Apr 14, 2022
The most blatantly misleading marketing misnomer many major online casinos use these days is that of the, “Risk-Free,” sports bet or casino session.
The way that these promotions generally work is that a player can play the casino product for 24 hours and will receive 100% of his/her net losses up to a certain amount; $1,000 is a common amount for this; as pertains the sports promotions, the websites will generally award you with a, “Free Bet,” in the amount of the amount that you lose if your first bet loses.
Of course, the, “Risk-Free,” propositions are not actually that whatsoever. Depending on how you decide to play the promotions, however, I would argue that the risk-free casino bonuses are actually less risky than the sports ones.
For example, one decent way to play the, “Risk-Free,” casino opportunities, which basically amount to loss rebates, is to bet pretty big in the first stage of the promotion until you either lose the maximum amount allowed or reach your win goal. This page on Eliot Jacobson’s site offers several links to 888 Casino and his articles about exploiting loss rebates. Those links offer great general breakdowns as to how loss rebates work, in general, as well as optimal win targets in certain situations.
Furthermore, you can also jump over to our WizardofOdds site and look at Wizard’s pages that discuss optimal win targets on Video Poker, as well as slots, for playing 100% loss rebates.
Those links will give you some different ideas on how to approach win targets on different games. Individual players, however, may choose to set more conservative win goals if they wish to instead have a greater probability of profit. The Wizard of Odds links also offers some charts to give you ideas along those lines, so if your interest lies in a greater probability of net winnings, those pages will still be of great use to you.
The reason that I suggest that these promotions, generally speaking, are of lower risk than sports promotions is two-fold, as I will describe next:
1.) The Sports Promotions are ONE bet
-Generally speaking, when you are awarded the sports betting loss rebate, (which means your initial bet lost) it is awarded in the form of one, “Free Bet,” equal to the amount that you lost.
Critically, and almost always, this Free Bet only pays to the extent of winnings, which means that, unlike a cash sports bet, the amount of the original bet is not returned.
Equally critical is the fact that the, “Free Bet,” typically means literally one bet, so if your notion was that, if your first bet loses, you could simply, “Grind out,” some return by making a bunch of smaller bets, that’s also not happening.
When it comes to the casino product loss rebates, those rebates are typically paid off in the form of site credits, which you may bet in whatever manner you wish. Because of that, you can actually, “Grind,” whatever game you choose with the bonus funds (if you like) to reduce variance and this will generally result in getting a very high percentage of your initial investment back…and you may even come out ahead.
For example, I used the simulator on BeatingBonuses to get an idea of the range of results if you were to attempt to grind back $1,000 lost betting $0.25/hand with your casino credits. THis represents a bankroll of 4,000 units and playing 4,000 hands. The results were an average return of about -34 units (approximately $991.50 converted to cash) which follows from the House Edge of the game and makes total sense.
The average minimum (read: worst) return across five simulations was roughly -590 units, which would be a positively atrocious run, and would represent a cash return of $852.50. There are hardly words to express how awful of a run 85.25% actual return over 4,000 hands is, however, so you should rightfully expect to do much better than that.
Each simulation, for example, consisted of 10,000 players all playing 4,000 hand samples and that represents the absolute worst case scenario. Imagine if you played 9/6 Jacks or Better and ran to expectation on hands, except you hit zero RF, SF, Quads and fewer than half of the expected number of full houses, all in one session. That’s pretty much what that session represents, though it’s almost certainly a mix of running below expectation in all kinds of ways, such as straights and flushes, as well.
Even then, you could always play even lower variance games, such as Baccarat. Even making $0.50 bets on Banker (2,000 total bets) it’s effectively impossible to see results that bad. Of course, you also will not enjoy the potential upside that Video Poker offers.
Either way, the casino product is still not, “Risk-Free,” but I maintain that it’s less risky than the sports betting promotion for most casual players, especially if they’re not offsetting promotions against each other using multiple sites. I’d call the so-called, “Risk-Free,” casino promotion, “Low-risk,” in that you still have to run the casino credits against a game that has some sort of house edge (at least, usually) working against you. Of course, the risk is much higher if instead a player chose to bet hundreds, or perhaps even the full $1,000, in casino credits at once.
2.) Potential to Lose it All
-Assuming that you play the sports promotion in the most vanilla and straight up way possible, we will assume betting it all at -110 lines on half point odds for this example, here are the following combinations of possible events:
Cash Bet Wins (50%): 1000 * 100/110 = $909.09 (Profit)
Cash Bet Loses, Free Bet Wins (25%): (1000 * 100/110) - 1000 = -$90.91 (Loss)
Cash Bet Loses, Free Bet Loses (25%): -1000 (Loss)
*The percentages reflect the 50% probability of win that would be implied by the -110 odds.
Okay, so we end up with this for Expected Return:
(909.09 * .5) - (90.91 * .25) - (1000 * .25) = $181.8175 (Expected Profit)
I want to say that there are better ways to play this promotion if you intend to play it straight up. Here’s a good introductory video from Covers that offers some suggestions.
In the video, one of the ways to play the actual risk-free bet is to play even a slight underdog, that way, you’re improving the expected value over playing a favorite. He also gives examples that essentially say that, the bigger the underdog, the greater your expected value of the risk-free bet.
