In our previous Introduction to Online Gambling article, we touched upon a few of the different types of promotions that are available to new (and, sometimes, returning) players at online casinos. In that article, we looked at Deposit Match Bonuses (with some great ones available through our links!) briefly, and now we're going to take a more in-depth look at how to take advantage of such promotions:
The first type of bonus into which we will delve is a, "Phantom Bonus," and how this works is that the casino will match a certain percentage (sometimes in excess of 100%) of your deposit, but the part that they match is not cashable.
A question that someone might ask is, "How is this any different than just playing with my own money, if the bonus cannot be cashed?" It's true that, on the surface, this seems like effectively the same thing because the player can only withdraw his initial money (which gets played first) and any winnings. However, there's an important distinction which is, the ability to take shots.
Let's use single-zero Roulette as an example of how this works. The House Edge of the game under standard rules is 2.70%, so if a player deposits $1,000 and gets a $1,000 match ($2,000 total) that has to be played through 40 times ($80,000 in bets), then the expected loss of playing it straight through is ($80000 * .0270) = $2,160. That means that the player is expected to lose the Bonus AND initial deposit before even meeting the play-through requirements.
However, let's say that the player in question starts off with a corner bet for all $2000 and will lose $1,000 cash if he loses, but will increase his balance to $18,000 upon a win, after winning, the player would still need to make $78000 in total bets to complete the wagering requirements at an expected loss of $2106, also, the $1000 Phantom Bonus will disappear:
Okay, so you have a 4/37 probability of increasing your total balance to $18,000, after that you will have the $1,000 bonus amount subtracted, you are expected to lose $2106 playing something like Red straight up, and $1,000 of the money would still be your original money, thus:
(18000-2106-1000-1000) * 4/37 = 1502.05405405
On the other hand, you have a 33/37 shot at losing $1,000, so:
1000 * 33/37 = 891.891891892
Therefore, the expected profit is: 1502.05405405-891.891891892 = $610.162162158, which is over 60% of the starting amount!!!
The longer the shot you take, the greater your expected profit, and the greater your probability of winning, the lower your expected profit. Let's look at a bet on Red for all $2,000 which will improve your balance to $4000, but then you are expected to lose $2,106, the $1,000 bonus would be removed and $1,000 represents your deposit.
(4000 - 2106 - 1000 - 1000) = STOP
As you can see, a player betting this way is not expected to even overcome the wagering requirements with a profit intact. The player will have a balance of 4000, the expected loss on the rest of the wagering is 2106 and the 1000 bonus will disappear on withdrawal leaving a balance of $894. The player could also lose the $1000 immediately (19/37 * 1000) = ($513.5135) making the total expectation of this method about -$619.
The player sees that he has to make a longer shot bet (or Reverse Martingale) to get his balance to the point where he can now overcome the expected loss on the wagering requirements. Perhaps the player then decides to look at a First 12 bet:
The balance after a successful bet would be $6000, the expected loss on the rest of the playthrough remains $2106 and the player must subtract the $1000 that is going to disappear as well as the $1,000 he started with:
(6000-1000-1000-2106) * 12/37 = 614.27027027
1000 * 25/37 = (675.675675676)
The player is still facing an expected loss of about $61 attempting to do it this way.
However, it may be possible to take a long shot on one game and then try to, "Grind through," the playthrough on a game with a lower house edge, such as Blackjack or Craps. Some casinos are very cautious about what games they allow with these promotions, though, and some don't allow low edge Table Games or Video Poker games at all, so we're going to look at some specific promotions in articles to come.
The player has to look at all the different bets and games available and decide what [I]could[/I] be advantageous and what the player wants the balance of expected profit to probability of winning to be.
In our next article, we will get into looking at exactly this type of promotion with some other games, and actually check casinos to see what games are available and what kind of return a player can expect.
The Bonus is not cashable, but remains on the player's account when a withdrawal is requested, thus, the player can win off of the same bonus money multiple times.
This type of Bonus can be cashed out, so the player might simply determine whether or not the House Edge of the game in question yields a profit after completing the play-through, in terms of expectation. If it does, the player may wish to play a somewhat low level bet in the hopes of grinding out a profit, if it doesn't, the player might wish to default to the Sticky Bonus strategy and try for a big win before grinding out against the House Edge.
The most important thing is to abide by the terms and conditions for any given promotion. The worst thing that could happen is to expend all of the effort (and money) just to have violated a T&C and be told that your withdrawal is denied.
Over the next several articles, we will look at some of the bonuses available on this site, specifically, and see if they can be played at an expected profit.