The life of Henry Labouchére makes for some fascinating reading. A British aristocrat of French descent, he worked variously as a politician, businessman and journalist, and at one point, he even had his own magazine.
However, it was his adventures in the casino that really caught the attention of the betting world, and such was his love of roulette that Labouchére even devised his own unique staking system.
It also gained popularity with other players and is still used to this day. It is called the Labouchére system in honour of the great man.
It’s a system devised for punters who want to win a specified amount, and you stake accordingly to achieve that goal even if there is a sequence of losing bets in among that run.
Like other negative progression strategies, such as the Martingale and Fibonacci systems, you increase your stakes in pre-determined increments to achieve your target. Unlike the Martingale system, the idea here is that you don’t recoup all your losing wagers with one winning bet. Instead, it takes multiple wins to wipe out those losses.
Therefore, it takes discipline to make the Labouchére system work, but if you can stick to its basic requirements, the potential is there to make gains while reducing the impact of losses. Of course, the emphasis is still on placing winning wagers!
First, think of an amount you would like to win. To achieve that figure, break it down into an even number of increments in a list sequence.
For example, if you want to win £100, your sequence might read 10-10-10-20-20-10-10-10.
Your first bet will always equal the sum of the numbers at the beginning and end of the sequence.
If the bet wins, great! You take your profit and restart the sequence.
If the bet loses, you add the amount of lost stake to the end of your sequence, and your next wager is the new sum of the numbers at the beginning and end of the sequence.
This wagering method continues until you win, and at that point, you remove your new numbers from the end of the original sequence and start the system again.
Ultimately, two things can happen if you play long enough – you eventually cross all the numbers off your target list, or you run out of money to bet with!
You will most likely be playing with Bitcoin or another form of cryptocurrency here at Bitcasino, but to make the explanation easier, here is a cash-based example. Since you want to win £100, your initial sequence is 10-10-10-20-20-10-10-10. Therefore, your first bet is 10 +10 = £20.
If the bet wins, take the £20 and cross the two 10s off your sequence. If it doesn’t, add the £20 to the right end of your sequence (10-10-10-20-20-10-10-10-20). Therefore, your second bet is 10 + 20 = £30.
If the bet wins, take the £30 and cross the 10 and the 20 off your sequence. If it doesn’t, add the £30 to the right end of your sequence (10-10-10-20-20-10-10-10-20-30). Therefore, your third bet is 10 + 30 = £40.
If the bet wins, take the £40 and cross the 10 and the 30 off your sequence. If it doesn’t, add the £40 to the right end of your sequence (10-10-10-20-20-10-10-10-20-30-40).
Hopefully, you get a general idea.
Remember, the Labouchére system only works with even-money bets where there is a 50% chance of winning, such as red/black, odd/even or 1-18/19-36.
In theory, the system works flawlessly, although the presence of a zero pocket on a European roulette wheel and a double-zero pocket on an American roulette wheel skews the odds in the house’s favour.
Indeed, the player has an 18/38 chance of winning on a double-zero American table, which works out to around 47%.
To complete the sequence, you will need to win on one-in-three turns (33%), so the maths is in your favour, as it accounts for losing spins.
The benefit of the Labouchére system over other negative progression systems is that it doesn’t require you to win losing bets back in one swoop, but instead offers more leeway with multiple wins.
As long as you are disciplined, the maths stacks up in your favour Theoretically, you should reach your target with the Labouchére system, not accounting for a long losing streak that, unfortunately, no staking system can plan for!
The good news is that losing streaks aren’t as damaging to the Labouchére system as they are to the Martingale and Fibonacci systems.
You could argue that the complexity of the system comes in accurately recording your target sequence and amending it where necessary.
Like all progressive staking systems, a losing streak can be catastrophic for your bankroll. The Labouchére system accounts for this by minimising risk to some extent, but a long string of losses could wipe out your bankroll.
Also, don’t forget there is a house edge with even-money bets, which depends on how many zeroes the wheel has. Standard European roulette tables have 37 possible numbers, including a single zero, while American roulette tables have two zeros, thereby increasing the house edge even further.
In theory, at least, the house will always have the upper hand no matter which staking system you use.
As you have probably gathered by now, the Labouchére system does work unless you embark on the kind of losing streak that is so against-the-odds in even-money bets.
Of course, that can happen, and you need to get your head around the risk element. When you increase your stakes exponentially with each turn, the risk increases even further.
It’s possible that you may have, say, 20 consecutive losing bets. Do you have the bankroll to account for that?
If you bet red or black, it is close to a 50-50 wager, but the risks are real.
The Labouchére system is great because it instils discipline, giving you a strong guide for your betting strategy to win a pre-determined target. Many casual punters lack the control to stake sensibly, so having a written system to stick to makes sense.
Remember, you can try all the roulette games here at Bitcasino for free, which is a great way to get the Labouchére strategy down to a tee. You can register for a new player account in moments and play for Bitcoin and a range of other currencies.
Words: Sean McNulty