Double Up When You Lose: Can a Martingale Betting System Be Used in Football Betting?

Money Management & Betting Systems

Employing a betting strategy is always an area of debate for seasoned punters as well as newcomers to the world of gambling. The things that we place wagers on – from roulette wheels to sporting events – can never be predicted but a sound strategy can help form a disciplined approach to gambling, helping bettors to inform their decisions with logically thought out rules and limits.

Indeed, it might not sound like the most creative or exciting way to approach betting, but if you are serious about making a profit, then it might be worth checking out a strategy or two.

One of the oldest tactics in the gambler’s handbook is the Martingale strategy. In theory, it’s a fairly foolproof way to ensure that you end up with more money than you wager. In practise, however, the strategy doesn’t always pan out how we want it to. Nevertheless, we thought that we would see if this age-old betting trick has any merits in the world of football betting.

What is the Martingale Model?

The Martingale betting system was incredibly popular in France in the 18th century. Why was it so popular? Well, the strategy is effortlessly simple (you probably won’t need to get your calculators out) and it guarantees a profit on the condition that a gambler has enough time and money to play the system out.

In its simplest form, the Martingale strategy is employed in an event in which the outcome is even odds, such as a 50/50 coin toss. If the guess is correct, the bettor will win double the amount which they wagered to end up one unit in profit. If the guess is incorrect and the bettor loses their stake then they end up one unit in losses. In order to regain what they lost according to the Martingale system, they simply have to double their stake on the next turn and so on until they win. It may sound counter-intuitive, but in the eventual event in which a bet is won, the gambler will recuperate all of their previous losses and receive one unit in profit. Almost as if they had won the very first bet. Here’s how the system breaks down for a gambler wagering on a coin toss with a £100 bankroll:

  • Gambler loses £1 bet. Bankroll = £99
  • Gambler loses £2 bet. Bankroll = £97
  • Gambler loses £4 bet. Bankroll = £93
  • Gambler loses £8 bet. Bankroll = £85
  • Gambler wins £16 bet. Bankroll = £101.

Can the System Be Applied to Football Betting?

Of course it can. Even though the Martingale betting system tends to be used in casino games such as roulette and other gambling events in which the odds are fixed, there is no reason that the same strategy can’t be used when wagering on a football match. That said, there are some very important things to consider.

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First of all, the success of this betting strategy is hinged on the fact that it is used on even odds (1/1). Of course, this hasn’t stopped punters from doubling up their losses on when going red or black on games such as roulette where the green ‘0’ provides a slight house edge. But even then, the odds are close enough to evens to justify the employment of the strategy. If you want to use the Martingale system when betting on football, then you need to ensure that you only select odds that are as close to evens as possible. This might sound difficult when you consider that very few football matches offer even odds on match result markets. The good thing is, however, that many top online sportsbooks will provide Asian Handicap markets and goal-line markets which bring odds as close to evens as possible.

Finding even odds is only one half of the job. Because it is also important to find even odds which are actually good value for your money. The odds that are listed on a sports betting site don’t always line up with the perceived probability of something happening on the football pitch. Of course, no-one can predict the future, but you can use statistics, knowledge of the game and a bit of mathematics to judge whether the odds you find online are worth taking a punt on.

What Are the Drawbacks to This Strategy?

The beauty of the Martingale system lies in its sheer simplicity. As long as you can do a bit of mental arithmetic, then you shouldn’t have too many problems employing the strategy on your football bets. But even then, is this betting system even worth the simple in-head calculations? Here are some of the potential pitfalls of going down the Martingale road:

  • You better have a big bankroll: the popularity of a martingale system is perhaps down to the fact that it is often sold to punters as a guaranteed way to end up with profit. And it will achieve this, so long as you have an infinite amount of money to wager with, or a very big bankroll at the very least. If you start the strategy with a £1 wager, then you will quickly accumulate loses of £1,023 after ten losing bets. Now, it would be pretty unlucky to lose ten 50/50 bets in a row, but stranger things have happened. We would advise that punters have a set loss limit in mind so that they how far they are willing to take the strategy before they should call it quits.
  • Not for the ambitious bettor: some betting strategies are intended to give punters the best chance to accumulate large profits in a short amount of time. For example, a percentage staking system is one of the fastest, albeit riskiest bankroll strategies. The Martingale is very much the opposite of such as strategy, with the prime purpose being to recuperate losses rather than to build a huge amount of profit. The advantage being that there is less risk involved.
  • Boring? Apart from the fact that this betting system doesn’t allow for exponential profit-growth, it might just prove to be too boring for some football punters. The fact that you have to stick to safe odds in the Asian handicap markets eliminates the opportunity for those exciting punts on underdogs to perform a giant killing in FA Cup matches. What’s more Martingale strategists will only be able to bet on one match at a time in order to determine whether they need to double their next bet or not. That means that accumulators and Lucky 15s are out of the question, unless you have a separate bankroll for more creative betting ventures.

The Anti-Martingale system

The Martingale system was popular in the 18th century because it was chiefly used for fixed odds games where the outcome of one event was not directly influenced by a past event. The truth is that modern sports betting is just too unpredictable and there are so many factors involved in the overall outcome, making it difficult to call something even when the odds appear close to evens.

Perhaps a better suited betting strategy for football games would be an Anti-Martingale system. This would entail punters doubling their stake after every win or, conversely, halving it after a loss. This model won’t recuperate all of your losses in the event of an unsuccessful bet, but it could help profits grow more rapidly while giving a degree of insurance when you are on a bit of a cold streak.


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