This is a short guide on how to best approach playing at the casino if your objective is to clear the bonus offer (aka "bonus whoring"). The objective is not "to win" per se, but to minimize the amount you lose and thus end up with a nice profit due to the free cash offered by the casino when you sign up.
First up, there are no "betting systems" that have ever been proven to work. Clearing a bonus is all about turning the mathematical odds in your favour by playing a low risk, low variance game such as blackjack using small wagers. On average you will lose less money than the amount of the bonus, allowing you to pocket whatever is left over.
Generally speaking, the best game to play when attempting to whore a bonus is blackjack. Played using correct blackjack basic strategy, the house edge can be as little as 0.4%, and even lower depending on rule variations. For example, casinos using Boss Media software have a single deck blackjack game where the odds are actually in the player's favour by 0.11% (i.e. a house edge of -0.11%).
Check out our massive ranked list of casinos that offer blackjack bonuses. There are more than enough casinos there to get your bankroll bulging.
Other games which make good choices include Baccarat, Craps, Texas Hold'em Bonus, and Video Poker such as Jacks or Better or Deuces Wild. Poor choices include American Roulette, Slots, and Caribbean Stud Poker. Basically you are looking for a game with a low house edge, and preferably a low variance. Details of each can be found in our linked game guides.
On this site you will often see the wagering requirements of a casino bonus listed like "27xB". All this means is that you must wager 27 times the bonus amount before you may withdraw your money from the casino.
Some casinos specify the wagering requirements in terms of both the deposit and bonus, such as 20x deposit and bonus. However we have made it easier for you to compare these offers by converting and listing all the wagering requirements as a multiple of the bonus.
As a general guide, the lower the stakes you wager on each hand, the less you will vary from the average expected result because you will play a larger number of hands which tends to smooth out short term variance. Imagine flipping a coin. Do it 10 times and you might get 7 heads and 3 tails, but flip it 1000 times and you expect to end up close to 500 of each.
Going against this is the time factor - the lower the stakes you play, the longer you will take to meet the wagering requirements, and frankly I'm not interested in playing 8000 $1 hands of blackjack to make a $26 profit (of course your mileage may vary!). So your stake size will be influenced by your tolerance for risk and the amount of spare time on your hands, and of course how much you value your own productive time.
For beginners, I recommend betting no larger than 1% of your total bankroll on any one hand until you are confident and know the game's strategy inside out.
If we know the house edge on a casino game, we can even predict our expected end result after completing the wagering requirements. This is simply the amount wagered less the house edge, subtracted from our starting balance. Remember, the house edge is calculated on the value of every hand wagered, not just your bankroll.
One of the first casinos I ever played at, Golden Palace, used to offer an extremely generous $300 bonus on a $100 deposit, and you were required to wager at least $8000 before cashing out. So in this case we can work out our expected winnings playing blackjack (with a 0.4% house edge) like so:
Expected loss due to blackjack house edge = $8000 x 0.004 = $32
Expected ending balance = $100 deposit + $300 bonus - $32 = $368
Expected net gain = $368 - $100 deposit = $268
Non-cashable (a.k.a. "phantom") bonuses may appear useless to the bonus whore at first glance, because at the end of your session you cannot withdraw the bonus money. However mathematically speaking, the bonus is still valuable because you are wagering both your deposit and the bonus, but you can only lose your deposit.
A good strategy for the advanced player to pursue is to start off wagering larger amounts than normal in order to increase the variance of your returns. Set yourself a target such as doubling your deposit, or adding $100, and when you achieve it, reduce your bet size down to a normal level and "grind out" the rest of the bonus. Clearing bonuses will actually be quicker this way, but of course you increase the risk of busting. Note that casinos are now wise to this, and many include a clause in their terms about "significantly reducing bets" after a big win. Take note and be careful.
Some casinos have a useful feature where they show the amount you have wagered towards completing the requirements when clearing a bonus. For example, casinos using Cryptologic software show you the percentage you have completed in their cashier section. However, this is an exception rather than the rule, so sometimes you need a little help. This is where the use of a wager tracking program comes in handy.
You have a choice now:
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