The Ultimate Guide to Casinos


The Labouchere Betting System

The Labouchere betting system was named after its creator, Henry Du Pré Labouchère, who was a wealthy British aristocrat born in the 19th century. He was educated at the same schools as royalty, inherited a fortune and had multiple professions and business endeavours over the years. He spent time as a politician, journalist, and he edited and funded his own magazine. Throughout his life he had displayed acts of rebellion and arrogance, one of which included boasting that he diligently attended the racecourse at Newmarket while he was a student, where his gambling lost him £6,000 in 2 years (during the early 19th century). Labouchere also studied many betting systems including the betting progression published by the 18th century mathematician Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. More information about Henry Labouchere can be found on Wikipedia.

While the Labouchere system is so frequently used at the roulette table it is often called the “Labouchere roulette system”, it’s also easy to use this simple cancellation system with any casino game of chance.


How does the Labouchere betting system work?

First and foremost, fans of the Labouchere betting system insist that it is best used on even money roulette wagers. The Labouchere can easily be used without the aid of a calculator, but a pen and paper are a necessity for most players. That’s because the system asks players to use their session goal as a starting point, and then to divide that goal into an even number of bets. For example, if a player wants to win $20, then they can divide that into the following list of six numbers:

$5 $4 $1 $2 $4 $4

Initially the bet sizes for this list may seem as modest as the gambler’s eventual goal, but there’s another step in the Labouchere system. Before making a wager, the player is instructed to add the first and last numbers on their list. This will be their first bet. In our hypothetical example, that would make your first bet $9. Once the bet has been made, the player crosses the numbers used off their list.

If the player wins a bet, then they simply continue on with the foreshortened list. If the player loses a bet, though, they must add the total of that bet to the end of their list. So if a player using our hypothetical list won their first bet, then their next bet would be $8, but if they lost their first bet then their next bet would be $13.


What is the logic behind the Labouchere betting system?

So long as a player wins more often than they lose, they will cross off all the numbers on their list, and as a result they will have won their original session goal. Proponents of the Labouchere system recommend using even money bets because they offer the best odds; the logic behind this being that the player is betting enough to recoup all of their losses with a profit, and that these nearly 50/50 bets are bound to hit eventually.


Why is the Labouchere betting system flawed?

Unfortunately, the odds aren’t always as simple as they seem, and fluctuations happen frequently. Even a seemingly safe red/black wager can quickly become costly as players add their cumulative losses to every bet. Many sites promoting the Labouchere system advise players with limited bankrolls to start their lists with the minimum bet, but remember that a list of small numbers also represents a very minimal gain should a player hit a winning streak and can likewise snowball into bigger bets very quickly should a player hit a losing streak. The stakes are even higher for players with bigger session goals; it’s not unheard of for Labouchere users to reach the table maximum before they complete a list.