Been planning to write this article for a long time but couldn’t decide how it should go. Should we focus just on the basic rules and tips and skip all the math behind it or should we dive all the way in. Eventually, decided to go with both.
We will start with a review of the current situation, if and how casino bonus whoring can be done and give basic rules of thumb. Then we will go more into details, mathematical explanations, etc, for those who wish to get better understanding of how things work.
One last thing before we start: there are two types of bonus hunting – deposit one and no deposit one. We will first cover the first option as it is the one that can generate more significant wins. For no deposit bonus hunting check the bottom of the page. (In general, freebies hunting became pretty much irrelevant in UK as casinos stopped offering significant free chips. USA players can still find free USA casino bonuses that can be used).
Does Bonus Hunting (Still) Works?
Bonus hunting/bagging/whoring is a method to make money by taking advantage of casino bonuses. It became popular few years after the rise of online casinos and many people were making a living by exploiting the bonuses offered. As it gained popularity, casino operators started to notice the phenomenon and attempted to close the loophole or at least to narrow it down. It’s similar to what happened in blackjack with the birth of card counting 50-60 years ago.
Despite that, the answer to the question “Can I make money by bonus whoring?” is clear. Yes, you can. You won’t be able to make a living as people did between 2000-2010, and it won’t be as easy as back then, but you can still win some extra cash.
You don’t need to be a math genius to do that. In fact, you don’t need to know math at all. But you do need to have discipline and to know exactly what you are looking for. See below the table.
Bonuses with Positive Expected Value
Please notice that in US casinos, there are only few match bonuses that give positive return values. Ignition cashable bonus that comes with x25 (b+d) WR is the best one. But you need to play slots with 98% RTP and higher, such as Cosmic Quest Mystery Planet slot that offers 98.95% return. At Slots LV and Cafe casinos you can find No deposit bonus with the most favorable odds.
Casino Bonus Whoring – The Basics
Before we dive in, let’s go over a simple set of rules that everyone, even a complete beginner can use. In fact, even if you are just playing for fun, you should still be aware of these rules and try to follow them.
The main idea about bonus whoring is to find casino bonuses that offer positive earnings expectations and to clear them on the loosest casino games possible.
The common term is EV (expected value). Positive EV means that after claiming and wagering the bonus, you are expected to end with more money than your original deposit. Please notice that it doesn’t mean that it will happen each and every time. It is a casino after all. But the more you play, the statistics will level out.
At Play Frank casino you will get a 100% up to £100 cashable bonus with wagering requirements of 35 times bonus and deposit. That means that with a £100 deposit you will need to wager £7000.Let’s say you play a slot with 97.5% RTP. That means that wagering £7000 will cost you £175. You started with £200, lost £175 and ended up with £25. Not very promising.
Royal Panda casino bonus will get you 100% up to £100 cashable bonus but with WR of just 35 times the bonus. We do the same math again.97.5% slot, you need to wager just £3500 – that will cost you £87.5. That means that after depositing £100 and wagering the bonus, you will end up with £112. That might seem not a big deal, just £12, but that’s in fact a huge edge over the house. And we used 97.5% RTP just as an example, there are slots with 98% and even 99% RTP. The last will get you over £/$50 win on every £/$100 deposit!
And that’s the whole idea pretty much: finding a bonus with favourable odds, playing high return casino games and that’s it. Naturally, the more you play and the bigger your deposits are, the return will be higher.
The main flaw here is that these days, there are really not many online casinos that offer bonuses with positive EV. On average, we would say that just 1 of every 10 casinos has them. And we are speaking only about trustworthy brands, not some low-level casinos with too good to be true promotions.
Rules of Thumb
- Cashable bonuses only.
- Wagering 35 times the bonus (or equivalent bonus + deposit) and lower.
- Wager only on games with 97% RTP or higher. (If you intend to wager on Blackjack or Video Poker – make sure those games are not restricted and they contribute to playthrough. In most casinos the contribution for them stands only on 10%, which makes them a bad choice).
- Don’t place bets above 1% of your deposit. High bets increase the volatility and the other way around. The recommended bet amount is 0.2% – 0.5% of your deposit (20 pence/cents on £/$100 deposit).
