The Labouchere system is a type of cancellation system for playing any gambling game – however it is known to work particularly well with roulette. Using the Labouchere system means that players have to win less than half of their bets in order to ultimately reach a pre-determined betting goal. The only downside is that losing streaks can force players to make very large bets if they wish to continue using the system.
How the Labouchere System Works
In order to use the Labouchere system, you’ll need to set a goal for how much money you’d like to win. It’s usually simplest to express this in a certain number of ‘units’ – where the unit value can be any amount you like. For instance, if you’d like to win $100 you could set the unit value at $10, meaning your goal is to win ten units.
Once you know how many units you want to win, you’ll want to break that down into some smaller numbers and write those numbers down in a line. For our example above, you could use the following number sequence:
1 2 3 2 2
The key is that those numbers add up to ten. If you are able to cross all five of those numbers off your sheet, you’ll know that you’ve reached your goal.
As in many systems, the Labouchere system will have you making even money bets such as odd/even or red/black. In order to determine the size of your bet, you should add the first and last numbers of your line together and wager that many units. For our example above, the numbers at the ends of our line are 1 and 2. That totals three units, meaning our first bet would be $30.
If we win our bet, we get to cross out both numbers we used to make that bet. Our line would now look like this:
2 3 2
Our next bet would now be for $40 (2 + 2 = 4 units). For the sake of this example, let’s say we lose this bet. Now, the number of units we just lost goes to the end of our line, making it look like this:
2 3 2 4
Our next bet would now be for six units, or $60.
In order to see this system all the way through, you’ll need to continue making bets until you’ve completely wiped out the line. At that point you’ll have completed the Labouchere system, and you’ll have reached the goal you set before you started.
Advantages to the Labouchere System
The obvious advantage to the Labouchere system is that you do not need to score constant wins in order to eventually meet your goal. Since you only add one number to the line each time you lose, but cross off two numbers each time you win, winning just one-third of the time is enough to maintain your line. Since you will win more than one-third of the time in the long run, you can feel confident that you will tend to shrink your line over time and eventually clear it to meet your goal.
This system has a slight resemblance to systems such as the Martingale, in that you will have to increase your bets if you should happen to hit a losing streak. However, this effect is much less severe than in the Martingale, where your bets are always doubling. The change in bet sizes is instead much more gradual in the Labouchere, making it somewhat more manageable for most players.
Why Use the Labouchere System?
Before you decide to use the Labouchere system, there are a few things you should consider.
While the system does appear like it would usually make you a winner (and it does) the times when you lose will tend to cost you a lot of money. While your bets won’t increase as quickly as in the Martingale, they can get quite large. Also, since a single win won’t bring you back down to your minimum betting amount, it will often take several large bets to get you back on track after a losing streak. In the long run the Labouchere system doesn’t change the casino’s house edge either, so the casino still has an advantage over a player.
However, that doesn’t mean the Labouchere system for roulette isn’t right for you. This is a system that requires you to think a little bit more than others, making it feel just a bit more interactive than most other betting systems.
There’s also a certain excitement that comes as you get close to meeting your goal, making the Labouchere a lot more fun to play. If you’d like to play an enjoyable system that may help you stay focused on meeting a specific goal while you play, the Labouchere is definitely right for you.