Every sports bettor worth their bankroll has a betting strategy to gain an edge in the games they play. From casino games to online sportsbooks betting know no bounds. Sports gambling started as foot races way back then; combat sports, horse racing, and any other contest that pitted man or beast against one another were ripe for a bet. In today’s installment of betting strategies, we here at MyTopSportsbooks will take a look at the Martingale system or Martingale betting strategy to help you with all your strategic bets. The Martingale system is a widespread, frequently used strategy, and some bettors use it subconsciously when gambling. Like many gambling strategies, the Martingale system is considered a can’t-lose system that draws a lot of interest from sophisticated gamblers.
The Martingale System, What is it?
The system was created by a British Casino owner, John Martingale, who employed the strategy in the early 18th century. The popularity of the betting system comes from the can’t-miss proposition that the betting system presents. In a vacuum, using basic common sense, the system should be successful almost 100 percent of the time. However, we don’t live in a vacuum, and events often influence outcomes, so the system has flaws. A host of details stymies long-term success; the gambler’s fallacy, limited bettor bankroll, limits for wagers, and the regulations that the casino issues for honest play are but a few of the obstacles.
The system is simple to pick up and even easier to implement. Here is how it works: you double your next bet after every loss. Your first wager might be $20 for the sake of the example. You win on the bet, then you set the winnings – $20 – aside and continue with another $20 bet. You lose the next bet, then double up, betting $40, to recoup your losses and turn a profit. You lose the $40 and double up again, betting $80 (while holding the original winning $20) and keep going with the double-up strategy until you win back what you had lost on the way up the betting cycle. You have won on your bet on the cycle and start from scratch with the original $20 bet, doubling up on losses and keeping the $20 aside that you won.
You lose three bets in a row, then win on the fourth to bring your bankroll back to plus $20. This is where the gambler’s fallacy comes in; the gambler fails to recognize each bet is separate from the corresponding preceding wager. For example, look at roulette betting; you bet black three times in a row and lose. The odds of the roulette ball hitting black are 47.4 percent – the same as red – and you lose the fourth bet on black, highlighting the fallacy. Martingale might be a system to employ if you have unlimited funds to stuff your bankroll, but in the gambling world, it produces inconsistent wins.
Martingale Betting Strategy, How it Works
In reality, the Martingale system comes with a risk/reward feature, like other betting systems, and we will show you how it works in practice. Like most sports bettors, the NFL is a magnet for game bets, point spread, over/under, and prop bets. Let’s say you bet on the NFL, and your usual wager is $50. The odds will be even money, and we will demonstrate the progression as you climb the wager ladder on losses.
What is the Martingale System?
One of the reasons the Martingale betting strategy is so popular is that it seems like a surefire win. Using basic logic, the system would be successful almost 100% of the time in a vacuum. But sports betting sites and casinos don’t operate in a vacuum. Nor do the bank accounts of sports bettors. Things like wager limits, limited bankrolls, casino regulations and the gambler’s fallacy all have a significant impact that can deter long-term success from the Martingale system.
It’s such a simple betting system that nearly every gambler has probably come up with the idea on their own at some point. In theory, the execution is straightforward.
The Martingale betting system means doubling your losing bets until you win. That’s essentially it. So, if you bet $10 on your first bet and win, you set that $10 aside and bet another $10. If you lose that $10 first bet, you will wager $20 on the next bet. If that’s a loser, you’d bet $40 on the next bet, and so on, until you theoretically recoup all your losses while keeping the initial $10 profit.
Then you start over with another $10 original bet and repeat the process, keeping all $10 bet wins and only doubling after losses.
Sounds great, right? If you lose the first three bets, the thinking goes, it’s unlikely you’d lose a fourth straight. This is what’s known as the “gambler’s fallacy.” It fails to recognize each wager as an individual event separate from the one proceeding it. If you bet on black at the roulette wheel and lose three times in a row, nothing changes when you bet on black for the fourth time. The odds the ball will land on black – 47.4% in standard American roulette – are the same as the ball landing on red for the fourth time in a row.
This is just one of the reasons the Martingale system – while certainly a winning strategy in some cases for those with a seemingly infinite bankroll – is not always applicable in the real world for consistent profit.
How the Martingale Betting Strategy Works
Let’s break down some numbers for the Martingale Strategy, including what the risk/reward looks like in practice. Let’s use NFL betting for this example, showing how one would apply the Martingale Strategy at a sportsbook.
Let’s say your standard bet is $50 on NFL games. Here’s how the betting pattern would go in order to apply the Martingale Strategy, and to make the math easier, we will assume an initial bet size of $50 and even money odds.
- Risk: $50
- Result: Loss
- Risk: $100
- Result: Loss
- Risk: $200
- Result: Loss
- Risk: $400
- Result: Loss
- Risk: $800
- Result: Loss
- Risk: $1,600
- Result: Win
Total Profit: $50
All the bets were +100, even money bets on the Moneyline, and no VIG applied. The strategy worked on the sixth bet, but the gambler had to wager $1600 to win just $50 through a series of bets. The chance of winning in the system can be the gambler’s fallacy because each bet is independent and a coin flip – see even money bets.
The Martingale Strategy, Advantages and Disadvantages
- Easy system to employ
- The strategy works in perfect conditions
- The strategy is a winner if you have the bankroll for it, and no wager limits at the online casino you play at.
- The conditions required for the system to be successful rarely exist.
- Losses betting in this system can run into the thousands for a limited return.
- Losing streaks – like winning streaks – are inevitable, and in the Martingale system, you need a bankroll to ride out an ugly slide.
Can you use the Martingale Strategy Legally?
Yes. You aren’t counting cards at the Blackjack table or trying to fix a slot machine. But some casinos have table limits or betting limits that can stifle the strategy once it reaches its upper limits.
Variations of the Martingale System
This strategy is a double-down limiter to preserve your bankroll. It forestalls losing everything, extends the life of play and returns reduced profits on winning bets.
In this instance, you double your winning bets and prevent a bad bet or a large amount of money that translates to a significant loss. You lose all your profits in any loss, so you must know when to quit to preserve your bankroll.
In this scenario, you add a unit to every loss, increasing the profits when you do win. You risk significant losses and wager limits and can burn through your entire bankroll quickly on a long losing streak.