The Labouchere system

The Labouchere system is a betting system or strategy developed to assist gamblers to enjoy more wins than losses. It is also called the cancellation system.

If you ask some betting experts about this system, some may argue that it is the most popular betting system while others will advise you to stay clear.

The Labouchere system
The Labouchere system

After reading this, you will be able to deduce the facts from fiction about this betting system.

A quick reminder; Labouchere betting system is a negative progression system. It encourages gamblers to bet until they reach a certain winning amount.

Does it encourage chasing losses? This and many more have been considered below.

How does the Labouchere system work?

The perception gamblers have about this betting strategy is its complexity. It will require some patience to truly perfect this system. Although it is complex, it is still one of the best betting strategies preferred by gamblers.

A lot of comparisons have been made between the Labouchere system and the Martingale system; even though it is a negative progression system like Martingale, the main whole idea about the Labouchere system is to recover your losses with small wins.

Let’s take a look at the basic principle behind this betting system.


Write down the sequence of numbers showing how much you want to win at the end of the game. Ready? You don’t have to put too much thought of it. Separate the numbers into smaller units.

  • For example, if you want to win $ 10, you can break down the sequence into small units like this 1, 2, 1, 3, 2, and 1.
  • Then your stake should be the sum you arrive at after you have added the first and last digit. In this case, the first and digit are 1, i.e. 1+1=2.
  • So you are expected to stake $2 for the first time. When you win the bet, simply remove the first and last units from the sequence.
  • Assuming you lose, add the amount lost to the right-hand side of the sequence. So the sequence will now be 1, 2, 1, 3, 1, 1, and 2.

You must always stake the first and last number after you have won a bet. Always cross out the numbers after you have won.


If the number is remaining one, you don’t have to add another unit. Just stake the number.

  • For example, if you have just 3 left, it means that you should stake $3. If you win, it means that the cycle is over.
  • However, if you lose, then you have to add 3 to the right-hand side of the sequence. E.g. it will be 3, 3. You have to add both figures up and stake for the next game. This simply means that you have to stake $6.

The only way to win with this strategy is to persevere. If you can complete a particle cycle, you get some benefits.

Does the Labouchere betting system work?

The likelihood of this system working is higher compared to others. However, it has its downside too like other betting systems.

There is no doubt that you can get some benefit from using this system. Just try as much as you can to avoid losses. The challenge is that there is no guarantee that this system will always work.

A losing streak can affect your budget and may result in chasing losses. This often happens because the system recommends that you increase your bet after you have lost.

The main reason some gamblers prefer this Labouchere system is the fact that it encourages recovering their losses.

Don’t mind all the rosy rambling, the truth is that there is no guarantee that it will work all the time. There’s no harm in trying. Mother luck can smile on you eventually.

Advantages of the Labouchere betting system

  • This system is very flexible because it allows players to choose the sequence they want
  • Labouchere betting system is organized and neat
  • It guarantees players some benefits no matter the number of losses recorded
  • You can adjust the level of risk at any time

Disadvantages of the Labouchere betting system

  • There is no assurance that you will always overcome the house edge
  • To some extent, it encourages chasing losses

History of the Labouchere betting system

This betting system is named after a Henry Labouchere. He enjoyed playing roulette games. Henry designed this theoretical basis for the roulette player.

Labouchere betting system was popular in the 19th century. Although it was formerly designed for roulettes games, you can apply this principle to any other casino game.

No one knows how many times he attempted betting before he came up with this system.


The Labouchere betting system is certainly just like other betting systems. There is no guarantee of winning with this system.

Even though it is proclaimed as the most common system by some experts, there is no proof to substantiate that it works all the time.  

This system may not get our recommendation but it sure provides some succour to players who believe in the gambler’s fallacy.

Negative progression systems are not always the best betting system because they encourage the player to chase loses.

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between reverse Labouchere and the original Labouchere system?

The reverse Labouchere system aims at curing the damages caused by the original Labouchere system. The reverse system encourages players to add the unit-sum-won at the right-hand side of the sequence. If you lose then, you delete the first and last number you staked. Meanwhile, the original Labouchere system encourages players to delete the numbers after winning and add more numbers after losing.

Can I use the Labouchere betting system on other games?

Although this theory or betting system was formulated for roulette games, studies have shown that you can apply it in other games like blackjack, baccarat, mini-baccarat, craps, Pai Gow, and so on.

Who invented the Labouchere betting system?

It was invented by a mathematician called Henry Labouchere. He designed this system for a roulette table especially for even money bets like red, black, odd, and even numbers. Presently, gamblers apply this theory while playing other casino games.