The Martingale Blackjack System - Is It Really Your Friend?

Peter Nairn
Written byPeter Nairn
body

Peter Nairn

Casino Operations Specialist
  • Linkedin icon
  • Email icon
  • Over 3 decades of experience in casino operations management, with a focus on Table Games and Slots;
  • Senior executive positions in both Native American and traditional casino markets for companies like Harrah’s New Orleans and Minnesota-based Grand Casinos;
  • Hands-on experience as trainer and dealer of multiple casino games including: Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and more;
  • Profound knowledge of Title 31 regulations, State compacts, and Federal MICS.
Liliana Costache
Editorial review byLiliana Costache
body

Liliana Costache

Online Gambling Content and Localization Manager
  • Linkedin icon
  • Email icon
  • Over 10 years of experience in the iGaming sector, including 5 years as a Content Manager.
  • Holder of certifications in German, Swedish, and the EU Gambling Regulatory Framework from the iGaming Academy.
  • Over 15 years of specialization in creating compelling and SEO-optimized content.
  • Brings 25+ years of experience in translation and localization.
  • Over four decades of fluent French proficiency.
Intermediate
   
icon-thumb-up100%icon-clock-grey7 min
icon-calendarUpdated on Apr 1, 2024

Today we’re going to explore the Martingale Blackjack System and how to use it when you play blackjack.  

The Martingale system has been around for centuries (at least 200 years that I know of) and is a popular and well-known strategy.

When you have read through this article, you will know what the Martingale System is, how to play blackjack using it, and the benefits and downsides of the system.

What Is the Martingale System in Blackjack?

The Martingale blackjack strategy is perhaps the world’s best-known negative progressive system.

What is a negative progressive system?

It means that every time you lose a bet, you double your bet.
And keep doubling your bet every time you lose, until finally you win.

How to use the Martingale System

Blackjack martingale strategy example

Let’s say you’re playing on a $5 minimum blackjack table.

If you’re playing a classic Martingale, your first bet should be 1 unit, so $5.

If you win, bet the same amount again, $5.  

If you lose, bet double the amount of your initial bet, so 2 units, which is $10.  

If you lose again, bet double the amount again, so 4 units or $20. 

And if you win this bet, you go back to betting your initial one-unit bet, the $5.

So you bet $20 and won – which paid you back the initial losing $5 bet and then the $10 bet that you also lost.

The dealer gave you $20, but you had lost $15, so you won the amount of your initial bet, the $5. 

And that’s how the Martingale works – you keep doubling your bet until you win.

Does That Work?

Well, sort of.

Let’s say your unit is $5 and you’ve lost seven hands in a row.  Losing seven hands in a row doesn’t happen very often, but it’s not uncommon. 

On your next bet, you will be betting $640 – and if you finally win a hand, you will get back all the money you have bet and end up winning your original bet – the $5.

Here’s What That Looks Like:

$5 + $10 + $20 + $40 + $80 + $160 + $320 … and the next bet in the sequence is $640.

The total of all these bets is $635, plus the $640 makes $1,275.  

When you finally win, you get paid $640. But you only win $5.

Pros and Cons of the Martingale Blackjack Strategy

The thinking here is that you must win sooner or later, and when you do, you will win all your money back plus the initial 1 unit you bet.   

Players choose this strategy because they think:

‘I have to win because . . ., hmmm, well, I’ve lost 7 in a row, so I’m due, aren’t I?‘ 

This is called ‘the Gambler’s Fallacy’ and it’s simply not true.  

The odds of winning the next hand are exactly the same for every hand – the cards don’t know, and certainly don’t care whether you won the last hand, five hands ago or even fifty hands ago.’

The good thing about the Martingale is that, in theory anyway, you must win eventually, right?

Well, no, you don’t!  In practice, you often win within a few hands and get your money back.

But the reality is that you can get yourself in really deep water very quickly.

Let’s take a look at how that works with your $640 bet above.

To get to the $640 bet, you would need a bankroll of $1,275 (the $635 previous bets, and the $640 current bet).  

And that’s for a minimum unit bet of $5.

If your unit bet was $10, you would need a $2,550 bankroll to survive a 7-time losing streak.

And as we all know, a 7-time losing streak isn’t that uncommon.

The additional negative to the Martingale was brought about by this guy:

Joseph Jagger picture

[Source: wikipedia.org]

His name was Joseph Jagger.  

Yes – you’ve heard of him, songs were written about him, he’s a legend, and here he is!

And in 1881, he broke the bank in Monte Carlo.

Oh – and the negative wasn’t that he broke the bank and won a fortune at the casino.
 
Which he did!

Oh no!

The negative was that he alerted the casinos to the fact that they could be beaten. This event marked a significant chapter in the history of Blackjack.

And they did what casinos always do when they lose.

They changed the rules.

And introduced a maximum bet on all their games.

And why is that a bad thing for Martingale players?

Let’s go back to our $640 bet.

Many games with a $5 minimum have a $500 maximum.

Once you hit seven losing bets in a row, you hit the table maximum, and you can’t get out!

You can only bet $500 – not the $640 you need to bet to win your money back!

On a table that has a $500 maximum limit, you’ve already lost $135 because you can’t bet enough to cover what you’ve already lost. 

And that’s the downside of the Martingale Strategy.  If you hit the maximum before you win your money back, you can’t recover your money.

And as I said earlier, having a streak of 7 losing bets is not an uncommon occurrence.

