In last month's PPM (November issue), I began this series on 50 ways to hit top gear with your betting. I listed 11 ideas on how you might boost things along. In this second article, there are more thoughts on improving your approach and boosting your returns.

Psycho peril is the tag I give to that awful state of mind when confidence ebbs and you seem totally unable to get back on a winning pathway. It's very true that when you lose confidence it can mean big problems.

Betting is all about confidence, and so is the selection process. A punter suffering "psycho peril" will find himself unable to make definite decisions. He'll to and fro over various candidates and inevitably end up backing the loser and rejecting the winner.

It's a bad place to be when this sort of mental blackness takes over. So what do you do about it? Maybe the first move is to take time off. I know it can be tough to call a halt to your betting, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet.

A rest can help you clear your mind, and forget about the losing streak. You can return in a week or so, feeling refreshed.

Another approach to beat the blues is to re-assess your entire approach. What are you doing wrong? Can things be improved? Why are you losing so many times? Are you making stupid decisions and forgetting about your normal approach?

It's important to answer these questions fairly and honestly.

It can be advantageous to take stock and check out what the great punters of the past did to make themselves successful.

Pittsburgh Phil is an example. His maxims are important ones and well worth consideration. Let's look at the major ones:

(a) Winners repeat frequently, while the beaten are apt to be beaten continually.
(b) Don't believe you can beat the races without hard work.
(c) People who usually behave sensibly will behave stupidly once they set foot on a racetrack.
(d) Don't win a lot one day and give it all back the next.
(e) Go about your business methodically and remain calm.
(f) The punter who loses his head, loses his money.
(g) Always have an opinion of your own. And stick to it.
(h) The only way losers can change their fortunes is by studying the form and analysing the methods of winners.
(i) Find out what winners know that losers don't.

This is a factor of our punting life that proves a constant worry. My suggestion is that you trust your own judgement when it comes to backing horses.

If you've assessed a horse as a 3/1 chance and it's on offer at 10s, then get in there and back it.

Always, of course, bet within your means. Once you step aside the safety zone you'll find that mistakes start to happen, and bad decisions happen, and you wind up with a "scared money" monkey on your back.

There's a whole new world of betting available now via betting exchanges. It'll pay to take a look at the Betfair website to see what it's all about. P2P betting, as it's known, can change your entire betting life.

At PPM and the PPD Club on the Internet, we've proved that longrange betting, both win and place and doubles, can pay off handsomely. Maybe it's time you forgot the doomsayers and had a go at this form of betting?

It's risky but the rewards can be enormous, as our esteemed editor Brian Blackwell has proved in the last couple of years.

We can never know enough, no matter what part of everyday life you are part of ... and racing is no different. Read up all you can and then pick out the best bits.

It doesn't matter who says it, you can consider it and then accept or reject it. A bit of money spent on a $50 book may give you one GREAT idea that can turn you from a loser into a winner.

You have a couple of fancies for the day and can't make up your mind if they represent value. The  temptation is to muddle around and try a few dollars on the first one, even though you're not sure.

If this is the case, stop yourself. Missing a loser is not as good a feeling as backing a winner but one of the worst sensations is backing horses about which you are not sure and which lose.

If you're a hit-and-miss punter who oohs and aahs when your fancy gets beaten by a horse you thought was the danger ... time to think about backing two a race.

When you strike a race where you think two or more horses represent value, the first thing you should do is review your analysis and confirm your opinions. If you are still convinced, then be prepared to back both horses according to the level of value that's available.

Ensure the combined odds are not too low. If you get 5/1 about the two horses in a race, for example, you are effectively backing a 2/1 shot. This will suit some betting styles but may be a little too conservative for others. The alternative is to forget such races.

Always remember that taking "unders" is a long-term disaster area. If a horse isn't value for money, then don't back it. Simple as that.

Take a long-term view about your betting. Don't panic after a few losing days. Keep the goal in mind of an annual profit.

A form idea is to keep close tabs on what I call "momentum" horses. These are horses who improve sharply from run to run. Their winning form is good form. Lonhro has been an example. Many other top-liners fall into the same category. Just keep on backing these smart, formful horses.

Look for horses able to accelerate at the end of a race; those that can put a race beyond doubt in a few quick bounds.

No matter how you approach racing, the formguide reigns supreme. And there are lots of them around, in paper form and on the worldwide web.

Recent form is the form that needs your closest attention. Form from a year ago may be relevant in a minority of instances but it's recent form that gets the winners.

Get a good grip on the statistical side of racing. It will pay to have in the back of your mind certain factors that make racing tick day in and day out.

Examples: 85 per cent of all races are won by horses which had their last start within the previous three weeks. More than 60 per cent of winners ran between first and fourth last start.

Around 66 per cent of all winners are in the first three in the morning betting market in your newspaper.

It'll pay to keep in mind that you are betting against your fellow punter. You need an angle that he doesn't know about. If you can find a new angle, you may find the horn of plenty. Racing is all about angles on this and that aspect of form. Most angles have been discovered, used and mostly discarded. Can you find a new one? Statsman did recently with his amazing High 5 system.

There are still lots more winning angles to be discovered from the formguide. Spend some time checking out aspects of form that you feel could lead you to winners that produce a long-term profit.

When betting, learn early that you can't back the winner of every race. If you're really good at selecting, you may back about three winners every 10 bets. More than that, and you really are doing exceptionally well. Not that a MASS of winners means profit. If you're getting 40 per cent winners at evens, you're losing 20 cents in the dollar.

You need ANY AMOUNT of winners whose odds total enough to give you a profit. Thus, if you can get 20 per cent winners, you need an average price per winner of 4/1 to break even, and 5/1 to make 20 per cent profit.

This is a tough ask. It can be done, but it's tough. It needs work, which I've stressed as one of the ways you can hit top gear ... through hard work.

NEXT MONTH: The final slices of advice in this series. How do professionals do it and what can you learn from them?

Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 1.

By Richard Hartley Jnr