Martingale Betting System

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• Betting Systems
• Casino games

Martingale System

With its origins in the 18th century, and some claiming a direct connection to London casino owner John Martindale, who used to goad gamblers into doubling up their bets, the Martingale System (with g and not a d) is a very easy-to-understand, easy-to-use negative progression betting system.

By negative progression, we mean that the system’s rules dictate a change in wager amount following a negative result. In other words, when you win, keep things the same. When you lose, change it up.

Gambler’s Fallacy and The Martingale System

There is a fallacy that floats around in the head of gamblers that believes that the longer an event hasn’t happened, the more likely it becomes that it will happen. For example, the longer you go without hitting a blackjack, the more likely it becomes that the next deal will result in a blackjack.

This simply isn’t true. Each hand plays out exactly as the odds dictate with absolutely no influence from the hands before it. If you roll a 7 five times in a row, your sixth roll has just as much a chance to land on 7 as the seventh roll, and eighth roll, and so on.

Because a loss on red at the roulette table doesn’t mean that the next spin is more likely to land on red, we get progression betting systems. The odds don’t change, so we, as the bettors, must act to change the potential result.

So when this bet on red loses, for me to make up that loss, my next bet will be doubled. And thus, negative progression betting systems were born, and specifically, The Martingale Betting System.

How The Martingale Betting System Works

The Martingale Betting System is best used on even odds wagers. It comes from roulette but is also common in sports betting. And since craps, blackjack, and baccarat all offer even odds wagers, The Martingale System can be used there too.

The rules are simple:

  • When you lose, double your bet. A $5 loss becomes a $10 bet. That $10 loss becomes a $20 bet. That $20 bet becomes a $20 win, and you’re now up $5.
  • When you win, stay the course. In the above example, our base bet is $5. So each time we win, the bet that follows will remain $5. You win on a $5 bet, the next bet is $5. And when you win on a $20 bet, as we did above, the next bet is $5.

The Martingale Betting System Playing Roulette

Roulette is where this system originates, so let’s get a better understanding of The Martingale System by applying it to the roulette wheel.

Since we are talking about even money bets, you will only place bets on red or black. There are no other bets on roulette that meet this system’s criteria.

  • $5 bet on red (loss)
  • $10 bet on red (loss)
  • $20 bet on red (win)
  • $5 bet on black (win)
  • $5 bet on black (loss)
  • $10 bet on black (win)

You followed the Martingale System perfectly, won 50% of your bets, and you’re up $15. So even though you lost just as many bets as you won, you’ve profited three times the amount of your base bet. Not bad for just six spins of the roulette wheel.

The Martingale Betting System for Sports Wagers

Let’s say you were sitting at a sportsbook for the NFL playoffs in January and had just learned about The Martingale Betting System. You planned to play all four games of the Wild Card Weekend and all four games of the Divisional Round, and you decided to use The Martingale System.

Your betting amounts would have looked something like this:

Wild Card

$50Houston (-2.5) vs. BuffaloWin
$50Tennessee (+4.5) at New EnglandWin
$50New Orleans (-7.5) vs. MinnesotaLoss
$100Seattle (-1.5) at PhiladelphiaWin

Divisional

$50Minnesota (+7) at San FranciscoLoss
$100Baltimore (-10) vs. TennesseeLoss
$200Kansas City (-11) vs. HoustonWin
$50Green Bay (-3.5) vs. SeattleWin

We went 5-3 on our eight bets, which is great. But even better, because we followed The Martingale Betting System, we won $250 in profit. 

Had we only placed our $50 base wager on each game, we would have walked away with $100 in profit. That too is very good, but not nearly as much as we won by using The Martingale System.

The Martingale Betting System for Blackjack

So far, we’ve looked at The Martingale Betting System for both roulette and sports wagering, and it’s done pretty well. But the real pitfall for The Martingale System comes when there is a prolonged losing streak. Let’s examine what that might look like while sitting at the blackjack table.

  • $25 - bust
  • $50 - loss
  • $100 - dealer hits blackjack
  • $200 - bust
  • $400 - loss
  • $800 - loss

This is just a six-hand losing streak, which isn’t that unusual in blackjack. And because you were sticking to the system through the entirety of the losing streak (which you are supposed to do), you are now in the hole $1,575. 

The reality is that most of us simply don’t have that kind of money to lose. The only hope of getting it back is to continue with the system, but your bankroll may be depleted. 

You may have hit the table limit. You may be out of luck and have no choice but to accept your losses and walk away.

Even when you lower your original bet to $10, a prolonged losing streak can be crushing. At $10, a six-hand losing streak will cost $630. Just two more losses from there, and you’re down $2,550.

So do understand that as good as The Martingale System might perform in short and successful spurts, there can also be very negative results.

Is The Martingale Betting System Right for You?

Everyone has to decide what amount of bankroll they want to gamble with, how much they can afford to lose, and why exactly they are gambling in the first place. If gambling is meant to be a long-term way to make money, then The Martingale Betting System is a bad choice. Eventually, you will hit a losing streak, and you will lose money.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a short-term profit over a handful of bets, then The Martingale System isn’t a bad way to go. Winnings can be had, provided that you can avoid a long and uncontrollable losing streak.

If you do decide to go forth and play casino games with The Martingale System, make sure your bet-to-bankroll ratio is appropriately low. The only way the system will return a profit is if you stick to it. 

If you have to short your bets because you miscalculated just how much money you need to make it work, it will not work.

The Martingale Betting System FAQ

Is it illegal to use The Martingale Betting System?
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No. The Martingale Betting System is perfectly legal to use at online casinos and while sitting at the table in a physical casino. And not only is it legal, but it is encouraged.

As mentioned above, every player has a limit to their bankroll, and every casino game has a wagering limit. So even if you string together wins in the short term, the casino will bank on you losing in the long term.

What is the best casino game for using The Martingale Betting System?
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Mathematically speaking, the best casino game to play is baccarat. The house only has an edge of 1.06%, making it the closest thing to even odds being offered on the casino floor. Blackjack is at 2%, and the house advantage for roulette is 5.3%.

Since The Martingale Betting System works best on even odds games, baccarat is the player’s best choice when looking for winning bets. But baccarat does have table limits, and often those limits are less than for other games.

So always be sure there is a high enough table limit to account for any losing streaks you might suffer.

If it loses in the end, why do so many people use The Martingale System?
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To be clear, all betting systems will eventually lose. The odds are in favor of the house on all casino games, and there is no system in the world that can change those odds. So in terms of being a loser in the long run, The Martingale System is no worse than any other.

But people do use The Martingale System because of its ease of use. There are no calculations and mathematical formulas to follow.

It’s a simple doubling of a bet when the rules call for it, and nothing more. That ease of use, as well as its periods of success for short-term use, is why it’s been around since the 18th century, and why it won’t be going away any time soon.