Betting systems break down into two main classes, including positive and negative progression strategies.
A positive progression system sees you increase bets during a winning streak. Meanwhile, a negative progression system involves increasing wagers when you’re losing.
The latter variety is much riskier because you’re placing bigger bets during losing streaks. Therefore, you may wonder what the goal is behind assuming this much risk.
The following guide discusses various negative progression systems along with their pros and cons. You can use this advice to determine if using these strategies is worthwhile.
Examples of Negative Progression Systems
Plenty of negative progression betting systems exist throughout the gambling world. Here are some of the most popular examples.
The Martingale betting system is the most-famous and risky of negative progression systems. It’s so risky because it requires doubling bets following losses.
You begin using this system by placing the table’s minimum bet. You’ll stay with the minimum wager so long as you keep winning.
Here’s an example on using this system:
- You wager $5 and lose (-$5)
- You wager $10 and lose (-$15)
- You wager $20 and lose (-$35)
- You wager $40 and win (+$5)
- Go back to the $5 minimum bet
The D’Alembert is somewhat like the Martingale because it relies on increasing bets after losses. Instead of doubling wagers, though, you only add one unit following a loss. You continue adding a unit until winning.
Afterward, you’ll take one unit off the next bet. If that wager wins, you take another unit off and so forth until grinding down to the table’s minimum wager.
Here’s an example on how the D’Alembert works:
- The table’s minimum bet is $5 (this is also your unit size)
- You bet $5 and lose (-$5)
- You bet $10 and lose (-$15)
- You bet $15 and lose (-$30)
- You bet $20 and win (-$10)
- You bet $15 and win (+$5)
- Return to wagering $5 (one unit)
The Labouchere betting system doesn’t necessarily look like a negative progression system on the surface. However, it’s still a negative progression strategy to some extent.
It starts with creating a number sequence that equals your desired profits. The number string can be anything, but you should remain realistic about your profit goals.
After creating the number sequence, you add the first and last number of the string to determine your bet. You cross off both numbers following a win.
If you lose, however, you’ll add the wager to the sequence’s end. Your goal is to keep betting until completing the entire number string.
Here’s an example on how the Labouchere works:
- You create the following sequence: 4, 3, 2, 3, 4
- You win the first bet of $8 (4 + 4)—the new sequence is 3, 2, 3
- You win the next bet of $6 (3 + 3)—the new sequence is 2
- You lose the next bet of $2—the new sequence is 2, 2
- You win the next bet of $4 (2 + 2)—the total profit is $16
Leave the Casino a Winner—No Matter How Big or Small
Each negative progression betting system requires you to place larger bets when losing. Why in the world would you want to assume this extra risk?
These staking strategies are designed to win back all of your losses. They also deliver a small profit once you work out of the hole.
The Martingale, for example, always delivers a profit when you successfully win after doubling bets. The Labouchere and D’Alembert eventually accomplish the same goal—only at a slower pace.
Pros of Negative Progression Betting Systems
If you’re on the fence about trying a negative progression system, then you may consider the following benefits.
Earn Back Losses Frequently
Nobody likes leaving the casino a loser. However, flat bettors often do lose money because they merely place the same bet every round. The house, meanwhile, eventually puts a dent in their bankroll.
As I’ll discuss later, negative progression staking strategies don’t circumvent the house advantage either. But they’re designed in a way that brings short-term profits frequently.
You’re less likely to leave the casino a loser when using the D’Alembert or Labouchere, for example. These types of systems do a good job at winning your money back.
Book Lots of Small Wins
Again, negative progression systems result in lots of smaller wins. You’ll pick up many payouts worth between $1 (online casinos’ minimum) and $5 (land-based casinos’ minimum) at the end of sequences.
Here’s an example on racking up multiple wins with the Martingale in a short time span:
- You’re playing online roulette
- You start out betting $1 per spin
- It takes approximately 5 seconds for a spin to complete
- Your first Martingale sequence is: $1 loss, $2 loss, $4 win (+$1)
- Your second sequence is: $1 win, $1 win, $1 loss, $2 loss, $4 win (+$3)
- Your third sequence is: $1 loss, $2 loss, $4 loss, $8 win (+$1)
- $5 total profit
- 12 total spins x 5 seconds = 60 seconds
- You’ve collected a $5 profit in one minute
High Chance of Finishing a Session in the Black
You shouldn’t use a negative progression system if you’re expecting guaranteed profits. But you can at least expect to be a winner most of the time.
When you stick to the table’s minimum wager and have realistic goals, you’ll win in many sessions. Time and time again, you will leave land-based and online casinos in the black.
Always the Chance of Losing Everything
When these wagering systems lose, they lose big. You may get into a situation where you’ve lost so much that you’re no longer able to follow the given strategy.
Here’s an example of such a case:
- You have a $100 bankroll
- You’re betting $1 per hand in baccarat
- You’re using the Martingale
- You hit a big losing streak:
- $1 loss (-$1)
- $2 loss (-$3)
- $4 loss (-$7)
- $8 loss (-$15)
- $16 loss (-$31)
- $32 loss (-$63)
- You’re no longer able to double bets after six consecutive losses
You may not feel so bad about the situation when you’re only out $63. But you’ll be hurting after losing several hundred dollars.
Could Hit the Table’s Maximum Betting Limit
Casinos are well aware of the effectiveness of negative progression betting systems. They institute table betting limits to keep you from fully using these strategies.
Both land-based and online casinos usually set table game’s maximum bets at $500. This limit is rather high and gives you room to work with, but it’s not ideal.
Even if you start out with a $1 bet while using the Martingale, you’ll reach the maximum limit after losing nine straight wagers. At this point, you’re forced to take losses even when placing the maximum bet.
Not Proven to Win Long Term
No gambling system will erase the house edge. Even the most-effective strategies, such as the Labouchere and Martingale, pit you against the house advantage.
These systems may be designed to ensure that you earn plenty of small wins, but they’re still not foolproof strategies.
If you’re playing baccarat, for example, the house edge is always going to be 1.06% (banker bet) regardless of if you’re using a system or not.
Should You Still Use Negative Progression Systems?
The decision to use a negative progression staking strategy isn’t a slam dunk. It involves multiple good and bad points.
The good is that you’ll frequently win losses back and collect small profits along the way. The end result is that you often exit the casino a winner.
I personally enjoy using the Martingale and Labouchere at online casinos. This way, I can start out with $1 minimum wagers and assume less risk.
Of course, even the smallest minimum bets can turn into big losses during prolonged losing streaks. Therefore, you should always be prepared for those rare times when things don’t go your way.
Our Final Thought
A negative progression system requires you to take on more risk than a positive progression strategy. However, you might consider the extra risk worthwhile given the advantages.
You can usually look forward to earning back losses and experiencing winning sessions. Little by little, you’ll collect profits and build your bankroll.
The drawback, though, is that you can also lose serious money when things aren’t going well. These systems call on you to risk more and more as the losses mount.
As long as you’re prepared, though, then you can still benefit from negative progression strategies most of the time. If you’re worried about the risk, you can always choose a less-volatile system like the D’Alembert.