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doyellowboots
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23 September 2011 - 7:28pm

Beating the Bonus!

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Ok the point of this thread is simply to discuss ways to beat the wagering requirements for casino bonuses as it seems to me if this can be done then there is a lot of free money going.
Until last week I would have said that it is impossible until I got caught rather dumbly in a bonus trap and had to find my way out of it. What happened was that the casino offered me a quick bonus when I signed in which I accepted like a nutter. The bonus was only for 10 bucks but quickly I discovered that I was going to have to wager a vast amount of money in order to free up my original deposit plus the 10 buck freebie. It annoyed me but I found on asking the help-desk that in order for me to get any of my money back I would have to play thru the wagering requirements. If I tried to withdraw before this then all the money would be void. So the die was cast.
My game of choice is roulette so what i did was to follow a laboriously slow strategy of minimum bets on 2, 3 or 4 numbers each spin. These are all numbers which by some fluke often appear subsequent to each other (if Ed and his crew are ok about it I will out them up here sometime over the weekend), so my idea was that if one of them hit then eventually its "twin" might hit too. At initial minimum flat bets of 10 cents the first win would win me 3.50 and then between 61 bucks > 30 bucks depending if I rebet this 3.50 on 2, 3 or 4 twinned numbers on the next spin. Remember my goal was not to make a profit, it was simply to stay in the game until i had completed the wagering requirements and could thus claim the bonus - which would be my profit.
This being the case I had 300 bets to find a winner in the worst case scenario, and 600 in the best which I reckoned would be ok with a bit of luck. each winner would bring me back to zero and keep me in the hunt for the bonus. So I put the game on hyper speed and tried it out and it worked. Took some time though and I was lucky that the house edge did not kick in, although I reckoned from the outset that as I was looking for only a very few wins each session, 1 or 2 max, then it was worth a bash!
In my time playing roulette over the years I have come across a couple more seriously long winded strategies that might also work which I can bung up here if Ed is ok about me doing so.
Anyone else have any ideas on long distance strategies that might keep us in any casino game until the wagering requirements are fulfilled? judging by quite a few posts on the site its a challenge faced by us all so might be worth some thought Smile

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auCL-Ed
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24 September 2011 - 4:01pm
#1

Now this is a topic close to my heart! ;)

What you're talking about is known as bonus whoring / bagging / clearing. It actually a very good way of changing the odds so they are in your favour as a player - provided you can find the right bonus. These days that is not as easy as it sounds, as casinos are wise to it. It is one of the main reasons why you can't play low house edge games while claiming a bonus, or the requirements for them are set so high. Five years ago you could make a living off that sort of thing if you were prepared to play at enough different casinos.

The things you need to look for:

  • Low wagering requirements. Obviously the lower the better but a good rule of thumb is a maximum of 30xB unless you are a masochist who enjoys playing blackjack for days on end.
  • Bonuses that are cashable are better (i.e. you can withdraw the bonus money after meeting the requirements). Non-cashable bonuses are still worthwhile, they just require a slightly different strategy.
  • Games allowed that have a low house edge. The best are blackjack, baccarat, craps and video poker. Roulette is not that great a choice, and most casinos disallow it on bonuses anyway as it allows you to hedge bets to minimise risk.

The ideal strategy to use is for a cashable bonus like this is to play the games with the lowest house edge you can and minimise variance by not making huge bets. Depending on the game, the amount of wagering required, this can make the expected value (EV) of the bonus positive in the player's favour. Here is a formula you can use:

Expected Loss = (1 - RTP) x WR x BONUS

Expected loss means the amount of the bonus you can expect to lose on average. The EV of the bonus is positive if this amount is less than the bonus itself. For example, lets say you are claiming a $100 bonus, and the wagering requirements are 40xB on vegas strip blackjack, which has an RTP of 99.6%:

Expected Loss = (1 - 0.996) x 40 x $100 = $16

So you would expect to lose $16 on average, therefore keeping $84 of the bonus money. Remember this is an average number, not a guarantee. You can and will lose more than that sometimes, and you can and will finish ahead of that sometimes. Over the long run, playing EV+ bonuses can be profitable.

Now if the bonus is non-cashable, then that is not much use to you because you can't withdraw the $100 bonus, so you would still be down $16. In that case the best strategy is to actually make large bets at the start in an attempt to double, triple or quadruple your balance, then play out the rest of the wagering using the above strategy. However, many casinos now also restrict this, stipulating that you can't bet more than 25% (or similar) of your bankroll on any one hand / spin etc while playing a bonus.

You also have to watch out for casinos that include a "bonus abuse" clause. Usually this is a vaguely worded catch-all that they place in their terms to allow them to refuse to pay you if they think your play is too clever or "against the spirit of the bonus".

