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The Martingale strategy involves doubling up on losing bets and reducing winning bets by half. It is essentially a strategy that promotes a loss-averse mentality that tries to improve the odds of breaking even but also increases the chances of severe and quick losses. See the example below and watch video!


Autor: Audrey Weston

The Martingale system is one of the oldest and most well-known betting systems in existence. It is also one of the easiest to learn, as there are no complicated calculations involved. The required math is very basic, and there are just a couple of simple steps to follow.

As a negative progression system, the Martingale involves increasing your stakes when you lose. It’s based on the theory that there is a low probability of you losing a large number of bets in a row, and that you will always win one eventually. As sound as this logic might seem, it’s ultimately flawed.

The percentage of gamblers who have tried the Martingale system at one time or another is probably quite high. This is likely to be partly because of its simplicity, and partly because it appears to be a foolproof system at first glance.

Unfortunately, like all other progressive betting systems, this one comes with no guarantee of success. In fact, it is potentially one of the most dangerous systems you can use. You’ll understand why if you read through this page. We’ve covered the system in detail, explaining how it’s used and why it doesn’t work. We’ve also provided information on some alternate variations of this system.

How is the Martingale System Used?

The Martingale system is primarily used at casino games which offer even money bets. The outside bets on the roulette table, such as odd or even, are good examples of where players will try this system. It can also be used on the pass or don’t pass bets at the craps table, and at blackjack and baccarat, and can even be used for even money bets in sports betting.

There is nothing complicated at all about this system. There are basically just two rules to follow.

  • RULE 1 – Double your stake every time you lose
  • RULE 2 – Stake one base unit after every win

That really is all that the Martingale is. The base unit used can be any amount, although it is a good idea to keep it small for reasons that will become obvious later.

The Martingale System in Practice

As an example, let’s say you wanted to use the Martingale system when playing roulette. You decide that you’re going to use a base staking unit of $5, and bet on odd each time. Your first wager would therefore be $5 on the odd numbers. If an odd number came up, you’d keep the stake at $5. If an even number came up, you’d double your stake to $10. If an even number came up again, you’d double your stake again. So you’d be up to $20.

The principle at play here is that by doubling up, when you do eventually win you will win back all your losses and make a profit of a one base unit. The following example shows this in practice.

Stake $5, lose. Total -$5
Double up to $10, lose. Total -$15.
Double up to $20, lose, Total -$35.
Double up to $40, win. Total +$5.

It doesn’t matter how many bets you lose in a row, or what your base unit is. If you follow the system, you will always get a profit of exactly one betting unit when you eventually win a wager.

At this stage you may well be getting excited about the prospect of using this system and becoming rich. This is precisely how many people react when they first hear about the Martingale system, as it seems like the perfect way to make guaranteed profits in the casino. It really isn’t though, as you’re about to find out.

Does the Martingale System Work?

This system can work in the short-term. It can even work for quite for an extended period of time if you avoid any long losing streaks. However, the problems start when you do go on a losing streak. And, realistically, this is bound to happen at you some point.

The biggest drawback of the Martingale system is that it doesn’t take many losing wagers in a row for the required stakes to get very high. Let’s go back to our earlier example, where you started with $5, and see what would happen to your stakes if you lost just six wagers in a row.

6 Losing Wagers in a Row

After losing six straight wagers, which is perfectly possible, you are now required to stake $320 for the next one. This is 64 times your base stake, and you’d already have lost $315. You might think that you’re sure to win the next one, but there’s no guarantee at all that you would. It’s still an even money chance, regardless of what’s happened before.

If you did lose the next one, you’d now be $635 down. And you’d have to stake $640 on your next wager. At this point, there’s a good chance you’ll have gone through your entire bankroll. Even if you haven’t, another loss or two could prove to be very expensive. You might even hit the table limit, and be unable to make the required stake.

This is where the Martingale system fails. It’s a perfect system if you have an infinite bankroll and a casino with no maximum stake, but neither of these things are possible. If you use this system long enough, you’ll always end up hitting a point where you have no more money or need to stake more than the table maximum. You can cut your losses and start again, of course, but it’s almost certain that you’ll have wiped any profits you may have previously made. You’ll probably have lost a lot more on top too.

You may well be reading this and thinking that a losing streak long enough to cause you problems is unlikely. Let us assure you that it could easily happen. In fact, it is probably far more likely than you think. The odds of winning each bet are always exactly the same, regardless of what has come before.

Just because you have seen an even number come up ten times in a row at the roulette table, the next spin is no more likely to be even than odd on the next spin. Thinking otherwise is known as the gambler’s fallacy, and has been the ruin of many a gambler.

