How the Labouchere System Works for Roulette

The Labouchere System is a roulette strategy invented by a British aristocrat in the late 19th century. It is a negative progression system that seeks to earn a specific profit.

This guide breaks down the Labouchere System and explains the pros and cons of using it at the roulette wheel.

Labouchere System overview

Henry Labouchère was a journalist, theater owner, publisher, and politician renowned for his clashes with Queen Victoria. He was also a famous roulette player.

His eponymous system is also known as the Split Martingale, the Cancellation System, and the American Progression System. It seeks to chase losses while working toward earning a predetermined profit.

How does the Labouchere System work?

You start by deciding how much you hope to win at the roulette wheel. Divide the total into a sequence of numbers.

For example, you might aim to win $200. You may then divide it into this sequence: 20-40-50-30-20-10-20-10.

Alternatively, you could be more aggressive and go for 40-50-50-40-20. You can choose any sequence you like; it just needs to add up to your desired profit.

You then start by adding the first and last numbers together and wagering that amount. If you win, remove them from the sequence and repeat the process.

If you lose, add the amount you lost to the end of the sequence and repeat. Keep going until you cross out all the numbers, which will mean you have earned your desired profit, or you walk away.

Example

Let’s say you want to generate a $250 profit. You could then come up with this sequence: 20-30-50-50-50-30-20. This chart shows how a session might then unfold.

SequenceBet AmountResultProfit / Loss
20-30-50-50-50-30-20$40Loss-$40
20-30-50-50-50-30-20-40$60Loss-$100
20-30-50-50-50-30-20-40-60$80Win-$20
30-50-50-50-30-20-40$70Win$50
50-50-50-30-20$70Loss-$20
50-50-50-30-20-70$120Win$100
50-50-30-20$70Loss$30
50-50-30-20-70$120Loss-$90
50-50-30-20-70-120$170Win$80
50-30-20-70$120Win$200
30-20$50Win$250

In this example, the player achieves the desired $250 in 11 spins, with six wins and five losses during that session.

You wager larger sums after a loss, and when you eventually win, it can make up for previous losses while getting you closer to your target.

However, you can run into trouble if the wheel goes cold. That can cause the numbers at the end of the sequence to grow very large. As such, you need a reasonably large bankroll for this system, and there is no way to guarantee that you will ever reach your desired profit.

How roulette players can use the Labouchere System

Like most roulette systems, the Labouchere only applies to even money bets, which pay out at 1:1 when successful. There are three options: high/low, odd/even, and black/red.

It can be tricky to calculate the sums in your head when playing roulette. If you make a single mistake and wager the incorrect amount, it will knock you off track.

It is helpful to write down your sequence on a piece of paper or your mobile device and continuously update it after each spin.

It is also helpful to practice with play money before you try the Labouchere for real money. So, implement it on one of the fine free roulette casinos that are available to you.

The good news is that you can use the Labouchere on any live dealer roulette game offered at real money roulette sites, too – and it might be a good idea, since those casino games move a slower pace.

Pros of the Labouchere System

  • It can bring greater structure to your roulette approach.
  • The Labouchere System allows you to work toward a clearly defined goal.
  • It appeals to players who like chasing losses, as you increase your bet size after each loss.
  • The system is more aggressive than some alternative approaches, though not unduly so.
  • It is a flexible system, as you can divide your desired profit into as many smaller denominations as you like.

Cons of the Labouchere System

  • The Labouchere System is more complicated than many alternative strategies, and human error can be an issue.
  • You will need to start placing large bets if you go on a losing streak, which requires a large playing budget, big table limits, and a high tolerance for risk.
  • The inherent house edge on the roulette wheel cannot be overcome by the Labouchere or any other strategy.
  • It does not fully capitalize on winning streaks.
  • The Labouchere System can slow your online casino gameplay, as you need to cross out numbers and make calculations continuously, so it may not appeal to players who enjoy fast-paced action.

Other Betting Systems for Roulette

Don’t feel like you have to use the Labouchere System exclusively. There are more than a half-dozen different schemes for betting. Some of the more popular or famous of them include:

Labouchere Roulette System FAQ

No, it simply helps you set a goal and plot a path toward potentially achieving that goal.

It’s certainly legal, yes. You can play at your own pace during online roulette. However, bear in mind that you will face time constraints when playing live roulette or live dealer roulette, so you will need to make your calculations pretty quickly.

This strategy is named after a famous roulette player named Henry Labouchère, who was a British politician during Queen Victoria’s reign. His strategy is often referred to as the Cancellation System, too.

It is best to play European Roulette as opposed to American Roulette when following the Labouchere System, as the former has a higher RTP rate. French Roulette has an even higher theoretical payout rate than European, but refunds earned from the La Partage rule can make your Labouchere calculations more complicated.

No betting system can guarantee success when you play roulette, but the Labouchere System is a decent option for certain players. It requires a large bankroll, a willingness to make calculations before each bet, and reasonably high table limits. If you are interested, you can try it out by playing roulette for free at PlayUSA.

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