A Complete Guide to Bonus Hunting for Advanced Players
Once you understand the basic terms, conditions and concepts of casino bonuses, you may be left wondering if there is something more involved that will allow you to take advantage of them. Here we offer a perspective of looking at these promotions that uses a bit of math to illustrate an advanced bonus hunting strategy that searches for offers that are profitable in and of themselves.
Note! Use our list of casino bonuses to see and compare current top offers in your location.
The History of Bonus Hunting
Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, bonus hunting was just in its infancy as online casinos started to emerge more and more. There were offers available with tremendously favorable terms and conditions because no one had went around to systematically abuse them yet.
However, when more and more people started seeking out these deals as a source of “free money,” then they started to actively pull the promotions and replace them with offers that could not be abused in the same way.
It was bound to happen that some players would catch on that they could go from site to site and just take the house for hundreds or even thousands at a time, and it was really only a matter of time until everything broke loose and casinos were forced to change up their policies involving bonuses.
How Did Casinos Adjust?
The problem that the casinos were having was that players wouldn’t actually stick around to play the games that the bonuses were for. Instead, they would simply come in, play the bare minimum of some game to trigger the release of the bonus money and cash out.
The logical solution to this is to make the players stick around and play more.
This was achieved through the introduction of more stringent play-through and wagering requirements. By forcing players to actually wager a certain total amount on a certain set of games, it avoids the issue of bonus abuse on the scale that they were dealing with it.
Here is a list of the types of restrictions that were put into place to limit these issues that the casinos were having:
- Larger play-through requirements based on the total of both the bonus and the deposit
- Game restrictions that only allow players to use specific games to clear the wagering requirements
- The inability to cash out bonuses once they have cleared; this led to “bonus” balances that can only be used to play games and are normally cleared as soon as you cash out
- Limited bonus options for low-house edge games like blackjack and video poker
Even with all of these restrictions in place, there are still some real opportunities to hunt bonuses to your benefit. However, you’ll need to make them fit into your overall bankroll and casino strategy to get the most from them in most cases, and we’re going to look at how you can go about doing that.
Straightforward Bonus Hunting: Profitable Offers
Before we get into the particulars of how to make bonuses at a large percentage of casinos fit into your overall grand strategy, we’re going to look at how to identify, quantify and take advantage of casino bonuses that are actually profitable. You won’t find a whole lot of deals like these anymore, but there are some still out there, and they’re free money waiting to happen when you do.
Here are the requirements needed right out of the gate for a bonus to be profitable on its own:
- You must be able to cash out the bonus money once the wagering requirements are finished.
- There can’t be any maximum cash out restrictions on the bonus that can severely impact your play.
- Your bonus amount must be worth more than the average amount you’ll lose clearing the bonus.
The first two requirements are pretty self-explanatory, but the third one requires learning a mathematical process that’s pretty straightforward but that can still take a little bit of time to learn. We’re going to get into how to evaluate this average loss and how to compare it to the bonus itself to find your profit and hourly earnings in what follows.
Finding the Average Loss From Clearing Wagering Requirements
This is really the core of advanced bonus hunting for players who are looking specifically for profitable casino bonuses. If you learn how to do this (or how to make a spreadsheet to do it for you), then you’ll be able to evaluate any bonus that allows you to cash out your bonus funds once you finish the play-through to see if it’s a profitable offer in and of itself.
You’ll need a few pieces of information before you make this calculation:
- The size of the bonus that you’ll be taking advantage of
- The total amount of the wagering requirement expressed as a cash amount
- The average house advantage of the game you’ll be playing to clear these play-through requirements
For the sake of example, suppose that we have a 150 percent match bonus on a €100 deposit, and the play-through requirements are 25 times the sum of the bonus and deposit that we’ll be clearing on a game with a 1.5 percent house advantage.
- Size of Bonus – €150
- Wagering Requirement (Cash Amount) – €6,250
- House Advantage – 1.5 percent
If we multiply the amount that we’re going to wager by the house advantage of the game in question, we get the average amount that we will lose while clearing the wagering requirements. In this case, we take 1.5 percent of €6,250 to get €93.75.
