The Martingale System: A Betting Strategy to Avoid

We’ve all heard tales from gamblers with an infallible betting system that will beat the house and guarantee riches. But if such systems truly existed there would be no gaming industry - so it’s always advisable to read up on the theories you hear. One of the most popular betting strategies you're likely to come across is the Martingale System. Here’s what it is and why you should avoid it.

What is the Martingale System?

The Martingale System is a betting strategy that originated in 18th century France and remains popular today. The principle is simple: each time you lose a bet, you double your next bet, so that the eventual win leaves you with a small profit equal to your original stake. It is mostly used on games which offer bets with close to a 50/50 chance, such as Roulette, for instance.

Why It Appears to Work

In theory, the Martingale System is close to a sure thing. Eventually, a bet is likely to win and cancel out any losses, leaving the bettor with a modest profit, depending on the original stake. However, it is an example of what is known as the Taleb Distribution; this is a strategy that appears low-risk in the short term, bringing in small profits, but which will periodically experience extreme losses.

Gambler's Fallacy

There are a number of reasons that the system doesn’t work in practice. It relies on the gambler’s fallacy, the theory that eventually you are bound to win. This is quite simply not true – every bet has the same chance of losing, no matter how many losses you've already experienced. Simple variance in a game can lead to what appear to be long losing streaks (or winning streaks!), when these are actually quite ordinary results of chance.

Final Bet Far Greater than the Small Wins

Furthermore, while a losing streak might eventually end, you may not be able to continue using the Martingale System until it does. You do not have an infinite bankroll, and ordinary table games do not have infinite betting limits (certainly if you play at an online casino). And when you do hit a series of losses, doubling the bet each time, your final bet will be far greater than the small wins you would obtain when the system works.

Consider this example: if you play Roulette online at the popular 888 Casino, you may play at a Roulette table with a £1000 bet limit. You start with a £1 bet on red. The ball lands on black. Your next bet is £2, then £4, then £8, £16, £32, £64, £128, £256, £512 – and then you have reached the table limit. 10 losses in a row is not unusual in Roulette, and if you now bet £1000 you are no longer be able to win back your full bankroll. You could be looking at losing £1000 after what started as a £1 bet, and all for a £1 profit - not good odds.

The Martingale System is tempting, but such strategies are usually lauded by people who’ve simply enjoyed short-term success. It is better to bet sensibly (using your intuition and playing within your limits) than to rely on a system that could incur huge losses. If you’re unsure, try out your own strategies risk free at 888 Casino’s practice tables – and don’t trust those who tell you they have a sure way to win!

Casino Articles

Avoiding Tilt in Poker

Spotting a player on tilt is a glorious moment for a seasoned poker pro, but being that player is a newbie's worst nightmare. To avoid paying out like a faulty slot machine next time you hit the poker table, follow

6 Blackjack Myths to Avoid

Blackjack is a game of numbers, and there's no room for sentiments and false assumptions if you're on the hunt for a profit. Here our gamblers' 6 most hated hurdles to a good, clear strategy...

How to Avoid 10 Common Texas Hold'em Poker Mistakes

In today’s competitive poker world every little counts and fixing leaks in your game is extremely important in increasing your long term profits.

Recommended Casino Sites

Casino Navigation


Sign up for the free Newsletter to stay on top of all the best bonuses!
We will never share or misuse your personal information. Privacy Policy

Latest Casino Knowledge

Casino Guides

Country Guide