The Martingale system is one of the oldest and most widespread betting strategies used in casino games like online roulette, craps and baccarat. The basic idea is manipulating your losing streak and increasing your winning chances in the short term. It is a relatively straightforward concept that is easy to grasp and does not require complicated calculations. Below is an extensive guide to understanding and applying the Martingale strategy in casino betting.
In this article, you’ll learn
- What is the Martingale betting system
- Types of strategy system
- How does it work
- Pros & Cons
What is the Martingale betting system?
It is a negative progression system, which involves increasing your stakes when you lose bets. The Martingale system is built on the theory that there is a minimal probability of losing many bets in a row and capitalises on the eventual likelihood of breaking the streak. By doubling the bet after every loss the player will, theoretically, make a marginal return when they hit a win. In other words, this strategy theoretically yields small returns to offset large losses. As one of the most simple betting strategies, the Martingale garnered the approval of many casino-goers. Unfortunately, all betting Martingale progression strategies are flawed in a few ways: they require a substantial bankroll to pull off, are not viable on all game bets equally, the rewards are small compared to the risks taken and, sadly, they seldom succeed in the long run.
Variations of the Martingale betting system
Although 18th-century British casino owner — John Henry Martindale — is credited with disseminating the Martingale system, roulette betting strategies were already quite popular across Europe, particularly in France. As the story goes, J.H Martindale devised the strategy and encouraged his patrons to utilise it when gambling, which goes to show who the strategy is intended to favour! Over time, players have adopted newer and better variations of this system. The variations are primarily based on the same concept, which means they also have varied chances of success. Here are the most common Martingale strategies:
- The Mini Martingale – Under this variation, you limit the number of times you double up and in doing so, you are preventing the stakes from getting unreasonably high. In turn, this also counteracts the dominating principle behind the Martingale — by limiting the number of times you double up and quitting the streak of losses early, you almost guarantee that the streak will not be offset by a large-enough wager when the first win hits. You lose money with the Mini Martingale but, fortunately, you will do so slowly.
- The Anti-Martingale (also known as the Reverse Martingale) – As the name suggests, the system flips the system around. Instead of doubling up your bet after a loss, you double up on a win. The idea behind this is to make the most of a winning streak, which may seem appealing at first glance. However, since the stake keeps increasing on every win — the end of your winning streak is guaranteed to result in a substantial loss. While the Anti-Martingale a safer option than the Mini Martingale betting system, it can be quite dangerous to use.
- The Grand Martingale – This variant is intended to rectify one of the flaws of the original version: that the rewards are too minimal for the risks taken. Instead of merely doubling up after a loss, you double your overall stake AND top it off with a few extra coins. While this may yield greater payouts when successful, it also exacerbates the other flaws of the Martingale by increasing the stakes at a much faster rate.
How does this betting system work?
There are no complicated calculations or equations to memorise in the Martingale strategy. This betting system works best with a near 50-50 losing or winning chance, for instance, when betting on Red or Black in roulette. The idea is simple: the wager is increased after every game loss, including consecutive losses.
How is the system used?
The Martingale strategy is most commonly used on 1:1 bets or those that offer a near 50% chance of winning. Outside bets in roulette, such as Even/Odd or Red/Black are perfect candidates, as well as Don’t Pass in craps and Player in baccarat. There are two basic ways to use the Martingale:
- Double your bet after every loss.
- Increase your stake, by an amount of your choosing, after every win. It is recommended to use smaller amounts.
What is the logic behind the Martingale betting system?
At first glance, the Martingale system gives the impression of being a successful strategy. By doubling your bet after every loss, you guarantee that you will get back your collective losses and gain a portion of your original bet when you finally break the losing streak. Going back to the original bet on a win will also ground your wagers and delay the passing of your betting limits. Players can further boost the payouts by at least doubling the bet amount; however, this method will significantly increase the risks.
The Martingale betting strategy in practice
A perfect example would be using the Martingale system to manipulate the loss streak in roulette. As an example, let’s use a base bet of €10 when employing the roulette Martingale method.
