Sticky Bonus Value and Optimal Strategy
FROM ET FAN:
The Sticky Bonus vs. the Traditional Online Casino Bonus and How to Play ThemBy Arnold Snyder
© 2005 Arnold Snyder
The Traditional Online Casino Bonus
Online casino owners offer cash bonuses to players to entice them to try out their casinos.
Traditional bonuses, also called cashable bonuses, may be withdrawn in full after fulfilling the terms and conditions of the bonus, which usually means after meeting a wagering requirement on permitted games.
But never get hung up on labels when evaluating any gambling situation, even a traditional bonus. Try to understand the underlying concepts, so you can apply the ones that best fit any particular situation.
The Sticky Bonus and Other Non-Traditional Bonuses
You can tell that a bonus is a sticky bonus when the online casinoís terms and conditions specify that the bonus is "for wagering only." But, again, don't get hung up on labels. If you understand the underlying concepts, you may apply them to a variety of gambling situations.
Technically, a sticky bonus is worth roughly the same to a knowledgeable and well-bankrolled gambler as a traditional bonus, even though you canít withdraw the actual sticky bonus itself. But you have to play a sticky bonus differently from a traditional bonus to extract its full value.
Hereís a very simple example to illustrate why.
Imagine that an online casino has offered you a $100 sticky bonus for a $100 deposit to entice you to check them out. You deposit $100 and receive the $100 bonus to play with. If you then make a bet at blackjack of $200 (the entire balance in your account) you will either win $200 or lose $200 (or, you may push, in which case you'll bet the $200 again). (For this simple explanation of the logic, letís ignore splits, double downs, the 3:2 payout on a blackjack, the house edge, etc.)
If you win and then decide to quit play (letís leave aside for a moment the wagering requirement, if any, on your deposit), you can withdraw the entire balance in your account minus the $100 bonus. This means you can withdraw $300, for a win of $200 on your $100 deposit.
But if you lose and quit play, all you have really lost is the $100 you deposited.
Since you will win roughly 50% of the time and lose roughly 50% of the time, you will win $200 half the time and lose $100 half the time.
$200 win - $100 loss = $100 profit for two plays
So, if your betting strategy was to place one bet then quit the game, win or lose, your $100 bonus played this way would be worth $50 to you in the long run.
But what if you donít withdraw your money right after you win that first hand? What if you continue to play on your bonus?
You now have $400 in your account (your $100 deposit, your $200 win, and the $100 sticky bonus). Of this total, $300 belongs to youóonly the $100 sticky bonus may not be withdrawn. If you bet all $400 on your next blackjack hand and win, you win $400. If you bet it all and lose, you lose $300 (your $100 deposit plus $200 prior win minus the $100 sticky bonus).
$400 - $300 = $100 profit
Now, stay with me here. Assuming you win half the time and lose half the time when you play a hand of blackjack, you will win two hands in a row only 1 out of 4 times. One time youíll win twice, one time youíll win the first time and lose the second time, and twice youíll lose the first time and never get to the second bet. Therefore, if you choose to bet it all 2x in a row, 3 out of 4 times you will lose your $100 deposit, and 1 out of 4 times you will turn it into $600. $600 - $300 = $300, so you have a $300 expectation on 4 plays, for $75 per play.
That means the bonus was worth roughly $75 to you if you used the two-bet strategy. The bonus was worth roughly $25 more using this strategy.
So, how do you get this sticky bonus to be worth $100? You just keep doubling your bet and gradually the value approaches, but never quite gets to, $100. The only problem is, with each bet you have to keep betting more to win less.
So the real value of a sticky bonus depends on your tolerance for risk. That is, it depends on your tolerance for risking money youíve already won in order to get smaller and smaller further increments of bonus.
Please note that the exact value of a bonus and the best strategy for using it is complicated by such things as the house edge and variance on the game you play, the wagering requirement for the bonus, casino betting limits, and other factors. Consider this just a general guideline.
So, how should you bet a sticky bonus? Simply set a win goal and go for it. Here are some guidelines:
Sticky Bonus Play: All-Purpose Advice for Beginners
1) If your total bankroll is less than $2,000, ignore most sticky bonuses until you have built up your bankroll some more by playing the non-sticky and pseudo-sticky bonuses. You do not need big fluctuations right now.
The actual best amount to bet for any particular bonus is based on a number of factors, including the wagering requirement, the house edge on the game, camouflage, your bankroll and other factors. Consider this a general guide for beginners playing sticky bonuses with wagering requirements. Pros with large bankrolls should bet the maximum amount possible for the greatest variance. Pros who can take the fluctuations want to go for as much of the bonus as possible while giving as little action to the house as possible.
In fact, the way to extract the most money from any online casino bonus, whether traditional or sticky, is to bet on the bonus with absolute maximum aggression. The goal is to either tap out fast (giving the house as little action as possible) or make a bundle. Believe it or not, you'll collect all that bonus money you lose on the tap-outs on your few big wins.
The advice above is for new players on very small bankrolls who can't ride out the swings inherent in such aggressive betting. ♠
For more information on how to play all types of online casino bonus offers for maximum profit, see How to Beat Internet Casinos and Poker Rooms
by Arnold Snyder.
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