Sports Betting Strategies

Bonus Hunting: An In-Depth Guide

Ready to go from Elmer Fudd to the Apex Predator of online casino bonus hunting? Here’s how.
Sarah Ryan
Author:
Sarah Ryan
Updated:
7 September 2022
Table of content

    Bonus Hunting: An In-Depth Guide To Cashing Out Your Bonus

    When you envision the image of the archetypal hunter in popular culture, two images will most likely come to mind. The calculating, stone cold, methodical woodsman, pulling out all the strategic stops to track down his prey, or some bumbling, buffoonish Elmer Fudd type who can’t help but always be outsmarted by that dang wascally wabbit at every turn.

    If you’ve stumbled across this article, it’s likely because the house is making you feel like more of an Elmer than the optimal bonus hunter you wish you could be. Sadly, this tends to be by design; more often than not, the odds are skewed toward the house having an edge, and more often than not, the house wins with that edge.

    There’s a reason problematic gambling is widely discouraged. If you’re not careful, continuously, impulsively chasing losses can easily lead you toward biting off more than you can chew, and easily turn that disposable income you’re hoping to make more passive income off of, into nothing more than passively disposed income. Whatever you do at the casino, online or offline, never, ever, ever risk more than you could afford to lose. 

    One excellent way you can mitigate risk is by understanding it. Provided you’re careful and meticulous about it, it is possible to learn how to identify casino bonus offers that hand the house’s edge over to you.. Unfortunately, as online casinos have continued to evolve and adapt through time, so too have the online casino operators to ensure they win, and to ensure that casual casino bettors miss out on that sweet, sweet RTP (Return To Player).

    Even though bonus hunting is a more difficult tactic to pull off in this day and age, there are still some strategies that have stood the test of time and remain potentially viable. If you’ve come here curious about how online casino bonuses have structurally changed through the years, and curious about how you can best adapt as the wagering weekend warrior you strive to be, you’ve come to the right place.

    In this strategy guide, we’ll extensively cover:

    • How online casino bonuses (and bonus hunting) have evolved

    • The factors which have complicated bonus hunting in recent years

    • How to most effectively work around those aforementioned complications

    • The best bet sizes to wager when taking advantage of online casino promos

    • Your best bet(s) at going from Elmer Fudd to the Apex Predator of bonus hunting

    Ready? Let’s get started!

    Bonus Hunting: Then And Now

    Back when online casinos first hit the iGaming scene, it was easier to bonus hunt effectively. That’s because before the online casino operators got wise to the vulnerabilities that online bettors could exploit through these promotional bonuses, there were pretty clear weak points in those bonuses to take advantage of, including:

    • Very low wagering requirements

    • Huge bonus cash offers

    • No restrictions on eligible games

    When online casinos first rose to prominence (2000-2006), the general understanding of mathematical and statistical formulas in betting was low among casino managers, which in turn, led to higher and more generous bonus payouts. 

    Sadly, the days of easier bonus hunts have long passed, for the most part. Now that the house has sharpened and refined its odds calculations across many online casinos, bonus hunting strategies that were previously effective at many online casinos aren’t quite as effective now. Back in the day, bonus hunting was as simple as:

    • Making that deposit for the bonus (unless it’s a no-deposit online casino bonus)

    • Playing an online casino game or slot with a high return to player (RTP) variance

    • Using the casino bonus winnings as a buffer to fulfill said bonus’ WR (if you win)

    • Moving onto a different bonus offer if you lost, and repeating until you yield profit

    Bonus hunting used to be that straightforward, but things are a little different these days. There’s a lot more potential entropy, variance, and volatility you must consider when using an online casino no deposit bonus nowadays. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t squeeze a little juice out of some of the most popular online casino bonuses on the web.

    Online Casino No Deposit Bonus

    No deposit bonuses are probably the most effective promos to squeeze juice out of from the modern online casino. After all, as the name suggests, they require literally zero deposits or upfront capital on your end! Some of them might only pay peanuts relative to their past payouts, but free peanuts is still better than walking away with zero payout whatsoever.

