Roulette-playing readers often have asked about the Martingale system, which involves doubling bets after losses.
My early July email brought a question about the Reverse Martingale, and that’s relatively novel among players who contact me.
We’ll reverse course in a minute, but first, understand that I always warn against the Martingale, which typically is used on bets with even-money payoffs. Bets can get very large very fast. Players underestimate the likelihood of long losing streaks. You’re the underdog on each individual bet, no matter how many losses have preceded.
Martingales win more often than they lose, but losses can be catastrophic.
In all systems that involve raising wagers, remember that the house edge applies on every bet. If a system leads to you betting more money, average losses will be higher than if you stayed with a base bet on every spin.
As for the Reverse Martingale, instead of attempting to recoup losses and turn a small profit like the Martingale, it tries to turn winning sessions into big bonanzas.
Instead of doubling even-money payoff bets when they lose, Reverse Martingale players double when they win. If you lose, you revert to the original bet.
This is not a dangerous system like the Martingale If you start at $5 in a Reverse Martingale, your bet after any loss is $5. You’re never chasing bad money. When your bets get large, you’re putting winnings at risk.
However, like the Martingale, the reverse version doesn’t put a dent in the house edge. That edge remains at 5.26 percent on an American double-zero wheel, or half that if the Atlantic City half-back rule is in effect.
The Reverse Martingale is essentially a betting progression, and like other progressions it’s vulnerable to choppy results. Raising bets in a session with no long winning streaks can turn break-even or winning sessions into losers.
If you win at $5, then win at $10 and lose at $20, you’ve lost $5 overall. If you’d just wagered $5 each time, you’d have a $5 profit.
If you doubled after every win with no easing back, then any loss would wipe out all wins. Some players try to preserve profits by having double-up plateaus. They might bet $5, then $10 after the first win and $20 after the second win, but then level off to a second $20 before increasing to $40.
Unless you put start-over limits on the system, you always lose your largest bet. And since you are increasing bets, you risk more money than you would betting the same amount on every bet.
Overall, the result is that the house makes its normal percentage, but winning streaks make the reverse Martingale fun without taking on the huge risk of the classic Martingale.
One more systemAnother roulette system of long-standing I don’t mention much is the D’Alembert. it increases even-money wagers after losses, but not as steeply as the classic Martingale.
After any loss, one betting unit is added to a player’s bet. After any win, one betting unit is subtracted from the wager.
Let’s say your betting unit is $5. If you start with a $5 bet and lose, you add $5 to your wager for a $10 bet. After a second loss, you bet $15, and after a third, you bet $20.