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What is the Labouchere betting system and how to use it?

What is the Labouchere betting system and how to use it?

The Labouchere system is also known as the Split Martingale system or the Cancellation System. The system is an action strategy that was created primarily for betting on roulette. The strategy has been around for a long time and is said to have been created by English financier, Henry Labouchere.

The Labouchere system is well-known all over the world as a negative progression system adapted for casino games, and, above all, roulette. In addition to casino games, this strategy can also be useful in other forms of games, such as sports betting. We explain in this guide what the strategy entails and how you can use it in sports betting.

What does the Labouchere system mean?

The system is a negative progression system which means that you play until a certain amount of profit is reached. Unlike other similar systems like Martingale, the Labouchere system does not require you to win back your losses in a single game. Instead, the objective is to recover any losses from multiple bets. However, many believe that the Labouchere system is significantly more complicated than the Martingale system.

Unlike other similar systems like Martingale, the Labouchere system does not require you to win back your losses in a single game. Instead, the objective is to recover any losses from multiple bets.

A similar system is a Fibonacci strategy where you increase your bet in accordance with the Fibonacci sequence 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21 and so on. The difference with the Labouchere system is that you decide your own sequence. The basic principle of the Labouchere system is that you decide on an amount that you have as a goal to win through multiple bets. How large the amount is, and how many games you want to divide the amount by is entirely up to you.

Examples of betting forms you can use the Labouchere system with:

  • Roulette
  • Black Jack
  • Punto Banco
  • Sports betting 

How does the Labouchere system work?

The first step is to determine the amount of profit you want to win. The amount of profit should be matched to your betting account. Step two is to divide the amount you have decided upon into several smaller amounts. How you divide up your profits is up to you, but normally you divide the sum into 7-10 smaller amounts.  For example, if you have decided on a target of £/€200 in profit this can be divided up into:

£/€15 - £/€20 - £/€20 - £/€30 - £/€40 - £/€30- £/€20 - £/€15 - £/€10.

 When you have decided on your goal and divided it up into smaller amounts, it will be time to begin playing. The important thing is that the odds you bet on are at least 2.00 in order for you to win your original wager twice over. 

Your first bet will be the amount to the left added to the amount on the far right. In the example above, this will mean that your first bet is £/€15 + £/€10, so £/€25. Should you win your first bet, then you will delete those amounts from your sequence. The next bet will then be the amount to the left added to the amount to the right, in this case: £/€20 +£/€15.

The goal is to continue in this way until your entire sequence is struck and you have won the amount that you set as an original target. If you lose your bet, you will place your lost investment to the right of your sequence. If you should, for example, lose your original investment using the example above, you will have to add £/€25 to your sequence and that should look like this: £/€15 - £/€20 - £/€20 - £/€30 - £/€40 - £/€30 - £/€20 - £/€15 - £/€10 - £/€25.

Examples of the Labouchere system. Step by step

  • Select your target winning amount. For example £/€200.
  • Chose the sequence to lead to this winning amount. For example;
  • £/€25 - £/€35 - £/€45 - £/€45 - £/€25 - £/€15 - £/€10.
  • Place your first bet with the odds 2.00. In this case £/€25 + £/€10 = £/€35.
  • If you win, you will delete the sums of £/€25 and £/€10 from the sequence.
  • Place your second bet of  £/€35 + £/€15 = £/€50.
  • If you lose, add the amount you lost to the right of the sequence. The sequence will now look like: £/€35 - £/€45 - £/€45 - £/€25 - £/€15 - £/€50.
  • Place your third bet on £/€35 + £/€50 = £/€85.
  • If you win, strike £/€35 and £/€50 from this sequence.
  • Place your fourth bet at £/€45 + £/€15 = £/€60.
  • Continue until the whole sequence is struck off and you have reached your target

Advantages and disadvantages with the Labouchere system

  • Does not take into account your betting account.
  • Gives you no edge over the bookmakers.
  • Contains some challenges for your account.
  • Long periods of losses can result in bankruptcy.

No gambling system is risk free. The Labouchere system's risks are similar to many other negative progression systems, as with a number of consecutive losses in a row you could be forced to put in money that you can’t afford to. The Labouchere system does not take into account the size of your account like the Kelly system does. If you experience a long period of losses, which inevitably you will at some point, it means that your bet may be higher than your account or what the betting companies will allow.

Using systems where you have to hunt back your losses, is not something that we recommend, as it stands against long-term and bankroll management.

Regardless of whether the system seems logical, it gives you no advantage against the casino or betting company’s margins. There is no investment system that gives you an advantage against the bookmaker’s margins. Everything depends on you having a strategy that finds long-term value in a game, for example, roulette. Sports betting gives you the possibility to find value in a bet and be a winner in the long-term. But if you have the possibility to, always find games with a positive expectation of their value, there is no reason for you to use the Labouchere system. It is a risk you could do without.

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