Since the emergence of roulette several centuries ago, casino players have been trying to come up with a strategy that would increase their chances of winning. One of the oldest methods still in use is the Martingale system, a negative betting progression that can be applied to various games of chance, including roulette.
The Martingale system was devised in the 18th century in France and was gradually popularized across Europe and North America. It was initially used by gamblers who played heads and tails, a simple game with two, equally likely outcomes. With this method, they would double up their bet every time they lost, believing that their bet would eventually win and they would recoup their previous losses. The system gained great popularity among gamblers due to its simplicity and the general opinion that over time, the number of heads and the number of tails would balance out.
Today, there are dozens of betting systems, most of which can be used in roulette. The Martingale itself gave rise to several methods that are based on its concept and are equally easy to learn and understand even by inexperienced gamblers. What they need to know before they start using it, however, is that it is associated with quite a high risk because it requires doubling up the amount of the stake after every loss. It is particularly dangerous for casino players with limited bankrolls who happen to have a long losing streak.
Naturally, as with all other betting systems, the Martingale could be very effective in bankroll management if used cautiously. Casino players should know that this method cannot change the odds of the game – in roulette, the house always wins in the end. In the short term, however, the Martingale can help gamblers bet in a systematic, organized manner and avoid huge losses on the roulette table.
How It Works
The Martingale system is, as we already said, very simple and straightforward. Similarly to all progressive systems, it aims to help players recuperate the money they have lost with bigger bets. In contrast, with non-progressive systems, the amount of the stake remains the same throughout the game session. The Martingale method uses the previous results in order to determine the gambler’s decision for the next round.
In roulette, it is used for bets with almost even chances such as red/black, high/low, and even/odd. These outside bets have a probability of nearly 50% – it is 47.37% in double-zero roulette and 48.65% in single-zero roulette games. This means that the chances of hitting red or black are equal, so it does not matter which one you would go for – each of the bets mentioned above would work. Of course, in order for the system to work, you need to keep your chips on the same sector of the layout throughout your entire game. There is nothing complex about applying the system and players do need a lot of experience in playing roulette in order to understand it.
The concept is very simple – you start with a small stake and you double its amount after every loss. When you eventually win, you should be able to win back all the lost money and you will start the betting progression with the initial bet amount. Players are advised to start with the table minimum because, with the Martingale, their bet will increase very quickly after just a few consecutive losses. The following example can illustrate this in a clear way – we will use 1 credit, which may be $1 or $10, depending on the table minimum.
As you can see, the bet jumps from $1 to $64 after just a few losses. Sometimes, roulette players can have a stroke of particularly bad luck when their bet can lose more than 10 times in a row. Gamblers refer to this as a “losing streak” and it is common in games with random outcomes such as roulette – winning streaks are also common. It may sound unlikely, but hitting red 10 times in a row is possible, which as we can see from the progression above raises the bet to more than $500 per spin.
So, we double up the bet after each loss, but what happens when we win? Once the bet wins, the player cancels the betting progression and wager the initial amount – $1, for example. The amount of stake remains the same until a loss has been registered. So, often, the system may look like this:
However, the Martingale progression starts with the first loss and ends with the first win, so actually, it would include only 1-2-4. Since it is used with an even-money bet, the payout will be equal to the amount of the stake. If we take $1 as one unit, the total amount we have wagered would be $7, while the amount we have won would be $8 – our original $4 stake in the third round plus the payout of $4. Therefore, our net profit is only $1 – with the Martingale system, the net profit is always equal to the initial bet amount.
Additional TipsWhen using betting systems, however, players should always consider the table limits. Land-based casinos would rarely accept bets as low as $1 per spin, so let’s see an example of the Martingale method being used on a table where the minimum stake is $5 and the maximum is $500.
|Total Bet Amount:||$1,275||Total Payout:||$1,280||Net Profit: $5|
As you can see from the example, it would be impossible to be successful with the Martingale system at a table where bets are allowed from $5 to $500 if you lose 7 times in a row. Still, just a single win would bring you a total profit of $5.
Variations of the Martingale System
The simplicity and the perceived efficiency of the Martingale system have made it quite popular among roulette fans. Since most seasoned players recognize how risky it could be, they have designed several methods based on the classic system. These new and improved methods include the Reverse Martingale and the Grand Martingale, which aim to give gamblers more flexibility when playing roulette.
The Reverse Martingale
As its name implies, the system is the opposite of the classic Martingale system and it is also known as the Anti-Martingale. This method is a positive progression, which means that players increase their bet after each win – following a loss, they start a new sequence with their initial bet. Of course, the amount of the wager is not simply increased by a single unit, for instance. Each time players win, they double up their bet, hoping they would be able to take advantage of their winning streaks.
