STRATEGY

Martingale System

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to ensure that you could win at any given game, no matter the odds? If such a system existed, surely it would bankrupt the casinos? Yet that hasn’t stopped people from trying to figure one out. If it were possible to win every time, then the entire gambling industry wouldn’t exist. Nonetheless, there is one method that gamblers love to tout as a short-term winning strategy. This is called the Martingale System. With the gambling market on the up, it might be time to get in on the action with a strategy that works for you!

This system was created back in the 18th Century in France, so it’s been around for a while. However, if it were foolproof or as lucky as they say, then wouldn’t people have been raking in money this whole time? Unfortunately, as with all betting strategies, the Martingale System is flawed, even if it does work. Ideally, this is not something that you want to try if you don’t have a sufficient bankroll. Nor if you plan on playing for hours on end. No matter what, the longer you stay at the tables, your chances of losing everything will increase dramatically. That being said, let’s take a look at Martingale and see if there is any value to it.

The System in Brief

Roulette Winner

As we mentioned, this betting strategy originated in 18th century France as a method for winning a game that had fifty percent odds, like a coin toss. The idea is that if you stick with one side eventually, you will win, so thus you can bet accordingly. Ultimately, the strategy is based on you betting more and more money if you lose with the assumption that you will hit a winner and then recoup all of your losses, plus your original bet. Sound confusing? It’s really very simple.

How it Works

The basic idea behind the Martingale System is that you double your money every time you lose. However, you bet the original amount if you win. At first glance, it seems like it could work very well, especially in a game with odds of 50/50. However, what this does not take into account is the House Edge, as well as the reality that you could have a long string of losses which will add up quickly. To better understand this, let’s create an example.

 

Example

One of the most popular games to use the Martingale Strategy is Roulette. The reason for this is that you can be on red or black, which makes your odds almost fifty percent. However, for this to work, we have to ignore the green segment which can totally throw off your momentum. Nonetheless, the system works like this:

Your first bet is five dollars. Let’s say you win. Then you bet another $5 and win again. Even if you win a hundred in a row, you keep your bet the same, rather than “pressing” it. Once you lose, however, that’s when you increase your bet.

So now, you lost a five-dollar bet, so you bet ten dollars on the next hand. If you win that hand, you still come out with an extra five dollars. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, where the Martingale System falls apart is when you have a string of losses.

As you can surmise, doubling your bet every time you lose can add up remarkably fast. For example, if you increase four times in a row (5 to 10 to 20 to 40), then you’re looking at an investment of $75 just to win back $80. In the end, you’re still up five dollars, but you had to front a lot more money.

In the end, if you wind up having to double your bet for much longer than four or five times, you could wind up losing your entire bankroll. Because the progression is exponential, you have to front a lot of money in just a short period.Martingale System

Is the Martingale System Legal?

As far as we can tell, there is nothing illegal about this betting strategy. Because it does not give you a guaranteed outcome, nor does it affect the house edge, no casinos restrict the use of the Martingale Strategy. While you can make it work to your advantage and win in the short term, your winnings will realistically be much lower than if you pressed your winning bets instead of your losing ones. For that reason, Martingale is not exactly a frowned-upon strategy.

To put it another way, you have a much better chance of winning big if you play more aggressively, so the casino doesn’t have a problem with you playing defensively with the Martingale Strategy.

Is this Strategy Forbidden Anywhere?

Again, we have not found any evidence that the Martingale Strategy is banned in any casinos (both online and live games), mostly because it does not offer any guarantee to win nor does it affect the house edge.

The Martingale System Expanded

Now that you understand the basics of the Martingale Strategy, you can mix things up and change it to suit your playing style as well as your bankroll. There are multiple variations of the Martingale, but each follows the same basic principle of doubling your bet to increase your odds of winning. In addition to the original strategy, there are two popular mutations called the Anti-Martingale and the Great Martingale. Let’s look at both to understand how they work.

Anti-Martingale

As the name suggests, this system works the opposite way of a traditional Martingale. Instead of doubling your bet every time you lose, you increase it whenever you win. The idea behind this strategy is that you can take advantage of a hot streak and win big while also mitigating your losses.

For example, if you bet five dollars and win, then you double it to ten dollars. If you win that, you now have a net profit of fifteen dollars with an investment of five. If you double again and win, then your profit jumps to thirty-five dollars, with the same investment put in. In the end, even if you lose it all, you only fronted five dollars to begin with, which is better than putting up $40 just to win $5.