Similar strategies applied to other games, such as the Baccarat Martingale and Craps Martingale, pose similar risks when faced with table limits and consecutive losses.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Martingale System

Advantages Disadvantages
Simple to play. You need a large bankroll to play it.
Works equally well online or in land-based casinos. You end up betting a large amount to win a very small amount.
No complicated formulas to remember. Risk of ruin is a real thing if/when you get to the table maximum.
Can be used in all casino games with even money bets. You need a table with a high bet spread to make sure you don’t ‘run out of room’.
You can recoup all your losses with one win. It can be psychologically challenging to find yourself betting hundreds of units, attempting to win 1 unit.

The Martingale system vs the Paroli system

‘Okay, what is the Paroli system?’

It’s a positive progressive system.  That means that if you win, you bet your initial bet and your winnings back at the casino.

Your initial $5 bet becomes $10.  Which becomes $20, $40, $80, and so on.

And no matter how much your bet grows, you still only have your initial $5 in action.

Just as a 7-hand losing streak doesn’t happen very often, a 7-hand winning streak doesn’t happen very often either.

But they do happen!

If you make your initial bet of $5 and bet the Paroli system into a 7-hand winning streak, you would end up with $640.

From an initial bet of $5.

The player never has more than their initial one-unit bet in action, with the potential opportunity to win a lot.

And that’s why I prefer the Paroli system over the Martingale.  

Every Time!

Expert Advice / Tips

Novice players may think that using the Martingale is not a bad way to play if you can avoid getting all your bankroll in action with the possibility of only winning your initial one-unit bet.

And avoid getting to the table maximum before you get a chance to get your money out. 

And there’s the rub!  You can’t avoid those things – because ultimately, they’re going to happen.

The Paroli, on the other hand, allows you to make a small wager with your money and if you hit a winning streak, you can run it up into a real win.  

Let’s say you think 3 winners in a row is possible.  

Then it goes $10, $20, $40, and you turn your $5 into $40.  

And then go back to your initial bet of $5.

How about five winners in a row?

That looks like this:

$10, $20, $40, $80, $160.

So you turn your $5 into $160.

Now that’s something I can live with.

The Martingale Blackjack System FAQs

I’ve heard of the Reverse Martingale system.  What is it, and is it any good?

The Reverse Martingale system is the opposite of the Martingale system.  

When you win, you double your bet and when you lose, you go back to your initial one-unit bet. 
Which is an exact copy of the Paroli system.

I have seen a version of the Reverse Martingale where you bet half your one-unit bet when you lose, but all that does is prolong the inevitable – and that inevitable is when you run into the table maximum.

In casino parlance, it’s called ‘Hitting the Wall’. 

If the Martingale isn’t so great, what other systems can I try that might work better?
There are quite a few systems that some players prefer.  You might want to look at the D’Alembert system, the LaBouchere system, the Andrucci Strategy or the Fibonacci system. There’s even ‘the James Bond Strategy’. You can find the details in our Roulette Strategy guide.
Was this guide helpful?
Peter Nairn

Peter Nairn

Casino Operations Specialist

  • linkedin
  • email

About Peter Nairn

  • Over 3 decades of experience in casino operations management, with a focus on Table Games and Slots;
  • Senior executive positions in both Native American and traditional casino markets for companies like Harrah’s New Orleans and Minnesota-based Grand Casinos;
  • Hands-on experience as trainer and dealer of multiple casino games including: Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, and more;
  • Profound knowledge of Title 31 regulations, State compacts, and Federal MICS.
Read Full Bio
Liliana Costache

Liliana Costache

Online Gambling Content and Localization Manager

  • linkedin
  • email

About Liliana Costache

  • Over 10 years of experience in the iGaming sector, including 5 years as a Content Manager.
  • Holder of certifications in German, Swedish, and the EU Gambling Regulatory Framework from the iGaming Academy.
  • Over 15 years of specialization in creating compelling and SEO-optimized content.
  • Brings 25+ years of experience in translation and localization.
  • Over four decades of fluent French proficiency.
Read Full Bio
See All Blackjack Guides

Blackjack Q&As

body head eyes mouth
duniadaisy Copied thread icon-check-white Level 5
Can I find blackajck at Brango?

Is there live blackjack at Brango Casino that you guys recommend?

qna-followers 2 Need Answer qna-answers 4 Answers
body head eyes mouth
SunshineUnderground Copied thread icon-check-white Level 20 Canada
Will Chipy be bringing back Blackjack in the Play for Coins section of the website?

A while back there was a Blackjack option that could be played with your Chipy Coins. It was by Mascot Gaming. Any Blackjack option would be better than nothing, although I do see that the focus is more on Slots in the Play for Coins section.

qna-followers 21 Need Answer qna-answers 1 Answer qna-accepted Accepted Answer
body head eyes mouth
BJT Copied thread icon-check-white Level 4
Does Blackjack teams have an edge in tournaments?

I played and witnessed  Blackjack teams , I know they exist  to help each other   eliminate other players like me. For Example , I had an opportunity  in semi- finals to make final table, but I new I had to hit on hard 15  to make final table to give me a chance. The player to my right  did not have enough chips to make final table no matter what she did, she was looking at my chips and decided to hit on 19,  the card  came out was a 5 , would have given me a 20 and a chance to move on,  I got a king instead , busted out, I got  little emotional  and yelled at her for helping her team members on the end make it to final table.  She just stood there quietly like nothing happened, so obvious .Maybe it's just me,I have great instincts on  other players teaming up sometimes,  I was right that time.

Richard C

qna-followers 2 Need Answer qna-answers 1 Answer qna-accepted Accepted Answer
Ask a Question

Practice Blackjack for Free

See All 385 Blackjack Games
icon-arrow-up