There are two ways of learning: positive and negative. Plus and minus. And it is the fate of many punters to spend the majority of their betting lives in the latter camp.

This is because of a variety of reasons, but failing to learn from experience is possibly the most prevalent cause of Punter Influenza, which is sometimes called “Chronic Loser’s Syndrome”.

It’s called that by me, anyway. You do the same thing week in, week out, with additional and more desperate serious bouts occurring during carnivals.

I have for many years advocated that punters think of themselves as investors. I have a great pal who had so much trouble with girlfriends over the years, when they found out he was a racing man who makes money on the punt.

I advised him to revise his approach and his introductory spiel, so that he became a Turf Investor, specialising in significant racecourse profits and providing professional advice as to levels and degrees of speculation.

It worked. I’m sure when he reads this he will chuckle, as only his close friends know how well the game has treated him. No mortgage, no debts, steady job as a back-up, and the ability to ignore anything – a race or a program or a whole day – when he feels the odds are not going to be in his favour.

Many years ago I know he made regular forays into course doubles and daily doubles. When the TAB got “modern” and when flexi betting came on the scene, his magic wishing well dried up. So he turned to multiples of another kind: standout trifectas.

He works on races in which he can restrict the serious winning chances to two (occasionally three in a big race). He then coldly eliminates any horse that has never come within a bull’s roar of performing well in the kind of race it is contesting today.

This can mean his final selections agree with the general public. You’ll love this bit. When he believes that this has happened, and it’s easy enough to know this 10 minutes out from any metropolitan race these days, he dumps the race! There you are, he finds the world agrees with his analysis, you’d think that might bolster his confidence, and he tosses the race out.

No value. No value at all, even if there’s a chance of a slight edge 10 minutes out. That’s because the spruikers come on board, on both radio and TV, and indicate that X or Y is over the odds. And every second Desperate Joe in town hops on board.

In the olden days, 10 years or so back, your exotics would still be fairly immune from a late onslaught. A box trifecta might be taken by Joe Desperate at the local TAB, but by and large the money was on. Standouts were pretty safe. In the really olden days they couldn’t bet in the last 20 minutes! That was a licence for the astute course analyst to print money.

However, all good things come to an end, and these days there will be a late swag of flexi exotic betting.

Frustrating for the bloke who’s put the hours in, but then we all know and we ride the punches.

Anyway, when does he go on with the investments (note we are now calling them “investments”, not “bets”)?
He loves to quote a famous line from an ex-prime minister: “The times will suit me.” The times sometimes suit his investing. They suit him when he has made his decisions based on his years of experience and when they do not tally with the late markets. He couldn’t care less who tipped his horses or who didn’t, what pre-post odds the mystery guessing man provided for the papers, or anything; other than the markets 10 minutes or so out from the race.

If his final decisions disagree with the general crowd, he is as happy as a pig in proverbial. Remember that he is not guessing. He has based his decisions on his extensive experience and a judicious use of three or four reliable analysts other than himself (I should mention that Practical Punting Daily is one of these resources).

You can see that everything about his approach is positive. The only negative aspects, if you want to call them this, are his elimination decisions. He prefers to see them as positive decisions, and it’s clear why. He won’t follow the mob. Positive financial decisions can often be decisions not to invest. A negative decision might be seen as deciding to “bet”, as against  a positive decision which decides not to “invest”.

I was intrigued by Michael’s report in the October issue on his trip to Melbourne to see the new racing museum, and by his comparison of the two racing radio previews (Sydney and Melbourne). I’d like to add a wee bit on the amusing side.

How the Sydney lot can have the anchorman, known for his chronic mispronunciations, doing the track weather (as they now indeed do) is beyond my ken. On my way to the George Main meeting I was treated to “winds tendering to becoming gustly”. Keeps me listening, so maybe that’s the point.

Here’s my timely warning, as I issue it every year: do remember that the Cups period – those 17 or so days of frenzied activity – is just that. It’s less than three of your 52 weeks, and you can spend a bit more than usual, but not three quarters of your bank (or worse!).

Of the hundreds of horses that start out, one wins the Caulfield Cup, one (maybe the same one) wins the Melbourne Cup, and one wins the Cox Plate. Throw in the Derby, Oaks and Mackinnon and the other great races on the Flemington November 1 program, and you have a wonderful mix for a racing fan. But those Derby Day races on their own are a big threat to your bank.

Be selective. Sure, you might miss the winner of this or that, but (I know you’ve read this before) a $9 winner at Wagga pays the same as a $9 winner at Flemington, and it’s generally easier to identify.

In my interview with Bill Mack (in this issue) I indicated that I would outline the Goliath for you. Well, here it is in all its glory:

246 bets comprising 8 selections from different events:

•    28 x 2 Play Parlay /Doubles
•    56 x 3 Play Parlay /Trebles
•    70 x 4 Play Parlay /4 Folds
•    56 x 5 Play Parlay /5 Folds
•    28 x 6 Play Parlay /6 Folds
•    8 x 7 Play Parlay /7 Folds

This was best outlined on Mark Read’s IAS website, so that’s where I borrowed this set. William (Bill to his close friends) still uses his head and still bets race-to-race on course. He bets the five, six and seven folds. So at 50 cents a go, he’s up for $46 (close enough to that $40 he likes to stay near).

I’ve never seen him win all eight (I must ask him) but I experienced one day on which he already had six winners going into the final race. His pick for that was very short and he chose not to bet, depriving himself of the chance of several more $1,000. I saw his point of view though.

From memory, he had pocketed some 10 grand and he was not going to risk giving some of it back. It’s a matter of opinion. At $6 or so I think he’d have been in it. At odds-on, he resisted.

I suppose you want to know. Yes the final selection won, but at $1.40 or so. Bill said it wasn’t worth a heart attack!

He starts with the single 50c bets. Patience is called for, as there could be several weeks where most of the outlay is eaten away by the fourth race. Of course if there are four straight losers (or for that matter four losers anywhere) he gets nothing.

I do know that he sometimes reserves another $100 for the contingency I just alluded to. I’ve seen him slam $25 on the seventh and then $25 on the eighth if he has nothing coming in, regardless of his canny implication that he rarely would do such a thing. I actually challenged him once and he argued that it was “five of those $10 units I allow myself – I just enter them in my book as five $10 bets”. Hard to argue with that, I suppose.

That’s Profit Page for those who don’t know. Every month. We turned in a $110 profit for the past 12 months, based on a dollar a shot. I’m pretty pleased with that, as I supervise the page and make the final decisions (blame me if they go wrong . . .) but the work that goes in should mean you’ll get regular winners. They won’t win every month, so don’t invest on them exclusively, but I see they started the next 12 months with a small negative balance.

As I write this month’s copy we’ve had a few runners for the October magazine, with Regal Castanea winning twice, Samantha Miss saluting at remarkable odds for such a good filly, and Orange County at $9 providing a great return.

To give you an idea of the way we look at possible inclusions (remembering we have to wait a couple of weeks for subscribers to get their copies of PPM), our team noted the run of Judge Me Not, from the Gold Coast, in the Stan Fox at Randwick on September 27. He was well back behind the first two, running on strongly.

His gleaming black coat shone in the sun all the way down the straight as he steadily made ground, and you had to think “Wow – 2400m!” Oh yeah, I should tell you his dad was some insignificant type with a funny name – Lonhro, I think it was.

I stress we don’t get them all, and we won’t, but it does look as if we might be in for another happy year. Judge Me Not’s on the short list.

By The Optimist