Martingale betting system

Once upon a time, roulette was simple. One guy would spin a ball around a wheel and a few others would bet on it. Nowadays, things aren’t nearly as cut-and-dry. But some of the time-tested strategies thought up during the game’s early years can still offer today’s player a winning edge when played correctly.

As we teach you to use these classic systems, we’ll also show you how and why each of them originally worked. This might seem like drudgery, but understanding what makes a system tick is the only sure way to use it successfully. Moreover, because there’s very little you can do to get a mechanical edge in online roulette, knowing how to play these systems and correct them on the fly may be your only hope when the information superhighway finally snuffs out brick-and-mortar casinos.

The Martingale

The oldest system on record is known as the “Martingale.” This baby came to the fore back before casinos began setting table limits, and it’s also the main reason they did so. The theory behind it couldn’t get more straightforward: If you bet a proposition long enough, it’s bound to win, and if you increase your bet every time you lose, you’ll make profit when that win finally comes through. The original Martingale was played exclusively on outside bets. A player would, for instance, bet Black at the table minimum, and if he lost, he would double the amount he risked on the next spin. He would continue doubling the previous bet for every loss, and when he eventually won, he would rake in enough at a 1-1 payoff to cover everything he’d lost to that point, plus gain whatever he would have won on the initial bet.

To give you a better idea of how this works, though, let’s look at a betting-sequence chart. The following numbers reflect how the Martingale would play out, assuming we were at a $5-minimum table with no ceiling on how much we could bet at one time.

Seems to work perfectly, right? Well… sort of. You see, as we said before, there are ceilings to how much you can bet on a proposition at one time (i.e., “table limits”). In the past, casinos would set these in a ballpark range, but in the 20th century, gambling wizard John Scarne put a real edge to their sword by advising them to set the their limits at either a 100-1 or 200-1 ratio. What this means is that the table limit will usually be 100 or 200 times the table minimum. Looking back at our betting-sequence chart, then, you can see why this shuts down a classic Martingale; seven losses in a row would make it impossible for you to double your bet again, and you’d simply be out $635.

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