Labouchere Betting System and Advice

How to use Labouchere - a Negative Progression system

Money Management & Betting Systems

One of the most famous betting systems around is the Martingale system and the Labouchere System can be seen as something of a derivative of that. Where the Martingale system tries to recover losses with a bigger stake on the following bet, the Labouchere system tries to recover any losses by a series of smaller bets instead.

As with any betting system, testing things out to see whether or not this is the kind of thing that is going to go suit your own betting preferences is the first step forward. The best way to do that is getting a pen and paper and playing with fictional bets. Just work through the system first to get a full understanding of everything and how the system may play out for you. With that in mind, let’s get into more details.

About the Labouchere System

The whole thing was created by Henry Labouchere (1831 – 1912) so it has been around a fair old while. He was an avid roulette player and what he was targeting was even money bets on the table. The system can be used across other table games as well as in sports betting when you can find those even money options to play with. It’s not a particularly straightforward progressive betting system, and it can end up getting a little bit cumbersome, so it needs some planning out and it all starts with a simple sequence of numbers.

What numbers and how many? Well, the starting point for the Labouchere system is a run of numbers of your own choosing. While you can basically toss out any numbers that you want, before doing so you will want to grasp fully what they mean so that things don’t end up costing you more than you want to. The numbers you choose will affect your stake. This is a Negative Progression system which means that you will be increasing stakes when you lose and decreasing them when you win. A Positive Progression system is the opposite where you increase your stakes when you win and decrease them when you lose.

The First Sequence

So then the first sequence of numbers. Let’s totally keep things simple by choosing 1-3-5.

Potential Profit: If you add all the numbers of your sequence together, this is the potential profit for each cycle of the Labouchere System. So your potential profit for each cycle in his case is 9.

Stakes: The stake that you play is based on those numbers as well. To get the stake value you add the last two numbers of the sequence together. So your base stake, in this case, is 6 (1 + 5).

The Rules of the Cycle

So here you go. You have a 1-3-5 sequence and you know that your stake is 6. So you place that bet (remember these are even money bets to double winnings). Here are the outcomes and what happens:

A win: Fantastic you have won so happens now is that you remove the first and last number of the initial number sequence. So in this case you are left with the number 3.

A loss: Sucks. Your next step is now to put the value of the added stake from the losing bet onto the end of the sequence. So in this case you bet 6, it lost so now your sequence looks like 1-3-5-6.

You take the same steps after every win and every loss in the cycle. Those are the rules of the Labouchere System.

Down to One Number

The plan is to keep winning and crossing the numbers off until you wipe out all of the numbers. The exception to the above rules is when there is just the one number left in the sequence. At that point all that you do is bet the value of that last number. Let’s go back to your 1-3-5 sequence. We bet 6 (1 + 5) on our first bet and it wins. So we cross off the 1 and the 5 and are left with the 3 which is the final number left. Our step is to bet 3 on the next even money selection. Here are the outcomes:

Win: If the bet on the final number remaining in a sequence wins, fantastic you have completed the cycle. You can then go back if you want to and start an entirely new cycle.

Loss: If the bet on the final remaining number loses however, you have to put that 3 back onto the end of the sequence so your sequence would now be two numbers 3-3 and you keep on playing.

Full Circle

Let’s look at the 1-3-5 sequence through a run of bets.

First Bet: Stake 6 (1 + 5) loss
Action: Add 6 to the end of the sequence
New Sequence: 1-3-5-6

Second Bet: Stake 7 (1 + 6) loss
Action: Add a 7 to the end of the sequence
New sequence: 1-3-5-6-7

Third Bet: Stake 8 (1 + 7) Wins
Action: Cross off the 1 and the 7 at the ends|
New Sequence: 3-5-6

Fourth Bet: 9 (3 + 6) wins
Action: Cross off the 3 and the 5 at the ends
New Sequence: 5

Fifth Bet: 5 loss
Action: Add a 5 to the end of the sequence
New Sequence: 5-5

Sixth Bet: 10 (5 + 5) wins
Stop as you have completed the cycle because you have crossed off all numbers. So that is an example of a full cycle on the Labouchere System.

That’s how it works. But let’s get to the meat of it all and see what would have happened to our money!

Our total stakes from the six bets were 6+7+8+9+5+10 = 45.
Within the sequence, we ended up with three wins and three losses
The losing stakes were: 6+7+5 = 18
Profit from winning bets were: 8+9+10 = 27

Remember our original sequence of 1-3-5? Right at the start, we said that if you add the numbers of your original sequence together that would be your potential profit in following the cycle. 27-18 = 9 (1+3+5). So there it is, the cycle closes out with the projected profit. It all sounds good and superb, right. No matter what numbers or how many numbers you have in your initial sequence, if you play through the system you will end up at your potential profit. So it’s a no-brainer, right? Well no, because it’s not always that simple because betting is unpredictable.

Bankroll Concerns

As with all betting systems, nothing is guaranteed. Because of unpredictability. Let’s say you are sat at a roulette table doing this with Red or Black at even money. If you bet red five times in a row and it comes out black five times in a row, the chance of the next one being a red doesn’t change. But at this point, it would be so tempting to switch over to red to try and change your luck. But it is still a 50/50 chance of it being another black. The run of black changes nothing about what could happen in the next spin. But panic sets in and punters try to force things, that’s when chasing losses becomes a risky thing because you are not playing with clear judgement.

It’s why betting systems can help, because you have a set bankroll, you know exactly what stake is coming next. But the longer a losing streak goes on, the deeper you are going to have to dig into your pockets. This is the issue of trying to chase losses which is essentially what the betting system does. A losing streak can get out of control pretty quickly and before you know it, you are having to risk big stakes to try and get yourself back in line. That’s why it is always necessary to have a set bankroll based on what you can afford to lose and stick to that.

Betting ego comes into this as well. No punter thinks that they are going to go on a losing streak, but they happen. That’s the reality of it. If you are playing the Labouchere System you still need to hit the wins. Because a losing streak can quickly tear through your bankroll because of the progressive stakes.


The Labouchere System promises a lot (win by losing more bets than you win in a cycle) and the math clearly works. No betting system can take into account a losing streak and negative progressive systems like this can hit your bankroll hard and quickly as well with a losing streak. If you want to try it, our advice would be, as stated above, play through a few different cycles with a fictional bankroll based on real outcomes and the risk and rewards before playing with any real money.