To start with, anyone wanting to win money consistently needs a bank. Even to win Lotto you need to be able to put aside a certain amount of money a week - and, of course, expect to lose the lot every week for your whole life, but that's another story.

I am suggesting here that a bank of $25,000 (wait - keep reading!) per year is sufficient for the good selector to make a profit of $100 per week - on average.

Now if that is out of your league, divide the whole thing by 10 - $2500 in your bank will mean you can win $10 a week, or $500 a year. That is in round figures, as you know, and it also represents 20 per cent profit on maximum possible turnover.

POT, or profit on turnover, is a concept that any thinking investor has to keep at the forefront of his mind. Profit on maximum turnover is a much better figure to work on if you are a punter, as the maximum turnover will rarely, if ever, be reached, and thus you will make a far larger percentage profit in the period.

Let me explain further: If I allocate a maximum of $500 per week for my betting activities, I will outlay $25,000 over a year.

This, as we have seen many times before, does not mean we have to have the twenty-five grand on the table now: it means we MIGHT have to use it over the year. A good week or two early on, and we will be merely using profits for the remainder of the time, but that is in the lap of the gods.

We NEED $500 each week, whether it comes from previous weeks' profits or from further input into the bank. As we will see, some weeks we will outlay only $40, or $80. But that is something we cannot know ahead of time.

Remember what I said above. If this is too heavy for you, divide everything by 10. You will need $50 per week maximum, some weeks as little as $4 or $8, and you will be betting to take out $10 a week (20 per cent profit). Maybe, as your bank builds up, you will be able to consider increasing your staking.

So, we have a bank of $25,000. It must be money that is allocated to your investment strategies and can, if absolutely the worst happens, be lost. I would imagine that it will never, ever be totally wiped out if you follow my suggested approach, but racing is, as they say, unpredictable, and you must not bet with money that is "scared".

Scared money is dangerous money, meant for other purposes. I have done it, you have done it. It is a very difficult temptation. One of my purposes in this article is to draw your attention to the fact that staking can be enjoyable, intelligent, and profitable, without being mentally disturbing. If you even suspect that the $25,000 a year bank is dangerous, start with $2500. That way you must find a maximum of $50 a week, and with patience you will soon be betting more and hopefully, receiving more back.

Decide on which venue is the best for you. Saturdays and Melbourne Cup day only. Only one venue, as this is a plan that might ask you to focus very closely on every race of that afternoon.

Now you have chosen one city, stick to it regardless of any track conditions (my preference would be for a capital city, but there is justification in choosing, say, Newcastle, Kembla, Launceston or another big city outside the capitals).

The choice is yours, but the best idea is to pick the city you feel most confident with.

The horse to be supported in every race on your chosen program is the first horse listed at 5/1 or better.

This is the systematic part of proceedings and can be abandoned by those of you who want to apply the staking to your own selections. A 5/1 selection may, of course, start shorter, but it may also start longer. The choice of how to make the selection is left to you. If at the track, you will be privy to the latest betting. If not, you have two

  1. Use a reliable pre-post market and stick, regardless of the actual price that comes up.
  2. Since you will be betting race by race, check the TAB market five minutes before the "off" and make the selection at that point. I tend to feel that off-course, you might as well stick to a decent pre-post market and take the rough with the smooth. Sometimes a 5/1 pre-poster will go off at 10/1 or even better odds, and win. That would make a tremendous difference to your overall bank.

In my experience it is rare for a 5/1 pre-poster to go to the start at odds below 3/1, and usually they are pretty close to fives or better. This is why I chose 5/1. Shorter odds are usually a guess, whereas the 5/1 horse is usually riot the favoured commodity and may well be a very good horse with a better than 16 per cent chance.

Anyway, I have hit on that price. So the easy way is to tick the first one that is at 5/1 or more in every race on your chosen card. No other horses are invited. In the event of a scratching, go to the next horse (going out, not in).

You now are ready to bet. Remember that if your bank for the year is $2500, you drop a zero off everything I say. The first three races are bet at $40 to win each.  A 5/1 winner in race one returns $240, or $200 profit.  Stop betting for the day. You have made your profit.

Can't do that? Go to another page in this magazine, as there is no point in continuing reading this page. This whole staking pattern is designed for the conservative, patient investor who is seeking to make at least 20 per cent on turnover. You just made 500 per cent. How much better can the day get?

Still reading? Okay, say the beast loses.  Bet $40 on the second race. It wins, you get $240, profit $160. That's 200 per cent on turnover of $80.  Stop betting, pocket the 200 per cent, and next week your requirement is only $340, as $160 of the possible investment of $500 is already there in profit.

Say it loses, though. Bet $40 on race three. It wins, you get $240, you are ahead $120. You have doubled your money. Stop for the day. Now, say all three lose. The stakes are increased as follows:

Race 4 $60 (win return $360, profit $180)
Race 5 $60 (win return $360, profit $120)
Race 6 $70 (win return $420, profit $110)
Race 7 $90 (win return $540, profit $140)
Race 8 $100 (win return $600, profit $100)

Total Possible Outlay $500. Any winner: minimum profit $100 (20 per cent POT minimum).

Theoretically, that final winner at 5/1 is paying you 1/5, as you have outlaid $500 for the afternoon, but there are things to be understood here.

Firstly, it is your eighth bet after seven losers and will still see you 20 per cent up for the day.  Secondly, on many weekends the eighth bet will never happen. Thirdly, your stake has been allocated that way since before the day's racing commenced.

This was always the way the plan was designed. You didn't simply lash out on the last race for the sake of getting square. Fourthly, the selection in one of those last two or three races may well be in excess of 5 / 1. And fifthly, if another winner has been struck earlier in the program, but at odds below the requirement, you will have something between zero and $99.90 in returns anyway, so the day is not a wipeout - you simply haven't made the $100 profit yet.

I have assumed 5/1 or better for each return. Should this not happen (for example the winner pays 7/2), the acid test is the profit: ARE YOU MAKING $100 ON THE DAY? If so, stop. If not, continue on. You do not cease operations until you are $100 or better in front.

In races one and two that would be hard to imagine. In race three, a 4/1 winner would see you only $80 up, and you'd bet on. A 9/2 return would be enough for me, with $90 profit, but that is your choice. It's a fine line and the profits are excellent at that point.  In race four, a winner at 4/1 would return enough to stop. But in race five you'd need the 5/1, although you might decide that a winner at 9/2 was enough ($90 profit).

In race six, you'll need the 5/1 minimum, but race seven is designed to give you some small leverage. A winner there would be okay at 9/2 with a return of $95 profit - close enough for me.

That $95 on $400 outlaid is a handy 23.75 per cent POT. There we have it. It's a way of focusing on good horses, possibly some of them neglected by the public, at winnable odds, and sticking within the bounds of staking  investment strategies that can work.

By The Optimist