Of course, that still doesn’t make the bet, “Risk-Free,” for three obvious reasons. The first reason, as mentioned, is because the bet only pays to the extent of winnings (typically) and does not return the original wager. That works directly with the second reason which is that ALL sports bets can be assumed to have some sort of vig, or at least a vig is intended, (unless you’re a good handicapper and have strong reason to believe you’re betting against a bad line) so because every sports bet has a vig of some sort, the expected value of the, “Risk-Free,” bet itself will always be presumed to be less than the initial investment.
The third reason that it’s not, “Risk-Free,” is because, in order to GAIN expected value, you MUST sacrifice probability of winning. In other words, the better that your Risk-Free bet is from an EV standpoint, generally speaking, the greater the probability that you lose that bet, and therefore, the full amount that you bet in the first place.
Of course, the expected loss of the initial bet is never particularly high, unless you bet something really crazy with a huge vig, such as certain futures bets. That being the case, it’s all but impossible not to take advantage of this promotion and be at some sort of advantage, but that advantage can be better or worse depending on how you do it.
If what I suggest below is not the way YOU would play it, then you are probably an advantage player already and quite likely engage in sports betting as it is. I should like to remind readers that the intended audience for this particular article is mostly going to be recreational players or people who wouldn’t normally bet sports, but are curious about these types of promotions.
That being said, I should hope that even knowledgeable online players should be able to take something away from this article if they continue to read, if they haven’t already.
With that, it’s time to move on to some very little/no risk strategies.
Before we do, however, let’s have a disclaimer:
DISCLAIMER: If you believe that you or someone you know has a gambling problem, please call 1-800-GAMBLER or consider encouraging that person to do so. This article should not be taken as encouragement to gamble when you otherwise wouldn’t and neither myself, this website, any websites owned by the owners of this website or any of our affiliates are responsible in any way, shape or form for any winnings or losses you might incur if you choose to employ the strategies described herein.
Finally, this article should be primarily construed as being for the purposes of education and entertainment and not as a specific encouragement to gamble at any website, whether or not those websites are affiliated with us.
MAKING THE SPORTS, ‘RISK-FREE.’
The first thing that we will discuss is how virtually any player can make the, “Risk-Free,” Sports Bet promotions for new players actually risk-free. When it comes to states with licensed and regulated online sports betting, I’ve yet to see any states where this method wouldn’t work as all states I have logged into have at least two casinos offering this promotion.
1.) The first thing that you will want is for two casinos to be offering the same promotion, (ex. $1,000 Risk-Free sports bet on your first bet) or for two casinos to offer an amount total to some other casino (two casinos have $500 Risk-Free and one has $1000).
2.) The second thing that you will want is for all of these casinos to share the same half-point line on something such as a spread or totals bet. Alternatively, you could either buy or sell half points as needed to get the same half point line.
For example, at this time, PlaySugarhouse is showing the Phoenix Suns (2/27/22) getting +2.5 against the Utah Jazz on a line of -109. Jumping over to DraftKings, you can get the Utah Jazz laying the same 2.5 points for -105.
SIDE NOTE: I have also noticed that DraftKings, in general, might be a good sports betting website to compare with PlaySugarhouse for other reasons that knowledgeable sports bettors may find use for. I’m not going to get into all of those possibilities in this article, but they might be worth looking into for yourself.
Okay, so we are going to go ahead and assume that each of these two events has a 50% probability of occurring. It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that, for this method, you absolutely DO NOT want any of your bets to push, so you always want your lines to be halves. If a bet pushes, then you simply get your money back and your first bet did not lose, so no promo.
Some of you might be asking, “If I take both sides of a half point line at different sportsbooks, won’t one of my bets necessarily lose?”
Yes, yes it will. That’s the idea.
Let’s look at the two possible outcomes for this game, but the first thing I am going to do (for simplicity) is change both of the lines to -110. The lines above would be better than -110 lines…and actually -109 and -105 on opposite outcomes is actually pretty stellar for this method, but I want the example to be simple.
Okay, imagine that Sugarhouse and DraftKings had the same promotion (they don’t, actually, but you will have no trouble finding two new online sportsbooks that do, as a new player) by which you could bet $1,000, and if it lost, you get a $1,000 risk-free bet.
We are betting opposite sides of the half-point line (one side is Suns and the other Jazz), so let’s give the Suns to PlaySugarhouse and the Jazz to Draftkings. Here are the two possible outcomes:
Suns Win ATS: (1000 * 100/110) + 1000 = $1909.09 (SugarHouse Cash Balance)
Suns Win ATS: -$1000 on DraftKings, but you get the $1,000 Free Bet.
Jazz Win ATS: -$1000 on Sugarhouse, but you get the $1,000 Free Bet. (Again, Sugarhouse does not specifically have the $1,000 Risk-Free promotion, so this is just an example)
Jazz Win ATS: (1000 * 100/110) + 1000 = $1909.09 (DraftKings Cash Balance)
Some of you might be saying, “But, Mission, now I’m down $90.91!”
I know, hypothetical asker of questions; don’t worry; it’s fine.
Once again, going back to that video from Covers linked above, you only need the expected value of the Risk-Free bet that you do get (the site where your initial bet lost) to overcome the loss of $90.91, which it almost certainly will unless you take a massive favorite, in order to have an overall advantage.
The next step to this process, and again, we are going to assume -110 lines is that you will find a different half point line to take opposite sides of.
