A Rich History
First things first, to really understand the Martingale betting system we’ve got to take you back to its origins in post-revolutionary France. That’s where the roulette strategy originated, and was actually most popular, with a whole movement of proponents advocating this method for a surefire way to line your pockets with chips.
The strategy was one of the first ones devised for the game of roulette, also a French invention of the 18th-century, and was popularised by the huge spread of the game in France and later across to America, becoming one of the most famous and recognizable casino games in the world today.
The development of the Martingale as a betting strategy or system has actually spread into probability theory, giving some solid support for this method as a viable way to win big in now not only in online roulette but also other games where the odds of winning are close to 50%.
How The Martingale Strategy Works
So you now might be wondering, what exactly is the Martingale Strategy? It’s essentially a system of betting one can adhere to when playing games where the chances of winning are very close to 50%. Think flipping a coin, or spinning a roulette wheel on black or red.
The key to the strategy is when to increase your bet, and how much. Essentially, whenever you lose, double your bet. That’s the Martingale Strategy in its simplest form. By wagering double the amount you just lost, you have the chance to win back your losses and get an even higher footing.
What if you lose again? Well theoretically (and we’ll get to that later) if you follow the system to a tee, you’ll eventually come good and land your desired result, and all the times that you lost and doubled your wager will mean that you’ve actually lost nothing and are in a better off position than at the beginning of your losing streak.
The odds are most strongly in your favour with games that have a 50% chance of winning. Mathematically, you’re less and less likely to come up with subsequent losses the more you lose. Say you’re preparing for a game of roulette, and you bet on red.
Example: Flipping Coins
Let’s try a little coin flip example. You wager $10 on heads. It comes up tails. Following the Martingale strategy, you double your bet and wager $20 on heads. You lose. $40 on heads. You lose again. Not losing your head and following the strategy you wager $80 on heads, and are currently down $150. It comes up heads! You get your $80 back, and $80 in winnings, and are up $10 overall. Replace coin toss with any other game and you can see the theoretical potential of the Martingale Strategy.
Popular Casino Games You Can Try The Martingale Strategy On
The Martingale betting system is most applicable to games with a 50/50 chance of winning, but you can use it on any games where you wager against the house. You just might spend a longer time enduring losses before you come good, depending on the odds. Here’s a list of the more popular ones:
The Problems with the Martingale System
The Martingale Strategy is a tantalising betting system, for good reason, and in a vacuum, it works to a tee. Its mathematical principles are sound as can be, and the strategy is logical and sensical enough that make them easily applicable to many casino games.
The thing is, however, that life does not occur in a vacuum. There are a handful of principal real-world factors that may stop a keen bettor trying out the Martingale Strategy right in their tracks. These are not always the case, but definitely impact most of the time.
No One Has Infinite Money
The Martingale Strategy requires that players continuously up the ante and risk higher and higher wagers, in the face of continuous losses. The problem here is two-fold: one, that players do not always have the deep pockets required to keep upping the ante; and two, that continuous losses actually occur a lot more than intuition would suggest.
Casinos Always Have the Edge
Casinos are the entertainment institutions and businesses which primarily serve to make money. Just as you are reading this humble little article about a betting strategy from 18th-century France, casino operators are well aware of it too, and have measures in place to stop players exploiting the strategy and keep the odds in favour of the house.
For example in a game of roulette, the outside bets are not exactly 50%, and whatever bet you make – odds, evens, black, red – it’ll be slightly in the house’s favour. That’s the function of the green zeros. This means that the odds of a losing streak are slightly more than a winning streak, and for some players, that’s enough.
A measure that casinos have employed to limit the potential of the Martingale Strategy, is to place max bet limits on wagering, stopping an effort to recoup losses through the constant doubling. Such limits have caught unaware players out before and will undoubtedly continue to do so, so don’t forget to check!
Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover
Ultimately, the Martingale Strategy is a very attractive betting system that is grounded in some solid probability theory and mathematics. What’s more, it’s really simple to apply and can definitely result in some great streaks. However, inevitably the player will encounter some of the real-world checks that’ll pull the foundation out of the strategy, and unfortunately, that’s just the nature of casino gaming.
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s always some lingering questions to be answered, and some folks who need the answers straight and true. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the most common questions we get about the Martingale Strategy below.
What is the Martingale betting system?
The Martingale betting system is a mathematically-proven way to win casino games against the house. Each time you lose, you double your bet to ensure that your losses are earnt back. It’s most applicable to games with a 50% chance of winning, like the top games at roulette casinos.
Can Martingale Beat the House Edge?
Unfortunately, the house will always have the advantage, that's just one of the pragmatic realities of the way casinos operate, and the reason us bettors think that we can craft strategies to cheat the system is a great example of Gamblers’ Fallacy, which ignores logic and seeks patterns and opportunities to win! If you would like more information on strategies, check out our blackjack strategy page.
Does the Martingale system work?
No, the Martingale Strategy does not always work in practice. In theory it most definitely does, which is why it has endured as such a legend of casino stories. It’s just that casinos have wizened up and that there’s that little niggling issue of personal finances which limit the applicability of the Martingale System. Of course, you needn't use such a high-risk strategy when you are playing at the best online casinos, just have fun out there however you bet!