Remember, I am just like most readers of PPM. I am not a 'pro' and never want to be. I'm a hobby punter and I have a very good time enjoying my racing and regularly showing a profit. As I wrote last month, the profit doesn't show every week, or even every month, but it shows overall, over comparatively short periods on a regular basis, and that's what counts.

In these PPM columns I will lead you through some of the punting things I do and how I do them. Some of what I write may make you think I am trying to teach you to suck eggs, as they say.

However, even amongst those things that veil may consider 'kindergarten stuff' I trust you will find some little gems of wisdom things that even hard-boiled professionals may have learned along their ways but have come to overlook with the passing of time.

Some of my analysis will be exceptionally simple, even vary basic – such as some of the content of this particular column.

You'll read things that go without saying, to use a popular expression which I interpret as meaning "goes without thinking", and when we fail to think, we do some very stupid things.

So, if you bear that in mind, I am pretty sure you will discover plenty of food for thought as we proceed - the kind of food for thought that most amateurs have never been taught or never consider, yet which is important to understand if you want to turn your betting around, as I did.

Yes, I was the rankest of amateurs once, doing all the foolish things that beginners do, losing far more weeks than I won, but enjoying having an interest in the sport of racing and getting an adrenalin rush from putting my money down - even if it promptly disappeared.

Most of us can't even win half the time. Do you know anyone who can rightfully claim a one-out-of-two average? If you do, he must be very rich and you must be backward if you haven't cottoned on to his tips.

Do you even know anyone who consistently does well enough to average one winner in three? You might even fit into that category yourself if you back every favourite -'that's about their winning average.

However, you would have to back them all the time - at their short odds and their extremely niggardly odds-on ones - and even though, over a period, you would put your hand out to collect a third of the time on average, you would finish way behind over a year.

Don't even consider the theory that you might make things better by backing only those favourites which are offered at odds of, say, 6/4 or better - or even 2/1 and better - and therefore cut out those very short-priced ones that win you virtually nothing when they score and cost you a fortune when they lose (see page 22 of last page 22 of last month's PPM).

When you eliminate those 'real shorties' ' you will find the percentage of winners falls way below 33 per cent, so, even at the better odds, you don't collect enough times to finish in the winners' circle.

The killer, too, when backing favourites, is that they can suffer very long runs of 'outs' considering their short prices.

They only win one race in every three on average and anyone who has studied such things for an extended period will tell you that averages often take a long time to reach an average, if you get what I mean.

If you consistently bet on the favourite, there will often come times when you can't 'get square' by continuing. The stake becomes simply too big to risk (that's if you possess it!) and, when you don't put it on, naturally the horse will win. It's Murphy's Law, operating on the racetrack, just as it does everywhere else in life.

Alright, we can't make money by consistently backing favourites and we can't think of any way to be smart enough to select an average of one winner in three probably not even by following our favourite media tipster's Best Bets (more about that later in this continuing series), so what can we do?

We will have to try to back one winner on average out of every four bets, though most amateur punters of my acquaintance find that too difficult to achieve too.

Even if you are capable of averaging such a good percentage, the prices will need to average out at better than 3/1 for you to produce any profit. You will need to secure an average price of 4/1 or 5/1 to make things worthwhile.

I can imagine some of you thinking now: "0h, that's all based on level-stakes betting. It's impossible to win at all betting with level stakes!" and you are probably right, no matter what you might hear or read to the contrary.

The two schools of thought on that Subject will never in the history of the future world see eyeto-eye, I'm sure. But, for my money, level-stakes betting is for the birds!

So what are the alternatives to level-stakes betting?

  • You can bet willy-nilly, with random and haphazard amounts on your selections - and Murphy will ensure that you will usually have more on the losers than you have on the winners, or
  • You can chase your losses plus some added (target) amount.

Oops! Did I say "chase your losses"? Hasn't just about every bit of betting advice ever written said "Never chase your losses!".

Yes, it probably has. But then just as probably, the article has gone on to explain some wonderful staking plan that professionals use and that you should utilise too, especially if you intend to win on the type of selections that the same article is suggesting.

I may be an amateur, but I am worldly-wise enough in the punting game to know that, excluding the very big-betting professionals, just about every punter in existence chases losses, and that every staking plan is based on chasing losses.

It is simple common sense: the only reason anyone needs a staking plan is because they suffer losses that they wish to recover.

Personally, I don't like most staking plans - they too easily lead us into financial trouble - but it's part of punting life that a lack of winners ensures that we have to use them.

I will make them a separate subject to be put under the microscope at a later date but, for the moment, let's stay on this column's original subject: the theory behind finding sufficient winners and betting on them in such a way that makes us victors too.

You may have noted that in the early paragraphs of this column one word kept on cropping up the word "average".

It can be pretty truly said that everything in gambling 'averages' out. It is uncanny how even-money chances over a long period will win 50 per cent of the time, 2/1 chances will win 33 per cent, 4/1 chances 20 per cent, 5/1 shots about 16 per cent, etc. If you back two runners per race, always backing a combination of 2/1 and 5/1 chances, such are the odds that eventually you will notch up a tally of 50 per cent winners.

"It's the Law of Averages," everyone will tell you. "The Law of Averages will always work out," they inform you with authority.

Even though that might be a truism, it's all poppycock as far as punting is concerned. The most important law you can ever learn about betting – be it betting on the horses, dogs or trots, two-up, roulette, blackjack or any other creation designed to separate you from your money – is:

Never believe in the Law of Averages.

Believing in the Law of Averages is the worst possible practice we can undertake. The belief can lead – and usually does - to total disaster. As correct and indisputable as its theory is, in my opinion, it should be totally disregarded by punters.

No matter what kind of betting you do - especially on games like two-up and roulette - make your first objective to totally disregard it.

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.
Click here to read Part 1.

By Ben Richards