Why Do Negative Progression Betting Systems Seem Like They Work?

Man in Deep Thought On Left With Numbers Scrolling Past On Right

Gamblers are always looking for a way to overcome the house edge. Negative progressive betting systems seemingly have the ability to do just this.

After all, these systems are built to win all losses back, plus earn a small profit in the process. They almost look infallible at times.

The reason why negative progression betting systems look so amazing on paper is because that they are to a degree. These strategies can deliver profits even when you only lose a small percentage of your bets.

Nevertheless, they’re still losers in the long run. The following guide explains more on negative progression systems, why they can theoretically always win, and what ultimately makes them failures when gambling for real money.

Basics of a Negative Progression System

A negative progression betting strategy involves increasing wagers when you’re losing. The manner in which you raise bets varies based on the given system. But all of these strategies revolve around increasing bets in some way or another during losing streaks.

You’ve probably seen warnings about chasing losses. This is typically good advice, but it’s also advice that any negative progression system avoids.

These staking strategies are entirely designed to chase losses. In many cases, they do help you recoup losses and will even provide a small profit.

Negative progression strategies see you go through sequences. The sequence begins when you suffer your first loss. From here, you increase your wagers in a manner that the relevant system dictates.

The sequence ends when you win back your losses and, normally, collect a small payout. The amount of sequences that you feel like going through in a given session all depends upon you. However, you assume more risk by staying at the tables longer and continuing to bet.

As one final point, you should always use these systems with even-money wagers (those paying 1:1). Even-money bets win a high percentage of the time and, thus, reduce the volatility of staking strategies.

Examples of even-money wagers include:

  • Banker hand (baccarat)—5% commission taken from wins
  • Player hand (baccarat)
  • Blackjack
  • Pass line (craps)
  • Don’t pass line (craps)
  • Roulette even-money bets

Examples of Negative Progression Betting Systems

Now that I’ve covered the basics of negative progression staking systems, I’ll go over specific examples. These betting strategies are among the most famous and popular in the gaming world.

Friends Winning at Casino Table Game, Poker Chips and Cards on Table


The D’Alembert system involves increasing bets by one unit following every loss. You continue adding an extra unit as long as you’re losing.

Meanwhile, you take away a unit following each win. The goal is to get back to wagering a single unit while earning all your losses back in the process.

Here’s an example on how the D’Alembert works:

  • Unit = $5 minimum wager
  • Bet $5 and lose (-$5)
  • Bet $10 and lose (-$15)
  • Bet $15 and win (even)
  • Bet $10 and win (+$10)
  • Back to the original $5 stake


This Labouchere system begins with creating a sequence of numbers that represent betting units. The sum of the numbers is supposed to equal your desired profit for the sequence.

You determine bet sizes by adding the first and last numbers of the sequence. Following any win, you cross off the two numbers that were used. After losses, you add the bet to the end of the sequence.

Here’s a look at the Labouchere in action:

  • Your sequence is 3, 2, 1, 4, 3
  • Bet $6 (3+3) and win—new sequence is 2, 1, 4
  • Bet $6 (2+4) and lose—new sequence is 2, 1, 4, 6
  • Bet $8 and win—new sequence is 1, 4
  • Bet $5 and win—profit of $13


The Martingale is the simplest betting strategy on this list. It merely calls on you to double bets after every loss.

Following a win, you revert back to the table’s minimum bet. Here’s an example of the Martingale:

  • Bet $5 and lose
  • Bet $10 and lose
  • Bet $20 and lose
  • Bet $40 and win
  • Return to the $5 minimum wager

Advantages of Negative Progression Strategies

Negative progression staking systems can work in your favor in some ways. Here are the biggest benefits that you’ll enjoy when using these betting strategies.

Men in Suits Playing Roulette

Win Losses Back

Nobody likes losing in a casino. Negative progression systems help to ensure that this scenario doesn’t happen.

Each one is designed to snatch your losses back from the casino in one way or another. Some systems, like the Martingale, take a more-extreme approach to making this happen. Others, such as the D’Alembert, are softer in their approach.

In any case, you’ll always be working towards recouping your losses with these staking strategies. You’ll be successful in the majority of cases too.

Book Small Wins After Sequences

Negative progression betting systems aren’t only about chasing losses. They also deliver a profit when a sequence is completed.

The size of your profit will vary based on the given staking strategy. But you can always look forward to winning something after successfully finishing a sequence.

