Labouchere Strategy

Understanding the Labouchere Strategy

This strategy was developed by Henry Labouchere who was a keen roulette player and lived form 1831 to 1912.

This roulette strategy is also known by the names ‘the cancellation system’ or ‘the split martingale.’   The labouchere system is also one of the most popular methods used by players at the roulette table, and can be applied both at an online casino or a bricks and mortar venue.

Users of this system decide before they play exactly how much money they want to win, then they need to write down a list of positive numbers that add up to that amount. The player then must bet an amount that equals the first and last numbers of their list on each bet, and if only one number remains in the list then that is the stake.

Below we are going to look further into how this strategy works and answer many of the most commonly asked questions about the Labouchere Roulette System.

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What is the Labouchere Strategy?

Firstly this is not just a simple progressive betting system, it’s a little more complicated and therefore it does take a little getting used to. As we have mentioned above the strategy /system is also known by a few other names, the Split Martingale, The Cancellations System and also the American Progression.

The Labouchere Strategy is called a negative progression system which means that it needs the user to increase their bets after losing a bet, the idea being that you can grab back the losses from losing wagers with a smaller number of wins.

If this sounds similar to the Martingale, then you would be quite right as the Martingale is another negative progression system.  The main difference between the two is that the Labouchere does not try to take back all previous losses with one single win, rather the system tries to recover those losses with multiple wins on a smaller scale.

What are the Different Type of Bets for the Labouchere Strategy?

This system was specifically designed to be used on the even money outside bets like red or black, or odd or even. Although the system was designed for roulette it can also be used in other casino games like baccarat, blackjack and sports betting.

As we have mentioned a list needs to be made so this sequence needs to be written down, and although you can use most sequences it is wise to put a little thought into it which we will talk over in more detail, but for now we will keep the example simple.

A Simple Sequence


This sequence has the potential profit of 6, and that is because the profit is equal to the value of the numbers in the sequence or list you have made.

Each time a bet is made the stake wagered must be equal to the sum of the first and last numbers of your sequence, and if we look at the sequence above that would make the wager 4 (1+3).

If you happen to be lucky and win your bet, you will then take away, remove the first and last numbers from the sequence. Crossing them out leaves you with another set of numbers as first and last or one (in which case, that becomes your bet.)

If you happen to lose your bet you must then ADD the amount staked to the end of the sequence, so your list would now look like this:

1-2-3-3-4   (four because that is the amount you bet)

These rules apply after every single bet you make, win and cross the numbers off, lose and you add a number to the end. Every subsequent bet has the combined amount of the first and last numbers wagered.

In the last example we added the losing amount of 4 to the sequence making the list 1-2-3-4 so the next bet would then be 5 (first and last numbers 1 and 4)  If that won then the one and the four would be crossed off.

We would then be left with a 2-3 stake so the next bet would also be 5, and if this loses then the 5 would have to be added to the sequence making it


This would make the required stake now 7 (first and last numbers, two and five) and if you, as an example, won the next bet then you would cross off the 2 and the 5.

This would leave you with 3 to play with and winning with that amount means that you have completed the cycle.

  • The losing bets = 9 (4+5)
  • The winning bets =15 (5+7+3) which is a win of 6 equal to the sum of numbers in the original sequence

More Examples of the Labouchere Strategy Based on the above information:

  • Wager 4 (one plus three) lose, Add 4 to the end giving 1-2-3-4
  • Wager 5 (one plus four) lose. Add 5 to the end, giving 1-2-3-4-5
  • Wager 6 (one plus five) you win so cross out 1 and 5, leaving 2-3-4
  • Wager 6 (two plus four) you lose add 6 to the end , leaving 2-3-4-6
  • Wager 8 (two plus six, lose, then add the 8 to the end leaving 2-3-4-6-8
  • Wager 10 (two plus the eight) win, Cross off the 2 and the 8, leaving 3-4-6
  • Wager 9 (three plus six) win, Remove the 3 and the 6, leaving 4
  • Wager 4 and lose, Add 4 to the end of your list, leaving 4-4
  • Bet 8 (the two remaining fours) and win, cross out both fours, completing the chain

In the above cycle, you would have won four bets and lost five.

  • Total losses amounting to 27
  • Total wins amount to 33

The total profit is still 6, even though there have been more losses than wins. No matter how long the chain is, you will end up making a profit equal to the total value of the original sequence of numbers. This is the main concept to the Labouchere Strategy, and although it can appear more complicated, once the rules have been grasped then it is not that hard to put into practice.

Is There any Flexibility to the Labouchere Strategy?

Yes, there is, and its one of the positives of the system. As you have the option of adjusting the initial betting sequence, you can also adjust the levels of risk and reward to a certain degree. For instance, if you begin with a longer sequence of higher numbers with a larger profit as long as you finish the chain.

If you do try this remember that the size of your bets will increase quickly if you have a few losses, although this can be offset by using a sequence that includes a few zeros, making the system a lot safer.

Are There Any Restrictions With the Labouchere Strategy?

Playing roulette, enjoying the spin of the roulette wheel, and then waiting for it to slow and finally land (hopefully) in one of your chosen pockets is incredibly exciting and betting on a system can add to that excitement, although it must be remembered that enjoying a win is an added bonus and should not be the main intention of any gambling game.

Whichever roulette table you play at will have its own limitations regarding its minimum and maximum bet, so check these out before you make your sequence.  For those High Rollers there are also games that have far greater limits.

Using any system whether it is your own home made variation or one of the more popular tried and tested systems like the Labouchere Strategy can add a lot to your game, and the beauty of any system is that you can always move to another one if it does not suit you.

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