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Does the Martingale System Really Work for Roulette?

Placing Bets on a Roulette Table
Today, we’re going to take a look at the Martingale roulette strategy. This is a simple strategy which doesn’t require charts full of numbers and complex equations. It’s suitable for total roulette beginners as well as pros who have been playing roulette online for years.

Roulette is one of my absolute favorite casino games, and when I first heard about the Martingale system, I was part curious and part skeptical. Could it really be that there was a way to beat roulette every time?

I doubted it, but being the open-minded guy that I am, I decided to follow up and see what my results were. Let’s start at the beginning with how the Martingale roulette system works.

Martingale Theory: A Progressive Roulette System

First of all, you should understand that you can only use this system on even money bets. So, red/black or odd/even bets are the type you’ll be making if you use the Martingale system.

To use the Martingale system to win at roulette online casinos, you’re supposed to double your previous losing bet. For example, let’s say you hit the high limits tables and bet $10 on red and lose. Your next bet should be $20, and if you lose again, you should bet $40, and so on ad infinitum.

Since you’re making even money bets, the idea is that when you eventually win, which you have to eventually, you’ll win back everything you have lost plus your original stake. Go ahead and run the example above through a calculator, assuming you win the next $80 bet after losing the $40 bet. You’ll win $160. $80 of that is your wager, and the other $80 is winnings, which cancels out the $70 you lost previously and puts a cool $10 in your pocket.

Neat, right? I thought so, too. So, I decided to take a $1k bankroll and test the Martingale roulette strategy. Like all things which seem too good to be true, I encountered a few not-so-obvious flaws.

Does the Martingale Roulette System Work?

It’s no surprise that I first read about the Martingale roulette system on a popular online casino’s blog. They didn’t sell it as the best thing since sliced bread or anything, but they did forget to mention the very obvious flaws of the Martingale strategy. Of course, I discovered those when I tested it with real money bets.

1. Losses Grow Exponentially

All casino players are comfortable with a certain element of risk. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be playing roulette and other casino games in the first place. However, using the Martingale system requires nerves made of grade-A titanium which, I admit, I don’t have.

It’s time to get that calculator back out again. Start with a $10 bet, and calculate the losses if you lose 10 times in a row, which does happen. Yes, indeed, you have lost $5,120, and that’s only on the tenth bet. Add it all up, and your accumulated losses are $10,230!

Now, admittedly, you don’t have to start with $10 bets. You could easily start with a $1 bet or even a $0.10 bet if you play penny roulette. The point is this, losses grow REALLY fast when you play the Martingale roulette system.

Casinos are banking on the fact that humans absolutely suck at calculating exponential numbers. To illustrate this point further, let’s play a game. If you take a penny and double it every day for 30 days, how much would you guess you’ll have at the end of the month?

Ready? Here’s how much it would be:

Doubled Penny Screenshot

Even if you start by betting a penny, if you go on a long enough losing streak, you can get wiped out fast. It could really happen. There’s no law to say you can’t lose 100 times in a row, let alone 10, 20, or 30 times. It’s all down to chance. I’ve seen black come up 12 times in a row during a roulette game, so don’t kid yourself that it can’t happen.

But what happens if you genuinely do have an unlimited bankroll? Let’s say you’re reading this from Dubai, and you happen to own an oilfield or six. Can you use the Martingale system then?

2. Table Limits Gonna’ Get Ya’

Unless you’re playing no limits roulette, you’re going to hit table limits eventually. I’ve never seen an online casino which will accept roulette bets greater than $10,000 per spin. They might be out there, but I certainly have not played at them. It’s likely that, if they do exist, they’re by invitation-only.

Important:

Table limits are a fact of life at most casinos, and they are the fatal flaw in the Martingale system. Even if you are a bonafide oil tycoon, your losses will exceed the maximum bet the casino is willing to accept eventually. Just look at the chart above again.

Imagine starting with a $0.01 bet and losing 29 times in a row. Do you know of a casino that will accept $5,368,709.12 per bet in roulette so you can place your 30th bet using the Martingale system? If you do, and you do happen to have millions, you just might be able to use this system to beat the house every time.

But then again, even if you did, there’s always the last flaw.

3. The Casino Will Shut You Down

Casinos don’t like to lose money. Even if they forget to place table limits on bets, which is highly unlikely, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s something written in the terms and conditions that allows them to freeze your account if you try to pull this off.

Casino terms and conditions are written by expert lawyers, and I’ve found at least a few which will ban you for using the Martingale system while using bonus money. If they’re willing to do that, don’t you think they have this angle covered, too?

Anyway, we’re getting into the realms of the fantastical here. I know you likely don’t have millions to play roulette with, so there’s no point in even talking about it. Nonetheless, the point about using the Martingale system with bonus funds stands. You’ll want to check the terms and conditions before doing so. Casinos don’t like anything that give you an edge over them, and even money bets with house money are likely to be seen as abusive.

The Pros and Cons of the Martingale System

As a quick summary, let me recap on the pros and cons of the Martingale system for roulette.

Pros

Good Stuff

  • It works (in theory)
  • You can win a lot quickly
  • It’s simple and easy to use


Cons

Bad Stuff

  • Table limits will break you
  • Losses grow exponentially
  • It only works short-term


Conclusion

So, does the Martingale roulette system work? Yes and no. It depends on whether or not you get out while you’re ahead.

I personally don’t buy into the Martingale roulette success stories. It is possible to have a short-term win and get out in the money, but you should have a definite pre-defined limit after which you cut your losses and let it go. The same goes for winning. If you start with $10 and are up $50 or more using the Martingale system, walk away. This system does not change the house edge, and if you keep pushing your luck, the house will take it all back in short order.

If you want to try this system, I’d advise taking $200 or so and starting with $1 bets. Once you’ve built up a bit of a stash, go ahead and up the ante. Of course, if you’re a high stakes player, you can add a zero or two to suit your appetite for risk. Just watch out for those table limits!