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The Martingale Strategy

There are two things you can count on in gambling:

  1. Gamblers love looking for an edge.
  2. Many of the “strategies” used to gain an edge are, well, bogus.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at a strategy that’s popular among some players, but less so among math experts: the Martingale Strategy.

What is it?

Essentially, the Martingale Strategy dictates that players double down on their bets after every loss. Some claim it was developed in the 1930s by a Frenchman named Jean Ville, while others believe it was devised by one John Henry Martindale, a British casino owner of yore. Thankfully, you don’t need to know who invented it to know why it doesn’t work.

Why it doesn’t work

As mentioned, the Martingale Strategy says that on every losing hand, players should double their bet and press on. In theory, by following this approach, they should make back all their money and more when they eventually hit. In practice however, unless you have a bank account the size of Warren Buffet’s, the chances are far greater that you’re going to lose everything, and quick.

The <bad> math in a nutshell

Why do you stand to lose it all? Because whether you’re playing games like Blackjack, roulette, or baccarat,  online or at the casino, a win is never guaranteed. The thrill of these games is that they’re unpredictable, determined in part by random chance. And while any player can win at any time, the odds typically favour the house. This means a player could lose the next time they double down, creating exponential losses. Too many in a row and it can quickly burn through their entire play budget before they hit their next win.  Nobody wants to lose, but accelerating those losses to eventually come out on top is a losing equation for all but those with the deepest pockets.

A better equation: playing for fun

Without a doubt, a better approach to gambling is to skip the Martingale Strategy and play for fun. The last thing you want to do is compound your losses with bad math, under the belief that you’re “due” for a win that might not occur. Instead, play knowing that you might come out with less than you started with. If you do win—bonus!

At the end of the day, before you put your faith in the Martingale strategy, or any other so-called “proven” gambling method, you might want to try one of these:

  • Visit casinos or gambling websites with a game plan by setting a betting limit for yourself. Once you’ve hit it, cash out and call it a night.
  • Set a win limit—an amount that you’ll walk away with if you win. That way you won’t leave empty-handed after being up.
  • Stay clear of gambling “experts” selling the secrets to winning bets. The only winner in that scenario is the huckster taking your hard-earned money.

Above all else, remember to have a good time!

For even more smart gambling tips read “6 Smart Tips to Keep Your Play Fun”.