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The Martingale System

There are many betting strategies employed by blackjack players in order to increase their chance of winning, many are valid, but many strategies like progressive betting systems typically add no advantage to a blackjack player's arsenal.

The Martingale system or rather Martingale was a term used to describe a type of betting system which was popular in France around the 18th century. The Martingale system is now one of the oldest and well-known progressive betting systems around. The Martingale system is a progressive betting system that can be used for any betting situation that allows you to re-bet.

The basic theory of the Martingale system is to double your bet after every loss until you finally win at which point you drop back down to one betting unit. For example, if you start playing blackjack with a betting unit of $5, you would bet $10, $20, 40$, $80, $160, $320, $640 and so on until you have a winning hand, netting you a massive $5 profit. In summary, the first win will recoup all previous losses plus win a profit of exactly one betting unit. The theory goes that a player with unlimited funds at their disposal will eventually have a winning hand; this strategy has often seemed like a sure thing by fans of the Martingale System.

The table below shows how a blackjack player only recoups a $5 profit after playing seven losing hands and recouping their bet on the eighth hand. The illustrated example shows the dizzying bet amounts that need to be bet on subsequent losing hands in order to make a $5 profit.

  Hand 1 Hand 2 Hand 3 Hand 4 Hand 5 Hand 6 Hand 7 Hand 8 Hand 9
Loss $5 $10 $20 $40 $80 $160 $320 $640  
Win                 $1280
Running Balance -$5 -$15 -$35 -$75 -$155 -$315 -$635 -$1275 $5

Put simply, for a Blackjack player the Martingale System doesn't work. It is not uncommon, even when using basic strategy to have six, seven or eight losses in a row, this involves risking significant quantities of cash for a paltry return. Most Blackjack players do not have unlimited bankrolls to continually double-up their bet after a series of losses. Additionally, most casinos have table bet limits reducing the ability to utilise the Martingale System over a series of losses.

Blackjack players who utilise the Martingale System do not realise any long-term advantage over any other betting strategy or even random punts.