Online casino bonus is one of the most delightful things for any player, casual or pro, To compete with brick and mortar casinos online casino’s give cash bonuses to new players to entice them to play at their casino websites. The amount that is given varies between establishments, but it is usually comprised of two parts. The first part is a guaranteed dollar amount and the second part comes in the form of a variable amount that is determined by a random number generator. There are two types of online casino bonuses; they are Traditional bonuses and Non-Traditional bonuses.

Traditional bonuses, also called cashable bonuses, can be withdrawn in full but after fulfilling the terms and conditions of the bonus, which usually means after a wagering requirement is met. This means a minimum number of dollars have been wagered on permitted. Non-Traditional bonuses have additional terms that are specific to the online casino and the type of the bonus. But they do vary and go by several different names. It’s vital that a player never gets wrapped up on labels when evaluating any gambling situation. Two different casinos may use the same name for two different opportunities. This doesn’t have to strictly apply to bonuses it can apply to specific games as well. One casino may define blackjack that has a 3:2 payout on a natural, while another will define a blackjack game that has a 6:5 payout for a natural. Instead focus on understanding the underlying concepts of a situation, so you can apply the ones that best fit any particular situation. 

One variation of a Non-Traditional bonus is the sticky bonus. This is where the online casino’s terms and conditions specify that the bonus “applies to wagering only." The sticky bonus can’t be withdrawn after a specified wagering amount. A sticky bonus is worth approximately the same amount to a smart and well funded gambler as a traditional bonus, even though you can’t withdraw the actual sticky bonus. You have to play a sticky bonus differently from a traditional bonus to obtain its full value. Let me show you why.

Online Roulette Table

Consider an online casino has gives you a $100 sticky bonus for a $100 deposit to get you to play at their virtual joint. After you have completed the registration process, you deposit your $100 and receive the additional $100 bonus to play with. If you then make a roulette bet of $200 -the entire balance in your account on red. You will either win $200 or lose $200. If you win and then decide to quit, ignore the wagering requirement, if any, 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. You will win roughly 50% of the time and lose roughly 50% of the time. This means you will win $200 half the time and lose $100 half the time. In equation form it looks like:

$200 (win) - $100 (loss) = $100 profit for two plays
When the betting strategy is to place one bet then quit the game, whether you win or lose, the $100 bonus is worth $50 to in the long run. 

When the player doesn’t take the money and run after an initial win, things become be a little more complicated. There is now $400 in the account (the $100 deposit, the $200 win, and the $100 sticky bonus). $300 belongs to you and you can withdraw that amount anytime you want. Only the $100 sticky bonus can’t be withdrawn. If you bet all $400 on a hand of blackjack, and win, you would win $400. If you bet it all and lose, you will lose $300. Your $100 deposit plus the $200 prior win, less the $100 sticky bonus. In equation form the statement reads:

$400 (win) - $300 (loss) = $100 profit
For wagers with close to a 50/50 outcome you win approximately half the time and lose the other half the time. Knowing the probabilities of win streaks and losing streaks is helpful. For example, when you play multiple hands of blackjack, you will win two hands in a row 25% of the time. One time you’ll win twice, one time you’ll win the first time and lose the second time, and two times you’ll 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. In equation form this reads:

$600 (win) - $300 (loss) = $300
The expectation is $300 over 4 plays, or $75 per play. That means the bonus is worth $75 to you if you used the two-bet strategy. The new approach is worth 50% more than the bet once and quit strategy. We see that this one strategy increases the value of the sticky bonus by 50%. This begs the question can we increase the value of the sticky bonus any more. The short answer is YES. To do this the player doubles there bet after every win. The value of the sticky bonus bet will approach, but never gets to$100. The downside is that with each bet you are betting more to win less.

To maximize the value of a sticky bonus you have to have a high tolerance for risk. The player is risking money they have already won in order to get further increments of bonus. The probability of winning multiple hands in a row in blackjack goes down exponentially with each successive hand. But when you do hit the 6 hands in a row mark that happens about 1.5% of the time you will have extracted 98% of the bonus value. These are general guidelines for a player to follow. The exact value of a bonus and the best strategy for using it has several more complex factors. Thinks like house edge and variance on the game you are applying it too, the wagering requirement for the bonus, casino betting limits, and other factors are contributing factors. The best way to play a sticky bonus is to set a win goal and just go for it. Here are some tips on how to go about it. These are not optimal, are good enough for the novice player to gain a good edge. 


  1. Bet 1/8 of your starting account total off the top, until you hit your goal. For example with a deposit-plus-bonus total of $200 in your account, come right out with a $25 bet
  2. Do not lower your bets if you start losing. Some professionals think it’s more optimal to raise your bet as the probability of losing more hands in a row decrease. I have yet to do the Math on this so I can’t verify this assertion.
  3. When your bankroll is between $2,000 and $4,000, play sticky bonuses that are 100% of your deposit. The win goal is twice the value of the bonus. That is, if you are getting a $100 bonus for a $100 deposit. This means your goal is to turn the $200 total in your account into $400.
  4. When your bankroll is less than $2,000 ignore most sticky bonuses and stick to traditional bonuses. Attacking sticky bonuses can lead to some pretty big bankroll fluctuations.
  5. Don’t get frustrated if you lose your entire bonus, it will happen. But in the end the math will line up.
About the Author

Nicholas is a 17 year veteran of the casino gaming industry. He is former player manager with the infamous MIT Blackjack teams and is a regular attendee of the Blackjack Ball, a gathering of the world’s top professional gamblers.

He is the Managing Director of the Alea Consulting Group, a leading gaming consultant company with a focus on gaming economics and, is a frequent contributor to world class business publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines’ and over 15 gaming trade publications. He is also the founder of Casino Exploits a player centric casino gaming site.