Just about every gambler I know has used the Martingale system when placing bets. If you don’t know what the Martingale is, I give you a quick overview in the first section.
Some gamblers also track past results to try to predict future results. They believe that they can make profitable bets based on what’s happened in the past. This is actually true in a few areas, like poker and sports betting, but it’s a waste of time where most gamblers use it.
On this page I show you how to incorporate past results with the Martingale system. At first, this looks like it makes the system even better, but does it really? The answer is below.
How the Martingale System Works
The Martingale system has been around almost as long as gambling. While it wasn’t given a name until the 1700’s in France, it’s been used far longer. The first time a gambler decided to double up after losing a bet in hopes of recovering their losses they were using the Martingale.
Here’s a simple explanation of how the Martingale system works:
You make a small wager on any even money bet. The most common example is roulette when you bet on red or black or odd or even, but there are many other ones available. Blackjack, baccarat, and craps also have even money bets.
The idea is that an even money bet has close to a 50% chance of winning, and that when you double your bet after losing you win back all of your losses and have a small profit when you do win. You don’t see the same side of an even money bet win several times in a row very often, so you hope to win a decision before you run out of money.
For ExampleYou bet $10 on the even numbers in roulette. If you win, you get your $10 back and win $10 in profit. When you lose, you double your next wager. So the second bet after losing the first one is $20. You continue doing this until you win.
Every time you win you get a $10 profit and enough to cover all of your previous losses. This seems like a great way to lock in a profit, because the odds of one side of an even money bet coming in too many times in a row are small.
While the odds are small of this happening, and they get even smaller as the number of times in a row increases, the fact is that it’s not impossible.
Here are the numbers on a true 50/50 chance. In truth, the casino doesn’t offer true 50/50 chances on any wagers. To see an example using actual percentages look in the section below titled a simple system.
This means that the percentage chance of a 50/50 chance happening seven times in a row is less than one out of 100.
These numbers look pretty good, and they are why many gamblers use the Martingale, or a variation of it.
After you win any wager, you make your next bet at the starting point of the string or sequence. In this example, you make your next bet $10 after any win. Each progression from your first bet until you win a wager is called a string or sequence or series.
If you can win 10 straight series with a starting bet of $10, you have a $100 profit.
Martingale System Dangers
Even though the system looks good, the truth is there are a few issues with it. The first issue is that even though it doesn’t happen often, the truth is that long streaks do happen. Just because the chance is 1.5625% or .78125% doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. The opposite is actually true. These numbers say that it will happen eventually.
Another issue is that you can only double your bets so many times. You eventually either run out of money or reach the top betting limit of the game. When either of these things happens the system doesn’t work.
Here’s a list of progressive wager amount and the total amount bet to show you how quickly the best get out of hand.
|Bet||Total amount wagered|
It’s almost impossible to find a game where the betting limits go from $10 all the way up to $1,280. You also end up betting larger and larger amounts in your quest to win $10.
The mistakes many gamblers make are looking at the small percentage chance of something happening and ignore the chances. Instead of looking at a small chance and thinking that means it can’t happen, look at it as a guarantee that it’s going to happen eventually.
If you look at this a different way, maybe it can help you come to terms with what small percentage chances really mean.
What if you faced a situation where you have a 1% chance to die? This means that if you face this situation 100 times that one of those times you’re going to do. Is it worth taking the chance in this situation with the chance to die? If it’s worth taking the risk, how many times is it worth taking the risk?
The other thing to understand is that the long term percentage chance doesn’t have to come at the end. It can happen the first time you take the chance.
If 100 different people take a 1% gamble on losing their life, one of them is going to die on the first chance.
I’m not trying to compare death to the chance of losing a bet in the casino, but when you think about small percentages the next time, maybe this example can help you realize that anything can happen that has any chance of happening, even if it’s small.
Tracking Past Results
When you start playing a game and use the Martingale, in a way you’re tracking results as they happen. But if you believe the system works, why don’t you start tracking results before you start making bets? Can this help you improve the chances that the Martingale works for you?
The next section discusses how you can use past results with the Martingale, and the section after that gives you a complete and simple system for using results and the system together. Don’t make the mistake of reading about the simple system and running right out to try it. The final section explains a few important things that you have to know.
I track results by watching the game live. Some games have a board showing past results, but for some reason I always want to see the results as they happen. I keep a pen and note cards in my pocket at all times, so I always have something to write down results on.
As you’re going to learn in the simple system below, you don’t really need to write down the past results in many situations. You’re just looking for something to happen to trigger the start of your betting sequence.
Incorporating Past Results into the Martingale
Tracking past results and the Martingale system are two different things. Many gamblers track past results to try to predict future results. The next time you’re in the casino take a look at the baccarat tables. Often at least one player is furiously scribbling in a notebook trying to figure out what to bet on next.
Sports bettors look at past results all of the time in order to try to get an edge on their future bets. The difference between analyzing past results for sports bettors and baccarat player is that the sports bettor can gain valuable information, while the baccarat player can’t get anything of value.
The odds of the next baccarat hand winning for the banker, player, or landing on a tie are basically the same from hand to hand. The banker and player hand have close to the same chance to win every hand, and the tie wins a much smaller percentage of the time. But the key is that the odds of each outcome in a baccarat hand remain basically the same from hand to hand.
A baccarat hand is basically a random result dictated by the long term percentage chances of each thing happening. The long term percentages are based on the cards in the decks in the shoe, but they stay fairly consistent throughout the shoe. Roulette is completely random, unless you find a rare biased wheel or you find a dealer with a signature.
I cover random results in more detail below, but the important thing to know is that past results can’t predict future results. This is what people who use the Martingale and other systems don’t understand, and what ends up costing them a great deal of money.