The other major difference between this and the classic system is that you have to hope for a long streak, and you also have to know when to cash out.

Great Martingale

This is a variation on the classic strategy; wherein you increase your bet to help improve your overall winnings. That also means that you have to invest more money in the short term, which can lead to a total loss that much quicker.

For example, if you start with five dollars and lose, then you double to ten dollars and then add two dollars to increase your winnings. Thus, you will wind up with a seven dollar profit if you win, rather than just five dollars.

Conversely, if you lose that second bet, you now have to double it (12 x 2) to $24, and then add another four bucks to increase your winnings to $11. Here it is in a more simplified form.

If the bet loses

$5

($5×2 + $2) = $12 (win $7)

($12×2 + $4) = $28 (win $11)

(28×2 + $6) = $62 (win $17)

Overall, you are putting up much more money with each bet, but the idea is that you can increase your winnings to make it more worthwhile. This is a more aggressive version of Martingale, but it has a higher chance of losing everything.

Advanced Techniques

So with the odds slightly against you, is the Martingale System even worth it? Well, if you just follow it without taking into account any variables or feelings you have, then it might not be. However, if you can be flexible and customize your betting strategy to reflect what’s going on. This allows you can mitigate your losses and increase your chances of winning. Here are some standard methods to improve upon the Martingale System.

Creating an Edge With Martingale

  • Wait Until a Streak Happens: If you are playing classic Martingale, then you can increase your odds of winning by waiting until one side has won multiple times in a row. For example, playing roulette, red has won four or five times in sequence, then you can start betting on black. The idea is it will jump over much sooner, meaning you won’t have to invest huge money before it does. The problem with this is that each hand is independent of the previous ones played, but realistically speaking one side cannot keep winning forever. Just ask Derren Brown, who tried to flip 10 heads in a row.
  • Start With Tiny Bets: Another way to limit your investment is to start with table limits that are tiny, such as $0.25 per hand or something similar. That way, you can go longer without having to front a large sum, meaning that your losses will not add up as quickly.
  • Take Back Initial Bets: If you play with the Anti-Martingale Strategy, then you can increase your earnings by removing your initial bet with each hand. This will only work after you’ve won three or more hands in a row. It can reduce the chance of losing it all while still possibly coming out ahead. For example, if you win five in a row after starting with $5, then you can win at least $15 by taking out your initial $5 out of the third, fourth, and fifth hands. That way, even if you lose on your sixth, you still come out ahead.

History of the Martingale System

We mentioned that this system originated in France in the 18th century, but the name came from a man named John Henry Martingale, who developed it as an airtight winning method. It didn’t work for him, and he went bankrupt, but the idea stuck around.

Monte Carlo

The system really came into popularity after a man named Charles Wells won big at a Monte Carlo casino over one hundred years ago. Using a variation of the Martingale Strategy, Wells wound up winning over one million Francs. His bankroll was a mere 4,000F.

Since then, various players have adopted the system and used it in a variety of ways. The most popular games to employ this strategy are Baccarat, Roulette, and Craps. Essentially any game with odds close to 50/50.

Things to Keep in Mind

Now that you understand the Martingale System, you may be tempted to try it out at a live game. To help you increase your odds, keep these things in mind before you start.

  • Have a sufficient bankroll to start. Ideally, $500 for $1 bets and $1000 for $5 bets, especially if you plan on using the traditional method
  • Start on smaller tables to get the hang of it first
  • Be patient
  • To minimize losses, wait for a long streak and then bet against it
  • Don’t be afraid to lose a lot at one time
  • Once you’re on a streak, don’t change it up
  • Don’t play for more than a few hours
  • Don’t expect to win big

In Conclusion – The Martingale System

While this betting strategy is not exactly foolproof, it does have some merit. Ultimately, the more experience you have on the tables, the better chances you have of making it work for you. If you just go “by the book,” you could wind up losing a lot. However, if you stay flexible and adjust the system as needed depending on what’s going on, then you can wind up coming out ahead. In the end, that’s all that really matters.

The Martingale System, or a variation of it, can be great if you’re just putting a couple of hours in at the tables.  The one piece of advice we have to stress is that you shouldn’t expect to win big playing this way.  However, if you’ve gone to the casino for a couple of hours and want to come out slightly better than you went in, you could do much worse for a betting strategy.  We hope you enjoyed our guide to the Martingale System and we hope you can use it to great effect!


I'm a tech geek who enjoys extreme sports, computing and, of course, an avid poker enthusiast.


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