How the Martingale System Works
The Martingale method is a negative progression system devised in the 18th century. It was designed to be used on 50-50 outcomes, such as the flip of a coin. However, more recently it has been adapted to be used in casino games such as blackjack and at the roulette wheel.
The idea of the Martingale is easy:
- Place an even-money bet like red or black in roulette.
- If the bet loses, double it. Once it wins, reset your wager back to the original value of your initial bet.
The idea of the Martingale is that if you go on a long downswing and rack up losses, you can recoup them when you do strike it lucky. Let’s look a little closer at how Martingale strategy works in practice. We’ll use the roulette table as our example where we’re putting even-money bets on Black.
|Game #||Stake||Results||Return (inc. stake)|
In our example, we play 10 games of roulette starting with an initial bet of $10. We choose to bet on black each time. We lose our first four games and double our previous bet every time. We spin #5 at a stake of $160 and win, banking $320 in the process. We then reset the stake back to $10 and start again.
After 10 spins of the roulette wheel, we have won three games and lost seven. Our total stake is $380, and we have earned a return of $380 also. By only winning three of the 10 spins through Martingale roulette strategy, we have managed to break even.
Martingale Roulette Gambling Strategy
The Martingale system is ideal as a roulette strategy as the casino game has a lot of even-money bets. You can bet on Low (1-18), High (19-36), red/black or even/odd. All six outside bets pay 1/1.
While even-money bets in roulette are the smart play, roulette has an inherent problem: the house edge. Because of the green zero pocket, all your even-money bets will lose. This makes your 50/50 bet a slightly worse prospect. In fact, you will win on average around 46% of the time by backing the even-money bets in roulette.
The Martingale betting system can be a good option if you play French Roulette. In this variant, you will receive a 50% refund on any even-money bet if the zero appears. This acts like an insurance policy against the dreaded single zero, and therefore reduces the house edge.
In fact, in French Roulette, the edge is around 1.35% compared to 2.7% in European Roulette and a massive 5.26% in American Roulette.
Martingale Blackjack Betting System
Blackjack is a good game to use with Martingale strategy. It has as decent house edge that’s much lower than other casino games such as roulette. Plus, if you play optimal strategy and avoid the insurance, you can help yourself to much better long-term profits.
Blackjack pays out even-money for its most basic play: beating the dealer. You can also hit 3/2 for making a blackjack at the start of a hand.
To use the Martingale in blackjack, simply double your stake when you go bust or lose to the dealer. When you win a hand, reset your stake to its original value.
However, be mindful of your bankroll when playing Martingale strategy in blackjack. Often you will be splitting pairs or doubling down. That requires more of your bankroll, so you need to factor that into your system.
Let’s imagine you start with stakes of $10 and lose two hands in a row. Your previous bet has doubled every time and it is now $40. You get dealt a pair of 9s – a perfect hand for splitting. However, because your stake is $40 you will need to bet another $40 to play your second hand.
The Martingale system can reap rewards in blackjack but be aware that a losing downswing can seriously dent your bankroll. You could reach your betting limit or even hit the table limit before ending a bad run.
Martingale Betting System for Baccarat
Baccarat is a great game to implement the Martingale system with. The popular casino card game has a low house edge and is easy to play.
In baccarat, two hands are dealt – the Player’s and the Banker’s. Prior to the deal, you place a bet on which hand will be closest to 9 (where picture cards are worth 0 and other cards are worth their pip value). You can also bet on the tie.
The benefit of baccarat is that the Banker bet has a low house edge of 1.06%. That’s lower than other casino games like roulette or slots. Therefore, you can use Martingale strategy with a better view of the likely long-term outcomes.
The Banker bet pays 19/20 (1/1 minus a 5% commission), while the Player hand pays 1/1. However, the Banker sometimes makes decisions based on the Player’s hand and is therefore in a much better position to win.
The problem with the Martingale betting system is always the house edge. Using this strategy won’t lower the casino house edge and you can still hit long downswings.
