The Martingale strategy is a recovery staking plan from roulette that suggests you should double up after a loss. The idea is that, with a large enough bankroll, you will eventually win back your losses, since winnings from larger bets will eventually cover your losses. While this strategy could theoretically work if you had an infinite bankroll, its use for sports betting is highly debatable. This article discusses whether it has any relevance for sports betting, and what a Martingale betting system plan for sports would look like.

The Martingale system is the most famous(or infamous) betting systems in the world.It originated in the 18th century in France, where the game of Roulette was popularized. In theory, it is the perfect gambling system, a way to beat the house or at least break even no matter what. Even now, many casino gamblers use it. The system, they believe, will make sure they do not go home broke.

The Martingale staking plan is designed with even money bets in mind. These could be bets such as a heads or tails coin toss, or red/black or even/odd in Roulette. The strategy instructs a gambler to double up after a loss and keep doubling up until he eventually wins back all of his losses. Once the player wins, he should return to his original stake.

Martingale strategy example

You bet £1 on black

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    If you lose, your next bet will be £2

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    If you lose, your next bet will be £4

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    If you lose, your next bet will be £8

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    If you lose, your next bet will be £16

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    If you win, you will get back £32

Since you bet a total of £31 (£1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16), you now have a net profit of £1 (£32 – £31). If you have a sufficiently large bankroll, and there is no house edge, this system would work. Of course, you need to keep betting on even money bets.

If you wish to adapt the Martingale strategy for sports betting, you need to take the odds into account. Since the idea is to wager just enough to recuperate your losses on a losing streak, you need to calculate how much you can potentially win on each bet. The higher the decimal odds (or lower probability), the less you need to bet to potentially break even, the lower the odds, the more you need to bet to break even.

Martingale system sports betting formula

To calculate how much you need to bet on sports to recuperate your losses, just use this simple formula:

Total loss / Decimal odds = Bet

If you have lost a total of £10, and you want to win them back at odds of 1.5, you need to wager£6.67(£10 / 1.5 = £6.67). Bear in mind that this is the minimum you need to bet in order to break even. In order to potentially profit, you will have to bet a bit more.

Martingale betting system football example

Let us examine a Martingale staking plan for football bets. Of course, the same strategy is valid for any sport or any type of bet. Since the Martingale suggests increasing your bet on a losing streak, we will look at what a five bet losing streak followed by a win could look like.

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    Your first bet is £10, at odds 1.25. You lose the bet.

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    Your next bet is at odds 3.0. In order to make up for your lost £10 and at least break even, you need to wager £3.33. (£10/ 3.0 =£3.33). You end up losing the bet.

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    Now you want to bet on a more likely outcome, with odds of 1.5. Since you have already lost £13.33, you need to make a bet of £8.88 (£13,33 / 1.5 = £8.88). You again lose the bet.

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    Your total loss is now £22.31. You choose to bet on odds of 1.9. to win back your losses, you need to bet£11.68(£22.31 / 1.9 = £11.68). Again, you lose.

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    Your next bet is at 2.5 odds. To win back your loss of £33.99 you need to bet £13.60(£33.99 / 2.5 = £13.60). Again, you lose.

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    Your total loss is now £47.59. Your next wager is at at odds 1.2. To win back your losses, you need to wager £33.99(£47.59 / 1.2 = £39.66). You win this bet and you break even.

At this point, you have broken even, after wagering a total of £87.25.

The Martingale system offers advantages in theory. It should help you win back any losses, provided you have a sufficient bankroll. However, it is a very risky system that can see you wagering much more than you can afford on a loss streak.

The Martingale betting ystem is full of risks, and we will discuss a few of them here.

1. Running out of Money

While the system works in theory on an infinite bankroll, we assume that yours has its limitations. Eventually, you might run out of money to keep increasing your bets.

2. Running out of Time

If you are betting in a brick and mortar casino, you could run out of time, even though you still wish to place bets. This is at least one advantage you get when betting online.

3. Hitting the House Limit

While most bookies do not actively advertise it, most have limits on the size of bets they will accept. Similarly, casino tables all have limits on how much you can bet. On a sufficient loss streak, you will eventually hit the house limit, meaning you can no longer double up to win back your losses.

