Bonus Hunting - Does it Still Work?
Online casinos offer exciting bonuses to gather traffic to their site and expand their player base. It is a proven winner in terms of strategy, because everybody loves a freebie and a bonus is just that: an opportunity to pad up their bankroll with free credits or use the free spins offered to do so. Most of us are content to use the bonuses for this and hopefully win a bit more; however there are those who engage in bonus hunting to cash in big time.
The term itself is used to describe the act of a player trying to use the bonuses that an online casino offers to make money that others normally wouldn't be able to make in the long run.
Bonus Hunting: A Brief Look at the History of It
Bonus hunting is not new; in fact it has been around right from the early days of the online casino industry. It was at its peak sometime between 2000 and 2006. That was the period when it was not too difficult to spot a casino with a 300% welcome bonus that came with a 20x wagering requirement.
And it was fairly easy to do because the casinos offered the same big promotions and the wagering requirements were lower and the related terms and conditions attached to withdrawing winnings were lenient. All one had to do was find a casino that had a great bonus with a low wagering requirement, play smart, and then cash in.
The success that bonus hunters enjoyed earlier was based primarily on three critical reasons:
- The bonuses offered were big
- The wagering requirements were lower
- There usually was no restriction on the games you could play with the bonus
All you had to do was use the positive expected value of the bonus to exploit the bonus effectively and cash in.
The formula was quite straightforward when it came to zeroing in on the expected value:
100% - (wagering requirement x house edge)
This means the optimal way of using positive expected value would be to look at games that came with a low house edge, e.g. blackjack. Imagine playing a blackjack game that came with a 0.5% house edge with a bonus that came with a 20x wagering requirement; by using the above formula you know that you would get 90% of your money back. The strategy would be plain and simple:
- Find a good juicy bonus that you can use.
- Find a game with a positive expected value.
- Start playing small bets and continue in that fashion till you complete the wagering requirements.
- Withdraw what is left over, which then becomes the profit you made.
It wasn't like casinos didn't know about this tactic that some players were using; many of them were just too worried that they would lose out on their player base. Even then, there have been changes made to ensure casinos are padded up and don't incur loss. The most obvious and common changes were:
Increase in the wagering requirements for bonuses. The increase was quite drastic:
- 40x and above for no deposit bonuses
- 25x and more for match deposit bonuses
- Decrease in wagering requirements contribution for games with high return to player (RTP) value. Blackjack, therefore, nowadays contributes nominally towards fulfilment of wagering requirements, about 5% of a bet. Some casinos have wagering requirement contribution for blackjack games at 0.
- Making low risk bets illegal or not permissible
Bonus Hunting Today
Things have changed about bonus hunting today. Casinos are much more aware and have their calculations all worked out to be able to counter the threat that bonus hunters can pose. The bonuses are still the same, but the other factors around them have been pulled up: for instance the wagering requirements are steeper and there are a good set of reasonable terms and conditions around a bonus to help provide an effective cushion to casinos and prevent the possibility of bonus abuse.
That doesn't mean that bonus hunting is extinct today. Where there is a will there is a way, as the saying goes, and there are plenty of players with the will and the strategy to pull this off even today. Because of the additional cushioning that casinos have in place by way of the stringent terms and conditions bonus hunting is based on a high volatility strategy, which means you will need to readjust your planning if you want to pull this off. The things that you would definitely need are:
- A bigger bankroll than the average player
- Higher investment also in terms of the time you are going to spend
- The confidence to overcome losing streaks, which are a part of the game when you use a high volatility-driven strategy.
Basic Strategy for Bonus Hunting Today
The strategy for bonus hunting today is quite simple:
- Sign UpSign up with a casino and make a deposit to avail the welcome bonus.
- Hit High Variance SlotsFind a high variance slot and start playing aggressively. You will continue playing till you hit a winning streak or lose your money.
- Rinse, Lather, RepeatIf you lose your bankroll, move to the next casino and repeat. And if you win, you would have enough to beat the wagering requirements and still have some profit on cashing out.
Repeat this strategy across 10 casinos and you will have a decent amount of money with you. Of course you will not be consistently successful in all the 10 casinos and there is a chance that if your luck is really running low you will lose all of it.
There are two kinds of bonuses that you can still use, however, to engage in some bonus hunting:
- No deposit bonuses
- The freebies that casinos offer
You will not be able to make a killing with them, you will probably make a few bucks at a time. Again, replicate that over multiple casinos and you still have a decent amount of money in your bankroll. The advantage is that you get these for free - you are not investing money to get a no deposit bonus - and when you look at it that way it is still profitable to try this out.
Of the above 2, the no deposit bonus is a good bet because it gives you free credits or free spins on sign up and allows you to withdraw a portion of your winnings from it as well. we take a quick look at this bonus now.
The No Deposit Bonus
The no deposit bonus gives you free money when you sign up with a casino, even before you fund your account. it is a great option because it allows you to experience real money play without using your bankroll, and also gives you a chance to boost your bankroll should you win using the bonus.
There are 2 main kinds of no deposit bonuses:
No Deposit Casino Credits
The no deposit casino credit gives you free credits on sign up; all you have to do is indicate at the time of signing up that you want to use the bonus. The amount offered is usually anywhere between $5 and $30. There is usually a cap on the amount you can withdraw out of the total winnings earned with this bonus; any amount above the capped amount is forfeited. There is a wagering requirement on the bonus amount that needs to be fulfilled.
No Deposit Free Spins
The no deposit free spins give you a specific number of spins on slot games for free. You get anywhere between 10 and 50 free spins. The maximum cap clause applies to this bonus as well, and there is a wagering requirement on the winnings earned with the bonus.
Playing with a No Deposit Bonus
Playing with a no deposit bonus is fun. The first step is to find a casino that offers a good no deposit bonus. You can do this by going through our list of no deposit bonus casinos. Once you have found the casino of your choice the rest is simple:
- Click the Sign Up, Register or any other corresponding button to initiate the sign up process.
- Provide all the details that the casino asks for, in the form provided.
- Choose a username and password for your account.
- Indicate that you want to use the no deposit bonus on offer.
- Complete the registration process.
The bonus is automatically credited to your account and ready for use. At some casinos, you may need to enter a bonus code to claim the bonus. Once you have claimed the bonus, use it to play your favorite games. When it comes to withdrawing winnings, ensure that you have fulfilled all the terms and conditions of the bonus, including the all-important wagering requirements.
Using a No Deposit Bonus for Bonus Hunting
The strategy to adopt if you want to use a no deposit bonus for bonus hunting is quite simple. You can do this one of two ways:
- Adopt a very aggressive strategy. You will then have to bet big and either lose the bonus or score big with it.
- Adopt a low volatility strategy. You will bet smaller amounts so the bonus lasts longer, and hopefully pull off a series of small wins to build up a decent addition to your bankroll.
The best approach is to strike the right balance between these two. You could adopt an aggressive strategy and once you win, tone down the aggression.
To conclude, bonus hunting is not as rampant as it was about a decade and a half ago, but it still exists. Casinos have in place measures to try and ensure players cannot engage in it.
Along with the higher wagering requirements and the introduction of other clauses like eligible games, casinos also throw in a generic clause at times, such as the clause that deals with irregular play patterns, to keep bonus hunters at bay. This clause effectively entitles the casino to void the bonus if they find a player using the bonus for irregular play.