One of the best ways to cover up early missteps in your sports betting career is to use sign-up bonuses fully to your advantage. Most online sportsbooks offer sign-up bonuses; however, some are certainly better than others. There are a few different types of sign-up offers:
The Cash Bonus
This is the most basic of the sign-up bonuses. Once you deposit money onto a sportsbook your account will be credited with an additional %. For some sites, like Bodog, the bonus is typically 10% of your initial deposit.
The only catch to these bonuses is what sites call a "rollover" stipulation. In order to convert these bonus dollars into real money you must first wager your entire deposit plus the bonus amount a specified number of times. This does not mean you have to do it all at once. As an example, a player decides to deposit $200 onto Bodog and his/her account now has $220 in it ($200+$20 cash bonus). In order to cash out his funds he/she must wager at least $220 in the sportsbook. This could mean a single $220 wager, 10 $22 wagers, or even 220 $1 wagers. As long as the total amount is wagered then the player's funds will be eligible for withdrawal.
Some sportsbooks force a player to rollover the amount 2 or 3 times. Before signing up for a site, make sure to check out its bonus information. Obviously the lower the rollover number the better.
The Free-Bet or Free-Play Bonus
Some sites, such as Ladbrokes, offer Free-Play bonuses from time to time. A Free-Play bonus is, as the name suggests, a free wager. Typically the size of the wager is dependent on a bettor's initial deposit. There are no strings attached to this wager, either you win and keep the funds or you lose nothing. This free-wager amount does not have to be bet on one specific wager. Instead, a player could place bets on a variety of different wagers in order to guarantee some sort of return.
However, for the true gamblers out there, you can use the free-play bonus to attempt a huge payday. This would happen by betting on a long-shot or on multiple teams, known as a "parlay" giving you great winning odds on your bet.
Most players make the mistake of taking this bet and placing it on a big favorite to win outright, or what is called a "money-line" bet. While this bet is almost a sure win, it greatly reduces the pay-out of the free-play bet, thus removing most of its value.