The Labouchere betting system is a negative progression system, mostly adapted for casino games, namely roulette. The strategy can also be applied in sports betting, and you can use it as a staking plan until a specific goal of earnings is achieved. It is best used for evens betting on 2-way markets, such as moneylines in the NFL, NBA, and NHL, or Goal Totals and Asian Handicaps in football. The odds need to be as close to 2.00 (1/1) as possible, so you will receive a sum of money equal to the stake. As it happens in other systems, you have to follow a mathematical sequence while building a Labouchere strategy. The big difference here is that you choose the sequence depending on the starting investment you can afford. At the same time, you set the goal to win through the wagers.
How does the Labouchere betting system work
First, you should choose a random series of numbers starting with 0 or 1. If you want to bolster a big bankroll, the sequence can have a double-digit (i.e., 10-99) or a triple-digit (i.e., 100-999) number. Of course, you may try the strategy by keeping the sequence relatively low at first (e.g. 0 to 10). The Labouchere sports betting system is based on one main principle: the second stake should be higher if you lose the first bet.
You should place the initial wager with a predetermined stake, the sum of the far-left with the far-right sequence’s number. If the bet is a winner, the next step is to remove the outer numbers you have used and create a second stake with the remaining outers. On the flip side, the starting sequence must change. In that case, the far-right number should be the sum stake of your last loser. As you know, it’s implausible to win every bet even if you have a deep knowledge of all betting systems. So, the main advice before using the Labouchere strategy is to choose a small sequence of numbers to understand how it works.
How to build a Labouchere strategy in football
Following the structure of the Labouchere, we will break down an example based on the 2-way markets in football; Asian Handicaps, DNBs, Total Goals (Over or Under), Cards, and Corners at 2.00 odds. We choose a small sequence of numbers from 1 to 6:
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6
First bet: The starting stake is €7, by cumulating the first and last number of the sequence (i.e., 1 + 6 = 7). The bet is a winner, so the clear profit is €7 (€7 x 2.00 = €14 total earnings).
Second bet: Νow, we remove those outer numbers before placing a new bet. The remaining sequence is 2 - 3 - 4 - 5, and the next stake is €7 (2 + 5 = 7). The bet is a winner again; thus, the earnings are €7 (€7 x 2.00 = €14 total returns). A €14 profit already boosts our bankroll. If the first two bets become losers, then the starting investment has suffered a €15 damage; €7 from the initial bet and €8 from the second [the new sequence 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 7 means the second stake should be €8 (i.e., 1+7)].
Third bet: After two winners, the sequence is 3 - 4. That means the stake of the third bet is €7 again (3 + 4 = 7). If we win three in a row, the pocket returns are €7. Now, having €21 more in the bankroll, we must start a new sequence if we decide to use the Labouchere strategy again.
Fourth bet: If we lose the third bet, we can continue the staking plan based on the 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 sequence. After two winners and the third loser, the remaining Labouchere sequence was 3 - 4. Now, we should add a new digit to the right, the sum stake of the previous bet (i.e., €7). The row of numbers is 3 - 4 - 7, so we stake the fourth bet with €10 (3 + 7 = 10). In the case of a new loser wager, the new sequence is 3 - 4 - 7 - 10. Τhus, a potential fifth bet should be €13 (3 + 10 = 13).
How to determine your profit with the Labouchere system
Following the example above, one specific conclusion can help determine your net profits with the Labouchere system. We have used the sequence 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6, receiving a pure €21 profit after three bets before starting a new one. If you sum up the six digits of the sequence, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6, the cumulative result is 21. Therefore, that strategy can determine your net profit when the sequence ends before starting the betting series. All you have to do is choose a number and start adding the initial number to the next number you find. The sum will be your estimated profit.
Here are two examples of the Labouchere sports betting system:
Sequence with “1” as the chosen number: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7. If you cumulate the seven digits, the max profit is 28 units.
