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Why Martingale strategy only works in theory

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While a lot of gambling systems look good on paper, they aren’t necessarily good in practice and this can be said for the Martingale System. We consider this to be the worst betting system available for roulette because it sounds so simple and easy to master in theory, yet in practice it can be quite detrimental to a roulette player and their bankroll. We explain what the system is and why it should generally be avoided.

Available to residents of United States
Available to residents of United States

What is the Martingale system?

Even if you haven’t used it, you would’ve heard of the Martingale system as it has been around for quite some time and is an incredibly common betting strategy for the game of roulette. It works by seeing a standard bet made, of say $10, on an even money bet, such as black in roulette. If you win you make the same $10 bet again, but if you lose you double it to $20.

The theory is that when you do win after a losing streak your net win will be $10 so that you will be up $10, regardless of the losing streak. For example, we place $10 on black in roulette and we win, so we place the same $10 bet on black again. Here, we lose so we double our bet to $20, but still put it on black. We lose again, we double our bet, but then lose again, so we then double our bet again to $80, still on black, but we lose again. So finally we make a $160 bet on black and win. Since we won first up that’s $10 and then win a net of $10 with that last win, we are up $20.

While the theory is you have to win eventually, hitting that black number multiple times in a row is very slim. Odds state that there is a 99% chance you will land a red number after landing six black numbers in a row. But this isn’t all that is wrong with the system, and we detail these cons of the betting system below.

How to place roulette bets with the Martingale system

When using the Martingale system for roulette, it is recommended that you only place bets on the outside bets including the first 18 numbers (1-18), the second 18 numbers (19-36), red or black, and even or odd.

This is because they are even money bets (1:1 payout), and have the best odds of winning. So you will therefore receive the same return as you wagered which is the only way the system can work in theory. However, while you follow all the right instructions you can actually end up losing quite a bit of money. Here is why.

Drawbacks of the Martingale system

There are quite a few drawbacks to the Martingale system, which we take a look at here. Many experienced roulette players have tried and tested the betting system with most recording negative results.

Depletes bankroll fast

Not everyone has a bankroll large enough to continuously double their bets, especially if the losing streak is long. While there is every chance you could win, if you lose even just a few times, you could be out of action. For example if you have a $200 bankroll and make the minimum bet, which is generally $5 bets, after six consecutive losses you will be out of action.

Table limits

If you are lucky enough to have a large, or even just an above average bankroll, table limits can prevent you from performing this betting system. For example, if the maximum limit per bet is $100 and you’re betting $10 per bet, after losing just four times you cannot continue to double your bet.

You’re basically just recouping losses

Even if you do win back your money you aren’t up a lot due to all the losing streaks so basically you are just recouping your losses rather than winning a large amount. If you win consecutively, your wins aren’t very large and just one loss will make you double your bet and thus set you back.

You can’t play for long

The Martingale system definitely caps the length of time you can play roulette for. If you play for longer than an hour then you will generally have either lost a large sum of money, or you will have reached the table limit.

Are there any advantages to the Martingale system?

There can be advantages to the system, but mainly in the short term and if you are very lucky. It is said that this betting system increases the chances of winning in the short term, but this hasn’t been 100% proven.

If you have a large bank roll and place sensible bets, such as $5 per bet, and you are only playing for a short time, then playing the Martingale may increase your odds.

For example, if you place $5 on black for an hour with a $1000 bankroll and double your bet every loss, the odds are said to be 82% with the average wins and losses better than not playing with the system. Though this isn’t a sure thing and the chance of winning at all isn’t guaranteed, which is something many players forget when implementing betting strategies such as the Martingale. Additionally, the average losses far outweigh the average wins.

Average wins and losses with the Martingale system

Over 30 bets of roulette, the average win has been calculated to be $74 on European Roulette with the Surrender rule in play, with an average loss of $463. This is with a $1000 bank roll and $5 per bet system in place. As you can see the loss is quite large and the win is quite small.

This is why in theory the system seems worthwhile, but in practice it is actually quite disadvantageous.

Who should and shouldn’t use the Martingale system

While we do not recommend this system to anyone, if you really do want to try out the Martingale system yourself we recommend having a large bankroll, playing for a short period of time, and playing European Roulette with the Surrender rule in play for the best odds.

However, if you go into it thinking this is a sure thing and a guaranteed way to win in the long run you should avoid the Martingale system at all costs.

The Martingale system in practice without risking the bankroll

If you really want to try the Martingale system yourself with minimum risk you can always play a roulette title at one of our recommended web casinos in free play mode. This way you can try out the system for yourself and see how it works. However, it is important to remember if you do do well the first time, you may not do well again so always keep that in mind.

Additionally, you can switch to real money mode and play the titles without using this betting system and try your own roulette strategy.

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