The Martingale system is simply a money management system that doesn’t really track past results. You can argue that it uses past results because each bet is based on the last one, but each sequence starts with a clean slate. But what if you can incorporate past results with the Martingale system? Is this the missing key to the perfect betting system?
If you know the last result before you start a series, you can start your series by betting on the opposite. This effectively extends the streak odds or chances by one. If this is a good idea, wouldn’t knowing the last two results be helpful?
When the last two results are the same, like the banker bet won both of the last two hands in baccarat, you can start your string betting on the player hand. Doesn’t it make sense that you improve your chances of winning with the player hand before you run out of money by basically extending the streak two additional spaces?
Look at the percentage chances in the chart in the first section. If you move down two places from the start you go from 50% to 12.5%. If you don’t have a complete understanding of how random results and percentages work you’re likely to fall into a costly trap.
The next section takes this another step and incorporates the Martingale system with the past three results. As you’re going to see, it looks like a perfect system. But it isn’t, as I explain in the section after the next one.
A Simple System
Here’s a simple system that incorporates past results in the Martingale system. I’m using roulette in the example, but any even money bet offered in the casino can use this system.
You know that the core of the Martingale is that when you make an even money bet and double up after losses that you need to win before the best get so high that you run out of money or run up against the maximum bet limits. Even money bets in the casino usually win close to half the time, so a string of losses doesn’t seem likely.
But you learned above that a string of losses long enough to bust your bankroll can and will happen eventually. But what if you extended the string before you place your first bet? Does this improve your chances to win?
You know that the chance of six or seven negative results, or losses, in a row is small, and the percentage chance of a string goes down as the number of losses goes up. So what if you don’t place your first bet until an even money wager happens three times in a row?
For ExampleYou’re playing on a single zero roulette wheel and you want to use the Martingale system on any even money bet. You can bet on red, black, even, odd, 1 – 18, or 19 – 36. This gives you six possible wagers.
Instead of starting a betting sequence when you get to the table, you watch the results until one of the six even money bets would result in a win three straight times. Then you start your string betting on the opposite.
If red comes up three times in a row, you start your string on black. If odd comes up three times in a row, you start your string on even.
By waiting until an even money wager comes up three times in a row you extend the string of results from six to nine, or seven to 10, depending on how much you can bet and the table limits.
Here are the actual percentage chance numbers for single zero roulette:
|Even money times in a row||Percentage chance|
Here’s what the numbers mean. The chance of any even money wager at a single zero roulette wheel being hit on one spin is 48.65%. The chance that it hits two times in a row is 23.67%. If you look down the numbers to the chance it happens nine times in a row, you see .15%. .15% is 1.5 times out of 1,000. The chance of it happening 10 times in a row is less than one out of 1,000.
If you follow this system and wait until one of the even money wagers has come up three times in a row, you theoretically skip to the fourth row on your string. If the numbers hold true from the chart, the chances of the same result happening a fourth time in a row is only 5.6%.
Should You Use the System?
The short answer is no, you shouldn’t use this system. While the math is 100% correct in the chart, this is a lesson in how snake oil salesman try to convince you to buy gambling systems that don’t work. They lay out supposed proof to convince you that they have the gambling Holy Grail, and the numbers look good.
After reading the numbers in the chart above, it sure looks like it’s a perfect system. Any smart gambler and most others as well, would risk money on an even money bet that only had a 5.6% chance to fail. And if it was a true representation of the chances, it would be a great bet.
The problem is that this is what I call fuzzy math. Once again, the numbers in the chart are correct, but the problem is that they don’t give you all the information you need. The bottom line is that past results of a random event don’t predict future results.
Random events are stand alone events. This means that each random event is only dictated by the chances of each individual result for that event. In other words, each spin of the roulette wheel is a random event. Nothing that happened before has anything to do with the current spin.
Instead of the chance of black coming up a fourth time in a row being 5.6%, the true chance is 48.65%. I know that the chart shows 5.6% chance of black coming up four times in a row, and this is true. But the roulette wheel and ball have no memory.
I know that a few people reading this won’t believe that it’s a bad idea. The numbers look like the perfect betting system, so you’re tempted to try it. If you want to try it, I’d like to offer a couple words of advice.
- No matter how sure the results look, never bet with money you can’t afford to lose. You never get a sure thing in gambling, no matter what anyone says.
- Even if you use this system and have success several times in a row, you’re still going to run up against the true probabilities eventually and lose a big amount.
The next time you read about some great gambling system that uses math to make it seem like a sure thing, remember this example. People can use math facts in ways that make things look better than they really are.
If someone develops a system that really wins more than it loses, they won’t be selling it on the internet. They’ll be using it to get rich.
Gamblers everywhere dream of finding the perfect system and getting rich. Many of them stumble across the Martingale system, either through their own ideas or by reading about it somewhere. It looks like a sure thing, and most people have some success using it when they get started.
But they ignore the fact that small percentage chances mean that something is guaranteed to happen eventually. Instead, they think that the small percentage means that it’s not going to happen.
Go back and read the example about betting your life instead of money on a small percentage chance. Maybe you still think it’s worth it to risk your life for a 1% chance of dying. Most people have taken this exact chance in their lives at one time or another, without even thinking about it. Some people have paid the ultimate price.
If you think it’s acceptable to risk your life with only a small chance to die, that’s your decision. But think about the person you love the most in the world. It could be your spouse, a child, or your mom or dad. Would you risk their lives on anything if there’s a small chance for them to die?
I’m not trying to scare you. I’m trying to help you understand that using a system like the Martingale, even when you incorporate past results, is dangerous. If you use it long enough you’re going to lose money.
If you absolutely must try it for yourself, set aside some money that you don’t need for anything else. Use this money until you hit a long losing streak, and never put another penny with it to chase your losses.