Casino Whoring 101: Dos and Dont's

A Comprehensive Guide for First Timers

Casino Whoring in the Forums

In order to find some of the most up-to-date information on Casino Whoring, our Forums are an excellent place to check! In addition to discussing what sort of new player bonuses are currently available, you will also have the ability to engage in conversation with many players who are taking advantage of, or who have taken advantage of, a wide variety of casino bonuses.

We would also suggest that you look at our sites official reviews of online casinos as well as any user reviews that are available here. One important question is: What are the withdrawal processes for this casino? It is important to know whether or not the casino will pay you promptly if you do win, whether they engage in delayed withdrawal tactics and whether or not a particular casino will make excuses not to pay you based on vague reasons that you may have violated the Terms & Conditions.

Casinos that have engaged in these sorts of tactics will generally be blacklisted, but those who have not quite made the blacklist will certainly have poor user scores. While all of the casinos are permitted to have player representatives post at the site, the casinos are not permitted to flood the user reviews in order to boost their rankings, so the reviews can generally be trusted, taken overall.

Know the Terms & Conditions

Even if you are using a No-Deposit Bonus, as opposed to one of the (often better) other new player bonuses, you are still spending time at the casino (even if not money) and you would not want to forfeit any winnings as a result of not abiding by the Terms & Conditions.

The Terms & Conditions will vary from one casino to another, and while the language at some is simpler than the language at others, very few of them are entirely in, ‘Layman’s terms.’ For that reason, if there are any terms that you do not understand, you could shoot me (Mission146) a message and I will give you my best interpretation. Even better still is to post your question at the Forums because it is best not to rely on one man’s interpretation.

However, if you want to be a very serious player, then you should use the, ‘Live Chat,’ function of a casino's actual site in order to ask your question about the Terms. Most, if not all, of these, ‘Live Chats,’ give you the option to have a transcript of the chat E-Mailed to you, and I recommend ALWAYS using that option. The reason for that is, if you are given misinformation, (but rely upon that information and unknowingly violate the Terms & Conditions) then you have documentation proving that is what the casino representative said is the case.

Furthermore, if you choose to Review some of these Online Casinos, an actual chat transcript will go far in giving your review credibility if you choose to speak either kindly or disparagingly about the customer service at that casino. Even if you are a bonus whore, you should still be treated well at all times.

Why Are the Casinos Giving Away Money?

The casino both are and are not giving away money! Let us assure you, if the average new player offer did not end up profitable for the casino, (in other words, if the players do not eventually lose more than they win overall) then the casinos would not be doing it. That doesn’t mean that you can’t win money, but winning money is only half of the battle.

Casino whores should have two objectives: The first objective, obviously, is to find the beatable bonuses and use those beatable bonuses to win money. The second of the two objectives should be to actually keep those profits! I’m not saying that nobody should ever gamble, but if you want to gamble seriously, then you want to gamble profitably. If you want to gamble for fun, have a net losing expectation, but you’re satisfied with the occasional win or the possibility of a humongous win, then go for it! Gambling for the sake of gambling can be fun, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having fun doing it!

In fact, people who do Bonus Whoring or are otherwise only playing when they have a positive expectation are counting on the people who just want to have fun. If nobody played at a negative expectation, then all of the casinos would lose money, shut down their sites, and there would be no more bonuses to whore!

So, yes, the casinos are giving away money, but the objective is to eventually take in from the customers what they have given away and more. Furthermore, an online casino would prefer not to have to give away anything, but with so many casinos to choose from, they do have to offer new player bonuses in order to get players interested in trying out their sites.

In short, the casinos are giving money away because, ‘Free money,is a great marketing tool!

How Do I Protect My Personal Information?

This can be something of a tricky matter if you’re in the United States, due to the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) which prohibits banks and other financial institutions located within the United States to KNOWINGLY transact business with an Internet casino located outside of the States. It also prohibits any company from directly operating an Internet casino while located within the United States, unless it is an Internet casino in a state that has specifically licensed same, and even then, they may only operate within that state.

Because of the UIGEA, it is very difficult to transact business with any E-Financial Institutions that are located abroad if you are a U.S. citizen, and you will generally have to deposit directly with the casino in question using your credit card. Alternatively, there are some third-party payment providers who are designed to make it appear as though the money is not going to an online casino, that doesn’t constitute any fraud on your part. Granted, such providers exist almost entirely to deceive the United States banks as to the nature of the transaction, but it is not illegal for the player himself or herself to deposit to the online casino. In fact, it’s not actually even illegal for the bank to do it (the wording on the law is convoluted) it is illegal for the bank to KNOWINGLY do it.

Good Internet Casinos will have a number of cyber-security measures in place designed to protect your personal and/or credit card information, but this is where it is important to read their websites and any reviews to determine what those measures are, and whether or not any problems with compromised information have ever been reported, (and, more importantly, proven) against them. Many licensing jurisdictions also have Rules and/or Laws (whether it is classified as a rule or a law depends on the jurisdiction) designed to provide minimum player protections.

