A Short Story on Martingale

Many years ago in a city far away, your beloved writer had this job and had this manager. For the story I’m about to tell, I’m sure this manager would wish to remain anonymous…

So David had this betting system. If you’re like me, then you will immediately begin rolling your eyes around upon hearing the phrase “betting system”. His system was a Martingale system.

He would start by placing a £1 bet with odds of over 2.0 (evens). If the bet lost then he would double up, so the next bet would be £2 on something, again, with odds of over 2.0. He would double up until he got a win, and then he would start all over.

Sounds great…in theory. Eventually you’re going to get a win which will cover all your preceding loses to leave you in profit. The problem was that you are going to hit a run which will blow your bank, leaving thousands of pounds worth of debt on your credit card. And the funny thing was, David actually knew this! He knew the risks involved with this betting system, but it didn’t stop him.

The bets he was placing were all on backing the draw in football (soccer for my friends in US). Now he wasn’t exactly analysing as much data as he could get his hands on, to calculate the percentage chance that a draw was likely to take place between 2 teams. And then see if he had an edge over the bookie’s odds. No, to hell with that, that’s far too much hard work. David would just look at the fixtures for the day, FROM AROUND THE WHOLE WORLD(!) and see if there’s was a team playing that was “due a draw”.


I shit you not. Not only have we got a story about Martingale, we have a story about the gambler’s fallacy too. We’re all about efficiency here at Winners Win.

So Davey boy would look down the league table and check out who had the fewest draws to find out who was “due” a draw, and that prompted each bet.

He told me how he hit that inevitable losing run that lead to him placing £8,000 on 2 mediocre Premier League teams to draw. He was actually in a crowded pub watching this game on TV in an early kickoff, near the stadium of the team that he supports, and he was about to watch his team play later on. He was there with his mates who knew that he had £8,000 on the live game on TV ending up a draw. Word soon got round the pub that our guy was “balls deep”, as the kids would say, on the draw. Just into injury time and the score is 1-1. Things are looking great:

  • That awful, stressful, but totally expected, losing run is about to come to an end.
  • And David is about to be roughly £5,000 in profit, after taking into account all previous loses.
  • And better than that: David is about to earn the respect & envy of a pub full of drunk football fans!

Get a picture of that situation in your head.

Form a clear mental image…

Now imagine how he felt when one of those teams scored a winner with the last kick of the match.

A punch to the gut, or even a sharp, swift kick to the happy sacks would be more pleasurable than that experience. That £8,000 loss adds to a total loss of £16,000. And a crowded pub is there to witness your agony.


He said that after that game had ended he was sat on the floor with his back against the bar, with his head in his hands as strangers would come up to him to pat him on the shoulder to try and comfort him. He didn’t even bother going to watch his own team play that afternoon.

He wasn’t ready to throw the towel in just yet with this system, after enough time had passed for him to get over this he started from scratch betting £1. He didn’t want to carry on with the next bet in this sequence which should have been £16,384.

But it ended with the same results. Eventually he hit a losing streak that required him to be placing a lot more money than what he was comfortable with on one bet. He finished his Martingale system betting on the draws down about £30,000 in total… So he did what any rational individual would do: he tried this system on online roulette.


To be continued…

3 thoughts on “A Short Story on Martingale”

  1. The Martingale (or Fibonacci or whatever) always annoys me. It is still doing the rounds on YouTube as the “only way to win at roulette”.

    And the worst thing is that it will only ever win back your first bet i.e. if you bet first with £1 and doubled up thereafter to £64, £128 or whatever then a winning Martingale will only see you up by £1. All downside with no upside.

    Then there are the crackpots who use the Fibonacci series to tell them how much to bet. They may as well use rune stones or crystal balls.

    There are so many lazy people in betting who think that a simple mechanical system will make them rich. Even a degree, knowledge of maths and stats, the ability to program a computer and knowledge of sports and markets is no guarantee of achieving millionaire status. Being a dummkopf is a serious handicap.

    Oh well, at least in a zero sum game having dunces on the other side of your trade helps pay the bills. We can’t complain.

    JayBee –



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