- The player wagers €10 on Even (an Outside bet with a winning chance of close to 50%).
- If the spin outcome is an odd number, the player loses.
- The player then doubles the wager to €20 on the next bet. The player has now wagered a total of €30.
- If the next spin outcome is an even number, the player wins a total payout that covers the losses and tops it off with the base bet.
- How? The payout for Even in roulette is 1:1, the win with a €20 bet will pay €40.
The player keeps doubling the bet even if losses occur several times in a row. This method is applicable to all betting options that have a winning chance of nearly 50%. Sounds pretty good, right? Time to take off the rose-coloured glasses and put them away, the Martingale is considered to be a flawed strategy!
Does the Martingale Strategy Work?
Yes and no. The Martingale system can be fruitful in the short term, especially when limiting the number of losses you are willing to incur. Unfortunately, trouble begins to brew when you go on an extended losing streak. As all gamblers know, this is an unavoidable situation in the long run. The only way for this betting system to be successful is if you have an infinite bankroll and the casino has no maximum stake, both of which are impossible. The longer you use the Martingale system, the closer you get to that point where you push your betting limits and surpass the table’s maximum. When this happens, an unmanageable loss is guaranteed.
What are the pros and cons of the Martingale strategy?
When it comes to the Martingale system, there’s the good and the bad. Before you consider trying this strategy out, carefully weigh the pros and cons to make the most responsible gambling decisions.
- The Martingale system may help beginner players recover losses while learning how to play a casino game, such as roulette.
- The Martingale system works best if you intend on playing for a short time.
- Games like roulette, craps and baccarat all have viable Martingale betting options.
- Marginal wins are possible as long as you can keep doubling the bet, even if losses occur several times in a row. This is also the downfall of the strategy.
- You will need a large bankroll that can handle an extended losing streak. This betting system depletes your money significantly faster than other betting strategies.
- The Martingale strategy is not suitable for players looking to play over a long period.
- There is never a guarantee that the next bet will be what you intend for, even if the Martingale system sounds fool-proof.
- The risk is too high compared to the potential payouts on a win.
- Given the house edge, it is virtually impossible for the Martingale to be a successful betting strategy long term.
Should you use the Martingale system?
That is entirely up to you! Whether you are a newcomer or an experienced casino veteran, you have probably heard of the Martingale. There’s no secret trick to pulling it off, but you must consider the downsides of this strategy before committing to it. We recommend trying it out on free-to-play demos first, which will help you gain familiarity with the strategy and viable betting options.
The Martingale betting strategy may be for you if:
- You play for short periods of time.
- You will set a strict budget and stick to it, which means accepting the outcome of losses — such as losing your entire bankroll.
- If you are placing €1 bets, then a minimum bankroll of €200 is recommended. A bankroll of €1,000 is suitable for wagers that do not pass €5.
- You are comfortable losing larger sums of money (eg: greater risk) in return for small payouts on a win.
The Martingale strategy may not be for you if:
- You plan to enjoy the game for an extended period. Note that games like baccarat move quickly, even a relatively short period of time can pack dozens of rounds.
- You have a limited bankroll.
- You are not comfortable with progressively increasing your bet, which means running the risk of losing larger sums as well.
Where else can the Martingale strategy be used?
This system can occasionally be spotted amongst sports punters and forex traders. In the latter case, the reasoning is that trading foreign currency has one of two outcomes: the trade will make a profit, or it will not. Regardless of how the Martingale is used, it always requires deep pockets capable of handling heavy, continuous losses.
The Martingale system is a double-edged sword. On one side is a respectable chance of winning after every losing streak, while covering all losses; on the other is a significant chance of running into a losing streak that cannot be recovered from. All casino games are based on chance, and luck is fickle! Whether you are a new player or a casino guru, don’t rush into using the Martingale strategy in your gameplay. Try it out in free demos first, free play will help you gauge whether or not this strategy can be beneficial to you over the long term. Read our How to play roulette guide to learn more about the game.