Finding and carrying out a strategy lies at the core of successful punting. It’s not just me saying this. It’s professional punters right down through the years.

“Strategy” can embrace selection and money management. The most successful punters I’ve met (not many of them!) have all strictly applied a strategic set of rules to their approach.

In this article I am more concerned with staking, a subject which we have talked about in this magazine from day one, but which still seems to have “legs” in that punters today still believe they can bet and win without having any staking plan set out.

Level stakes are fine, but most punters don’t even stick to that simple formula. They will be up and down the dollar scale mostly on instinct. It’s all very haphazard and prone to horrible outcomes (too much on the losers, not enough on the winners).

Look at Pittsburgh Phil’s basic strategy. He made his fortune as a place bettor. His golden rule was to wait for standout horses but never to bet for a win. He made famous the saying, “pick them to win and bet them to place”.

Now he had a strategy; certainly not a complicated one but it worked handsomely.

A friend, who has made money from racing in Sydney for a long time, works on a simple staking plan: He has four bets a day (only four!) and bets them all according to his own worked-out price assessments, with a $1,000 outlay.

It’s an approach we have looked at before in PPM. Let’s say his four selections are at 3/1, 5/1, 6/1 and 9/2. Work out the percentages to $100: 25, 16.6, 14.3, 18.20.? These total 74.1 per cent.

Remember, these four selections are all in different races. One winner will enable my friend to get ahead. Two or more winners and he’s on big profit margins.

Let’s say he gets two winners, at 3/1 and 9/2. The return on those winners is 100 from the 3/1 chance and 99 from the 9/2 chance. He has outlaid a total of 74 units for a return of 199. He is 125 units ahead.

My pal works to a $1,000 outlay so his bets would have been 10 times this example. His profit on the day would have been $1,250. A nice day’s work. The only way he can fail is to back four losers.

There is another aspect to all this. The prices my pal works to are his assessed odds. He may well be backing his selections at those prices or HIGHER prices. So his profit on the day can leap much higher than his anticipated odds may indicate. Now, this strategy may not suit everyone but it suits him because he is CONFIDENT he can pick at least one winner in four bets. A 25 per cent strike rate. That’s achievable.

Would you be confident enough to take on a betting approach like this one? How’s your selecting ability? Can you pick one winner in four at decent odds? Maybe you reckon you can do even better than that!

I rather like the idea. You are betting the selections to an odds line you have created yourself. It’s not the work of some unknown assessor or media guy. It’s all your own work.

You are in a position to be able to identify overlays and, at the same time, identify non-value bets. My friend will throw out any selection he feels is under the odds, and replaces it with another selection (usually in another race).

Another strategy is to specialise. Blokes like Alan Potts, the UK professional, concentrates on good class racing. The better the race the better the bet, he says. This is something maybe you should think about. If you fancy yourself as a good judge of the better class races then do yourself a favour and stick to those races and don’t get sidetracked into backing lesser class conveyances.

There are enough Open Handicaps held during each week to satisfy anyone’s craving for action. Then you could extend to the weight-for-age Group races.

By concentrating on these races you will have an excellent chance of securing a strike rate of more than one winner every four races. If you do that, you have every chance of long-term success.?

By Jon Hudson