Roulette strategy: Martingale strategy

Roulette table
Roulette players place their chips at the table.

Roulette is one of the most popular casino games. Having been played at land based casinos for decades, it’s now a firm favourite amongst online roulette players as well. There are different variations of the game including European, American and French roulette. In each version players are always aiming to find that winning roulette strategy.

One of the most common strategies used by roulette players is the Martingale strategy. This system dates back to before the 18th century and was invented by casino owner John Martindale. Mr Martindale used to inform his patrons that the system had been used before by casino players and won them large sums of money.

What is the Martingale betting system?

The Martingale betting system works by players doubling their bets on the next bet after losing. So if they stake $10 on red and the ball lands on black, on their next bet they’ll stake $20. The reasoning for this is that the probability of them winning a bet after they have lost the previous bet is greater than if it was their first bet.

The system was primarily used to play roulette. But you can also place sports bets and other casino games including blackjack using the Martingale system.

Advantages and disadvantages of the Martingale strategy

The probability of landing on a single number is less than selecting an outside bet in roulette, but they do pay out 35/1 if your number comes in. Whereas an outside bet will only pay even money. The more numbers you select the greater chance of you winning, but the returns will be less.

If you use the Martingale strategy to make outside bets it will be easier to emerge as the winner in the long run. As you are doubling the stakes the chances of finishing in profit are also increased. However as the chances of winning increase, the chances of losing increase as well.

The problem with the Martingale system is that in roulette the house has the advantage. While the numbers are divided into red and black, the green slot makes all outside bets losers, meaning roulette players are always at a disadvantage in the long run.

In European roulette there is one green zero slot, giving the house an edge of 2.7 per cent. That means for every $100 bet on the game, $2.70 is theoretically won by the house. In American roulette there are two green zero slots, bumping the house edge up to 5.26 per cent, and $5.26 of every $100 wagered.

The biggest problem with the Martingale Method is bankroll. For a player to double their bet every time they lose a bet they need to have substantial funds to be able to place the bets before they are able to land a winning spin. Alternatively, the player’s Martingale stakes exceed the table limit and the system fails. 

Variations of the Martingale betting system

Since it’s inception gamblers have edited the strategy in an attempt to give themself a greater chance of winning. Players who are sure that the next bet after losing will win introduced the great Martingale strategy. This is similar to the original strategy but on their next bet after losing, the stakes will be doubled and the original stake will be added as well. This is a strategy mainly used by high rollers with a large bankroll.

Some players prefer to ride a winning streak rather than chase their losses and use the reverse Martingale system. This strategy involves doubling their bets after landing a winner but then returning to their original value if they have a losing bet.