Do betting systems actually work?

Most newcomers to sports betting and casino gaming simply wager on the outcomes they believe will happen without any other considerations.

The problem is that these betting sectorsare designed for the house to win –whether it’s the over-around those sportsbooks build into their odds or the implicit house edge in games like blackjack, roulette and baccarat.

To improve the quality (and profitability) of your wagering, try using a betting system to instill discipline, consistency, and routine in the way in which you stake.

Let’s examine some of the most common betting systems and if they work.

The Martingale System

One of the oldest and most-used betting strategies first devised in the 18th century, the Martingale system still divides opinion to this day.

In short, it’s based on the principle that you will eventually win a betand that you can stake accordingly so that all previous losses in a streak can be accounted for.

To do so, you simply double your stake every time – assuming you are betting on even money (or higher) propositions. So, if your initial stake is $1 and you lose your bet, you’ll next wager $2, and then $4, $8, $16, and so on until you have your win. Eventually, your initial losses will be recouped.

The rather obvious flaw in the Martingale casino system is that you’ll likely need a large bankroll to cover a lengthy losing run – that $1 initial stake becomes more than $500 with just nine consecutive losses!

The conclusion we can draw is that the Martingale betting strategy simply isn’t for everyone.

However,if you have an edge in the sports betting market – and therefore have a high win ratio or play a casino game with almost 50/50 odds (e.g., red/black on roulette), then the Martingale does at least offer a framework for your bets.

The Fibonacci System

Leonardo Bonacci was an Italian mathematician who came up with a sequence of numbers that is still used today in several applications, including the ‘Golden Ratio’ deployed everywhere from art toarchitecture.

The Fibonacci sequence has also been co-opted by bettors in a kind of DIY staking system.

In essence, the Fibonacci betting system dictates that to cover against a string of losses, we can stake according to the mathematician’s sequence of numbers, whichadd the two previous numbers together to get the next amount.

For example, if you start with a $1 stake and your bet loses, your next bet would be $1 as well. But if that loses, we add 1+1 to get $2. If we need to bet again, we add 1+2 to get $3and so on.

The Fibonacci sequencelooks like this:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233…

The Fibonacci system holds an advantage over Martingale in that the amount you must wager to stay in the chain does not increase as dramatically.

However, this is not a full loss-covering system – you’ll still incur a deficit on even money bets. For instance, if you win with the $8 bet, you will have already lost $12 (1+1+2+3+5).

The Fibonacci betting strategy is best deployed at odds of +150 or higher – your enhanced return will help cover more of your previous losses.

The D’Alembert System

Like many of the betting systems outlined in this article, the D’Alembert strategy was devised by a European mathematician many moons ago – in this case, the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste le Rondd’Alembeert.

He was interested in physics and the equilibrium of numbers, but bettors have utilized his system to inform how to wager on even-money chances,like red/black on the roulette wheel or +/- 100 in sports betting odds.

While Martingale and Fibonacci are ‘all or nothing’ in their staking, the D’Alembert system is more nuanced. The idea is that we raise our stake after each loss but lower it after each win – a sort of negative progressive strategy that enables us to compound our bankroll when winning.

Simply decide on what you want one unit to be – let’s go with $1.If your bet loses, you add another unit for your next stake, but if you win, you subtract one unit instead.

Here’s an example:

Bet Number Stake Size Win or Lose?
1 $1 Lose
2 $2 Lose
3 $3 Win
4 $2 Lose
5 $3 Lose
6 $4 Lose
7 $5 Win
8 $4 Win
9 $3 Lose
10 $4 Win

Unlike Martingale and Fibonacci, you won’t be staring a huge deficit in the face with the D’Alembert strategy if you embark on a long losing run.

However, it also doesn’t protect against previous losses. After Bet 7 in the chain above, we have won $8 ($3 + $5) but lost $12 (adding up all the losing bets), so the D’Alembert system is about loss control, rather than complete loss recovery.

The Paroli System

The Paroli system is, basically, the exact opposite of the Martingale and places emphasis on maximizing the profitability of winning streaks.

With Paroli, we double our stake when we win and return to our base stake when we lose. So, if we have decided that $1 equals one unit, then this is the amount we wager after every loss.

But as we win, our stake is doubled – $1 becomes $2, $2 becomes $4 and so on. As you can imagine, if we can embark on a handsome winning streak, then we can turn a $1 initial bet into something much more exciting, with only a one-unit loss whatever happens.

The downside to the Paroli strategy is that if we lose a bet, then all our profits are lost. That’s why many consider the banking system to complement Paroli. For instance:

  • Bet 1 –$1 wins
  • Bet 2 –$2 wins
  • Bank $1 – our new stake is $2
  • Bet 3 –$2 wins
  • Bank $1 – our new stake is $3
  • Bet 4 –$3 wins
  • Bank $2

This is just one way that the Paroli system can be maximized.

The Level Staking System

This is a system that most sports bettors swear by.

By reducing your staking to a zero-sum game – that is, you either win or lose the same amount (on even money bets) every time – you are relying on your edge and skill to secure a greater than 50% winning ratio.

While it doesn’t boast the excitement of the Paroli system when you are winning nor the recovery function of the Martingale system when you are losing, the level staking plan simply lets your skill – or luck, if we’re talking about casino games – be the differentiating factor.