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And keep doubling!

Posted by Bob on October 24, 2000

In Reply to: Double-or-nothing posted by Gary Martin on October 24, 2000

: : could somebody please give me the definition of double-or-nothing and an example of a situation which would show how you would use the phrase.

: Double or nothing or, more usually in the UK, double or quits refers to the outcome of a bet or challenge. Say that I bet you £10 that I can beat you at arm wrestling: if you win I might offer double or quits, i.e. we go again and I give you £20 if you win and I owe you nothing if you win.
: Gary

Which leads to fool's gold of doubling bets. If one loses, one doubles one's bet to get back even. We bet £1, I lose and double up. I lose again, and we bet £2, £4, £8, etc., on the theory that sooner or later I Must Break Even. Many a fool has failed to realize that sooner can sometimes be later, after he's lost the monthly rent and has no more to spend, or has run into his opponent's (or casino's) tolerance limit.

I raise this because there's a charming word origin for this betting system: martingale. Originally, a martingale was a part of a horse's harness, one that prevented it from raising its head too far. The metaphor is apt, in that the double-or-nothing does Seem to restrain one from getting too far out of line... but....