One of the most popular ways of developing something out of very little is by developing a “safe” bet into the start of a sequence, as the anchor of a multiple bet.

We can always convert a single bet into a multiple to increase the returns. The downside, of course, is that we immediately increase our chances of losing. So there will always be two sides to a multiple: it will increase the odds and it will increase the risk. Odds and risk go hand in hand.  A single bet struck at $2 on a winner gets you even money. Theoretically (it’s always that) you have one chance of losing and one of winning.

Have a $10 double (9/1), and theoretically your odds have just increased to 9/1: nine chances of losing and one of winning. That sort of takes the edge off it, right?

I’ll come back to that, as there is much more to be said about it.

However, many investors like to try to increase their daily take by such methods. If, for example, there are three races where they feel a horse has a show, a real show, and there is one race where the short priced favourite looks a good thing, they might have, say, 70 per cent on the shortie to win and try to give the other three possibilities a kickstart by taking three doubles.

Let’s look at that. Say we have our even money friend above. We have $70 to win. Now theoretically (I won’t say that again, I promise), we can win another $70, and we are prepared to sacrifice $30 of a basic $100 to try to boost the outlay on the other three and to make a nice profit.

We can have three $10 doubles starting with the hotpot, and possibly sacrifice profits. As usual that depends entirely on you.

The most obvious advantage in this kind of power play is that you are investing on a short animal, with enough in hand to cover the situation if all three longer-priced horses should lose.  Should they all win, you stand to collect a lot more money. Like, lots!

Coming back to what I was saying above, let’s assume that the hotpot is even money as we said, which is $2, and that the other three are at $11. That is about the limit that most punters would go to, give or take a point.

After that the chances of collecting start to diminish very rapidly, and although I’m not saying for a moment that you shouldn’t go out there, if you fancy a horse at a long price then you might as well go ahead and back it. This power play is more in the nature of boosting the price of three horses in the midrange by doubling their theoretical prices.

For example, we have taken $2 as our basis for the “good thing”. And we are now going to take $11 as the price of our three good chances. If one of them wins we’ll be doing OK (all right, I’m simply assuming that our good thing at even money will win its race…I know that this is a big “if” in any race, but for the sake of our conversation that’s how it’s going to be).

If all three win, let’s have a look at what would happen. Firstly, if we have $10 on each of our doubles, and our first selection (the good thing) does the right thing and wins, we now have $20 on each of our doubles.  We have, in fact, effectively doubled our stake on each horse.

Now, let’s be really optimistic and assume that all our second legs win.  The really big plus about all this is that those horses are now running for us at $220 each, odds on our original $10 of 21/1.  Each second leg has still run at $11 for the rest of the public, but for us it is running at $22.  Since our original stake was only $10 (not $20), we only have to give $10 back to the bank and the $210 is profit; that is to say, we have struck the bet at 21/1.

This really is simple doubles logic, but it has this power play concept of representing the risk factor in an insurance bet.  What I mean by this is that you believe your even money horse will win, and you have placed enough on it ($70) to make a tidy profit if only it wins. That profit will be $40, or 40 per cent (that’s why I’m using $100: it’s just easy; you don’t have to go that high).

But if they all win, that profit forgone ($60 on the $30 you allocated to the three doubles) has mounted into something approaching $630!

Give or take, we are talking here about an increase in profit to the extent of 20-fold, more than 2000 per cent. Pie in the sky? Well, why should it be? It’s a fair enough way to operate, it gives you a significant boost in your profits on what your level stakes would have brought you, and you had that insurance going for you.

The moment that your even money chance wins, you must make that 40 per cent profit, no matter what else happens.  The rest is a calculated risk, but it makes sense because you have locked three longer priced horses into one short priced favourite, and you have invested enough on the short priced horse to ensure your day’s profit, no matter whether the three longer ones oblige or not.

The second possible power play is involved in the actual allocation of your punting funds. Recent publications have provided the calculated odds for various betting avenues.  Let’s have a look at them.

How would you like to win Powerball? Well go on, treat yourself, buy a ticket. Or don’t. It doesn’t really make much difference when you consider that you will have one chance in 54,979,156. How many people are there in Australia? Would you agree somewhere a little over 20 million? That’s a lot of people but it’s not even half of that figure above.  Trying to win Powerball is as near to a lifetime impossibility as most things get.

So what about Lotto? The Oz variety provides you with one chance in little over 8 million. But hold on! The other Lotto will give you one chance in 7 million! What are you waiting for? We all know what you’re waiting for, you’re waiting for someone to come along and certify you. Needless to say, if you’re a compulsive gambler, you’ll be in like Flynn.

I agree there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a little fling now and then and I admit I’ve used that old chestnut myself: “Somebody has to win it.” Well, on the occasions when I did that, I have to tell you that it wasn’t me. Somebody did, but it was somebody else.

Then we have the Pools, and we are down to a chance in 2,600,000. Getting better. 

But what about a trifecta?

Ha!  You knew where I was heading didn’t you? To work out the odds of winning a trifecta, you have to multiply the first place by the second place by the third place, deducting two from the field for first place and one from the field for the second place. So for argument’s sake, if the field consists of 16 runners, your bet will be 14 x 15 x 16 = 3360 units.

For the Melbourne Cup, there are usually 24 runners, so the bet will be 22 x 23 x 24 = 12,144. Frightening?  It probably shouldn’t be, because there is one advantage this bet will have over all those others. Have you worked it out yet? Give yourself a silver star. Of course, the answer is that you must be paid. You will win!

The trouble is, figuring out how much the trifecta will pay, because, dead heats and suchlike ignored, there will only be one dividend. The Melbourne Cup can pay anything and theoretically (oops, sorry, but it is theoretical) you can win a fortune on the single bet.

On the other hand, Murphy’s Law says that occasionally the favourites will run 1.2.3, and that will be the year that you and I take it, along with half a million other people.  And you know what that means to the dividend!

So there’s a massive risk involved in something like that, but then the pay-off could be a lifetime dream realised.

You can turn things your way in a big race if you can figure out which of the horses have the major chances of winning. You will often get a most unexpected horse fill the minor placing, but if you look at some of the comments that have been made this month on Melbourne Cup possibilities, you can see for yourself that the really long priced Cup winners don’t appear to be around any more.

They can start off at quite long prices, but they are trimmed right up. Take for example, Media Puzzle, or Makybe Diva the first year she won. Even last year, the TAB offered $21 at one stage in a promotion. I still shake my head in bewilderment as to why I didn’t take it. I was telling myself how clever I was because we didn’t know for sure she would start, and that I was a serious punter and didn’t fall for this sort of gimmickry. I simply wonder how I let that golden bet get away.

Anyway, while that field/field/field bet might look rather daunting, there’s always this:

4 x 6 x 24 = 440.

The maths are right (the same four horses are included for second place). A 50 cent bet would set you back $220.

Get the winner in four, throw in two more for second, and the field for third. That’s not impossible.

The major thing to remember here is that all chances are not equal and we are looking to increase ours by disregarding the less likely ones.

I’ll continue this next month and we’ll then examine the third power play.

Click here to read Part 2.

By The Optimist