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Labouchere Betting System

Published on: 20/11/2016

The Labouchere Betting System (also known as the “cancellation system”) is a simple betting strategy that follows a progressive system and begins with a predetermined set of numbers. Each time the bettor wins, two numbers are crossed off the list and each time the bettor loses, a number equivalent to the total lost is added to the set.

The way in which the Labouchere Betting System works makes it suitable for Even Money games such as Red or Black (Roulette), Pass or Don’t Pass ( Craps) and Banker or Player (Baccarat).

Despite the French sounding name, the system was actually invented in Britain by a roulette player named Henry Du Pré Labouchere (1831-1912). This colourful character worked as a writer, publisher and theatre-owner and also stood in Parliament. However, when he was not working, Labouchere liked to gamble. He convinced himself that he could beat the Roulette wheel using a carefully-planned strategy. Labouchere studied many betting systems including the progression invented by Frenchman Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. However, as much as he admired this system and the principles of equilibrium that it embraced, Labouchere was not convinced in its reliability. The system often required very long sequences to return parity to the equation. Instead, he proposed a new system that would ensure a profit over a shorter timescale.

His system also included a way for players to boost their profitability by setting the initial bets a certain way. As a result, each player could yield whatever amount of profit they desired. It is for this reason that the first stage of the Labouchere Betting System is to establish a desired profit level.

For example, if a player desires a profit of five units. The target is expressed as a sum composed of two smaller wagers. This could be 2+3 (a) or 1+2+2 (b). The order is irrelevant, as is the number of digits in the sequence. The only requirement is that the sum of the numbers is equal to the target profit.

The first bet in the Labouchere Betting System is always the sum of the first and last numbers in the sequence. If we use (a) as an example, the first bet would be 2+3=5.

If the bet wins, the numbers are crossed off the sequence, if there are no numbers left, the profit is taken and a new sequence can begin. If the bet loses, the amount lost is added to the sequence and the same principle is applied. So (a) would become 2, 3 and 5. The next bet would be 2+5=7 and so on.

The system continues like this with two numbers removed from the list for every win and one number added for each loss. Sooner or later, all of the numbers will be eliminated and a profit of 5 units will be achieved.

As with any system of this type, the Labouchere Betting System has its drawbacks. As larger numbers are added for each loss, a losing streak can soon result in very large bets being needed to continue the sequence. However, if the players ends up with three large numbers such as 12+18+24, they could in theory break them down into smaller sets; for example, (2+3+3+4)+(4+4+5+5)+(6+6+6+6). The next wager would be 2+6 rather than 12+24 but the sequence would now be much longer and could take a long time to complete.

However, as two numbers are removed for a win and only one added for a loss, this system is less exposed to the long streaks that can damage many systems that rely on the probability of equilibrium.

Published on: 20/11/2016 © Bet Bind