One of the ways online casinos attract players is to offer them bonus money with their initial bankroll.  In fact, so many real money players shop for deposit bonuses that they’re a bit part of any unbiased casino review.

Bankroll bonuses take different forms, but the most common is a deposit matching bonus. For example, many casinos will offer a 100% matching bonus on your first deposit at a casino. So if you deposit $100, the casino will add an additional $100 to your bankroll, so you’ll have $200 to play with.

Another kind of incentive Internet casinos use are called “no deposit bonuses.” These are free bankrolls that don’t require any kind of deposit in order to play. These amounts are usually nominal amounts, like $5, $10, or $25, but they give you an opportunity to try the real money games at the casino without having to deposit any money.

The problem with most casino bonuses is that they have a variety of restrictions placed on them in order to prevent advantage gamblers from making a large profit by taking advantage of the additional bankroll. Most online casinos require a player to make a minimum number of wagers before cashing out. For example, you might have a playthrough requirement of 15 times your deposit plus bonus before cashing out, which means that in our earlier example, where you have a $200 bankroll, you’d have to make a total of $3000 in wagers before being able to cash out.

If you’re playing blackjack with perfect strategy, though, you’re only facing a 1% edge from the casino. So if you make minimum bets, you can “expect” to lose only $30 in that situation, which guarantees you an expected profit of $70. As a result, most casinos don’t count blackjack play toward your bonus wagering playthrough requirements.

Other casinos will allow blackjack player to count toward their bonuses, but they’ll raise the amount of the playthrough requirement commensurately in order to make up for the low house edge on the game. At a casino where you can use a no deposit blackjack bonus, you might have to wager 50 times the amount of the bonus before being allowed to cash out. Since most online casinos have a $1 or $5 minimum bet on their blackjack game, and the size of their no deposit bonuses are so small, it’s unlikely in the extreme that you could profit from such a situation.

One way to potentially earn a profit from a casino bonus using blackjack is to play through your wagering requirements on slot machines, making the minimum wager. Hope that you get lucky and have some money left over. Then, take your remaining bankroll, and bet as much (or all) of it on a single hand of blackjack. About 5% of the time, you’ll be dealt a natural, which means you’ll get a 3 to 2 payout on what’s left of your bankroll. You might be able to cash out a winner at that point.

Even if you don’t get a natural, your chances of beating the dealer are still only a little bit less than 50%. You risk losing all of your bankroll, but you shouldn’t be playing with money you can’t afford to lose anyway. If you win, you get an even money payout, which might also be enough to make you profitable for your entire session.

Realistically speaking, though, it’s impossible to take advantage of no deposit blackjack bonuses and guarantee yourself a profit. Almost all casinos have wagering requirements that mathematically eliminate the possibility of advantage play in these situations. And even those who don’t have a clause in their terms and conditions which voids your play if you’re suspected of being a “bonus abuser,” which is the casino’s term for someone who wants to mathematically assure themselves a profit by taking advantage of the casinos’ promotions and bonuses.

What should an aspiring online blackjack player do with a no deposit bonus, then? Enjoy the game, but don’t expect to win. The odds are in the casino’s favor, so accept that, maximize the amount of fun you’re having while playing blackjack, and enjoy the occasional lucky streak. If you’re not willing to accept that, then you might be better off trying to find a game where you can assure yourself a mathematical advantage—that means learning how to play poker really well, or learning how to bet on sports. Both of those activities can take a lifetime to master, but that’s the nature of advantage gambling.

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