Ben Richards, a marketing executive, has been a studious but amateur punter for some 20 years and is very successful in what he calls his 'own moderate way'.

I love to have a bet. A bet on anything, really. A gamble to me is a most exhilarating experience. I've never bet on the proverbial 'two flies' but I doubt whether anything else of any note has avoided my betting attention on a permanent basis.

Most of my bets, however, are made on weekends on the horses.

But I like to be right. My aim is to win. I often have to explain to friends that I bet to win, not to lose.

People who know me say I'm a good loser and I suppose I am. But the truth is I absolutely hate losing. It takes us too long to earn our money as workers to just chuck it away on whims as punters.

When I say I hate to lose, I don't mean I go berserk about it. I regard losing as an impediment, a barrier, something temporary to be overcome. But while it's present it's an enemy to be overrun.

To do that, and to get properly motivated, I think of myself as a knight going into battle against it. To win, I must choose a top charger, the finest horse on the battlefield. One, brave and strong, that will carry me to victory. I never give the remotest consideration to the fact that the horse I choose to carry me might be a quitter, a loser.

How often do you hear a punter say pre-race, "Oh, I've had a few bucks eachway on such and such. Bloody thing'll probably lose."

What a stupid attitude! When we think a horse will probably lose, we shouldn't back it. We should only bet when we're in positive mode.

Of course, we can never be positive (as in 'certain') that a horse is going to win, but we can be positive in our mental attitude towards it.

One of the first lessons we must learn is to bet only when we are optimistic.

I win. Not every day or weekend. Not even every month. But overall. And I have a lot of fun and happiness doing it. It's the end result that counts. That's the only time we truly know whether we're winners or losers. If your punting has highs and lows but doesn't culminate in happy endings, I hope I can change that.

So here we go on a fresh path to winning. I won't say 'Good Luck', even though that's what we all often require. Alas, luck is an alltoo-regular truant when we need it most so, instead, I'll say, 'Good Management', because that - and that above all - is the key to winning.

The first thing I had to learn when I decided to get serious about winning is that we can't win all the time, but we must win enough times to show a profit overall.

I mean profit at least every few weeks, not at the end of, perhaps, six months or (even more frustratingly) a whole wretched, boring, depressing year. I can't imagine anything worse than spending month after month chasing an elusive target that includes previous losses and, hopefully, some profit on top of it.

Our aim is to finish in front regularly. By that I mean not just in front on some frequent, individual betting days, I mean finish in front overall every few betting days or at least, say, every four, six or eight weeks.

If we can do that, our punting bank (however small it might be when we start) will continue to rise like steps and stairs. It may seem slow at first but the longer we stick at it, the quicker we become at building the steps.

It might take us three months to build the steps from the cellar to the ground floor, but only a similar period to go from ground level to the second storey. Based on the same rate of progression, in a year we might have enough steps to reach the top of a lighthouse.

If you're an amateur punter like me, you don't need a big bank to make a lot of money. I started with quite a small one and today, thanks to fortuitous management, it's very healthy indeed.

Note that I say 'fortuitous management' and not 'luck'. More than half the fun of my punting and all of the profit - is
based on management:

  • Management of my selections
  • Management of which of those selections I will bet on
  • Management of the amount of money I will wager on each
  • Management of how I employ my winnings and most importantly, at all stages,
  • How I manage the demon we know as greed.

We all know punters who expect to back every winner. A loser impacts on some of them like a collision of the planets. It's as though their world - or their punting world, at least - has come to an end simply because one lone racehorse has been beaten.

They're in chaos. They're angry.

They blame the jockey, the trainer, the horse, the newspaper, or the radio or television tipster who inspired them to back it. They never seem to blame themselves for making the decision to bet on it.

Their judgment goes out the window. They decide to chase whatever amount they lost.

Naturally, in such a state of mind, they lose again and another planet is wiped from the universe.

Perhaps my business training has helped me in my punting pursuits. With both, very early in the piece, I adopted the advice of one of my first business mentors.

In my job, whenever I began to get hot under the collar about anything - whether it was something adverse someone else had done or, most importantly, something adverse I had done to impede myself - he used to always stop me with a recitation from a piece of literature which was supposedly found on a stone in an old churchyard somewhere in America.

(Well, that's how the story goes. Being one of the ilk, I think that story was dreamed up by some marketing man who made a fortune from holding the copyright on the piece which sold multimillion copies worldwide in poster-form and as a recording, titled Desiderata. I hope I don't infringe his copyright by quoting the opening words.)

My mentor would lean back in his leather chair, fold his arms across his chest and say to me, with a soft smile: "Go placidly throughout the world and remember what peace there is in silence."

He taught me then to think of peaceful things instead of anger or frustration; to forget what might have just gone wrong; it had happened and was past; to think of all the good things that lay ahead.

So, fellow amateur punters, the rule above all others is: Keep your cool. Learn to manage yourself before you start trying to manage your money.

You may think all of that philosophy is a lot of malarky; that you don't have time to waste on all that funny thinking. Well, if you are a loser and you're not really serious about becoming a winner. . . . But that's enough of the philosophy lesson for this issue.

Jack Brown from Mascot in NSW wrote in Letter of the Month in the previous issue of PPM:

"I keep reading about the Internet, and computer ratings, video replays and expensive books. Now I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I am a person of limited means and I can't afford all these high-falutin' things, especially not a computer ..."

"I just wanted to let you know that not all us punters out in Mug Land are wealthy enough to afford all the whizz-bang stuff, and that we still rely on pen and ink, and plain old newspapers, to help us have a bet."

You're the kind of fellow I'll be writing for, jack. I'm halfway into the same boat as you're in. I might have the money to afford the whizz-bang stuff, but I don't have the inclination or the time. I've got a life!

So, what will be the aims to highlight in this continuing series of articles?

  1. To use inexpensive and simple methods of form study to make your selections.
  2. To determine when you should and when you should not bet on your selections.
  3. To bet with a small starting bank.
  4. To employ a method of staking which will grow the bank in the most profitable and least worrisome way.
  5. To have a positive mental attitude, not only when you place your bets but also when some of them lose.
  6. To show a profit overall over regular, comparatively short time periods - say, every four, six or eight weeks.
  7. To do something worthwhile with whatever sum of money you are winning when the year 2000 turns into 2001 (the true start of the new millennium).
  8. To learn from your experiences, so that you may have even greater success next year.

How do you take the first step?

You start setting aside $10 per week (or a little more if that's affordable) until you read the continuation of this series in next month's PPM. Don't wait until the magazine is available to try to get your bank together. Practise the first stage of your money management now!

The second? If you have any records of your bets over the past few months, analyse them. Check how many you have had and how many have been winners. What is the percentage of winners? If you don't have any records, start keeping them now, so you can analyse them when we continue next month.

NEXT MONTH: In the March PPM, Ben Richards continues his 'how to bet and win' series.

Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.
Click here to read Part 5.
Click here to read Part 6.
Click here to read Part 7.
Click here to read Part 8.
Click here to read Part 9.
Click here to read Part 10.

By Ben Richards