Martingale Betting System Explained

Martingale betting system used in roulette

There are plenty of articles out there from so-called experts telling you about various ‘fool-proof’ betting systems which will guarantee you a profit. Unfortunately for those casino players looking to strike it rich quick, there is no such thing as a ‘can’t lose’ betting system which will provide you with a steady stream of income from the gaming tables.

One of the most well-known betting systems – particularly for roulette players – is the Martingale system. In this post we are going to explain the way this system is supposed to be applied at the roulette table, and also the reasons why it simply does not work.

The Martingale Roulette Betting System

Roulette strategy can be split into two categories: positive and negative progression. These terms refer to the way you adjust your bets based on the previous action. For example, a positive progression system requires you to increase the size of your bet following a winning spin and decrease it after a losing spin.

In contrast, a negative progression online roulette strategy requires you to increase the size of your bet after a losing spin and decrease once you win. These are the foundations on which almost all roulette betting systems are based. We will discover later on just why those foundations are far from sound.

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The roulette Martingale system uses a classic negative progression strategy. Basically, you increase the size of your bet each time you lose. In this instance, you double the size of your bet. Then, assuming that you win, you revert back to your initial stake. The logic here is that you’ll make a profit of one unit (i.e., a bet equal to the size of your opening bet) when you hit a winning spin.


Bet $10 on black – Lose. (Results in a loss of Minus $10)

Bet $20 on black – Lose (Results in $20 + $10 loss = Minus $30)

Bet $40 on black – Win ($30 loss cancelled out by $40 win = Plus $10 overall)

To put it another way, the Martingale system advocates that you keep doubling your bet until you win. (You won’t be surprised to hear that the Reverse Martingale system advocates taking the opposite approach). Then, if and when you do win, the amount you make will cancel out the previous run of losses and leave you with a small profit. The roulette Martingale system is supposed to be used on what are referred to as ‘even-money bets’ e.g., red/black, odd/even or 1-18 (low)/19-36 (high).

The basis of the system is that you’ll always make a one-unit profit when you win. Therefore, roulette Martingale betting is applied on bets which offer odds of close to even.

Why the Martingale System Doesn’t Work

This popularisation of this betting system is credited to a Mr John H. Martingale, and the fact that he was the owner of a casino in 18th century London should raise an immediate red flag! After all, if this system really did work as advertised then Mr Martingale would soon have gone out of business.

The basic flaw behind this system should be fairly self-evident. The Martingale system advises the player to double his or her losing bet until they hit on a win. However, the problem is that constraints apply which will eventually prevent the player from doubling up. A streak of losing bets will result in a situation where the player cannot double the previous losing bet, either because he or she does not have enough money to do so, or because of betting limits set by the casino.

A further issue to bear in mind is that the ‘even money’ bets that are used to illustrate the Martingale system are not 50/50 bets in reality. Many players placing a bet on red or black, or odd or even numbers on the roulette table, do not take into account the fact that the green zero pocket skews the odds in favour of the casino.

In fact the percentage chance of hitting red/black/odd/even are 48.65% on a French or European roulette table, rather than 50%. The remaining 2.7% is accounted for by the green pocket, skewing the odds in favour of the house. American roulette tables offer even less value for punters, since they feature an additional double-zero pocket, making the percentage chance of hitting a red/black or odd/even bet 47.37%.

Play Safe and Play Smart

At we are not interested in recommending flawed betting systems to our players. Of course it is possible to win from your next visit to the roulette table, but there are no guaranteed short-cuts to success and we do not advocate using the Martingale system. We want our players to enjoy a safe and secure online roulette betting experience on our live and virtual tables, but remember that casino gaming should be treated as a form of entertainment rather than as a way to make money. is fully licensed and regulated by governing bodies such as the Gibraltar Gambling Commission. All of our games – live and virtual – are subject to regular checks by independent regulators to ensure that they pay out fairly and correctly.

Our advice to roulette players is to only ever play with money that you can comfortably afford to lose. Should you feel that you or someone close to you is developing a problem with gambling, then please step away from the table and reach out to an organisation who will speak to you in strictest confidence about any issues you may be encountering.

Stephen Tabone is a prolific author of books that analyse how casino-goers can profit from randomness. The London-born betting strategist has honed his expertise in number combinations and patterns for nearly 30 years, creating rule-based systems that reduce risk and raise long-term profits. His acclaimed Baccarat and Roulette books include the ‘The Ultimate Golden Secret Baccarat Winning Strategy’, ‘The Clockwork Betting System’, ‘The Ultimate Silver Bullet Proof Baccarat Winning Strategy’, and ‘The Martingale-Tabone Fusion Betting System’, among others. His other interests are in similarly high-stakes fields such as political analysis, investment and stock trading.

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