The Martingale System

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roulette wheel

The System

The Martingale system is a betting strategy in which the player doubles their bet after each loss until they win. The system is often applied to roulette when betting on either red or black where the odds of winning are close to 50% and a winning bet returns double the stake. The result is that no matter how many times the player loses, they will recover their losses and a profit equal to their initial stake when they win. If the player wants to make £1 profit using the Martingale system then they can start by placing a stake of £1 on red or black. If their colour comes up then they’ve achieved their goal. If it doesn’t? Simple, just keep doubling your bet until you win, as in the following scenario:

Bet: Black
Stake: £1
Result: Loss
Balance: -£1

Bet: Black
Stake: £2
Result: Loss
Balance: -£3

Bet: Black
Stake: £4
Result: Win
Winnings: £4
Balance: £1

The Flaw

It seems like the perfect system; even if you lose, you’ve got to win eventually, so just keep playing until you win! The problem is, when you’re doubling your bet each time, the amount of money you’re having to stake quickly becomes scary. As in the above example, you might be quite happy to place £4 to win £1, but what happens if you lose another 3 in a row? You’ll have to place £32 just to win £1. Even starting with a bet as small as £1, it will only take 8 losses in a row before you’re having to place £256 to try and recoup your losses and make the lousy profit of £1. On top of that, all roulette tables will have a minimum and maximum stake. A table that allows you to place bets as low as £1 might have a limit of around £200, in which case you’d have to find a table with higher stakes after just 7 consecutive losses in order to be able to place your next bet of £256. The higher stakes table might have a maximum bet of £500, in which case you’d have to find another new table after your first loss in order to continue with the Martingale system.

You may be thinking to yourself, if I have to lose 9 times in order to exceed the max bet then I’m willing to take that risk. What are the odds of losing 9 times in a row? Well, the first thing to consider is that each bet isn’t quite 50/50. A European roulette table has 16 red slots and 16 black slots but it also has a green slot. The green slot skews the odds in the casino’s favour, making the probability of winning 16/33 (48%). The probability of losing 9 in a row is 0.2%. Ultimately, if you use the Martingale system you’re risking a small chance of losing a very large amount in order to win a much smaller amount. You’re far more likely to win than lose but if you do lose it will be a devastating loss.

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