- Withdraw your winnings the moment you cleared the playthrough.
A Bit More Details
I know it’s a long article, but I would really recommend understanding the theory behind things. That will help you not just to go with the sites and games that we suggest here, but to be able to analyse the situation by yourself and find new opportunities.
Cashable vs Sticky
Any sticky/phantom bonus (one that is given just for wagering purposes and then deducted from your balance) – has negative EV. These bonuses are good for those looking to extend their playtime, but determinantal.
The RTP of the game you play has enormous influence on the EV. Just to show you the difference, see how the returns will change based on RTP. We will use Royal Panda example above: 100% up to £/$100 with x35 WR the bonus.
- 5% RTP: you will end up with £/$112.
- 5% RTP: you will end up with £/$77, meaning losing £/$23. You can see that even a minor % change makes a huge difference. And of course it works in both directions.
- If you choose to play the highest RTP slots, such as Blood Suckers (98%) or Chees Mate slot (98.7%), on average you will end up winning £/$30 and £/$54 respectively.
Seeing those numbers, many would say “why not to play other games with higher payouts, like video poker or blackjack?”. Average RTP at online blackjack is somewhere in the area of 99.4% – 99.5%. Some blackjack games go as high as 99.7% return. So, what’s the catch?
There are two:
- Many casinos restrict bonus wagering to slots, keno and scratch cards only. Playing blackjack, roulette and other restricted games while on a bonus will get all your winnings wiped out.
- Others lower the contribution of those games towards completion of WR. The common numbers are in 10% – 20% area. That means that every £10 wagering on blackjack will count as £1 in terms of wagering.
Let’s use our Royal Panda example and 99.5% blackjack game. The wagering amount we used before was £3500, but blackjack counts just 10%. That means that you will need to bet £35000. With 99.5% return it will cost you £175 and you will end up loosing £75.
For that reason, unless it’s some special bonus, wagering on such games is not an option. But, you should be alert and check the terms – I’ve encountered in the past some casinos that surprisingly had 1:1 wagering on blackjack and video poker. When you spot one it can get you really nice profits.
Bet size has huge effect on the volatility of the process and it’s a point that important to understand. Two extreme options will make it clear:
Option 1: High bets
You bet 20% of your balance on each spin.
Positives: You might get lucky in one of those 5 spins and win big amount.
Negative: High chances that you will end up loosing everything within a minute.
Options 2: Low bets
You play penny slots and wager just a fraction of your budget.
Positives: As you know, in the long run the statistics level up. Here you will need to make thousands of spins to wager a £100 bonus, so you are very likely to end up close to the expected RTP. If the bonus has positive EV then in most cases it will be somewhere near the expected win amount.
Negatives: small bets = small wins. Plus, it takes very long time to complete the wagering requirements
What the best option?
Well, there isn’t really such a thing, but we would recommend staying within 0.3% – 1% range. Meaning if you redeemed a £100, the bets should be between 30 pence to £1.
It’s up to you to decide how volatile you want it to be. If you are playing a lot and in many casinos, – you can afford to raise the stakes as one big win will compensate for a number of losses. If you are just a casual player – we would suggest sticking to low bet size.
One last thing: if you are playing with high bets, if you hit a nice jackpot you should lower the stakes. That will increase your chances to clear the bonus.
No Deposit Bonus Hunting
Chasing No Deposit bonuses sounds great (and risk free), but it has few major flaws.
- Reputable UK casinos, and pretty much all casino sites except US focused, stopped offering free chips. You still can find some but it’s usually £5 free chip with maximum cashout of £25. Not exactly something to be proud of.
- The wagering requirements are extremely high, somewhere in x40/x50 range.
- They are not cashable.
Considering all that, it’s pretty much impossible to efficiently bonus hunt on no deposits. Of course, you can still enjoy them to play for free and win a bit, but that will occur rarely.
If you wish to do that, here we recommend to go with the maximum bet size available according to the bonus terms. Playing with small bets won’t work here as eventually the wagering will cost you much more than the amount you received.