For those of you located elsewhere, you can utilize a third-party financial services provider such as Neteller. It is important to look at their deposit/withdrawal fees (if any) as well as any withdrawal fees the casino may have for the third-party financial service provider of your choice. Depending on how much you value the casino itself not having your personal information, it can often be cheaper to use a payment method that has you dealing directly with the casino rather than with a third-party.

Other than that, gambling online intelligently also requires choosing where you play intelligently. Make sure that you read all of the information you can get on a particular casino, and even after doing that if you have any doubt as to the security of the place, just don’t play there!

How Do Bonuses Compare Now to the Past?

Unfortunately, bonuses are not what they used to be just a decade ago and not even close to what they were even before that. The owner of this site (and many other gambling sites) largely made the first part of his fortune by advantage playing online Blackjack, but that’s because it was something that could relatively easily be done then if you were both very smart and in the know. You honestly didn’t even have to have much of a bankroll to virtually guarantee the ability to build up a decent living in just a few months, a few grand would probably do it.

The difference between then and now is that the players, such as Mr. Chan, were substantially smarter than the casinos whose bonuses they were exploiting. However, the casinos have since caught up. Very few online casinos offer bonuses now without knowing what the risks are and what they would expect to lose if a player plays against the bonus perfectly. Occasionally, an online casino might throw something out there that can be beaten in a way that they didn’t expect and for larger amounts, but generally, they have some idea what they are giving up.

Like we’ve already said, more players lose money to the online casinos than players who win, those who win usually end up losing more than they have won in the end, so the ultimate balance is that the casinos win money, overall.

In the past, one of the easiest bonuses to beat was a deposit match bonus (sometimes more than just a match) and to play Blackjack. The casinos had (and mostly still have) invariably decent Blackjack rules, and sometimes great rules, so it was a simple matter of getting some amount over your initial deposit and running it through on a relatively simple, low variance game. In fact, Craps would have even worked well back then, and certainly some players would do it on Craps, but the expectation ($$$) on Blackjack was better because of the better Return-to-PLayer (RTP) of most Blackjack games.

Unfortunately, bonus beating will not come so easily for today’s players for a number of different reasons, but let’s start with an example:

Let’s say you have a Blackjack game with an RTP of 99.5% that has an absurdly low playthrough of 10x the Deposit + Bonus. Imagine that it is a 200% Deposit Bonus of any amount up to $500, that means the player would deposit $500 (if he wants to make as much as possible) and will have $1,500 to play with, resulting in the need to make $15,000 in total bets. This bonus itself is cashable, which means that the amount of the bonus does not get removed from your balance once you have completed the playthrough. The expected loss on the playthrough is $75, which means the player is expected to finish with a balance of $1,425 of which $925 is pure profit.

Now that we have looked at that example, we can use it to explore some of the differences between how bonuses work now and how they worked then.

1.) The playthrough will never be that low again.

The casinos got killed because they offered such a low playthrough on these games. It doesn’t even matter what the game is, the player could pretty much beat it. For instance, even if the player ran it through on a slot machine with an RTP of 95%, the expected loss on the playthrough would be $750, and the player would cash $750 with $250 of that being profit. Granted, the slot game would have more Variance than the Blackjack game meaning, if we assume the bet amount was the same on both games, the player could actually lose everything on the slot game, but then the player would also have a better maximum win potential.

The nicest thing about Blackjack is that both the house edge and the variance are stupidly low. I decided to run a simulation with a House Edge of 0.49%, just because I had that set of Rules easily available, and in 10,000 attempts a player betting $5 per hand won money 99.94% of the time, and lost, at most, $187.50. If the player bet only $1 at a time, the player never lost and the lowest profit was $442.50. We’re going to discuss bet structuring more a bit later.

Imagine that we have the same terms as the example, except the playthrough requirements are now 100x the Bonus + Deposit, meaning the player must make $150,000 in total bets. The expected loss on that would be $750, which means the player would be expected to finish with $750, and a profit of $250. However, the House Edge (100% - RTP) has a better opportunity to grind the player down. Again, with the slightly lower House Edge, the player is still expected to bust about 28% of the time, though the player does still profit overall (62.85%) more often than not and the profits more than cover the losses. Betting only $1/hand reduces the Variance and the bust rate drops to 2.76% with a winning percentage of 79.96%, but then you would have to play 150,000 hands! At 800 hands per hour (ignoring splits/doubles), which would be pretty fast, the player would have to play 187.5 hours (7.8125 solid days!) to get it done.

Even though both of those scenarios are profitable, one has an expected hourly profit that would make it worth the player’s time and the other one, well, probably wouldn’t. The player would probably want to bet more in order to make the expected hourly profit worth the time that he/she is spending, and that would increase the bust rate. For the casino, it’s a half dozen of one and six of the other with enough players...the expected loss is the same for both parties, but the casino would likely get enough players in the long run that it would balance out.

