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The Best Way to Turn your Bonus Money into Real Money

How do you turn bonus money or bonus bets obtained from joining offers such as those found here into real, withdrawable money?

Simply placing and winning bets is the obvious answer, but there is an art behind the best way to turn bonus money into real money, which we will explain

Bookmaking is a highly competitive industry. To attract customers, bookmakers often offer ‘bonus money’ promotions upon joining, or when certain conditions (like losing money on a certain event) are met. These promotions are designed to either attract new customers or encourage betting – even though they may lose the bookmaker money in the short term.

The ultimate goal is, of course, to turn this ‘bonus money’ into real money. Given that you only actually receive the winnings from a bonus bet, rather than the bonus bet itself, the best way to do this can be unclear. We’ll explore four alternative strategies for going about this, and calculate the expected return from $500 in bonus money.

The Simple Strategy

The Simple Strategy involves placing the bonus bet money at low odds (say $1.50), and splitting it across multiple bets. Each individual low-odds bet has a reasonably high chance of winning, and by splitting the bonus bet money across multiple bets, you reduce the impact that individual bets losing will have on the overall expected return.

The strategy is easy to execute and should return a predictable amount, but has a low overall expected return.


Split $500 in bonus money into 20 equal bets at odd of $1.50. These bets can be expected to have about a 65% chance of return when we use fair odds of 67% and factor in the bookmaker’s margin.

Starting Bonus MoneyBetsOddsExpected Winning BetsExpected Return (Real Money)
$50020 x $25$1.5013 (65% of 20)$25 x ($1.50 – $1.00) x 13
= $162.50

The Half-Money Hedge Strategy

This strategy involves choosing an even money, two outcome bet (such as a handicap line), and putting all of your bonus money on one outcome (eg. Brisbane Broncos +2.5) and then a half-stake, real-money bet on the other outcome (eg. North Queensland Cowboys -2.5) with another bookmaker. This is one of the simplest ways of placing what is called a matched bet.

As long as you have an account with another bookmaker this strategy guarantees that you will win an (almost) fixed amount of money regardless of outcome, is simple to execute, and has a decent expected return.

Be careful when executing this strategy, as you need to:

  • Pick a genuine two horse race (not one with a ‘draw’ outcome, however rare).
  • Avoid markets where it is possible to lose one bet and push the other. Tennis, for which bookmakers have varying retirement conditions, is a perfect example of this.
  • Ensure you do not place the matched bet with the same bookmaker. Many bookmakers will not let you do this, or may ban you if you do.
  • Hunt around for the best odds on both bookmakers (the difference in return between a $1.81 bet and $1.95 bet over $500 is $70).


Find an even money bet (lets say a line bet paying $1.92 each way), then put all of your $500 bonus money on one outcome with Bookmaker A and match this with a $250 real money bet on the opposite outcome with Bookmaker B.

If your bonus bet wins, it will pay $460 real money (but you will lose your $250 cash bet) and if your real money bet wins, it will return $480 (but $250 of this will be your initial outlay). On average the return is $470, which is $220 profit on top of the $250 initial real money outlay.

BookmakerBetsOddsExpected Winning BetsExpected Return (In Real Money)
A$500 (bonus money bet)$1.920.5$500 x ($1.92 – $1.00) x 0.5 = $230
B$250 (real money)$1.920.5$250 x ($1.92) x 0.5 =
Total$230 + $240 – $250 (real money outlay)
= $220
Expected Winning Bets
Expected Return (In Real Money)
$500 x ($1.92 – $1.00) x 0.5 = $230$250 x ($1.92) x 0.5 =
Total Expected Return
$230 + $240 – $250 (real money outlay)
= $220

The Scientific Strategy

This strategy involves splitting your bonus bet between a series of moderately high odds bets ($5-$10), and then placing weighted matched bets with another bookmaker. Like the half-money hedge strategy, you are guaranteeing a profit from bonus money through matched betting, however this strategy takes a more scientific approach and maximizes expected return. Noting that bonus bets return only profit, rather than the underlying bet, the following examples show why high odds bonus bets have a higher expected return than low odds bonus bets:

  • Example 1 involves placing a hundred bets of $1 at odds of $1.11. These bets have an implied probability of winning of 90%, and thus if 90/100 of them win, you get 90 x ($1.11- $1.00) = $10 of real money.
  • Example 2 involves placing a hundred bets of $1 at odds of $100. These bets have n fair probability of winning of 1%, and thus if 1/100 of them win you get 1 x ($100-$1) = $99 of real money.

Given that placing higher odds bets with your bonus money has higher expected returns, it is intuitive to think that the best strategy would be to find extremely high odds bets. This is problematic for a two reasons:

  • There is a larger bookmaker’s margin on higher odds bets, as bookmakers need to be compensated for higher variability (thus the probability of a $100 bet winning is likely much less than the actuarially fair 1%).
  • The odds offered for the counter bet on a high odds bet (say of $100) bet will be less than $1.01 (if backable at all). To place this counter bet you would have to have an extremely large bankroll, and find a bookmaker that is willing to take the large bet.

