The Martingale system is one of the most popular betting strategies out there, particularly amongst novices of roulette because of its claims of increasing wins in the short term. It has been known to be used since the 18th century when it was popularised. This is because it is very simple to understand and easy to apply to your game, but does it work? In short, yes it does, but it also holds its own risks. Among the Martingale’s most useful qualities is its simplicity; its users do not need to make detailed mental notes, they don’t need complex strategic or mathematical minds, and it can therefore be very effective when applied in less experienced games. Here we run through the system and its uses.

The Martingale Betting System Explained

The Martingale strategy works by protecting or recouping a player’s losses through cautious consideration of wins. For example, if a player of any game makes a simple bet and loses, they’ll double their bet exponentially until they win. The strategy here is that, no matter what, if a player has an infinite amount of wealth, they will eventually win their losses back if they continue doubling their bet. Of course, nobody has an infinite amount of wealth and so the game strategy holds obvious risks. In practice, if a standard bet of £10 is made on an even-money bet (such as red in roulette), then every time you win, the same bet is made. If you bet £10 and win, you’ll receive £20 and continue making a £10 bet next. However, if you lose your bet, you double your next bet to £20. If you lost that, you up your bet to £30 and so on. If you could consistently double your bet with each loss, then you would eventually be guaranteed to come out ahead. However, in the real world, you’ll run out of money before you can realistically win it back. In a realistic roulette situation there are many other factors that influence the course and play of the game; from house advantage to table limits. This is the risk and the risk is big; if you get to a ten + losing streak, you’ll go broke before you can make that next bet or reach the table limit. This is because the number of lost chips climbs high, growing as per the table below:

Coup Pieces Losses
1 1 1
2 2 3
4 8 15
5 16 31
7 64 127
8 128 255
10 512 1023

This is why we call it is a good “short term” play when it works, because, even though you are likely to snub out your losing streak over time, it also becomes much riskier. After a 10 roll losing streak, 1 bet sits at a loss of 1023; at £10 that would be £10230.

A Closer Look at Martingale

Now we know the basics, lets get to know the system up close and the odds of winning. If you manage to increase your odds of winning, the Martingale might just work better. The most obvious means of doing this is to contain a smaller betting hand; say, £1. Provided you have enough money to double up your bets when experiencing a long losing streak, you have a larger chance of winning. You can also choose your game well. Although standard American roulette has fairly bad odds in general, mainly due to the 5.3% casino advantage, European roulette lowers this to 2.7%. Other games like Baccarat have low house ends, but the pace is often quick, limiting the value of the Martingale strategy.

Should you try the Martingale? Our Verdict

The Martingale has risks with prolonged play, but works cautiously with short term wins. Although there is no guarantee, the Martingale is likely to bring small wins within a short period of time. However, as time progresses, the risks pile up, making for a painful and risky experience for the unfortunate in the long run. As such, the Martingale might be for you if:

  • You are willing to lose a larger amount if you lose.
  • You not going to play for more than several hours.
  • You are willing to accept the significant risks of losing your bankroll.

When the Martingale is NOT recommended:

  • You don’t have at least 200x your bet in funds: £200 for £1 bets; £1,000 for £5 bets; £2,000 in £10 bets.
  • You’re planning on playing longer duration games over an hour or two, especially if your game is American roulette or fast paced Baccarat.