Whenever we discuss progression betting as opposed to level stakes betting, the argument is put forward that unless your selections can make a profit at level stakes they would be unable to make a profit using a progression method.

This is true to a great extent, but there can be progression methods used which will offer you the prospect of better returns most of the time than those resulting from level stakes betting. One of them is the staking method I am outlining in this article.

Now it relies on one important fact that you can achieve a good strike rate (20 to 25 per cent at least). Tough, I know, but able to be achieved if a punter can restrict himself to sound, rational bets and refrain from betting Wildly on just about every race on the card. In other words, don't try to bet on more than one or two horses per day.

If you find that hard, then you will have to reach within yourself for reserves of discipline and strength! More so, if you strike a couple of losers early on, and get dispirited. This sort of thing is common with the majority of punters, believe me. They set out with great resolution to follow a certain selection method, or staking plan, but immediately get the jitters because they don't immediately win.

That's when they shrug their shoulders, and start looking around for other bets, promising themselves that ifs "just for the interest", or perhaps they quietly concede that systematic betting is really pretty stupid and boring, so let's get back to the wild old ways!

Recognise yourself in that little scenario? Recognise, maybe, one of your friends? If so, don't worry too much, because it is possible to overcome such negative thinking. However, it does take cool nerve and lots of discipline, but once you are able to fight off the urge to 'cave in' under pressure, you will feel much better about yourself, and be able to press on with greater confidence.

The progression plan I am proposing is a very easy one to follow. It works like this:

1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-4-4-5-5-5-5-5-6-6-6-6-6-6-7-7-7-7-7-7-7.

Notice something about it? Yes, each figure is bet the same number of times as it represents. That is, your one-unit bet is bet once, the two-unit bets are bet twice, the three-unit bets are bet three times and so on. This is what makes this particular progression approach so strikingly simple and easy to master.

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. This progression takes this into account.

On most progressions, this staking plan will enable you to better your level stake approach. Consider the following little progression of bets as an example:

LOST, LOST, LOST, WON 2/1, LOST, WON 2/1.

Now, using level stakes you would have one unit each on these six bets (total stake $6). Your return would be exactly $6, meaning you have squared off the series. Using my progression method, you are called on to outlay more money but look at the difference:

BET 1: Stake 1 unit Lost -1

BET 2: Stake 2 units Lost -2

BET 3: Stake 2 units Lost -2

BET 4.. Stake 3 units WON +6

BET 5: Stake 1 unit Lost -1

BET 6: Stake 2 units WON +4

Total Stake: 11 units. Total Return: 15 units. Profit: 4 units.

While you made nothing using level stakes, with the progression you have made four units profit, or 36.3 per cent on your actual turnover.

Let me now show you another progression. This time, it's a regular series of winners popping up, at every fourth bet at 3/1. Using two units per bet for level stakes over 13 bets, this approach would, using level stakes result as follows (results falling as follows W, L, L, L, W, L, L, L, W, L, L, L, W):

13 bets at two units each, 26 units staked. Four winners, each at 3/1, returns 32 units, for a profit of six units.

Using my progression approach, you would have the following situation:

13 bets at 1-1-2-2-3-1-2-2-3-1-2-23, 25 units staked. Four winners each at 3/1, at stakes of 1, 3, 3 and 3, for a return of 40 units, a profit of 15 units.

So, for the outlay of basically the same number of units (26 for level bets, and 25 for the progression) you have made six units profit at level stakes and 15 units using the progression.

This' of course, was predicated on a favourable fall of winners. What would happen should the winners fall every 3rd bet, at 2/1 each? At level stakes, you would stake the same 26 units, and get a return of 24 units, for a level stakes loss of two units.

Using the progression, you would have the following range of bets:

1-2-2-1-2-2-1-2-2-1-2-2-1, Stake 21 units, for four winners at 2/1 each, each with two units on them, for a return of 24 units and a profit of three units.

