The Labouchere System
Also known as the cancellation system or the split Martingale, the Labouchere system was originally used for roulette, but due to its success it’s now used throughout the sports betting world.
The Labouchere System has been in use since the 1800s when it was first created by English politician and financial tycoon Henry Labouchere, owing to its world recognition and credibility over such a long period of time.
The Labouchere System is based on a negative progression system whereby the player decides beforehand how much money they want to win.
What is the Labouchere System?
The Labouchere System uses a negative progression whereby the player continues to play until their predetermined goal has been reached. The difference between the Labouchere System and other betting strategies like the Martingale System is that the Labouchere System doesn’t require you to place a single high risk bet in order to win back a loss, but rather over a series of bets.
Instead the main idea behind the Labouchere System is to reach your winning goal over a series of bets. The same gradual principle would still count even if you have to take into account any losses along the way.
Although it is a less high risk strategy which has its obvious benefits, the Labouchere System is slightly harder to get your head around than other advanced betting strategy. But don’t worry, read on to find out how to use it in practice.
A more similar betting strategy to the Labouchere System is the Fibonacci System whereby the player increases their bets according to the Fibonacci sequence of 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, so on and so forth.
What makes the Labouchere System unique is that you decide exactly what sequence you want to use to guide your betting. This makes the Labouchere System easier to tailor to your own needs and is considerably more versatile if you need to adjust your progression in real time.
The essential principle of the Labouchere System is that you decide your own goal before you start to place bets. How large the sums you choose to bet and across how many bets is entirely up to you.
Examples of where the Labouchere System is used in betting:
- Sports betting
How does the Labouchere System work in practice?
The first step in using the Labouchere System is to decide what your eventual goal will be and how much you intend to win. Bear in mind the goal you set should be in line with your bankroll.
Step number two is to then divide your final winning goal into several smaller sums. How you decide to split it up is entirely up to you, but its most common to divide it between 7-10 times.
For example let’s say that you have an intended goal of £200. This is how you would divide the sum into several bets and put them into a list which would look like this:
Once you’ve decided how much you intend to win, and split it up into several bets it’s then time to put it into the game. It’s important to note that the odds you play against should be at least evens (1/1 - fractional or 2.0 in decimal).
Your first move after that is to check your list of bets. According to the Labouchere System your first bet would combine the first sum on your list added together with last number in your list. In this case it would be £15 + £10 = £25. Should you win that first bet you would take sum 1 and sum 9 out of your list or sequence and move on to the next, keeping the same pattern.
So your next bet would continue in the same way where you would take sum 2 and sum 8 from your list (the first and last remaining sums) and combine them to make your second bet. In this case it would be £20 + £15 = £35.
You would continue in this way until you’ve crossed out all the sums on your list and finish the sequence.
If you would lose a bet as you’re moving through your sequence you would then add that losing sum to the end of your sequence and continue as previous.
A step by step example of the Labouchere System:
- Choose your goal amount to win. For example, £200.
- Choose the amount of bets you would need to reach your goal. For example: £25 - £35 - £45 - £45 - £25 - £15 - £10.
- Place your first bet to odds of at least evens (1/1 or 2.0). In this case £25 + £10 = £35
- If you win strike off the first and last sums from your sequence (£25 and £10)
- Place your second bet by taking the second and penultimate sums from your sequence by adding them together (£35 + £15 = £50)
- If you have a losing bet take the amount you lose by and add it to the end of your sequence. It would now look like this: £35 - £45 - £45 - £25 - £15 - £50.
- Place your third bet for £35 + £50 = £85
- If you win your bet you would strike £35 and £50 from your sequence
- You would then place your next bet for £45 + £15 = £60
- Continue in this manner until you have crossed all the sums from your sequence and you’ve reached your winning goal.
Disadvantages with the Labouchere System
- The Labouchere System is hard to match with your bankroll
- This form of betting strategy doesn’t give you any distinctive advantage over the bookmakers
- It can create higher risks for your overall bankroll, especially if you go on to lose a number of bets
- A longer series of losses can lead your bankroll to bankruptcy much quicker
It needs to be said that no betting system or strategy is entirely risk free and the Labouchere System is similar to many other negative progression systems in that a number of losses can force your bets to increase rapidly.
The Labouchere System doesn’t take your bankroll into consideration as other betting strategies like the Kelly Criterion would. At any stage of your betting you will undoubtedly meet a losing streak and by using the Labouchere System it can force your bets to a higher amount than some betting companies will allow.
Regardless of if you decide to use a betting strategy like the Labouchere System it won’t give you a distinctive advantage over a betting company’s margins.
In order to have success at betting the grounding principle is to have a strategy to find value in bets over a long term period. This is impossible with a chance based game like roulette. However, with sports betting there is more chance for a player to find value in bets if they have the knowledge and experience. Ultimately if you can do this, you would have no need to use a betting strategy such as the Labouchere System. Rather it adds an element of risk you can simply do without.