We actually take all this into account when we rank our bonuses. Using the bonuses menu up the top of the page, where we have lists of the best sign-up bonuses, blackjack bonuses etc, the wagering requirements are a key ranking factor. That's why you won't see 3000% bonuses that require you to wager 200xB at the top of our lists. We also take other stuff into account including the quality of the casino. After all its no use finding a sweet bonus at a joint that won't pay you.

1 member gave thanks for this useful post: barbadosslim93

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25 September 2011 - 2:21am
#2

So, factoring in these qualities adds to a bonus' ranking on the site? That is a pretty neat concept, as I thought they were judged on opinion, not statistical math.

I would love to be a bonus whore, but I have heard it has gotten much harder over the years. I would have loved to have been here during the golden ages. Has anyone here ever had a big take on a bonus offer?

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25 September 2011 - 10:18pm
#3

There is an element of opinion in it as our rating for the casino is a factor, but it is one of many. From memory we take the following sort of things into account:

  • Our rating of the casino (this is the only "opinion" part)
  • Wagering requirements of allowed games
  • House edge of allowed games
  • EV of the bonus
  • Bonus %, if applicable
  • Whether the bonus is granted pre or post wager (most are pre)
  • Whether the bonus is cashable
  • a few other things I can't remember at the moment

We roll these all together using our own formula and give each bonus a score for the game you are looking at (or the best game available if the list isn't game specific), and then we order them from best score to worst. It took a while to tweak it all but we've had it stable now for a couple of years and I think its pretty accurate at judging the best from the worst bonuses.

I get emails from casinos offering to pay us to put their bonus up the top and they think we are nutters when I say no and explain how it works.

Without getting specific about singular big takes, I profited well into five figure territory by taking up good bonuses a few years ago. Thats how I ended up knowing about so many different casinos.

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26 September 2011 - 4:13pm
#4

Ed - sounds like it was goldrush in the past, but that its all a bit tighter now. This being the case, being an expert on the industry what is the next 'promotional' trend you can foresee - as it seems like a good idea to get in at the beginning of these things? Or is the whole sector stuck in new business bonus mode and that's it? I think the only exception to this is Intercasino. They used to pay comp point bonuses whether you won or lost on the amount wagered over 1 month. Do they still do this? I know WH pay comp points but only if you lose as I have never got any free $$$ from them when I am winning Smile

what's RTP? Is it the house edge in punter-speak Smile ?

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26 September 2011 - 11:11pm
#5

I, too, would love to be a bonus whore (well, in the "old days" anyway, lol). I could SO go for making a living playing games online. lol

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26 September 2011 - 11:46pm
#6

RTP = return to player. It is the house edge subtracted from 1. So for example if the house edge of a game is 2%, then the RTP is 98%. That means that on average and if played with perfect strategy (for card games) the game will return 98% of all wagers to players.

As far as the future goes, I think that casinos are well and truly stuck in the bonuses rut. Every new casino that launches tries to play the same game - offer a bonus and try to have everyone believe that their bonus is the best available anywhere. There is zero creativity. If I was a casino operator I think an excellent point of differentiation would be to actively promote themselves as deliberately not offering bonuses and talk up the advantages, of which there are many:

  • They would be attractive to players that do not want bonuses.
  • Player funds would never be locked in with wagering requirements, so no nasty surprises for players that don't read the fine print or visit Casino Listings first.
  • The casino support would never have to deal with vetting players and wagering for "bonus abuse". I imagine this would be a decent cost saving in labour terms.
  • They could offer better comp rates than elsewhere.
  • Other cost savings based on their licensing agreements. For example, casinos using Microgaming software have to pay some kind of fee to Microgaming based on the bonuses they credit to players.

Sure you would turn off a large number of players who love bonuses, but smart marketing isn't always about going for the biggest slice of the pie, especially when there are hundreds if not thousands of competitors going for the same thing.

This of course goes against my theory that many of the small time online operators actually want players to take up the EV negative bonus offers, because it keeps their customers playing longer and therefore more likely to lose.

As far as cashback goes, almost all the casinos only offer cashback on losses, not wagers. Intercasino just emailed me a few days ago offering 20% cashback on losses on a few table games.

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27 September 2011 - 12:11am
#7

Also bonus whoring isn't completely dead. You just have to keep your eye out for the excellent bonuses. If you see one with less than 30xB wagering requirements then it is pretty attractive. 20xB or less is great value, even for slots play where the RTP averages around 95% online, but some specific machines can be 98-99% which makes things interesting.

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27 September 2011 - 2:47am
#8

CL-Ed isn't the list fairly short, though? I mean when I look on the page, here, the list of casinos who offer new player bonuses is not really that long (especially with the requirements you outlined above and especially those who offer a decent amount of money, say above 25 to 30 bucks). So, how do you keep finding new opportunities, when you can only be a new player one time? Just wondering.

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27 September 2011 - 5:23am
#9

Its definitely a short list nowadays as the casinos are wise to this sort of thing. Some of the best offers though are ones the casinos email their existing players - especially if you haven't played there for a long time.

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