Avoid the Martingale System and Become a Winner

Not as straight forward as a 50/50 shot

Money Management & Betting Systems

Many punters spend their whole lives searching for the perfect betting system; a secret formula that works every time and guarantees long-term profits. But what is a betting system? To the realistic and pragmatic betting enthusiast, it is a way of using extensive research, statistical analysis and trial and error to find value bets that give you an edge in the market place.

One such system is known as the “Martingale.”

The main problem with betting systems that rely purely on mathematical patterns is that they also depend on an element of probability; and the Martingale system is no exception. The system works in principle but fails when a perceived improbability occurs. To understand this flaw, we need to examine how the Martingale works in closer detail.

The principle of the Martingale System

To make this system easy to understand, it is best to look at a market that offers a 50/50 or even money chance of winning. A good example would be betting on red or black in roulette – or even tossing a coin. The idea of the Martingale system is to bet on an outcome and double the stake each time the bet loses. For example, if 1 unit is staked and the bet loses the next stake would be 2 units. If that bet loses, the player should increase his stake to 4 units and so on. By doubling the stake at even money, a winning bet will always cover the total stake and provide a small profit.


A player places five losing bets in a row but wins the sixth:

  • Total stake of all six bets: 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 = 63
  • Winning bet: 32 @ even money = 64
  • Profit: 1 unit

As you can see, the profit is not huge but it is guaranteed. Without doing any research or analysis, or developing any kind of measured strategy. So what’s the catch? Why haven’t bookmakers and casinos all over the world been broken by this bulletproof system?

Why the Martingale System is flawed

There are in fact a couple of reasons but the first and most important one is probability. The Martingale system fools gamblers into believing that each time a bet loses, the probability of the next one winning increases. Any mathematician will tell you that this is not the case. In a series of 50/50 bets, each bet is independent of the last one and the chances of winning or losing never changes.

So what are the implications of this when applied to the Martingale system? It’s simple: although we can be certain in principle that the system will eventually play in our favour, we cannot guarantee how many times we will have to double our stake in order to win. For example, if you tossed a coin repeatedly for 12 hours, any possible sequence is as unlikely or likely as another. So at some point you may toss 15 heads in a row but the next toss will still have a 50% chance of being another head. All possible combinations of coin toss sequences during that 12 hours have the same probability of happening.

So what happens when we place 15 losing bets in a row using the Martingale system?


A player places fifteen losing bets in a row:

  • Total stake of all fifteen bets: 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 + 64 + 128 + 256 + 512 + 1,024 + 2,048 + 4,096 + 8,192 + 16,384 = 32,767

So far the player has staked a total of 32,767 units on fifteen losing bets. Now convert that into your local currency and consider that the next bet has no more chance of winning than the last.

Luckily for our player, the sixteenth bet does come in.

  • Total stake of all bets: 32,767 (total of first 15 bets) + 32,768 (16th bet) = 65,535
  • Winning bet: 32,768 @ even money = 65,536
  • Profit: 1 unit

As you can see, our punter finished with a profit of just 1 unit after staking 65,535 units. So even with a huge bank roll, the Martingale system has obvious limitations. A winning bet provides very small returns and when a losing streak occurs, the exposure can be enormous. If our player had started with a bank roll of less than 65,000 units, he would have been unable to place the final bet and would have lost 32,767 units. A player with a budget of 200 units would be out after a run of seven losing bets.

As well as being restricted by limited personal finances, a player can also suffer from bookmaker limitations. Most bookies will have a limit on how much you can bet and this can be another obstacle for those looking to use the Martingale system.

There is no easy system

If you really want to have a chance of profits from betting, you need more than a mathematical system. You need to start with solid research and statistical analysis and then you need to experiment with your own systems in markets that you understand. Once you understand the markets, you then need to learn how to spot trends, find value bets and minimise your risks. If a bet is not going your way, you must learn how to turn the market to your advantage by using betting exchanges like World Bet Exchange (WBX) to lay bets (to bet against an outcome, e.g. for a football match to not end in a draw) or bet in-play.

Cover bets and lock-in profit

You can also learn to place cover bets to guarantee a profit. For example, before the 2015 Australian Open tennis tournament, your research may have suggested that the in-form Russian player Maria Sharapova was most likely to win. Your calculations may also have shown that the available price of 11/2 (6.5) represented very good value. As a result, you placed 10 units on the outright winner market. As the tournament progressed, Serena Williams started to find form and by the time the final arrived, you felt that the momentum was now with the American. By placing 50 units on Williams at 2/5 (1.4) you created a situation where you were guaranteed a profit whatever the outcome.

You can use a similar tactic while an event is in-play by using swings in momentum to place strategic bets that guarantee a profit whatever the outcome. Betting exchanges are the perfect place to find these in-play sweet spots and lock-in profits.

Spot the trends

You should also look out for trends in your favourite markets. For example, during the 2013/14 football season, Spanish second division side Numancia drew 21 out of 42 games. The previous season they also drew more games than any other team in that division and many smart punters picked up on this and started to cash-in on the generous draw prices available at the betting exchanges.

Discover true value with betting exchanges

Once you have developed your strategy, you should then make sure that you use a bookmaker that gives you the best odds and the most flexibility. Most experienced punters will choose a betting exchange to back and lay bets. If you choose a specialist exchange such as WBX you will get better odds, low commission fees and real time odds for a more precise betting experience. And unlike many bookmakers, winners are welcome. New members at WBX can get up to £25/€25/$35 in free bets.