The first step in completing a casino offer is checking that it’s worth completing. You can use the Quick Cruncher to calculate the two main factors you need to consider: expected value and completion rate.
Expected value (EV) is the average amount you’d gain or lose each time, if you could take the offer a very large number of times (read our expected value tutorial for a fuller explanation of this important concept). You should only ever attempt casino offers that have positive expected value.
Higher EV offers are usually better than lower EV offers, but remember to also consider how much of your own funds the offer requires you to risk and what your chance of completing the offer is. Never risk money you can’t afford to lose and never risk more than 1% of your bank on a single offer (read our casino basics tutorial for more on this).
The completion rate is the percentage chance of completing wagering and withdrawing funds from the offer. As an example, if an offer had a completion rate of 25%, you’d expect to complete wagering on that offer one time in four, on average.
Completion rate may be more important to you if you have a relatively small bankroll. It is sometimes worth taking offers with a higher completion rate but lower EV, simply because a higher completion rate improves the chances of getting money back into your bank to fund more offers.
Factors Affecting EV – Basic Offer Attributes
The basic attributes of an offer directly affect its EV. You can’t control these factors, but it’s helpful to understand them. The main attributes to look at are deposit/bonus size and wagering requirements.
Deposit & Bonus Size
The amount you have to deposit and the size of the bonus are the most basic casino offer attributes and directly affect the EV of the offer. Broadly, an offer that gives you more bonus funds with your deposit amount will have higher EV than a similar offer that gives you less bonus funds for the same deposit.
When comparing offers, it can be helpful to consider what percentage of the deposit is matched as a bonus. For example, a “Deposit £200, Get £100 Bonus” offer might look more tempting than a “Deposit £25, Get £25 Bonus” offer, because the £100 bonus is so much larger. However, the first bonus is only 50% of the deposit, while the second is 100% of the deposit. The second offer is therefore probably better value.
‘Wagering’ refers to the number of times you need to bet your deposit or bonus (or both) before you can make a withdrawal. Some casino offers have low wagering (e.g. bet your bonus once before making a withdrawal), while some have high wagering (e.g. bet your combined deposit and bonus 40 times before withdrawal).
All else being equal, higher wagering requirements translate into lower expected value and lower completion rates. This is because having to complete more bets increases the chance that you’ll run out of money before converting the bonus funds into withdrawable cash.
Factors Affecting EV – Game Selection
All casino games have two key attributes you need to consider: house edge and variance. You can significantly affect the expected value and completion rate of an offer with your game selections.
Selecting games with lower house edge will result in a higher EV.
Note that house edge and ‘return to player’ (RTP) are two ways of describing the same thing. Over a very large number of bets, house edge is the percentage of staked money that the casino expects to take in profits from a game, while RTP is the percentage of staked money that they expect to pay out to players.
RTP = 100% - House Edge
House Edge = 100% - RTP
Try to play games with a low house edge and a high RTP.
The variance of a game describes the pattern of payouts that it makes. Variance is a mathematical concept with a relatively complicated definition, but it’s quite simple to understand its effects.
Broadly speaking, low variance games tend to pay out smaller wins fairly regularly, while high variance games tend to pay out larger wins, but less often.
The variance of the game you choose will affect the EV and completion rate of the offer you’re completing. Low variance games tend to result in lower EV but higher completion rates, while higher variance games result in higher EV but lower completion rates. Most slots games are medium variance, and we use this as a baseline for calculating EV.
Factors Affecting EV - Bet Size
As a general rule, placing higher value bets will increase the EV of an offer and decrease the completion rate. Conversely, placing lower value bets reduces the EV but increases your chances of completing the offer.
We usually use £1 bets as a baseline for calculating EV, but you can use higher or lower stakes if you choose. Be careful to check that the offer you’re completing doesn’t have a maximum bet size in its terms, as going over this can result in winnings being confiscated.
One particular bet size choice that’s often mentioned is ‘maximum lines, minimum stake’ (or ‘max lines, min stake’). This simply means selecting the maximum number of paylines possible on a slot game and the lowest value of bet per line. This choice gives you the highest completion rate possible on that game, though it does not offer the highest EV.
Game Selection – Blackjack
The game with the lowest house edge in a casino is almost always blackjack. Because of this, casinos usually either don’t allow you to wager through bonuses on blackjack, or give your blackjack bets a much lower weighting than other games.
With that said, if a casino does allow you to wager through a bonus on blackjack without penalty, this is usually the best choice, as blackjack played with perfect strategy has a house edge of around 0.5%.
Note that this only applies if you play blackjack perfectly – if you deviate from the ideal play strategy, the actual house edge could be significantly higher. The perfect blackjack strategy is easy to find online and easy to follow, so look this up and stick to it whenever you play.