The Martingale Betting System was developed in 18th century France. It was actually part of a group of betting methods that were classified as “martingale.” Today, Martingale refers to a relatively simple sports betting system that dictates when you win a wager, you bet the same amount on the next wager, but when you lose a bet, you double your next wager.
Some sports gamblers swear by this methodology while sharp sports bettors that understand the math feel that it’s an example of poor money management practices. The fact that this system is still practiced and marketed today says more about the state of a losing gambler’s mind and less about the success or failure of the system. Here’s how it works.
First, it’s important to know that the betting system is designed for even wagers, which are thought to hit about 50% of the time. A bettor with a bankroll of $500 puts $50 on an early afternoon football game. The bet is lost. Under the Martingale System, the gambler now places $100 on the late afternoon game. If the bet is won, the theory is that the gambler makes back the original loss, plus a $50 profit. Once the bet is won, the bettor goes back to wagering $50 per game until they lose again.
The problem with this system is that it can put a bettor’s bankroll in jeopardy quickly. What if in our example the late afternoon wager is lost too. Now the bettor has to put $200 on the Sunday night contest. If that game is a washout, the gambler’s bankroll has gone from $500 to $150. And with that, the true problem with Martingale comes into focus. There’s only $150 left in the bank, but under Martingale the wager is supposed to be $400. Martingale has all but bankrupt the gambler’s bankroll.
Of course, it’s not as big a dilemma if the original wager was $20, which is a wiser wager if you’ve got a $500 bankroll. Still, even at 20 bucks per pop, using this system the gambler is down $80 after three loses and is due to wager $160 on the Monday night game. If they lose that bet, their bank is down to $260. According to Martingale, the next bet should be $320 and, once again as in the previous example, the money is not there.
What most amateur sports bettors dont understand is how odds work from a mathematical perspective. Did you know that a 50% handicapper will lose 5 games in a row 3% of the time? Eventually the math will catch with the Martingale system and the player will be broke.
Martingale is seen as being a regressive form of wagering where bettors play conservatively when they are on a roll and go for the sky when they are in a tailspin. It’s based on the belief that a string of loses on even odds wagers means that eventually there will be a win to correct the deviation. But this idea that wins and loses even out, which is known as the Gambler’s Fallacy, is illogical for one primary reason—it supposes that our four bets are interrelated, and they are not. Whether one wins or loses the first wager will have no influence on the second bet and the outcome of the second in no way has any influence on the third outcome. If there is no correlation in the bets the order of wins and losses is controlled by variance, something that no gambler has control over.
The application of any system in sports betting tends to be tenuous. Why? Success in gambling on sporting events is based on solid sports handicapping analysis, expert information and insider insights. A gambler’s ability to utilize all of the information available to them to make the right pick will determine an individual’s rate of success or failure and not some theory regarding odds correction based on probability. If as a sports bettor you do practice the Martingale Betting System do so with care.