Ask anyone about 'money management' and they'll think you're talking about banking, or shares, or an investment of some sorts in the financial world. It's a sad fact that few punters relate 'money management' to racing.

But if you want to be successful you have to handle your betting money to the greatest advantage for yourself. Do you have a plan of action? Do you follow a staking plan when you bet? Or are you like most other punters in that you bet any old amount you feel the bet deserves?

There is much to be said for getting your betting attack into some semblance of order. A switch to just betting the right percentage relating to a horse's true chance could be a start, at least.

I decided to put three plans to the test for the purposes of showing you how careful selection of a staking plan can increase your profits. This is a short test (two meetings) but I think it gives you a good idea of how things can pan out.

I chose the top selections of a leading Sydney journalist for a midweek meeting and a Saturday meeting at Canterbury and Randwick. The meetings were picked out only because they happened to fall closest to the time of my writing this article.

The three staking plans chosen were (1) Level Stakes, (2) The Kelly 5 Per Cent of Bank, and (3) The Key Progression. The latter progression works on the basis that each figure is bet the same number of times it represents (i.e. a 3 unit bet is bet three times unless a winner is struck and then the progression reverts to the start again).

The rather clever little Key Progression lays out its bets like this:


Now, for the record, the selections of our Sydney tipster for the two meetings ended up like this:


Lost, WON 2/1, 2nd, 2nd, WON 1/1, 2nd, Lost, Lost.


Lost, WON 6/4, 2nd, WON 13/2, 3rd, WON 2/1, WON 9/4, Lost.

He secured, then, six winners from 16 selections - quite a good strike rate. Firstly, we will see how they fared betting Level Stakes (same bet each selection). Using $50 bets, the total outlay was $800 and the total return was $1062, a profit of $262, or 32.75 per cent on turnover.

This is quite a good return indeed, and our Sydney tipster would certainly be worth following if he could maintain the same strike rate and return over 12 months (but Could he?).

I then tried the selections using the Kelly Percentage Plan, which calls for a 5 per cent of bank bet. That is, 5 per cent of whatever the total bank happens to be. Therefore, your bets increase as the bank rises, and decrease as the bank falls. A safe approach.

This is how the Kelly bets went (assuming a $1000 bank and $50 first bet, bets are carried over from meeting to meeting):

WON 2/148961046
2nd50- 940
WON 1/14848 988
2nd52- 936
Lost 47- 889
Lost 44 - 845
Lost 42 - 803
WON 6/4 4060 863
2nd 43 - 820
WON 13/2 41266 1086
3rd54 -1032
WON 2/1 50 100 1132
WON 9/4 57 128 1260
Lost 63 -1197
Total Bets:$781. Profit: $197 (25.2 per cent on turnover).

You can see from this that the Kelly Plan didn't fare as well as the Level Stakes approach, returning $65 less profit, and about 8 per cent less profit on turnover. Atone point the bank had fallen to $803.

With the Key Progression, I assumed that each unit would be $30. This is what happened:

Lost 30 - 30
WON 2/1 60 120 -
2nd 30 - 30
2nd 60 - 60
WON 1/1 60 60 -
2nd 30 - 30
Lost 60 - 60
Lost 60 - 60
Lost 90 - 90
WON 6/4 90 135 -
2nd 30 - 30
WON 13/2 60 390 -
3rd 30 - -
WON 2/1 60 120 -
WON 9/4 30 68 -
Lost 30 30 -
Total Bets: $810. Profit: $533 (65.8 per cent on turnover).

The Key Progression, then, has come out a clear winner on this set of 16 bets, with a massive profit on turnover. Which just goes to prove that in certain betting situations a progression plan can be very worthwhile indeed.

On most progressions, this staking plan will enable you to better your Level Stakes approach. Try it out for yourself and you will see what I mean. Some time ago, Statsman did a test on the key Progression. On a series of six bets, Level Stakes broke even, but the Key Progression produced a profit of 4 units.

I have a lot of confidence in this particular progression method. I still retain faith in the Kelly Plan, too, because on a long-term basis it can be a most sensible plan, especially when losing runs are struck and never seem like ending.

There are many critics of progression betting, of course, and I doubt if this little exercise will silence them. Whether progression methods work better than other plans, and especially level stakes betting, often depends on where the winners fall in any sequence of bets.

With the Key Progression, though, you are well placed all the time to recover strongly from a run of losers. For instance, let's say you had backed 8 losers in a row. You would then be on to your third 4-unit bet, having so far lost a total of 22 units.

Should you strike a winner at 9/2 you would be back square again. But even a winner at only 3/1 would regain a lot of lost ground and put you right back into a potential winning situation (only 10 units in arrears).

If you have a 25 per cent strike rate, the probability is that you will have a 43 per cent chance of hitting with a winner with your second bet, a 57 per cent chance of scoring with your third bet, and so on. The Key Progression takes this into account.

FOOTNOTE: The selections used in my test were those of Wayne Hickson of the Sportsman.

By Jon Hudson