You’re not likely to ever see a bonus again that has a 10x playthrough, but that is just one of these several factors that make Bonus Whoring not what it once was.

2.) You Often Can’t Play a Game with that Kind of RTP.

Blackjack is a great game for grinding out playthrough not just because of the low variance, but because of the high RTP that went along with that Variance. In fact, for the bonuses of yesteryear, just about any table game whatsoever was at least viable if you had a grasp of the proper strategy!

In addition to the fact that the playthroughs have increased, there is also the fact that many online casinos will not allow you to play Blackjack, and often, no Table Games at all while you are playing with bonus money. Other casinos will allow you to play Table Games with Bonus Money, but it does not count towards the playthrough.

For these purposes, Table Games and Video Poker are effectively the same on RTP, though the later does have significantly more Variance. Most casinos that will not allow Tables to be played also do not allow Video Poker to be played.

Some casinos do allow Tables or VP to be played when using a bonus, because that Bonus has significantly greater playthrough, which is where we get to yet another difference:

3.) The Bonuses Aren’t Usually as High, or Cashable.

In our example, we were talking about a fully cashable 200% deposit bonus. Many casinos that will allow Table Games to be played either do not have such high percentage bonuses (less free money) or the bonus itself is not cashable. Interestingly enough, when the Bonus itself is not cashable, the result is that, ‘Grinding,’ for small amounts becomes a terrible strategy.

When I refer to a non-cashable Bonus, what I mean is that the amount of the Bonus (In the case in the example, $1,000) will be deducted from the player’s balance when the Bonus is completed. Unless this is played correctly, there is very little difference between a Bonus such as that and not playing at all. In order to play such a Bonus on Table Games, one must utilize a concept called, ‘Bet Structuring,’ and would want as much Variance as possible with the bonus funds. With a bonus such as the one in the example, by making it non-cashable, if a player were to bet $1 at a time with even a 10x playthrough, the player has lost money (in 10,000 simulations) EVERY SINGLE TIME after the $1,000 bonus is deducted from the player’s final balance.

If you look at a bonus like that with an even greater playthrough, it’s not even playable. There are some situations, with bet structuring, that a player can take advantage of Variance to turn the bonus into a profitable proposition, and we will discuss those later.

4.) The Terms & Conditions Make it Otherwise Difficult.

I have briefly mentioned bet structuring, however, the Terms & Conditions of many Online Casinos specifically prohibit bet structuring. Some casinos (at least) do not describe bet structuring in vague terms, but at least proscribe certain maximum bets (or ranges between the minimum and maximum bet, by percentage) while playing with bonus money. This is to prevent players from taking a (profitable), ‘Shot,’ by making one or several huge bets with the Bonus money to get the balance to a point where it can then be grinded out profitably.

In addition, many casinos outright prohibit, ‘Advantage Play,’ or, ‘Professional Play,’ while not specifying what those terms actually mean in the eyes of the casino. In other words, a casino can decide that you have voided the Bonus and violated the Terms & Conditions by their definition of, ‘Professional play,’ which is not always a definition that the player is privy to in advance.

I would not disparage an online casino for having such Terms & Conditions in and of itself, they can have whatever T’s&C’s they want to, but I would not, under any circumstances, attempt any profitable play at those casinos in any situation in which it might be clear that I was playing at an advantage. If you just want to play for fun at such a casino, go for it, especially if they have a good rating, strong reviews, are honest and are well-liked by players. I’m not going to lie, I don’t personally gamble online, ‘Just for fun,’ so I would not be inclined to play at such a casino.

5.) The Players are also at Fault (Maybe).

In addition to the cat eventually being let out of the bag, (full of money) the other problem is that many players wanted to play with even less risk and played in a disingenuous way that made obvious what they were doing.

One common example of the players being at fault is that many players would utilize, ‘Offset betting,’ which means that they would bet two opposite sides of a proposition, virtually guaranteeing the occasional loss, but also virtually guaranteeing they would profit overall with as little risk as possible. In fact, many of these players would use this sort of offset betting to play larger bet amounts and get through the playthrough as quickly as possible. It was not enough just to make money, they wanted to make money twice as quickly, even though they already had a hugely profitable expectation.

Examples of opposite betting are betting the Pass + Don’t Pass at Craps, or betting both Red/Black on Roulette or both Player & Banker on Baccarat. Roulette is the mathematically worst game to do something like that while Craps is the best if the player is able to Take and Lay Odds and the odds count towards the playthrough. When a point number (4,5,6,8,9, or 10) would be established at Craps, the player could make offsetting Odds Bets and gain playthrough with literally no risk whatsoever at that point. If a player is betting $10 on each side with 10x Odds, for example, and the point comes four, then the player would bet $100 in Odds on the Pass LIne, $200 in Odds on the Don’t Pass, and would be guaranteed to break even regardless of what side actually won.

