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Should You Use the Martingale System?

In a recent article, I introduced readers to the Martingale system, one of the most popular and well-known betting strategies in existence.  While it is used primarily for roulette, it is also popular with sports bettors.  With the Martingale system, you double your stakes for every losing bet.  The idea is that you will eventually win, and when you do, your winning payout (say on 2/1 odds) will more than compensate for your losses.  It’s simple, easy to understand, and practically guarantees you will win, assuming you can ride out the losses—right?

Wrong.  There are several big problems with the Martingale system that make it a very dubious and risky strategy.


  •  First off, your bet size builds up really quickly with this system.  You only have to lose several times to find yourself with a huge wager on the line.  Considering how common losing streaks are and how long they can range, you wouldn’t want to keep stacking up your odds indefinitely.  What started as a relatively small wager can quickly spiral out of control.  You may not realise what you have gotten yourself into until it is too late.
  • Secondly, there is something inherently questionable about increasing your stakes when you are losing.  Why?  You clearly have no clue what you are doing in terms of genuine strategy.  Usually you want to ride out your wins, not your losses.  Putting down more and more money at a time you should not be feeling confident is quite foolhardy and backwards.
  • Finally, who is to say you will ever win?  A lot of gamblers forget that luck has no memory.  It isn’t like your odds improve with every bet you lose.  Even with probability on your side, there is no guarantee you will ever win.  A 50/50 chance is always a 50/50 chance.  And with your bets stacking up so quickly, you could burn through your bankroll well before you win, even if you have a huge bankroll to begin with.  At that rate, you might simply run up against the betting limits set by your online betting site.  At that point, your entire strategy is ruined. 


Is there ever a time when you should use the Martingale strategy?  Maybe if you not only have a tremendous bankroll, but plan on starting out with incredibly small wagers.  And maybe, if you are okay with losing an astonishingly large amount of money for the sake of what was originally a small wager.


No logical, rational person should ever depend on a strategy like this to win.  Smart money management is about keeping your bets small and consistent and minimising your risk, not maximising it.  It is not about replacing a real betting strategy based on serious analysis of your sport.  If you do not have a real betting strategy, you are simply not going to make it as a sports bettor.  The Martingale strategy is not a real strategy—it is a shortcut based on faulty logic which ultimately will fail, and fail big.


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Gambling on the Internet

A few things to consider when gambling online:

  • Take advantage of first deposit bonuses
  • Have a budget and stick to it
  • Don't lose more than you can afford
  • When drunk, don't bet!
  • Don't chase losses
  • Bet on markets you know well
  • Don't abuse bonuses