Martingale Betting System Explained – What is the Martingale System?

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The Martingale system is a popular betting strategy that tells you how much to wager on casino games such as blackjack, roulette, and baccarat. It might initially seem daunting, but this approach is actually very simple, and it can be highly effective if you have a large bankroll.

However, you need to find the right online casino and the perfect games to make it work. This article breaks down the Martingale System, explains the pros and cons of using it, and highlights some alternative systems.

What is the Martingale System?

The Martingale is a negative progression system used to determine the size of your bets. It can be applied to any game in which the chances of success are roughly to 1 in 2, such as red/black on a roulette wheel, a blackjack hand, the dealer bet on a baccarat table and certain craps bets.

FanDuel Roulette

The concept is simple. All you need to do is increase the size of your bet after each loss. The idea is that you will eventually win, and that win will wipe out the previous losses that you incurred.

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How Does the Martingale System Work?

You can start by setting aside a bankroll. Choose a percentage of that bankroll, which will serve as your base unit. It is important to start with a relatively low percentage when using the Martingale System. For example, if you have $1,000 bankroll, you can then set your base unit at 1%, which is $10.

Your initial wager will be for 1 unit. If you win, bet 1 unit again. Keep betting 1 unit until you eventually lose.

When you lose, increase your stake to 2 units. If you lose again, increase it to 4 units. Keep doubling your stake until you eventually win. When you win, start the process again by betting 1 unit.

Martingale System Example

This chart provides an example of how the Martingale betting system can work in practice. It features a base unit of $10.

Bet Result Profit / Loss
$10 Win $10
$10 Win $20
$10 Loss $10
$20 Loss -$10
$40 Loss -$50
$80 Win $30
$10 Loss $20
$20 Win $40
$10 Loss $30
$20 Loss $20
$40 Loss -$20
$80 Loss -$100
$160 Loss -$260
$320 Win $60
$10 Win $70

In this example, you lose nine of your 15 bets, but you still end up $70 in profit. It shows that the Martingale betting system can be very effective, as it wipes out losses in one fell swoop, while also allowing you to grind out a series of small wins.

Martingale System Pros and Cons

The main advantage of the Martingale System is that it always cancels out your previous losses. However, it is not a foolproof approach, and it has its limitations. These are the key pros and cons of the Martingale betting system.

Pros

  • The Martingale allows you to recoup all of your previous losses by simply winning a single bet.
  • It is designed to help you accumulate a bunch of small profits, as you never increase your bet amount after winning, and you always go back to 1 unit wagers after a win.
  • This is an aggressive betting system, which will appeal to some players.
  • It is an easy-to-follow system compared to alternative approaches such as the Fibonacci and the 1-3-2-6 system.
  • The system can work well in short bursts, providing a great deal of excitement, along with control over your bankroll.

Cons

  • The Martingale betting system will only work if you have a large bankroll to play with, as it falls apart if you lack the funds to double your bet amount after a loss.
  • It can be psychologically challenging to keep doubling your bet amount when chasing losses, as you can quickly end up placing huge wagers if you embark on a losing streak.
  • The Martingale will also only work if you find a table with broad wagering limits, as you need to start low and have the potential to place very large wagers further down the line.
  • This approach does not capitalize on winning streaks, which may be unappealing to some players.
  • It only works on certain games and bet types.

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Martingale System for Roulette

Roulette is the most popular game among players using the Martingale betting system. It only works on even chance bets, which leaves you with three key options when playing roulette:

  • Red/Black
  • Odd/Even
  • High/Low

DraftKings Roulette

You simply put your chips on red, black, odd, even, 1-18 or 19-36 and hope for the best. If you win, bet 1 unit again. If you lose, double your bet amount to 2 units. Continue doing so until you win, and then bet 1 unit again. Rinse and repeat.