Not only is this method of play somewhat disingenuous, but it is also stupidly obvious. That this sort of offset betting was even a viable strategy for as long as it was is mind-boggling.

Anyway, it was this sort of offset betting that caused many online casinos to not allow Tables to be played with bonuses, and of those that do, many do not permit Craps, Baccarat or Roulette to be played for exactly that reason. Other casinos that allow those games often state in the T’s&C’s that any offset betting will void the bonuses.

If you see a casino that allows these games and does not say that offset betting will void the bonuses, then the play is probably not viable due to a low percentage deposit bonus, or alternatively, because of a playthrough requirement high enough that the house edge would result in the player not being able to profit.

Another reason these bonuses disappeared, or became not as lucrative, is because players in the know would often set up fake accounts, or would use friends and/or family members to set up accounts that they could then use to win money. With respect to lucrative bonuses, that still happens to a certain extent to this day, but it often technically doesn’t violate the Terms & Conditions as long as they are different households and different computers. If you choose to do this, then to be safe, I would recommend only using family members if they have a different last name, and preferably, if they don’t live in the same town or perhaps even the same state if they do have the same last name. One exception, of course, is if the last name is very common.

If you are going to have friends and family work the casinos, it is also important to be smart about it. Keep any discussions with each other about the matter 100% private, limit any such discussion to face-to-face, phone calls or text messages. Do not go on Facebook discussing strategies or recruiting people to play at these casinos. If you’re going to make them an authorized user on your credit card account, make sure that your credit card provides a card that superficially has a different account number, or use a prepaid debit card if the casino accepts those for deposits.

Again, remember that you are only technically abiding by the terms and conditions if you do something like this, and if the casino finds out and voids you, the casino is probably in the right if they can prove the actual existence of some kind of collusion.

Players would also often brag on Forums or social media about precisely what they were doing and what casinos they were doing it at. Casinos monitor those sorts of websites, so in effect, these players were directly telling the casinos exactly what they are doing wrong. Would you go onto Live Chat and tell the casino exactly how you are going to beat it and how you plan to do that? No? Then don’t post about it on social media.

There are articles here and elsewhere in our family of sites that talk about how to beat casinos, but casinos are generally aware of where their promotions could be exploited these days. However, if you discover something REALLY good, (which I have before, played, beat, and still have never publicly discussed) and you don’t see any information for it out there, you would do well to keep it between yourself and your friends.

Many players also chose to slaughter the cow and have some steaks for a week rather than a cow they could milk for a year, if you’ll excuse the poor metaphor. In other words, players would jump on a bonus, pound it, and then immediately beat another bonus at that very casino the very second it was offered. It was only a matter of time until the casinos figured out they had a number of players who would ONLY play when they were getting a bonus, and who, literally never lost. Some players were smart enough to utilize, ‘Cover play,’ and would intentionally tank small amounts, or just randomly gamble, but not enough were inclined to do this to keep the, ‘Easy,’ bonuses around as long as they may have otherwise been.

Other players still would use multiple accounts that they didn’t hide terribly well, and the casinos, in turn, became better at detecting that. They would use fake ID’s and would figure out ways to forge documentation to pass the identification verifications. In the meantime, the casinos have since gotten smarter about methods such as those and are better prepared to combat them.

Those are the main reasons why bonuses are not what they used to be, but it doesn’t mean that there are not beatable bonuses out there.

What Sorts of Ways Can One, ‘Bonus Whore?

There are a number of options when it comes to, ‘Bonus Whoring,’ and not all of them actually require someone to be a new player at the casino. In some cases, people who have already played at a casino get beatable follow-up offers, but that is definitely not as common as it used to be as they tend to not be as strong as the new player bonus. In the, ‘Good old days,’ of Bonus Whoring, the follow-up offers were often as strong as the new player offer, and if not, they were still generally stronger than the new player offers of today.

No-Deposit Bonuses

The easiest type of bonus, both to play and understand, is what is referred to as a, ‘No-Deposit Bonus,’ which does exactly what it says on the box. The casino essentially gives you straight up, ‘Free,’ money to play with.

Interestingly enough, while there is literally no possibility of losing with a bonus like this, (unless a casino requires a deposit in order to cash out and then does not pay you-rare) many, if not most, casinos that offer both a No-Deposit Bonus and a Deposit Bonus, the Deposit Bonus is actually more lucrative and has a better expectation. That is the case for a few different reasons:

A.) The first reason is because the No Deposit Bonuses often have an effective limit on how much the player can profit while playing on them. In effect, the player is unable to maximize the value of the bonus because the bonus, technically, cannot be maximized. Many of these bonuses are also limited to slots, so if a player survives the playthrough, there is a good chance that the player has won more than the maximum amount that can be cashed out with that bonus and is technically not receiving what he or she has won.

