The Labouchere roulette system: A winning strategy?

The split Martingale, cancellation system or the American progression? You’ll hear these bandied about by roulette players and may wonder what they are. They are all other names for the Labouchere roulette system, a betting system that is designed to help you recover your losses in roulette.

Invented in the early 19th century, the Labouchere system was made famous by James Bond films and features in several of Ian Fleming’s novels.

Many who encounter it find it a little complex and avoid it altogether in favor of simpler roulette strategies, but it isn’t all that complicated. Once you understand how it works, you can add it to your bag of tricks. 

Before starting the game, the player decides how much they want to win and keeps playing until their goal is met. This strategy is about persistence and patience, and it is also about not being fazed by the losses you encounter along the way. 

Whether you are new to roulette or have some experience and are looking for strategies to help you win, the Labouchere system is an interesting one to try. You don’t have to use it every time, but you can implement it once in a while for a taste of something different. 

But what is the Labouchere roulette system? How does it work? What are the steps to using it correctly? 

Before we answer these questions, let’s take a moment to understand its origins. 

The system is named after its inventor, Henry Labouchere, an Englishman who was a politician, writer, 

journalist, publisher and theater producer. He also loved to gamble. 

He is remembered not just for giving the world a roulette strategy, but also for writing the law that criminalized homosexuality in the UK. 

We don’t know exactly how he came upon the roulette system named in his honor. He may have noticed that if he kept playing after losing, he would eventually win. Whatever the case, he created a roulette strategy that is used by many a player to this day. 

The proposition behind the system is that a player doesn’t need to place one large, high-risk bet. Instead, the player can spread the risk by placing smaller bets so that they can eventually reach their goal. 

According to the principle, the strategy should work even if you lose along the way. The mathematical certainty that is demonstrated by the principle ensures that you eventually begin to win. 

You don’t need to be an experienced player to use it. Even beginners have been known to win using the Labouchere betting system.

It isn’t very different from the Fibonacci system, which requires a player to place their bets according to a preset sequence.  What makes it unique is that rather than use a preset sequence, the Labouchere roulette system allows the player to decide the sequence he wants to use. 

You decide how much you want to win and then place your bets. How big they are depends on how much you are prepared to spend. 

What is the Labouchere roulette system?

The system works with even bets, which means that the player can only use it when they are betting in red or black, even or odd numbers. 

A roulette table is made up of 36 components, plus one more if you are playing American roulette, or two if you are playing the European or French version. Eighteen of these are red, and the other 18 are black. Half the numbers are odd, and the others are even. 

The idea is to bet on a sequence that has a success rate of about 50%. It isn’t advisable to use this strategy when placing outside bets as the numbers don’t match and you may end up with big losses. 

You start by deciding how much you would like to win. This should be a realistic number based on your bankroll. Don’t go wild; the amount you win depends on how many bets you can place. 

Say you decide that you want to win $10. You can have a sequence like 1, 1,1, 2, 2, 2  and 1, or whatever other sequence that feels right to you. 

When you are placing your first bet, you’ll take the first and last numbers in the sequence, add them up and whatever you get will be how much you bet. In the case of the example sequence above, that bet would be $2. 

If you win the round, you cross out the numbers that you have just used to place the bet, but if you lose, the amount you bet is added to the end of the sequence of numbers that you wrote out. 

If you are down to one last number in the sequence, you place a bet that is equal to that number. 

It all sounds simple enough, right? Indeed it does, but in a real game where a player can incur a series of losses, the sequence starts to get longer and longer, and the player might get confused, panic or feel discouraged and decide they don’t want to use the system anymore. 

That is why you need patience and perseverance to use the Labouchere roulette system correctly. 

You may have noticed by now that the bets increase even after a loss. That is why the first rule of using the Labouchere system is to set a limit beyond which you cannot go regardless of wins or losses. 

There are less aggressive roulette strategies out there, and if this one sounds a little rich for you, you can look around for something else. 

In case you’re wondering, this strategy doesn’t affect the house edge. For European roulette, it is 2.7%, and it doubles if you are using an American roulette table. 

Before you start using this system to play, check that it is allowed in the casino you’re visiting. 

Some casinos are strict about not allowing players to use any kind of system that can bring about big wins. They believe it skews the odds for other players at the table who aren’t using any strategies. 

How does the Labouchere roulette system work?

Now that you have a general understanding of how the system works, let’s look at a more detailed example. 

Let’s say you decide that you want to win $200. You then decide that you want to place bets in a sequence of $25, $35, $45, $45, $25, $15 and $10.

Your first bet would be $35 ($25+$10, the first and last numbers in your sequence). If you win, you strike those numbers off the sequence, which leaves you with $35, $45, $45, $25 and $15. 

The second bet you place will be $35 and $15, which comes to $50. 

However, if you lost the first bet, things go a little differently. You take the bet amount that you lost and add it to the end of the sequence, which makes it $35, $45, $45, $25, $15 and $50. Your bet will be the first and last number of this new sequence, which means you wager $85. 

Should you win, you’ll strike off the first and last numbers in the sequence, which leaves you with $45, $45, $25 and $15. Your next bet is the first and last numbers, which makes it $60. 

You keep going until you have crossed out all numbers from your sequence.

If you start losing, your sequence might become quite long. Let’s say you end up with a sequence that looks like this: 25, 29, 37, 40, 58, 62 and 79. You don’t have to keep using it. If you look at it, you’ll see that it requires sizeable bets. 

