It's time for some fresh thinking about level stakes betting. Is it as sensible as it seems? Can it lead the unsuspecting punter into a steady loss situation? Well, the answer is yes and no.

But once you've examined this article I suspect you'll be a lot more wary of level stakes betting. Firstly, though, let me say that under certain conditions the levelstake punter might go home a winner.

Let's look at a group of four bets:

Bet 1: Bet $10 to win on an evens chance and lose.
Bet 2: Bet $10 to win on a 2/1 chance and lose.
Bet 3: Bet $10 to win on a 5/2 chance and lose.
Bet 4: Bet $10 to win on a 4/1 chance and WIN.

You'll see that in this example the odds have increased after each losing bet and, after the 4/1 winner the punter is holding a $10 bet which returns a total of $50, giving him a nice $10 profit. But what if the flow of odds was not so accommodating?

The stark truth is that the odds you bet can often be lousy enough to zap your level stakes betting to pieces. They are never all that accommodating! Let's look at the same set of prices as above in a different sequence and see what happens to your level stakes bets.

Bet 1: Bet $10 to win on 4/1 chance and    lose.
Bet 2: Bet $10 on 5/2 chance and lose.
Bet 3: Bet $10 on 2/1 chance and lose. Bet 4: Bet $10 on evens chance and WIN.

The result here is $40 out and only $20 back, a $20 loss! Bit of a difference, right? Look at it another way:

Bet 1: Bet $10 on 5/2 chance and lose.
Bet 2: Bet $10 on evens chance and lose.
Bet 3: Bet $10 on 4/1 chance and lose.
Bet 4: Bet $10 on 2/1 chance and WIN.

The situation here is $40 out and $30 back, for a $10 loss. What you always have to remember when betting is that each time bets are lost it becomes obvious that to recoup the losses and make a profit with level stakes betting then one of two things must happen:

  1. The odds must go up on the next horse or
  2. The amount of the bet must be increased.

Let me give you a simple but clearcut example to show that the odds must go up when betting the same amount each time. The unit you use can be any amount, but in this example I'll use $2 units.


What we interpret from the above is this: When making level bets, if the evens (l/1) horse loses then the next entry you bet must be 2/1 or better to enable you to recoup bets and yield a $2 minimum profit. If the 2/1 loses, the next odds you have to bet are 3/1 or higher to recoup bets and make $2 minimum profit. If the 3/1 loses, the odds for the next bet have to be 4/1 or higher and so on.

If you have a streak of five losers and then have odds in the next race of 5/1 or lower then obviously the amount of your bet has to be raised if you want to recoup your losses and make a profit.

You can deduce from all this that the level stakes punter who mocks progressive betting is really only saying that he doesn't quite understand the process of making the bet progress. What faces this 'flat bets' punter is that either odds will accommodate him and keep going up-which is unlikely-or he simply has to increase the size of his bets in order to recoup losses and yield a profit.

He will end up a loser unless he is that rare breed of punter-a patient, expert tipster who can wait and wait and choose the right horse at the right price EVERY time. Even this selective mode of betting is prone to defeat. This sort of punter is still bound to lose at some time.

I know there is a body of opinion around that suggests you can make flat bets on favourites or second favourites and come out ahead. 1 wouldn't try it myself. Let's take as an example three bets of $2 each on three favourites each at 6/4. Favourites win about one-third of all races so let's assume you strike the average of landing one winner from the three bets.

Your return is $5 on your total outlay of $6, a loss of $1 or 16.6 per cent on turnover. Now, if we assume that second favourites win about 18 per cent of races with an average tote dividend of $3.50 we can take a sample of five bets at $2 a win each. We get one winner at 5/2. The result is an investment of $10 for a return of $7, giving a loss of $3 or 30 per cent.

Third favourites win about 14 per cent of all races, with an average divvy of around $4.50. Flat bets at $2 each on seven of them would result in a stake of $14 with one winner at 7/2 returning $9, for a loss of $5 or 35.7 per cent on turnover.

In fact, the first four favourites win about 76 per cent of all races but you can't win money on them backing them at level stakes. It could well be that any profit from a flat bet is a temporary one.

I'll be explaining things in even more detail in the January, 1992 issue of P.P.M. when I'll talk about proportional betting on one or more horses in a race. It makes for fascinating reading. If you're a little worried about where your betting money is going then I am sure you'll find this particular feature article your first 'must' read for the new year.

It could well reshape your entire betting approach.

Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.

By Alan Jacobs