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Gary McLellan

The Labouchere strategy is a betting system commonly applied to games like roulette, though it can be used for various other forms of gambling.

Developed by Henry Labouchere in the 19th century, this progressive strategy involves using a sequence of numbers to determine the amount a player bets.

Unlike strategies that double bets after a loss, the Labouchere system attempts to recover losses more gradually, aiming to earn a profit equal to the sum of the original number sequence.

To begin using the Labouchere strategy, a player writes down a sequence of numbers that represents the total profit they aim to achieve. Each bet they place is equal to the sum of the first and last numbers in the sequence.

If the bet is successful, the numbers are crossed off, and the next bet uses the new sequence’s endpoints. Following a loss, the amount of the lost bet is added to the end of the sequence, extending the potential betting cycle.

The effectiveness of the Labouchere strategy depends on choosing an appropriate sequence and having a bankroll sufficient to sustain a series of losses.

Adherents appreciate the system’s structured approach to betting, which can introduce discipline and order to betting practices.

However, like all betting systems, it cannot overcome the house edge inherent in casino games and risks can escalate with extended losing streaks.

Therefore, understanding its operation and potential pitfalls is essential for any gambler considering the Labouchere method.

Basics of the Labouchere Strategy

The Labouchere Strategy is a progressive betting system used in gambling that emphasizes structured increases and decreases in bets. It was designed to manage wagers and conservatively accumulate winnings.

Concept and Origins

The Labouchere Strategy, often referred to as the cancellation system or split Martingale, was created by Henry Labouchere in the 19th century. It originated as a way to gamble on roulette that focused on recouping losses over several bets rather than in a single win.

System Mechanics

In the Labouchere Strategy, a player starts by writing down a sequence of numbers, such as 1-2-3-4-5. The sum of the outermost numbers (in this case, 1 + 5 = 6) represents the first bet.

If the player wins, they cross out the outermost numbers. A loss requires the player to add the bet amount to the end of the sequence. The process continues until all numbers are crossed out.

  • Starting sequence: 1-2-3-4-5
  • First bet: 6 (1+5)
  • If win: cross out 1 and 5
  • If lose: add 6 to the sequence (1-2-3-4-5-6)


The Labouchere System has built-in flexibility, allowing players to adjust their sequences and betting increments. It promotes calculated risk-taking and facilitates a methodical approach to betting. Players benefit from a structured system to manage their bankroll and potentially recover losses over time.


This strategy requires diligent record-keeping and can become complex. It is also dependent on a player having enough capital to withstand multiple losses. As a negative progression system, the stakes can escalate quickly. It does not change the house edge nor guarantee profit.

Implementing the Labouchere Strategy

The Labouchere strategy is a systematic method used in betting, particularly in roulette and can be used at in-person casinos or even Bitcoin casinos online.

It involves determining bet sizes based on a pre-established sequence of numbers that the player adjusts as bets are won or lost.

Setting Up the Initial Sequence

A bettor starts by writing down a sequence of numbers, which typically consist of small integers. The sequence can be of any length and can be uniform or varied. For instance, an initial sequence may be 1-2-3-4, which are the units that a bettor wishes to win.

Bet Progression Dynamics

The size of each bet is determined by the sum of the first and last numbers in the sequence. If the bet is successful, the bettor removes both numbers from the sequence.

If the bet fails, the amount lost is added to the end of the sequence. The process repeats with the updated sequence.

For example:

  • Initial Sequence: 1-2-3-4
  • First Bet: 1 + 4 = 5 units
  • If win: Sequence becomes 2-3
  • If lose: Sequence becomes 1-2-3-4-5

Adapting the Sequence

Throughout the betting process, the sequence evolves. It shortens with every win and elongates with a loss.

A bettor continues with the strategy until all numbers in the sequence are eliminated, at which point the desired profit is achieved. The strategy requires discipline and the ability to manage a potentially expanding sequence.

Labouchere Strategy in Different Games

The Labouchere strategy is applied across various gambling activities, each with its own set of considerations for its implementation.

Casino Roulette

In roulette at crypto casinos or live venues, players implement the Labouchere strategy by writing down a sequence of numbers that represents the amount of money they wish to win.

Bets are made on even-money outside bets such as red/black or odd/even. The player bets the sum of the outermost numbers on their sequence for each spin.

If the bet is won, the numbers are crossed off, and if it’s lost, the amount lost is added to the end of the sequence. This process promotes systematic betting rather than random or instinctive betting.

