# Why the Martingale System Doesn't Work

If you have friends or family who frequent casinos, you probably have heard at least one of them bragging that they have a betting system to beat the casinos. Some might even say they win every time! If you don’t know one of these people, well, at least I know quite a few. Either way, have you ever wondered if their claim is true? Today, we will examine this for you.

First off, the betting system they are talking about is the Martingale System. What is that? The Martingale is a simple system in which the player sets a winning target before playing, say \$100, and then places his target win amount, or the \$100, on an even-money wager, for example on blackjack or baccarat. If the player wins the bet, he ends his session and walks away with a \$100 profit. If he loses, he doubles his bet to \$200 on the next hand. If he wins this second hand, his \$200 win covers his prior \$100 loss to net him a \$100 profit, and he ends the session. If he loses again, he doubles his bet again to \$400 on the third hand. If he wins this third hand, his \$400 win covers his prior \$300 loss to net him a \$100 profit. If he loses his third hand however, he has to double his wager to \$800 on the fourth hand hoping to recover… I hope you are following me.

The key features of the Martingale System are a) the player doubles his wager after each loss, b) the player has to win once to recoup all prior losses and come out ahead, c) once the hand wins, the player reaches his preset winning target and he either has to quit or start the Martingale routine all over again. The Wizard of Odds did a step-by-step demonstration of this.

You might be wondering “huh, this system sounds so good and easy! At the end of the day, I am going to win one hand, and viola, I will come out ahead against the house! I can keep doing this all day, and soon I can own the casino!” Or can you? If it could be done, why do the casinos still exist and are becoming bigger and flashier? Now we will delve into three specific reasons why the Martingale System doesn’t work.

## 1. All Games Have a Max Betting Limit

If you ever sat down on a table game in a casino, you must know there is a placard on each table listing the table min and table max. Part of the reason there is a table max is to deter the Martingale System. For example, if your winning target is \$100 but you just lost three hands, fine, you would bravely put up \$800 for your fourth hand. If it loses again, you might put up \$1,600 with a shaky hand for your fifth hand. What if this one loses again? Even if you can muster up enough courage and have enough on you to bet \$3,200 for your sixth hand, odds are the table max is capped at \$2,500 and even if you win this hand, it won’t be enough to cover all your prior losses. Losing five or six hands in a row happens more often than we are willing to believe, and this alone makes the Martingale System hardly applicable.

## 2. It is Hard to Track on the Go

Even if you set a \$10 winning target on a table with a \$10 table min and a \$5,000 table max, the System might still fail. Why? Because the math could be hard to track. There aren’t many real even-money wagers in a casino, and even the closest ones like blackjack or baccarat can get weird in math. What if you have to split or double before losing the hand? What if you win on the Banker in baccarat but have to pay the 5% commission? All of these are tough to pay attention to and calculate on the go, and if you fail to wager the correct amount, your Martingale System will fail to deliver the promised final win even if you do, in fact, win the final hand.

## 3. The Bankroll Requirement is High and Any Loss Could be Devastating

If you follow our simple math with a winning target of \$100, you will soon realize that it is common to wager \$800, \$1600, or \$3200 multiple times. Do these numbers sound scary to you? More specifically, you would need to have 15 times of your winning target in your wallet to withstand a three-hand losing streak, 31 times of your winning target to withstand a four-hand losing streak, 63 times for a six-hand losing streak, and 127 times for a seven-hand losing streak. In other words, you will need to buy in for \$12,700 in cash to win \$100, and that’s at the mercy of the gambling gods. You’re just hoping that you don’t get an eight-hand losing streak, which happens around 0.4% of the time. As you can see, the bankroll needed to execute this strategy is way larger than common sense, and although a loss is rare, it would hurt immensely when it happens.

I hope this has opened your eyes and inspired your own thoughts regarding betting systems, especially the Martingale System. There are charlatans online touting and selling this very system, and please do not fall for it. No gambling system is able to overcome the built-in house edge of each game. This Martingale System fares no better in expected value than any random betting in the long run, and when the unlucky meteor hits, the loss could be extremely devastating.

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