Master the Martingale Betting Strategy

Written by: Alex Windsor
Fact checked by Brian Webb  
Updated: June 13, 2024

The Martingale betting strategy involves doubling your wager after every losing bet. When you finally win, you’ll profit to the tune of at least your first bet.

Sounds like a winning system, but is it? Stick around as I break down this popular betting method, show you how to use it and explain why I avoid it like the plague!

What Is the Martingale Betting Strategy?

The Martingale betting strategy has been around since the 18th century. Mathematicians were trying to figure out how to profit from a game with even odds like a coin toss and stumbled upon this strategy.

To use the Martingale betting strategy, you simply double your stake after every losing bet until you win one. As long as the odds are 2.00 or more, you’ll end up in profit at least the amount of your initial stake.

For example, you bet £10 on Arsenal to beat Chelsea, but Chelsea wins. Then you bet £20 on West Ham to triumph over Fulham, but the Cottagers are too strong. Finally, your luck changes when you bet £40 on total goals being over 3, and you receive £80 in total and £10 profit after you deduct all of your previous stakes (£10 + £20 + £40).

How to Use the Martingale Betting Strategy?

The Martingale betting strategy was originally designed for casino games with odds as close to 50/50 as possible, such as blackjack, baccarat and roulette. So, to adapt the strategy to sports betting, ideally, you need to find markets that pay 2.00, have two potential outcomes and implied probability as close to 50% as possible. Handicap, totals and over/under markets are your best bet.

Once you’ve found a suitable bet type, for example, total number of goals for Man City vs Liverpool, you need to select your stake. Your stake should be high enough that if you win, it means something, but at the same time, you should be able to double it five times in case you are on a losing streak. I recommend starting with £10.

Now you place your bet and hope you win. If you pick a winner, you collect your £10 and go on your merry way. If your bet lost, you repeat the process, but this time with £20. You continue doubling your stake until you win a bet.

Does the Martingale Betting Strategy Work?

The Martingale betting strategy only works in theory, as you need unlimited money and a bookie that will continue to take your bets as your stakes skyrocket. Even though the Martingale strategy may work over the short term, eventually, you’ll go through a nasty losing streak and blow through your entire bankroll or hit the bookie’s betting limits.

For example, your chance of losing ten 50/50 bets in a row is 1 in 1000, so if you’re a frequent bettor, this is bound to happen. If your initial bet is £100 and you follow the Martingale strategy and lose 10 in a row, to get even and net a small £100 profit, your 11th bet would be an insane £204,800!

But what if you just lower your initial stake to £1 instead of £100? That’s the other issue with the Martingale strategy: while starting with a lower bet reduces your chance of running out of money, it also caps your potential profit. To win anything respectable using the Martingale strategy, you need to start with a decent stake. Unfortunately, this also dooms you to wrecking your bankroll when you eventually suffer a lengthy losing streak.

Pros & Cons of Martingale Betting

Going on a losing streak and watching your bankroll dwindle can be psychological torture. The Martingale strategy is so alluring because you can potentially win back all your losses with a single bet. The strategy is incredibly easy to follow as you just double your stake until you win.

Unfortunately, while in theory, it sounds like a good idea, the Martingale strategy just isn’t profitable in the real world. You need huge pockets and a crazy bookie who will take £1,000,000+ bets. But even then, it’s not a good idea because, after a tough losing streak, you’ll end up betting millions of pounds just to win a few hundred; the risk-reward ratio becomes seriously skewed!

Pros

  • Fast way to recover losses
  • Very simple and intuitive strategy
  • Works in theory

Cons

  • It’s a losing strategy over the long-term
  • The risk-reward ratio is not in your favour
  • You need deep pockets
  • If a bookie refuses to take your bet, you’re in serious trouble

Is the Martingale System Legal?

The Martingale system is 100% legal, in fact, bookies are more than happy when punters use this strategy. However, bookmakers have betting limits and reserve the right to refuse any action. So you could find yourself in a situation where you need to make a huge bet to get even and the bookie suddenly turns around and refuses to take your action.

If a bookie doesn’t accept your wager, this has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the Martingale strategy. It has to do with their own risk policies where they don’t want too much or too little money on a particular outcome.

What Is the Reverse Martingale Betting Strategy?

The reverse Martingale betting strategy is the opposite of the classic betting system. Instead of doubling your stake after a loss, you only double your stake after winning. For example, if you bet £20 on Aston Villa to beat Liverpool and you win £40, you then bet £40 on Arsenal to beat Chelsea. You repeat the process until you decide to take profit or lose, and then return to betting your initial stake.