Since our bonus is worth €150, but we’ll take a loss of €93.75 while gaining it, our total profit will be €150 – €93.75 for a total of €56.25.
From there, you can figure out how long it will take you to wager €6,250 based on the specific game in question to get your hourly rate.
Fitting Bonus Hunting Into Your Existing Casino Strategy
All of the above looks great on paper, and it definitely works out in the way that we have presented it. However, there’s one very serious problem with exclusively hunting bonuses that will only be profitable on their own:
Those types of casino bonus offers are hard to come by, and you’ll often spend as much (or more) time looking for them than you do actually playing the games, which kind of defeats the purpose.
Instead of taking on this type of bonus hunting, we can take a different approach that involves being selective about the deals we take to a more reasonable degree to make sure that they assist us with the games that we would be playing anyway.
Note that some of the availability of this strategy that we’re going to outline now depends on which types of games you play since there are always more deals available for slot fans, but it’s not difficult to find table games bonuses that will work for this approach if you check out our casino reviews and bonus listings.
With all of that said, let’s jump into how to bonus hunt in the modern online casino environment.
Step 1: Defining and Fulfilling Your Goals
Your main goal should be to add value to your bottom line, but that can mean a lot of different things depending on what your overall strategy happens to be. For deposit bonuses and reload bonuses, there are usually two main cases:
- If you plan on staying at the same casino over the long run, then you want a lot of reload opportunities and other promotions that you can qualify for with the games you prefer.
- If you plan on moving around to different casinos often, then you primarily want a first deposit bonus that can be cashed out once you clear the wagering requirements.
There are a few things to note about these two key strategies. First, if you’re staying at the same casino for a while, you don’t really need bonuses that you can cash out because you’ll be playing them at the same casino anyway instead of making future deposits. The money you save on these future deposits is where your value comes from on these offers in terms of how you end up with cash in your wallet.
Second, if you’re moving around to different sites to take advantage of welcome bonuses, then sometimes you’ll be able to take advantage of several deals as a part of one overall bonus package. It’s critical that you can cash out the bonuses you receive from these offers because that’s where your value comes from with these deals.
In either event, you need to be clear about how you’re fulfilling your goal, which is ultimately to add more to your bottom line than what you would get without taking advantage of these deals.
Step 2: Have a Written Plan in Place
You should generally always have some type of bonus or special source of value that you’re getting with all of your casino play. When the wagering requirements clear on one offer, you should be working on the next as quickly as you can to maximize your value and to avoid “leaving money on the table,” so to speak.
Having a written plan of which offers you intend to take advantage of in which order can save you a lot of headache when it comes to figuring out what the next promotion is that you plan to take part in.
Regularly scheduled promotions like a reload bonus that happens at the same time each week or each month can be really useful when putting together plans like this. However, you should keep in mind that your plan should not go too far into the future because situations change and new promotions can come up that you’ll want to get in on that were unexpected.
Along similar lines, understand that this plan is just your general guideline so that you can see what’s coming up next. It’s not something that’s set in stone as soon as you write it down, and you’ll find that it will need to change relatively often.
Step 3: Track Your Results
It’s a really good idea to track the results of your bonus hunting adventures. This can be something as simple as a sheet in a notebook, a text file or even a basic spreadsheet.
The point of this is to be able to go back and see how much value you gained by strategically taking advantage of promotions and bonuses that fit what you were going to be playing anyway.
These deals can add up to hundreds or thousands over the course of a year or two just depending on how often you play, and being able to look back and see the money you earned that you would have missed out on otherwise is a great feeling to have.
Bonus hunting in the modern era of online casinos is a bit different than it was in the first five to ten years of the industry’s history. However, there’s still a lot of value to be had as long as you know and understand the math and basic strategy behind taking advantage of promotions in a way that fits with what you’re already trying to achieve.