The Labouchere betting system tells casino players how much they should stake when playing popular games like roulette and blackjack. It is a reasonable complex system that requires strong concentration and a large bankroll, but it is very popular among experienced casino players. You can use the Labouchere system when playing blackjack, roulette, baccarat and craps, but it should only be applied to even chance wagers like red/black on the roulette wheel. This guide will explain everything you need to know about the Labouchere system, its pros and cons, and how to apply it to various different casino games at the best online casinos.
How Labouchere System Works
The Labouchere betting system is a negative progression system. It is slightly more complex than other negative progression systems, such as the Martingale and the D’Alembert system, so it is important to gain a thorough grasp of the Labouchere system before trying to apply it at the casino table.
A famous roulette player called Henry Labouchère invented the system back in the late 19th century. For that reason, it is interchangeably referred to as the Labouchere system and the Labouchere system. You might also hear the Labouchere system referred to as the Cancellation System, the Split Martingale or American Progression.
Despite the French name, Henry Labouchere was actually a British aristocrat. He was a writer, journalist, publisher, theatre owner and politician. Labouchere represented Northampton as a member of the Liberal party, but clashes with Queen Victoria ensured he never received a ministerial position. He was a highly controversial figure, but today he is best known for his Labouchere system.
Labouchere was an avid gambler, and he created the system in a bid to apply mathematical rigour to his roulette strategy. The Labouchere roulette strategy is devised to be used on even bets, such as red/black, odd/even and 1-18/19-36. It can also be used for blackjack hands and in other games.
A negative progression strategy means that you increase the size of your stake when you lose, and decrease it when you win. You are essentially chasing losses rather than trying to capitalise upon streaks, so it is a reasonably cautious approach.
You must begin your Labouchere strategy by writing down a sequence of numbers. There is total flexibility here. Most betting systems are very rigid, but the Labouchere system allows you to adjust the initial sequence of numbers to suit your particular level of risk tolerance.
First you have to decide how much you want to win. Then you separate that number into several smaller numbers that add up to your ultimate goal. For instance, if you want to win £100, you might choose this sequence: 10-20-10-10-10-20-10-5-5. Alternatively, if you want to win £200, you might go for 20-40-60-40-40, or if you want to win £150, you could choose 20-30-50-30-20.
If you choose a long sequence of high numbers, you can make a large profit if you manage to complete the change. If you decide to go for a smaller sequence of lower numbers, your potential profit drops, but the level of risk is also lower. Make sure you write your sequence down, as it can be tricky to remember your sequence and calculate everything in your head while playing.
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You start off by adding the first and last numbers of the sequence. This forms your initial stake. If the sequence is 10-20-10-10-10-20-10-5-5, your first bet would be for £15, as you add 10 plus 5 to calculate your stake. If your bet wins, you cross those numbers off from the sequence.
For your second bet, you would again add the first and last numbers in the sequence. With 10 and 5 crossed off from the example above, your second bet would be for £25, as you would add 20 plus 5. Repeat the process until you complete the chain and win your target amount.
If you lose, you add the amount you staked for the losing bet to the end of the sequence. For example, if you lost your opening wager on a 10-20-10-10-10-20-10-5-5 sequence, you would be left with a new sequence of 10-20-10-10-10-20-10-5-5-15. Your next stake would then be £25. If that also lost, you would have 10-20-10-10-10-20-10-5-5-15-25 as your sequence, meaning your next bet would be for £35.
As you can see, the size of your wager continually increases each time you lose. You have to keep adding losing stakes to the end of the sequence and crossing out the first and last numbers when you win until you complete the chain. It is therefore a time consuming process, and you often need a large bankroll and high table limits to make it work.
This chart explains a hypothetical application of the Labouchere betting system in practice:
|#️⃣ Wager||🔢 Sequence||💰 Stake||🥇 Result of Bet||⚖ Balance|
|1️⃣ First Bet||20-30-50-30-20||£40||Loss||-£40|
|2️⃣ Second Bet||20-30-50-30-20-40||£60||Loss||-£100|
|3️⃣ Third Bet||20-30-50-30-20-40-60||£80||Win||-£20|
|4️⃣ Fourth Bet||30-50-30-20-40||£70||Win||£50|
|5️⃣ Fifth Bet||50-30-20||£70||Loss||-£20|
|6️⃣ Sixth Bet||50-30-20-70||£120||Win||£100|
|7️⃣ Seventh Bet||30-20||£50||Loss||£50|
|8️⃣ Eighth Bet||30-20-50||£80||Loss||-£30|
|9️⃣ Ninth Bet||30-20-50-80||£110||Win||£80|
|1️⃣0️⃣ Tenth Bet||20-50||£70||Win||£150|
In this example, the player wins the target goal of £150, created with the sequence 20-30-50-30-20 (which adds up to 150). That is despite winning just half of the wagers placed. In theory, the Labouchere system allows you to hit your target, but there are no guarantees, and you could end up on a losing streak.
If you want to mix it up, you can go for a reverse Labouchere system instead. This is a positive progression system, so you increase your stake after a win. When you win, you simply add the winning amount to the end of the sequence, and after a loss you cross out the first and last numbers. That might feel more positive, and it certainly helps you capitalise upon winning streaks. However, the initial sequence ends up representing the amount you are willing to lose, rather than win, which can be off-putting to some players.