How Much to Bet

When calculating how much to bet, the simplest answer is to make the same wager every time, betting an amount based on your bankroll, that will enable you to play as long as you like. Known as flat betting, most of the time this method will result in small wins, small losses, or you will break even. If, however, you want the excitement of larger bets, and a chance for a big win, while controlling your losses, you'll need a "system", which can be defined as a plan that you will follow in response to any betting situation, ignoring hunches or emotions. Here are some of the most popular.

Martingale:

Bet 1 unit after every win, but double the last bet after every loss until a win occurs, which will recover all your losses plus one unit.

The oldest, best-known, and possibly the worst system is the Martingale, used by Egyptian pharaohs as far back as 3500 B.C., and named after the proprietor of an early London casino who would constantly encourage his patrons to "double up and catch up". This betting method produces a series of small wins punctuated by occasional extremely high losses. Inevitably the system breaks down when a series of losses either runs you out of money or, requires a bet higher than the table maximum.

Anti-Martingale:

Bet 1 unit after every loss, but increase your bet after every win. As the name implies, you bet minimum after you lose, but double up after every win. Carried to its conclusion, you would keep doubling up until you finally lose, but because of this absurdity, nobody uses a pure Anti-Martingale. Instead you modify this betting method by limiting the number of doubled bets, by increasing the bet by something less than double, or by a combination of both. For instance with a series of wins you might bet 1 unit, 2 units, 4 units, 8 units, and then stay at that level until you lose. Another variation would be bets of 2 units, 3 units, 5 units, 7 units, and so forth, until you lose, or reach a maximum, either yours or the table's.

Labouchere (Cancellation):

Always bet the sum of the first and last numbers in a series, such as 1-2-3-4; in this case 1 + 4 = 5-unit bet. If you win, cross out 1 and 4, and bet the total of the remaining number; 2 + 3 = 5-unit bet. If you lose the first bet, 5, add the loss to the end, and continue with the series 1-2-3-4-5, until all the numbers have been crossed out.

Because you are crossing out two numbers with each win, and adding only one with each loss, in theory you can lose more bets than you win, and still be successful. The weakness, of course, is you are increasing your bet as you lose, and a series of losses can either break you, or push you past the table maximum. The Labouchere system, similar to the Martingale, but at a slower pace, will give you a cluster of small wins intercepted, at some point, by a large loss.

D'Alembert (Pyramid):

Bet 1 unit and repeat as long as you win. After any loss, add 1 unit to your bet size, and on any subsequent win, deduct 1 unit from the bet size until it reaches 1. At that point the series is complete and you have netted 1 unit for each winning bet in the series.

By increasing the bet size after losses, D'Alembert is another system that can produce a profit even when you lose more bets than you win. Although the action is slower than the Martingale or the Labouchere, the pattern is still the same; a number of small wins, eventually more-than-offset by a big loss.

Paroli:

Bet 1 unit and repeat as long as you lose. After any win, double your bet and add 1. Continue this until you either reach a predetermined level, or lose, then start again.

More aggressive than the Anti-Martingale, where you bet all, or part, of a winning wager, plus the original bet, Parolis usually produces big wins, or none at all. The degree of boldness is up to the player, but a Paroli of Three is the most common. Here you bet 1-3-7, and if successful you draw down and start again, pocketing a profit of 11 units. Less aggressive players might bet 1-3-6, risking and winning 1 less unit.

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