The Martingale Strategy Staking plan – a disaster waiting to happen

The Martingale system is one of the more famous staking plans available to use, however, being well known does not mean it is fit for purpose.

Before we get into why the Martingale system is to be avoided at all costs, let's have a look at its brief history, the concept and some practical examples of its use.

A quick history

The Martingale appears to have been founded in France back in the 18th century. It was conceived as a way of always emerging profitable in a coin toss where one would choose either heads or tails.

The method has since been adapted for Casino games, notably Roulette and later on to sports betting.

The concept

In its purest form the idea was that one would double their stake after a loss until such a time that they won and recovered any previous losses and of course, realise a profit.

In practice

To make this as simple as possible, this example will use odds of even money (2.0 in decimals) using a £10 stake with the aim of making a profit of £10.

Example 1

£10 @ 2.0 lose – Loss £10 - Running total £10 loss

£20 @ 2.0 lose – Loss £20 - Running total £30 loss

£40 @ 2.0 win - Profit £40 - Running total £10 profit

So, in this example, you staked a total of £70 and profited £10 after just three bets

Example 2

£10 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £10 loss

£20 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £30 loss

£40 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £70 loss

£80 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £150 loss

£160 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £310 loss

£320 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £630 loss

£640 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £1,270 loss

£1,280 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £2,550 loss

£2,560 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £5,110 loss

£5,120 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £10,230 loss

£10,240 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £20,470 loss

£20,480 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £40,950 loss

£40,960 @ 2.0 lose - Running total £81,910 loss

There is no need to go any further with this, after 13 losses you would require £81920 to win that £10 and let's be honest if you are targeting a £10 profit it is unlikely that you would have £81,920 laying about to bet with.

You may argue that it is unrealistic to go 13 bets without a win, especially in an event that has just two equal outcomes but that would be a huge mistake to assume that a sequence like this does not happen. It can and it does.

Escalating stakes without any liability limits is a recipe for disaster and that is the fundamental flaw with the Martingale system, there is no control over those escalating stakes, it is double your money throughout until you get a winner.

†There are some variants of the Martingale system but at its core is the increase of stakes, regardless of the outlay until you get to a winner and then pocket the initial target amount.

If one had unlimited wealth then, in theory, the system would work but sadly no one has such wealth, not even the richest man in the world, there is always a finite point where there is simply not enough money available to stake.

For example, say you had a maximum bankroll of £5,000, starting with a stake of £10. There is a 1 in 512 chance that you will lose your first 9 bets, resulting in a lose of £5,110.

To put that into perspective, Leicester City were a 5,000 to 1 chance of winning the EPL title back in 2016 and they won. So if you think it's impossible to lose 9 coin tosses in a row, think again.

money down drain

Martingale compared to other systems

Some may have you thinking that there are pros and cons to using the Martingale method, there is not, it is a poor staking strategy that may work in the short term but the minute you run into a long losing sequence, which everyone does at some point, you will then be faced with a scenario of having to stake huge amounts, at substantial risk, for very little reward.

What one needs is a staking plan that limits risk, protects your bankroll and absorbs losses at a manageable level while allowing you to steadily increase your stakes to maximise winning runs. The Kelly Criterion does exactly this. In the video below, our CEO Marius Norheim, explains exactly how Kelly works and why we use it at Trademate Sports.


Avoid using the Martingale or any other similar method at all costs, it does not work in the long run. Just a medium-term losing run could wipe out your bank balance. Imagine a £1000 bankroll and you start with a £10 initial stake, well, after just 7 losers in a row you are busted.

There is no perfect staking plan, that is one of the holy grails of betting, however, there are extremes and the Martingale is at one end of that spectrum, the negative end, whereas the Kelly Criterion is at the other end, the positive end.

You might also be interested in our Betting Experts article series, where we asked 11 betting experts what they thought was the betting staking strategy. Read their answers here!

Get The Best Articles and News To Your Inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.