In my time as a punter, I've done some pretty stupid things. I guess we all have at one time or another.

I recall that my very worst mistake (or DUMB move) occurred at a Flemington meeting back in the early '80s. By race 7, I had amassed several thousand dollars' profit. In a moment of what I can only say was madness, I plonked the lot on a 6/4 favourite in the last, having convinced myself it was unbeatable.

It failed to run a place. That bet cured me once and for all of making rash bets, but it was an expensive lesson.

With tongue firmly in cheek, I've drawn up my Idiot's Charter and I recommend that you never leave home without it tucked in your pocket. Refer to it as many times as you like during a day at the races.

  1. Always bet more than you can afford to lose. If your wife has entrusted you with the money to pay the mortgage, or the power bill, always remember to pop into the local TAB so you can double what you have in hand. You have the benefit of earning some extra money and the wife will never need to know. Right?
  2. Listen to everything your best mates have to say when it comes to picking winners, especially if you're all having a few drinks, or more, at the pub. It's uncanny how good your mates can be as tipsters and how much privileged information they get.
  3. Make sure you're well on the way to being drunk before you have a bet. We all know that alcohol makes life worth living and that all our best decisions in life are taken when we are as p-- as a parrot. Being in this state is always a help when you are using a pin to pick your selections.
  4. No matter how bad a day you're having, always remember you will get it all back in the last race. It doesn't matter if the last on the card is a Maiden or a Cup, you'll back the winner, get all your losses back and have plenty left to kick on for the night trots.
  5. Don't forget to raise your bets when your friends are around. This will prove to them you're no mug when it comes to betting and that you have more punting guts than they do. You have balls of steel and you're never afraid to put your money where your mouth is.
  6. Go all-up when you've hit the front and have plenty in the kick. No use going home with a small profit when a bigger profit is begging you to take it.
  7. Never worry about studying the form. That's for idiots. Who needs a formguide when you can use your own vast memory bank and those of your mates to sort out any field you care to name.
  8. Don't worry about prices. If the bloody thing's going to win, who cares what price. Leave all that value nonsense to the so-called professionals who reckon they win at the races.
  9. Get stuck into having a bet on every race you can. The more the merrier. Who wants to hang around all day betting on a handful of races when you can bet on eight races at every meeting in all States? Gives you more chances to win. Right?
  10. Never worry about boxing up your trifecta combinations. Just take any combination, willy-nilly. Isn't that what you did when you struck that big one a few years back ... or was it 10 years ago? Anyway, who needs to cover every combination when you've got enough common sense to pick out the combinations you want? Know what I mean?
  11. If you do the form, remember that you've probably wasted your time. So ignore all the selections you made the night before and back whatever your mates say, or whatever the favourite happens to be. Never really believed in looking at all that form and what if you're wrong? Best just to chuck out the form selections and concentrate on your gut feeling.
  12. Never walk past a TAB agency or a pub without going in to have a bet.
  13. Never walk out of a TAB agency or pub if you're winning because it could be your lucky day and you'd be wasting wads of winners by leaving when you're on a roll.

Good luck and good punting ... IDIOTS.

By Mark Merrick