Since the beginning of time, gamblers have been searching for a fool-proof way to beat the house. The Martingale system, which was born in 18th-century France, is about the closest thing bettors have found to a system that will always end up setting things in their favor.
Is the Martingale gambling system perfect? Right off the bat, it’s important to point out that it’s not.
In fact, you could be taking a major risk if you lean on it regularly. Still, it’s an interesting experiment that has undoubtedly worked for some. In this article, I’ll explain what you need to know about the Martingale system.
1 – The Origin
Before it was used as a casino hack, the Martingale System was used to make money in another way that is quite similar to gambling: investing.
Its origin can be traced back to the French mathematician Paul Pierre Levy, who was experimenting with the strategy in France during the middle years of the 18th century.
At the time, financial institutions were starting to become more prominent, and everyone was looking to cash in and get their piece of the fortune. The only problem? Sometimes investments didn’t exactly work out, to say the least.
Today, this might be recognized as “chasing losses” or “doubling down” – neither strategy is conventionally thought of as a good way to handle your money. Still, when you’re dealing with situations that are more or less a 50/50 proposition, you’d have to think that eventually, things would go your way with enough trials.
Regardless of the technicalities or mathematical specifics, the Martingale system has persisted for hundreds of years, leading one to think that there has to be something about it that’s worth looking into if you’re a gambler.
2 – How and Why It Works
As I’ve mentioned already, and will probably mention again at some point in this article, there’s no such thing as a fool-proof, guaranteed way to gamble that will always win you money. In particular, this casino betting system requires an extremely large bankroll and a casino that has high betting limits. Here’s how it works:
First, game selection is extremely important. If you’re playing a game in which you’re statistically going to win less than, say, 45% of the time, the risk of employing the Martingale system is too great.
Your best bet is going to be to use this betting system on a game like blackjack, or preferably, roulette. While neither game is quite a 50/50 chance for the player, it’s about as close as you’re going to find on the gaming floor.
Now you’ve chosen roulette, and you’re ready to see if those 18th-century French investors were onto something. Your next move would be to take out an amount of money that doesn’t feel like you’re risking “too much.”
I know that’s an ambiguous amount that will vary greatly for each individual, but that’s really the only way to instruct someone how to put this system into place.
Remember, you might be betting four to five times this initial amount, so if you’ve taken $500 to the casino, don’t go putting $250 down on your first spin.
You’ve decided to bet a safe enough amount – for the sake of the example, I’ll assume you bet $25 on red. Unfortunately, you lose. Not to worry – now it’s time to put the system into action.
Your next bet? $51. Why this amount? Because you’d win back your initial bet (investment) and still clear a slight profit. Sadly, you lose your next spin too. Now, you’re looking at a $76 hole.
Not to fear – you’ve decided to trust the system and risk $77, or deficit plus $1 to give you a profit. And what do you know, this time it hits! Now, after three rounds, two losses, and one win, you sit slightly above even in terms of your overall bankroll standing.
Pretty easy, right? Maybe, but it’s much easier to say yes after you’ve recouped your initial loss. What happens when things don’t go according to plan? That’s a question that many gamblers have had to ponder, and the answer isn’t exactly clear.
3 – How Does It Fail?
It might seem like this system is immune to failure. I mean, how many times can anyone reasonably expect the same color (to stick with the example) to show up before it inevitably goes back the other way?
Perhaps this isn’t the right question to ask. Instead, the question that should be giving you some pause is, “What happens if I go on a really bad losing streak?”
If you’ve spent any time researching topics related to casino or sports betting, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the “Gambler’s Fallacy” a time or two.
Everyone recognizes that any time you flip a coin, there’s a 50% chance it will turn up heads, and a 50% chance it will come up as tails. This is true every single time you flip the coin (assuming you aren’t manipulating the outcome some other way).
The Gambler’s Fallacy, to describe it simply, is the incorrect assumption that your past trials will have any impact on future results. For example, if you flip a coin and it comes up heads five times in a row, what’re are the chances it will come up tails on the sixth throw? If you believe it’s anything other than 50%, you’ve fallen victim to the mistaken logic.
Like the Gambler’s Fallacy, the Martingale system assumes that there’s a very small percentage chance that you won’t eventually win. But if you take a closer look, it’s not as if you need to lose an unprecedented number of times in a row in order to drain your bankroll. Take this, for example:
You bet $25 and lose (total -$25). You bet $26 and lose (-$51). You bet $52 and lose (-$103). You bet $104 and lose, (-$207). Now you’re in the position of having to risk upwards of $400 in order to win $1.
If your next spin doesn’t go your way, you may also find yourself in a position where you can’t even wager the necessary amount that the system requires because of the table’s betting limit.
In theory, the Martingale System works every time only if you have an unlimited bankroll, unlimited betting limits, and an unlimited number of “trials” on which to bet. Most people don’t have all these things at once.
The real trouble is that the system could work for you 10 times but only net you $10. Then on the 11th time, you could be risking your entire bankroll just to get back to even. Obviously, there’s some degree of risk tolerance necessary to be a winning gambler, but there’s a fine line between risk tolerance and recklessness.
Our Thoughts on the Martingale System
Now that you’re informed on all things Martingale, the question then is: Should you try it out for yourself during your next casino trip? While it’s hard to deny that it has potential, you’d better make sure you have deep pockets.
At the end of the day, the risk associated with blindly doubling down on every single bet that doesn’t go your way feels a bit dangerous. But if you have the bankroll to do it, you might disagree. With that being said, let this be a reminder that if there was actually a way to beat the casino every time, it wouldn’t be allowed.