Martingale is arguably the most well-known betting system in the gambling world. The system can be used by just about anyone without any sports knowledge and is best used for simple forms of gambling, such as roulette and blackjack or other games where the casino/bookmaker has as small of an edge as possible.
Many gamblers swear by the system, claiming it’s the most profitable betting strategy in the world and some even go as far as to say that the strategy is unbeatable. So let’s dig in, what is the Martingale system, how does the Martingale system work for sports betting and is the Martingale strategy profitable?
What Is The Martingale System?
The beauty of the Martingale system is that it is as basic as betting system comes. Bet an amount on an outcome, and if you lose the wager you simply double the stake and keep doubling for every loss until you book a win. After a win, you start over and reset your wager size to the original bet.
How Does The Martingale System Work?
Below is an example of a Martingale series where all bets are placed at even odds and we double the stake for each loss in the hopes to eventually turn a $100 profit.
Bet 1 @ -110: $100 Loss
Bet 2 @ -110: $200 Loss (total loss $300)
Bet 3 @ -110: $400 Loss (total loss $700)
Bet 4 @ -110: $800 WIN (profit $800 – $700 = $100)
In total over those four wagers we risked $1,650 to turn a $100 profit, so as you can imagine an extended losing streak can turn things ugly real quick.
In the image below you can see that if we started with a wager of $10 with a $1,000 bankroll, we would not have enough money left to double down after five losses in a row.
Martingale System For Sports Betting
If you apply the Martingale system for sports betting you also need to take the vig into account when calculating your next wager as you most likely will be betting into -105 or -110 lines.
While you could use this sports betting double up strategy as a chase where you, for example, chase the New York Yankees in a four-game series, the system is better used for positive expectation wagers you would have made anyway and most suitable for spreads/totals or moneyline wagers where the teams are close to a pick’em as possible.
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Is The Martingale System Profitable?
In theory, no other system would be the most profitable betting system out there. In reality, you would need access to unlimited money and no betting limits.
You’ll hear plenty of Martingale success stories, but while you might think it’ll take an absolutely insane losing streak to wipe you out but note that even if you start with as little as a $20 wager for your first bet, by your 11th bet you would need to risk $20,480 just to turn a measly $20 profit.
If you still plan to use the Martingale system you need to be aware of the risks you need to apply solid bankroll management to avoid going bust and make the initial wager so small that you can survive a losing streak of doubled wagers.
An alternative is to use the Martingale system with a stop loss where you close the series after for example 3-4 losing wagers, swallow the loss and start over with your initial bet size again.
Is The Martingale Strategy Illegal?
Not only is the Martingale strategy legal; casinos and bookmakers tend to love gamblers who use the Martingale system, and that in itself should be a big red flag. Also, using our example above where you needed to wager $20,480 on the 11th bet of a series, keep in mind that even if you have the money you might not be able to find someone to take the action as casinos/bookmakers have betting limits.
At the end of the day, while it might be tempting to use the Martingale system to get back your losses quickly, I would not recommend using the system if you’re looking for long-term profits.
The variance is way too high and the more wagers you place, the higher the risk you’ll hit an ugly losing streak that will wipe out your bankroll.
As boring as it may sound, you should stick to sensible betting not risking more than 1-5% of your bankroll.