Casino gamblers have been developing betting systems for as long as people have wagered on the outcome of events. Players trying to get an edge on the game have long searched for that "magic formula" that will enable them to outwit the casino.
One popular strategy that seems to have survived both the course of time and the transition to roulette online is the "Martingale" betting system.
The Martingale is probably so popular because of its simplicity and its deceptive appearance of effectiveness.
What is the Idea Behind the Martingale?
The simple idea behind the Martingale system is to double up every time you lose.
If you bet $10 and lose, you bet $20 the next time. If you lose, you then bet $40.
In a game where a player can expect to lose, for example, three times out of four, he should come out ahead. (Player bets $10 and loses -$10, then bets $20 and loses, -$30, then bets $40 and loses, -$70, then bets $80 and wins, +$10).
Does the Martingale System Work?
The Martingale system as a method for beating the house edge does not work. The reason for this is that while prolonged winning streaks or losing streaks are statistically less likely than small alternating patterns of wins and losses, they do happen.
When they do, the Martingale player will run up against the house limits or the limits of his own bankroll. Betting $10 to start, a ten round losing streak will wipe out a bankroll of $10,000.
Should a Player Ever Use the Martingale System?
The Martingale system should never be used as an attempt to beat the house edge. What the system can provide is the opportunity to pay the house edge with multiple small wins and one big loss.
If this is what you want from your casino experience (as opposed to multiple losses and one big win or alternating medium size losses and wins), you can try the Martingale. However, in the end, a negative expectation game is a negative expectation game.
There are other betting systems. If you want to try a betting system we recommend trying a progressive betting system based on raising the bets when winning rather than when loosing. These systems are based on making the most out of winning streaks rather than covering your losses.
Whether you win or lose, a progressive system is always healthier for your bankroll.