Sequence with “2” as the chosen number: 2 - 4 - 6 - 8 - 10 - 12 - 14 - 16 - 18 - 20. Following the same calculation, the maximum profit is 110 units.
As you can easily understand, you can choose any number you want as the initial one and continue adding numbers whenever you like. However, keep in mind that the longer the sequence, the more money you risk every time; so, it might get more challenging to follow the strategy.
It’s handy following a staking plan, both for beginners and experienced players. In general, the Labouchere strategy is more conservative than the Martingale betting system, for instance, boosting as the main idea to reach your winning goal over a series of wagers without risking all your bankroll in one bet. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using it.
The pros of the strategy
✔️ There aren’t any confusing mathematical types, like following the Kelly Criterion, for example. You should simply add or abstract. Even a bettor with minimum math skills can follow it.
✔️ It’s more flexible than the Fibonacci betting system because it has a unique structure. Following the Labouchere system, you decide your own sequence depending on your starting bankroll and the goal you want to achieve.
✔️ Even on weekdays, consecutive bets are available due to the massive number of matches offered by online bookmakers in all sports. So, you can bet twice or more in one day, keeping your staking principles. Like other negative progression systems, the strategy can be beneficial when the stakes are not extremely high, meaning that you can afford some consecutive losses.
The cons of the strategy
❌ If you bet high, with a long two-digit sequence, it’s possible that online bookies will limit your account. Especially in high stakes, you should double-check the limits on each match you are about to bet and read the T&Cs carefully.
❌ The Labouchere betting system is more flexible than other staking strategies, but it’s not ultimately versatile. It needs discipline, a factor worth its weight in gold in every betting system. If you try to change the strategy in the middle of a series, the most probable scenario is losing all your bankroll.
❌ The biggest practical downside of Labouchere is that if you suffer a lousy run, you must handle a long series of higher bets. If you enjoy a four-digit bankroll, it’s ok; on the other hand, you will need a prolonged winning streak to bring the stakes down.
In the list above, you can discover the top online betting sites that offer the highest close to even odds for all 2-ways markets in the broadest range of sports to apply the Labouchere betting system.
What are the Labouchere sports betting system variations
The Labouchere betting system allows you to determine your bankroll and risk at will. However, according to the betting pattern you want to follow, some variations make it safer or riskier.
As it happens with the classic format, the Reverse Labouchere system works better with even odds. The main idea is to add the sum up of the bets at the end of the sequences after wins. On the flip side, we must erase the numbers we bet after losses. Before you start, divide the goal you want to achieve into a sequence of numbers. Let’s say that our target is to receive €100 net profit. So, a possible sequence is 10 - 20 - 30 - 40 (=100). In that case, the starting bet is €50 (10 + 40). Following a loss, the exact opposite happens compared to Labouchere: the remaining sequence is 20 + 30, so we repay €50.
The bet is a loser, so we start again. The third bet is a winner, and our profit is €50 (€50 x 2.00 = €100 total earnings). Now, we add the 50 at the end of the sequence 10 - 20 - 30 - 40 - 50. The fourth bet is a winner with a €60 stake; thus, we have a €60 profit (€60 x 2.00 = €120 total earnings). After four bets, we have 2/4 winners; that means a 50% winning percentage. Taking that example, we have a €10 net profit. The main advantage of the Reverse Labouchere is that you can earn a profit with a winning percentage equal to or lower than 50%.
Some bettors, especially when testing the Labouchere sports betting system, like to start with a lot of zero numbers at the beginning of the sequence. When they build the sequence, it looks like 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5, etc. The more zeros there are, the safer the system is. After every loss, you have to stake the same amount on your next bet, as per the number of zeros. The super safe version of the Labouchere, which starts with 10 zeros or more is called Johnson progression; it looks something like this: 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 1 - 2, etc.
