When it comes to betting, each and every punter has his own way of doing things. Few, though, operate with what is known as "the divisor" method of money management. Not surprising, really.

It takes a bit of time to work out and because it's often known by its other name, the "dreaded" target betting, it gets scoffed at and decried. Not with much justice, in my opinion.

Used sensibly, divisor betting can serve you just as well as level stakes or any other form of staking. I say "sensibly" because I know quite a few punters, and there are many more out there in the same boat, who have approached the method with reckless abandon, pursuing targets to a bitter end without thought of safety valves.

We've written before in PPM about the 6-Point Divisor Plan and I don't intend to pass over that ground again. Suffice to say that it works very well indeed on good sets of selections, provided the punter uses a safety brake in the event of stakes rising too sharply due to a succession of losers.

There are many other divisor plans that we can look at and study. The first thing to do before anything else is to establish a BANK. I really mean this. Put aside a certain amount of money and make sure you work to it.

If you are only moderately serious about making a success of your betting, a \$500 starting bank is the least you should consider. Double that would be better still. You may never have to use the full bank but it's still got to be there.

The following divisor plan has been used by a succession of professional punters over the years. It cannot be called divisor betting in the absolute true sense of the word, but it bears looking at for those who want a simplistic approach based on proportional betting.

THE PRO PLAN

1. Start with a divisor of 20, with whatever starting bank you choose. That is, divide your starting bank by 20.
3. When your bank increases by 20 per cent, increase your divisor to 21.
4. As your bank rises by 20 per cent each time, increase the divisor by 1.

This is the easiest form of divisor betting. It can also be called proportional betting, in that all the punter is doing is to bet a percentage of his bank. In the true sense of divisor betting, this is on the fringe of qualification.

Our contributor Roman Koz, who we hope will soon be writing again for PPM, is a believer in the divisor target betting approach.

"One of the things I like is the flexibility," he says. "At any stage you can bring in a new divisor to slow down the speed of the loose cannonball called The Bad Run Of Outs.

"If you miss backing a winner, no need to worry. Just add in the objective for that race as it doesn't matter. Somewhere down the road you will win the amounts sought for all the races you have bet in and that missed winner will have been covered.

"You can also set yourself a target of, say, \$100 and have your divisor at 20 thus starting off at \$5 or 100/10 starting off at \$10 or 100/50 starting at \$2 and along the way you do NOT have to finish the sequence if you are winning.

"I am a great advocate of the saying, 'you will never go broke taking a profit', thus if I am seeking \$100 and I am, say, \$25 in front I can, if I wish, just stop this sequence and start afresh. I might wait until I profit \$50 or I might go all the way BUT, if you go all the way, you really need to be careful because as you get lower down the divisor scale your bets will rise accordingly, perhaps more quickly than you feel comfortable with.

"Being pigheaded at this stage can be your ruination. The bottom line is to tailor your objectives in relation to your bank and your median prices (not average). Thus, if I had \$1000, my median price was 5/2, I would start with a divisor of 3, and have my objective at \$0.25 per race assuming a strike rate of around 25 per cent; thus the objective per race is in the ratio of 1:4000.

"I would recommend starting at this level for beginners and you can raise things as you develop a better feel for target betting. This low start may seem embarrassing but if all things are okay after 200 races, you will be \$50 in front which is plus 5 per cent of your betting bank, and after 400 races plus \$100 or 10 per cent of your initial betting bank and THAT is better than bank interest."

Roman is one of the best judges around, and his views on staking should be taken seriously. He's a man who's done the "hard yards" and knows what he's talking about when it comes to putting on the money.

A plan that emerged some 25 years ago looked at the use of a divisor on a fixed set of races. It's quite an intriguing approach and one that will certainly interest those of you who feel there is merit in the divisor approach and who want to run some tests to see just how it works out in practice.

THE RACE BY RACE PLAN

1. Decide on a bank. It's recommended that at least 400 units is used.
2. Work to a set number of races; say 20.
3. Your bet is determined by the divisor, which is the number of races which are left, DOUBLED and divided into your current bank.
4. As soon as a 50 units profit is obtained, the series is ended and a new one is begun.

Let's say you start with a bank of 400 and a series of 20 races (or bets). Your first bet is 400 divided by 40, giving you a bet of 10 units. Should this bet fail, the bank drops to 390 and the number of races remaining is 39; so the next bet would be 10 again.

If the next bet fails, the bank goes down to 380, and the divisor to 38 (the number of races which are left). The next bet, then, assuming a loss, would be 370 divided by 37, for a bet of 10 again.

Now, let's say that your bank gets up to 430 units thanks to a winner on race No. 37. Your next bet, then, would be 430 divided by 36, giving you a bet of 12 units.

Don't forget that as soon as you get a profit of 50 units, you quit and start a new series. Now what you can do is ADD this profit to the new series, giving you a bigger starting bank. Instead of kicking off a new series with 400 units, you could start with 450 units.

If you're successful, you could move into each new series with the profits from the previous one added.

Finally, a quick divisor method that will be easy to operate, and will ensure you rarely get into trouble.

It's called The Ice Breaker and was sent to PPM some time back by a reader from the UK (yes, we have a growing band of PPM devotees in England and Europe!).

THE ICE BREAKER

1. Determine what target you need to hit. Keep it low. Ten units is enough-
2. Decide on a divisor. If you have, say, 5 bets a day, then make the divisor 5.
3. Your first bet is 10 divided by 5 equals 2 units. If a loser, add to total required (would now be 12). The divisor remains the same.
4. Whenever a winner is struck. the amount of the odds of the winner is deducted from the divisor. Never go below 2 as the divisor. If you get to 2, rule off and start again.
5. Whenever a profit is made on a series of bets, rule off and start a new series.

RECENT EXAMPLE

HORSEDIVSRTGTBETRETWINLOSS
Miss Att.5 10 2 - - 2.00
P'finger 5 12 2.5 - - 2.50
Shep Lil 5 14.5 3 11.7 8.7 -
Series ends: Bet 7.5, Return 11.7, profit 4.2 units.
This was based on the PPD Club's top selections from its ImpactPro 2002 handicapping program for the Muswellbrook meeting on March 26. The winner Shepherd's Lit paid \$3.90. The same three horses backed at level stakes of 2.5 units each would have returned a profit of 2.25 units.

I hope this article has given you something of an insight into the divisor or target approach to betting. No, it's not the ultimate answer to the problem of how best to bet, but it's a different way of approaching things that can often turn out very well indeed.

By Alan Jacobs

PRACTICAL PUNTING – MAY 2002