I know punters who are 'daily double' addicts. They can't help themselves. It doesn't matter on which races the TAB operates a double, these addicts will pour on the money.

I said to one of them recently, "That double you just bet on comprises two Class 1 races with really inferior horses," but he just smiled and said he didn't care very much what quality the horses were, a double is a double and that's that.

As for myself, I'm more choosy in picking out which TAB double to bet. I demand at least one Open or Welter class race in the pair. And I like to see races certainly of higher quality than Class 1 or 2 in the other leg. Midweek this is not always possible, especially with provincial and country meetings.

I do believe the TAB doubles are an excellent wagering medium. For a start there is only one tax hit, in contrast to an all-up when you get slugged twice. Many times, though, the double races are simply beyond any form of 'reasonable' selecting and these are the doubles the sensible punter will ignore.

My approach if I skip a double is to use the money I would have bet on the next double - that is, double the stake on the next double I bet on, provided I am very confident of a successful outcome. If not, I hang on until the next confident pairing.

There is no doubt in my mind that the best way to hit the double is to try to estimate the odds and then bet with a 'multiple book'. But this is not always possible. Often you will choose to pick out two single races on which to bet on an all-up basis, and to heck with the takeout penalty.

My favourite 'own choice' double is when I can trim down the chances to three in each leg, with the favourites unlikely to be sent out at shorter than 6/4 or 7/4. The approach is three units to win on each of the three selections in the first race, a total of nine units bet.

If one of them wins, the total amount collected is split into three equal parts and invested on the three selections in the second leg. Two winners at 2/1 will bring you out square.

Remember that you are only betting in races where you confidently expect the favourites to be at 2/1 or longer.

The key with this betting plan is only to invest when (a) you are truly confident of picking the winner of both races and (b) when the likely prices permit.

The conservative bettor will probably collect many more times than he loses. A hit with a couple of good-priced winners will give you solid returns. For example, a 5/1 winner with a 4/1 winner means a return of 30 units for your nine units outlay.

"Play the double when it offers the chance of value"

Another way to think about the 'twin terror' of the double is the Field bet. This type of bet should only be operated on when the punter is confident (very confident!) of at least one of his selections being successful.

Let's assume you like Horse A in the first leg and there are 14 runners. In the second leg you like Horse B and there are 12 runners. You take Horse A with the field, and the field with Horse B. For $1 units, this will cost $26. You can then work out the likely divvies should both Horse A and Horse B prove winners.

Let's say Horse A is 3/1 in the pre-race betting and Horse B is 4/1. An all-up would get you back $20 including stake, or odds of 19/1. A $2 bet on the A-B pairing would be enough to cover the cost of the total outlay (now $28). You would get back $40 for a profit of $12.

Should A and B win, you now have the double four times, made up of the two Field plays and the $2 individual A-B bet. If just one of the two selections wins, there would be a single collect and this return would, of course, depend on the odds of the second winner.

This is what must be termed a simplified approach to the Field formula. More serious punters, and these include a number of successful professionals, go into things more deeply.

One professional I know in Sydney does the following: He couples each of his first-leg selections with the field in the second leg, then the field in the first leg with his three choices in the second leg. His bets are usually at least $25 per double, sometimes more. He also pairs the six selections in multiple doubles of $50 each ($450). This is a method that can return enormous dividends.

Naturally, you need to be well heeled to bet in $50 units! This same punter has been betting on Hong Kong racing for the last five years and has pulled off some incredible wins using this approach.

Another professional combines his best three in each leg and then bets an extra unit on the combination he figures will return the lowest dividend. This usually means an extra unit on the two favourites.

Now for another approach: let's assume you want to be able to bet, say, $100 or even a little more on the double. It's your one big bet of the week, and you always choose a sensible double (good-class races in both legs).

You narrow the chances to four in each leg. To link them in $5 units will cost you $80 (that's 16 doubles at $5 each). But now you go a step further. You go for the 'super doubles' linkups. You perhaps choose a one-horse banker in one leg and two sound chances in the other. You then bet them for $15 each (another $30 added to your bet).

You now have an outlay of $110. You can collect the double five times or 20 times, depending on which horses win. Let's say you are lucky enough to get a winner (your banker) home in the first leg at 4/1. You get the second-leg winner at 6 /1 (and it's also one of your best two chances in that leg).

The double should pay odds of around 33/1 at least. You have the double 20 times. That's a return of $660 for your $110. Even if you hadn't got the bonus big double, you would have got back $165 for your $110 on the 4x4 linkup.

Every now and again you will collect a really big double paying $200 or $300 and you may well be cluey enough to land it 20 times. This is what you aim at all the time - getting the big ones home.

