A Guide to the Labouchere System

The Labouchere system, also known as the cancellation system or the split Martingale strategy, is one of the world’s most well-known betting systemsIt’s a negative progression system wherein you bet until you reach a certain winning amount, and it’s a particularly effective system to use in roulette. 

We’ll take you through the rules of the Labouchere betting system, explaining how it works and whether you could benefit from using it.

Labouchere Rules

The Labouchere system was invented by Henry Labouchere, who developed the system to be used specifically in roulette. Unlike other negative progression strategies, the Labouchere system does not require you to win back all of your losses with just one win – it aims to win your losses back over the course of the game. It has gained a reputation as a relatively complicated betting system, however, once you’ve learnt the rules and tried it out a couple of times, it’s almost second nature.

So, how do you play the Labouchere system? First off, you’ll need to set a goal for the amount of money that you want to win. For example, you might say that you want to win £100. Then, you divide that figure up into smaller numbers which add up to the amount you want to win. In this instance, we might divide our £100 into 10-20-10-10-10-20-10-5-5. How you divide your number up is entirely up to you – there’s no right or wrong way to do it.

Next, you have to add up the rightmost and leftmost numbers, and bet that figure. Following our example, you’ll add £10 and £5, and bet £15. If you win the bet, you cross out each figure, and for the next round, use the new rightmost and leftmost figures. However, if you lose, you don’t cross out any numbers, and you add the amount that you bet onto the right side of your sequence.

So, had you lost the bet, the sequence would be 10-20-10-10-10-20-10-5-5-15, and if you’d won, the sequence would be 20-10-10-10-20-10-5. You play until all your numbers are crossed out, and you’ve won what you wanted to win, or until you’ve come close to spending all of your bankroll. 

Labouchere Games

Though it works particularly well in roulette, the Labouchere betting system can be utilised in pretty much any casino game, while it’s especially effective in games which feature even money bets (bets where you stand to lose or gain the same amount of money):

Example

Let’s see how the Labouchere system works in a game of roulette:

Advantages of the Labouchere System

There are plenty of advantages of using the Labouchere betting system. It’s organised, and if you follow the sequence to its conclusion, you could walk away with exactly as much as you wanted.

Logically, the Labouchere system should work. You decrease the sequence by two every time you win, and increase by one every time you lose. But because you’re primarily betting on even money bets, and you’d expect to win roughly as frequently as you’d expect to lose, meeting your target should be achievable.

It’s flexible. You choose how to organise your sequence, and since the betting sequence is adjustable, you can decide for yourself how risky you want to play. This gives you a relatively strong grasp on your bankroll management, something other positive progression systems don’t offer. 

Disadvantages of the Labouchere System

However, the Labouchere betting system isn’t an ironclad strategy by any means. The fact of the matter is that after a losing run, some of your losses could get too big to handle. Unless you’re lucky and hit a winning streak, you may not be able to make your losses back. So, if you don’t have a particularly large bankroll it might be better to use a different system.

Although it’s an intelligent system, the fact remains that there never has and never will be a betting system which can give a player an advantage over the house. Roulette is a game of chance, and despite all the claims for its success rate, the Labouchere roulette system does not give you any realistic edge over the house.

Variations

As with any betting system, there’s a number of variations that you can use in its place. The Reverse Labouchere system is probably the best known alternate system. How does it work? The clue’s in the name. The sequence represents the amount that you’re willing to lose, rather than win. After a win, you add the winning amount to the end of the line, and after a loss, you delete the outside numbers of your sequence.

Think that the Labouchere system has taught you how to win at roulette? Why not put your newfound expertise to the test with one of Betsson’s online roulette games!