Casino betting systems ... what are they and do they work?

There are a bunch of casino systems out there, along with plenty of salesmen trying to sell you their systems with promises that you cannot lose using their secret (but vigorously advertised!) tried and proven method for beating the casinos.  So do they really work?

Now aside from Blackjack systems, where the ability to leverage a knowledge of past play to understand likely future outcomes actually does afford the skilled player a house edge (for more details see our page on card counting, or read about the MIT Blackjack Team) , systems applying to other casino games have to be treated with a good deal of skepticism.

I'm not a mathematician, but I am both a cynic and a realist, and can't help but think that if these individuals trying to sell you their systems actually had any confidence that the systems really worked, then they wouldn't be wasting their time selling the system, but rather using it to make money at the casino.  And yes while I am a little mathematically challenged, even I can usually see the fatal logic flaw in a particular casino game system.   And lets be honest, how many casinos do you know, either terrestrial or online that lose money?  Not many... and if they do its not because players are winning more often than not.

So, having completely taken the wind out of your sails with the above harsh dose of reality, you're probably thinking why bother telling us about gambling systems.  Well, for one, so you'll have some insight into various systems and will be less likely to be duped into paying for one, and two, because the systems themselves while not necessarily effective, are quite interesting in their approach.

So, without further ado, below are brief descriptions of some of casino gambling's better known betting systems...

  1. The D'Alenbert gambling system

  2. The Martingale gambling system

  3. The Paroli gambling system

  4. The 1-3-2-6 gambling system



The D'Alenbert gambling system

Under the D'Alenbert system, a player should raise his or her bet by one unit for each bet following a losing bet.  Conversely, for each bet following a wining bet, the bet should be lowered by one unit.

Presumably you make some kind of allowance for a string of winning bets that lowers your stake to zero!

The supposed logic behind this system, is that a string of losses will be mitigated by a higher value winning bet when it eventually comes.   This is a similar approach, albeit far less aggressive than the Martingale system in which the bet is doubled after each loss.  

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The Martingale gambling system

The Martingale system is a well known system used in Roulette.   The system dictates that you start with an initial bet on either red or black ('the original bet').  If your bet wins, you pocket the winnings and repeat this bet again.  If the bet loses, you double the original bet.  If this bet wins, you pocket your winnings and begin again with the original bet.  If you lose again, you double up again, and continue to double up on successive losing bets until such time as you win, at which point you pocket your winnings and start again with your original bet.

The logic here, is that even after a large string of losing bets in a row, when you eventually have a win, you will cover all your losing bets and be ahead by an amount equal to your original bet.   This is illustrated in the below table:

Bet number:

Bet amount:

Win or Loss

Net position:




- $5




- $15




- $35




- $75




- $155




- $315




- $635




$ 5

Pundits of this system argue that you can't lose because eventually you have to have a winning bet, at which point you are ahead right?  This is correct, providing 2 things don't occur that are the undoing of many a Martingale player:

1. you reach the table maximum bet before you get chance to win - eg in the example above if the table max bet is $500, then you're in trouble after 7 losses in a row, with no way of covering your losses.

2. you run out of money!  You can see from the above table that required bets climb rapidly, so even if the casino offers a big maximum bet, you'll need deep pockets to avoid disaster. 

A neat discussion offering a little more detail on Martingale systems can be found at Casino Gambling Online

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The Paroli gambling system

The Paroli system employs the reverse logic to the D'Alenbert and Martingale systems (are you starting to get the feeling these systems are more hope than science!). It dictates that you raise you bet following a win a and lower it following a loss.  

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The 1-3-2-6 gambling system

This system is a employs a combination of raised and lowed bets on successive winning bets.   The 1-3-2-6 combination signifies the multiple of your original bet stake that you bet on successive bets in a four bet series.

So if you original bet amount is $5, this system suggests you should bet $5, then $15, then $20, then $60 on successive winning bets.   

This is another system that falls down in presuming that successive bets are dependent events.

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