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The Principles of the Martingale Roulette System

Martingale Roulette

If you've only heard of one roulette betting system, this is probably it. The Martingale system has been around since the dawn of gambling and it comes closer to beating the house than any other betting strategy. If that's not enough, it's also as easy as pie.

How Does the Martingale Work?

For the Martingale system to really be effective, you should be employing it with even-money bets. Here you can find links to all of the appropriate even-money roulette bets to use within this system.

The Martingale System is powered by a very simple principle. Once you've placed a small starting wager there are only two possible outcomes (short of En Prison). You will either win the bet, or lose.

If you win, take the winnings off the table, bank them, and then make the same small bet once again.

You won't need to take advantage of The Martingale System until you actually lose something. When you do lose, double your bet. Don't just increase it slightly; it is essential that you actually double it.

If you win this second bet, pocket all of the winnings except what you need to make the same small starting bet again. If you lose it, however, you'll need to make a third wager that is double the size of your second bet. And so the pattern continues.

Discipline is the name of the game with the Martingale. You must double your bets after every loss, and return to your small bet after every win. Do not deviate under any circumstances.

The Logic Behind The Martingale

You may have already pretty much figured out how the Martingale System can offer you a high probability of winning, but let's run the numbers and examine exactly how it works.

Take a look at this example. The table below describes a series of roulette bets that are made by a player utilizing the Martingale System:

Bet # Bet Size Win Or Loss Net Winnings
1 $5 Loss -$5
2 $10 Loss -$15
3 $20 Win $5
4 $5 Loss $0
5 $10 Loss -$10
6 $20 Loss -$30
7 $40 Loss -$70
8 $80 Loss -$150
9 $160 Win $10

You can see that after each full cycle of losses ending with a single win, the player has a net win of the starting bet (in this case, $5). After the nine rounds of bets, the player has gone through two full cycles and therefore won $5 twice for a $10 net win.

By doubling your bets, each win can pay you back for all previous losses and let you win the amount you started with. If you make smaller increases, you might not be able to break even, and larger increases can make your bet sizes grow out of control.

Does the Martingale Really Work?

We may have painted the Martingale in a pretty good light so far, and though it is one of the least fanciful roulette betting systems out there with the opportunity to earn a few online roulette bucks in the short-term, in the long run it just doesn't add up.

Assessing the Costs

One factor that deters people from using the Martingale System is the strain it puts on your bankroll. In our earlier example, the player was down as much as $150 at one point (even after an earlier $5 win) and then had to come up with $160 to put down on the table.

If our fictional player had lost, it would have driven them $310 further into the abyss. To continue they would have needed to make a $320 bet. In total, therefore, at the smallest common limits they would have required a starting bankroll of $630.

"The Martingale system has long been used by experienced roulette players, but its validity in generating more winning spins hasn't been proven."

Limiting Your Limits

OK, let's say you're James Bond hitting the tables: you've got an endless bankroll and all the time in the world. Nothing can stop you, right?

Wrong. You can only continue this doubling-progression until you reach the table limits. At a $5/$500 table, you'll be able to make seven total bets before you must sustain a $635 loss on the cycle, and then move on.

Don't think you'll actually lose an even-money bet seven times in a row? Think again. Statistically, a seven-bet losing streak should occur approximately every 90 spins. Here's the math bit:


Even-money roulette bets lose 52.63% of the time.

1÷(0.5263)7 = 89.411

Therefore, after rounding up we are left with an expected losing streak once every 90 spins.

Losing this often, what kind of results can you expect? With 89 $5 wins, and one $635 loss, you will lose a total of $190. Assuming that takes you about three hours to accomplish, you are losing an average of about $63.33 per hour. Under normal betting conditions (with a 5.26 percent house edge) you would expect to lose only $7.89 an hour making $5 bets at the same pace.

Start Winning Today!

Of course, those are only the statistics. In reality, if you go through just one or two cycles, you can make a few dollars and quit while you are ahead. The Martingale System only benefits the players who are willing to play a small amount and accept only a modest profit.