Bonus Hunting (or Whoring as it is sometimes called) is a practice that involves collecting bonuses from various online sportsbooks, casinos, and poker rooms, using promotional offers to your advantage in order to build your bankroll. The player basically collects his bonus and then tries to roll over the amount enough times to be able to withdraw their money at a profit, without having to beat the odds in any way. You can almost think of this practice as a mail-in rebate for a sportsbook since you have to jump through a variety of hoops before getting paid.
The problem faced by players who try to take advantage of the bonus system is that the casinos, sportsbooks, and poker rooms try to ensure that you have to roll over your bonus enough times that you should have a losing expectation. Let’s take a look at an example from a sports betting perspective.
Let’s say that the player is using a standard -110 line set book where the house edge is 4.55%. If that player makes a $100 deposit and the book pays a 20% bonus then the player would receive an extra $20. The standard practice in the industry is a 5x rollover of the initial deposit and the bonus in order to withdraw the bonus. Other books will apply the rollover only to the initial deposit and others force the rollover to be achieved before the player can withdraw the bonus and the initial deposit. You have to be careful and read the guidelines and rules of whichever sportsbook you end up choosing.
The 5x rollover of $120 is $600, so that is how much the player needs to put into play before he can withdraw his bonus. If you bet $600 at a house edge of 4.55% then your loss expectation is $27.27. If you compare the loss expectation to the initial deposit bonus you get ($27.27-$20) a net loss of $7.27 or 7.27% of your initial deposit if you are using this guide to figure for higher deposit and bonus amounts.
Obviously in our example you are not in a profitable situation, so where are the break even points for players trying to win with bonus hunting? Take a look at the following chart, which shows the bonus percentage in the left hand column and the max rollover for a break even point on the right. If your book offers a rollover less than the break even point on the right then you can be a pure bonus hunter and make a profit.
Now just because a book doesn’t have a positive expectation on bonus rollovers doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play there. In fact, you are going to be hard pressed to find a book who doesn’t know about this strategy, but if you plan on wagering anyway you might as well deposit at a bonus paying sportsbook.
If you are playing only until the rollover has been hit and then withdrawing your money then a 20% bonus with a 5x rollover would be the same as playing at a sportsbook with a line set of -102.5. If you think that you can win more than 50.6% of your sports picks then you can be profitable in this situation.
The table above should only be used for books that offer the standard -110 line set. Obviously if you play at a book where the house advantage is lower than 4.55% of if you can find bets with a lower house advantage then you can make a profit even when you are faced with higher rollovers. What profitable bonus hunters do is find a several different sportsbooks and then hedge their bets. If you can get a money line of +125 at Book A and -125 at Book B then you can bet both sides of the game with a zero net loss expectation.
Another piece of advice if you want to be a profitable bonus hunter then you need to keep your bet size small in relation to your deposit, otherwise you run the risk of going broke and losing your entire balance before completing the rollover.
My thoughts on bonus hunting are that you shouldn’t simply chase incentives, but you would be leaving money on the table if you didn’t try to limit your risk by using advantageous bonuses to your advantage.