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What is the Martingale

Martingale Martingale is one of the oldest betting systems using a negative progression. It is named after Henry Martingale, an English casino owner in the 1700s who is reputed to urge losing punters to "double 'em up" with their wagers.

This system is very simple. You will use a betting series where each bet in the series is twice as large as the preceding one, as with 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32. So long as you win a bet, you will continue to bet at the lowest level, e.g. wager 1. If you lose a bet, you will move up to the next wager, doubling the amount of the previous wager. Use of the system ensures that whenever your wager eventually wins, you will win the amount of the original wager, in this instance 1.

One of my gambling friends once told me about an amazing system he had developed for craps. He had gone to Las Vegas on two consecutive trips and returned a winner. He was wagering only on don't pass at casino craps using a betting series starting with a $1 bet and doubling his bet after each loss. He was certain that his risk of loss was very small and planned to continue to use the system. He was reluctant to share the system with me but he finally confessed that he was using the following betting series, increasing his wager one level following a loss: 1 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256. He correctly pointed out that he would have to lose nine times in a row to lose the betting series, and he just didn't think that this was possible.

I pointed out to him that there was a very real possibility that he could lose nine decisions in a row; in fact, this would happen once about every 500 pass line - don't pass decisions. With craps decisions averaging fifty to sixty per hour, a loss of all nine wagers could happen once every eight to ten hours. I asked him to consider whether he was winning enough to sustain a loss of $511.00 (the total amount he was risking) in order to win the sum of $1. This must have impressed him as I don't think he ever used this system again (or at least he didn't tell me about losing with it).

The Martingale system would be just about unbeatable if you could continue to double your wagers until you finally won a bet. Modern casinos are very aware of Martingale, and they know that the easiest way to thwart the system is to narrow the spread between maximum and minimum bets allowed. In other words, the minimum wager must be high enough and the maximum wager low enough that no more than eight or nine doublings can occur. If you find a table with a low minimum, such as $1 and a high maximum, such as $3,000, you may wish to try using a Martingale system against the table.

You could use the following series of wagers: 1 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256 512 1,024 2,048. With 12 bets in the series, you would be an odds-on favorite to win any weekend gambling contest involving even-money wagers. However, you might want to consider one thing. If you try this, sooner or later you will lose bet number 11, for $1,024. You will now have lost $2,047 and will be called on to bet $2,048 in order to win the grand sum of $1. Are you willing to risk it? If you win, you will be up exactly one buck for your efforts. However, if you lose your last wager of $2,048, you will have lost $4,095 in the gaming contest. While the risk of loss is low, it will happen at some time if you continue to wager this way, and there is no guarantee that it won't happen during your first casino excursion using this system.