If you want 'fun' from your daily betting, and most people have a wager for this reason, then you have to assess in your mind how much 'fun' your pocket can afford. Lose too much money having fun and you suddenly find it's not much fun at all!

An average punter going to the races with $50, $100 or $200 in his pocket will fire off his bets here, there and everywhere - and this is something that various writers have written many thousands of words about in the last 10 years.

I want to skip past the 'mistakes' angle and immediately tackle the problem of how to 'grade' your betting so that you can have your fun and enjoy it too. Let's take, as an example, the case of Punter X who wants to bet sensibly, for a place if necessary.

The punter who fits this category should approach place betting as if he were inching his way across a mine field. You might think that betting for a place is a 'safe' way to go, but it holds as many traps for the unwary as any other form of gambling.

What I will do first is suggest a way of distributing your money so that you're always in a position to bet safely, and always in possession of enough funds to improve your situation if the chance arises. And then we'll assume that the 'fun' is serious and that the punter is thinking of making a living from what he does.

Let's assume a bank of $20,000. You'd need this to embark on a serious 'fun making' exercise! But you can simply tailor your bank to suit your pocket (that is, for a $2000 bank divide everything I am about to propose by 10).

Firstly, $5,000 of the bank should be kept on a gilt-edged deposit in a bank for as long as possible. Yes, a bank! Why have the money sitting around doing nothing, just because it's a betting bank?

A second $5,000 should be placed 'on call' with the bank, at the best rate you can find, for around a month's notice. The third $5,000 can be used to buy shares in blue-chip stocks on the Stock Market, or you can invest on the short-term money market at the best rates you can find.

That's the first move in the battle keep only a quarter of the bank 'ready' for action; the rest goes into money-making bank deposits or share investments. The punter now has four banks.

Hopefully, the invested three quarters will never have to be called upon. The final betting bank of $5,000 is divided into two - $2,500 in reserve, the other $2,500 for your immediate betting needs.

Your initial betting bank, then, is one-eighth of the overall financial bank. The ploy now is to bet 2 per cent of that one-eighth bank, $50, per place selection (you can do it for a win, if you prefer). When your profits reach, say, $250 (10 per cent of the $2,500 bank) you can increase the bet to $55, which is 2 per cent of $2,750. And so on. After each $250 win, you lift the percentage bet of the total (not the percentage itself).

Another approach, especially if betting for a win, is to use a 1.25 per cent stake. That is, 1.25 per cent of your bank. Once again, you can split the banks. Let's assume we are dealing now with a battling punter who intends to bet $2,000 over 12 months, or $40 a week. He will have two banks of $1,000 each. The starting bet then is $12.50 to win.

Each time the bank increases by 5 per cent, the basic bet stake is increased by 5 per cent until it reaches $30, where it remains until the bank is $3,000. At that point, you deduct $1,500 as profit and start again with a bank of $1,500 in play and a basic bet of $20.

So once the starting bank reaches $1050 (a rise of 5 per cent) your bet becomes 1.25 per cent of that, which is $13 (rounded off). When the bank reaches $1,100 your bet is 1.25 per cent of that, which is $14 (rounded off).

This is a careful and sensible way to bet. You can never get into too much trouble because your bets are carefully plotted, and you increase them most conservatively when profits are in hand. Of course, if your bank plunges you have two alternatives: Drop your betting percentage of bank to whichever level the bank has reached, or maintain the percentage bet at 1.25 per cent of the amount you started with ($1,000).

I would recommend the latter approach. It allows a lot of room for losing runs, and still provides the opportunity for you to get back into profit after a losing streak.

In your betting endeavours, always try to look upon yourself as a small businessman. Think in the following terms:

(a) Bank
(b) Expected bank
(c) Expected profit per month (%).

You choose your bank to suit your financial situation, you choose an estimated annual profit (based on your past performances) and you seek a certain profit per month.

Is it possible to, say, make 10 per cent profit per month? Well, that would be ambitious, but it is not impossible. If you could do it every month you would be doing very well indeed at the end of 12 months:

Start of Month One$500
Month Two$550
Month Three$610
Month Four$671
Month Five$738
Month Six$811
Month Seven$884
Month Eight$965
Month Nine$1061
Month Ten$1167
Month Eleven$1283
Month Twelve$1411
Month Thirteen$1552
This indicates that an increase of 10 per cent a month could lead to an increased bank of well over 200 per cent in one year. It means you have to win $12 a week initially, stepping it up as your bank grows to an average of around $35 a week by the end of the year.

Think carefully about what I have written here. Consider whether any of the ideas appeal to you, and whether you have the psychological make-up to cope with such an approach to betting?

By Philip Roy