What is the Martingale Betting System?

The Martingale Betting System is perhaps one of the oldest betting techniques in the world today, with its origins coming from way back the eighteenth century. In brief, this type of betting technique plays on the probabilities of one winning back his losses in gambling if he bets double the amount after each loss.

For instance, if you bet a pound in a game and you lose; you double your to bet a pound more making it two pounds. If you win, you simply get back the pound that you lost plus the another pound. If you lose, the next bet is fours pounds. If you win that, you win all the losses from previous rounds plus one pound. If you lose, the next bet is eight pounds. You keep going until, you win, you hit the maximum bet or you go bankrupt.

Martingale System in Roulette

If you’re thinking about using the Martingale principle in your Roulette games, the first thing you have to do is to go for the European version of the game since this one has a much smaller house advantage as compared to that of the American version.

To the roulette novice, the Martingale may look fool proof. The presence of the zero makes the chance of a win just under half at 18/37. For the sake of simplicity, assume that the odds of red and black are 50/50. The chance of losing one round is 50%, the chance of losing two rounds is 25%.

If you look at the table, the odds of losing 10 in a row on a single run of the simplified martingale system is less than 0.098%. At those odds, its looks tempting to think that the martingale is the holy grail of roulette betting systems.

Round Bet Odds of Losing
1 1 50.000%
2 2 25.000%
3 4 12.500%
4 8 6.250%
5 16 3.125%
6 32 1.563%
7 64 0.781%
8 128 0.391%
9 256 0.195%
10 512 0.098%
11 1024 0.049%

Look closely at the table though. By the 10th round you are betting £512 to win £1 effectively. If you are unlucky enough to make it to the 11th round, you are more than likely have hit the bet limit. £1000 is a typical limit for an even number bet. Its an awful lot to risk for the sake of a pound.

Even though, the odds of a single streak of losing numbers is low, repeating the martingale many times makes it extremely likely that a streak of 10 numbers will crop up and the player will hit the house limit. |If you look at the article on , you will see the lower bound on getting a streak of 10 reds in a row is 50% in 10,000 spins. That is a low estimate. If you run a Monte Carlo simulation, the odds losing 10 bets in a row is over 90% in 10,000 spins.

So the martingale does work in the short term and you will more than likely win a few pounds. In the long term though a streak will occur which will likely wipe out all winnings and more. The casino also has the maximum bet which will stop a player continuing the progression. If the was a roulette table with no limit, the martingale would actually work, assuming the player also had an infinite bankroll. Casinos know this and it’s the reason there is a maximum bet.