When your winning percentage in a Labouchere betting system is less than 40%, there’s always the danger of placing continuous high stakes bets. In order to avoid that scenario, some bettors divide the advised stake by two when it exceeds the ideal profit amount. For example, let’s say you follow a Labouchere sequence 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 with an ideal profit of €28.
You have found yourself at number #24 bet, and you are advised to place €30 on your next wager. If you don’t feel like risking that much, you could divide your stake in half, €15. The only drawback is that you have to reach an even better winning percentage to match your losses. Following the Half Labouchere from the beginning is undoubtedly a rather aggressive strategy. The stake of your bets should be the sum of the first and last numbers of the sequence divided by two.
It’s a variation of the Labouchere that can cover your bankroll in the worst possible scenario when the bets are losers getting fast. You can avoid a long series of high bets and losses, splitting the remaining sequence into smaller ones. Let’s say after 25 bets, your sequence is 20 - 25 - 35 - 45 - 55 - 65 - 75 (=320). Following the Split Labouchere system, you can build three new sequences, with one requirement: these three sequences must have the same sum up like the original one (i.e., 320 = 220 + 50 + 50).
A Sequence: 10 - 15 - 20 - 25 - 30 - 35 - 40 - 45 (=220).
B Sequence: 10 - 10 - 10 - 10 - 10 (=50).
C Sequence: 10 - 10 - 10 - 10 - 10 (=50).
Building a Split Labouchere strategy, you should start with A Sequence, which is less aggressive. You can begin with the other two, B and C, with reduced stakes instead of the original when you complete it.
Is it worth using Labouchere in betting?
The main idea behind the Labouchere is to try and surpass a sequence of losses with the minimum number of wins possible and gain profit from a sequence of prospected winning bets. Your available bankroll must always significantly exceed your ideal profit before you start a Labouchere sequence. In any other case, you are in danger of high losses. Theoretically, you need a lot of money to follow, as it happens with all betting systems; so, you can start with small stakes. Following the Labouchere strategy, you can organise your betting activity, getting closer to your targets.
The factor that you may have a winning percentage lower than 50% and still make a profit is essential for bettors; it seems the main reason they prefer the Labouchere in sports betting. That strategy’s risks are similar to other negative progressions systems, giving you no edge over the bookies. Meanwhile, long periods of losses can cause considerable damage to your bankroll. However, you can try small sessions using the Labouchere, Reserve Labouchere system and their variations in order to increase your discipline in betting, seeking more the short-term than the long-term profit.
In the list above, you can explore all the online betting sites with the best odds and the top 2-way markets from all sports to use the Labouchere betting system.
The strategy was invented by Henry Labouchere (1831-1912), an English aristocrat, politician, writer, and keen roulette player. However, there has been evidence of it being used a hundred years before his time, in various casino games of 18th century France.
Cancellation System, Split Martingale, American Progression, American Roulette Cancellation, Montante Americaine. These are some alternative names of the Labouchere betting system. Despite the different names, they all describe the same.
The Labouchere instills discipline in players, helping them build a betting pattern and manage their bankrolls effectively. On the other hand, even the more experienced bettors can’t have a 100% recovery after a nasty streak. In that case, following the sequence can create big-sized bets.
Labouchere is generally used on even-money games, like a roulette table or 2-way markets in sports betting. If you play roulette, you can apply that strategy on red/black, odd/even, and 1-18/19-36. Moreover, it’s easy to adjust the Labouchere system to the moneyline market in American sports and Asian Handicaps in football.
Due to its flexibility, the Labouchere gives the ability to bettors to build their own sequence of numbers managing their bankrolls. More conservative ones use zeroes in the sequence, taking advantage of Johnson progression, placing starting bets equal to one unit and having as the primary target to remove them and secure at least low profit.
As it happens with all betting systems, making a mistake and placing the wrong amount of bet can cause damage to your strategy. The wager might win, but that mistake will tangle the series of your stakes and bets. To be accurate in your process, it’s essentially using the Labouchere sports betting system.