Therefore, level stakes have put you two units behind, while the progression, on a smaller outlay, has put you three units ahead. Maybe now you are getting the drift of what I am putting forward. Of course, a really negative run of results could see level stakes making less of a loss than the progression method, but irregular runs such as this, when winners fell in all the wrong places, would, I am convinced, be in the minority.

At random, I checked Steve Crawley's selections for Randwick on January 19, where he selected five winners on the card. Ignoring the two long-odds on shots (Big Dreams and Lightning Bend), the Crawley bets were as follows: WON 6/1, Lost, WON 9/4, Lost, WON 5/1, Lost. Using level stakes, at 1.5 units per bet, you would have staked nine units for a return of 24.5 units, a profit of 15.5 units.

Using the progression method, you would have outlaid eight units for a return of 25.5 units, a profit of 17.5 units. Once again, then, the progression has emerged on top, this time by two units and on a smaller outlay (eight units against nine units).

Now let's examine a bad case scenario as far as losing runs are concerned. Let's say you have nine losers in a row, and then strike a 3/1 winner. In this regard, you would still be better off backing the progression. If we assume we are outlaying the same amounts on both approaches we would be betting three units each bet level stake (10 bets at three units, 30 units), while the bets using the progression would be: 1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-4-4, a total of 30 units.

At level stakes, you would have bet nine losers at three units each (27 units) and then struck a winner at 3/1 with your three-unit bet, returning 12 units. hi all, then, you have staked your 30 units and received 12 units back, a loss of 18 units. Using the progression, you would still be in a loss situation but one not as bad as the level stakes one.

You would have staked 30 and got one return of four units on a 3/1 winner, returning you a total of 16 units. Therefore, your loss is only 14 units. You are four units better off than had you bet at level stakes.

What would happen should you start off in fine fashion and then strike a bad run of outs? Okay, we'll say you strike three winners (at 3/1 each) in your first five bets, and then get 10 losers in a row before striking a 3/1 winner. Using the progression you would have the following bets:

1-1-2-1-2-1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-4-4-5, a stake of 41 units. The return would be on the four winners at 3/1, at bets of one unit, two units, two units and five units, making a total of 40 units, for a loss of one unit.

At level stakes using a standard bet of 2.5 units to equal the amount you outlaid on the progression bets, you would stake 40 units and receive back 40 units breaking even, and thus staying one unit ahead of the progression method.

Had you merely placed one unit each on the 16 bets, you would have staked 16 for a return of 16 units, against the stake of 41 units and return of 40 (loss one unit) for the progression.

If you strike clusters of winners, the progression method is still likely to prove more effective. For instance, let's assume a sequence as follows-. Lost, WON, WON, WON, Lost, Lost, WON, WON, WON, Lost. Each winner is assumed to be 3/1. At level stakes of one unit each, you. would have bet 10 units for a return of 24 units, a profit of 14 units.

Using the progression method, your bets would have been as follows:

1-2-1-1-1-2-2-1-1-1, a stake of 13 units for a return on the following winning bets (two units, one unit, one unit, two units, one unit, one unit) of 32 units, a profit of 19 units. You are five units ahead of the level stakes profit, having outlaid three units more.

These are only some examples, but they clearly show that by following this particular progression you are giving yourself a good chance of keeping fairly well ahead of level stakes returns. If you had a lower strike rate than 25 per cent, say only 15 to 20 per cent at 3/1, you would be struggling, so it's essential you keep your strike rate up.

But even at a 20 per cent strike rate, and fairly regular sequences, the progression method could see you cope. On a 20 bet sequence (LLLLWLLLWLWLLLLLLWLL) your level stakes outlay would be 20 units, for a return on four winners at 3/1 each of 16 units, a loss of four units.

The progression would have seen you outlay a lot more money (43 units) for a profit of five units with a 48 unit return. Your winning bets would have been for three units, three units, two units and four units. Had you outlaid a similar amount on level stakes, say $2 per bet ($40) you would have lost eight units.

The thing to remember about this progression method is that it is cleverly designed to beat level stake attacks. The only thing you have to remember is to revert to the beginning of the sequence after each win.

**By Statsman**

PRACTICAL PUNTING - MARCH 1991