Sportsbook Free Plays - Good Strategy or Bad Decision?

An examination of the value of taking a free play bonus at an online sportsbook.

When it comes to free plays for sports betting online, the offer sounds alluring.

You're telling me a sportsbook is going to give me free money to gamble? Who wouldn't want that?

Well, a lot of people wouldn't want that, and if you're aware of the reasons why, you might be more apt to hold off on taking the first free play that comes your way.

Online Sportsbooks Offer the Most Competitive Betting Lines

However, there are sharp bettors out there that occasionally capitalize on free plays for smash-and-dash tactics. In other words, looking to get as much money as possible to slam numbers where they have an edge.

If they can smash a particular bet on the board really hard with both their principal and the free play money, sharp bettors can kill bookies with free plays.

But the question still remains: Are free plays a shrewd sports betting strategy or a square bettor trap?

What is a Free Play?

If you're reading this and don't know what a free play is, it's exactly what it sounds like: A free wager on a side or total. Most of the time, bookmakers cap you on what you can bet on. 

Free play at online sportsbooksFor the most part, you can't risk the free play on massive underdogs or massive favorites.

Think of them as the perfect weapon in instances where you really feel confident about a game where the line is a pick 'em.

But like most things in life, there is a catch. If you lose the free play, nothing happens. The free play magically vanishes into the ether. If you win, however, things get a little tricky.

Most online sportsbooks will require your winnings to be tied into a rollover, which is a required amount that must be wagered before you can cash out your balance.

If you deposit $100 and get a 100% free play with a 10-time rollover, that means you would have to wager $2,000 to cash out. The math works like this: $100 + $100 (free play), multiplied by 10, and you'll have to wager $2,000 to collect.

Most sportsbooks offer this sort of calculation, but the trick is that sportsbooks know that you'll be tempted to risk your entire balance or get impatient with money management. So, in essence, they lure you in with a nice fat rollover and expect you to lose your balance.

But now, with a better understanding of a free play, you'll figure out how to use it properly and won't get tripped up by the books, right?


Don’t Bet With Rollovers

Plain and simple: Don't bet with rollovers. There are sharp players out there that can make something out of a free play, but the chances are, if you're reading this, and don't take it the wrong way, but you're not sharp enough to consistently win and beat the rollovers.

Sportsbooks offer them for one simple reason: They make money from them. However, you may want to try betting odds boosters!

If the sportsbook is giving you something, it's most likely a lure. It's not meant to give you an advantage. It's meant to trap you into wagering recklessly, and when you least expect it, blow up your bankroll.

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