The Martingale strategy in roulette explained

Lucas Costa
September 17, 2023
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Just about everyone who has ever been involved in the game of roulette has heard of the Martingale system. It is the simplest system there is and also the most widely used strategy. You increase your bets after each consecutive loss and then when you win, you get your original bet back and start all over again.

Most players use Martingale as a ‘double up method’ because you basically do nothing but double your bet after each losing bet until you win and start all over again.

The important thing to understand about the Martingale system is that it can increase the chances of winning over a short period of time by betting high, but not winning as much. There will be more wins than losses, but the wins will be less high and the losses less frequent, but higher.

Even Chance Betting

1 – 2 – 4 – 8 – 16 – 32 – 64 – 128 – 256 – 512 – 1024 – 2048 – 4096 – 8192

This is the most common sequence that one would bet for Red / Black, Odd / Even, and 1-18 / 19-36. You don’t have to stick to the numbers listed above, but you have to stick to the rule of doubling the last bet. You can also use one of the following options:

3 – 6 – 12 – 24 – 48 – 96 – 192 or 5 – 10 – 20 – 40 – 80 – 160 – 320.

So, as long as you double your previous bet, everything is fine. It is not recommended to start with a higher bet because, as you can see from the starting number, the risk increases enormously over time. If possible, it is recommended to start with the smallest possible bet that is allowed at the respective table.

For those who have never tried the Martingale system, take a look at the following calculation if you were to bet on red, for example. You start with a bet of 1$ on red and should you lose, you increase it to 2$. If you continue to lose, the stake of the next bet is doubled to 4$ and so on.

You continue to double your bets every time you lose until you finally win. Once you win, you go back to betting 1$ again. You don’t always have to bet on the same color, as that is not the crucial point. The crucial point is the rule of doubling your bet that you must follow.

The Martingale system may seem like a mathematically perfect and safe system with small bets at the beginning, but one should not underestimate the extent of the sums that can be reached. This applies to both the losses and the amounts required to cover those losses. The following table illustrates this:

Martingale with even chance bets from a bet of 1 £/$/$
LossesBets (£/$/$)Total loss
111
223
347
4815
51631
63263
764127
8128255
9256511
105121023
1110242047

The first thing to understand is that the profit is always 1 £/$/$, no matter what step of the sequence you are in. Secondly, after 10 losses the loss is 1023 and you have to bet 1024 to cover the previous losses, 2047 in total.

The probability of 10 losses in a row

Many players do not pay attention to the above table believing that 10x consecutive red or black will not happen, but the probabilities show that this is well within the realm of possibilities. Here is a probability of not getting black 10x consecutively in both European and American Roulette, which applies to all Even Money bets – Red/Black, Odd/Even and 1-18/19-36.

European Roulette: (19/37) ^ 10 = 0.1275% – This works out to 1 in 784 chance.

American Roulette: (20/38) ^ 10 = 0.1631% – This works out at 1 in 613 chance.

The reason for these numbers for “10 times black in a row” is that the zeros are taken into account. It is very likely to have 5x red in a row, a zero and then another 4 red squares, which results in not getting 10x black in a row.

What these numbers mean

Using European Roulette as an example, there is a 1 in 784 chance that the color being bet on will not appear 10x consecutively. This number applies to the start of an event and not to the period itself. In other words: When you spin the wheel for the first time, the odds are 1 in 784 that you won’t get it ten times in a row, but after 5 spins in which the color doesn’t appear, the further odds are already drastically reduced because half of them are already used up.

Even if the probability is 1 in 784, you can still expect to win this amount at least once before losing ten times in a row, resulting in a total loss of 1023. This demonstrates why betting on short-term wins can be successful if you wager a large amount to win a small amount. However, over a longer period of time, the losses will inevitably outweigh the winnings.

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Advantages and disadvantages of the Martingale system

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Results are displayed in a short time
  • A large budget is needed to cover the losses
  • Table limits restrict the options of the players
  • Very time consuming
  • Table limits can prevent one from reaching the potential of Martingale

Conclusion

Even though the Martingale system is the best known and also the most popular system in roulette, it is not a strategy that can and should be followed in the long run. The focus is on the colors red and black, but it does not take into account the zeros, which can throw a spanner in the works, since there is no question of a 50:50 chance.

Since you can have a whole series of losses without winning even once, it is more obvious to either completely deplete your bankroll or hit the table limits, with which the house wins in any case. In this case, it is a good idea to set your own limit to avoid a total loss, as Martingale is more applicable in theory than in practice.

If you want to try a different strategy, you can use the D’Alemebert strategy at the roulette table.

Author Lucas Costa