Most gambling sites provide incentives to new customers, as a way of encouraging them to sign up. Bonus hunting is the act of taking advantage of these incentives, which usually involve some amount of cash, in order to gain the most profit from all the promotions available.
Also known as bonus whoring or bonus bagging, this strategy has long been popular with online gamblers.
The basic concept of bonus hunting is really quite straightforward, but this strategy does require a fair bit of time and effort if it is to be used successfully.
Although it could be very profitable as recently as just a few years ago, there’s an argument that it’s no longer really worth the time.
It’s certainly harder than it used to be in many respects, but there are also a lot more gambling sites than there used to be which creates more opportunities.
On this page we have explained bonus hunting in some detail. We’ve looked at how it works for various forms of gambling, including casino, poker and sports betting. Based on what form of gambling you indulge in, we will provide our honest opinion on whether or not we think this strategy will work.
What is Bonus Hunting?
If you are relatively new to online gambling, you may not be familiar with the bonuses that the vast majority of gambling sites give away to new customers.
Usually referred to as sign up bonuses, sites offer these in order to attract new customers. With online gambling being such a competitive marketplace, they are a key aspect of any site’s marketing plan.
Please see the article in our beginner’s guide on online gambling bonuses and rewards for more on this subject.
Bonus hunting is a term that was coined many years ago, very soon after gambling sites started to offer these incentives, to describe the tactic of trying to profit from them. The tactic is a simple one; sign up at various gambling sites specifically to claim the bonus.
The idea is to try and make a profit, withdraw it, and then move on to the next site.
When sites first started offering bonuses they were generally a lot more generous than they are today. We don’t necessarily mean in relation to how much they gave away, but in terms of how easy it was to meet the required terms and conditions.
In many cases, there were certain strategies you could use to guarantee making a profit.
These days the terms and conditions tend to be a lot stricter, making it that much harder to turn a profit. It’s still possible, but it’s extremely rare to find opportunities where you are actually guaranteed to come out ahead.
Casino Bonus Hunting
Bonus hunting at casinos used to be a great way to make some money. Pretty much every online casino on the internet would offer an attractive sign up bonus that came with terms and conditions that were very player friendly.
It wasn’t uncommon to see a 100% deposit match bonus with something like ten times wagering requirements and no game restrictions.
With an offer like this it would always be worth depositing to claim the maximum amount possible. Let’s say this was $250. With ten times wagering requirements you would only have to wager a total of $2,500 before you could make a withdrawal.
By playing a low house edge game, such as blackjack, it would be relatively easy to meet this requirement and still have a large portion of the $250 left over. You could then withdraw this, along with your original deposit, for a quick profit.
At many casinos you could even use tactics like betting on both black and red when meeting wagering requirements. If you managed to avoid the zero doing this for enough spins, then you’d be able to withdraw with your full bonus intact.
Even if you hit zero a couple of times you would almost certainly still make some profit.
Most online casinos nowadays have much stricter terms and conditions. The wagering requirements are generally higher and often restrict low house edge games.
At the very least, games with a low house edge will only count for a percentage of the wagering requirements. For example, you might see something like the following included in the terms and conditions of a casino bonus.
|Casino Game||% Towards Wagering Requirements|
|Other Table Games||40%|
|Blackjack or Baccarat||10%|
Despite this there are still plenty of online casino bonuses that are appealing. The best way to view these bonuses is simply as a way to get more chips to play with. We don’t advise using specific strategies to try to make guaranteed profits, as it’s simply too hard to do now.
Even on the rare occasion where you may find a casino bonus that can be taken advantage of in this way, the amount of profit you’ll be left with is likely to be very low.
Casino Bonus Hunting: Is it Worth It?
If your goal is to make risk-free profits then, no, casino bonus hunting is not worth it. However, you can still get some decent extra value from the casino bonuses that are available. With extra chips to play for, you can at least increase your overall chances of winning. With so many online casinos to join, there’s a lot of extra value to take advantage of.
It’s important to make sure that you understand which bonuses offer the best value. Biggest is not always best, and some bonuses are simply not worth claiming. Please read our article on casino bonuses to learn more about how to determine their true value.
Poker Bonus Hunting
Making a profit from bonus hunting at poker sites is still relatively easy, providing you have some basic poker playing skills at the least. There are also quite a few sites that are very generous to new players, both in terms of the amount of money on offer and how easy it is to meet the required terms and conditions.
To clear a bonus at an online poker site you usually have to pay a certain amount of rake. You pay rake every time you play for real money, whether that’s contributing to a pot in the cash games or paying the buy-in for a tournament.
Providing you can pay the required amount of rake without losing too much money at the poker tables, you should be able to turn a profit from the bonus.
Typically, a poker bonus will not be immediately added into your account as real money. It will be “released” in segments, as and when you meet the necessary requirements. For example, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see the following offer.
You won’t be rewarded this $500 just for signing up and depositing. It’s possible that you’ll receive it in $25 increments, each time you’ve paid a certain amount of rake and/or tournament entry fees.
Poker Bonus Hunting: Is it Worth It?
If you’re a skilled poker player, and don’t mind moving around from one site to another every so often, there’s definitely money to be made from poker bonuses. Going after these bonuses is even worthwhile if you’re not a particularly good player.
Those who play regularly should still be able to meet the requirements to earn these bonuses, and they’re a great way to gain more funds to play with while you’re still learning the game and improving.
Please read the following article to be sure that you fully understand how they work.
Sports Betting Bonus Hunting
Making a worthwhile profit from bonus hunting at online sportsbooks and bookmakers isn’t easy. The bonuses offered to new customers tend not to be particularly large, and they usually come with wagering requirements that make it very difficult to guarantee yourself some profit.
We do know of one technique that can work if done correctly, but it involves a fair amount of effort and it’s questionable whether the profits you can make are really worth the time. What you can do is claim a sign-up bonus with one online betting site by placing the wagers required to meet the terms and conditions.
At the same time, you can also place the opposite wagers at another bookmaker. You shouldn’t lose too much from the actual betting (as one side of your wagers will win) and it’s very possible that you’ll be able to clear the bonus and end up ahead.
Sports Betting Bonus Hunting: Is it Worth It?
In our opinion, it’s probably not worth the effort. The welcome bonuses or free bets available to new customers at sports betting sites are generally just too small to warrant trying to make any profit from.
These bonuses are still worth having of course, as extra value is always a good thing. They’re best viewed simply as a way to increase your betting bankroll. It’s not really worth signing up with a load of new sites for the bonuses alone, but if you are looking to join a new site anyway then it does make sense to look for the best value.
Bingo Bonus Hunting
There are a lot of bingo sites on the web that are very generous with bonuses and, very often, the terms and conditions aren’t overly strict. The problem with bingo, though, is that it’s entirely a game of chance.
This means there aren’t really any strategies you can use to make sure you clear a bonus and still come out ahead. The extra funds are welcome, of course, but you’re not going to make guaranteed profits.
Bingo Bonus Hunting: Is it Worth It?
We don’t recommend trying to bonus hunt per se at bingo sites. If you enjoy playing bingo though, or would like to give it a go, then there’s certainly some merit in taking advantage of the various bonuses and rewards you can earn for signing up and playing with most sites.
These do ultimately improve your overall chances of winning, even though the improvement is only a marginal one. Please read the following article first though, as it explains the extra value that’s available in detail.