Once again, since we are using -110 as an example, one sportsbook necessarily has $1909.09 balance and one has the $1,000 Free Bet. If you have not made a mechanical mistake, or for some reason been denied the promotion (some require you to specifically, “Opt-In,” or to have made your deposit or bet within x number of days/hours after sign up) then this is the only possibility at this stage.
Okay, so we are going to take one side of the half point line with $1,000 Free Bet and the opposite side for roughly 52.25% of the amount that you stand to WIN if the Free Bet wins. Here is what will happen:
Site A: $1909.09 Cash
Site B: $1,000 Free Bet
Okay, so the site that has the cash is going to bet roughly 52.25% of the amount that the Free Bet would stand to profit if it was bet and won without an offsetting bet being made. Since we are assuming -110 lines and the Free Bet is for $1,000, it would return $909.09, thus:
909.09 * .5225 = $474.999525
Right, so what we are going to do is bet $475 of our cash balance on one side of the half point line and the $1,000 Free Bet on the other. If you really wanted to take your time and get really fancy, then you might be able to get a scenario where the cash bet actually has a chance to push (EXAMPLE: Cash Bet -2, Free Bet +2.5) in a manner that the Free Bet still wins. That doesn’t add a ton of value because that specific result can be assumed to be fairly unlikely, but as long as you’re not losing anything on the lines, you might as well.***
***Remember, you absolutely DO NOT want any possibility of the Free Bet pushing, or you will get nothing. Always bet Free Bets on an outcome that can ONLY either win or lose.
Okay, so we are going to make our $475 cash balance bet directly opposing our $1,000 Free Bet. Our new balances will be:
Site A: $1434.09 Cash ($475 bet pending)
Site B: ($1,000 Free Bet pending)
If the Free Bet wins, then your site balances will be as follows:
Site A: $1434.09
Site B: $909.09
If the Cash Bet wins, then your site balances will be as follows:
Site A: $1909.09 + (475 * 100/110) = $2340.91 (Rounding the penny up)
Site B: $0
As you can see, the difference in the two possible outcomes is barely over $2 and, using this method, this idea would work 100% of the time as long as you did not make any mechanical errors and were not refused the Free Bet funds.
***ALWAYS make sure to read the Terms and Conditions, some websites will make it very easy for you to void a promotion for yourself by not opting into it (if required), not using a code (if required) and some sites will attempt to void it if they require you to opt-in AND THEN deposit, but you deposit before hitting opt-in…in the latter case, any reasonable website would award it to you anyway, but you will have to make your case to customer service.
You will recall the expected outcome from doing an individual site, playing straight up, and assuming -110 lines all the way:
(909.09 * .5) - (90.91 * .25) - (1000 * .25) = $181.8175 (Expected Profit)
With this, we are doing TWO websites, so if we did those individually using -110 lines (which, I reiterate, is NOT the best way to play these straight up, but I need a simple example):
181.8175 * 2 = $363.635
Okay, using our offsetting method we had possible profits of $340.91 and $343.18, and we are assuming both results are equally likely, so:
(340.91 + 343.18)/2 = $342.045
Now, you may be wondering why the expected value went down, especially since we are guaranteed to profit. The answer is it went down BECAUSE we are guaranteed to profit. Let’s figure out the difference in EV:
363.635-342.045 = $21.59
Okay, so you might be wondering where exactly that comes from. The answer is this:
((475 * 100/110) * .5) - (475 * .5) = -21.5909090909
As you can see, the $21.59 difference precisely reflects what would be the expected loss on the $475 cash bet. The cash bet is a bet that would not typically be made if playing the promotions straight up, but what you are getting in exchange for that lost EV is that you are trading it for no possible way to lose.
Once again, advantage players who either play full-time or who specifically understand sports betting will wish to extract more expected value out of promotions like these, but these are generally going to be well-bankrolled folks who have spent a great deal of time analyzing sports betting promotions, may regularly bet sports at perceived +EV anyway (even without promotions) and are generally well-bankrolled.
For casual players out there, or for those who generally would not sports bet or use sports betting promotions regularly, what I have detailed above reflects a way to get guaranteed returns without taking any risk whatsoever aside from the possibility of making mechanical errors or simply not following these directions correctly.
With that, you can decide whether or not the guaranteed method of doing it is up your alley. You can also play around with different sorts of offset betting setups in order to try to find more value. As Covers already pointed out, bets with +ODDS are always going to have a better EV than bets with -ODDS if the original wager is not returned.
With that, let’s go back to our scenario in which the two initial bets had already been resolved:
Site A: $1909.09 Cash
Site B: $1,000 Free Bet
Okay, so the first thing to remember is that the expected value of the Free Bet increases, even if the probability of winning decreases, if we make some sort of bet that has +ODDS.
With that, let’s look at an NBA line today wherein the Toronto Raptors are going up against the Philadelphia 76’ers. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to use the +160 line on the Raptors from DraftKings against the -182 on the 76’ers from PlaySugarhouse, though generally, I would shop around for a lower, “Gap,” is what I call it, between the two lines. While it’s somewhat rare, you can occasionally find no gap at all or…once in a blue moon…and you really need to be looking right when the lines come out you might find a situation where the odds you are taking are greater than the Odds you are laying, which can guarantee a win (assuming the right amounts are bet) in any circumstance.
