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The Martingale System Explained

Author : Tarding Xoan

Submitted : 2010-08-08 19:19:42    Word Count : 870    Popularity:   58

Tags:   blackjack system, blackjack strategy

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It is unclear exactly when the Martingale betting system was first created, but most experts agree it was sometime during the 18th century in France. The origin of the name itself is widely debated. There is no evidence of a Monsieur Martingale having ever actually existed.

The Basics
If you gamble regularly, or even just occasionally, you may already employ the Martingale system and not even realize it. The concept of the strategy is actually quite simple. First, you choose a fixed amount to bet, usually a rather small one. For the sake of this explanation, we'll say you are playing a simple game of heads or tails with a coin and betting $5 that the coin toss will come up heads. In this scenario, a winning bet pays 1:1, which means for every dollar you bet, you stand to gain another dollar on top of it. If the coin toss does indeed result in heads coming up, you would collect the $5 you won and then maintain your original bet of $5 for the next coin flip. You would continue doing this until you experience a loss. As soon as you lose a $5 bet, you would immediately double that $5 and bet $10 on the next coin toss. If you win, you have recovered your previous loss plus you have won your original bet, which is another $5. However, if you lose that $10 bet, you will need to double your bet once again and bet $20, and so on and so forth. Eventually, assuming you have the funds to cover the exponential bets, you will win and therefore recover all of your past bets, plus that original $5 you began with.

The problems
Of course, if it was that easy, we'd all be striking it rich at the roulette table. There are certain inherent flaws of the Martingale system that should not be overlooked.

Many gamblers believe that the rising popularity of the Martingale system in Europe is what actually prompted the casino owners to implement table limits. This way, the Martingale gambler would likely eventually hit a ceiling where he or she could no longer double their bets, rendering the system ineffective.

Another obvious problem is that for the strategy to be completely foolproof, one would have to have an unlimited bankroll. Exponential bets can get out of hand rather quickly. Even if you're only betting $5 at first, after your 8th consecutive loss you'll be betting a whopping $1,280, and even if you win you'll merely be recovering your losses and only profiting $5. Although on paper it makes sense, to an extent, for most people it would take nerves of steel to bet $1,280 to win $5, especially with 50/50 odds (at best).

Yet Another Problem: Casino Odds
You might be able to challenge your nephew to a game of heads or tails, but inside a real casino you're not going to find anything with such even odds. In the casino, the house always has the edge. Popular games like Blackjack and Roulette are favorites among Martingale betters because the strategy is very conducive to the game. However, it isn't quite that perfect.

With blackjack, regular bets are paid 1:1. In theory you could use the Martingale system at the blackjack table by doubling your bet with each consecutive loss of a hand of blackjack. The reason this system will eventually and inevitably fail with blackjack in particular is because of the house edge. You may think that since it is just you against the dealer, then the odds are even. You may even think you have an advantage since you can see one of the dealers cards and the dealer has to hit at a certain point where you don't. What many people don't take into account, however, is that the house edge actually stems from the fact that once the cards are dealt, the player has to make the next move. The opportunity to knock yourself out of the game by busting is what actually gives the house the advantage, and over time of course they will always win.

Roulette is a different story. There is no real strategy involved since it's entirely a game of chance. You make a wager that a certain number or a number within a certain section of the board will come up, and if it does, you win. Fairly simple. The most popular bets on the roulette table for the Martingale better are usually the red/black or odd/even bets. The problem here lies within the fact that the roulette wheel does not contain only red/black or odd/even pockets. There is also the green zero, and on American roulette wheels, the green double zero. Although mathematicians may argue that zero is actually an even number, the casino owners will disagree. Unfortunately that's an argument you can't win. What the addition of these additional pockets means is that the house gains an edge. If it weren't for the existence of these "wildcard" pockets, a roulette player could bet on red or black (or odd or even) all night and have the exact same odds as the casino. The existence of the single and double zero on the roulette wheel along with the other problems mentioned above render the Martingale system flawed, in the grand scheme of things.

Author's Resource Box

For more info on the Martingale system, particularly pertaining to the game of roulette, check out Shop Roulette. You can also browse new and pre-owned professional as well as recreational roulette equipment and other various roulette strategy guides. If you want to win blackjack, check out this blackjack odds.

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