Would you be interested in a trading strategy that is practically 100% profitable? Most traders will probably reply with a resounding "Yes!" Amazingly, such a strategy does exist and dates all the way back to the 18th century. This strategy is based on probability theory, and if your pockets are deep enough, it has a near-100% success rate.
Known in the trading world as the martingale, this strategy was most commonly practiced in the gambling halls of Las Vegas casinos. It is the main reason why casinos now have betting minimums and maximums, and why the roulette wheel has two green markers (0 and 00) in addition to the odd or even bets. The problem with this strategy is that to achieve 100% profitability, you need to have very deep pockets; in some cases, they must be infinitely deep.
No one has infinite wealth, but with a theory that relies on mean reversion, one missed trade can bankrupt an entire account. Also, the amount risked on the trade is far greater than the potential gain. Despite these drawbacks, there are ways to improve the martingale strategy. In this article, we'll explore the ways you can improve your chances of succeeding at this very high-risk and difficult strategy.What is the Martingale Strategy?
Popularized in the 18th century, the martingale was introduced by the French mathematician Paul Pierre Levy. The martingale was originally a type of betting style based on the premise of "doubling down." A lot of the work done on the martingale was done by an American mathematician named Joseph Leo Doob, who sought to disprove the possibility of a 100% profitable betting strategy.
The system's mechanics involve an initial bet; however, each time the bet becomes a loser, the wager is doubled such that, given enough time, one winning trade will make up all of the previous losses. The 0 and 00 on the roulette wheel were introduced to break the martingale's mechanics by giving the game more than two possible outcomes other than the odd versus even, or red versus black. This made the long-run profit expectancy of using the martingale in roulette negative, and thus destroyed any incentive for using it.
To understand the basics behind the martingale strategy, let's look at a simple example. Suppose we had a coin and engaged in a betting game of either heads or tails with a starting wager of $1. There is an equal probability that the coin will land on heads or tails, and each flip is independent, meaning that the previous flip does not impact the outcome of the next flip. As long as you stick with the same directional view each time, you would eventually, given an infinite amount of money, see the coin land on heads and regain all of your losses, plus $1. The strategy is based on the premise that only one trade is needed to turn your account around.Examples
Your Bet Wager Flip Results Profit/Loss Account Equity
Heads $ 1 Heads $ 1 $11
Heads $ 1 Tails $ (1) $10
Heads $ 2 Tails $ (2) $8
Heads $ 4 Heads $ 4 $12
Assume that you have $10 to wager, starting with a first wager of $1. You bet on heads, the coin flips that way and you win $1, bringing your equity up to $11. Each time you are successful, you continue to bet the same $1 until you lose. The next flip is a loser, and you bring your account equity back to $10. On the next bet, you wager $2 hoping that if the coin lands on heads, you will recoup your previous losses and bring your net profit and loss to zero. Unfortunately, it lands on tails again and you lose another $2, bringing your total equity down to $8. So, according to martingale strategy, on the next bet you wager double the prior amount to $4. Thankfully, you hit a winner and gain $4, bringing your total equity back up to $12. As you can see, all you needed was one winner to get back all of your previous losses.
However, let's consider what happens when you hit a losing streak:Your Bet Wager Flip Results Profit/Loss Account Equity
Heads $1 Tails $ (1) $9
Heads $2 Tails $ (2) $7
Heads $4 Tails $ (4) $3
Heads $3 Tails $ (3) ZERO