As such, the Martingale system is not one that we would recommend. The risk is just too high when compared to the potential profits. Remember that each winning bet will only ever result in a profit of one base unit. If you are absolutely set on giving it a go, please try it out a few times playing for free at an online casino first. There is every chance that you will see just how possible it is to lose everything.

Variations of the Martingale System

It is not known for sure when or where the Martingale system originated, although it is widely accepted that it is named after John Henry Martingale. He was the owner of a British gambling house in the 18th century, and he promoted the use of the system to his gambling customers. When you consider that he would have of course wanted his customers to lose money, this alone should give you some idea of who the system ultimately favors.

The system was not invented by Martingale though, and it’s believe that the practice of doubling up after a loss had already been around for many years before it got its name. With such a long history, combined with the fact that it doesn’t actually work and can be very costly, you might think that use of the system would have died out by now. It hasn’t though, and people do still use the system.

Furthermore, people have actually developed additional variations of the system. They’re all largely based on the same basic concept though, so they’re all doomed to fail as well. Here’s a few details on some of the more popular variations.

The Mini Martingale

With this variation, you limit the amount of times you double up. The idea is that this will prevent the stakes getting ridiculously high. While it does that, it also means that you are more likely to experience a losing streak where you don’t manage to get a win. You’ll lose your money more slowly with this variation, but you will still lose money unless you get an amazing amount of luck.

The Anti-Martingale

The Anti-Martingale is also known as the Reverse Martingale, and it basically turns the system around. Rather than doubling up after losses, you double up after wins. The idea here is that you can win decent amounts if you go on a winning streak. Of course, you have to stop at some point or you will end up giving back all your profits with one loss. This is a safer option than the original system but still offers no guarantee of winning.

The Grand Martingale

This variation sets out to overcome one of the problems with the original system, that the rewards are too low for the risk involved. Rather than simply doubling up after a loss, you double your stake and also add an additional unit. This way, you’ll win more than a single base unit on any sequence that ends with a win. This doesn’t overcome the main problem though, of the stakes getting too at some point. It makes the problem worse in fact, as you are increasing your stakes a faster rate.

Fibonacci System

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Progressive Betting Systems

Progressive betting systems have long been popular with gamblers. This is probably down to two primary reasons.
  • The concept of such systems is really quite simple and they are easy to use.
  • 2Many people believe that these systems will guarantee them endless gambling winnings.
Most of the well-known progressive betting systems can be learned quickly. They usually just involve following a straightforward set of rules, so gamblers can implement them without any difficulty at all. Gamblers can get into difficulty, however, when they believe that these systems actually work. The fact is that they don’t. Progressive betting systems can help you to win some money in the short term, but they don’t actually do anything to influence your chances in the long run. That doesn’t stop some people wasting a lot of money on them though. Many a gambler has been ruined by steadfastly refusing to accept that a system won’t come good eventually. With that in mind, we’ve provided more information about progressive betting systems on this page. This includes explanations for why they don’t work. We cover the basic concepts, and the two main types. These are positive progression systems and negative progression systems. We’ve also written additional pages with full details of each of the most popular systems.

The Basic Concept

The basic concept of progressive betting systems is, as we have already stated, really quite straightforward. It is just about adjusting the size of your stake based on whether your previous bet has won or lost. Exactly how you adjust your stakes depend on the system being used, and whether it is a negative progression or a positive progression.
Increase stakes when you winIncrease stakes when you lose
Decrease stakes when you loseDecrease stakes when you win
These systems are typically used by people playing casino games. Roulette, in particular, is often the game of choice for gamblers using them. They would generally bet on one of the even money bets such as red or black, or odd or even. Blackjack is also a popular game for using betting systems. In theory though, they can be used in pretty much any form of gambling.

Positive Progression

As we’ve already shown you, when using a positive progression betting system you would increase your stake every time you won a bet. You’d then reduce it when you lost a bet. Systems of this type are not as potentially damaging as negative progression systems.
What’s the Theory?The theory behind positive progression is that it will help you to maximize your profits if you go on a winning streak. It will also keep your losses to a minimum when you are losing.
To some extent, the theory here is logical. You can win a great deal of money if you go on a long winning streak, and a long losing streak shouldn’t decimate your bankroll. Using positive progression is actually relatively harmless, but it’s important to note that systems of this type do precisely nothing to affect your overall chances of winning or losing or bet.

