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The Martingale Betting System

1 June 2024

(This is another article in the series about why betting systems cannot work.)

One of the most common questions I receive from readers is what I think about this or that betting system. Can the reader win with it?

Each betting system sounds reasonable (well, most of them anyway). The logic presented seems to make sense.

I every case, however, there is something left out of the string of logic that is used to promote the betting system.

This article examines the martingale betting system.

What is martingale betting

The martingale betting system is a very simple betting system. It calls for the gambler to start with a one-unit bet. This bet is doubled on every loss. Once a bet wins, the sequence starts from the beginning with a one-unit bet.

Martingale betting has been around since at least 18-century France. It is generally employed on even-money bets but can be used in other situations.

The expected value of this betting system is zero. This is because of the small probability of expected loss balancing the expectation of a small win.

Uninitiated gamblers see this logic as something that (almost) guarantees a win. The following shows the Bet Number, Bet Size, Total Amount Bet, and Amount Won (if that bet is a winner) for all even-money bets.

Bet-# Bet-$ Total-$ Win-$
1 5 5 10
2 10 15 20
3 20 35 40
4 40 75 80
5 80 155 160
6 160 315 320
7 320 635 640

There are the first seven bets. Note that the bet amount and total amount bet increase at a very rapid rate. More importantly note the when the gambler wins, there is always a profit – of the original bet size.

Let’s continue the losing streak a bit longer and see what the numbers look like.

Bet-# Bet-$ Total-$ Win-$
8 640 1275 1280
9 1280 2555 2560
10 2560 5115 5120
11 5120 10235 10240
12 10240 20475 20480

Notice how quickly the bet size and total amount bet increase. However, a winning bet still returns a profit equal to the gamblers original bet.

Will gamblers have that large a bankroll?

After only the 11th loss the gambler has bet over $10,000 and must now bet an additional 10,240. While uncommon, losing streaks of this length are regular occurrences.

How many gamblers have a bankroll that size?

For this system to be a winner, the gambler needs an unlimited bankroll coupled with an unlimited bet size. Gamblers do not have unlimited funds.

There is one more problem with this (and most) betting system – there are maximum table limits. Some are $5,000. Some are higher. Some are lower. Once the gambler reaches that limit, they cannot bet more regardless of their bankroll size.

These are the facts that promoters of this betting system fail to mention. The system will produce a small win many times. When it fails, however, (either because the gambler is out of cash, or because the table limit is reached) the gambler’s loss is catastrophic.

This is one of the most common betting systems that neophyte gamblers stumble upon. They may see something written somewhere. Many, however, think of it themselves. They think, “why has nobody thought of this before?” Well, almost every gambler has tried it at one time or another.

Those who do not take the time to think the system through tend to find out quickly why it does not work. Hopefully, most gamblers learn this lesson with a small bankroll.

Spending just a little bit of time checking the numbers as presented in this article should convince any reasonable person to stay away from the martingale.

As always, may all your wins be swift and large, and your losses be slow and small.

Jerry “Stickman”

Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines and 888casino.com. He authored the video poker section of "Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker!" You can contact Jerry “Stickman” at stickmanjerryg@gmail.com
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Jerry Stickman

Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. He authored the video poker section of Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker! You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanjerryg@gmail.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com
Jerry Stickman
Jerry “Stickman” is an expert in craps, blackjack and video poker and advantage slot machine play. He is a regular contributor to top gaming magazines. He authored the video poker section of Everything Casino Poker: Get the Edge at Video Poker, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pai Gow Poker! You can contact Jerry "Stickman" at stickmanjerryg@gmail.com.

Jerry Stickman Websites:

www.goldentouchcraps.com
www.goldentouchblackjack.com