Betting Systems & Why They Don't Work 

Betting systems have been around almost as long as casino games themselves, and as long as humans and casino games exist, it’s unlikely betting systems will ever vanish completely. Even when faced with cold-hard evidence that betting and gambling systems do not work, many gamblers will still try their luck, hoping to ‘beat the casino’ for a variety of reasons, and, for all accounts, the casinos end up actually making more money from those following said betting systems, than those playing regularly!

What is a Betting System?

A betting system is, in short, a strategy used by a gambler to try and profit from a casino game, long-term. In theory, the bettor is trying to defeat the house edge – the mathematical percentage that all casino games have, allowing the casino to make money – in order to turn the game’s odds around in their favour, thus allowing them to make a consistent and steady profit.

In reality, betting systems are fundamentally flawed as casino games exist purely as they are proven to be profitable to a casino. But, even when faced with this knowledge, many gamblers continue to use betting systems to try and beat the casinos, and one of the core reasons is due to something known as 'Gambler's Fallacy'.

Gambler's Fallacy

Gambler's Fallacy is – at its core – very simple. It assumes that, because an event (for instance, a certain number landing on a roulette wheel) has not happened for a long period of time, it becomes more likely to happen. A very simple way to look at how gambler's fallacy is interpreted in modern-day casino gaming, is when players wait for a certain colour to land three or four times in a row on the roulette wheel, before making a bet on the other colour – believing (incorrectly) – that there’s now more chance of that other number landing.

To combat the ideology of gambler's fallacy, particularly in the roulette example, it’s important to remember that a roulette wheel has no memory. It is, in theory, possible for a colour to land 1,000 times consecutively, for a number to land 10 times in a row, or for a number not to land once in 100,000 spins. And, while the odds of these events happening are very highly unlikely, they are, at least, in theory, possible to occur. It’s common sense that any sane person will agree with this – especially when playing in an actual casino, opposed to online – but with such damning evidence discrediting gambler's fallacy, and all betting systems in general, why do so many players continue to follow these beliefs?

Well, for one thing, we’re all guilty of feeling gambler's fallacy in some form or another. If we’re sat at a casino watching a Roulette wheel spin, and see the colour black land 10 times in a row, it certainly seems that red ‘must come in soon’ – until we’re brought back to earth and realise, in reality, there’s exactly the same chance as black landing again, as there is of red.

And, it’s this thin-line between reality and ‘surely it should happen’, that causes so many players to engage in betting systems when they have been proven – many times over – to be completely ineffective. We’re going to cover some of the most common betting systems and why they don’t work, but just before we do, remember the following: Casinos exist because their games – over time – will always make profit. Anyone who tells you differently is lying, confused or doesn’t understand basic mathematics. And, with casino games making their owners money for over 200 years, it certainly doesn’t look like anyone’s actually managed to ‘crack the casino’ yet!

Common Betting Systems & Strategies

The Martingale

By far the most common and widely-known betting system, the Martingale system is, at its core, relatively simple. Using an even-money game, such as betting on red/black on Roulette, playing Blackjack, or betting on the pass/don’t pass bet available in Craps, the system relies upon the player essentially setting a stake, playing the game, and doubling the stake when a loss occurs. Now, in principle, this actually sounds like a realistic strategy. You simply place a bet, and if you win; great – you have made money. If you lose, just double-up, and continue until you do win – simple, right?

Well, in theory, the Martingale system actually could work – just not in today’s world. Here’s why: Let’s say the stake you opt to start with is £10 – a fairly conservative amount. Let’s look at what happens if you were to lose 12 times in a row – unlikely, yes, but certainly possible. The following assumes each play is a losing one, and that the stake is doubled – i.e. following the Martingale system.

