The Martingale System

The oldest and most well known gambling strategy around, the Martingale System emerged from a group of betting strategies popular in 18th century France. No one knows for sure how the system acquired the name Martingale. What is clear though, is that the strategy was intended to recover all previous losses with a final big win.

Many other gambling strategies today are rooted in the Martingale System, so it can be helpful to beginning gamblers to learn this system before any others. Any game of chance such as roulette is a Martingale candidate.

The Martingale System is a progressive system that involves betting a single unit on even money bet. Whenever you lose your bet, you double your bet on the same outcome. You continue to double your bet until you eventually win - earning you all your bets back plus one additional unit.

Playing Roulette with the Martingale Betting System

In roulette, a Martingale strategy would be to bet on Black, doubling each bet, until you win. When you finally win, the wager will return any money that's been lost, plus one unit.

Theoretically Martingale is an infallible system. The laws of probability or chance determine that if you double your bet on any even-money wager, you will eventually win. However, using the Martingale system on real money roulette games is a lot riskier than it may seem on the surface.

For starters, you need a huge bankroll in order to keep doubling your bet after each loss. For example, say that you're playing $5 per bet, but you run into a 10-spin losing streak. To place the 11th bet, you would need a total of $2,560 to wager. Very few gamblers have access to that kind of a bankroll.

As a result, players who use Martingale on roulette often put a limit on the number of their losses before they quit the roulette table. Some quit after three losing bets, while others may be bankrolled large enough to stay longer. Putting a limit on losing bets is a wise strategy in any game of chance.

The other major obstacle to the Martingale System is the house limit. Even with a bankroll big enough, eventually players will reach the table limit. At that point, a Martingale player has no chance of winning back the lost bets.

Once again, do the math: at $5 per bet, after a 10-spin losing streak, the 11th bet would equal more than $2,500. This is reaching the table maximum at a lot of casinos. Few casinos will take a bet that is more than 1000 times the table stakes, and most roulette tables have much stricter limits than this.

What's more, it's extremely bad bankroll management to risk a bet of, say, $640, in order to win $5 - especially during a losing streak (which happens more often than players like to admit). That's a lot of money to risk on a chance of winning back your bets plus $1.

Another reason that Martingale is a flawed roulette strategy is that even-money bets, such as red or black, actually have less than a 50-50 chance of winning. That's because of the 0 or 00 that may come up, depending on whether one is playing American roulette or European roulette. 

When the 0 or 00 wins, all other bets lose, including the even-money wagers. This is what's known as the house edge. One way or another, the casino is sure to have the game structured to its advantage and few roulette strategies take this into full account.

One of the best ways to use the Martingale system is at online casinos. A lot of online roulette games for money have stakes as low as $1 per spin, which makes playing online roulette with the Martingale system less riskier than live casinos.