We talk a great deal in PPM about betting properly. We try our best to steer our readers into sensible betting habits, something that many punters, alas, lack and which causes them to lose.

While doing our advising, we are aware that some punters will never change. They'll continue to treat punting as a fun hobby and they'll be prepared to lose a little bit of money. Okay, that's fine. We appreciate the point of view of these hobby punters, and it's with this in mind that I present this 'Best Bets' selection and staking system. It's aimed at those punters who like to pop into their TABs for a flutter, not spend too much, and get a thrill when they score.

You can operate the method every day of the week there's a race meeting. And you can use it on dogs, gallopers and trotters-all three combined if you like. Your selecting is easy-your bet is the 'best bet' of your favourite tipster. All you do is look at the day's tips and there's your bet. The assumption is that you will always be backing a well-fancied runner, and that losing runs will be kept to a minimum, especially if you move from code to code with your bets.

Make sure you pick good tipsters. You are going to be relying on them for your profits, after all. Staking-wise, my advice is that you follow a very simple progressive plan--or maintain level stakes betting. It's up to you. Progressive staking might offer you the chance of bigger profits.

The staking plan I recommend is as follows:
50c, 50c, 50c, $1, $1, $1.50, $2, $2.50, $3.50 and $4.50. If you want to bet more then merely multiply the totals (i.e. $1, $1, $1, $2, $2, $3, $4, $5 and $7). The good thing about this particular plan is that you can produce a profit at any stage with a winner at 3-1. If you were unlucky enough to strike a run of 10 losers in a row, your next bet in the progression would be $6, followed by $8 and then $10.50.

My suggestion, however, is that you stop at the $4.50 and continue it until you strike a winner. If that provides you with a profit, you can revert to the start again. If it doesn't, I suggest you fall back the number of steps that the winner's price indicates (i.e. 2-1 winner, go back two steps from the $4.50 bet to the $2.50 bet).

The capital needed for this progression plan would be 10 times the amount of the progression, which is $17.50, equalling $175. You can raise the amounts involved in the betting steps as you make profits but you should always tuck away 50 per cent of profits into your pocket and add the remaining half to the betting bank.

An example of what you can expect from this method (betting from a $1 base):

Bet Stake Win Lose
A 1 1
B 1 1
C 1 1
D 2 2
E 2 (evens) 2
F 2 2
G 2 2
H 3 3
I 4 (3-1) 12

Total at this stage shows losses of 12, and profits of 14, giving you a two-unit profit overall. You have backed only two winners, at evens and 3-1, from nine bets and yet you are showing a profit. When the first winner was struck, you moved back one step in the progression because of the 'evens' price on the winner, and because you were not making a profit. With the 3-1 winner, you showed a profit and thus you begin a new progression. Had you backed level stakes, the result would have been an outlay of nine units for a return of six and a loss of three units. With the progression table you outlaid 18 units and made two units profit.

If you had a good run of winners, you could make nice and regular profits with this method. I have done a few tests in recent times with excellent results.

But I do advise that you conduct your own testing in your own betting area. It could well be that tipsters in Sydney are better, or worse, than their counterparts in Queensland, Western Australia etc and so different outcomes would be in line.

If you wanted to operate the Best Bets system on Saturdays only, you could use the top points scorers in the tipsters' polls. That is, the horse in each State with the highest number of points in the table. You could run each State separately or pile them all in together. For instance, on November 14, the three top points horses for Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne (according to the polls published in the Daily Sun, Brisbane) were:

Sydney: Mountebank (1st 8-13)
Brisbane: Mean Eyes (2nd 9-10)
Melbourne: Countess Eve (1st 11-4).

If you had decided to start the method off with these bets, the result would have been very simple:

1.50 p.m.-1 unit win Mean Eyes, 2nd-minus 1.
2.00 p.m.-1 unit win Mountebank, 1st-plus .6.
5.00 p.m.-1 unit win Countess Eve 1st-plus 2.75.

Total: Profit $2.35 on outlay of $3 equalling 78.3 per cent on turnover. Because of the two winners from three bets you never had to get off the $1 bets. Had all three lost, your next bet on the following raceday would be $2.

I see this method of betting as a real 'fun' thing for small punters. Bigger punters should seriously consider the progression betting scale in their operations, because it is a sound plan and one that I know many good betting judges use (including yours truly).

By Jon Hudson