds at gambling websites.
The strategy is alluring because it suggests you can get something for nothing. If you play a game with a reasonably-low house edge – for example, blackjack – and make use of the “free” money you receive from the site, you could presumably grind out a net profit. You’d then withdraw your money and hunt for deposit bonuses at other casinos. There, you’d repeat the process.
A long time ago, there were guys (and gals) making a full-time income with this technique. In a few moments, you’ll discover why that’s no longer the case. But first, let’s dig a bit deeper into the online casino bonus whoring strategy.
More On Bonus Whoring Strategy
The key to making this tactic work is to focus on games that have the smallest house edge. To that end, you would avoid slots, roulette and keno. You’d likewise say “no” to Caribbean Stud Poker, Let It Ride and even Casino War.
Instead, you’d play blackjack. If you were feeling particularly lucky, you might try your hand at craps, betting only the pass and come with odds. Those are the bets with the thinnest house edge. For the most part, however, you’d stick to blackjack since the house edge can sink to as low as 0.28%.
Here’s an example of how the strategy would work:
Let’s say you found a casino offering a 200% matching bonus up to $100. You deposit $50 and receive $100 in bonus money. You’d then use that $150 to play blackjack, where you’d gradually meet the casino’s playthrough requirement (more on this in a few moments).
Assuming you played the game using basic blackjack strategy, you could expect to walk away with more money than you arrived with. In other words, you probably wouldn’t lose your entire bonus.
Once you met the site’s playthrough (or rollover), you’d withdraw your bankroll and find another casino. You’d deposit your money into this second casino and receive another generous (i.e. 200%) “New Player” matching bonus.
Once again, you’d hit the blackjack tables with your deposited funds and the “free” money, and grind away to meet the new site’s playthrough requirement. After doing so, you’d make a full withdrawal and hunt for a third casino.
Rinse and repeat. Along the way, your bankroll would continue to swell.
It sounds like a great strategy, right? Well, not so fast.
How Today’s Online Casinos Work
Today’s gambling sites work a bit differently than yesterday’s sites. First, their percentage matches are smaller. Second, their rules concerning rollover requirements and withdrawals are much stricter.
For example, it was common 10 years ago for casinos to offer 200% in matching funds on first-time deposits. Additionally, the “free” money came with a lower rollover requirement than typically seen today. Even better, the rollover was often applied only to the bonus (not to the deposit).
Today, it’s much more common for legitimate gambling sites to offer a 100% match on members’ first-time deposits. The dollar value of the bonuses is usually higher, but the matching percentage is significantly lower. Additionally, the rollovers tend to be high and applied to BOTH the deposit and bonus. That means you have to place bets equalling a far greater sum in order to clear the “free” money.
Another obstacle to making bonus whoring work today is the limit on the types of games that count toward meeting the rollover requirements. Blackjack is often excluded. That’s worth noting because the razor-thin house edge on blackjack was an essential part of making the tactic work.
The Rollover Requirement: The Bonus Whore’s Worst Enemy
If there’s one reason bonus whoring doesn’t work these days, it’s the rollover requirements used by today’s top gambling sites. To appreciate the effect those requirements have had on the technique, it’s important to understand how online casino bonuses work.
Casinos offer bonuses for two reasons:
1. to attract new members
2. to encourage current members to place more bets
In the last 15 years, they’ve become much savvier about how to use “free money” incentives to turn a profit. First, as implied above, they’ve largely done away with the 200% matching funds on first-time deposits. Second, they’ve increased the playthrough requirements on the bonus cash.
Here’s how the bonuses typically work:
Suppose you register an account at Bovada Casino and make a first-time deposit of $500. You have the option of claiming a 100% match bonus up to $3,000. Part of the bonus is designed to be used on slots and another part is intended to be used on table games.
The most important thing to remember is that Bovada isn’t going to simply let you withdraw your deposit and bonus money at your discretion. Instead, the company requires you to place bets equaling a certain dollar figure before you make a withdrawal.
For slots, the threshold is 25X your deposit plus bonus. For casino games, it’s 40X. Given those numbers, how much are you required to bet in the casino to “earn out” your bonus on a $500 deposit?
And keep in mind, single-deck blackjack, with its razor-thin house edge, is not eligible toward meeting that rollover requirement.
Can you see why bonus whoring is a terrible idea these days? There’s no way to make it work profitably (outside having a fantastic streak of good luck).
With the above constraints in mind, let’s take a look at how to get the most mileage out of your casino bonuses.
How To Maximize Your Online Casino Bonuses
The first step is to review the terms and conditions attached to each bonus you claim. Pay particular note to the wagering requirements and excluded games.
That advice might sound superficial. But a lot of online gamblers, including experienced folks who should know better, neglect to do this. Consequently, they form unrealistic expectations. When those expectations go unfulfilled, they cry foul.
Bottom line: be sure to read the terms and conditions before you claim a particular bonus.
Second, avoid rushing to clear your bonus. You may be tempted to increase your bets and play longer sessions so you can unlock your “free” money more quickly. Doing so is a bad idea. You’ll end up chasing your losses, extending your losing streak and compounding the negative impact on your bankroll.
Additionally, you’ll risk making mistakes due to fatigue. Take your time and earn out your bonus with a level of betting activity that suits your schedule, bankroll and temperament. Don’t rush things.
Third, once you’ve found a casino you trust, make the largest deposit you can to lock in the maximum bonus value. For example, as noted above, Bovada offers a 100% match up to $3,000. If you know you’re going to spend a majority of your time at Bovada, it makes sense to grab as much bonus money as possible.
Fourth, don’t attempt to make a withdrawal until you’ve met the rollover requirement attached to your bonus. If you do so, you risk forfeiting the bonus money. Again, check the terms and conditions so you’ll be familiar with the rules.
One Last Piece Of Advice About Casino Bonuses
Try not to get so tunnel-visioned with earning out your bonuses that you no longer have fun playing the games. For example, let’s say you love blackjack, craps and roulette. Unfortunately, none of them count toward meeting the playthrough requirement at Bovada.
You could avoid playing them, of course, choosing to spend all of your time on games that DO count toward the playthrough. But that would essentially nullify your reason for playing in the first place (i.e. to have fun!).
Definitely take into account the “free” money you receive at the top gambling sites like Bovada Casino and Slots.lv. But don’t sacrifice the fun and excitement of playing online just to fulfill the rollover requirements.
If you’re looking for an online casino to call home, I highly recommend you visit Bovada Casino and Slots.lv. Both offer great New Player bonuses, an intuitive playing environment and a long list of your favorite casino games.