There is a saying that is abreviated as TANSTAAFL. “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Bullshit, I say. To those who take this attitude, I say “you will never have YOUR free lunch.”
Almost 6 years ago, I decided that I wanted to be professional poker player. Being that the only knowledge I had of the game at the time consisted of what beat what, I decided that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to search the internet for some tips. Lo and behold, when searching for poker strategy, I came across a paid link that said, “Cheat at Blackjack.” Funny…
So just to humor myself, I clicked on the link. It brought me to a page that had instructions on how to abuse online casino match bonuses by playing blackjack according to a card. I had dabbled with such bonuses in the past and had wondered on the house squeezed out your cash, assuming that the house always had the advantage in such a proposition, but this site had explicit instructions on how to beat the house at their own game. It offered a strategy card according to a given casino’s rules that allowed you to just fall short of breaking even, but when offered a great match bonus, you could expect to show a profit over the house- a very large one!!
Here is how it went:
Suppose Casino X offered you a 100% match on a $200 deposit. Therefore you deposit $200 of your own money, they add $200 to your stack and now you have $400 sitting in front of you. Since they aren’t quite dumb enough to let you cash out right away and squirrel away $200 of their money, they add a few stipulations. The terms and conditions say that you can’t play barracat, craps, roulette, yada yada. SFW. BUT…if you decide to play a game such as blackjack, you had to wager the sum of the deposit and the bonus 12 times. That means that you would have to make 12 x $400 ($4,800) in total bets. So if I were to bet $5 on one hand and lose and $5 on another bet and win, my balance wouldn’t change but I would have made $10 in total wagers. Ok, great, but how does this help my cause?
Now… suppose if you play a by-the-book strategy at this site, the house advantage would be 1.5%. So your expected loss after doing the required amount of wagering would be $72. (FYI, it’s been a long time, so I hope the math here is correct!). So $200 (the given bonus) - $72 = $128 would be your expected earn! When betting about $5 a hand, this originally took me about two hours to complete. As I got better, it eventually only took me about 30 minutes.
Simple enough, right? But so few sign up bonuses and so much time. So then I make the call: “Hey dad, guess what? I found this great way to make money playing blackjack online, so…uh…can you spare me your identity?”
“Oh, and by the way, I’ll need, like… $600 to get started.”
“Um… yeah, sure. I’ll give you my credit card to make a deposit. Just don’t tell your mother.”
Yeah, my dad was one of the pioneers of internet poker, so this didn’t seem all that far out of line for him. I had already made about $2,000 at this point, so I could hand him the cash to get started. In any case, I made the rounds again and scored even bigger. Eventually I got all of my friends involved. I’d give them $400 in cash and they would give me a unique IP address, a new name, and a place to cash out the dough. This may have been a breach of ethics, but come on now, do I really give a fuck? It was still legal!
Eventually the easy money ran out, so I had to get creative. I had become a master of manipulating the T&C’s of any casino and finding all of the best deals. But then came the greatest one of all…
They had a 100% match bonus of $350. The only catch was that you couldn’t play the standard restricted games and you couldn’t play blackjack either, or video poker, for that matter. To top it off, you had the pick of any sucker’s game and you STILL had to wager the whole thing 20 times! It seemed impossible to beat- but wait! I’m too smart for all that…
The interesting thing about this casino was that if you had lost the deposit bonus, you could just cash out your original deposit. Hmmm…
I spent about two days thinking this over and finally concluded that I needed to make a huge score to begin with and then I could afford to wager on a sucker’s game like Let it Ride to make the wagering requirements. So what paid out the best? Roulette!!
You see, betting on a single number on roulette pays back 35:1. The actual odds are 37:1, but I was playing with their money, right? Right!! The maximum bet you could lay on a number was $100. That meant that I had 3 ½ chances to make that big score. Furthermore, if I was lucky enough to get it on the first try, that meant I got a refund on the original $350 bonus, a $3,500 score, and I had already wagered $100 towards the total requirements. All 100% positive!
So I decided to place a $100 bet on the number 10. My palms were sweaty as the ball spun around the wheel. It graphically bounced a few times and landed on………10!!! My hands were shaking real hard at this point and I had to look at my balance to believe what I had just seen. It now stood at $4,200. A remarkable freeroll, if there ever was one! To make a long story short, I ended up getting lucky at Let it Ride and cashed out for about $4,350.
It wasn’t much longer that my tenure as a professional online sucker’s game player ended. I started getting the hang of poker and have made my living as such ever since. But when it was all said and done, I had collectively taken $55,000 from online casinos in a year and a half, beating them at their own game.