For the time being, however, we are just going to live with this +160/-182 line. If we bet our $1,000 Free Bet on the Raptors, then we stand to get a return of $1,600, because remember, the original bet is not returned to us anyway. With that, we could figure out how much we would need to bet on the opposite side to make our results as close as possible.
What I have found for this one is betting $1,050 on the 76’ers gets us reasonably close. If that bet were to win, then the profits (taken alone) would be $577.50. Remember, we are not actually losing any cash on the Risk-Free bet, so this $577.50 simply gets added to our total balance.
On the other side, if the $1,000 Free Bet were to win, then we would lose the $1050 in cash, but our cash return on the Free Bet would be $1,600, thereby adding $550 to the cash balance overall. In the more likely scenario, we would add $577.50 to our total, and in the less likely one, we would add $550 to our total.
Ultimately, $2,000 in initial deposits would become a total of either $2459.09 or $2486.59, depending on the outcome of the game. As you can see, this is much better than the method were we just offsetted -110 lines against each other again. We also don’t have to worry about half point anything because an NBA game cannot result in a tie and, if for some reason there was a delay, the bets would either be returned (to be bet again) or carried over to such a time that the game is eventually played.
Of course, while the, “Gap,” matters, perhaps generating more expected value by way of betting even bigger +ODDS is even more important than the gap, even when offsetting. Let’s find out.
The best game that I see today, assuming we use those same two sites, is the Bulls at +340 DraftKings playing the Bucks at -435 on PlaySugarhouse. I really hate the gap here, but maybe it will work out since we are getting more value as to the Free Bet.
With that, the Free Bet will be placed for $1,000 on the Bulls at +340 for cash return of $3,400 if that wins. Obviously, we need to bet less than $3400 on the Bucks, otherwise, we would end up worse off in cash if the Bulls won. What I see here is that we could bet $2800 in cash (another deposit would be needed on the cash side) on the Bucks, which would result in $644 in cash proceeds if that bet won.
Once again, we are in a really nice position here. If the cash bet wins, then we have $644 more money than we did before, which means that our total is $2553.09, even better than either of our outcomes on the 76’ers/Raptors example, despite the higher gap between the lines. If the cash bet loses, we would still gain $600 in cash for a total of $2509.09, once again, better than either of our possible outcomes from the bet above.
Despite the fact that we have an expected loss of more than $100 (assumed) on our $2800 bet on the Bucks, and the fact that the gap between the two lines is much wider, we can give ourselves a better cash guarantee with the value added from making a much bigger +ODDS bet using the free bet.
SAME GAME PARLAYS or ANY PARLAYS
One other opportunity that online sportsbooks may afford players, if you can find online sportsbooks that offer the same or similar promotions, is that of same game parlay boosts.
Before we get into standalone parlay boosts, however, we could also apply parlays to our earlier question of, “Risk-Free’ bets. Essentially, we might be able to bet less and be exposed to a lower House Edge (in total) while guaranteeing profits.
I’m not going to give an example, specifically, because you can go to most sports betting websites and play around without even logging in. However, the idea is that there are often ways to do the same offsetting method (with the Risk-Free bet always going on big +ODDS) while simultaneously using parlay boost offers (and there are usually plenty of those) on the opposite side (pick the Favorite + Game Total OVER as well as the Favorite + Game Total UNDER) to guarantee an even better return.
For example, lines that I have seen on the Bulls/Bucks game that we have discussed above could work with us taking the Bulls, straight up, at +340 to profit $3400 using the Risk-Free bet. However, the parlays on the Bucks + Total OVER and Bucks + Total UNDER pay +130 and +133 respectively, as of the time of this writing.
Imagine, however, that we can get a same game parlay boost of 25% on both of the parlays that we are betting. As with the binary bet (and, note, you would want the total to be on a half point line for this) one of our bets necessarily wins.
With that, the +130 becomes +162.5 and the +133 becomes +166.25. Again, most parlay boosts do have the bet amount restricted, it’s somewhat rare that they don’t, but this is a good example for you if you are making a bet with Casino Credits for lower amounts, so I’m sure that those of you who play around on these sites long enough will find a situation where this concept applies.
Okay, so now we have our parlay boosts in place. With that, instead of betting $2800 on the Bucks straight up, what we are going to do is bet $1300 on each side of the parlay…Bucks + OVER and Bucks + UNDER. If you want to get really creative, you can even investigate around with using Game and Player props as offsets, you just want to make sure that one parlay automatically wins if the Bucks do.
$1300 * 1.625 = $2112.50 & 1300 * 166.25 = $2161.25
How this situation ends up resolving, and again, this only automatically works on a HALF POINT TOTALS LINE, otherwise, your parlay bets could both push if the Bucks were to win and it lands on the line, is that, if the Bulls win, you end up ahead $800 cash. If either of your parlays win, then the other one (with cash at stake) loses, so you end up either ahead $812.50 or $861.25 in this example.
DISCLAIMER: Once again, most setups aren’t going to work exactly like this for one reason or another. Generally speaking, if you have the parlay boost, then the amount that you can bet (often $50 or $100) is generally going to be limited and will usually be well under $1300. However, this is still going to be a useful example for how you could turn smaller bets with casino sports credits into guaranteed profits.