Example – The Paroli System

The Paroli system is one of the most popular systems, and also one of the simplest. The idea is that you first set yourself a base stake, and that’s how much you stake on your initial wager. Every time you win a wager, you increase your stake by the amount of your base stake. Every time you lose, you go back to staking your base stack. So let’s say you decided to play roulette using this system, betting on black each time and starting with a base stake of $10. You’d follow these simple rules.
  • Wheel lands on black. Increase stake by $10 for next wager.
  • Wheel lands on red. Stake $10 for next wager.
  • Wheel lands on zero. Stake $10 for next wager.
There’s nothing more to it than that. Win, and your stake goes up by $10 for the next wager. Lose, and it’s always $10 for the wager. Now there is no doubt that you can win some good money using this system if you happen to go on a winning streak. If black came up five times in a row for example, you would win $150.
  • Spin 1. Stake $10. Win. Total +$10.
  • Spin 2. Stake $20. Win. Total +$30.
  • Spin 3. Stake $30. Win. Total +$60.
  • Spin 4. Stake $40. Win. Total +$100.
  • Spin 5. Stake $50. Win. Total +$150.
Had you been staking an even $10 on each spin during this streak, you’d have “only” won $50. So the system would have made you an extra $100. The results for a streak of five losses are exactly the same regardless of whether you’re using the system or not. If red came up five times in a row then your losses would be $50 either way, as you’d be $10 each time in both cases. Therefore, you can clearly see that you win more from a mini winning streak that you lose from a mini losing streak. If the wheel consistently spun five blacks and then five reds then you would make money overall. If you were lucky enough to see a really long streak of blacks then you could make a very healthy profit. However, there is no guarantee that you would see such streaks. You are just as likely to see a run of black followed by red followed by black followed by red and so on. If this happened, you would lose money.
  • Spin 1. Stake $10. Win. Total + $10.
  • Spin 2. Stake $20. Lose. Total – $10.
  • Spin 3. Stake $10. Win. Total $0.
  • Spin 4. Stake $20. Lose. Total – $20.
  • Spin 5. Stake $10. Win. Total – $10.
  • Spin 5. Stake $20. Lose. Total – $30.
As you can see, over six spins this kind of sequence has cost you $30. Even though you’ve won the same amount of wagers as you’ve lost, your stakes have been higher when you’ve lost than they have been when they’ve won. Had you been betting even stakes each time you’d have broken even with this sequence. So the bottom line is that positive progressive betting systems do nothing to increase your overall chances of winning. They can make you money from the right sequence of spins, but they can just as easily lose you money. The good thing about systems of this type is that you will keep your losses down during losing streaks.

Further Information

You can find further information the Paroli system, and other popular positive progression systems, on the following pages.

Negative Progression

Negative progression is in essence the opposite of positive progression, as it involves increasing your stakes when you lose and reducing them when you win. Systems of this type can be a recipe for disaster.
What’s the Theory?The theory with negative progression is that you should always get a win eventually, and all your wins will come at higher stakes than your losses. This shouldresult in making profits overall.
It’s easy to see why gamblers get tempted to use negative progression, as the theory appears entirely logical at first glance. It’s fundamentally flawed though. This is because there is no guarantee of when a losing streak will come to an end. Let’s use roulette as an example again. You might think that if red has come up say eight times in a row that it is bound to be black soon. This is not the case though, the next spin is just as likely to be red again as it is to be black. The mistaken belief that previous outcomes of random events can somehow influence future outcomes is known as the gambler’s fallacy, and it has led to countless gamblers going broke. Continuously increasing stakes in the hope that you will eventually get a win is quite simplyfoolhardy. It is not true to say that negative progressions will never return a profit, as they can. The problem, though, is that you are still relying on luck and the wrong sequence of events will lose you money. You could end up losing huge sums of money in fact, as the required stakes can get very high when you go on a losing streak. If you could keep betting for infinity then they should eventually work, but obviously this is not possible. A bad enough losing streak will lead to you either running out of money or reaching the betting limit imposed by casinos and bookmakers.

Further Information

We have more information on a number of negative progressive systems on the following pages.

Progressive Betting Systems – Our View

As we mentioned earlier, common advice is that progressive betting systems should be completely ignored. We fully understand why people would offer that advice as these systems do not increase your overall chances of winning. The simple fact that they don’t work is good enough reason not to use them. We view things a little differently though, as we think they can be fun if used responsibly and with the right mindset. We certainly don’t believe that they are something to avoid at all costs. We do, however, advise extreme caution when them using. The following warning is particularly relevant when using negative progression systems
Progressive betting systems can be dangerous. If you do choose to use them, you must fully understand that there is no guarantee they will help you to win. You must always bet only with money you can afford to lose. Stay disciplined, and don’t ever increase your stakes too high. Setting stop limits for when you have won or lost a certain amount is a very good idea.