The Ultimate Martingale System Pros and Cons Guide

The Martingale system increases your chances to win in the short term. However, you can lose big if you lose. With a starting stake of $1000 and a $5 starting bet, you have a roughly 80% chance to turn a profit in one hour of craps or roulette. The average win is about $100. Nice! The average loss for those who lose is $500. Ouch.

The Martingale system, as with most things in life is a compromise. If you lose, you trade a great chance of winning with a severe loss. This is both a pro- and con.

Other gambling writers have dismissed the Martingale betting system. The Wizard of Odds once famously stated that all betting systems are “equally worthless”. However, this is true only if you narrow your criteria (which is what the Wizard uses to determine). This is like saying bicycles are useless because they can’t travel as fast as planes. Millions upon millions of cyclists would disagree. Although the Martingale system will not reduce the house edge, it can entertain and give you an excellent chance to win in the short term, which makes it far more than “worthless”. Risky? Absolutely. Worthless? No.

What’s the Martingale Betting System?

what is the martingale system

Here’s how the Martingale system works. You place your standard bet of $5 on an even-money wager, such as red in Roulette or Pass Line in Craps. You win every round and you place the same bet again for the next round. You lose, double your bet and keep going until you win. Your net win is $5 if you have a winning round, after losing several rounds. In fact, each time you win a wager, you’ll get $5 more, regardless of your losses in the past.

Let’s take an example: You place a $5 bet. You lose, so you bet $10. You lose again, so you bet $20. You lose again, so you bet $40. You lose again, so you bet $80. It’s not your night, man! You win. You won $5. Now you’re ahead $5.

You’d always win if you were able to double your losses. In real life, you won’t be able to always double your wager. First, you will eventually run out of money and not be able to double your bet. You’ll need to pay $40,960 if you lose 13 consecutive bets (it happens) if you start with $5. Ouch.

You can’t bet even if you have that much money. Casinos limit the amount you can wager. This wouldn’t be an issue in Vegas where you can wager up to $1,000,000 in the exclusive high-limit rooms of the most exclusive casinos. These aren’t the usual high-limit rooms that are adjacent to the main floor of the casino. They’re located on a different floor and most people won’t see them. You wouldn’t be able to wager more than $5000 in most parts of the United States and around the globe.

That’s the danger of the Martingale. If you lose too many times, you will either go bankrupt and not be able to make your next bet or hit the limit. The Martingale is a good strategy for short-term play. However, it’s more common to lose for a prolonged period of time if you don’t have enough money. How short can you make it? The shorter, the better. A live casino has a 80% chance of winning in roulette or craps. While you can play longer, your chances of losing are greater the longer you stay in a live casino.

Martingale System Example: Increase your chances of winning by 46% to 82%

Now that we understand how the system works, how can it help us win more? It depends on several factors, including the game you play, your initial wager, how much you gamble (your “bankroll”), and how long you play. Let’s say you want to play a game of craps. You bet $5 on the pass line and play for one hour (43 spins). Your total cash is $1000. If you bet $5 each time (no Martingale), your chances of winning are only 46%. The average win is $25. The other 54% will lose, with an average loss of $27.

Let’s now use the same setup, except that we will use the Martingale system and double our wager after each loss. Our chances of winning our 1-hour session increase to 82%. Our average win is $100, which is much better than the $25 flat-betting offers. However, our average loss when we lose is $528. Bing! The tradeoff is the key.

The Martingale is more susceptible to losing several bets at once and running out of money the longer you keep it up. If we take the above example and have an eight-hour session, our chances of winning with Martingale are just 37%. Flat-betting $5 each time increases our chances of winning by 41%.

A smaller bankroll can also reduce your chances of winning. If you have a losing streak, you need to be able to double your bankroll. If we brought $1000, our chances of winning were 82%. However, if we bring $500, our chances of winning drop to 69%.

Martingale System: Craps are the best bet

Craps is the best game to play using the Martingale system. You can bet either on the Pass line, or Don’t Pass. Others are not as popular.

Roulette has a higher house advantage than any other version, even single-zero. The house edge for single-zero with half-back is the same as that of craps. However, it’s a rare game and the minimums at the table are much higher than those in craps.

With a good strategy, blackjack offers great odds. However, to play the Martingale with Blackjack you will need a bankroll four times larger than normal. This is because splitting hands or double-downs might be necessary, which will require extra money. You could make better use of the Martingale if you had more money. You could also survive a longer losing streak by having more money.

Baccarat has a low house advantage, but it is generally played faster than roulette or craps so your chances of losing are higher. You have a greater chance of winning if you play more rounds. Online gambling is a lot more efficient than playing at brick-and-mortar casinos.

Martingale System: Is it possible to make a large bankroll?

The problem with the Martingale system is the fact that you can lose several times in one row and then you need to place very large bets. What if you have the money to make these huge bets? What would Martingale do under these circumstances? It was time to put it to the test.

Let’s assume that our gambler is prepared to lose $100k. This would allow him to start with $5, and then place 14 consecutive bets, totaling $81,915 if the last bet is lost. Caesars Palace allows bets of up to $50k. This would work. How long can our gambler “safely” play with these betting limits? Safely would be a 95% chance that he wins and only a 5% chance that he loses the $82k. In these circumstances, he could only play the Pass Line craps bet for 30 hours without losing more than 95% of his chances of winning. Wow!

Even if you have a large $100k bankroll, the Martingale system is not something you can use for very long without running into a serious risk of losing your entire account.

Should you use the Martingale system?

Is the Martingale betting system a good idea? You will have to decide. However, here are some guidelines.

The Martingale system might be right for you if:

You’ll lose more than usual in order to increase your chance of winning.

If you make $1 bets, you should have at least $200 in your bankroll. If you make $5 bets you need a $1000 or $1000 bankroll.

Play for no longer than an hour.

Accept the risk of losing all your bankroll.

The Martingale system is not for you ff:

You only skimmed this article and you think the Martingale will make you a guaranteed winner.

You don’t have at least $200 for $1 bets or $1000 for $5 bets.

If you intend on playing for longer than two hours, especially if you plan on playing American Roulette, Baccarat, or any other online game.

Related Article:

Bankroll Management in Sports and Gambling: 4 Strategies for Profit

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