The Martingale system can be applied to any casino game, but is most famously associated with roulette. The idea behind this system is incredibly simple, so much so that you have probably even “invented” it yourself at some point. There are lots of complicated re-hashes of the Martingale system, but in its purest form, it simply involves playing the even money propositions and doubling the size of the bet after each loss.

For example, we might bet $1 on red. if it wins, we earn ourselves $1 of profit and we carry on playing, but if it loses, we continue to bet on red and this time, we bet $2. If this bet loses, we wager $4 and so on.

The mathematics behind the Martingale is straightforward. The probability of our roulette bet never winning is zero, so in theory, the bet must win at some point. We just have to wait for that point to become a reality. By doubling our bet each time, when the roulette wheel is eventually kind enough to let us win, we will eliminate all of our losses and make a profit equal to our original bet.

Let’s extend our example above to four losses and a win, to prove this point:

Spin

Outcome

Bet Size

Returns

Cumulative Profit/Loss

1

Loss

$1

$0

-$1

2

Loss

$2

$0

-$3

3

Loss

$4

$0

-$7

4

Loss

$8

$0

-$15

5

Win

$16

$32

+$1

The Pros

The main advantage of the Martingale is its simplicity. Nobody is going to forgot how to employ this strategy or struggle to calculate how much their next bet should be.

The Cons

The Martingale can escalate out of control very quickly. Let’s take our above example even further, by assuming that we didn’t win on the fifth spin, but the 12th:

Spin

Outcome

Bet Size

Returns

Cumulative Profit/Loss

6

Loss

$32

$0

-$63

7

Loss

$64

$0

-$127

8

Loss

$128

$0

-$255

9

Loss

$256

$0

-$511

10

Loss

$512

$0

-$1,023

11

Loss

$1,024

$0

-$2,047

12

Win

$2,048

$4,096

+$1

As you can see, after 11 losing spins we have to place a bet of $2,048 in order to get our money back and win a profit of just $1. After placing this bet, we will have placed a cumulative total of $4,095.

While the mathematics of the Martingale system are sound, the problem is that should you keep on losing you need a very large amount of money in the bank to see it through to its conclusion.

Furthermore, all land based and online casinos have a table limit – a maximum bet that can be placed – in order to prevent people from employing the Martingale betting strategy to excess. If you hit the limit, you are no longer able to place the correct size of bet and you can’t recover your losses.