What is the Martingale System and how does Martingale Strategy Work?

When it comes to online gambling systems, the Martingale is one of the longest standing systems around and it's sure to be one you come across in reference to playing roulette. Here we'll take a look at the various aspects of the Martingale system from what it is, to how it works and if it really is as effective as some would have you believe.

How the Martingale System works

When using the Martingale System the player places a standard wager, let's say for example $5 on an even money bet such as Red or Black in Roulette, or the Pass Line in a game of craps. Every time the player wins he/she makes the same wager again on the next hand/round. If they lose however, they will then double the value of their bet on the next hand/round. This will mean that when you eventually do enjoy a winning hand after a series of losing ones, your new profit will be $5. The theory goes that every time you win a bet, you'll be up a further $5 regardless of your past losses.

Here's a working in example of how it plays out to give you a better illustration: You wager $5 and win, so you bet $5 again and lose. The loss changes your betting pattern, so you bet $10 and lose again, so you double your bet to $20 and then $40 and even $80 when no wins come your way. Then suddenly you win and you're $5 up and thanks to the fact that you originally won $5, you're up a total of $10.

The Shortcomings of the Martingale system

If you were always able to double your next bet when you lose, you would be guaranteed of always finishing with a profit. Realistically however, you can't always double your bets at the casinos - firstly because you don't always have sufficient bankroll to do so because this system gets pricey quickly. For example, if you start with a mere $5 bet but end up losing thirteen of these consecutively, you'll end up having to wager $40,960 on your 14th bet...unless you're a high roller, this simply isn't possible for most players.

Secondly, even if you could afford to wager huge sums, you probably wouldn't be able to anyway as most land based and online casinos impose betting limits on their tables. If you're playing at a $5 table, the maximum betting limits range from $500 to $100. And if you opt to play higher limit tables, you'll find much higher minimums to start off with, and with this system a few hands/rounds in you'll be in trouble.

And that is where the fatal flaw of the Martingale system lies, if you encounter a losing streak you'll end up broke and not being able to play the next bet, or you'll be restricted by the table limit.

So when does the Martingale system work?

The Martingale is mathematically sound as it is based on proven figures and one finds that it works effectively for the majority of players who use it over just a few spins. If a players wins just once using this system they are guaranteed a profit when making even money bets.

That said however, the more one plays, the more likely one is to encounter a losing streak where it will not be possible to double your bets adequately. So it is advisable to use this system for short periods of about an hour. If you continue playing for longer periods, the likelihood of losing increases.

How effective is the Martingale system?

So now that you know how the Martingale system works, you're probably wondering by precisely how much it could increase your odds of winning over the short term. The answer to this question is quite complex as a variety of factors come into play including which game you're playing, the value of your first wager and the total value of your bankroll.

In a game of roulette if you wager $5 on black and play 30 spins in approximately one hour, you have a bankroll of $1000, betting $5 on each wager not using the Martingale system, will result in an approximate win rate of 46%, with an average win awarding you $16. You will however also incur losses 54% of the time, which will mean an average loss of approximately $28.

If you use the Martingale system and double your wager after every loss in that single hour, your odds of winning increase to 82%. BUT and it's a big one...your average win will be just $66 in comparison to your average loss rate of $462. Again this depends on playing for just a short period, because the longer you play, the more consecutive losses you are likely to encounter, and over an eight hour gaming session using the above example and the Martingale strategy, you win rate will be 38%, which is still higher than a flat $5 betting strategy that will incur a 22% win rate. But again, no matter how you've tried to build your gambling bankroll, you'll still be subject to restraints and table limit obstacles.