Do Sports Betting Systems Work?

Sports betting systems refers to a set of events that when combined for a particular game for a particular sport represents a profitable betting scenario. Since sports betting involves humans, there is no deterministic edge to the house or the gambler. Systems supposedly allow the gambler to have an edge.

Sportsbooks use systems in their analysis to set more accurate odds. Therefore the novice gambler may believe that using a system will always work, it is the general consensus that at some point (usually very quickly), the oddsmakers will have adjusted for the system to make it no longer profitable. Very short-lived systems are called trends. Any single event that estimates a selection to have a higher likelihood of winning is called an angle as they are meant to be used in conjunction with other angles and trends to produce systems. Often scammers will use a short-lived hot streak or profitable results from a small sample sizes to promote the systems. If you blindly bet games based on these systems, you will eventually lose your bankroll.

Systems can be deceiving. Any sample space can be constrained enough with meaningless criteria to create the illusion of a profitable betting system. For example, a coin can be flipped with heads being home teams and tails being road teams. Heads and tails each have a 50% probability of landing but if the amount of flips is limited to a small number, it is conceivable to create the illusion of predicting heads will come up 75% of the time. That, in conjunction with the fact that sportsbooks quickly adjust their odds according to the systems makes it impossible to follow systems indefinitely.

If you're reading this article, chances are you're one of those players that is looking for more than just luck.  You want to know if there's a betting system to make you win money at sports betting, poker and casino games. In another article, we mentioned that there are only 4 games in which you can have positive expected value (EV), and none of those games involve a betting system. In short, the answer is that no betting system whatsoever can make you a long time winner. Any books or websites promoting betting systems are merely scams

But what about martingale betting system?

The most famous betting system is the Martingale and all its variants. The basic concept behind the Martingale is to bet money, and double your wager if you lose the first one. If you lose the second bet, you double again until you finally win, catching everything you had lost plus profits. If you're betting on a wager that has low variance such as even money Roulette bets (red/black, 1-18 / 19-36, odd/pair), Craps, Blackjack etc, you will ALWAYS end up winning if you continuously double.

In theory, the betting system is flawless. In our Roulette example, betting on black and then doubling if you lose makes it so you will win 75% of the time. I've tried this betting system before, when I was still young and foolish. You win very often so you feel invincible. You can quickly make a lot of money. I wholly encourage you to do this once in a while to win quick money. Play $25 and if you lose it, wager $50. That's it. It's a betting system that will make you win frequently and pocketing $25 is always nice.

On the long term, though, it is a losing strategy. The problem is that the risk of ruin is exponential using this betting strategy. Yes, in theory you always catch up and then get a profit. But realistically, say you bet that $25 and lost, are you ready to wager $800 with a 48% probability to win a meager $25? That is what will inevitably happen when using the Martingale betting system. If you double and lose 5 times in a row, doubling again will cost $800 with a total reward of $25.

But in our mind, we trick ourselves into thinking that the odds are really low of losing 5 times in a row. They are. Sort of. Playing an even money wager such as black, you have about one chance out of 32 to lose 5 times in a row, so about 3%. If you're playing at an online casino and you double a couple times, your odds are reasonable and you might end up a winner for the night. But if you play several hundred hands, your odds of hitting that “1 in 32” are very high.

That's if you're lucky. Because once you've lost 5 in a row, you still only have 48% chances to double and win. If you play hundreds, thousands of hands you will hit massive losing streaks at some point. It is a mathematical certainty. That is the Martingale curse: while in theory it is flawless, in practice it will leave you crippled. Why? Because either you will run out of money or you will reach the betting cap put in place by the casinos to make sure these betting systems can't work.

Or, you could always lower your stakes so you can afford more doubles. I mean, losing 5 times in a row when you started by betting $1 only amounts to $16. But then again, it will take you a massive amount of wagers to win a large amount. And if you read this article carefully, you already understood that the Martingale betting system cannot withstand playing “massive amounts” of wagers. So, betting systems like the Martingale don't work in the long run--it will wipe your bankroll out. 

Courtesy of poster romeo from Forumcasinos and Wikipedia