As another year draws to a dose, it's my bet, that most punters around Australia are counting the cost of yet another 12 months of losing betting. Hopefully we've helped readers of P.P.M. to avoid that end-of-the-year sinking feeling. If not, then perhaps this article will be the catalyst to set you thinking anew for 1991.

The two main things in punting are selection and staking. Very simple. You pick the right horses and you back them the right way. The end result is profit. So, there it is, simplicity-but with a built-in difficulty factor. How do you make winning selections, and how do you back the selections properly?

This article is going to be all about staking. Other areas of P.P.M. will help you sort out the selection process. Firstly, a few tips about staking, or, as the professionals call it, money management. The plain truth is that if you do not attend to money management, and thus bet haphazardly, you will end up losing. You are doomed, in the long run, to lose.

Once you understand this fact of punting life, you will be able to turn your attention to the problem. In Equestrian's recent and best-selling publication, Dollars & Sense, the whole team at P.P.M. put their heads together to bring some of the best staking plans around to readers. There is a wealth of intelligent information and assessment in Dollars & Sense, including an entire section on money management. If you haven't a copy of Dollars & Sense, I do urge you to buy one, because it's a book you can keep around for the rest of your life, and one to which you will find yourself constantly referring.

Savour these words of wisdom from the book: "The basis of successful betting is the amount of profit to be obtained on an investment, and an investment should only be made when the probable result is worth the risk. What this refers to, of course, is profit percentage over a period in relation to turnover, and this can only be achieved by the punter waiting for opportunities when the possibility of winning is greater than the chance of losing."

So bear those words in mind. Don't rush in and back anything. Use a staking system sensibly on sensible selections. But what is a sensible staking method? Well, we'll start with the most well known one of all-level stakes betting! Yes, this still is probably the most effective form of money management there is.

And, remember, it is a fact that if your selections can't make a profit at level stakes, they will not make a profit with progressive staking methods. Don't think that a progression staking plan will enable your losing level stakes bets to miraculously turn around! What you can hope for with a non-level stakes approach is that you can improve slightly on the level stakes profit, and by outlaying more money you can win more.

Over a period of time, it is more than likely that level stakes betting and progression betting will show virtually the same percentage profit, except that with the progression method your return will be greater because you have bet more.

With level stakes betting, you have everything under complete control. You always know exactly how much is going on each horse, regardless of its price. This suits many punters, because they are not equipped emotionally to handle higher bets. They are happy enough putting $5 on a horse, but if a progressive method called for them to put on $10 or $20 they would 'chicken' out.

This is understandable. If you have a run of losers, your stakes could be pitched quite high by a progression method, where stakes are raised after a loser. Imagine 10 losers in a row! Those sort of losing runs do come, no matter how good your selection. process might be.

In the article on Page 7, by the noted betting expert Dr Clive Allcock, there is a fascinating aspect of progression betting analysed. I'm sure you'll find it most interesting, as it lays out clearly what progression betting really means, and how you should look at it.

For the purposes of most of this article, we have studied three approaches in staking on the same set of results. What we did was to use the selections of a selection method which we are putting through research at P.P.M., and to apply three staking methods to them.

The results are most interesting. They show that while the selections on this particular day (October 20) made a nice level stakes profit, there was a slight edge to be gained by backing them using (a) a slight progression method and (b) the time-tested 6-Point Divisor Plan.

This just goes to show that if you have a selection method that can make a profit at level stakes, then there's a good chance it will do slightly better using a more dramatic approach. In the three-way contest we set up, the 6-Point Plan came out in front with a 170 per cent profit on turnover, compared with a level stakes profit of 138.75 per cent, and a 140 per cent profit using the progression method.

The 6-Point Plan, which has been revealed before in P.P.M., remains a sound and sensible approach to staking which, if used with a Safety Brake to stop escalating bets, will never let you down, as long as you can come up with the winners.


In the test bets, the level stakes approach saw us outlay $16 on the eight horses chosen by the selection system. We placed $2 a win on each horse and got a return of $38.20, for a profit of $22.20. The progression method we used was as follows: 1-1-2-2-3-4-5-7-9. In the event of a winner, we went back a step in the progression. As it happened, we needed to do this only once, because the day's bets threw up only two successive losers.

This progression saw us outlay a total of $18, using $2 as the base unit to start with. The total return was $43.20, leaving us with a profit of $25.20, or 140 per cent on turnover.

Finally, the 6-Point Divisor Plan, and with this we established a target of $12 to win, with a divisor, of course, of 6, giving us an initial bet of $2. After all the eight bets, we had completed two full series of the divisor plan and were in the second bet of a third.

Total stake was $22 and the return was $69.95, giving a profit of $47.45, or 215.68 per cent on turnover. As you will see, the 6-Point Plan really delivered the goods. It gave an edge over the level stakes approach of some 31 per cent on turnover, a sizeable margin if it were to be repeated throughout the year.

In Dollars & Sense, we showed again how the 6-Point Plan can achieve greater percentages of profit than with lever stakes betting. In the examples we gave, using Brian Blackwell's selections which had been released publicly through various Equestrian services, the level stakes profits were well below those achieved by the 6-Point Plan. In one example, the 6-Point Plan returned 80 units profit, while level stakes returned only $46, with the same amount of money staked.

With the progression method we used in the latest P.P.M. example, there was never much risk and with this particular progression there never will be as long as you can avoid crushing losing runs. A winner at any time in the progression at 3/1 or over will produce a profit. Now this isn't a bad little security package, is it?

