Dear Mark: I have been using a simple, if not boring, system of playing and winning at roulette. I was wondering if you have ever heard of it or what you thought of it. I play a $5 bet on black. You could use Red, Odd, Even or whatever, but I just so happen to use Black. On any roll of the ball that does NOT land on Black (including Green, or 0 & 00), I double my bet; $10 then $20, $40, $80, $160, etc. Whenever the ball lands on Black, I take my winnings and start over at $5. Eventually, Black will come up. The only thing holding you back is your bankroll. You need to have enough cash to finance a longer than usual losing streak. The largest I have ever had to bet was $640, and it finally came up Black. If need be, you can excuse yourself from the table, go to a bank or ATM, get additional funds. Just return to the table and continue. I have been playing this system for nearly a year now, and I have NEVER lost. It's a tad boring, and I don't win a ton, perhaps $50-$100 per hour of play. What do you think? Rob S.
Your system, Rob, seems logical, if you call it logic, but, unfortunately, it isn’t. Have I heard of this doubling up system? Yes. Would I recommend it? NO!
The doubling up system your email described is termed the “Martingale System.” In essence, Rob, you double your previous bet after a loss erroneously believing in some statistical certainty that the system is somehow foolproof because you have to win eventually. I have three concerns about your using the Martingale System. They are 1) I’m figuring you don’t have an inexhaustible bankroll against the casino, including your trips to the ATM. 2) The casino has a vault full of cash and the authority to set the rules, including such things as table limits. Based on your opening volley of $5, this establishes low roller play. Hence, you could be up against a table maximum, like, for instance, $5-$1,000. 3) Your hourly wage, which you claim is $50, will go negative on a grand scale once you suffer a few catastrophic losses.
Let’s, Rob, do the math together. Here you are, betting your initial $5, and you lose. Then $10 to recoup your loss, and once again, you lose. Then $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640, and subsequently $1,280. Wait a minute. The table max states $1,000, making you $280 light to keep the jig going. Oh, and it only gets worse. You just invested $2,275 to get your meager five bucks back. Who does that?
A string of eight losses and the casino has itself fully protected against the Martingale system while you, Rob, are wiped out in mere minutes. Furthermore, I dealt roulette long enough to have seen many, many, losing streaks far worse than eight spins going south on someone. It is simply a matter of not IF, but WHEN and how OFTEN it is going to happen to you.
The Martingale system has always reminded me of the children’s song; There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. I would hum it aloud when dealing any of the table games to a player who would employ this money management scheme. The song tells the story of an old woman who would progressively swallow a larger animal, each to catch the previously swallowed one. It begins “There was an old lady who swallowed a fly,” and tragically ends with “There was an old lady who swallowed a horse - She's dead, of course.”
Plenty of players, Rob, believe they possess a sure-fire system for beating the game of roulette. The truth is, there is no money management, or playing system that escapes roulette’s 5.26% house edge.
Gambling Wisdom of the Week: “There is no such thing as a "good" roulette player. Being a good roulette player is like being a good smoker.” – Peter Griffin