Can You Beat Online Blackjack with Bonuses?

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Online casino bonuses can be a great way to play with a larger bankroll. Playing at an online casino is also a great way to play blackjack. When you combine online blackjack with an online bonus you can play a game with a low house edge with a big bankroll.

While this alone is a good thing, it leads to an important question. Can you use an online blackjack bonus to beat the casinos?

The truth is that it’s possible, but it’s not probable. Find out how you might be able to make a small profit, and how to tell before you make a deposit, below.

The Set Up

In order to have a chance to use an online blackjack bonus to beat the casino you have to do a couple things:

  1. You have to play perfect strategy so you can keep the house edge as low as possible. Use a blackjack strategy from an online casino or pick up a strategy card from a casino gift shop or a chart that you print from the internet. You must use your strategy card or chart for every hand you play.
  2. Find a blackjack game with good rules. Good rules mean a lower house edge. You need a game with a low house edge to have any chance of clearing a bonus with a profit.
  3. You need is to find an online casino that offers a bonus for blackjack play. Most online casino bonuses can’t be used for blackjack play. The only way to know if a bonus is useable for blackjack is to carefully read all of the terms and conditions.

Once you find these three things, you need to determine if you can clear the bonus profitably. You’re going to learn how to do this in the next section.

The Math Behind Using Bonuses to Beat Online Blackjack

The first thing you need to understand is the following numbers are based on long term averages. Even if you have a long term advantage, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to be able to make a profit every time you play. You’re not even guaranteed to make a profit while clearing a bonus.

In order to determine if an online blackjack bonus can be cleared profitably, you need to know the house edge for the blackjack game based on the rules and the details of clearing the bonus. Once you know these things you can use the following examples to determine if the bonus gives you a long term positive edge.

Example 1:

The blackjack game has a house edge of .5% using perfect strategy. The bonus is a 100% match bonus up to $200 and the play through requirement is 40 times the deposit and bonus amount combined. With a maximum deposit of $200, you have a total bankroll of $400.

You have to risk a total amount of $16,000 to clear the bonus. The way to determine if the bonus can be cleared while leaving a profit, you multiply the house edge times the total amount you need to risk.

.5% X $16,000 = $80

$80 is the average amount you’re going to lose using perfect strategy with a game with a .5% house edge betting a total of $16,000. In this example, you can expect to have $320 left, on average, after clearing the bonus.

This is a profit of $120. If you can find a blackjack bonus with these terms you should take advantage of it. The problem is that bonuses like this are rare. Most bonuses with these terms are only for slot machine play.

Example 2:

The blackjack game has a house edge of .4% using perfect strategy. The bonus is a 100% match bonus up to $250 and the play through requirements are worded in the following way. The play through for unrestricted games is 30 times the deposit and bonus total. Play on blackjack and video poker counts 10% towards clearing requirements.

Many online bonuses have language something like this and it can be confusing. What this means is you have to play 10 times as much if you play blackjack or video poker than you have to playing an unrestricted game.

With a maximum deposit of $250 you have a total bankroll of $500. This means you have to risk $150,000 to clear the bonus.

$150,000 times .4% = $600.

$600 is the average expected loss to clear the bonus, so you’re probably going to lose your bonus and deposit before clearing the bonus. This bonus is clearly not profitable.

Possible Issues

When you hunt for online blackjack bonuses the way it’s described on this page there are a few possible issues. I cover these issues in this section.

  • Bonus Abuse – Bonus abuse is a term used by most online casinos in their terms and conditions. It’s usually used in a broad way so the casino has quite a bit of latitude in how they use it. If a player is determined to be abusing a bonus or bonuses, the casino can refuse to honor the bonus. This sounds a bit scary, but the truth is that most reputable online casinos are going to honor their bonuses. Just be aware that this is a possibility, so don’t deposit any money that you can’t afford to lose.
  • Rogue Casinos – This isn’t as big of a worry as it used to be, but there are still a few online casinos that pop up from time to time that are crooks. If you happen to end up dealing with one of these casinos you’re probably going to have a hard time getting your money out, even if you do win. The best way to avoid dealing with a rogue casino is to only play at online casinos recommended by sites you trust, like this one.
  • Short Term Variance – I mentioned this shortly in the last section, but short term variance is the biggest issue with trying to beat online casinos using bonuses. Short term variance is simply winning or losing more than expected, based on the mathematics that run the game. In the previous section I showed you the way to use math to determine the expected loss playing blackjack. But the expected loss is based on long term results, and can vary a great deal in the short term.

If your expected loss is $100, you might win $20 or lose $200 during one playing session. But if you play a half million hands, you’re going to lose what the expected results say you’re going to lose. Most online casino bonuses can only be used once, so there’s nothing you can do if short term variance turns against you.

Other Games

You might be wondering if there are other online casino games that offer an opportunity to win using bonuses. Most games have a house edge that’s too high to make a profit clearing a bonus. Roulette, craps, and most table games have a house edge over 2% on most or all bets, and you simply can’t overcome it and make consistent profits.

The only other games that you can possibly find a bonus for that have a low enough house edge are some video poker variations. Deuces Wild, Pick’Em Poker, and Jacks or Better machines with good pay tables can have a house edge under .5%.

To keep the house edge low, you have to use perfect strategy, just like when you play blackjack. You can find video poker strategy cards and charts many of the same places that have blackjack charts and cards. You also need to recognize good pay tables and bad ones. Spend some time researching video poker pay tables before looking for video poker bonuses.

Video poker games and bonuses have the same issues that blackjack has. It’s rare to find a bonus you can use playing video poker that has low enough play through requirements to offer a profit. If you do find a good bonus, you have the same three issues with bonus abuse, rogue casinos, and short term variance that you have playing blackjack.

Conclusion

Most online casino bonuses you could use to beat blackjack disappeared several years ago. Occasionally you can still find one that lets you break even, or come close, but they’re so rare that it’s almost not worth the time it takes to find them.

Online casinos are set up to produce a profit, not let you win. You might get lucky in the short run, but the odds are high that you’re eventually going to lose when you play online. When you see a new bonus you should check out the terms and conditions. When you find a good one, take advantage of it, but don’t hold your breath waiting to find a bonus offer you can clear with a profit.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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