The Martingale system would be just about unbeatable if you could continue to double your wagers until you finally won a bet. Modern casinos are very aware of Martingale, and they know that the easiest way to thwart the system is to narrow the spread between maximum and minimum bets allowed. In other words, the minimum wager must be high enough and the maximum wager low enough that no more than eight or nine doublings can occur. If you find a table with a low minimum, such as $1 and a high maximum, such as $3,000, you may wish to try using a Martingale system against the table.
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You could use the following series of wagers: 1 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256 512 1,024 2,048. With 12 bets in the series, you would be an odds-on favorite to win any weekend gambling contest involving even-money wagers. However, you might want to consider one thing. If you try this, sooner or later you will lose bet number 11, for $1,024. You will now have lost $2,047 and will be called on to bet $2,048 in order to win the grand sum of $1. Are you willing to risk it? If you win, you will be up exactly one buck for your efforts. However, if you lose your last wager of $2,048, you will have lost $4,095 in the gaming contest. While the risk of loss is low, it will happen at some time if you continue to wager this way, and there is no guarantee that it won't happen during your first casino excursion using this system.
A story is told in The Sealed Book of Roulette (remember this was copyrighted in 1924) that Arnold Rothschild once said to M. Blanc, manager of the casino in Monte Carlo:
"Take off your maximum and I will play against you as long as you like."
Rothschild knew that without a maximum bet he could use the Martingale system and eventually beat the house. Unfortunately, you are not likely to encounter a casino without a maximum bet.
Martingale in its purest form is too risky for the amount of reward offered. Nearly every gambling expert likes to cite Martingale as an example of a losing system and then jump into a gloating mode and proclaim that all betting systems are losers. However, a Martingale system can be used with very good results if it is used on a spot basis. Assume that you are wagering on an even-money game and that you have lost the last four consecutive wagers. Usually, a three-stage Martingale against this trend continuing for three more decisions will be quite profitable and the reward will be reasonable as compared to the amount risked.
A five-stage Martingale progression can be used when it is used against a betting pattern which is less likely to occur than would normally be expected.
One criticism of Martingale is that too much is risked as compared to the potential return. For example, in the first Martingale series shown, you would have had to wager $256 in order to win a net $1. With Grand Martingale, additional chips are added to each increased wager, so that when a win finally occurs, the amount won will be greater than just the amount of the first wager. A typical Grand Martingale series is: 1 3 7 15 31 63 127 255 511.
Martingale in all forms risks a lot to win a little. When the losses come, they will wipe out hours of profits. Another twist to using a Martingale series is to play Martingale in reverse called an "AntiMartingale" betting series. With this system, winning wagers will be pressed (doubled). Whenever you encounter a long winning streak this system can produce phenomenal profits. Assume we use the following Anti-Martingale series: 5 10 20 40 80. With five consecutive wins, we will $155, while our total risk is only the amount of our first wager, $5. The high-risk reward ratio is a major reason raising your wagers after wins is recommended by many gaming experts. However, as we saw two chapters back, this type of system wins very infrequently, and the many small losses overwhelm most gains so that over 90% of all games will end with a loss.
Read more about the Grand Martingale System