B.) The second reason is because the amount that the casino is giving you combined with the playthrough and the games it may be played on is often such that the player does not actually have an expectation of profiting. I don’t mean that in the ultimate sense, obviously, if you have the possibility of winning a non-zero amount of money and you can not lose anything, then there is a certain value there. What I mean is that the expected loss of the games that are allowed combined with the playthrough requirement is such that you are not expected to play the bonus through and survive with any money left.

C.) A much smaller, but third, reason is because most casinos have a minimum amount that is allowed to be cashed out of the casino, either on the bonus specifically or in general. It is possible to still end up winning money after completing the playthrough, but not winning enough money that actually enables you to cash it out. In these cases, you would either play until you lose it, deposit more money and play, or play until you hit the minimum amount that is allowed to be cashed out.

D.) The fourth, and biggest, reason is that the math is simply such that the Deposit Bonuses are often better. I have written articles about deposit bonuses that are literally worth in the hundreds of dollars, sometimes over a thousand if it is a bonus that can be used multiple times. If you have a No-Deposit bonus that has a maximum withdrawal limit of $50, then any deposit bonus mathematically worth more than that is better, even if the player has to risk actual money.

That naturally brings us to Deposit Bonuses. There are a number of different types of Deposit Bonuses, and we have already discussed the factors that affect such bonuses. The factors that affect the value of the bonuses are, obviously, how much the bonus is, the playthrough requirements and what games are allowed. We will discuss all of these things in the following section, but those are what affect the value.

What we will discuss in this section is the different sorts of Deposit Bonuses there are, because they are not all created equally, so let’s take a look at those:

Cashable Bonuses

Cashable Bonuses are becoming more rare than they used to be, but are still occasionally offered most commonly on Bonuses that are limited to slot games and pull tabs. All it means is that the Bonus amount effectively becomes part of your balance, and anything that is left over after you meet the playthrough requirements can be cashed out.

Phantom Bonuses

Phantom Bonuses seem like they are not worth much on the surface, and granted, they sometimes aren’t depending on a casino’s other rules, like how hardcore they limit bet structuring. The way a Phantom Bonus works is that a player’s cash deposit is played FIRST and then if a player makes a withdrawal request, or the playthrough is completed, the amount of the bonus can then be removed from the player’s balance. Generally speaking, there is no way to, ‘Grind Out,’ a bonus such as this on a negative expectation game, however, negative expectation games can be played in a way that takes advantage of serious Variance to drastically improve the part of the balance that is withdrawable with bet structuring and THEN grinding out the playthrough.

Sticky Bonuses

Sticky Bonuses are a bit different than Phantom Bonuses because they, ‘Stick,’ to your account until they are lost. This makes these bonuses very potentially lucrative because the player can withdraw any monies over the Bonus amount, but the Bonus amount still remains in the account and is fully playable. The lucrativity of these Bonuses makes them somewhat rare, but depending on what games you can get on, these bonuses are extremely valuable as you can win on them multiple times.

Generally speaking, those are the types of Bonuses that would require a deposit. There are also bonuses for games like poker that require playthrough, but much like the fundamental game of poker, how much they are worth depends on how good of a player you are...so that’s for you to decide.

Free Spins Bonuses

The final type of bonus that I will address, even though there are a few less common ones, is what are known as, ‘Free Spins,’ bonuses. I am only addressing these because they are so common, because they are very rarely worth very much.

There are two general types of Free Spins bonuses, which I will denote as, ‘Straight Up,’ and, ‘Into No Deposit,’ so let’s discuss those:

Straight Up

An example of straight up Free Spins is that the casino gives you x amount of Free Spins on a slot machine at x amount bet and you keep whatever you win. This is pretty simple and not all that common, to be honest. Once again, even if a casino did have such a bonus, it is often important (unless you have no bankroll) to take a look at the deposit bonus and see if it is better because it often will be.

The profit expectation is pretty simple, whatever the RTP of those spins is multiplied by the total amount of your bets.

Into No Deposit

This is a more common type of Free Spins bonus in which a player plays the Free Spins, but however much is won on them is THEN subject to its own playthrough requirement before it can be cashed out. Even these bonuses tend to come with a maximum withdrawal, but not always. The expectation on this is the RTP * the total amount bet less the House Edge of the best other game that can be played multiplied by the total in bets that needs to be played through.

Something fairly similar to this is, ‘Free Slot Tournaments,’ with those Free Spins can be won that will have its own playthrough, or cash (more like bonus money) can be won and it will usually have a playthrough.

I do not recommend signing up for a new casino for MOST Free Spins bonuses or Free Slot Tournaments, it is a wasted signup because the casino will generally be offering a more lucrative bonus, or eventually will offer a more lucrative bonus. If a casino goes a couple of years and the bonuses never change, then maybe do it. Otherwise, if I were you, I would do it only if I had almost literally no bankroll whatsoever.

The Basics of WINNING!

