The Martingale wagering system is sometimes known as the “double-up to catch-up” system. As a true betting scheme it has attracted many followers for its simplicity and ease of use. And, it has morphed into several similar betting systems.
In a nut shell, a Martingale player doubles their previous wager after each loss. To practice, a gambler simply chooses an even-money wager such as Red/Black or Odd/Even at roulette and places a one-unit bet, hoping of course to win. When they do, they take the win and place another one-unit bet. However, should the wager lose, the player doubles their bet and tries again. Each successive loss is met with a newly-doubled previous bet until the wager wins or they lose their entire bankroll (or the next bet in the losing progression exceeds the table minimum).
Consecutive wins or losses exceeding eight or nine at specific even-money wagers are fairly rare at roulette. Because of this, a player may win with the Martingale for an entire evening or for many sessions in a row, allowing the player to accumulate a nice bankroll and to gain a feeling of invincibility. The problem with the system is that eventually there will be a streak of eight or nine (or more) consecutive losing bets that will eliminate most (or even all) of the previous winnings. Dodging the coming storm is like trying to run between the raindrops.
The Anti-Martingale (or Reverse Martingale) takes wagers in the opposite direction. Instead of chasing losses with larger wagers, the Anti-Martingale approach is to increase a wager after each win. After any loss, the wager is lowered. The thinking here is that by raising the wagers during a winning streak the gambler will accumulate a much larger bankroll and that the loss during a losing streak will be greatly reduced.
While scientists argue that any independent gaming outcome (such as the spin of a roulette ball) cannot have specific streaks, players know that while they cannot be predicted, they do happen. By always betting more during a hot session, a player will make more money than if they just make flat bets, and any system that accomplishes this is likely to help the player.
One argument against the standard Martingale is that the player must risk more and more each spin of the wheel during a losing streak while trying to win just a single unit. The Anti-Martingale changes that. A true Anti-Martingale would be to double each winning wager and cut each losing wager in half. In practice this system can win a huge amount if the player hits a lucky streak of just five or six wins in a row, which usually puts the next wager over the table maximum. Imagine a €10 bet becoming 20, then 40, then 80, then 160, then 320, and finally 640 in just six consecutive wins!
In practice, players are more likely to take a conservative tack and bet a portion of each win to reach higher wagers, such as adding approximately one-half the win to the next bet: 10, 15, 25, 40, 60, 90, 150 and 200. This type of increased wagering allows the player to keep a portion of each winning bet, instead of risking everything, and after just a few small streaks their bankroll will grow exponentially.
For players who want the simplicity of the Martingale but want to win more than a single unit, the Grand Martingale offers an even higher risk with a more reasonable win per ended streak. To play, a wager of one-unit is made. After the first loss, the wager is doubled (which will produce a win of one unit when successful). After each subsequent loss, the wager is doubled and an additional unit is added.
However, adding one unit reduces the number of losses in a streak before the table limit becomes an issue. With the Martingale, a player may bet 10, 20, 40, 80, 160, 320, and 640 before bumping up against a 1000-unit table limit. The next bet might be 1000, or the player might just quit.
With the Grand Martingale, the same player might wager 10, 30, 70, 150, 310, 630 before bumping up against the table limit. The streak can only be 6, instead of the 7 allowed with the standard Martingale, and streaks of six happen more frequently than those of seven!
To combat the small number of losses allowed by either system, some players wait until their chosen wagering spot (again, such as red at roulette) has not come up for three consecutive spins before starting their wagers. This greatly reduces the chance of a complete bankroll loss, but it also reduces the number of wins, simply because fewer wagers are made.
When playing a Martingale-type system, make sure your bankroll can withstand a full series of losses before starting. With just a 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 160, 320, 640 series you will risk 1275 units – again – to win just a single chip of 5. Can you win 255 times before hitting a streak of 9 straight losses? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The choice, and the risk, is yours.