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The Martingale System

The Martingale System is by far the most popular betting system in the world because it sounds like a sure winner. The idea behind the Martingale system is to always chase your losses until you recoup them, thus making sure you can never end up a loser. However, there are a few major flaws in the Martingale system, which we will point out later.

How to Use the Martingale

To use the Martingale, you must play a game that has an "even money bet". Even money bets are any bets that have roughly a 50% chance of winning, and pay out 1:1. Common examples of even money bets include red or black in roulette, and the pass line in craps.

Once you have found an even money bet that you would like to use, you need to decide what bet size you would like to start with. Keep in mind that you will be doubling your bets quite often, so make sure to start with a relatively small bet size.

Now, you place your first bet on the even money wager. If your bet wins, you keep your winnings and repeat your bet. If you lose, you double your bet to recoup your losses plus an additional bet.

For example, imagine you started out betting $1 on red in roulette. Your first game you win, so you keep your $1 profit and repeat your $1 bet. Your second game you lose, so you double your bet to $2 for the next game. This time you win, which gives you $4 back. Since you bet a total of $3 to get the $4 back, you have a profit of $1 even after your initial loss.

If you lose more than once in a row, you simply keep doubling your bet until you win. No matter how many times you have to double your bet, you will still end up ahead when you finally do win. Check out the chart below for an example:

Bet Sequence Bet Size Result Overall Win/Loss
First Bet $1 Loss ($1)
Second Bet $2 Loss ($3)
Third Bet $4 Loss ($7)
Fourth Bet $8 Loss ($15)
Fifth Bet $16 Loss ($31)
Sixth Bet $32 Loss ($63)
Seventh Bet $64 Loss ($127)
Eight Bet $128 Loss ($255)
Ninth Bet $256 Loss ($511)
Tenth Bet $512 Win $1

Even though you were down $511 after nine bets, you still end up winning $1 after your tenth bet finally comes through. Seems pretty foolproof right? Well, not so much. Read on to learn why the Martingale never works in the real world...

Problems with the Martingale System

Now we will discuss why the Martingale doesn't work in real casinos:

Bankroll Considerations

As you can see in the table above, you need a ton of money to safely use the Martingale system. Even though we only started out with a $1 bet, by the time we got to our tenth bet we were betting $512 to win a measly dollar.

Sure, you might say, "Well how often will I actually lose nine bets in a row?" Well... more often than you think. Players will have a nine-loss streak once every four hours of play. However, if you had an unlimited bankroll, losing streaks wouldn't matter. But...

Table Limits

The real flaw in the Martingale system is the limits imposed by the casino on even money games. For example, most craps tables allow players to bet between $5 and $500 per hand. If you have a seven-loss streak while playing at such a table, you would need to bet $640 to recoup your losses. However, the table maximum is $500, so you would be out of luck.

If you are only using the Martingale for an hour or two, you most likely won't run into such a long losing streak. However, eventually you will hit a rough patch and end up hitting the table limits, thus assuring yourself of a losing session.

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