The best way to play depends on what type of bonus it is. When it comes to No-Deposit Bonuses, you could use the simple simulator at BeatingBonuses.com and just pick the game you want and pretend there is not a Bonus attached, just apply your money as a deposit and it is the same thing. Most bonuses are a little more difficult:

No Deposit Bonuses and WINNING!

Generally speaking, No Deposit Bonuses with the playthrough are going to be structured so that you don’t have an expectation of winning much, in fact, many are structured such that you have the expectation of losing everything, especially if they can only be played on slots. There is only one formula that you need to know to determine how much you are expected to lose on a No-Deposit bonus:

(House Edge as a decimal) * (Playthrough Amount) = Expected Loss

In other words, let’s say you had a $50 No-Deposit Bonus with a 40x playthrough requirement and the best available game was a Blackjack game (and these bonuses are often not allowed on tables) with an RTP of 99.5% and a House Edge of 0.5%. You would have to bet $2,000 in total bets, so here is the result:

.005 * 2000 = $10

You just take the $50 Bonus, subtract the $10 of it you are expected to lose, and you are expected to complete the bonus with $40. However, the actual Expected Value of the bonus is going to be a little bit less than that if there is a maximum cashout. For instance, if $100 is the maximum cashout, there will be occasions (especially if you make greater minimum bets) that you will finish with over $100, but you only get $100 of it. Sometimes you will finish with nothing, or with more than nothing but with less than $100. You just never get the benefit of those occasions you would have finished with more than $100.

Cashable Bonuses and WINNING!

Cashable bonuses are really quite easy to figure out using the same formula to determine the expected loss after putting through the playthrough. If the amount that is expected to be left after the playthrough exceeds the amount that the player needs to deposit (and it often doesn’t) then that is an easy way to know that you have a good bonus.

Interestingly enough, if a cashable bonus is not good after taking that into consideration, then it can occasionally still be good by utilizing bet structuring, exploiting a higher Variance game, and treating it as a Phantom Bonus. However, if you can determine that you have an expectation of profiting on a Bonus while flat betting an allowed game, then that method will (if not the best Expected Value) come at the lowest risk and the casino cannot legitimately make any accusations of bet structuring or advantage play taking place.

Phantom Bonuses and WINNING!

Phantom Bonuses are much more tricky than other types of Bonuses so far discussed. The first thing that a player can do is determine if an allowed game has a player advantage right off the top, but the only games a casino is going to have that might fit that bill would likely be Video Poker games, unless you have studied the slots well-enough to know when a Progressive puts it positive. In most cases, the casino is often not going to have an advantageous game right off the top, so since the bonus comes up when a player wants to withdraw, or after it is lost (obviously) there is no negative expectation game that can be played at an advantage straight up.

Here is a link and excerpt from an article I wrote on a promotion that was being offered at Vegas Crest casino

It seems that the Table Max for an Inside bet on Single-Zero Roulette for the Rival Software is $500, so that's what I want to do!

I want to give myself a reasonable chance of winning, so even though my profit would be better to nail a single number with a $500 bet and then grind through the playthrough requirements, I'm going to go ahead and do up to three six line bets for $500 each (win $2500 and return original wager) and then grind through the playthrough requirements on Video Poker, Blackjack (and Texas Hold Em Bonus isn't a bad one for speed and low Variance, despite the higher House Edge...Jacks or Better still offers the best overall return, though)

Okay, so here is how this could happen, you'll notice the new totals after a win are $3500, $3000 and $2500, and that's because we have to remove the original $500, so we are just looking at what we expect to profit off of the Bonus money.

Win on First bet: (6/37) * (3500-2070) = 231.891891892

Win on Second bet: (31/37 * 6/37) * (3000-2070) = 126.355003652

Win on Third bet: (31/37 * 31/37 * 6/37) * (2500-2070) = 48.9483347482

Lose All: (31/37*31/37*31/37) * (-500) = -294.069452945

RESULT: -294.069452945+126.355003652+48.9483347482+231.891891892= 113.125777347

In other words, you are expected to win $113.13 on an initial outlay of $500!!! That's not an Expected RETURN, it's an Expected WIN! The result is an advantage of about 22.626% on the play.

If you wish to read that entire Article, that may put it into better context, but I didn’t want to quote the whole thing here. Generally speaking, there can be ways to take advantage of Phantom Bonuses (and cashables that would not otherwise be good) by playing a higher variance game, such as Roulette or Craps, and making a higher (!) house edge bet that pays a bigger multiple of the amount bet if it hits. The idea is to use the money from your initial deposit and/or bonus, multiply it quickly, and reach the point at which you can grind out the playthrough and still expect to finish with a profit.

That’s nowhere near the best play I have written about, it was just the one that I found first that had to do with Roulette.

Sticky Bonuses and WINNING!