Another disclaimer is that this probably still isn’t the best EV way to do this, but as you heard from the video, the best EV on a $1,000 bet that only returns to the extent of winnings is just to take the highest +ODDS that you can get. I mean, if you really want to, go for that +10000 line, but it’s almost certainly going to be a losing bet and cost you your initial deposit. Myself, I don’t mind sacrificing a little EV, or even a moderate amount of EV, if there’s a mechanism by which I can guarantee reasonable profits. Not getting paid or not receiving the bonus aside, the risk is zero.
What would be great about this theoretical setup is that you would end up with total profits of over $700, regardless of the actual results of any of the games, (one of your bets always wins in all scenarios) on an initial total of $3300 deposited. I’m saying $3300 because you deposited $2,000 initially and would probably use a third site for one of the offset parlays. I figure trying to parlay a favorite and opposing game totals, all on the same site, would be a really good way to find yourself quickly banned.
The way that same game parlay boosts, and profit boosts more generally, work is that they will add to the profits of your bet if your bet is a winning one.
Many online sportsbooks will have these as regular offerings and those with whom you already have an account may send you E-Mails for it.
With these sorts of promotions, you may have to do a little bit of tinkering around with the numbers as the boosts will not always be the same percentage OR the amount allowed to be bet will be different at different online sportsbooks, so please take anything in this section as an example of how these promotions could work.
In reality, this method will likely require multiple sportsbooks accounts and combining promotions and making bets of different amounts. However, this will give you a general idea.
The first thing that we will do is pretend that we have four 25% profit boosts on same game parlays at four different sportsbooks all with a maximum bet of $50. The maximum added amount will generally not matter with this particular method as you will not exceed it.
Going back to our Jazz/Suns example from before, we are going to assume the following lines which are from PlaySugarhouse:
SPREADS: Jazz -2.5 (-112) Suns +2.5 (-109)
TOTALS: OVER 225.5 (-112) UNDER 225.5 (-109)
Okay, these specific ODDS are not going to be the same at every book, but once again, I am trying to provide a simple example to give everyone an idea of how this might be done…you’re going to have to tinker around with different promotions and bet/win limits to find ways to do it that will be specific to the promotions that you have access to.
There are four possible outcomes for same game two-leg parlays:
What we are going to do for the purposes of this example is make a $50 bet on all of these with the 25% profit boost. The worst odds will be on Jazz-OVER which will return +255 normally:
50 * 255/100 = $127.5 (Normal Profit if Win)
However, we are getting a 25% profit boost, therefore:
127.5 * 1.25 = $159.375
If this bet were to win, it would mean that our other $50 bets lost, so that would reflect $159.375 - $150 = $9.375
The next possibility that we will look at is Jazz UNDER:
At this time, that line has a return of +260 normally, so what we are going to see is the following profit in the event of a win betting it straight up:
50 * 260/100 = $130 (Normal Profit if Win)
With the 25% profit boost:
130 * 1.25 = $162.50
If this bet were to win, then it would mean that our other $50 bets lost, so that would reflect $162.50 - $150 = $12.50
The next possibility we will look at is Suns-OVER:
As it turns out, the normal profit on Suns-OVER parlay would be +260, so this represents profits of $12.50 total if this result comes to pass as it is the same odds (and boost) as the Jazz UNDER above.
The final possible outcome is Suns-UNDER, which has the lowest -ODDS, so should have the best return in the event it comes to pass.
As expected, combining that into a same game parlay would reflect odds of +265, so the normal profit if this bet were to win on a $50 bet is as follows:
50 * 265/100 = $132.50 (Normal Profit if Win)
As before, we are assuming a 25% profit boost for the purpose of this example, thus:
132.50 * 1.25 = $165.625
Okay, so if that bet won it would mean that our other three $50 bets lost for total profits of roughly $15.62.
As you can see, the expected profit itself in our hypothetical example is not very high, but importantly, you cannot possibly fail to profit on this proposition. Because all of these individual outcomes are on half point lines, pushes are rendered not possible, so one of the four possible combinations of results MUST happen.
The reason why this works is because all of these bets would be +EV taken individually because of the profit boost. I will demonstrate this as follows using the odds to implied probability conversion calculator found here:
Okay, looking at the +265 line, the implied probability of success is 27.4% to profit $132.50, so this would be the expected outcome as the implied loss probability is 72.6%:
(132.50 * .274) - (50 * .726) = 0.005
We can also do this manually by adding 100 to the +ODDS and dividing that result from 100, as follows:
100/(100+265) = 0.27397260274
Which is where the rounded probability percentage of 27.4% comes from. If you do this with the percentages that are not rounded, then you will get:
(132.50 * .27397260274) - (50 * (1-.27397260274)) = 0
As you can see, the implication is that there is no House Edge on this bet even without the profit boost, but that’s not actually true. The truth of the matter is that this method does NOT account for the sportsbooks’ vig, (which is the same concept as, ‘House Edge,’ on a casino game) so the sportsbook does not believe that this event is actually 27.4% likely.
Let’s say that the sportsbook instead believes that this is something in the order of 25.5% to happen and 74.5% not to happen, just for the purposes of example...because even they do not know exactly as it is not a fixed odds outcome, such as a Pass Line bet at Craps would be…then this would be our expected return:
(132.50 * .255) - (50 * .745) = -$3.4625
In other words, comparing what the sportsbook thinks that the probabilities actually are with what they are offering you, for this example, the casino expects to win $3.4625 of your money, which reflects a vig of:
3.4625/50 = .06925 or 6.925% sportsbook advantage.
