This series on long-term strategies will help you finish up well in front.

Why throw away a percentage of your betting bank every year on hopeless causes? We have some suggestions as to how your whole bank can be working for you all year. Every year.

One of the most misunderstood aspects of betting is the staking side.

People think things have to be difficult if they are any harder than "level stakes". And what do some punters think of as level stakes? Why, putting the same amount on every selection you make. That's level stakes all right but it's also, quite often, not very clever. Not very level-headed at all.

A small progression with a good system, as it wins, is more logical. Far more logical than level stakes, because when the wins come they are not spread evenly, and you want to take more advantage of them as you build up your bank balance.

One of this magazine's greatest systems advocated that the bettor raise his stake by one unit every time a winner was struck. This was modified, for convenience, to every new meeting (so, if you had two winners in an afternoon, you went up two units for the next meeting. One winner, one unit. And you never, ever went back a unit.)

If you bet $50 a week, you have an annual bank of $2600. I can imagine you saying you don't have it "up front", but that's the point. You don't need it up front IF you accept that it is for a YEAR'S betting.

Remember that we are talking long term and you have the time to put your bank together.

You can bet $50 a week for a year, and so long as you get paid every week, you have theoretically had access to a bank of $2600. If things go well, you may never use more than the first few hundred, turning it over and over again. Now that's what we were talking about back there when I was suggesting a mild increase when winning.

If you have an annual bank of $2600, then when you have a win I advise you to raise your weekly outlay. Let us say your preference is for win only betting, and you prefer favourites because they provide you with the most regular return.

In fact, let's plan a long-term strategy. You like to bet on four or five of your capital city's events each weekend, and you usually place $10 on each for a win. Let's say you get around the favourite average up, about 30%, and you lose about $10 a week over the year. How do we convert that 20% loss to a win next year?

The first thing is to identify a certain kind of favourite and stick to it. And instead of five bets a week, we lower the bets to two. Why?

Because if you have a 30% chance of getting a winner in one, and you have a 30% chance with the second, third, fourth and fifth bets, your chances of all five are close to zero. Multiply 0.30 by itself on your calculator four times, and see what you come up with.

So getting five up is pretty near impossible. And anyway it might happen once a season. But two favourites, and even three, win regularly on an eight race program. They have to, to get the 30 to 33% average that we have every year. The hard part is identifying which two or three are most likely to win.

In January through to June, two-year-old favourites will often provide high yields. The youngsters tend to be more consistent than other horses (they haven't learnt any tricks). Oddly enough, for southern bettors, hurdlers are very reliable as far as favourites are concerned in the winter months.

Apart from all that, the fact is that you have a fair chance of picking two winning favourites from two on any card, but if You try to pick 1, five you will probably get one, even two, but they may not pay your bills. Two favourites at $2.40 don't pay the $50 outlay. And they aren't much fun either!

So why not put $25 on each of two, using a steady selection plan ALL YEAR to support you? The plan could be (for example) the first two-year-old prepost favourite on Friday morning, and the favourite in whichever race has the fewest number of runners before scratchings.

They will win their 30% or so, and if you are lucky some of them won't even start favourite.

There's not a flaw there: the facts are that PREPOST favourites win nearly 30% of metropolitan races, too. And they are not necessarily the same horses as those who actually start favourite. Again the catch is to identify the winners and ignore the 70% losers.

Anyway, back to the drawing board. Let us make a unit $5, and say you start with five units on each selection. So you can have your $50 a week on two selections.

Let us say that your selections win one race in three. One wins the first week. It pays $3 and your bank is now $2625 (you bet $50 of your bank and got back $75).

You increase your bets by one unit ($5). The bet is therefore $30 each.

Next week, you miss out with both bets and your bank is down to $2565. You lost $60, two lots of $30.

The third week, both win and you get $3 and $3.50, and you collect $195, a profit of $130.

Now your bank is $2695. You increase the bets to $40 (one more unit for each winner). Interestingly, if they both lose, not only are you still winning $15 over the year, but also you have only been betting with money from the first week. So unless you cannot find a system with winners, your "annual" bank hasn't been brought into play.

IF you picked no winners at all for a long period, or had no reserve left, you must go back to your original $50 per week and start again. With careful selection that should never happen. But if it did, this rule holds for all time. Right back to the start!

The next thing we need to get straight is to organise our betting so that it is relative to our interest.

So you might choose to approach your betting from another longterm angle. Let's call it the IDENTIFIED PRIORITIES plan.

You know you will have particular times that you really enjoy, and when you are usually successful.

For example, if you are most interested in racing in the spring (in Melbourne) and the autumn (in Sydney), then you might need a good racing diary that indicates when each of the carnivals is run this racing year.

You would then mark out those weeks (for example the Golden Slipper Festival and the Doncaster /Sydney Cup/Derby meetings).

Now you might remember that we worked on $2600 a year at $50 a week.

If you start at the beginning of the racing year, you build up your bank by betting only $10 a week for the first four weeks. Then you can go sixteen or seventeen more weeks betting an average of $90 for the Melbourne Spring.

Huh? Sixteen weeks? Yes, because you are only betting ten dollars through May, June and July. At the end of November you go back to $10 until mid-March. Probably that's a spell of eleven weeks ($440 saved up).

For the next seven or eight weeks you can bet your usual fifty, plus another hundred (averaged out), which is $150 a week. Three times your base weekly sum.

Then back to $10 a week, until the Spring in Melbourne, or else if you go up to Brisbane or down to Adelaide you must apportion things accordingly.

No doubt you have noticed that I have omitted one aspect. I ignored all winners!

If you have winning results (and surely there'll be some), then you can indulge in minor increases for each winner, regardless of when you strike it. just like we did above. This is because you will never go broke while you are selecting winners, and you have a big reserve to protect you from the inevitable run of losers. You are still allocating the $50 a week, either reserving it in your bank or betting with it and whatever extra you have increased your stakes by (out of winnings). Whatever happens you are protected to the tune of around 50 losers in a row before you do your bank. Maybe more, but not less while you can divide your bank by 50 and come up with a positive number.

For instance, say you have had a dozen wins in fifty bets, and you don't bet below 3/1 or $4 on the TAB. This is quite possible. And it means that you must have returned at least 48 units of winnings to the bank, whatever the size of the bets, and as the gradual increases take place (returns from winning selections, and the $50 per week coming in) the bank grows accordingly. Chances are you have returned 60 or 70 units, or more, because there would be some winners at 4/1 or 5/1, and also because you will be increasing your betting by a unit per win at the end of each day.

This first article has really been to get you thinking. Next month I will suggest a pattern that might have produced this kind of satisfying result. It will be based on starting prices so everyone feels equally treated. I will take you through a hypothetical season and consider an ordinary run, nothing flash, and we will see how a long-range plan can build up both the bank and the confidence.

Click here to read Part 2.

By Ian Macarthur