The Martingale System and Its Variations

If you’ve been trying to beat the roulette, you’ve probably heard of the famous Martingale system. Designed by John Henry Martingale, it emerged in the 18th century as the go-to strategy for beating the house edge and it’s used by a wide range of players to this very day. Not only is it applicable to both the online as well as offline version of the game, you can, in fact, apply its core principles to any gambling type game of your choosing.

What’s even better is that there are more than a few variations of it you can incorporate into your overall strategy. But before we delve into these, an quick introduction for those who are familiarizing themselves with the concept for the first time.

The system in a nutshell

In essence, the Martingale system is rather simple to grasp. The main idea is to start with the smallest bet possible and up the stakes when you lose. So let’s say you started with one dollar. If you lose, you bet 2 dollars the next time around. If it happens again, you go to 4. Then 8. And so on and so forth. As you can tell, winning any one of these consecutive bets reverses the damage done by a previously encountered losing bet. And it’s unlikely a player will lose 10 times in a row, meaning they can continue what seems like forever, steadily earning more as they go.

The limitations of this strategy

Of course, casino operators are well aware of this simple but effective strategy. As such, they’ve taken appropriate measures to keep it under control, so it’s still effective, but by no means impeccable. The main limiting factor comes in the form of regulating the minimum and maximum bet sizes. So for the purpose of illustration, let’s say the minimum bet is 1 and the maximum bet is 20.

This would go down as follows:

1… 2… 4… 8… 16…

As you can see, not many repetitions are possible as there isn’t a lot of breathing room in the example above. But the good news is, in a typical UK online casino, the maximum bet is set way higher, allowing up to 10 or 11 consecutive losses before going bust and sometimes even more, depending on how low the minimum bet is set. There is a very small chance of encountering this many losses in a row, and you could go days betting on either red or black without experiencing it a single time, thus steadily increasing your profits.

The variations

The variations is where it gets interesting, as the meat-and-bones version of the system can be limiting at times.

1. Classic Martingale

This is pretty much the version we’ve already covered. The classic version of the system focuses around betting on either one of the two colors, black or red. So if it comes a up, it’s a win, otherwise it’s a loss, in a tried and true boolean fashion. In case of roulette, this amounts to 18 opportunities to win and 19 to lose (there are 18 black numbers, 18 red ones, and a zero that always results in a loss). In case you’re playing the American version of roulette, there are two zeroes, so the chances of winning are ever so slightly smaller than 50%.

Ones and zeroes, reds and blacks. In roulette, you get to pick which color represents a win.

2. Great Martingale

This version of the system takes the core concept to explosive heights. Its main advantage is overcoming one of the original version’s drawbacks: winning small sprinkles of money in exchange for putting the entire bankroll at risk of going bust. So instead of merely doubling up on the bet size when losing, the player would add more chips to the bet. This small difference yields substantial results and keeps the player motivated, as winning translates to greater bankroll increases.

3. Anti-Martingale (also known as Reverse Martingale)

Say, what? Exactly. As the name itself suggests, this variation of the system takes the original concept and turns it on its head. So instead of upping the stakes after a loss, the player would double-up upon winning. In essence, this does away with the dangers of risking your entire bankroll, which is one of the main criticisms of the system in its classic form. The reason is simple: encounter as many consecutive losses as possible, your bet size still remains the same. But in case you win, you can be brave and up the stakes (but only as long as you keep winning). The trick with this, of course, is knowing when to stop and bank your profits.


In gambling (and in life), there are no guarantees, but a system such as this can help keep the risks structured and under control. The fact is that the Martingale system is used by beginners and experts alike. This means it deserves to find a place in your strategy as you continue to develop your own style of playing that’s based on logic, observation, and reason rather than emotion.