These basically work the same as Phantom Bonuses, except the player has the ability to win on the bonus money multiple times. The bonus is not cashable, in and of itself, but it remains in the player’s account as a playable amount. Again, these types of bonuses are rare.

If you can find this type of bonus, the expected value is actually better than that of a Phantom Bonus because the player can win on the bonus funds multiple times. However, the way to determine whether you are at an advantage in the first place is to figure it out the same way that you would with a Phantom Bonus.

If you cash out a bonus such as this and still have the bonus money, then you could determine your value by taking a big shot as opposed to grinding out the playthrough (if any) on the Bonus amount remaining. A Martingale system might not even be a terrible idea in this situation if you are trying to just get to the minimum amount (in excess of the bonus) that you are allowed to cash out, but the aggressive high Variance method likely still offers the best overall expected profit, especially if all the games are otherwise negative expectation.

Free Spins and WINNING!

I would say just get through the free spins and cash out if you can. If you have a playthrough on any proceeds from the Free Spins, (effectively an unknown amount No Deposit bonus) then just play the best game that you can and try to retain the money. While it’s true that you could still take a big high variance shot, you lose the real benefit due to the maximum allowable cashout. Granted, the House Edge and expected loss of a negative expectation game would be the same either way, so if you want to take a big shot and try to grind out the playthrough, the Variance will likely give you a better chance of winning the maximum amount...but don’t overshoot too much on the first big bet. Either way, that would at least enable you to get it done quicker.

Either way, I would only recommend these if you have almost no bankroll whatsoever, or if they end up being the best thing a casino offers over a two year period. They are not something I would recommend doing just for the sake of doing as bonuses that require a deposit are usually better, even though you could lose actual money on them.

That’s actually why they are better. The casino is generally going to expect a depositing customer to perform better for them than customers taking no deposit bonuses, because depositing customers do, in fact, make the casinos more money in the long run. They’re willing to take a chance on players that do not deposit, mostly because they institute limits on how much the players can cash out.

All Bonuses and WINNING!

I know I have said this before, but it cannot be stressed enough, READ. THE. TERMS. AND. CONDITIONS. Understand them. Abide by them.

If you do not understand one of the Terms or Conditions, then you should ask in the Forum, but better yet, ask in the Live Chat and get an E-Mailed transcript that will serve to prove the casino said what you are saying they said. Nothing can be more imperative.

If you ask Live Help, and the Terms & Conditions still seem ambiguous, as with the casinos that don’t want to give you their definition of, ‘Professional Play,’ or, ‘Bet Structuring,’ then you should only play there if you are playing for fun and don’t mind losing your money. If you play slots, straight up, anyway, then there really isn’t much they can say to you.

If you fail to abide by the Terms & Conditions, then you are point blank free rolling the casino, which is not something that you want to do. If you break the Terms & Conditions, and lose your money in the process, then you have lost your money. If you violate the Terms & Conditions, but win on a bonus and have the bonus AND the winnings voided, the best case scenario is that the casino goes ahead and gives you your deposit back. If you, at worst, can lose money and, at best, can only break even, that’s what we call free rolling the casino. The casino can only break even or win, they can’t lose.

So...Is Bonus Whoring Still Viable?

The answer to this question really depends on what your definition of the word, ‘Viable,’ is. In the earlier days of Bonus Whoring, over the course of several years, players could enjoy expected profits (across many casinos) in the amounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes over a million dollars over several years and playing at every opportunity. There are a few players who made fortunes bonus whoring.

If the previous paragraph is how you define, ‘Viable,’ then no, it’s not. For one thing, for reasons explained, the bonuses are not as lucrative or as easy to beat as they once were. Additionally, casinos now monitor player activity more closely and are more likely than they used to be to cut a player off from their bonuses, and those are the few casinos that offer advantageous bonuses (at least those worth the time to do) to returning players. The casinos are faster to say, ‘You can play, but no more bonuses.’ Another thing that many casinos do is make players make deposits and play them in between bonuses rather than taking one bonus after another.

My definition of, ‘Viable,’ would be, ‘Can a player make a living doing that and nothing else?’ I don’t think that a player could make a decent living over the course of several years while strictly abiding by the Terms & Conditions, the player would definitely have to get other people to play on his/her behalf and cut them in on the profits. The player would also have to be careful not to be detected by the casinos, but such detection would be really difficult, and the player could always get new players. If the casino decided to stop accepting prepaid debit cards (for those that do) then it would become more difficult still.

It should also be considered that a casino is likely to change the terms of their bonuses if they notice that they are getting pounded on it, or at least, making substantially less in overall profits from new players than they used to. It is important to remember that, when casinos offer a beatable bonus, they are not doing it out of kindness, it’s a marketing investment. They are doing it because they expect the player not to play it optimally, not to cash out after winning and completing the playthrough, or finally, to come back and play at the casino in a non-advantageous fashion.

