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Martingale Strategy

Read also Online Limit Holdem Strategy.

If you are in a gambling situation where you have the worst of it, no betting strategy will make you a favorite. For example, there is no betting system to beat the casinos at craps.
You can play with a betting strategy that will allow you to win a high percentage of the time, but in the long run you will still lose. You will have many small wins, but your big losses will be more than the sum of the small wins. The typical strategy used is akin to what is called a Martingale Strategy. You can use this strategy for Texas Holdem and Badugi, Seven-card Stud and Razz.

Definition of Martingale Strategy: Make a small bet. If you win, quit. If you lose, bet the amount you are behind plus enough for a small profit. Repeat the process until you win.
Many players manage their poker sessions using a Martingale approach. They hit and run with small wins, but if they are losing they play until they drop. They are psychologically fulfilled 90% of the time, but they still lose money overall.
Even though betting strategies will not counteract a mathematical disadvantage, you may lose money to someone employing a Martingale type strategy against you.

For example, let’s say someone allows you to flip a coin, and lie will always call heads and will pay you 2 to 1 odds. He gets to decide the amount to bet on each flip and how many times to flip, each time paying 2 to 1 odds. He guarantees that he will do this with you every day, and that lie will never try to beat you out of more than $100 for the day. There is no settling up until he calls it quits for the day.

Martingale system: Bet to win $100 the first flip; if he loses, he will be clown $200, so he will bet to win $300 on the next flip. If he keeps losing, he will bet an amount that will let him win $100. The sequence of bets will be $100, $300, $900, $2700, and so on. If heads comes up on the nth flip, he will have bet $100x3 on that flip, and he will now quit and collect his $100 for the day. There may be some long streaks of tails and he may get up to amounts he cannot pay, but eventually heads will hit and he will collect $100. If casinos gave unlimited credit and allowed unlimited bets, they would all go broke. But of course, there are credit limits and table limits.

When we use mathematics for real world applications, we make a model of a situation and then make computations based on that model.
There are models for the stock market, for analyzing sporting events, and for figuring the odds at poker. The mathematics is always right, but we have to make sure the model is relevant in the real world. As in the previous example, following a model that gives us a positive expectation may still result in a loss of money.

If someone is losing and wants to increase the stakes, you may think. "I have an edge now. I can make twice as much." Don't let him do this on credit if he is going to get into amounts he can't pay. Don't let him do this if you think he will start playing significantly better, now that it is easier for him to get out of the trap.