If you are a punter who does not keep a record of all your selections, and the prices of the selections, you will always be in the dark as to the reality of your results.

It's imperative (at least once in your punting career!) to compile a minimum 500 of your selections, putting them into a spreadsheet format, to give yourself a chance for some serious analysis of where your best punting areas lie.

Personally, years and years of analysis at various stages of my punting career shows my best area, so far as the SP (Starting Price) figure is concerned, is in the 4/1 and under bracket. No matter which way I twist and dance my selection process, the bottom line is I suffer badly at 5/1 and longer.

Don't ask me what I do wrong for I cannot tell you to any degree of exactness but it really doesn't matter so long as I know it and take care not to violate this taboo area too often.

Like most people I don't always take my "medicine" as prescribed and I do tempt the fates at times, but I can assure you I really, really search deeply to make sure I have not missed any vital form factors.

In the long run I will pay the price if I venture to the well too many times, via a longer run of outs than I would normally have by sensibly sticking to the shorter-priced commodities. If you're not aware that one of the "secrets" of punting is to beat, or at least keep at bay, the dreaded run of cuts, then I seriously advise you to undertake such a study as mentioned above and begin to analyse and analyse and analyse.

With 500 selections under the microscope, I believe you will cover most price and form ranges and the effort will pay off with the gained wisdom about your weakest areas, thus improving your overall punting figures immensely.

I use the chart (below) to keep a sober check on exactly what I have to do to achieve any of the following:

  1. (1) Break square.
  2. (2) Win 10% POT (profit on turnover).
  3. (3) Win 159% POT.
  4. (4) Win 20% POT.

I have also split the chart into two parts: the Win component and the Place component. Once you have studied this chart you'll realise the enormity of what is required to just break square, but hopefully it will inspire you to analyse your selections even further than the simple SP approach only.

Issues such as first-uppers, second-uppers, days since last raced, distance changes, track conditions, distance and class of race, just to name a few, will be high on any list of analysis.

I know, for instance, that I have a very ordinary strike rate with 3yo handicaps and now I only bet with any seriousness on them when I am very-very sure of the formlines.

A quick study of my 46 3yo handicap selections this racing season, on Saturday Melbourne races, shows 11 winners returning $35 on level stakes or nearly 24 per cent loss on turnover. That's a very ordinary return on investment.

Currently, I am faring even worse on a section I call "Others", which includes Restricted handicaps of various types and 2yo races where I have an abysmal 4 winners from 38 races returning a pathetic $13. Thank heavens I am not backing them all!

Admittedly, these are small sample figures but I am going to have to improve dramatically to be able to refer to the chart. Fortunately, past studies have shown these areas to be dangerous for me, so I stay right away from them as often as possible.

The chart is headed: Win (the odds expressed in the old way but in words), Wdivid (the odds expressed as prices), Place (one-quarter the Win odds, expressed in the old way but written out), Pdivid (the exact dividend at one-quarter the Wdivid), BSTO is Break Square, and 10%, 15% and 20% refer to Profit on Turnover.

Naturally, some of you will not be aware how some of the figures are calculated, so follow this carefully.

If you look in the Win column you will note all odds are expressed to either 4 (i.e. 5/4, 6/4,
7/4, 11/4, 13/4) or 2 (i.e. 5/2, 7/2) or 1 (i.e. 1/1, 2/1, 3/1 and 4/1).

Keen punters will note I have omitted the old 10/9, 11/8, 13/8, 15/8 and 15/4 due to the KISS (Keep It Simple
Sport) principle, because all those odds listings really do is split hairs, so far as I'm concerned.

To calculate the Place column figures you simply multiply the figure on the right-hand side of the Win column by 4. For instance, a 6/4 chance is shown as 6/16 the Place and a 13/4 chance is shown as 13/16 the Place and a 7/2 chance is shown as 7/8 the Place.

I know it seems to be awkward but just get out a piece of paper and a pen and pretty soon you will be able to see that 10/9 would be 10 / 36 or 5/18 the Place and that 15/4 would be 15/16 the Place! Don't freak out just relax and go through it again, slowly.

To calculate the Pdivid, you need add a calculator to your pen and paper. Let's start with the 6 to 4 (6 / 4) chance in the Win column. The Place column says this is 6 to 16 (6/16). Next, consider this as 6 with a line under it and under that line the figure 16. It's just one of those old fractions from our schooldays.

Now add the figure 1 in front of what you have just written and you will have 1 and 6 over 16 as your fraction. Now multiply 16 x 1 = 16 and add 6 = 22 over 16. Finally, divide 22 by 16 (use the calculator) = 1.375 or, once we decimalise, a dividend of $1.37.5.

A couple of practices with the other sets of odds would have you showing that 10/9 is a dividend of $1.27.7.

All right! We have passed the tough part so now to the easy part of the chart.

All you now need to do is run your finger across the odds to calculate what percentage of collects you need to either Break Square (BS) or make 10%, 15% or 20% POT.

For instance, if you are using the 2/1 row, the Pdivid shows $1.50. In order to break square you must place 67 times per 100 bets at $1.50. To make 10% POT you must place 74 times per 100 bets. If you use the Wdivid row for the 2 /1 chances, you will see that to break square you need 34 win collects per 100 bets, while to make 10% POT you will need 37 win collects per 100 bets.

The chart has, as I said earlier, a fair bit of sobriety about it as it lists the figures you must attain in each price range. If you are breaking square, you have done a tremendous job, so far, and perhaps a deeper study into the other factors in your punting makeup will have you turning the corner into a profit zone.

In this article I have provided the court ... the ball is now with you.

* Roman Koz is a Melbourne based contributor to PPM.


By Roman Koz