4. Consecutive losses

Consecutive losses are something that many punters underestimate. While losing streaks of six or more may seem counterintuitive, they are actually more common than what most people would think. Doubling up can see you lose your whole bankroll in a very short time.

5. House advantage

While payouts are 1/1 for Roulette, the odds of winning are slightly lower. Since there is a zero in French Roulette and a double zero in American roulette, the house edge is 2.70% and 5.26% respectively. Bookies create a house advantageby having the implied probability of all outcomes slightly higher than 100%. This gives them a mathematical advantage that is hard to overcome by simply increasing bet size.

As you can see from the example above, the Martingale system can “work”for sports betting. If you simply modify the betting amount according to the odds, you can bet an amount that would let you recuperate previous losses. Whether it is a good betting system is another question. The system can work, as long as you do not lose too many bets in a row. Of course, the system gives no guarantees that that will not happen.

The Anti-Martingale is the opposite of the regular Martingale. The Anti-Martingale system suggests you should double up after a win and reduce on a loss. The idea stems from a perception that gamblers can benefit from a hot hand, or winning streak. However, this is another example of the gambler’s fallacy

in action. Since each win is an event independent of the previous one, wins and losses alternate each other at random. This applies to casino gambling. In sports betting, however, it could actually be wise to start increasing your bet size on a win streak. Frequent and consistent wins on sports bets mean you have developed a sound betting strategy, though of course you should increase slowly, and not double up blindly.

The Martingale betting strategy is similar to other negative progression systems, such as the Fibonacci Betting System, Labouchèreand D ’Alembert systems.


In the Fibonacci Betting System, you increase your bets on a loss, and decrease them on a win. Each loss sends your bet size one step up the sequence, while each win sends your bet size two steps down the sequence.

Labouchère System

The Labouchère Betting System is another negative progression system, involving a sequence of three numbers. Your bet will be the sum of the outside numbers of the sequence.

D ‘Alembert System

In the D ‘Alembert Betting System you raise your stake by two units if you lose and reduce by 1 unit of you win.

As long as you are betting on a legal casino or betting site, you can bet any amount you please. The only limits are your budget and the maximum bet size allowed.

The Martingale system involves doubling up your bet after a loss, in an attempt to win back previous losses. Casinos have absolutely no issue with it, since the house edge means they will generally turn a profit. Of course, each table has its limits.

In terms of sports betting, the Martingale system is only as profitable as your selection of bets. If you systematically lose more than you win, then it can be profitable. Ultimately, it depends on your choice of bets.

In betting, it is generally unwise to stake all of your bankroll on a single event. There are several staking plans, including the Martingale, Fibonacci, Kelly Criterion Calculator and others, that suggest how much you should bet per event.

A staking plan or staking strategy is a methodology that helps you determine how much of your bankroll to bet on any given even event.

The Martingale betting system strategy makes a bit of sense in terms of pure gambling. The idea of winning your losses back by doubling up has a chance of working. However, the chances are limited by the house edge, your funds, house limits, and time constraints. Nobody has an infinite budget. As such, it is still a gamble.

In terms of sports betting, it the Martingale strategy has little value. We at ThePuntersPage would like to assume that sports betting is not gambling in the strict sense of the word. Rather, it is intelligent risk management. A loss streak does not mean you should increase your bets to win back lost funds, rather, it means you need to reevaluate your betting strategy. The more you win, the more certain you are of your betting strategy, and the more you can consider betting.

Most professional punters do not bet more than 5% of their bankroll on any event, while the Martingale can have you betting the whole thing on a small loss streak. That makes it a very risky strategy and even an unhealthy one.

Read our articles on Bankroll Management and the Kelly Criterion for more sound staking advice.

WRITTEN BY James Cormack View all posts by James Cormack

Big sports fan specialising in football. Experienced the lows of Vlad Chiriches and Tim Sherwood as a Spurs fan along with the more recent ‘success’ under Pochettino. My following of the New England Patriots since 2012 somewhat makes up for the lack of silverware produced by Spurs in my lifetime.

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