However, this changes totally with the 25% profit boost. If you want to see what odds you are effectively getting, then you simply need to take the +265 odds and multiply by 1.25, thus:
265 * 1.25 = 331.25
Which you will see:
50 * 331.25/100 = $165.625—which you will note is the same as the profits on a winning outcome when we multiplied the would-be profits on the bet without the promotion by 1.25. It’s the same exact solution with the problem expressed in a different way.
Okay, so what we will do now is take this new winning amount if we do win and use the probabilities that we are having the casino assume to be actually true for this example:
(165.625 * .255) - (50 * .745) = $4.984375
This reflects an expected profit of $4.984375, which:
4.984375/50 = .0996875—which means it flips to almost a 10% player advantage.
Again, this works out this way with the probabilities that we are saying the casino assumes to be true FOR EXAMPLE ONLY, I could use the different payouts to basically determine what the casino is assuming, but there’s really no reason to do that for the purposes of this article.
You could, if you wanted to, just assume that the casino sees the actual probability as 25% YES, 75% NO, for each event if you wanted to. Since we are discussing ways to generate a guaranteed profit of some amount, it makes no difference.
EVEN FASTER STUFF
—Another example of guaranteed profits can be found in LIVE betting straight profit boosts if you can find two of these at the same time on opposing half point lines. For example, PlaySugarhouse has one going on for $25 max bet and up to $250 in added winnings every Tuesday on NBA. The Max Bet for this is pretty low for what we are wanting to do here, but it is good enough to use for an example.
Let’s suppose that you could get the same offer at a different casino and we will also assume -110 lines on both sides. Normally, a $25 bet would show -110 profits of:
25 * 100/110 = $22.72 or $22.73 (depends on rounding) if it won, but with the boost:
$22.72 * 1.2 = $27.26
The other offer on the opposing side and also assuming a -110 line would be the same thing, so you would see return of $27.26 on a -110 line if you could get the same profit boost elsewhere and take the opposite side of that line.
Since one side necessarily profits $27.26 and the other side necessarily loses $25, you would be guaranteed a result of profits of $2.26 regardless of what actually happens in the game.
With the profit boost up to a total of +$250 in winnings, this is FAR FROM the best way to maximize this promotion in terms of expected value. Quite frankly, it’s not even close to the best way to maximize it…but maximizing EV may or may not be for a future article and this article is concerned only with guaranteed profits…or nearly guaranteed.
Now, if you had this promotion at two different books and could instead bet as much as $100 on each, then you would be looking at $9.04 in guaranteed profits for something like three minutes of effort.
Half point lines are ideal for this scenario since one side must win and one side must lose, but if you can only find whole point propositions, then you don’t actually lose anything if both bets push and the game finishing on that exact total is not particularly likely. I mean, it’s implied as the most likely game total, but that doesn’t make it particularly probable.
Also, for sportsbooks that have the option, you could use something like Team Total Odd/Even lines, since it will always be one or the other. These are typically -110 on each side.
With all of that being said, if you are quick (or can make one bet or both with a profit boost on a pregame bet, rather than live), then you might be able to find even better propositions for this simple method if you shop around. For example, if you could get both sides at -105 instead, then the normal profit on a win would be:
25 * 100/105 = $23.80 or $23.81 depending on how they round:
And, with the 20% boost, would be:
23.80 * 1.2 = $28.56
Again, if you could get the same boost for the $25 bet on both sides, and got both sides at -105 on a half point line, then the only possible result would be winning $28.56 on one and losing $25 on the other, for total profits of $3.56 guaranteed. Remember, the original $25 bet is going to be returned on the winning side of the proposition.
If you get this proposition AND the ability to bet as much as $100, then you would just quadruple the amount of the guaranteed profit to $14.24.
It’s not much and definitely does not maximize EV, but I consider that a good guaranteed profit for three minutes of work.
You could also work the same site with a confederate taking opposite sides, in theory, but such a thing would eventually be noticed sooner or later, one would think…especially with live betting since you and the confederate would be frequently betting opposite sides seconds apart.
The one thing that holds true is that the EV is going to be better, generally speaking, on +ODDS. In the case of these profit boosts, if not going for the guaranteed profits, the only way to even approach the maximum in additional winnings (since the max wager is almost always significantly lower than that) is by making a bet with huge +ODDS.
That’s not to say that the 25% profit boost, or any profit boost, doesn’t sometimes result in +EV on a -ODDS bet, but the EV is significantly less. It’s the same concept as risk-free bets, really, in that the casino is essentially making a wager using their own money, on the same side as you, that is worth 25% of your wager, except the wager the casino is making only pays out to the extent of winnings and does not return the original bet.
OTHER PROMOTIONS IN BRIEF AND OTHER TRICKS
For recreational players, one thing to be extremely wary of is some of the tricks that online casinos will put in place to void your promotions. Another thing you will want to be wary of is promotions that create the perception of value where there is actually not much value there.
Terms & Conditions:
When it comes to Terms and Conditions, there are many different things to look out for:
DEPOSIT CODES: Wouldn’t it be nice if online casinos automatically gave players promotions that they would clearly want (such as risk-free bets on first deposit, since you can only do that with your first bet anyway)?
It would be nice, and some of them do, but many do not. In some instances, there will be a specific, “Opt-in,” button that you will have to hit prior to making your deposit, or there may be a code that you have to provide upon making deposit, so look out for those things.