    Furthermore, you can stack smaller no deposit bonuses across online casinos to accumulate bigger wins; more on that here. But deposit or no deposit, here’s a more extensive primer on bonus hunting strategies, and how they’ve had to evolve with time.  

    Bonus Hunting Strategies

    Old school bonus hunting tactics were heavily reliant on exploiting the positive theoretical value of a bonus when playing eligible online casino games. This can be calculated by subtracting the expected value (100%) by the wagering requirement multiplied with the estimated house edge of a game.

    For instance, say you play a game estimated to have a low RTP, but also a low 0.5% house edge. If you wager that to a positive end 20 times over, you could end up retaining roughly 90% of the overall bankroll you started with. While that equates to lower returns, it also equates to lower risk, and as we’ve alluded to previously, you can stack those low-return bonuses to net a bigger overall reward. 

    The return value has been complicated in recent years as odds calculations have sharpened, but typically, the best and most probable odds you’ll net from a game while bonus hunting are:

    1. A 0.20% bet with a 98% high variance game (touts 53.54% effectiveness)

    2. A 0.50% bet with a 98% medium variance game (touts 55.50% effectiveness)

    Whichever game or games you intend to play to fulfill the bonus hunting requirements, review their rules, terms, and conditions very carefully. Also, take the time to figure out whether or not:

    • The bonus is subject to a deposit; no deposits offer the best deal, of course

    • The size of a bonus (90% or greater bonuses are usually the most valuableprofitable)

    • The maximal converted value, bets, bets per line, and game restrictions

    When it comes to casino slots, the developer or published usually publishes the estimated return to player variance. But if the RTP isn’t readily available, you can also ballpark the volatility of an online casino slots game by watching out for:

    • The pay table, and more specifically, how much major symbols on it pay

    • Estimating the frequency of high-paying symbols and winning combos

    • The feature to double up bets, with a 50:50 win-loss probability

    • Lower bonus value options, to decrease risk and volatility

    • The ability to change the number of winning lines to 1, lowering risk

    More risks and more volatility means more difficulties on your bonus hunting journey. Here’s what you should know about some of the most common bonus hunting difficulties in the contemporary online casino space, and how you can effectively navigate them.

    Problems With Bonus Hunting

    Sadly, the fact of the matter is that you’ll run into more obstacles, obstructions, and roadblocks impeding your bonus hunts now than ever before. The more online casino bonus hunters have cropped up, the more the house has seen fit to lay more bear traps, maiming any poor, hapless souls with the misfortune of getting ensnared by them.

    Here are some common obstacles you’ll face while trying to bonus hunt in the modern online casino world:

    1. Unluckiness: Unless you’re able to affordably maintain a big bankroll, you’ll only be able to take so many chances. That means making every opportunity count, but even when playing those bonuses as aggressively as possible, sometimes the odds may still not be totally in your favor.

    2. Restrictions: More and more casinos have established “irregular play” clauses, affording them the right to void a bonus if they suspect that a player is bonus hunting. However, you can mitigate the risk of this voiding by playing through more popular, reputable online casinos, not making obvious changes in your play style, and so long as you aren’t cheating, the casinos will generally be amenable to paying your winnings.

    3. Limitations: If you live in a region with very few legal online casino options, then your ability to bonus hunt and bonus stack may be constrained as well. 

    4. Commitment: You’ll have to commit a considerable bit of skill and time to bonus hunting and contemplate a multitude of variables when bonus hunting. Some bonuses’ wagering requirements may even demand hundreds of hours.

    The third countermeasure isn’t one you can do terribly much about. But so long as you’re able to stack bonuses and maintain a buffered bankroll, you might still be able to viably bonus hunt in 2022.

    Is Bonus Hunting A Viable Strategy?

    We think so. We can’t guarantee that you’ll rise to the ranks of becoming an apex bonus hunter, but so long as you’re able to readily take advantage of free online casino no deposit bonuses, you can potentially boost your odds of getting there.


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