Pros and Cons of the Martingale Strategy

Any time you have games that pay out real money at the table, you will find strategists looking for weak points to capitalize on. Some games are better suited for optimal strategy, like blackjack and video poker, while other games are ideal candidates for betting systems, which require 50-50 bets, like roulette. In this article, we’re dissecting one of the oldest and most popular betting systems out there: the Martingale.  

What is the Martingale Strategy?

Although the earliest recorded history of the Martingale came in Italy, it was popularized by the French in the 18th century, when it was originally applied to games with 50-50 bets. The concept is simple: Bet a single unit after every win, and double it after every loss. Follow this and once you hit a win again after a series of losses, you will earn back all of your lost bets and be up by one betting unit. Let’s take a look at a sample of four rounds:


Round 1: Bet $1: Result: Win

Round 2: Bet $1: Result: Loss

Round 3: Bet $2: Result: Loss

Round 4: Bet $4: Result: Win

By the end of these four rounds, you will be up two units thanks to the first round being a win. At first glance, the system appears sound and has been applied to many casino games, but as you will see soon, there are limitations that should be considered before diving into the Martingale.

Pros of Martingale Strategy

The Martingale’s popularity comes from its flexibility and simplicity. Any game that has two bets that are close to 50% can employ the Martingale strategy. Likewise, any person who can double a number continuously has what it takes to use the Martingale. Many systems use more complicated calculations, so when it comes to simplicity, the Martingale comes out ahead. 

The theory behind the system is also strong, as it is nearly impossible to flip heads or tails eternally. Eventually, you will return to the win column if you have the capacity to continue on indefinitely.

Cons of Martingale Strategy

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the bankroll needed to continue using this strategy indefinitely, which is why the Martingale strategy works better in theory than in practice. Finite bankrolls and table limits can bring the system to a screeching halt in the face of a long losing streak. Let’s take a look at how far you can go, starting with $5 bets in our casino, which has $500 table limits.

1. $5     x 2  = $10

2. $10   x 2 = $20

3. $20   x 2 = $40

4. $40   x 2 = $80

5. $80   x 2 = $160

6. $160 x 2 = $320

7. $320 x 2 = $640

In this instance, it would take seven straight losses to exceed the $500 table limits, not including any bankroll limits. This is why the Martingale can work in short bursts, but cannot survive a prolonged series of losses. It is certainly possible to flip a single outcome for seven straight rounds, which would make you unable to put down the $640 required to continue on. The speed in which the Martingale can lead to a bust is its main criticism. 

Where to Use this Strategy

Roulette is the most popular game for Martingale enthusiasts because the bets are so close to 50/50, and the payouts are a perfect 1:1. In Roulette, your betting options are red/black, or even/odd; both bets offer a 48.65% win rate in European Roulette, and 47.37% win rate in American Roulette, with the extra double-zero.

raps is another option for employing the Martingale, although rounds will take longer to conclude than Roulette. The Pass and Don’t Pass bets are just shy of 50% probability, making them good candidates for the system. Simply stick to a single bet for every round and double your wager after every loss. The payouts are 1:1, and bets start at $1.  

If Craps proves to be too slow for you, consider trying the Martingale strategy during a game of Baccarat. This game has two primary bets, the Banker and the Player, and you simply make the same bet for the entire duration of your session. Unfortunately, only one of the two bets pay out at even-money, and it’s the Player. The Banker enjoys a tiny advantage and thus pays 1:1 minus a 5% commission. The probability for the Player is 44.62%, while the probability for the Banker is 45.86% with our six-deck version of Baccarat. The rest of the time, the tie will come through.  

Other Strategies

Many systems beyond the Martingale are in circulation and some make a point to offer slower progressions. The Fibonacci is one such system, as it still advises increasing your betting unit following a loss; however, instead of doubling, which can get out of control fast, you increase by progressing up the Fibonacci sequence by a single number. Following a win, you move two numbers down the sequence. This keeps things steadier than the Martingale. For those of us who aren’t mathematicians, the Fibonacci sequence is as follows: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55. Continue the sequence by adding together the two numbers at the end. 

The Reverse Martingale, also known as the Anti-Martingale system, has you double after every win, beginning with the lowest betting unit possible. With this system, you determine a goal of the number of betting units that you hope to win, as long as it can be divided by two. In order to use the Reverse Martingale, you’re supposed to walk away when you reach your goal, or start over again with a single unit. 

All of these betting systems can be tested free of charge using Practice mode in our casino. See if you prefer the speed and simplicity of the Martingale, or the lower risk of the Fibonacci. Combine it with your favourite table game that offers 50-50 bets, whether it be Roulette, Craps, or Baccarat. And keep mind, sessions should be kept short and sweet.