The logic behind this strategy is you’re using winnings and the bookie’s money to fund your bets, so you can afford to be aggressive. Unfortunately, this logic doesn’t hold up because winnings are required to balance out losses. So you can’t treat won money as free cash.

Just like the classic version, the reverse Martingale system is also a losing strategy because a single losing bet instantly wipes out all your profit. If you win four bets in a row and get a bad beat on your fifth wager, you’re back to square one.

Bet £10, Get £50 In Free Bets
New customers only. Register with SUMMER50. Deposit £10+ and place first bet £10+ at Evens (2.0)+ on Sports within 7 days to get 3 x £10 in Sports Free Bets & 2 x £10 in Acca Free Bets within 10 hours of settlement. 7-day expiry. Eligibility & payment exclusions apply. Full T&Cs apply.
Bet £10 Get £35 In Free Bets
*New UK customers (Excluding NI) only. Mobile exclusive. Min Deposit £10. Min stake £10. Min odds Evs. Free bet applied on 1st settlement of any qualifying bet. 30 days to qualify. Free bets expire in 7 days. Cashed out/Free Bets won’t apply. Account & Payment method restrictions apply. 1 Free Bet offer per customer, household & IP Address only. 18+. T&Cs apply
Bet £10, Get £30 In Bonuses
18+ New customers only. Opt in & bet min £10 on any sports market at min odds of 1/1 (2.00)+ No cash out. Get £20 in Free Bets, £10 Live Casino Bonus + 30 Free Spins for selected slots. 40x wagering for the bonus, max withdrawal £250, valid 30 days. Free Bets expire in 7 days. Debit Card/Apple Pay Payments only. T&Cs Apply, see below. begambleaware.org | Please gamble responsibly
Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets
For new customers at bet365. Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. Registration required. 18+ Begambleaware.org
Free Bet Up To £30 & 100 Free Spins
*New UK customers only. Min Stake: £5. Maximum Free Bet: £30. First bet on a Football or Horse Racing multiple with 3+ selections. Overall odds: 3.00 (2/1) or higher. Free Bets available upon settlement of the qualifying bet. 100 Free Spins on Gold Blitz (£0.10 per spin) credited on settlement of qualifying Acca bet. No wagering requirements on free spin winnings. Debit Card deposit only (exclusions apply). This offer is valid 7 days from the new account being registered. 18+ GambleAware.org. Bet the Responsible Way. Full terms apply.
Bet £10, Get £25 In Free Bets + 50 Free Spins
*18+ New UK Customers. Must bet £10 in total on 4+ legs, min odds 3/1 (4.0). £20 credited as 2x £10 Free Bets, valid for 7 days, stakes not returned. T&Cs apply. BeGambleAware.org
Bet £10, Get £30 In Free Bets
New online 888sport customers in the UK and Ireland, excluding re-registered customers. Valid from 15/01/2024. Min Deposit £/€10 with code 30FXS. Qualifying bet: 'real money' stake of £/€10+, odds 1/2 (1.5)+. Free bet, consists of 3x £/€10 tokens: 1x £/€10 horseracing, 1x £/€10 football, 1x £/€10 in-play, which will be credited upon qualifying bet settlement and must be used entirely before expiration in 7 days. No cashing out, each way bets, permutations, or combining with 'real money' stakes. Payment restrictions apply. Full T&Cs apply.

Conclusion

While it may be tempting to YOLO and keep doubling your stake until you win, it’s not a wise idea and will end in tears. You’re better off sticking to flat betting, as they say, slow and steady wins the race!

FAQs

  • Does Martingale work in sports betting?
    Martingale can work in sports betting when you find two-way markets which pay 2.00 and have close to 50% implied probability. However, variance will ultimately catch up with you, and you’ll run out of money or hit the bookie’s betting limits.
  • The Martingale betting system is legal. However, bookies have betting limits and max payouts, typically between £100,000 and £1,000,000 per bet, which prevent you from continuing to double your stake over and over again.
  • Is there a better strategy than Martingale in sports betting?
    Professional sports bettors don’t use the Martingale system. Instead, they take advantage of odds differences between bookmakers, known as arbitraging, or simply handicap events better than bookies and wager when the odds are in their favour, known as value betting.
  • Can Martingale in sports betting ever work?

    The Martingale in sports betting can work over the short term. The problem is every time you use it, you’re tempting fate. Eventually, you’ll go on a huge losing streak and lose your entire bankroll.

Alex, a ten-year iGaming industry veteran and Managing Editor at BettingTools specializes in sports betting and betting tools. He also provides insightful reviews, ensures the accuracy of all offers, and maintains content quality helping you make informed choices. Combining professional expertise with a passion for football and soccer, Alex ensures we offer you a reliable resource, focusing on betting tools to assist with odds, accas, and other betting strategies.