In some cases, you can even book serious winnings in a short amount of time. Here’s an example involving the D’Alembert to illustrate this point:

  • Unit = $5
  • Each round takes approximately 10 seconds
  • Bet $5 and lose (-$5); time at 00:10
  • Bet $10 and lose (-$15); time at 00:20
  • Bet $15 and lose (-$30); time at 00:30
  • Bet $20 and lose (-$50); time at 00:40
  • Bet $25 and win (-$25); time at 00:50
  • Bet $20 and win (-$5); time at 01:00
  • Bet $15 and win (+$10); time at 01:10
  • Bet $10 and win (+$20); time at 01:20
  • Return to the $5 minimum wager
  • $20 profit in 1 minute and 20 seconds

Frequently Leave the Casino a Winner

The level of risk with a negative progression betting system goes up when you use it over and over. You’re taking lots of risks when sitting in the casino for eight hours employing the Martingale, for example.

If you take a more reasonable approach with quick-hit sessions, then you’ll win money during most of your online and land-based casino visits.

Casino in Pennsylvania

The negative progression concept isn’t designed to deliver huge wins all at once. Instead, it chips away at your losses and eventually provides a smaller profit. The result is that you’ll win money in a lot of the shorter sessions.

Why Do Negative Progression Systems Feel Like a Sure Thing?

The big reason why negative progression betting strategies seem like a sure thing is because they are…at least under the right circumstances.

Again, these systems can deliver profits even when you’re not winning more bets than you lose. Here are a couple of illustrations to show this point:


  • Bet $5 and lose (-$5)
  • Bet $10 and lose (-$15)
  • Bet $20 and lose (-$35)
  • Bet $40 and lose (-$75)
  • Bet $80 and win (+$5)
  • 1 win, 4 losses, and a $5 profit


  • Your number sequence is 4, 5, 6
  • Bet $10 and lose—new sequence is 4, 5, 6, 10 (first loss)
  • Bet $14 and lose—new sequence is 3, 4, 5, 10, 14 (second loss)
  • Bet $17 and win—new sequence is 4, 5, 10 (first win)
  • Bet $14 and lose—new sequence is 4, 5, 10, 14 (third loss)
  • Bet $18 and win—new sequence is 5, 10 (second win)
  • Bet $15 and lose—new sequence is 3, 4, 5, 15 (fourth loss)
  • Bet $18 and win—new sequence is 4, 5 (third win)
  • Bet $9 and win—sequence complete (fourth win)
  • 4 wins, 4 losses, and a $15 profit

In the first example, you lost more wagers than you won and yet still earned profits. As for the second example, you earned $15 despite winning and losing an equal amount of rounds.

With infinite money, you’d always make profits from these systems. That’s just the thing, though—you don’t have infinite money.

Even with several million dollars, you stand a chance of hitting such a big losing streak that you’d eventually lose everything.

The odds of losing 20 straight rounds in European roulette, for example, are 1 in 62,700. While these are long odds, they do leave open the possibility for an extreme losing streak.

Assuming you’re using the Martingale and starting with a $5 bet, then you’d have to wager over $5.24 million following the 20th loss.

The problem is that casinos feature betting limits at each table. The average table only allows you to wager up to $500 per round.

Upon hitting the maximum betting limit, you’ll no longer be able to effectively carry out a negative progression gambling system. At this point, you must eat significant losses.

Should You Still Use These Betting Systems?

You can see why negative progression strategies don’t work in the long run. Therefore, you may question whether it’s worth using these systems at all.

The truth is that, yes, negative progression gambling strategies can be worthwhile. You just need to go into the matter with the right approach.

First off, you have to realize that these systems aren’t built to circumvent the house edge. There’s a very real chance that you’ll eventually lose your bankroll.

Secondly, you should consider finding the cheapest minimum bet available. Smaller minimum wagers allow you to execute the strategies longer without hitting the table limit.

Online casinos are the best in this regard because they only feature $1 minimum bets. Here’s an example of how long you can last with $1 minimum wagers:Stacks of Casino Chips, Pair of Red Dice, Craps Stick

  • You’re using the Martingale on a $500 max wager table
  • Bet $1 and lose (first loss)
  • Bet $2 and lose (second loss)
  • Bet $4 and lose (third loss)
  • Bet $8 and lose (fourth loss)
  • Bet $16 and lose (fifth loss)
  • Bet $32 and lose (sixth loss)
  • Bet $64 and lose (seventh loss)
  • Bet $128 and lose (eighth loss)
  • Bet $256 and lose (ninth loss)
  • Next bet should be $512

You can certainly experience short-term success with negative progression staking systems. The key is to be realistic with them, though, and seek reasonable profits.

Decide if You Want to Try Negative Progression Betting Systems

In theory, negative progression betting strategies should be a path towards guaranteed profits. They can deliver profits even when you’re not winning a high percentage of the time.

However, they run into two main problems:

  1. Maximum betting limits
  2. Users need infinite funds to guarantee 100% profitability

You’re not going to ride a negative progression gambling strategy to millions of dollars—at least not without lots of luck anyways.

But you can still get some use out of these systems. They are, after all, good for winning back losses and booking quick profits.

Provided you use these staking systems without getting carried away, then you should have a good time with them.