We thus recommend if you are following this strategy you find bets in the $5-$10 range, and divide your bonus money into small bets to reduce the effect of luck. The amount you should put on each counter bet should be calculated using the following formula:

Counter Bet = [Bonus Bet Amount X (Bonus Bet Odds – $1)] / Counter Bet Odds


You have $500 in bonus money, and find a series of high odds bets which (for simplicity sake) are all $8.00. The counter bets are $1.11, and you choose to place bonus bets in increments of $5. Using the formula you note that you would need to place a counter bet of: [5 x (8-1)]/1.11] = $31.53 for each bet.

Regardless of which side of the bet wins, you lock in a guaranteed return of $8.46 on each bet, which is $3.46 above the $5 real money you have placed. Over 100 of these bets, that means $329.27 profit

BookmakerBetsOddsExpected Winning BetsExpected Return (In Real Money)
A100 x $5 bonus money bets$8.0012$5 x ($8 – $1) x 12 =
B100 x $31.53 (real money bets)$1.1188$31.53 x ($1.11) x 88 =
Total$420 + $3062.27 – $3153 (real money outlay)
= $329.27
100 x $5 bonus money bets100 x $31.53 real money bets
Expected Winning Bets
Expected Return (In Real Money)
$5 x ($8 – $1) x 12 =
$31.53 x ($1.11) x 88 =
Total Expected Return
$420 + $3062.27 – $3153 (real money outlay)
= 329.27

The Longshot Strategy

This strategy involves splitting your bonus money between a series of high odds bets, and simply letting them ride (i.e. not placing real money counter bets with another bookmaker). Whilst this means you do not guarantee a return on any given bonus bet, by not placing matched bets you actually maximize your expected return and eliminate the need for additional capital.

The fact that you are no longer guaranteeing a profit might make this strategy seem inferior to the others, but looking at the below graph of 100 $5 bets placed at odds of $8 (with a bookmaker’s margin of 2.5%) may make you feel differently:

Bonus Normal Dist

  1. The probability of losing all of your bets is almost zero.
  2. The probability that you will win 10 or more bets (and thus win more than the next best strategy) is over 68%.
  3. On average you can expect to win about 12 bets. This has an expected return of ($8 – $1) x 12 = $420.


As with the graph, you choose a series of bets paying about $8 that have a bookmaker’s margin of 2.5%. Whilst this is low, it is quite possible by selecting bets where the bookmaker is paying better than their competitors. Factoring in a bookmaker’s margin of 2.5%, these bets have an approximate chance of winning of 12.184%.

Starting Bonus MoneyBetsOddsExpected Winning BetsExpected Return (Real Money)
$500100 x $5$8.0012.184 (12.184% of 100)$5 x ($8 – $1) x 12.184
= $426.45


We believe that the Longshot Strategy is the clear winner for most punters. Whilst you subject your returns to volatility, you have a far greater expected return, and don’t have to invest any money on matched bets.

However, it should be noted that this strategy is only possible when the bookmaker allows you to divide your bonus money into small bets. If you cannot divide your bonus money (or can only divide it into large sums), you should consider other strategies as per the table below:

MethodWhen to UseSecond Bookmaker?Expected Return
The Simple StrategyNever. If the bonus bet cannot be split and you don’t have another betting account, you should sign up to another account.No$162.50
Half Money Hedge StrategyWhen the bonus bet cannot be split, and you do not want to invest significant capital.Yes – low balance required$220
The Scientific StrategyWhen you want to maximize the amount of guaranteed real money return, and don’t mind investing time and capital.Yes - substantial balance required$329.27
The Longshot StrategyWhenever the bonus bet can be split into small amountsNo$426.25

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  1. Many thanks, this website is extremely practical

    • Michael @ Betucate


      Be sure to keep checking as we add content in preparation for our August 17th hard launch. Also if you are going to exploit bonuses, be sure to use our joining links!


  2. Great analysis and article, I never thought about the best ways to use bonus money before

    Looked around the site and there is some other great articles- look forward to moarrrr!!!

    • Jarrod @ Betucate

      Appreciate the comment BettingPadawan! Glad we’ve got you thinking, it really makes a difference knowing these methods when there are so many great bonus offers available.

      We’re looking forward to bringing much more content and have plenty more articles in the works.

      Stay tuned, and happy betting!


  3. Got word of this from a mate, interesting read. Some bookies just give you real money as a bonus but you have to turn it over 2 times- how would you best turn that over?

    • Jarrod @ Betucate

      Hi John, good to know you enjoyed the insights. At the moment the best bookmaker doing that is Unibet, if you’re not already with them you can access this offer through our links on the right hand side of the page – highly recommend joining ASAP as the offer may not last too much longer.

      In answer to your question, some people do this by using a ‘full-hedge’ strategy, whereby they will bet on two teams on the same match with different bookmakers.

      Advantages: Guaranteed returns

      Disadvantages: This is a violation of T&C’s, but they generally won’t pull you up on it if your bets aren’t ludicrious (e.g. betting irregular amounts like $126.72),or you’re betting large amounts on obscure markets. Another disadvantage is you’re paying the bookmaker margin twice, so if you have to turn over $1000, you’ll stand to lose about $100 doing this.

      I’d look into a combination of fully hedging, betting on sports as you normally would, and also looking for odds boost promotions with other bookmakers such as Ladbrokes where you can fully hedge and profit further.

      Hope this helps.


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