How to Win with the Martingale System

Martingale Betting System

You’ll find any number of betting systems with complicated rules for raising and lowering your bets based on whether you’ve been winning or losing on your previous bets. The Martingale System isn’t one of them. It’s still a betting system that requires you to raise your bets based on the results of your previous bet, but it’s far from complicated. If you can double a bet, you can use the Martingale System.

You’ll also find that the Martingale System works better in the short run than a lot of gambling writers would have you believe. This post explains what the Martingale System is and how you can use it to win money (and impress members of the opposite sex).

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How the Martingale System Works

This a system traditionally used on the even money bets in roulette. The idea is that you start with a specific bet size, and if you win, you set aside your winnings. If you lose, you double the size of your next bet, recouping your loss and profiting by one unit. Theoretically, though, you could use the Martingale System with any game which offers an even-money payout. You could use it with baccarat, online blackjack, or even online craps. But it works best with online roulette.

Martingale System in action

  • You bet $5 (the table minimum) on black, and win. Then you set the winnings aside, to the right of the rest of your chips.
  • You bet $5 on black again, but this time, you lose.
  • Your job now is to bet $10 (double the original bet) on black again. This time you win. You win back the $5 that you lost on the other bet, AND you have a $5 profit. You set aside your winnings again.
  • Once you’ve won, you go back to your initial bet size of $5. You bet $5 on black and lose.
  • Then you bet $10 on black and lose again. Now you have to bet $20 on black. Every time you lose, you double the size of the previous bet.
  • At the end of each progression, you’ll have won back your previous losses along with a $5 profit.

Seems foolproof, doesn’t it? It’s not a bad system, but it’s not foolproof. Here’s why:

The 2 Big Problems with the Martingale System

Martingale fans underestimate how likely it is to lose a surprising number of times in a row. If you lose 8 times in a row, the size of your next bet gets really large:

  1. $5
  2. $10
  3. $20
  4. $40
  5. $80
  6. $160
  7. $320
  8. $640

If you lose 8 times in a row, you must make a bet of $1280 on your next wager. Here are the 2 problems with that:

The first big problem is that you probably don’t have a large enough bankroll to use the Martingale. Keep in mind that in the progression above, you’ve already lost $1275 in less than 15 minutes. Sure, if you’re a high roller, you might easily be able to afford such a thing, but high rollers aren’t interested in systems where you only get a $5 profit.

The second big problem is that most casinos don’t have high enough betting limits. At most casinos with a $5 minimum bet on the roulette table, you’ll also find a $500 maximum bet. This breaks the system after 7 losses in a row. Now, you might think that it’s almost impossible to see a losing streak that lasts 7 or 8 spins in a row. That’s almost true.

Losing streaks like that don’t happen every hour, but they happen at any given roulette table at least once or twice a day. When they do happen, they’ll wipe out your winnings from your previous successes, and you’ll be left with the mathematically expected loss for the game.

The Appropriate Way to Use the Martingale System

Even though the Martingale System can’t help you beat the odds in roulette in the long run, you can still beat the odds in the short run with it. In fact, if you keep your playing sessions to an hour or so, you’ll probably have winning sessions at least 4 out of 5 times.

Keep in mind, though, that those winning sessions will usually be small. After all, at the end of each progression, you only see a $5 profit. And when you do have a losing session, it’s going to be a big loss. After all, for you to have a losing session, you’ll have to get to a bet size that’s bigger than the table maximum or bigger than your bankroll. This means losing $500+ most of the time in a single session.

On all those previous sessions, you probably only won $100 or less because of the way the system is set up. Most people familiar with roulette and gambling already know about the Martingale System and its flaws. But if you’re with someone who doesn’t know much about gambling, you can sure impress them by using this system for half an hour or an hour – at least 80% of the time, anyway.

What’s a Reverse Martingale System?

Paroli Betting System

The Reverse Martingale System is also known as the Paroli System. I bet you can figure out how it works by looking at the name of it and thinking about it for a while.

The idea behind the Reverse Martingale is that you start with a $5 bet, and you double the size of that bet after a WIN – instead of after a loss. For example, you bet $5 on black and lose. So you bet $5 on black again, and this time you win. Now you bet $10. You keep doubling the size of your bet every time you win. The idea is that you’re going to take advantage of winning streaks by betting more when you’re winning. You’ll also lose a minimal amount during your losing streaks because you’re keeping your bets as low as possible. The effect of the Reverse Martingale is that you’ll occasionally have really big winning sessions.

The idea is that you’re playing with the house’s money when you win. Of course, the math behind roulette doesn’t care about the size of your bets. The house has an edge of 5.26% no matter what you do. You’ll always have only a 47.37% probability of winning  because of the number of black, red, and green numbers on the wheel. There are 38 numbers on a roulette wheel. 18 of them are black, 18 of them are red, and 2 of them are green. Roulette would be a break even game when you bet on red or black IF the 2 green zeros weren’t on the wheel.

The Law of Larger Numbers

So no matter what you do to the size of your bets, in the long run, you’ll always lose the amount you would mathematically expect.

The mathematical principle behind this is called The Law of Larger Numbers. It basically says that when you’re dealing with something random, the closer you get to an infinite number of trials, the more likely it is that you’ll get results that are just like what probability would have predicted. The practical application of this for a gambler is that in the short run, you can walk away a winner –  sometimes even a big winner. But the longer you play a negative expectation game, the more likely you are to see the results you’d expect – losses.

So the answer is yes, you can win with the Martingale System in the short run. In fact, if you’re playing short sessions, you actually increase your probability of walking away a winner. But some of the time, you’ll face a big, frustrating loss.

LauraK

Blogger and Casino Fan, originally from Argentina.

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