If any game in the history of casino gambling has attracted betting systems throughout the centuries, it certainly is roulette. And not surprisingly, more than half of them are negative progressive systems where the gambler accepts the fact he will lose more than 50% of the spins but nevertheless believes he can still come out ahead in the long run.

Any “negative progression” system is based on the long run of events, just like positive progression systems are. The difference is that the negative progression system takes faith that the long run will never be too negative.

The most famous of these negative systems used at roulette is called the Martingale system. Born in the heyday of the famed Le Grand Casino in Monte Carlo, where barons, dukes and earls came from all over Europe to take their chances, the Martingale is used by the everyman of today.

Its Strategy is as Easy as it is to Say “Martingale.”

You start off with one unit. You place it on a bet having the closest to a 50% chance of winning as possible. In roulette you have six choices: odd/even/ red/black/ 1thru 18/ and 19 thru 36. Each of these bets on a single-zero (0) roulette wheel has a 48.6% chance of winning.

If your first bet wins, you take down the profit of one unit and bet one unit again. If it loses you double your bet to two units. If that second bet wins you take down three units and return to a one-unit bet. If it loses you double up again to a four-unit bet.

In short, the Martingale has you double your bet every time you lose and return to one unit every time you win. Doing so will render a profit of one unit after each winning spin.

Does it Work?

That depends on how lucky you are, how much money you have, where you play and what the betting limits are.

I will say this, though: Martingale works more than 99% of the time!

That’s the Good.

The bad is the one time in a hundred you lose. Since you’re doubling your bet after every losing outcome, you’re betting a fortune before you know it.

For instance, you start out with a $5 bet on your favorite color red. You’re looking to earn $5 after every winning bet.

But you lose seven spins in a row and you’re suddenly down $635. The eighth bet in the system calls for $640—and that’s just to recoup a $5 win.

Lose that bet and now you must risk $1,280 to win $5!

Getting scary?

Lose that bet and you must bet $2, 560—to win five lousy dollars!

It’s getting insane now and you’re really sweating.

The Ugly.

You’ve lost nine consecutive spins and are down $2,555. You reach into your pocket and recklessly grab all the $100 bills left inside. You’re not even sure you have enough to make the system-required $2,560 bet. But you do and you nervously throw the bills on the layout.

But then suddenly the dealer admonishes you with the words, “I’m sorry, the maximum bet at this table is $2,000.”

So what do you do?

You go to another table that has a higher limit or even another casino if you have to.

You make the $2,560 bet.

You lose. You’ve now lost ten spins in a row.

You desperately run to the highest-limit casino in town and bet $5,120, still trying to come out $5 ahead for the whole ordeal, and you can’t even believe you started this!

The Ugliest.

You’re broke! That’s because you lost your eleventh spin in a row.

And the real killer is you learn that the last spin on the wheel you’d just left came out red! Had you stayed there and placed your eleventh bet, you would have bailed out and been up $5 instead of down $10,240 and broke.


The bleak scenario I just created does not happen often, but if you play long enough it will. I’ve heard stories of gamblers getting wiped out with Martingale without ever winning their first one-unit bet.

On the other hand, you can get lucky and play every day for a year, winning four or five units each day without ever getting near losing ten or eleven spins in a row.

But remember, you’re constrained by both bankroll and betting limits. In a perfect roulette world where you could bet a billion dollars and the casino would accept it, you might be able to go on winning forever with Martingale.

But if such were the case, why would you ever make the first bet?

About The Author
Richard Marcus is a former professional casino player/cheater that is currently working as a casino security expert and gaming consultant in Las Vegas. He is also the author of several books related to the casino industry.