Martingale Strategy For Blackjack

Bram Welch
23 January 2023
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The Martingale strategy is not a blackjack strategy, it is a betting system that has a wide range of applications. It can be applied to casino games that have binary outcomes and is even used in stock trading. It is a negative progression system because it asks players to double their stake after a loss. Whereas positive progression systems require players to double their stake after a win.

It originates from theories created by French mathematician Paul Pierre Levy. His surname is attached to endless mathematical and probability-based theories. The name of this theory came from a later adopter, Jean Ville, who expanded the theory despite a turbulent relationship with Levy.

Is The Martingale Strategy Allowed in Casinos?

You can use betting systems like the Martingale strategy at casinos online and in person. Using a betting system is not illegal whether it is age-old, tried and tested, or one they have come up with themselves. This is because they do nothing to alter the house edge so casinos can still benefit in the long run. A player’s concern should be with the effect the system has on their budget rather than with whether or not it is legal.

It is important to note that if you intend to use this strategy online, you should exclusively employ it in traditional blackjack games. There are so many variants online, and you may be able to use an adapted version for those. To begin with, however, only try online blackjack games that follow traditional rules before you start playing Lucky 13s or double exposure blackjack.

Basic Blackjack Strategy

This system of betting should always be used in conjunction with the basic blackjack strategy. These are rules and guidelines that tell a player exactly what move to make during blackjack. Some people refer to following these rules exactly as playing a perfect game.

Based on a statistical analysis of probabilities, following the guidelines of basic blackjack strategy charts gives the player their best chance of beating the house. There are charts that tell you whether you should hit, stand, double down, split, or surrender based on your cards and the dealer’s upturned card. The best blackjack basic strategy charts also consider the rules under which you are playing, such as whether the dealer is instructed to hit on soft 17s or not.

Chance still plays a huge part in the game so neither using this nor Martingale gives you guaranteed success. This is simply seen as the best way to minimise the effects of the house edge.

Martingale for Blackjack

The Martingale system is dependent on binary outcomes with equal probability of happening therefore, it requires discounting insurance or splitting when playing Blackjack. Now there are only two outcomes from a hand: win or lose.

Before you start using the Martingale system for blackjack, you need to decide on a budget and a bet unit value. Bear in mind you are doubling every time you lose, so your budget and bet limit should match up in a way that accommodates this. What you are going to do is double your bet unit value after every loss and return to the original value after you lose. If you have a budget of £100, your bet units should be smaller than if your budget sits at £10,000.

To illustrate, let’s assume you have £20, so you decide on a £1 bet unit:

  • Step 1: Stake £1 on your first hand.
  • Step 2: If you win the hand, take the £2, bank £1 as winnings and return the other £1 to your bankroll.
  • Step 3: Stake £1 on the next hand. Bankroll now equals £19.
  • Step 4: If you lose, stake £2 on the following hand, taking your bankroll to £17.
  • Step 5: If you lose the third hand, bet £4 on the next hand. This will leave you with £13
  • Step 6: If you win, you will win £8, which takes you to £21.
  • Step 7: Bank £1 as winnings and return to step one and the original stake limit of £1.

It is really that simple, which is one of the great benefits of this strategy – anyone can do it. It is primarily concerned with making up for any losses you acquire. Avoiding losses is one way of being a successful gambler. Through this system, there is always the promise of recovery unless you face too many consecutive losses and your bankroll dries up before you can recover.

You can probably see from the example above that we were only two more bets away from being over budget, so there are limitations to the system. Another thing you have to consider is how you are willing to act when faced with a series of consecutive losses that calls for a bet eight times the size of your initial bet. If you start at £5, this could be as high as £320. Would you bet £320 on a single hand of blackjack? This system could lead you to make decisions that you wouldn’t otherwise.

The house edge of blackjack is maintained partly by the fact that the dealer acts last. This gives other players a chance to go bust before the dealer even has to act. The game is played against the dealer so he can win before even making a move.

Practice The Martingale System

It might be a good idea to familiarise yourself with the betting system by practising online. If you are a beginner to Blackjack, then you could also use the practice with general blackjack strategy.

Try playing a free demo that allows you to use an in-game currency to play with. If this is not possible through an online casino, you can search elsewhere online or try your relevant application store. There are plenty of options online; you could even try playing at home against yourself.

Pros And Cons of Martingale for Blackjack

Pros

  • You might be able to cover your losses by winning the next bet.
  • The strategy is nice and easy to follow. Double your stake after a losing bet.

Cons

  • You could be betting inordinate amounts after a sequence of losing bets.
  • Your budget can quickly deplete as a result of doubling your stake several times in a row.
  • It relies on 50:50 chance outcomes which isn’t perfectly representative of blackjack.
  • Encourages chasing losses which is dangerous and an example of irresponsible gambling.

Conclusion

The Martingale betting system was not created for blackjack;its roots are in probability theory from the 18th Century in France. It is applicable to a wide range of uses, including forex trading and is permitted for use in licensed UK casinos.

The system involves doubling your stake after a losing bet and returning to a standard stake value after a win. It is a negative progression strategy because it reacts to losses rather than to wins like positive progression systems.

Any strategy for blackjack should be sued in conjunction with basic blackjack strategy charts that indicate when you should hit or stand. It is not a watertight strategy; there are drawbacks. It is important that you gamble responsibly and manage your budget and bankroll throughout.

Author Bram Welch

After working in journalism, teaching and hosting radio, I am now enjoying working on long-form articles around the gambling industry and iGaming for UKCasino.com & Casinogrounds.com