People are always looking for a way to beat the casino, and the Martingale system is arguably the most famous strategies that anybody has come up with, especially when it comes to roulette.
It’s not actually a bad system all things considered, but like all the others it will ultimately fail for a number of reasons. That said, if allowed to play out with no interfering factors or limitations it’s a guaranteed winner.
If this sounds a little cryptic don’t worry, it will all become clear as you read this article, but first let’s take a quick look at what the Martingale system is and how it works.
What is the Martingale System?
The system became popular in France in the 18th century, although its true origin is disputed. Some give credit to one John Henry Martindale (the ‘d’ isn’t a typo) who was a casino owner in London who used to convince his guests to double their bets after losing, but no one knows for sure.
At it’s core, the Martingale system instructs the player to double down on losses until they eventually win, which they must at some point. So long as they continue to double their stake after each successive loss they will eventually come out on top, because they will recoup all they have lost as well as the winnings from that final successful bet.
This leaves them one betting unit better off and they can start the process over again. It’s flawless.
Of course Bet 6 would return £64 in total not £32, but since half of that would be our stake for that bet we would only actually be £32 better off than we were before Bet 6. Before Bet 6 we were £31 down, and thus we are £1 in profit after 6 games and can start the sequence again.
It doesn’t really matter what you bet on as long as you keep to one of the even money options; so red/black, odd/even, 1-18/19-36. Some people like to switch it up after each sequence; so after betting on red continuously until it wins, they will switch to black until that bet wins, then switch back.
It doesn’t change how the system works, but it might help to keep you focussed.
The system clearly works, and if you were betting with bigger starting stakes than our measly £1 example you could amass money very quickly, so why do we say that the system will ultimately fail?
Why the Martingale System Doesn’t Work
There are two main reasons why the Martingale system will eventually fail you; one is to do with you and the other is to do with the casino.
Even when playing with smaller stakes as in the example above, you can appreciate how quickly the stake amount can climb if you lose more than 6 or 7 in a row.
This becomes a real problem for those with limited funds, because it is more than possible for your run of losses to wipe you out before you win again to reclaim it all.
The other thing is, the longer you go without a win the high the risk vs the reward becomes. You could be betting 32 units for 1 unit profit by Bet 6 in our previous example, and if your bankroll is limited to say 50 units that is going to be a problem.
A losing streak of 10 or more isn’t uncommon, nor is a run of 10 red or black results on the trot, so you would need an awful lot of money to keep this system going successfully at that point.
You might be thinking that you can overcome this issue by just using smaller starting stakes, but anyone using smaller stakes would likely also have a smaller bankroll so the effect is relative. If someone did have a big bank roll then betting smaller stakes wouldn’t be worth their time even if it was working in their favour.
Even still, by bet 10 you would be staking £512 with a £1 starting stake, and after that we are in similar territory as the chart above, so it’s only a matter of a few extra losses before you are having to wager finger nail biting sums of money.
House Rules & Table Limits
Even if an Arabian Prince walked into the casino with unlimited funds and tried to use the Martingale system they would still ultimately fail.
Why? Because all casinos have a maximum bet at their tables, and sometimes a maximum bet for the casino as a whole. This means that there is an upper limit as to how much you can stake at one time.
You can imagine that a table limit of £2000 for example could be hit quite quickly after a string of losses starting with a £5 or £10 bet, and once that happens the system is scuppered and you have lost everything wagered so far.
These limits are in place partly to foil of these betting systems, therefore, no amount of money can get around the problem.
Questions About the Martingale System
Does the Martingale System Work in the Short Term?
It can work over the short term ,but just because it can that doesn’t mean that it will. If you get lucky and don’t go more than 3 or 4 losses in a row for a while then you can build your bank quite nicely.
There is no guarantee this will happen though, and if it doesn’t you will either have bail out and start again which would take a very long time to recoup your losses, or you would end up broke.
Are There Other Betting Systems Like the Martingale?
Yes there are quite a few, with the Labouchere and the Fibonacci being the most well known.
However, the Martingale is widely accepted to be the best system and as we have just demonstrated – it doesn’t work.