Casino gamers worldwide are constantly on the lookout for systems and strategies with the potential to beat the house. Or at least, eliminate as much of the house edge as possible. Realistically, playing casino games for a prolonged period of time simply increases the inevitability of losing. After all, if it was possible to consistently beat the house, casinos worldwide would be going out of business on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, there are some who claim to have the magical or mathematical formula to do exactly that. Some apparent systems having proven so popular that they’re still in use today several decades after the invention.
One example of which being the Martingale System.
Used for the first time more than a century ago, the Martingale System is one of the most popular strategies for beating the house at roulette, craps and a bunch of other casino classics. Some swear by it and even say that the mathematics behind the Martingale System are undeniable.
The question being – does it actually work? Or more importantly, should you give it a go for yourself?
What is the Martingale System?
In the simplest terms, the Martingale System is referred to as a negative progression system. The entire strategy is formulated round the concept that while losing streaks are possible, it is fundamentally impossible to lose on a permanent basis. Sooner or later, your luck simply has to turn around and you will break out of your losing streak.
Taking roulette as an example, the Martingale System is surprisingly easy to implement. You place your money on black or red, giving you a near 50/50 chance of winning. Each time you lose, you double your bet and place it back on the line once again. You keep losing and losing and losing, each time doubling your wager. In theory, this paves the way for an eventual win, which would augment your losses and see you walking away with a profit.
In a purely mathematical sense, the whole thing appears relatively logical. Just as long as you keep doubling your bet each time you lose, the eventual win you pocket will be enough to cover your losses at least. Hence, just as long as you stick with the Martingale System until you finally win, you’re effectively providing yourself with an insurance policy. Precisely why so many gamblers worldwide continue to experiment with this system even to this day.
A popular alternative version of the strategy, Anti-Martingale is essentially the exact opposite of the original. In this instance, you play the game as normal and only ever double your stake after you win. Rather than doubling on a loss, you double exclusively on wins.
The idea being that if you’re lucky, you’re able to generate enormous wins in short periods of time – even if starting out with a relatively small bankroll. On the downside, there’s nothing to say you won’t enter into a losing streak, meaning that by the time you hit a win, it could be far too insignificant to cover your losses.
The Anti-Martingale System can work if luck is on your side, but isn’t generally considered a workable strategy.
Advantages of the Martingale System
As for the traditional Martingale System, the biggest advantage is the system’s capacity to work in a statistical sense. Theoretically, you’re never going to find yourself in a position where you lose relentlessly without a single victory here and there. You could lose 20 consecutive bets, but just as long as wager 21 comes out in your favour, you’ll have covered your losses. Hence, you could argue it’s a fool-proof system.
In addition, it’s also perhaps the simplest strategy of its kind currently doing the rounds. Even if you’re new to casino gaming with little to no prior knowledge, it’s easy to work with for beginners and experts alike. Just as long as you keep an eye on your spending, you’ll find the Martingale System easy to implement.
Last but not least, the Martingale System is compatible with an extensive range of casino classics. Though particularly popular for games like roulette and craps, it can also be brought into action at the blackjack or baccarat table.
Disadvantages of the Martingale System
As for the downsides, the mathematics of the whole thing suggest that no losing streak can continue forever. In reality, you’re just as likely to lose a thousand times in a row as you are to see any other outcome. It’s important to remember that every roll of a dice or turn of a card is a completely random event. Hence, it is in no way influenced by whatever takes place before. Even if you’ve lost a 50/50 bet 25 times in a row, there’s no guarantee you’ll win even once in the next 250 turns.
Along with there being no guarantees of winning whatsoever, the Martingale System also demands a pretty enormous bankroll. Even if you start out with relatively low bets in the £5 range, you’ll quickly be looking at massive wagers as you keep doubling up. £5, £10, £20, £40, £80, £160, £320, £640, £1,280 – less than 10 games in, you’ll be handed over the kind of cash most players simply can’t afford to put on the line. Unless you have a near-endless supply of cash therefore, the Martingale System probably isn’t for you.
Is the Martingale System Worth Trying Out?
As detailed above, it all comes down to your risk appetite and bankroll. Irrespective of how much cash you have on hand, the Martingale System could wipe you out completely. All while delivering absolutely no joy or pleasure in the process.
Perhaps the best way of getting to grips with the Martingale System is to set yourself up with some free-play online. Sign up with an online casino, play for virtual-currency and see how the strategy works when put to the test. And it’s a case of calculating whether or not you can afford to risk these kinds of losses yourself. If the answer is no, this isn’t the strategy for you.
You’ll simply have to rely on your skill and intuition to beat the house, like everyone else!