# What is the Labouchere Roulette System & How Does it Work?

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Spoiler alert: The Labouchere roulette system works, but you probably won’t be able to use it. That’s right, one of the most famous betting systems in the world has a fatal flaw that you need to know before you play roulette.

We’ve used the Labouchere system countless times over the years, so we know it guarantees a profit. However, if certain conditions aren’t met, you might find that it’s not as profitable as it should be. Here’s everything you need to know about the Labouchere betting system in roulette.

## What is the Labouchere Roulette System?

The Labouchere system is a betting framework that guarantees a profit if you complete the prescribed steps. It’s also known as the split Martingale or cancellation system for reasons that will become apparent in the following section.

However, what’s important to understand at this point is that players use the Labouchere roulette system to size their bets.

This is a popular roulette strategy because, as we’ve said, you’re guaranteed to make a profit if you complete all the steps.

### Where Does the Labouchere System Come From?

Henry Labouchere, a British politician and journalist, is credited as the man who invented the betting system. However, Techopedia’s Paul Cullen did some serious digging and found that Labouchere actually credited someone else for the system that bears his name, which you can read about on our blog.

## How the Labouchere System Works

The only way to understand why the Labouchere roulette system works, despite its fatal flaw, is to run through the basics.

The system is founded on the premise that you only need to win 1/3 of the time to release a profit. So far, so good.

From this, a set of rules was created for the Labouchere betting system:

• 1. You set a win target.
• 2. You divide that target by 10. Alternatively, you can choose random numbers that add up to your target number.
• 3. You write down the result of #2 in a list running horizontally across the page.
• 4. Add together the numbers on the left and right extremes of the list to get your bet size.
• 5. If you win, cross off the numbers you used and proceed to the next two numbers. If you lose, add the amount you bet to the end of the list.

That’s a general overview of how the Labouchere roulette system works.

What you’re essentially doing is using a list of numbers to determine the size of each bet you make. You add numbers when you lose and remove them (i.e. cancel, hence the name cancellation system) when you win.

Once you’ve removed all of the numbers from your list, you’ll have made whatever profit target you decided on before you started.

In this regard, Labouchere is a great betting system in roulette. You know exactly how much you stand to win, and the size of each bet is determined for you.

This means you can use the Labouchere system if you’re a complete newbie or a pro. There’s very little thinking involved.

As long as you set your list correctly and stick to the rules, you’ll make a profit. We know that seems too good to be true, but the theory stands up to scrutiny.

However, as we’ll explain in a moment, there are some issues when applying the Labouchere system.

### Example of the Labouchere in Action

Before we show you how to use the Labouchere betting system at the top online casinos, it’s important to clarify that it’s intended for 50/50 wagers.

As we all know, there are very few (if any) true 50/50 wagers in the gambling world.

However, when it comes to roulette odds, some bets are essentially 50/50 propositions. Otherwise known as even-money bets, they are:

• Red/Black
• Odd/Even
• 1-18/19-36

Any of these bets pay 1:1, which makes them ideal for the Labouchere roulette betting system. Now that’s clear, here’s how to use Labouchere for roulette:

#### Step 1

• You pick a profit target of \$25.

#### Step 2

• You divide \$25 by 10 to get increments of \$2.50.
• Written out, you get the following list:
• \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50.

#### Step 3

• You place your first bet on Red. The amount you wager is \$2.50 + \$2.50 = \$5.
• You win the bet and cancel out the numbers. Your new list is now:
• \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50.

#### Step 4

• You place your second bet on Black. The amount you wager is \$2.50 + \$2.50 = \$5.
• You lose the bet, so \$5 gets added to the end of your list. Your new list is now:
• \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$5

#### Step 5

• You place your third bet on Odd. The amount you wager is \$2.50 + \$5 = \$7.50.
• You win the bet and cancel out the numbers. Your new list is now:
• \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50, \$2.50

#### Result

You continue this process until you’ve removed all the numbers. At this point, you’ll be left with a profit of \$25.

## What is the Reverse Labouchere System?

The Reverse Labouchere works in the same way as the regular system, the only difference being that you cancel numbers when you lose, rather than when you win.

There’s a certain appeal to this system, given the fact that you’re at a slight disadvantage when it comes to even-money bets in roulette.

Therefore, you shouldn’t have to increase the size of your bets as much when you use reverse Labouchere.

However, in reality, this doesn’t make too much difference. The inherent strengths and weaknesses of the system are the same regardless of whether you use standard or reverse Labouchere.

## Should You Use the Labouchere System in Roulette?

The Labouchere system is great from a theoretical perspective. If the rules are observed and you can complete your list of numbers, there’s a profit waiting for you.

However, as we’ve said, there is a fatal flaw in the system. Before we discuss the fatal flaw, here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pros

• You always make a profit when you complete the list.
• It can be used for any type of even-money wager.
• It gives you a clear betting structure.
• You set your own profit target based on your bankroll or preferred bet size.

Cons

• There aren’t any true 50/50 wagers in casino gaming.
• Bets get exponentially larger following losses.

The final con in the above list is why the Labouchere system isn’t necessarily a good way to play roulette.

Put simply, you might not complete your list.

Statistically, you’re due to win at some point, but there’s no telling when it will happen. You could easily go on a 10-spin losing streak.

If that happens, the amount you need to bet to keep the system going might be prohibitively high.

For example, let’s say you start betting \$1 + \$1 = \$2. Your next bets following just five losses would be:

• \$1 + \$3 = \$4
• \$1 + \$4 = \$5
• \$1 + \$5 = \$6
• \$1 + \$6 = \$7
• \$1 + \$7 = \$8

This example doesn’t take into account the fact that your list is constantly changing on the left-hand side as well as the right. In other words, there will be a point where the first number on the left isn’t \$1 anymore.

Based on the above example, you’ll get to \$3 on the left and whatever number is on the right. That’s when the cost per bet increases significantly. Indeed, you could be at the point where you’re wagering \$7 + \$8 = \$15.

The exponential cost per bet following a loss is the Labouchere system’s fatal flaw.

Of course, if you’ve got a huge bankroll, that’s not a problem. However, everyone has a limit. Please always bet responsibly and practice good bankroll management every time you play.

So, while the Labouchere roulette system does guarantee you a profit, it’s not always practical. That’s why you should approach it with caution.

If you’re willing and able to cope with an extended losing streak, there’s certainly merit in using the Labouchere betting system in roulette.

But, if you’re sticking to the tenets of sound bankroll management and don’t want to put yourself under too much pressure, this might not be the best betting system to use.

Do other systems work? Check out our guide to the Martingale betting system to see if there’s a different way to gain an advantage in roulette.

You can use a roulette betting system at any of our recommended online casinos, including BetOnline.

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##### Daniel Smyth
Casino and Poker Expert
##### Daniel Smyth
Casino and Poker Expert

Daniel comes to Techopedia.com with a wealth of experience in the gambling sector. Over the last 15+ years, he’s written content for WPT Magazine, CardsChat, and Gambling.com. Daniel has also worked directly with many of the industry’s leading operators, including PokerStars, Betway, and Yggdrasil. If it’s about gambling, Daniel has covered it.