A Beginner's Guide to the Martingale Strategy System
Learn how to win at gambling with the Martingale strategy system. Discover how to use the Martingale betting strategy to your advantage and beat the house!
What is the Martingale Strategy System?
The Martingale Betting System is one of the oldest systems on record, and by all accounts has its origins in games of heads or tails, that involved the flipping of a coin.
In this game gamblers can bet on either a head or tail outcome when the coin is flipped.
The odds of each outcome are even money and without a casino involved, the game has a neutral expected value for either side. That is to say, there is no house edge.
Gamblers betting on one outcome double their bet after each loss and continue to do so until the outcome they are betting on eventuates.
- Bet $10 on heads. If we lose we are down $10 and if we win we are up $10. If we lose we move to step 2, and if we win, we bet $10 again.
- Bet $20 on heads. If we lose we are down $30 and move to Step 3. If we win, we are up $10 and move back to Step 1.
- Bet $40 on heads. If we lose we are down $70 and move to Step 4. If we win we are up $10 and move back to Step 1.
- Bet $80 on heads. If we lose we are down $150 and move to Step 5. If we win we are up $10 and move back to Step 1.
- Bet $160 on heads. If we lose we are down $310 and move to Step 6. If we win we are up $10 and move back to Step 1.
- Bet $320 on heads. If we lose we are down $630 and move to Step 7. If we win we are up $10 and move back to Step 1.
This sequence continues until you hit a head.
In the example above, after 6 straight tails we have lost $630 and now face a bet of $640.
The numbers can get big quickly.
The chance of you winning your bet, on any given flip is exactly 50%, provided you are not using a rigged coin. This means that over the long term, the distribution of heads and tails is even.
Basically, if we flip a coin 1 million times, we will find that we will end up with almost exactly as many heads vs tails.
The concept of the martingale betting system is that eventually the outcome you bet on will hit.
In any even money game, without a house edge this is theoretically can be a winning system. The fact is though that in any casino almost all the possible bets you can place, have a house edge attached to them.
For example, in a coin flip situation, the casino knows that the odds you a head is 50%. If the casino gave you true odds on this bet, it would pay out $10 and make no money. What actually happens is the casino will pay you out $9 and pocket the $1.
This small take turns the game from a neutral expected value proposition, into a negative expected value proposition.
How Does the Martingale Betting System Work?
The Martingale system works to give gamblers instant satisfaction and many short-term wins. Most of the time the betting system will result in a win equal to your initial bet.
Long term though the house edge chews away at this short-term dynamic and the strategy is not profitable. The House edge is not the only factor that makes the martingale betting strategy a losing one though.
Read on and find out what else you need to consider.
Martingale Betting System Calculator
Below is a table showing what happens when you start with a $10 bet and lose 10 bets in a row. The table assumes we are playing a neutral expected value game and that there is no house edge. This effectively means we are not in a casino.
|Bet #||Bet Amount||Total Loss||Chance||Odds|
As you can see by the 10th bet you have lost $10,230. The chances of this happening are around 0.2% which translates into a frequency of around once in every 500 attempts.
That may seem like an unlikely scenario, however let’s think about it for a minute.
Consider we are using the martingale betting strategy as our preferred roulette strategy.
We decide that we will bet on red and double out bet until we win a bet.
At a standard roulette table with 5 players we will expect to see around 50 spins per hour. Since the odds of losing 10 bets in a row are around 500-1 (without house edge – the odds would be much higher at a roulette wheel in a casino), we should then expect to be in this situation once every 10 hours of play, or every 500 spins of the wheel.
If you decided to play like a professional gambler and deployed this strategy for 10 hours a day, you would basically be stuck over $10 at least once a day and be facing a bet of $10,230 to continue.
This situation illustrates the 2 biggest factors why the martingale betting system is not profitable in real world scenario’s.
The first factor, as we have demonstrated, is that you need an unlimited bankroll to continue through the sequence This is because the previous spin of the wheel, or flip or a coin, or roll of the dice, is independent from the next. The next event has absolutely no bearing on the previous event.
The gambler’s fallacy, also known as the maturity of chances fallacy is linked to this fact.
Most gamblers mistakenly believe that the frequency of an outcome is affected by previous events. For example, if 6 reds in a row are spun on a roulette wheel, the gambler’s fallacy would suggest that the chances of a black being spun next is higher than before.
The fact of course is that the odd of a black being spun have nothing to do with the previous 6 reds.
Statistically, there is absolutely no reason why you cannot lose 20, 30 or 100 bets in a row.
The question is, will you have enough money to keep playing when the inevitable run of 20 straight blacks are spun? Therefore, even in a theoretical scenario a player will need unlimited access to funds to keep going and ensure profitability.
The second factor is that casinos are not stupid.
They place maximum bet amounts on each table so that players bust out early. Consider a $10 roulette game where you deploy the martingale betting strategy.
Most of those games has betting limits of $500 and in some cases, they may go as high as $1,000. Let’s say for some wild reason you found a casino that went as high as 10 times that amount.
You would still bust out at least once every 500 spins.
Reverse Martingale Betting System
Also known as the anti-martingale betting strategy, the concept is to do the exact opposite of whatever the martingale strategy dictates.
The martingale system is a negative progression strategy where you raise your betting stake every time a bet is lost. In the reverse martingale you want to decrease your bet every time you lose, and increase it every time you win.
This is what’s called a positive progression strategy, where you let winning streaks run by betting more, and seek to reduce exposure during cold streaks.
This system is deployed often by players at the craps table.
The bets are pressed while the dice run hot to maximise winnings. Naturally eventually a losing outcome will present itself and everything will be lost, unless players take something off the table as the progress.
Craps players can use a half press strategy where they only increase their winning bets by 50% instead of 100%, effectively banking some profits along the way and eventually free rolling with the casino’s money after several successful rolls.
We have all had friends who have employed this betting strategy in some shape or form, and have fantastic martingale success stories about how they doubled their money in 4 hours of play.
The fact is that yes, it is possible to enjoy some short term wins when on vacation using the martingale betting strategy.
That said, with the house edge, table limits, and the lack of unlimited bankrolls, mean that eventually everyone will lose their money betting this way, and that ultimately it is not profitable.