Many years ago, when I was setting out on the professional punting scene, an old timer gave me some sage advice. "Play safe," he told me. "Cover yourself, no matter how confident you might be."

I've always kept that advice forefront in my mind throughout the years that have followed. I wish many other punters would be as cautious. Unfortunately, they're not. They throw in their hand on a bet and think nothing of trying to 'save' on the bet.

In this article, I am going to concentrate on helping you 'save' when you are betting on doubles, it can be the Daily and Extra doubles in your State, or simply AR-Up doubles. If you're really keen on a double and you are going to go for it as a single, my suggestion is that you have a bet for a place on the first leg, then re-invest whatever you win, less the double stake, and less your place stake, on the second leg.

Win, lose or draw, the double is recouped if your first leg runs a place. If the first leg happens to win then you have the double running for you for nothing, as well as a bit extra from the place bet.

Let's look at this angle a little more closely. You like a double of Horse A and Horse B, and will be staking $10 on the combination. Now comes the added safety factor, albeit with the expenditure of more funds. You are going to have an extra bet on Horse A-$20 for a place.

Right, now let's assume for the sake of this test that Horse A runs 2nd and pays $1.70 for the place (for $l). This means you are going to collect $34, a profit of $14 on the place bet. Deduct the $10 you have lost on the double and you have a small profit of $4.

You can now reinvest this $4 onto your second leg Horse B as a place bet. Whatever the result, you have at least broken even. If Horse B happens to run a place you have a bit more profit to pocket.

Let's look at what might happen should both Horse A and B win. You have that $10 double up for a start. If we assume that A is 3/1 and B is 2/1, that means a collect of $120. You also have the $20 place bet on Horse A, which would possibly be paying about $1.60 so that's an added profit of $12.

I stress here that I am not concerned whether Horse A wins, or whether you will back Horse B as a single if Horse A loses. My concept here sets out to beat the TAB at its own game.

There is a widespread belief that betting All-Up the place is a mug's game, but if you stop and take out what you put in, the residue is the cream! How many times have you been caught on an All-Up treble and had two legs home paying juicy odds, and wished you could cut the bet there and then?

Place betting is fine as long as you are using it to 'cover' and 'save' on a more adventurous bet. Doubles are a classic example. Especially those one-in-each-leg attempts. It's very, very difficult to strike a double taking one horse in the first leg and one horse in the second.

Far too often you'll miss out on one leg. But more often than not the horse that misses out on the first leg will run 2nd or 3rd. That's where the $20 place saver comes into effect.

All that needs to happen to protect you entirely is for the first leg to run a place and pay $1.50. When this happens you break square on the operation, and live to fight another day.

Naturally, the entire play comes unstuck if your first leg is unplaced-but we hope that doesn't happen too often! It shouldn't if your selections are made on a sound and sensible basis.

'Saver' bets can, of course, be taken with any bet you like. You can 'save' your stake by betting another one or two horses in a race apart from your main fancy This is often better than betting each-way on the top selection.

If you select three horses in a race and you want to 'save' the stake on two of them, the procedure is pretty simple. You merely add ONE to each price and then divide that sum into the total stake to discover how much to invest on your 'savers', and the balance of the stake is then placed on your first choice.

Example: Your main choice is a 4/1 chance. You want to 'save' on a 3/1 and an 8/1. You are to bet $50 altogether. You divide that 50 by four and nine respectively. This gives you $12.50 to bet on the 3/1 chance and $5.50 to bet on the 8/1 chance, a total of $18. The remaining $32 is placed on your No. 1 selection at 4/1. Should your main choice lose, and the 3/1 chance win, you would get your entire $50 stake back. The same applies with a win by the 8/1 chance.

This is such an easy approach to safety first betting that I’m surprised many more punters don't do it. It can save you a great deal of money in the long term.

Professionals I know say that 'saver' bets are their bread and butter. They wait for the right races, bet their No. I choice and then cover themselves with a couple of 'savers' on the danger runners.

Sensible professional punting.

By Jon Hudson