Labouchere roulette strategy

Challenge yourself with the Labouchere roulette strategy when you next join a game. This strategy is slightly more complex than others, but suits anyone who’s good with numbers. This cancellation system was created in the 19th century and is still enjoyed by roulette players to this day. Read on to understand how it works.

How to play Roulette - The Labouchere strategy explained
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How to play Roulette - The Labouchere strategy explained

How the Labouchere roulette strategy works


Step 1 - Decide how much you’d like to win

First you need to decide how much you’d like to win, for example $10. Make this a realistic number that won’t stretch your bankroll too much. Then you need to split that number into smaller, random numbers. For example, our $10 goal could become 1, 2, 4, 1, 2.

Step 2 - Combine your numbers

Take the furthest left number and the furthest right number from the sequence. In this example that would be 1 and 2. Combine these to make your first bet for $3.

Step 3 - Place your bet

Bet $3 on an even bet like red, black, odd, even, 1-18 or 19-36.

Step 4 - Repeat the second step

If you win, you cross off the furthest left and furthest right numbers from your sequence. Here you’d be left with 2, 4, 1. Repeat the second step, which would give you 2 and 1, so you would make another $3 bet.

If you lose, don’t cross off any numbers and add the bet you just made ($3) to the far right of your sequence. You should have 2, 4, 1 and 3 now. Now repeat step 2 and in this case your bet would be $5.

Step 5 - Repeat until you win

Repeat the steps until you have cleared your sequence and won your goal number. If you are on a bad losing streak, never chase your losses and know when to call it a day. Equally, if you’re on a winning streak, stop after the first loss to retain your profits.

Example of the Labouchere strategy in action

Sequence: 1, 2, 4, 1, 2.


Bet Sequence Outcome Result Profit
$3
1, 2, 4, 1, 2
Lose
-$3
-$3
$4
1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 3
Lose
-$4
-$7
$5
1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4
Win
+$5
-$2
$5
1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4
Lose
-$5
-$7
$7
2, 4, 1, 2, 3, 5
Win
$7
$0

What are the pros and cons of the Labouchere strategy?

Pros

  • It’s satisfying crossing the numbers out
  • It can help you manage your budget better
  • You can do well from winning streaks

Cons

  • Your sequence can get really long if you’re on a losing streak
  • You need to pay attention to the sequence and follow it carefully
  • It doesn’t improve the house edge so your odds won’t be affected

The Reverse Labouchere strategy


If you enjoy the original strategy, the Reverse Labouchere should have the same appeal. The difference in the reverse version is simple. You cross off the numbers you’ve bet when you lose and you add the sum of the numbers you’ve bet onto the right when you win. It still only applies to even bets and you still need to break your goal down into smaller numbers.

Example of the Reverse Labouchere strategy in action

Sequence: 1, 2, 4, 1, 2.

Bet Sequence Outcome Result Result
$3
1, 2, 4, 1, 2
Lose
-$3
-$3
$3
2, 4, 1
Lose
-$3
-$6
$4
4
Win
+$4
-$2
$8
4, 4
Lose
-$8
-$10
$4
4
Lose
+$4
-$6
Labouchere vs Reverse Labouchere Strategy: Which is better?

There are pros and cons to the Labouchere and Reverse Labouchere strategy, but in many cases it’s down to personal preference. In the examples we’ve given, the classic version fares better, but the reverse can be more profitable if you’re on a winning streak. Obviously, in this game of chance, it’s impossible to know if that will happen.

Our best advice regardless of strategy is to cash in after the first loss following a winning streak. That’s because with both strategies, losing streaks can add up very quickly. To protect your winnings, play within your limits and know when to stop, especially when you’re losing. This can be the difference between a smaller profit and a big loss.