When did you last have an attack of the “what ifs”? I feel that they fall into three categories – the impossible, the improbable and the feasible.

“What if I had been born rich” or “what if I had another hand”, are examples of impossible ones. Okay, being born rich isn’t impossible, but if you feel compelled to ask that particular “what if”, then you obviously weren’t born rich.

“What if I win lotto?” is an improbable one. The chances of winning lotto are marginally increased if you purchase a ticket. While it’s possible, it’s not likely. I know you are waiting to be told what I think is a feasible “what if”. Well, sit back while I tell you a little story.

I have previously mentioned that I start with a bank of \$100 and bet 2 per cent of it on each bet. When it reaches \$200, I withdraw \$100 and start over again. As I said at the time, I’m a cautious punter. Recently, in an idle moment, I thought, “what if I weren’t cautious?”

What if, when my bank reached \$200, I just kept going? If I, in fact, threw caution to the wind and just kept throwing 2 per cent of the bank at selections regardless of the outcome.

I’ll just remind you once more that while the following figures reflect what the real outcome could have been had caution been thrown out the window, they aren’t real bets. But they could have been.

So okay, we start at the beginning of 2008 with a bank of \$100 and bet 2 per cent on each selection. I have to tell you that my database is set to round-up this 2 per cent figure so that when the bank goes past \$125, what should really have been a bet of \$2.50 becomes \$3.

Come the end of January, the bank is at \$259 and each bet is now \$5. By the end of February, the balance was \$600.50 and bets were \$12 each. For my cautious nature, this would have been a bit of a strain but as the amount bet is still only 2 per cent of what’s in kitty, it’s still manageable.

March sees the bank climb to \$1,754.20 with each bet reaching a heart stopping \$35. April – \$2,376, bets – \$48. May – \$6,421, bets – \$128. My eyes were starting to pop out of my head at this stage – I found it hard to comprehend betting an amount that was larger than the bank at the beginning of January.

I could only sit and stare with mouth open as the figures rolled out. June saw the bank close at \$15,806. I’m not kidding you – \$15,806! This meant bets were now a staggering \$316. In July, we would have taken a bit of a battering as the balance only rose to \$16,859.80.

I have manually checked my database and can confirm that these figures are correct. From a starting bank of \$100 and betting 2 per cent, in the space of seven months, it has reached unimaginable heights.
Now, bets of over \$300 could possibly have an effect on dividends but provided the amount bet is not more than 5 per cent of the total win pool, the reduction will not be too severe.

Having got over that surprise, I thought, “what if I increased bets for a last start winner and a selection with a ‘C’ in its form line”. So if a horse was a last start winner, add another 2 per cent, and then add a further 2 per cent if it had a ‘C’ in its form line.

This would result in doubling the bet if only one of these extra conditions was met, or trebling it if both were met. This turned out to have an astronomical result. If I thought the previous figures were mind boggling, these ones defied comprehension.

I have found in the past that betting a percentage of your bank gives a lower profit on turnover than level stakes betting. What I tend to do is build in a safety net in the form of an upper limit for bets. In this case I chose a maximum bet figure of \$1,000 if that eventuality should arrive.

And it did – on June 9 the first \$1,000 bet occurred and struck a winner paying \$5.50. In total, there were 37 bets of \$1,000. Of those, 13 were winners and the highest collect was on July 7th when the winner paid \$7.70.

As I said earlier, these were not actual bets – but if I’d gone ahead with my “what if”, they would have been. I wonder if it’s too late to change my cautious nature? Hmmm, it could be done. What if . . .

By Mr Money

PRACTICAL PUNTING – OCTOBER 2008