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The Labouchere Betting System

If there’s one system out there that will make you feel like you can’t lose, it might be the Labouchere betting system. With a big enough bankroll and enough patience, you’ll usually come out on top when using this “cancellation” betting system. Sadly, like other roulette systems, you still won’t be able to overcome the house edge when using a system such as this one; however, it’s a fun one for those who don’t mind doing a little math, changing their bets frequently, and occasionally making a very large bet.

What You’ll Need

If you want to use the Labouchere system in one of Australia’s many live casinos, or on one of our recommended Australian online casinos, you’ll actually need to prepare a little bit ahead of time. First, you’ll need to decide what game you want to play. You’ll need a game with even money bets, so roulette, baccarat, or craps might be good choices.

Next, you’ll need to determine how much you want to win. For the purpose of this example, we’ll say we want to win $200, but any amount you choose is just fine. You might then want to pick a small “unit” size, which will help make the later math a little easier. For this example, we’ll use $10 units, meaning our goal is to win 20 units.

Now that we have all that information, you’ll want a piece of paper and something to write with. You’ll want to write a line of numbers (usually, people use small numbers) that add up to the amount you’d like to win. Since we’re using units and want our eventual win to be 20 units, our numbers must add up to 20. Our line might look like this, then:


Now that you have your line of numbers, you’ll want to take your pencil or pen and your paper with you when you begin gambling.

How the Labouchere System Works

When you get ready to make your first bet at whatever game you’ve chosen to play, you’ll want to add together the first and last numbers on your line. This will tell you how many units you want to bet. In our case, 1+1 = 2, so we’ll bet two units, or $20.

If we win that bet, we’ll simply cross off the first and last numbers on the line, and then make another bet, once against adding them together to get our bet size. However, we will often lose our bets, and when that occurs, we’re going to need to add another number to the line. When you lose, add the amount you just wagered (and lost) to the end of the line. This ensures that you’ll have to clear your losses in order to meet your goal.

The system continues until you’ve entirely cleared your line of numbers. When this occurs, congratulations: you’ve made the amount of money you originally set as your goal!

Benefits to the Labouchere System

The biggest benefit to the Labouchere is that – as long as you stick with it – you’re almost guaranteed to meet the goal you set for yourself. The reason for this is quite simple: when you win, you eliminate two numbers, and when you lose, you only add one number to the line. That means that you win more than one-third of the time, you’ll eventually clear your line.

Just about any even money bet will pay out more than 33.3% of the time, meaning success is a mathematical inevitability. In most Australian casinos, European roulette with a single zero is offered. Even money bets in this game will pay out 48.6% of the time – far more often than necessary to make you a winner.

Issues with the Labouchere System

Of course, it can’t possibly be that simple, can it? As with many betting systems of this kind, the first problem you’re likely to run into is the fact that your bets will sometimes get rather large. Lose a few bets in a row, and you can actually see the numbers at the end of the line growing exponentially. There are three problems when this occurs;

  1. You might reach a bet size that you’re uncomfortable with.
  2. You might reach a bet size that you can’t cover with your bankroll.
  3. You might reach a bet size that is more than the maximum amount allowed by the table.

All of these issues are things that the Labouchere System shares in common with the Martingale and other systems that ask you to make larger and larger bets as your losses mount. In these cases, it is true that you’ll eventually win and get your money back. However, this is only inevitable if you have an infinite bankroll and there are no table limits. Without having an unlimited cash supply and a casino willing to take any bet you make, you’ll still lose in the long run using this system.

But still, that doesn’t mean that the Labouchere System is useless. If you don’t mind making big bets from time to time, and want to leave the casino a winner most of the time (even if that means you sometimes lose big, too), the Labouchere will probably give you exactly what you’re looking for.

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