If you do get a big collect, it's an idea to step up your outlay on future bets. If you choose, say, three in one leg and four in the second leg you can have those 12 doubles at $6 each. Then you might strongly fancy a 'banker' in one of the legs; if so, link it for $10 or $15 each with the chances in the other leg - and also take a straight field bet as well with the banker.

It's really a matter of being ambitiously creative, of not going into a shell and being too ultra cautious. What you want to ensure is that when you do strike a good double you capitalise on it as much as possible.

There is a body of opinion which says that you should always go FIELD into the second leg. The reasoning is that nobody is really concentrating on the next race, or the second leg. It would be worth keeping this in mind.

Staking is a most important aspect of your doubles betting. Many punters will not be content with investing the same amounts every double. After a loss or two, you can always increase the stake. Thus, when you strike your next double you have factored in a stake that will help recoup previous losses.

The progression, though, should be a mild one. I think you should assume a 6/1 return on your total doubles outlay. With this in mind, the progression could be:


You have six bets all at one unit (whatever your unit happens to be, 50c, $1, $2, $5, etc.), and if you lose all six (heaven forbid) you then move to two-unit doubles. And so on.

Hopefully you will not encounter long losing runs. If you do, then reconsider your approach for sure.

While I have talked here about Field doubles, there is another side to the story. It's this: in any given field, there are always several runners, sometimes four, five or six that have ZERO chance of winning. Often they are easily recognised.

Some keen punters will eliminate these horses and increase their unit bets on the remaining runners. For example, if you had a 14 horse, field and you decided four of them had no chance of winning, you would then be faced with, say, $14 to bet on 10 horses. You could add a dollar and put $1.50 on each field double. You get the leverage from dumping the no-hopers.

Every once in a blue moon, one of the no-hopers will win but taken overall the careful elimination of these roughies will be to your benefit. Especially with the use of the 'saved' money being used on your remaining combinations.

In the long run, say the proponents of the anti-field movement, you are just throwing money away on absolute no-hopers. Their maxim is to cut the field by half and place twice as much on the remaining selections.

Once again, though, these bettors advocate taking multiple selections in the first leg. In his book Commonsense Punting, Roger Dedman tackles this very area of doubles betting and writes: "If you must take the field in a double, take it as the first leg, rather than the second. Human nature being what it is, most people like to have their one-off safely home, and then hope for a roughie in the second leg.

"If you study past records of doubles dividends, you will find that if an outsider wins it invariably pays better in the double with the next race than it does in the double with the previous race, taking into account the relative prices of the other leg winners.

"This is because many more punters have picked up the outsider as part of the selection field double than as part of a field selection double. The same argument applies if you whittle the field down to 10 or fewer runners. Taking those 10 horses in the first leg into your selection in the second leg gives you a better chance of a big dividend than taking your selection in the first leg into 10 horses in the second leg."

Summing up, then, when you bet the doubles you should:

  • Pick your double races carefully and steer clear of weaker races.
  • Use a multiple approach and have extra bets on your standout doubles.
  • Take Field doubles in conjunction with other 'bonus' bets on standout doubles.
  • If you concentrate on Field doubles, try to bet the Field in the first leg rather than the second.
  • Consider a slight progression staking method.

Bearing these points in mind you should be able to tackle the doubles with gusto and, depending on the power of your selections, grab some useful returns.

Betting to the expected value of a double is a professional way to go. But you should try to bet only good-value selections. If you do your own pricing on selections, you should follow the betting details shown here. If you don't price your own selections, you have to use the pre-race betting market. 

This doubles plan comes via Nick The Greek, the American gambler. Well, it is attributed to him anyway!

  1. For the selections in each race, take the horses listed in the pre-race betting on the first four lines of favouritism.
  2. If any runner on the fifth line finished 2.5 lengths or less from the winner last start, include it among the selections.  This includes last-start winners.
  3. If the State's No 1 or No 2 jockey is aboard a horse not yet selected, then include it in the selections.
  4. Link all the selections in the double.
  5. Take a bonus bet on the two selections in each leg which are at the longest quotes. Bet two units each on these doubles (total eight units).

Nick The Greek's plan hauls in lots of very high-paying doubles. It is sensibly structured and provides ample room to land big-priced winners.


  1. Do not bet any runner you have priced at 13/4 or lower. That is, bet only those 7/2 through to 8/1. This applies to both legs.
  2. Bet according to the following:


B-LEG 7/2 4/1 9/2 5/1 6/1 7/1 8/1
So, if you have two horses in the first leg at, say, 5/1 and 7/1 each and two in the 2nd leg at, say, 7/2 and 4/1, your bets would be: 

5/1x7/2    Bet 7
5/1x4/1    Bet 6
7/1x7/2    Bet 5
7/1x4/1    Bet 5
Total Bet    23 units

If your 7 / 1x7 / 2 double gets up, the return will be 180 units. And so on.

By Philip Roy