We recommend playing French roulette if possible – look out for it at the best online roulette casinos. It has a higher Return to Player (RTP) rate than American or European roulette games, as there is only a single zero and a rule called la partage earns you a 50% rebate when the ball lands on the zero pocket.

Martingale Betting System for Blackjack

Blackjack is another great option for anyone pursuing a Martingale betting system, as you have a roughly 50% chance of winning each hand. The classic blackjack game has a 99.41% RTP, and some options have an even higher payout rate.

BetMGM Blackjack

Just follow the same approach mentioned above. Bet 1 unit, double it on a loss, stick with the same bet amount when you win and go back to 1 unit after each win.

Things may get a little complicated when it comes to doubling down and splitting aces. However, if you end up with a win, you can just go back to the start and bet 1 unit again. If you double down and lose, just double that bet amount and keep going. The same is true if you split cards and lose both hands.

Martingale System for Other Casino Games

The Martingale betting system can be applied to other online casino games too. Baccarat is a great example if you opt for a player bet. You can also use it on craps if you stick to bets like pass, don’t pass, come, and don’t come.

Lightning Baccarat

You can also consider using the Martingale approach on basic, high RTP slots with low volatility and no major bonus features, but it works much better on table games – either virtual games or live dealer games.

Martingale for Sports Betting

The Martingale betting system could potentially be used on sports, but you would need to find bets that pay out at even money (+100). It is rare to find such odds. The most common betting options are the point spread and the total points line, which typically features standard juice odds of -110. They require an $11 bet to win $10, so they do not work neatly for Martingale betting.

It is also very rare to find suitable horses to bet on at those odds. You can simply use it when placing horse racing wagers, but you will not receive the same sort of neat payouts available on games like roulette and blackjack.

Reverse Martingale

One compelling alternative is the Reverse Martingale, also known as the Anti-Martingale. As opposed to doubling your bet amount after a loss at online casinos, the Reverse Martingale instructs you to double your bet amount after a win. When you lose, you go back to the start and bet 1 unit again.

This system is designed to capitalize on winning streaks. However, all of your previous profits can be wiped out with a single loss, so this system is best used in short bursts.

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Alternatives to the Martingale

If you would like to pursue an alternative negative progression strategy, you can try one of these options:

  • Fibonacci System | This strategy follows the famous – 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so on. You start at the beginning and move forward one step after each loss and back two steps when you win.
  • D’Alembert System | Increase your bet amount by 1 unit whenever you lose and decrease by 1 unit if you win.
  • Labouchere System | Choose the amount you would like to win, such as $100, and break it down into any sequence, such as 10-20-20-20-20-5-5. Start by adding the first and last numbers together to form your stake. If you win, cross them off and add the new numbers at either end together to form your stake. If you lose, add your bet amount to the end of the sequence and keep going.

If you would prefer a positive progression strategy instead, here are some methods to consider:

  • Paroli System | Increase your bet amount by 1 unit whenever you win. If you win three times in a row, go back to the start and bet 1 unit again.
  • 1-3-2-6 System | Start by betting 1 unit, followed by 3 units, 2 units, and 6 units, before starting again, but only move up the sequence when you win.
  • Oscar’s Grind | Increase your bet amount by 1 unit after each win. Keep it the same when you lose. When you end up with at least 1 unit of profit, go back to the start and bet 1 unit again.

FAQs

Is the Martingale system legal?

Does the martingale system work?

Is the Martingale system allowed in casinos?

What is the Martingale system in roulette?

Is Martingale a good strategy?

What are the odds of losing a Martingale bet?

Why does Martingale not work in blackjack?

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Sam Barnard
Editor-in-Chief - Gambling
Sam Barnard
Editor-in-Chief - Gambling

Sam is the Gambling Law Expert on Techopedia.com, and has been working in the sports and gambling industries for more than a decade across many North American and European sites such as Casino.org, SportBusiness.com and Coral bookmakers. An expert on US gambling regulations, Sam oversees content on the site.