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Does the Martingale System Work at Roulette?

The Martingale system is a betting strategy that was devised in the 1700s in France and is generally applied to betting on roulette, although can actually be used for any type of betting, either casino, sports or anything else, where the odds of success are roughly 50%.

  • Martingale System Explained
  • Why Doesn’t Martingale Work?
  • How to Win with Martingale?
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Some highly unscrupulous casino sites will actually charge you for the “amazing” insight that is Martingale, whilst many punters will either “invent” the theory for themselves or else will hear about it online or perhaps through a friend. If you’re bored already, you need read no further, just remember the below:

The Martingale system is a sham and will ONLY EVER lead to HUGE LONG TERM LOSSES!

If you’re not yet bored and want to know what the Martingale system is, how it works and why it’s doomed to failure then read on.

Martingale System Explained

Martingale is a negative progression betting system, by which we mean your stake increases as you lose. If you start out betting £1 and lose, next you bet £2, then £4, then £8 and when you win you return to your standard £1 stake.

It is generally employed when betting on the colours in roulette but you could also bet on high/low, odd/even or use the system to play blackjack or any other game/bet that returns a payout of even money when you win and gives you a roughly 50% chance of doing so.

Because you double your stake, no matter what happens, when you eventually win you return a profit of one betting unit, or £1 in our example above. Even if you lose 35 times in a row, when you win on the 36th spin of the roulette wheel you’ll be one shiny pound to the good. Theoretically this means you can’t lose but, whilst in theory there is no difference between theory and practice…in practice there is.

Martingale Works If…

If you have an unlimited stack of money, an online, mobile or bricks and mortar casino that accepts bets of unlimited size, you have the time to play FOREVER and, on top of all that, you have the balls to bet HUGE amounts without fear, then yes, Martingale cannot lose.

However, nobody in the world, not even Carlos Slim or Bill Gates has unlimited money. Moreover, no casino in the world, online, in Monte Carlo or anywhere else allows limitless stakes on roulette. Finally, nobody can play forever – there ain’t no roulette in heaven, although maybe there is in hell: did you know the numbers on a roulette wheel add up to 666?!

Why Doesn’t Martingale Work?

The reason the Martingale system doesn’t work can essentially be explained in two ways. Most simply, yet hardest to understand, is the plain fact that whatever you stake cannot overcome the inbuilt house edge the casino has due to the zero, or double zero if you’re crazy enough to both play Martingale AND play on an American table.

Betting on red – or black – pays out at even money, which implies there is a 50% chance of that outcome happening. However, due to the zero the real probability of either colour is 18/37, or just 48.64%. So effectively the casino is underpaying you and thus, in the long term, they will win, no matter what supposedly cunning staking plan you employ.

Now let’s look at the easier way to understand that, even if it does take more explaining. The problem with Martingale is that a long losing sequence will cause one of four things to happen. You either run out of money and can no longer afford to double your stake, the stake size hits the casino’s maximum bet, the casino closes or you lose your bottle and will not bet thousands of pounds in order to win that shiny £1 coin we mentioned earlier. In reality, for the vast majority of people it is the first scenario – they run out of money.

People think a long losing run just cannot happen but the reality is that any croupier who has been spinning the wheel for a while will have seen countless runs of consecutive reds or blacks. Six, eight, even 10, even 15 or more consecutive reds or blacks is a perfectly normal occurrence if you play long enough. If 10 reds come up, the odds on the next spin being red remain exactly the same – just under 50%.

Assume you play roulette for £5 per spin. You lose the first game and then double to £10. Lose again and your stake is £20. Just seven losses sees you having to stake £640, at a risk of being almost £1,300 down if you lose, just to win £5. Some punters think it won’t happen to them or that the chance of losing seven times in a row is so tiny as to not worry about it.

In fact, the chances of seven consecutive losing bets when backing a colour at blackjack are around one in 106. Given the odds of you landing a single number are one in 37 that’s hardly THAT unlikely.

But I know Someone Who Wins With Martingale

Anyone who uses Martingale to play roulette, either online or in a “real” casino is quite likely to win small amounts in the short term. There is, roughly speaking, a 50/50 chance they’ll win the first spin, a 75% chance they’ll win one of the first two spins and an 87% (approximately) chance they will win one of the first three spins.

As such, most times they play they may well win a small amount – one times their base unit, be that £1, £10 or £100. The problem comes when the long run of losses hits. Because the casino retained the house edge all along, that big run of losses will outweigh all the small wins and the catastrophic loss will put anyone off Martingale – and possibly roulette – for life.

If you’re lucky, you may make an overall profit, if your huge loss doesn’t come for a long time. On the other side of the coin, that massive hit could happen the very first time you play roulette, leaving you hundreds, or even thousands of pounds down. Like playing roulette with any system, staking plan or strategy, the result is all down to luck and don’t let a few small Martingale wins make you think it’s any different.