There have been and always will be people who will try and sell you the perfect system; “a system that is guaranteed to beat the casino every time”. Since the odds are on the side of the casino there is no such system that is guaranteed to work in the long run. The people who claim to have made a fortune from these roulette systems are, shall we say, bending the truth. They may have made a fortune selling the system to gullible gamblers but not by actually using the system themselves.
Every week as I play slot online, I get spam from someone who has discovered a brand new roulette system and they want to share this with me (for a small fee of course) because of their kind-hearted nature and because they want to see the casino lose. It is a secret of course so shouldn’t tell anyone about it; we don’t want the casino to find out about it do we?
In nearly all cases the system is this: start betting the minimum bet on either black or red, if you lose simply double your bet until you win and when you do win, change the color you are betting on and go back to the minimum bet again and start over. They claim this is their own system that they have created and have all sorts of fancy names for it. The only problem is that this is the oldest system in the world and it is called the Martingale system.
The Martingale Betting System
The idea of doubling your bet every time you lose is the oldest betting system in the world and it can be used not only on roulette but with any game that pays out even money. If you start by betting one dollar on red and lose the next step is to bet two dollars. If you win you will have won two dollars on that bet and since you lost one dollar on the previous bet you have a total profit of one dollar. And that is how it works; you keep doubling your bet until you win and when you do will always be in profit of your original bet. Theoretically, it is mathematically perfect, just look at the table below.
Spin Bet If lost If won 1 1 -1 +1 2 2 -3 +1 3 4 -7 +1 4 8 -15 +1 5 16 -31 +1 6 32 -63 +1 7 64 -127 +1 8 128 -255 +1 9 256 -511 +1 10 512 -1023 +1
In theory, it works but in practice, it doesn’t. Just take a look at the “If lost” column and you see why. The amount you have to bet eventually becomes too large for any bankroll to handle and even if you had all the money in the world you still wouldn’t be able to put down the bet needed since the casinos always have a maximum bet on every table.
So the Martingale betting system can bankrupt you in a very short time if you are unlucky. But you may think that the odds of losing that many times in a row are too small that it could actually be worth a try anyway. It is time we took a look at the probabilities.
The Probabilities of Roulette
What is the chance that red will be the winning color? What is the chance that there will be two red in a row? What is the chance there will be ten red in a row? But most importantly; does it even matter?
I am not going to bore you with mathematics here but the formula for calculating the chances of hitting red a certain number of times in a row is: [pn], where p= the probability of the ball landing on red and n = the number of times it lands on red.
The probability of the ball landing on red (on a European roulette wheel) is 48,65% and that means that the chance of losing on a single spin is 51,35% (1-0,4865). Here is a little table of the chances of losing if you bet on a single color (or odds or evens).
So if it was possible to double the bet ten times, there would only be a 0,13% chance of losing? That is one of the selling points the scam artist use “I mean, how often will it happen that you lose ten times straight eh?” Actually, it will happen, on average, 130 times in 1000 (0,13×1000) and that is way too many. But the thing is that this is not the probability that matters; the only probability that matters is the 51,35% you have of losing every time the wheel spins.
So we say it again: NEVER PAY MONEY FOR A BETTING SYSTEM! Firstly because they don’t work in the long run (but they can work in the short run) and secondly because all the systems that are on sale are as old as the casino games themselves. All the sellers of these systems have don’t is re-package an old system, given it a name, and put a price tag on it. All the systems are already out there on the internet for free. All you have to do is to type ”betting systems” into Google or Yahoo. Or even better; read our articles about them here on About Casino Games.