Promotions after the new member promotion are sometimes even more tricky. It’s very important to read the terms and conditions as, even if there is an opt-in button available to you (without really reading anything, such as on the HOME screen) you will still be held to the Terms & Conditions.
An example mentioned in the early part of this article is that of having to opt-in BEFORE making the deposit, but even then, having to make an extra deposit can be considered as something of a catch in the first place, when that is the case, especially if you would otherwise already have adequate funds on there.
FanDuel is a good online casino overall, but is an example of one where even some of their smaller value promotions will require you to make a separate deposit. Twinspires, on the other hand, is an example of a casino that will typically permit you to opt-in and play the smaller promotions with the funds that you already have in there, though I do recommend reading through the terms and conditions of every individual promotion, EVERYWHERE, just in case.
Many online casinos will require a certain amount in bets to be made that might not always be easy to keep track of. For example, Fanduel has recently had a promotion where they will give you $250 in casino credits on Thursdays for making $10,000 in total bets on any of their Blackjack games. The expected value of this promotion, roughly $200, is honestly quite solid, but the one thing that you will not find is a mechanism that tracks the total in bets you have made.
What you would want to do for something like that is track it yourself, which will obviously require more effort than tracking $10 or $50 in slot spins, or some such thing. It can obviously be difficult, without writing everything down, when you get into such things as splits and doubles.
Fortunately, many websites (of which FanDuel and DraftKings are examples) will have a screen where you can view your lifetime total wagers. What you will want to do is take a screenshot of that (which will also serve as proof if they believe you did not bet the appropriate amount) and compare it to your current lifetime bets from time to time. When the current total is $10,000 more than the previous, and assuming you played nothing but Blackjack, you have done it.
These are just some of the examples of various things that can make it just a little more difficult to avail yourself of an advantageous promotion, but not every advantage opportunity is going to be easy and, I guess, should not be expected to be easy in every respect.
Either way, just make sure to follow their Terms and Conditions to a T and you should be okay. Even if you make a minor mistake, though it will require extra work, you can sometimes convince support to give you a promotion anyway. For example, if you escalate a matter such as depositing before you opted into something (but not making the bet without opting in—probably) to support, there is a pretty good chance they will be reasonable and honor the promotion anyway. After all, they know damn well they are putting these hangups in place for the exclusive purpose of voiding promotions and that many players will not take the time to argue their case before customer support.
–-There are also cases in which casinos will offer promotions that simply aren’t that good to create the perception of value. For example, on 2/27/22, Betway offered an Odds Boost on Lakers to Win and 224.5+ total points which they said they were boosting from +275 (and, remember, that’s just an arbitrary number they picked) to +350.
However, the boost that they are offering is oln a subpar line in the first place. The first thing that we have to acknowledge is that we don’t know what MoneyLine they are basing the win on, but it’s -115 for a Lakers straight up Moneyline bet on their site where you could get -114 elsewhere.
Another thing that I notice is that they set the over for this parlay at +224.5, but I am seeing the base Totals line at +/- 223 everywhere else, so basically, this is a higher OVER Total than the base lines are elsewhere.
You can create your own parlays at other sites, so let’s take a look at what kind of parlay offers we get elsewhere:
The first thing that I notice using the base lines of Lakers -114 to win and OVER 223 at SugarHouse is that such a parlay would pay +250 if I wanted to do that. If I instead move that to +224.5 then I would get +275 there, as well, which is at least what Betway is claiming the standard line on this outcome would be for a parlay.
So, is the +350 on the parlay really a great offer? Profits on a $100 bet would be $350, so you would either win $350 or lose $100 depending on if the parlay is successful.
Let’s see what this amounts to as a profit boost:
350/275 = 127.27%
Effectively, this specific offer amounts to a 27.27% profit boost if you were to win the bet, so that’s going to be pretty solid. Let’s imagine that you could get a 27.27% boost on every possible combination of results as follows:
Lakers + OVER 224.5
Lakers + Under 224.5
Pelicans + OVER 224.5
Pelicans + Under 224.5
What I am going to do is figure out the other lines using PlaySugarhouse since it seems they will let you build most things into a parlay, if you wish, and then I will multiply by 1.2727 for the total:
Lakers + OVER 224.5 = +350 ($350 Profit if Win on $100 Bet)
Lakers + UNDER 224.5 = (+235 Base, +299 if boost, $299 Profit if Win on $100 Bet)
Pelicans + OVER 224.5 = (+285 Base, +362 if boost, $362 Profit if Win on $100 Bet)
Pelicans + Under 224.5 = (+245 Base, +312 if boost, $312 Profit if Win on $100 Bet)
With that, if you could somehow bet all of these with the boosted odds and based on available lines, you would lose only $1 overall if the Lakers won AND the game total was UNDER 224.5. Remember, the original wager of $100 would be returned on the winning bet, so it would just be the individual profit amounts less the $100 lost on the losing bets.
Overall, you can conclude (and is a good basic way to conclude) that the +275 to +350 is a good boost on this one. This is a pretty easy analysis for anyone to do because there are only four possible outcomes and the outcomes being boosted are not extremely unlikely.
One important thing that we did (which is easy) is that we converted the profit boost amount to see what percentage was being added to the proposition. That’s important because, while +75 is being added, +75 is not always going to be significant.