Plus, baccarat hands move quickly, which can speed up your loss frequency. That can be a downside if you have a very limited bankroll.
You should also be aware of the maximum table limit before you sit down. Some VIP tables in the U.S. have $10,000 betting limits, but at an online casino you won’t find many tables higher than $5,000.
Using the Martingale Betting System for Craps
If Martingale strategy is about finding the best odds, then craps is the game to go for. Some craps bets have a house edge of 0.00%, making the game perfect for predicting 50/50 flips.
In craps, you place bets on the outcome of the roll of two dice. First, a point number is decided, then players make bets on which number will come out afterwards. You can bet on over a dozen outcomes, from the number rolled before and after the point, to hitting doubles or big numbers.
The best craps wager to use Martingale betting with is the Odds bet. There is no house edge and is statistically the safest option.
To start, place a Pass or Don’t Pass bet. By betting the Pass, you win if a 7 or 11 is rolled. If the roll is 2, 3 or 12, you lose. If it’s any other number (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10), the point is set.
Now you can bet the Odds wager. This is like a side bet that is placed after the point is decided. You win if the point appears before a 7 is rolled.
Of course, you will have to risk a Pass bet in order to bet the Odds, but with a house edge of 0% it pays to play.
The Pros and Cons of Using the Martingale Betting System
Let’s look at the various benefits and disadvantages of using Martingale strategy. Staking plans can be fun, but is a negative progression system like this the right way to go?
Easy to understand: There are no complex formulas to grasp with Martingale betting. Just double your bet after a loss and switch to your original stake after a win.
Only bet on even-money results: The Martingale system is only used on bets that pay out 1/1. That is, you receive a payout equal to your stake. These types of wagers carry the lowest house edge.
You can practice with free-play games: Online casinos let you play for free with zero risk to your money. That’s why online gambling is ideal for testing the Martingale method.
You can incur big losses: In a negative progression system like the Martingale, you double your bets after every loss. That can easily lead to some very big losses over the long term. The Martingale system, therefore, isn’t ideal for players with small bankroll.
You have to factor in the house edge: In a straight coin flip, the odds are 50/50. However, casino games don’t work like coin flips. The true odds of an even-money result such as red or black in roulette are much lower because of the zero. The difference is the house edge, and over the long term you will always lose out to the casino.
The casino may limit your spend: As well as the limits of your own bankroll, you need to factor in the maximum casino betting limits. If you keep losing and doubling your stake with Martingale betting, you may end up reaching the maximum betting limit at the table and have to stop.
Reverse Martingale Betting Strategy (Anti-Martingale)
The Martingale betting system is great for players who want to recoup losses. But what if you want to capitalize on your hot run?
The reverse Martingale method is a positive progression plan that involves reducing your stakes when you lose. And if you win, you take advantage by doubling your bet.
|Win||Reset bet to unit stake||Double your bet|
|Lose||Double your bet||Halve your bet|
The reverse Martingale is seen as a safer option as you keep reducing your bet size following a losing game. It promotes the idea of a hot streak where you are rewarded for winning. Hit a downswing? No problem – just reduce your stakes and wait for a better spot.
The problem with the reverse Martingale is that it’s much harder to recoup losses. When you hit a few losing spins or hands, your stakes are reduced. It therefore takes longer to claw the money back.
The idea with this Martingale system is that your hot runs are rewarded with money in the bank, while a “stop-loss” strategy is applied when you hit an inevitable downswing.
Try Martingale Strategy for Free Today
The Martingale betting system has been around for centuries but is still loved by gamblers today. It’s a risky strategy to use and you can rack up losses if you have a downswing. However, it lets you take control of your budget, even when you’re winning.
Test out a Martingale roulette system today, or try the plan with baccarat or blackjack. We have a comprehensive list of recommended legal and licensed online casinos in your state just for you.
Jon Young is a writer and magazine editor with over 12 years' experience in the gaming sector. He has written on everything from poker and slots to casino, sports betting and mobile gambling. When not trying to take down the Mega Moolah jackpot he can be found playing poker tournaments in casinos.