Let's say you had six losing bets. You would have outlaid 1-1-2-2-3-4 units, a total of 13 units. Your next bet would be five units, giving you an outlay to date of 18 units. If you struck a winner at 3/1 you would receive back 20 units, putting you two units ahead. If you had bet the same seven horses at level stakes of $2.50 each you would have staked $17.50, but would have received back only $10 for the one winner at 3/1 ($2.50 x 3 + $2.50). This gives a loss of $7.50, whereas with the progression you are $2 in front.

There's much food for thought in this, isn't there? While level stakes is the conservative way to go, it also can drag the chain a bit.

Let's look now at Coal Setting in regard to your money management, because you must set yourself a target, and do everything in your power to achieve it. A professional friend of mine told me many moons ago, when I first set out to become a full-time punter, that there would be obstacles along the way, which I would have to recognise and eventually overcome.

I drew up my own Coal Setting Plan. I had Minor Goals to achieve along the way, and deadlines to meet in respect of those Minor Goals. I itemised solutions to likely problems, and made sure I had the commitment inside me to meet all the challenges.

From time to time, I analysed all that I had done to see if I could improve my approach. I asked myself questions like (a) was I wasting any of my capital base and how could I have avoided any waste (b) was I sticking 100 per cent to my original agenda and if not, why not, and how had any deviation affected my Goal Setting and (c) could I have done better than I had done, and if so, how.

All my records were neatly kept. I began keeping record books of everything to do with my business. My staking was an integral part, I found, of everything that I did, I was, after a year or two, moving with some caution but I knew I had a very large ultimate goal which had to be reached.

I kept my losses to a minimum - through astute selection making-and I declared profits for myself at consistent intervals. I got rid of any staking plan that didn't work for me. And I made such decisions very speedily, without falling into the trap of hanging on to a loser for too long (as some punters do).

I was advised very early in my professional betting life that if something stopped working then chuck it out. Eliminate the cancer early, were the words of one pal, and I've never forgotten them.

What other avenues of staking should we be looking at? Target betting is one. Des Green covered this subject very well in an article in P.P.M. in 1986. He has used a target betting approach for many years, and I might add with great success.

This is how he outlines his approach. "Let's say you want to win $20. You look at a horse's odds and determine how much you need to invest to return you that $20 (or close enough to it). If your first horse wins you collect the cash and close up shop for the day. If your first bet loses, you add the amount you lost on to the $20 you want to win from the second race. If your first bet had been $10 you would now be seeking to win $30.

"How do you arrive at the staking figure for each horse? You divide the desired daily goal (say $20) by the first digit of the horse's odds. If your horse is 5/2 you divide $20 by five, giving you the answer of four. You then multiply this result by the second digit of the horse's odds, which is two, and therefore it will be 4 x 2 equalling 8 and this is the amount you will be investing to get your $20 at 5/2.

"When you strike a fraction you should always jump the size of your bet to the nearest unit. An example--if your desired profit is $20 and your horse is 7/2 you divide seven into 20 and this results in 26/7. If you multiply this by two it will equal 5V7 and that's close enough to six, so your next bet will be six units, or $6."

Target betting has its critics, but it will deliver the bikkies as long as you can deliver it a winner! That's the essential point. Des Green assures me that he has never let himself down in regard to the selection process, and that target betting has always been his 'friend' where staking is concerned.

He says: "I knew right from the start that target betting had come under fire from many people, but I reasoned that the only way it could fail would be due to the persons operating it not being able to come up with the winners."

Losing runs are another important point to consider. You should always consider betting some horses for a place rather than a win if their odds are high. You might be in the middle of a losing run and your next bet is a horse at 10/1. Why not bet this horse for a place. You can reasonably expect the tote to pay 2/1 the place ($3 for $l) and you have three chances of a collect, as against just the one for a win bet. As well, you have three chances to end that losing run, and this is most important.

Let's take a theoretical example using our progression method as an example: Let's say you had notched six losers and your seventh bet was a 15/1 chance. You know it's a big risk to go for that 15/1 chance, but you also know you can reasonably expect to obtain at least 5 and possibly 3/1 or even a little more r the place.

Using the progression method, you have currently wagered $13 and you are called upon now to lay a bet of $5 on a 15/1 chance. If it won, okay, it would be a bonanza, but if it lost you would be $18 down and facing the prospect of a $7 bet next time. The safety way out is to back the selection for a place.

Let's assume the horse finishes 2nd and pays $4.40 a place. You get a return of $22. This puts you $4 in front. Had you backed the 15/1 chance for a win you would be $18 in arrears! And your losing run would be unbroken.

To put it simply: The trick always is not to go to sleep on the accounting side of things. Weight up your options very carefully. You have to be cautious without being over-cautious, and most of all you need to be sensible and allow yourself the very best chance of coming out in front. That means planning, patience and discipline.

Never place all your eggs in one basket. It's all very well to roll along backing for a win only, but there comes a point when you have to sit back and take stock. Faced with longshots, it is only rational and sensible to adopt a more cautious approach and play them for (a) a place instead of a win or (b) for a win and a place.

If you are picking your bets carefully, you shouldn't end up with too many longshots, and you shouldn't have too many long losing runs. If you find that you are striking losing runs on a frequent basis then it is time you stopped and had a long, hard look at the manner in which you are selecting your bets.

There has to be something radically wrong if you are (a) achieving a low percentage of winners and (b) striking many long losing streaks. These are the very two things you have to avoid if you are to come out a winner, and meet all the goals you have set yourself.

All selection methods, from time to time, run into bad trots-but a good method will not strike them too often. A poor selection method will!

By Martin Dowling