In fact, the Martingale betting strategy did not originate in sports betting at all, but rather in the world of gambling, which explains why many casino aficionados might already be acquainted with it. Nowadays, many fans of sports betting borrow the strategy in order to consider their wagers. Actually, the idea behind the Martingale Strategy is very simple: By systematically raising the amount of your stakes, you will compensate for bets you have previously lost, ultimately ending up with a profit. In other words, this approach is ideal for those who flout statistics and elaborate calculations, or wish to do so, and instead place their trust in a fundamental mathematical principle. Everything you need to know about betting with the Martingale Strategy, how this strategy functions exactly and what risks you should be aware of, are explained to you in detail below.

Reading time: 3 min
Topics covered in this article:
  1. How does the Martingale Strategy work?
  2. Is the Martingale Strategy transferable to sports betting?
  3. The Opposite: What is the Anti-Martingale Strategy?
  4. Bottom line: Is the Martingale Strategy a rewarding approach to sports betting?

How does the Martingale Strategy work?

Martingale describes a gambling strategy that looks back on a long tradition. It was actually used in the 18th century for the game of Faro, though it became most famous in association with roulette. The goal of the strategy: Not only will you quickly recoup any losses – better still: The system promises a reliable profit at the end of the process. The classic variant of the Martingale Strategy, which we look at within the scope of this article, is called “doubling”. The simple fundamental idea behind it: If you lose the bet, you keep doubling your stakes until you finally win. At that point, you begin the whole process again, starting out with your basic wager. For our concrete example, let us stay in the world of gambling to begin with: Let us assume you bet €1 on “black” in roulette. The rules are clear! If black wins, the bank will give you twice that amount back – if black loses, your bet is lost as well. Assuming the result is “red” and you lose, the Martingale Strategy now requires you to bet €2 the next time. If you lose again, your next bets will be €4, €8 etc. The positive underlying thought behind the Martingale Strategy: In the event you win, it is irrelevant how many rounds of betting you lost previously since your one-time winnings, by having progressively increased your stakes, will more than compensate for your previous losses and put the money right back in your pocket!

Bet Bet result Win Total win
1 lost 0 -1
2 lost 0 -3
4 lost 0 -7
8 lost 0 -15
16 lost 0 -31
32 lost 64 +1

Is the Martingale Strategy transferable to sports betting?

If we want to bet on sports using the Martingale Strategy, we must find ways to transfer this system efficiently to a different betting sector. The main problem we encounter is that the foundation of the Martingale Strategy is purely mathematical. Whereas sports bets and sporting results – with particular reference to football, in our case – are predictable to a certain extent with the help of statistics and our own experiences, nonetheless they can neither be calculated correctly 100% of the time, nor be forecast with certainty. After all, betting odds are only approximations of presumed outcomes. These cannot be clearly defined like they can in roulette. In order to be able to use the Martingale Strategy for sports bets, the odds must be at least 2.00. For odds below this number, the principal simply has no applicability. Ideally, you would choose a 2-way bet, with a mathematical probability of winning at 50%, thus similar to our example from roulette. We immediately note a serious problem with this approach: In reality, it is virtually impossible to find bets quoted odds of precisely 2.00 and thus be able to use the classic Martingale Strategy. However, for the purpose of our example, let us indeed assume that the odds are 2.00:

Bet Bet result Win Total win
5 won 10 5
5 won 10 10
5 won 10 15
5 lost 0 10
10 lost 0 0
20 lost 0 -20
40 lost 0 -60
80 lost 0 -140
160 lost 0 -300
320 won 640 20

The risks involved with wagering using the Martingale Strategy become quickly apparent: Even after a short, though not unrealistic streak of bad luck and six losing bets, your stakes would now rise to €320, just to secure you a relatively meager profit of €20. If you had in fact stopped after the first losing bet, which, according to our list, is the fourth bet, you would have stepped away with €10 in winnings and would never have had to bet more than five euros. The enormous risk associated with this betting strategy, which is in no relation to your actual profits, is illustrated impressively in the table. The Martingale System lives or dies by the limits of your available financial resources – which, because of the doubling principle, will be reached far more quickly than you initially think possible. Bear this in mind: Even if the odds being quoted are 1.90, barely below the ideal 2.00, if you lose your bet you will have to increase your next wager by even more than 100% in order to counterbalance your loss.

The Opposite: What is the Anti-Martingale Strategy?

Due to the risks we have described above, which are ultimately rewarded only with small winnings, while the strategy is difficult to implement in reality, many sports tipsters prefer to resort to the opposite betting strategy: aptly called the Anti-Martingale Strategy. On the one hand, it involves far less risk and, on the other, it is far more practical. In this case, too, minimum odds of 2.00 are required. In contrast to the classic Martingale Strategy, minor divergences in the odds can be absorbed, making the strategies significantly easier to implement. As the name suggests, this approach involves the reverse of the principle we have been looking at: in this instance, a winning progression rather than a losing progression. This is what it means: In the event you win, you will double your next wager – if you lose the bet, you will cut your next wager by half. For example, if you start out with €10, if you win then your next wager will be €20. If your first bet goes down the drain, your next wager will be only €5. This is an extremely defensive betting strategy. We recommend defining your personal winnings goal in advance and sticking to it! For our example, let us assume odds of 2.00. We point out that the Anti-Martingale Strategy is only profitable in the long term if you do not lose more than two bets consecutively! If you are faced with three losses in a row, it is very difficult to end up in the plus column.

Bet Bet result Win Total win
10 won 20 10
20 lost 0 -10
10 lost 0 -20
5 lost 0 -25
2,50 won 5 -22.5
5 won 10 -17.5
10 won 20 -7.50

Bottom line: Is the Martingale Strategy a rewarding approach to sports betting?

When betting with the Martingale System, it isn’t your sporting knowledge but rather your financial situation/betting budget that makes the difference. Your bankroll determines whether this is a betting strategy for you or not – which could well represent a bad omen. In this strategy, even a comparatively small profit may involve major risk – after all, ultimately this is about avoiding losses. We feel it is better to absorb a small loss rather than a major one. The occasionally extremely high stakes required simply aren’t worth it! If you start out with €1 and begin with a losing streak, already after the 10th bet you would have to weigh in with €1024. If you start out with €5, by the time you get to the 9th bet you would be looking at having to wager €1320 in order to avoid losses. Bear in mind: If you then win, you would only end up with an extra €5 in your pocket! Taking all of this into consideration, I strongly advise every fan of sports betting to avoid the Martingale betting strategy.

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