Apr 28 2014

Posted by Betting systems

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The Labouchère system, also called the cancellation system or split martingale, is a gambling system predominantly used in roulette.

The system works because you can lose more bets than you win and still make a profit. In fact, you can win just 33.34% of the time and still be ahead. This is possible because you gradually increase the stakes with each loss. I once heard it described as a ‘watered down’ version of double or nothing betting, and that’s probably true to an extent, but I would say it’s a bit more sophisticated than that.

The major weakness of the ‘double or nothing’ strategy is that you are frequently forced to raise the stakes to unaffordable levels. If you applied this strategy starting with a $1 bet an had 14 straight losses (bad luck, but it happens), your 15th bet would have to be for $16,384. Not exactly affordable for most (I dare say your hands would be a tad sweaty by that stage!), but you probably wouldn’t get that far because $1 tables generally have a maximum bet substantially lower than that.

In essence, the Labouchere system reduces the need to stake as much, so you are better able to ‘ride out’ the bad patches. That said, it is still recommended that you have a sizeable number of chips to draw on.

Like all betting strategies, the Labouchère System is a numbers game. It is a sound strategy provided that:

1) You have enough money to keep betting – even after a long run of bad luck

2) You have not reached the table limits

If either of the above two conditions exist, you’re in trouble. Probably a lot.

However, unlike simple ‘double or nothing’ betting, the Labouchère System allows the gambler to manage their chips much more effectively and with allowance for their individual risk profile. The system also prompts you to keep track of your net wins/losses as each completed sequence will net you a predetermined profit (more on this shortly).

The system is easy to learn. The only requirements are a basic ability to add numbers and to be disciplined enough to write the numbers down accurately.

The strategy is as follows:

1) Write a sequence of increasing numbers down on a piece of paper. The sequence can be any length of increasing numbers, but we will keep things simple for the time being.

For example: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

It should be noted that adding each number in the sequence will determine how much profit you have made when you complete a sequence (i.e. 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 = 15, so you will make a profit of 15 chips when a sequence is completed)

2) Add up the numbers at each end of the sequence to decide what you will stake

i.e. 1 + 5 = 6

3) Bet your stake (6) on a relatively ‘even money’ bet (i.e. red or black, odds or evens).

If you win, you would cross out the first and last numbers in your sequence.

i.e 1 , 2, 3, 4, 5

Your sequence is now: 2, 3, 4

4) Again, add the first and last numbers to decide your stake. In this case, 2 + 4 = 6, so you bet 6 again.

5) Let’s say you lose this bet. You therefore add the total of the previous bet (6) to the end of the sequence and carry on the game.

So the sequence is now: 2, 3, 4, 6

As 2 + 6 = 8, and you would now bet 8

6) We’ll assume you win the next bet. You would accordingly cross out the first and last numbers: 2 , 3, 4, 6

So your sequence is now: 3, 4

You now bet 7.

7) We assume you win you next bet, crossing out the 3 & 4 and completing the sequence. You will now be ‘up’ by 15.

Of course, getting one loss and three wins like we did here would net anyone a profit. Nothing special. But you can and will make a profit even with some really bad luck (check out how by clicking here).

The biggest problem with this strategy is if you have a lot of losses you can end up with a very long sequence of numbers and no money left. The way to deal with such bad luck is to split the sequence so that the bets are taken back to a ‘manageable’ size while you grind though the run of bad luck. Learn how to split the sequence by clicking here.

The key to using this strategy successfully is to recognise that very long runs of bad luck can (and will!) occur. I cannot emphasise this enough. One of the worst things that can happen is that you get unrealistically confident that your luck must ‘turn around’ soon. Sometimes it takes a while. And it will test your nerves.

With some practice and discipline, you will learn to avoid having your nerves tested by splitting the sequence.