Gamblers can apply this method to even-money bets in roulette such as re/black, high/low, and even/odd. Once again, the sequence starts with the lowest possible stake and it remains the same until players register a win. Once this happens, they double up and continue doubling the amount they wager with every successful bet.
|Total Bet Amount:||$325||Total Payout:||$630||Net Profit: $305|
Of course, the Reverse Martingale can also easily lead to reaching the maximum limit of the table with only a few bets. If the player continues the progression from above, the next bet would jump to $320 and if it wins, it would be followed by a $640 wager, which would exceed the maximum betting limit. The other disadvantage of this method is so obvious that there is no point in putting it in the table – with just a single loss, the player would lose all the profit gained so far.
The Grand Martingale
The classic Martingale betting system has one huge disadvantage – it does not provide players with any substantial winnings. The guaranteed net profit equals the initial bet amount and it is “guaranteed” only if the player’s bankroll is close to unlimited. The Grand Martingale system is designed to solve this particular problem – to provide players with larger earnings by increasing the bet amount even more rapidly.
This method requires players to double up their stake after every loss and to add the amount of their initial bet. This continues until the bet wins when the player ends the progression and starts all over with the initial bet. For instance, if we take the $1 classic Martingale progression and apply it here, we would get:
It is obvious from the sequence that the Grand Martingale consists of a progression that is much steeper than in the original system. While in the classic version, 10 losses increase the stake amount to 512 units ($512), the bet here jumps to $1,023. However, the expected net profit is much higher than the initial bet, as we can see from the following example:
|Total Bet Amount:||$2,510||Total Payout:||$2,550||Net Profit: $40|
Some high-rollers prefer to add two units to the doubled amount instead of just one. Using the example above, we would start with a $5 bet and if it wins, our second wager would be $20, while the third bet would jump to $50 and the fourth – to $110. As you can see, this alternative to the classic Martingale is much riskier as it requires rapid increasing of the stake after each loss. So, a particularly long losing streak could easily “eat up” the player’s entire bankroll.
Does the Martingale Beat the Odds?
Each of the variations of the Martingale betting system seems flawless at least theoretically. Casino gamblers, however, do not play with concepts – they wager their real money. Obviously, the systems would work for players with unlimited bankrolls as eventually, at least a small profit would be yielded even with the classic Martingale.
While this all sounds very probable in theory, most players’ bankrolls are not unlimited. In fact, many roulette fans have lost huge amounts of money with these methods of betting. At some point, they would always run out of money and the inevitable house edge would catch up with them. The house edge, also a theoretical concept, cannot be overcome by any betting systems or strategies. In reality, the odds of each bet winning remain the same regardless of any actions and decisions on the player’s part.
Does the Martingale Beat the Odds?The reason is very simple – roulette is based purely on chance and in order to make a prediction about the outcome of the next spin, we need to take only one thing into consideration, namely the probability of the bet. As mentioned above, all even-money bets in roulette are equally likely to win at odds of 18:19, or at a probability of 48.65% (47.37% in the double-zero variation of the game, known as American roulette). Therefore, changing the amount of the bet cannot change the odds – they are fixed throughout the game, so is the advantage the casino has over its players.
As the odds in roulette always favor the house, the Martingale betting system is useless in changing that. Despite what many players believe, a long streak of red numbers is not always followed by a long streak or black numbers, so you cannot rely upon the idea that eventually, the wheel would somehow balance itself. Yes, the red and the black are equally likely but a balance between the two could be achieved only in an unlimited amount of spins and is, in its essence, only theoretical. In reality, if we have 50 red numbers and 50 black numbers in 100 spins, this would be the result of coincidence and pure chance.
Pros and Cons of the Martingale System in Roulette
The Martingale system, as well as its two most common variations, are really easy to use and can be applied to all even-money outside bets in roulette. As every roulette player knows well, these are the safest bets in this game, so basing your game around them is a good strategy. Still, no betting system is a fool-proof method for winning in roulette – the odds are always in favor of the house and besides, a lot of things can go wrong in real life.
That is why players should remember that the Martingale system can turn profit only in the short term. When used carefully, it could help gamblers plan their game and manage their bankroll well, so they never run out of money on the roulette table. If they manage to win after having a long losing streak, they would be able to recuperate all their losses. Still, caution is necessary even when starting with the table minimum as your initial bet.
If used excessively, this method could easily result in losing your entire bankroll. The main dangers of the Martingale system in roulette are reaching the maximum limit of the table without winning a bet and, more importantly, spending all your money before getting the chance to recoup your losses. Long losing streaks can easily wipe out all your winnings and even if they are not very likely to happen, they will happen occasionally. For this reason, the Martingale is a suitable betting system only for those who have more considerable bankrolls and have a higher tolerance for risk.
Most roulette players tend to avoid the Martingale because they know it is efficient only in the short term and can be very risky. Still, the system remains quite popular among gamblers who believe they are lucky and have sufficient funds in their gaming bankroll. As explained above, this system cannot beat the odds in roulette and it is wrong to think that you can actually turn them in your favor. There are, on the other hand, more conservative betting systems that might help roulette fans minimize their losses and achieve optimal play.