  • Hand 1: £10
  • Hand 2: £20
  • Hand 3: £40
  • Hand 4: £80
  • Hand 5: £160
  • Hand 6: £320
  • Hand 7: £640
  • Hand 8: £1,280
  • Hand 9: £2,560
  • Hand 10: £5,120
  • Hand 11: £10,240
  • Hand 12: £20,480

Let’s analyse the figures above. Starting from a £10 stake, in just 12 hands, the amount needed to wager is a staggering £20,480… with even a mere 6 plays requiring £320 to continue. In a perfect world, if you have an unlimited bankroll and are content with wagering £20,000 to win £10, it’s possible. Here is why the Martingale System is impossible, however: 

All Casino Games Have Betting Limits

And, in fact, this is precisely to stop systems like the Martingale from being used, theoretically, in a profitable manner. All casino games will feature a minimum, and maximum bet, and these correlate with one another. For instance, the maximum bet of a Roulette table with a minimum bet of £1, is going to be lower than that of a table with a minimum bet of £10. And, this is precisely why the Martingale system doesn’t work – you will never be able to double your stake enough times, to regain your original stake – the casino simply won’t allow it.

The D’Alembert System

Of all the Roulette systems available today, the D’Alembert is perhaps one of the nastiest, and while it’s generally not commonly-used, it’s begun to reappear, particularly with the growth of online casinos. The progression that you use is a very simple one: you start out with a betting unit that you feel comfortable with and after a loss you increase your bets by one unit. After a win you decrease your bets by one unit.

This process continues over and over until you are back to your starting unit size and you win, at which point you would be in profit by the size of your original wager. Here is a very simple example of how your betting progression could look:

5 - loss- 6 - win - 5 - loss - 6 - loss - 7 - win - 6 - win - 5 - win - 5 - win

As you can see at the right hand side of the line, on the last bet rather than reduce it to 4, it has been left at 5. This is because your starting bet was 5 so rather than decrease it, you would ride out a winning streak with the same bet size. If, however, you wanted to continue decreasing your bets – you could do – it's really a matter of personal choice.

Normally, people will just bet on a colour with the D'Alembert and stick with the same one. The problem with the D'Alembert is that you need to get more wins than losses, which means that the colour you are betting on will need to hit more than the other. When you look at the odds of the game, it's very unlikely that this will happen. Another downside to the D'Alembert is if, for example, you were betting on red and a run of 8 blacks came up, you would find yourself in a hole that's hard to get out of. On the other end of the scale though, if you got 8 reds in a row while betting on them, you would win some money. Our advice is never to use the D'Alembert for too long.

Reverse D'Alembert

There is also a reverse version of the D'Alembert which is basically the opposite of what's been described above – you decrease your bets after a loss and increase them after a win. If you were applying the reverse method it would obviously be more profitable if you got a long chain of colours. One thing to keep in mind with the reverse D'Alembert is that you will need to start out with a higher betting unit, probably between 5 and 10. This is because if you start at 1 and you started losing straight away, you wouldn't be able to use the correct betting pattern because you couldn’t decrease your bets.

Labouchere System

One of the most common systems sold by ‘gamblers who’ve cracked the casino code’ is the Labouchere system, and it’s also one of the simplest the follow, hence its growing popularity. Much like the Martingale system, it uses even money bets, and begins with players setting themselves a betting line. This betting line determines how much you will bet on each spin, and an example betting line could look something like this :

1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 5, 2

Now, to begin using the system, you’d simply take the left hand number, along with the right hand number, and add them together, which in turn gives you the total you’d bet. Using the above example, you’d add 1 + 2, giving you a total of 3 – the amount of unit stakes you bet. If the bet is a winner, both these numbers are crossed out, and the next spin uses the following numbers –  one-in on each side. A losing bet adds the numbers one-in to the original two numbers, continuing until a win occurs. Again, like the Martingale system, the Labouchere system will NOT work, due to casino table limits, and the huge bankroll that would be required in order to successfully profit.

In Sum: Betting Systems Do Not Work

That’s just three of the commonly-found betting systems today. There are hundreds, and each day, more people claim to have cracked casino games. Remember, betting systems do not work, and casinos remain in business because of this. Stay away from betting systems in their entirety, and if you want to gain the best possible advantage over casino games, make sure you read up on how to play games correctly, in order to minimize the house edge. You can view our comprehensive game guides here, and find out more about the house edge, and how it impacts your gaming here.

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