The bane of most punters must be what is generally referred to as 'the long losing run'. Often a run of outs can seem like a road without end.

At the races recently, in exasperation, 1 heard one man remark to his friend: "Crikey, how many losers can a man back in a row?". The pal shook his head and smiled knowingly: "0h, there's no limit," he said, thus stating openly what we all know and what we all dread - that the run of outs will never, ever, come to an end.

That man's reply to his desperate mate was a simple, but cuttingly true, slice of punting philosophy. There is no limit to the number of losers you can back.

It is up to you to find a way to halt the flow of outs, so you must think carefully about your betting and shop around for ideas and for value.

It's funny, but also true, that people will shop around for the best bargains in food, clothes, and cars but the same thrifty folk will go to the races and throw their hard-earned money down the drain without giving a thought to what is value, and what isn't.

What you can achieve at the races is what we might call 'value bets'. You might be backing for a win and after the day is over and you reflect on why they all lost, you might see that by backing for a place as well you could easily have stopped the rot.

When you are using a progressive betting method, a long losing run can cause havoc, as we'll explain.

Let's take an example to show you exactly what we mean: We assume there is a nine-race program and that you are wagering in $2 flat win bets.

This is how your accounting sheet would look like at the end of our theoretical day:



So you have wagered $18 in $2 win bets and you collect $22, for a profit of $4. Based on this workout, you would need a bank of about $200 to realise a profit of only around $5 per race - certainly no bargain.

What is required here is that you THINK closely about what you have done - and then refine your betting technique.

For a start, we'll see how we go by applying one of the oldest, yet simplest and soundest, progressive betting methods devised -trying to win a tiny $1 per race profit. Now this kind of wagering is easily reduced to two simple equations, which are quite easily remembered.

Briefly, for those who may not be familiar with the method, our goal (known as; G) for each race is equal to the desired profit (DP) each race, plus the goal (G) and bet (B) on the previous race.

Our bet for each race is determined by dividing the goal by the horse's odds (0) on the horse we have selected. If it sounds a trifle difficult, we assure you it isn't really.

Example: Our goal in the first race will be only $1 (DP) which, divided by the odds of the horse, say 2-1, or 2, gives us a bet of only 50 cents (but we will assume we can bet only in $1 units at the track).

So we get this:

RACEGdivided by0=B
1$1 2-1 $1
Let's assume our horse ran unplaced. What we do now is ADD another $1 (DP) to the $1 (G) and $1 (B) in the first race and arrive at our Race 2 goal of $3. If we divide this by the odds of our horse in the second race, say, 3-1, or 3, we get a bet of $1.

As follows:
RACEGdivided by0=B
1$1 3-1 $1
Applying this idea of betting for a win throughout, our nine theoretical races would look like this:

RACEGdivided by0=BPAYOUT
1$1 2-1 $1 -
2$3 3-1 $1 -
3$5 2-1 $3 -
4$9 15-1 $1 -
5$11 2-1 $6 -
6$18 7-1 $3 -
7$22 4-1 $5 -
8$29 3-1 $10 -
9$40 10-1 $4 $44
Final tally: Bet $34, collected $44, profit $10; actual bank required was $34.

Now, we know that $10 is better than $4 but we had to invest $34 before we struck the winner. This is a clear, and pretty frightening, demonstration of how losses can snowball when a progressive betting angle strikes a bad run of losers.

What makes our situation worse is that there was an easy way to stop the rot and it was staring us in the face on the tote indicators.

In the above set of bets, we blithely bet our 15-1 horse in the fourth race for a win and totally ignored its PLACE prospects. Any horse that starts at 15-1 is likely to pay $4, sometimes more, for a $1 flat bet if it runs a place.

That is equivalent to odds of 3-1. Again, in the ninth race, we might reasonably have expected our 10-1 selection to return $3 for a place bet, odds of 2-1.

The rational thinker would say: With such favourable odds why not bet these two horses for a PLACE in our progression and forget the win bet. This would increase our chances of a return.

If we had done this our progression would look far more healthy:


Bet $18, collected $27, profit $9, and total bank needed only $8.

The place dividend that resulted in the fourth race stopped our run of losing bets and enabled us to start a new sequence of progression in the fifth race, thus minimising our bets. It also helped to slash ourbank requirements from $35 down to only $8, while maintaining the profit of $9. That is definitely a vast improvement and gets back to what we said at the start about searching around for value.

You have to make each dollar you bet work hard for you. It has to give you a solid return, the bigger the better.

Isn't it better to put at risk only $8 and win $9 profit than to have to put up $35 to win that $9. Of course it is. Like any good businessman you realise the power of a dollar invested.

Now, if you had backed both those longshots for a win as well as a place you would have ended up with your day's accounting chart like this (and the goal for the place bet will be the same as for the win, plus the amount wagered to win):


Bet $21, collected $41, profit $20; and total bank needed $9.

For just $3 more than required for the original flat $2 win bets, we have taken advantage of the place possibilities and gained an additional $16, netting $20, or more than $2 per race.

This brings us back to our original contention that while no bargains exist on a racecourse, a punter often has more than one way to increase his profits and reduce his outlay.

The trick is not to go to sleep on the accounting side of things. Weigh up your options carefully. Try not to make lastminute decisions on staking.

We suggest that you follow the rules we now set out. These should put you on the right path.


  1. Use a proven selection system such as those available in the columns of Practical Punting Monthly.
  2. Establish a flexible betting-control pattern so you can "ad-lib" to take advantage of unexpected opportunities to increase your chances to collect.
  3. If a "logical" selection winds up at 10-1 odds or higher on the tote board, include it in your betting plan at odds of 2-1 for a place, boosting the odds accordingly as the winning odds increase.
  4. Skip all even-money horses.
  5. When no race is playable, include the desired profit for that race in the goal of the next race even though no bet is made.
  6. Start a new sequence of progression after each profitable dividend.

Punters who make a keen study of this approach will, we are confident, find something in it for them.

What we are saying is that you should not be tempted to place all your betting eggs in the one basket. It's all very well to roll along backing for a win only but there comes a point when you have to sit back and take stock.

Faced with longshots, it is only rational and sensible to adopt a cautious approach and play them for a place as well as a win.

Don't forget the old racing adage that if you are prepared to put $10 on for a win you should be prepared to place $30 on for a place. The horse has one chance of winning and three chances of running a place.

Some professionals play a 25 per cent 75 per cent approach - 25 a win, 75 a place. Others play as much as five times for a place as they do for a win.

They are cautious players, sure, but they know they can come out ahead if their selections are sound.

So when we talk about our progression betting in this article we are merely pointing out how easy it is to have a long run of outs - and how you can take firm, positive action to stop those outs before they get out of control and sap your confidence as well as your bank.

There is one way to stop the potential for a long run of outs - pick your races carefully. We have found that punters who strike long losing runs are those who bet haphazardly on too many races. They cast around in desperation for their next bet.

The careful punter weighs things up more carefully, takes his chances on fewer, but safer races, and ends up in front.

By Des Green