Worlds of David Darling
Encyclopedia of Science
   
Home > Encyclopedia of Science

Martingale system




A simple, popular, and ultimately disastrous gambling system that, on the face of it, seems like a dream come true. In the short run the player has a good chance of making a few dollars using this method. But, in the long run, two things conspire to defeat him – the table betting limits and the player's available funds. The Martingale System calls for an initial bet of, say, $2. If the player loses, he doubles his bet to $4. Another loss puts the net loss at $6 and requires a doubling of the bet to $8 to recoup the losses and show a profit. Assume the player loses five hands in a row. The sixth bet requires $64. Let's say this wins – the gambler has now won $128 but has lost $124 – a net win of $4. Of course, any win, however small, if repeated over and over, could produce a fortune. The trouble is that many losing streaks run longer than 6 or 8 or 10 in a row. The Martingale quickly runs into the table limits. For example, if the player is at a $2 blackjack table with a $500 upper limit, he has to retire after 9 losses in a row and is down over $1000. It would take another 500 winning hands to make up this loss! Basically, one losing streak will put the Martingale gambler in a hole he is unlikely ever to climb back out of.


Related category

   • GAMES AND PUZZLES