Sports Betting

When used in sports betting, the Labouchere strategy helps bettors manage their bankrolls and bet sizes according to a predefined series of wagers.

It is often applied in situations where there are two possible outcomes.

Bettors create a list that denotes how much they want to win from the series of bets; then, like in roulette, they wager the sum of the first and last numbers. Outcome successes strike these numbers from the list, while losses add new numbers.

Other Gambling Contexts

In other gambling contexts such as baccarat, blackjack, or even non-casino betting games, the Labouchere strategy can also be employed.

The strategy provides a structured approach to bet sizing and loss recovery. Players must adapt it to the specific rules and odds of the game they are playing, which may affect the efficiency and overall success of the system.

Each context requires individual adjustment for optimal performance, highlighting the need for a deep understanding of the game’s mechanics.

Risk Management

Risk management within the Labouchere system involves strategic considerations to protect one’s bankroll, methods for loss recovery, and tactics during winning streaks. Each subsection provides insight into these aspects.

Bankroll Considerations

Managing one’s bankroll is crucial when engaging with the Labouchere strategy.

Bettors should ascertain a bankroll that reflects their willingness to risk, and it is suggested to start with at least 20 units of the intended betting size. This cushion allows for the flexibility to endure a string of losses without depleting funds rapidly.

  • Initial Bankroll: The minimum recommendable starting amount
  • Betting Unit: A set percentage of the total bankroll

Loss Recovery

The Labouchere strategy is inherently designed for loss recovery. It involves betting a sum equal to the first and last numbers in a pre-determined sequence after each loss, thus increasing stakes strategically to recover previous losses.

  1. After a loss, add the lost amount as a number at the end of the sequence.
  2. The next bet is the sum of the new first and last numbers in the sequence.

Note: Each bet attempts to recoup losses while achieving a set profit target.

Winning Streaks

During winning streaks, the Labouchere system requires the bettor to cross off the first and last numbers of the sequence, effectively shortening it.

This action reduces the potential recovery amount necessary for the next wager and gradually moves the bettor toward the completion of the cycle.

  • Cross Off: Eliminate the numbers from the sequence after a win.
  • Remaining Sequence: Monitor the adjustment for subsequent bets.

Advanced Techniques

To enhance the effectiveness of the Labouchere betting system, players may adopt techniques like the Reverse Labouchere and Modified Sequences, which introduce new dynamics to the traditional method.

Reverse Labouchere

The Reverse Labouchere prioritizes winning streaks. In this variation, a gambler adds the last bet to the end of the sequence after a win, instead of crossing numbers off. For example, if the sequence starts as 1-2-3 and the player wins the first bet of 4 units:

  • Initial Sequence: 1-2-3
  • Bet Placed: 1 + 3 = 4 units
  • New Sequence After Win: 1-2-3-4

If a loss occurs, the player removes the outermost numbers in the sequence. This reduces the potential loss but requires a longer winning streak to achieve the desired profit.

Modified Sequences

Modified Sequences allow for variability in the bettor’s approach based on risk tolerance and goals. A conservative player might modify the sequence to minimize losses after a losing bet, while an aggressive player may choose a sequence that accelerates wins. For instance:

  • Conservative Approach: After a loss, add a smaller number to the sequence.
  • Aggressive Approach: After a win, add a larger number to the sequence.

In both cases, players adjust the ‘base sequence’ to fit their strategies.

  • Example Conservative Sequence: 1-2-2-1
  • Example Aggressive Sequence: 2-3-5-2

Each modified sequence strategically aligns with the player’s objectives and their comfort with different levels of risk.


In summary, the Labouchere strategy is a structured and progressive betting system that offers a methodical approach to gambling, particularly in games like roulette and crypto sports betting.

By using a sequence of numbers to guide bet sizes and manage bankrolls, it aims to recover losses and achieve a predefined profit.

While it provides a systematic way to handle bets and can be adapted with variations like the Reverse Labouchere or modified sequences, it’s important to recognize its limitations.

The strategy requires careful bankroll management and record-keeping, can become complex, and does not overcome the house edge.

As with any betting system, it’s essential for players to understand the risks involved and to use the Labouchere strategy as part of a disciplined approach to gambling.

Gary McLellan

Gary McLellan has been involved in the gambling sector for years after studying Journalism in Glasgow. Starting out with running a poker blog over 10 years ago, he has since worked with many betting publications, focusing on crypto-related sites more recently due to their growing popularity. Gary brings his expertise on gambling to BitcoinCasinos.com since 2022 after successfully overseeing the launch of several sports betting sites including legalsportsbooks.com.