The Martingale Betting System

Do you know what a betting system is?

A betting system is a structured approach to gambling. It is a strategy for how you will place your bets. For example, you might bet 2x as much when you’re winning, but 3x as less when you’re losing. Whatever the system, the idea is to maximize your time spent playing, as well as the few times that you have an advantage over the house.

That sounds like fun, right? And profitable, too.

But don’t get too excited. It is a well-known and proven fact that betting systems do not work in the long run. The casinos always win.

That said, it is possible to win with betting systems over a short time span. And they can be fun too, so long as you’re aware of their risks.

So if you’re looking for a way to spice up your next trip to the casino, you ought to consider trying a betting system. One that is easy to learn is the martingale.


The Martingale: What is it? How does it work?

The martingale originates from 18th century France. It’s referred to as a negative progression betting system, because you bet (more) when you’re losing.

It is a simple system to learn and use. Here’s how:

Whenever you place a bet and win, your next be will be for the same amount. For example, you bet $5 and win – your next bet will be $5.

On the other hand, if you bet $5 and lose, you should double your next bet. Should you lose that hand, you will double your bet once again. For example, say you bet $5 and lose – your next bet should be $10. Lose that, and your next bet should be $20, and so on.

The idea behind this system is that no matter how much you lose, your only one bet away from being back to even (at least).


Is the Martingale System Effective?

It will be the most effective in games or on bets that have a low house edge – as close to 0 as possible. So, pai gow poker and blackjack work, as does betting on red or black in roulette.

The reason why you want to play these games is because the martingale system takes advantage of short variance. It’s like flipping a coin. You can land on tails 20 times in a row, then heads 3 times, then tails 10 more times – and it would be perfectly normal.

You’re trying to take advantage of these situations – preferably where you win several times in a row, maybe lose a couple of times, and after doubling your bets you make a comeback, and then some.

Sounds great, right?

In theory, it does. But using the martingale players will undoubtedly face challenges.

One is their bankroll, or lack thereof. It won’t but a handful of losses before your bets become too big to make. For example, if you lose 10 hands in a row your bet on the 10th hand will be $5,120. That’s after starting out at $5 per hand.


This is what your bets will look like (assuming you’re on a losing streak):

  1. 10
  2. 20
  3. 40
  4. 80
  5. 160
  6. 320
  7. 640
  8. 1280
  9. 2560
  10. 5120


I think we can assume that, if you’re making $5 bets, that $20 or $50 per hand is too rich for you. The trouble is, that’s only 2-3 losses in a row, which should be expected in a game like pai gow poker.

The second problem is the table maximum – it’s not big enough. Other than high roller tables, the max bets will be set between $250-$1,000 (especially online). If you hit the table maximum and continue to lose, you won’t be able to make your losses back with one hand. It might take you 2+ hands.

At that point you’re not really using the martingale.

With those points in mind, according to, your chances of using the martingale successfully will be highest during short sessions and while having a large bankroll.

For example, playing a 1 hour session will increase your chances from 46 to 82 percent. However, keep in mind that there is a tradeoff – while your wins will be 4x higher using the martingale (in short bursts), your losses will be 20x larger. You have to decide if that’s worth the risk to you.

Your bankroll will play a smaller roll. There is a 10 percent difference between bringing $500 and $1,000 to the tables.

So based on these numbers it’s recommended that you have a $200 bankroll for bets of $1, and $1,000 for $5 bets. And you should stick to a playing time of 3 hours or less.


Other Advice’s advice is solid. Most people can afford $200, and using the martingale they might get a couple hours of entertainment from it.

However, the next piece of advice he gives is much better. Instead of betting more when you lose, you bet more when you win. He suggested a system where you add 50% of each win to your next hand. That way, you still leave some profits behind if you choose to quit, and you’re not risking any money out of pocket.

Either way you go, just be sure you have a large enough bankroll, and even a larger stomach, to handle the inevitable swings that will come your way.