The Martingale Roulette System
If you're looking for a straightforward betting system to use at the roulette table, then you can't go wrong with the Martingale. Simply, double your bet after each consecutive loss and return to your initial bet on a win.
When used correctly, this popular strategy is easy to follow and ideal for players with deep pockets. Of course, even the best laid strategies don't always go to plan. Let's see exactly how this works, so you can determine whether or not it's right for you!
The 'Harness' Strategy
According to the French Journal for History of Probability and Statistics, the Martingale system originated in France during the 1800s. At the time, the term Martingale described a piece of horse tack that harnessed a saddle in place. J.Doob, founding father of the Martingale system, dubbed his new mathematical theory a "harness process," or "Martingale." This caught on rapidly and eventually became a popular strategy in games of chance around the world.
How Does the Martingale Work?
The theory is simple. If you double your bet on every consecutive loss, eventually you will win and recoup your losses while making a bit of profit as well. Have a look at these step-by-step instructions.
- Start with the smallest bet the table will allow.
- On a win, collect your chips and place another small bet.
- On a loss, double your bet. Continue to double your bet until you achieve a win.
- On a win that occurs after a series of consecutive losses, collect your chips and place a small bet that matches your initial bet.
- Rinse and repeat!
Casinos that allow generous cash bet limits are best for players that favor the Martingale strategy.
Why is a small initial bet essential to this strategy? Let's have a look at what the bet progression looks like after 9 consecutive losses for various small, initial bets.
- 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256
- 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512
- 3, 6, 12, 24, 48, 96, 192, 384, 768
Now, let's see what it looks like with larger bets.
- 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 160, 320, 640, 1280
- 7, 14, 28, 56, 112, 224, 448, 896, 1792
- 10, 20, 40, 80, 160, 320, 640, 1280, 2560
As you can see, the bets can increase dramatically in a short amount of time. To win back losses and recoup winnings, it is essential to stick with the system faithfully doubling the bet after each loss. That becomes increasingly expensive as the initial bet grows.
Which Bets Work Best?
Outside bets, such as odd/even, black/red and high/low 18, are the best choice for this particular strategy. These 'even chance bets' have the best odds, making them ideal to use with the Martingale. Each gives a nearly 50% chance to win with a 1/1 payout.
The System in Action
Let's have a look at how the Martingale system plays out in a real-world scenario. You've decided to take this strategy for a spin at a roulette table with a minimum bet allowable of C$1. Applying what you know, you place a bet of $1 to start with and place your chips on black.
- The wheel spins and the ball lands on a black number giving you a payout of C$1. You bank it and place C$1 on black again.
- This time, when the wheel spins a red number is selected resulting in a loss. So, you double the bet placing C$2 on black.
- Only, the ball lands on another red. Now, your total loss is C$3, and you double the bet again placing $C4 on black.
- Lucky for you, the capricious ball lands on a black number this time awarding a payout of C$4. As you have already lost a total of $3, the profit amounts to C$1. So far, you've won C$2 total! You bank it and start over by betting C$1.
Notice how the profit matches the initial bet amount each time a win occurs. When using the Martingale, expect the profits to be only as large as the first bet.
The Logic Behind The Martingale
You may be catching on as to why this system is one of the most commonly used at roulette tables. It relies on the relatively high probability of even bets as a sure way to recoup losses. While the wins only make a small profit, the safety net of potentially recouping consecutive losses is what charms players into following it.
Have a look at how this plays out in a longer session of 9 rounds with a larger bet of C$5.
2 wins in 9 rounds resulted in a total of $10 profit. Again, it is essential to remember that this only works if you double your bets after each loss. If you make smaller increases, you may not break even. Larger increases will result in reaching the table limit before you can recoup your losses.
Of course, the difference between theoretical strategy and real-world experience can differ dramatically. The probabilities don't always match the actual outcome. Even when done correctly, it is possible to hit a losing streak that breaks either your personal budget or the table limit. Many players opt to use this as a short-term strategy only.
Variations of the Martingale
- Grand Martingale
- Reverse Martingale
- Dynamic Martingale
The Grand Martingale Variation
This variation compensates for small rewards by doubling the bet and increasing it by one unit. On a loss, a bet of C$1 would double to C$2. Then, $1 would be added for a new bet of C$3. While this increases the potential payout, it also increases the risk of betting too much too fast.
The Reverse or Anti-Martingale
This variation uses reverse logic. It requires players to double the initial bet after each win and reduce it back to the original bet after each loss. It is only effective when used during a winning streak.
The Dynamic Martingale
This variation instructs you to split your bet amongst various, even number bet options after a series of consecutive losses. For example, once your bet has grown to C$30, you would keep $15 on black and place C$15 on low 18 for the next round. Or, you could place C$10 on three even number bets. The bets can be split as many ways as you wish. The Dynamic Martingale is useful mostly at tables with a low maximum bet limit.
Does the Martingale Really Work?
Considering that your pockets, time, and table limit are not infinite, this strategy certainly carries the risk of losing a great deal of money in a short amount of time. Essentially, you have to get a win sooner rather than later to profit. Many feel that this is much too large a risk for too small a reward.
Always Gamble Responsibly
- This system is not best suited to players that struggle with setting personal limits or chasing losses.
- Set a budget and stick to it to avoid a heavy blow to your bankroll.
- Be aware of the table limits in advance, and avoid roulette tables with a high minimum bet requirement on outside bets.
- Don't rely on the Martingale or any system for guaranteed winnings. Roulette is a game of chance!
As with any system, the Martingale works under the right set of circumstances. Only use it when playing at a roulette table with low minimum bet requirements that allow you to play 7 to 9 rounds before hitting the maximum bet requirement. Though the probability of losing more than 7 consecutive rounds is low, it is possible to hit a losing streak at least once every 90 rounds.
Even-money roulette bets lose 52.63% of the time.
1÷(0.5263)7 = 89.411
Experienced players take this into account when strategizing a session. Most agree that it is best to use it only as a short-term system. After a few wins, pocket your small profit and walk away or switch to a different system.
Is This the Method for You?
If circumstances at your casino of choice are right, and you have the bankroll to make it succeed, the Martingale strategy could be a good fit as a short-term option. When used wisely, it makes for a modestly rewarding roulette experience, particularly when it is used either alternately with other systems or for a few rounds at the table.