For example, if a sportsbook were to offer a boost of +75 from +1125 to +1200 on a futures bet, that would not be significant. 1200/1125 = 1.0667, which is a boost of 6.67%, which I would presume to be less than the usual vig of a futures bet in the first place and would probably be losing.
That’s pretty straightforward, but some promotions might require you to make a certain amount in sports wagers (or casino bets) to unlock free bets or casino bonus funds. These are something to look out for as they may appear to be decent promotions, but do not have an expectation of profit.
Recently, most state regulated casino sites seem to be pushing sports pretty hard…so most promotions you will encounter do have +EV, even if the actual cash EV isn’t particularly high. However, the casino side (overall) seems to be slowly gravitating away from slamdunk promotions (though a few new player ones still are) to plays with value, but some risk, or plays that don’t even have value.
It’s very important to understand the basics of House Edge math as some casinos are starting to roll out Deposit Matches and Play X Get Y promotions that actually have a negative expected value because of the playthrough requirements. In other words, they are technically, ‘Giving,’ you something, but you are expected to lose money overall anyway and will be locked into the wagering requirements.
When it comes to those kinds of promotions, some of them either have value or don’t depending on what you play, so game selection becomes extremely important.
It will also be important to determine an average bet that you want to go for so that you understand the time investment (based on bets per hour) as some playthrough requirements, especially on the juicier promotions money-wise, will have significant wagering requirements.
WATCH AND WIN?
I imagine that there are some seasoned and savvy sports specialists somewhere who have already figured this thing out, and who have the numbers, but one thing of interest to me is the concept of, “Live Betting.”
This notion came to me not that long ago, but what I plan to do for the upcoming NFL and NBA seasons is take a look at how frequently the +ODDS on straight Moneyline bets flip from one team to another with respect to live betting.
I tend to think it’s going to happen more often in the NBA than in the NFL as the average number of lead changes in a game is significantly higher in the NBA. Since basketball is such a high-scoring affair to begin with, and points are gained quickly throughout the competition, that obviously stands to reason.
My idea here is that the Live Betting Odds, even on the Moneyline wagers, change rapidly as the game unfolds. I don’t plan to make any wagers whatsoever for next year’s NBA season, but what I do plan to do is follow the Live Betting lines of certain games (I’m going to try to average at least three games per night) to see how frequently the pregame underdog leads at some point in the game such as to swing the Moneyline to the pregame underdog now being the favorite.
Why would that be relevant? I have a few theories in this regard:
1.) My first theory is that moneyline bets don’t really have all that much juice in the first place, especially if the lines are reasonably tight as it is, so a person wouldn’t be making a bad bet.
2.) My second theory is that small underdogs, often enough to be beneficial, will take the lead in the game and will thus cause the pregame favorite, at any point, to become the underdog in Live Betting. What happens when you can bet both teams to win outright at +ODDS in a game where they can’t possibly tie? You guessed it. Guaranteed profits.
3.) I do understand that there are some sports bettors, or perhaps they would rightfully be called handicappers, who already do some variation of this as the game’s spread changes hoping to give themselves the opportunity to, “Middle,” such that the result would be a big win if the total comes in the middle and they don’t lose very much if it doesn’t.
While I like the idea and believe that some sports bettors have had success with it, personally, I prefer my idea (assuming the statistics end up backing it up—it will be quite a project!) because the idea is that there is no way to fail to profit in the right scenario.
4.) One thing that could definitely be done is to work this angle in combination with profit boosts. With profit boosts, generally speaking, you’re making a +EV bet to begin with, but this method would also give the opportunity to lock in profits even if you have to take the pregame favorite at slight -ODDS (as opposed to +ODDS) at some point in the game.
5.) Some people might consider such a thing a hedge, but I don’t look at it that way, because the value of your pregame bet changes as the game goes on. Essentially, I look at my proposal as effectively always realizing the value when your bet has the advantage.
IMPORTANT: It’s very important that I reiterate that I will not actually be betting (at least, not for this reason) in the 2022-2023 NBA season. My goal for the 2022-2023 season is to accomplish two things which are:
A.) To determine if this manner of playing +ODDS pregame bets against +ODDS live bets is even viable in the first place.
B.) To compare those results, if they had been positive at all, to what the results would have been from simply betting the slight underdogs and riding the bets out. Obviously, by betting both sides of the moneyline eventually, even if both are +ODDS, you have done worse than just sticking with the underdog (pregame) the entire time in the event that the underdog wins.
Even if this method doesn’t end up appearing to be viable, it’ll still be a fun experiment.
Hopefully, this has given you a general idea of how to identify promotions where the only possibility is profit (at the sacrifice of value) if you play them against each other a certain way. Additionally, I also hope it has given you some idea of how to determine whether a promotion in which you are not guaranteed to profit has value.
Further, and perhaps most importantly, you want to be aware of the different tricks that they use in the Terms & Conditions, which can even vary by promotion on the same website, to make sure that you don’t accidentally void any of your own promotions.
There will likely be more articles along these lines to come in the future. Don’t be surprised if I attempt to write an article with more of a focus on Expected Value when it comes to sports promotions at some point in the future. I say, “Attempt,” as some of what I suggest probably still wouldn’t be optimal as sports betting is not my strong suit.
as for live betting arbitrage opportunities, baseball is pretty good for that too
Interesting thought on baseball! I might take some time out to look at that later this season.