If there was a player playing alone and not recruiting any help, I think the player could make a fairly modest income for about one year, playing full time and at every opportunity. After that, I think the player would have, ‘Burnt out,’ (already played at) too many casinos and could no longer get good enough bonuses. With full-time dedication, with hours equivalent to a full-time job or more, I think a player could make approximately $50,000 (at best) for perhaps the first year and then it would drop to not even half of that the following year.

Furthermore, I don’t expect that bonuses are going to get better across the board anytime soon, the casinos have already learned their lesson on that. With that being the case, even though there are a TON of legitimate Internet Casinos out there, I just don’t think there are enough to keep someone on the equivalent of a good full time job for more than a year or maybe a year and a half.

However, I think that playing online casinos can be a reliable means of a little bit of side income for awhile. When I say, ‘Reliable,’ I am referring to profit expectation because in order to play at an advantage a higher risk strategy is required compared to how it used to be. It used to be that you just got your bonus and grinded at the lowest bet level you could stand, but that ship sailed over a decade ago.

I mean, if someone was in between jobs for whatever reason, but did have a substantial bankroll backing them up, then I would suggest they could possibly, ‘Close the gap,’ with bonus whoring for a while when they are not trying to find a different job. However, I don’t think anyone could bonus whore full-time for any great length of time unless they were also doing something else.

Other Cost

There are also a few other costs that have to be considered when deciding whether or not to Bonus Whore, and if so, what Bonuses to go for. Most credit cards come with interest rates, and any interest paid is a cost that effectively comes off of your expected profits. Most credit cards also offer a thirty day grace period, so you can pay within that timeframe and effectively not pay any interest. An important question to ask before pulling out that plastic is, “Do I need to win in order to be able to pay my credit card bill? If so, and I lose, how long will it take me to pay it off and how does that affect my expected profit on this play?

If you cannot afford to pay off the credit card if you lose, then you cannot afford to go after the play in question, it’s that simple. If you would pay more in interest on that money, if you do lose, then you have in Expected Profit on the play, then it is no longer a good play. It is a bad play, at that point, and you would do well not to get yourself in debt over it.

If you do have a full-time job already, then it needs to be understood that Bonus Whoring also takes time, the better the bonus is, the more money you will want to deposit (often the max) and the longer grinding out the playthrough will take. Online Casinos often give you a fixed amount of time to complete the playthrough requirements, so you have to look at the amount of days you have and divide that by the amount of playthrough to determine your playthrough per day. You then have to determine how much you can playthrough per hour based on the amount bet and how many hands per hour you think you can play. Once you have figured out those two things, then you will know how many hours you must average overall and per day to complete the playthrough requirements.

Bonus Whoring, if you want to be really serious about it, can definitely still be fun, but make no mistake, it is something of a part-time job. When it comes to Expected Profit, it’s not like playing a slot machine and hoping to get lucky, you have to put the hours in if you want to achieve that expected profit.

The hourly on a potentially lucrative play can sometimes be very good, but on other occasions, it could be less than you would make at a low-end part-time job. If you’re having fun with it and not relying on it as your primary source of income, then for some people, that’s not really going to matter. If you have a play with a profit expectation of $200, but it’s going to take you fifty hours to grind through the amount of playthrough betting at the desired level, then you’re only making $4.00 an hour on that play. That doesn’t mean $4.00/hour is necessarily bad if you are just having fun and would be gambling anyway. A profit expectation, of course, is better than an expectation of losing. It’s just that not every play is going to be a $20+/hour play.

Conclusion

Bonus Whoring is certainly not what it once was, but it remains a potentially lucrative activity for those who know how to do it and do it in a disciplined way. Part of being disciplined is stopping after you have completed the playthrough requirements unless you have a bonus you can take multiple times and want to run a little bit of, ‘Cover play.’

Generally, I advise against, ‘Cover Play,’ because it eats into your expected profits if the cover play itself does not come at an advantage. However, if I run WAY over expectation, I will occasionally put through a bit of cover play at low bet amounts after the playthrough is completed so the casino is more inclined to let me keep taking the bonuses that I am technically entitled to.

Oh, and definitely, after winning, go to Live Chat after withdrawing and ask if you are eligible to take the bonus again. You don’t want them to tell you that you are no longer eligible for the bonuses after you have already deposited again.

In any case, I don’t think anyone could make a good living ONLY by Bonus Whoring Online Casinos, at least not for very long, but it can be a good source of supplemental income. The casinos also now understand that some of their bonuses are beatable, they understand why they are beatable, but they also understand that it is an investment and are willing to take their small lumps if the investment is paying off for them overall.

However, the casino might decide that the investment is no longer worth it, and will either change the Bonus amounts (or the Terms and Conditions) in a way that renders the bonus unplayable, or playable, but not worth very much at all. Unfortunately, for these reasons, I would not consider a reliable source of long-term income.

I would consider any money that could be made, well, a bonus.

Pierce

Brandon James

LCB Reviewer - last updated 2017-02-15
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