Instead, you can split it into two or three smaller sequences that look something like this: 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45. A second sequence could be 15, 15, 15 and 15. The third one will be 5, 10, 15 and 20. 

If you look at the total of the initial sequence, it is the same as the total of the three smaller ones. 

That is the rule if you decide to split your sequences. The smaller ones must add up to the total of the original sequence. 

The idea behind this is that by eliminating every number in the sequence, you will eventually make a win that is equal to the original value of your sequence. 

If you have a longer sequence, you shouldn’t view it as a bad thing. It gives you more plays, which increases your chances of winning. 

This is one of the great things about the Labouchere system; you can adjust the level of risk by playing around with the sequence of numbers. 

Gamblers can be superstitious and may believe that a certain sequence is the one that brings them the most luck. 

If you opt to use Labouchere, you should vary your sequences. Remember that roulette is all a game of chance, and varying your sequence increases your odds of winning. 

You may wonder what the difference is between Labouchere and Martingale. With Labouchere, you hedge your bets. If you win as often as you lose, you still go home with a profit. 

Another difference is that you don’t need as big of a bankroll. In the Martingale, you double your bet every time you lose, which can eat through your bankroll very fast. In any gambling game, the longer you play, the higher the odds of winning. 

Labouchere is a more manageable system for most players, and they don’t have to spend any money they hadn’t planned to. Always remember that this system is about discipline. 

You might strike a big win mid-sequence and decide to throw caution to the win. Keep in mind that even with the same sequence, you may hit big losses. 

Walk away when you exhaust your number sequence or when you hit such losses that you feel you cannot keep playing.

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Steps to using the Labouchere roulette system

All the above may look confusing, but if you remember the following steps you should be okay:

Step 1: Decide how much money you want to bet on the game. It should be within your bankroll. 

Step 2: Choose a sequence. It can be anything you want, but there is no point in making it complex. It will only complicate your game further down the line. 

Step 3: Place your first bet. It should be made up of the sum of the first and last numbers in the sequence. 

Step 4: If you lose, add the number that you lost to the end of the sequence. 

Step 5: Place your next bet. It should be the sum of the first and last numbers in the new sequence. 

Step 6: If you win after your first bet, strike off the first and last numbers in the sequence. In other words, strike off the numbers that came together to give you a win. 

Step 7: Take the first and last numbers in the now shorter sequence and add them up. They will tell you how much you should wager in the next round. 

Step 8: If you are lucky enough to keep winning, you will eventually be left with one number in the sequence. Bet that number. 

One of the most common questions asked by those who are thinking about using this strategy is what factors you should take into account when creating a sequence. 

There is nothing to stop you from creating whatever sequence you want. However, remember that the sequence you choose decides the amount you bet. If you choose a 1, 2, 3 sequence, for example, you will bet smaller amounts than if you opt for a 3, 6, 9 sequence. 

Should you bet the same sequence for different games? It is entirely up to you, but remember that just because you had a winning streak with a certain set of numbers, this doesn’t mean it will repeat. It can go the other way in the next game. 

Try and use different sequences for different games; it spreads risk. 

Pros and cons

Every roulette strategy has pros and cons. For Labouchere, they are as follows: 


  • You don’t have to win every bet; you can lose more bets than you win and still take home a profit.
  • It makes the game a little easier; players don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about how much they should bet. 
  • It is a great way to manage your bankroll. It teaches players how to be disciplined. 
  • Winning streaks can be quite profitable. 
  • Some players say it makes them feel more confident as they are using a system rather than relying on random bets. 


  • If you set upon a losing streak, your sequence becomes very long. Don’t panic; just split it into smaller sequences as explained above. 
  • There are no guarantees with the Labouchere system; you can lose just as easily as you can win. 
  • It isn’t the best system for players who have a small bankroll. If you followed the examples above, you saw that the bet amount increases with each bet, which means you have to have a decent bankroll to try Labouchere.

Labouchere strategy tips and tricks

Is there anything you can do to affect the outcome of your bets? Not really, but there are certain things you can do to decrease your chances of losing:

  • Test out new sequences; they often help bring in wins.
  • Change your sequence mid-game if it helps you place smaller bets. 
  • Don’t let your sequence grow too long; it can become difficult to follow.
  • Whether or not you’re winning, you should be guided by your bankroll.

Is the system right for you?

The secret is to play for long enough to give the system time to work. 

If you are popping into the casino for an hour, you will not be around for long enough for it to start bearing fruit. 

However, if you plan to play for several hours, there is a good chance that you’ll take home a tidy profit. 

Like with any other betting strategy, you shouldn’t expect miracles. If it was that good, all players would use it. Temper your expectations so that disappointments are easier to handle. 

At the same time, don’t let losses discourage you. Keep playing, and sooner or later, the system will pay off. Also, if you lose in one game, it doesn’t mean that you will not win in the next one. Roulette tables have no memory; you still stand a chance to win in future games.

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Author: Tanya Fields

Campaign Acquisition Manager Length with RC: 1 year, 9 months Favorite Casino Game: Starburst Background in iGaming: Opened the iGaming Department at Hard Rock Atlantic City in 2018 in both Customer Service, and then CRM, prior to moving over to RC in January 2021 Location: Based in NJ at the RC HQ Content: Occasionally, but only as it pertains to RC