Since writing the first article in this series, I've had a number of communications-by mail and telephone-from P.P.M. readers, anxious to ask me questions, and one or two to say that my progression plans will, in the end, die on the vine, so to speak.

In last month's article, I talked about interesting progression plans and all were presented for your consideration. Positive feedback has included a telephone call from an excited Sydney subscriber who said he began to use my progression plan for bets on horses at 2/1.

This chap said he had, up to the time of contacting me, bet on six meetings and hadn't had a losing day, despite backing plenty of losers. Following the progression, he enthused, he got his profits going as soon as he struck a winner, despite a losing run beforehand. This chap, of course, was managing to turn up winners at odds better than 2/1-thus, because of the clever staking, a winner at any time put him in front!

This is the beauty of carefully graded progression plans. (just to REMIND you, this particular plan calls for bets in the following progression: 1-1-2-3-4-6-812. A winner at 2/1 will get you out of trouble. If you'd gone seven losers you would be 25 units down, but a winner the next bet (12 units) at 2/1 would return you 36 units. Your total outlay, then, has been 37 units and you are just one unit down despite having backed only one 2/1 winner. Not bad.

One reader, from the Melbourne area, claimed that the progression plans could lead punters into dire financial trouble due to long losing runs. It's true that bet sizes could increase markedly if you weren't striking any winners, but the plans have been compiled on the basis of a certain strike rate. If you can't hit that projected strike rate then there is something wrong with your selecting.

One punter, from Dubbo, was very keen to get my opinion on each-way betting. He says he likes to bet win and place, but wonders if he is doing the right thing. Well, it all depends on how many winners you are selecting, compared with 2nd and 3rd placegetters.

Getting the tote split right is a key issue for punters. Most punters bet the same for the place as they do for the win; that is, they bet the simple each-way. The average place dividend, I would estimate, is around $1.60 for $1. If a punter put, say, $125 each-way and his horse ran 2nd at, say, $1.40 he would lose $75 on the bet.

If he had split the $250 in the ratio of, say, one win and four place his situation would have been different: He would have had $50 the win and $200 the place. His return would have been 200 x $1.40 for a return of $280, a profit of $30.

Frankly, like many other serious punters, I have never really been in complete favour of each-way betting. A person having $1 each-way on a winner at 4/1 receives only 5/2 for his investment. At 20/1 the return would be equal to 12.5 to 1. The each-way punter is using two stakes. I believe, in the long run, he would be better off backing two runners in a race with one stake on each.

A friend of mine, who bets very seriously, believes that you must bet four or five times as much for a place as for a win, and I know this approach has been propounded by others who have written in to P.P.M. over the past few years. The one to four ratio is sound enough.

Now, in the case of the $250 bet mentioned earlier, it is true that with a straight $125 each-way bet the return would have been greater had the horse won-but it's also a fact that just about all one-horse bettors back far more placegetters than winners.

If you're in this position, I would strongly urge you to re-evaluate your betting approach. Little fish are sweet is an old saying, but at least you can eat the little fish. You can't eat the ones that get away.

There is a staking plan you can use on the 'low win, high place' approach. This is the 10 per cent split. Your opening bank should be 100 units. The opening, and minimum, bet is 10 per cent (10 units) split 1/5th the win and 4/5ths the place that is, two units a win and eight units a place.

Whenever the capital balance exceeds 100 units you continue to bet 10 per cent and split it in the 1-to-4 ratio. If you are backing solid, rational selections it may prove somewhat surprising how your balance will rise. Have a look at the following results:

(Assumed bank $100)

A2-82nd $1.9015.20
B2-83rd $1.8014.40
C 2-82nd $2.1016.80
D2-82nd $2.0016.00
E2-82nd $1.9015.20

After five placegetters, the bank has increased by $27.60, or almost 28 per cent. It would, of course, have been much greater had one of the five horses won, adding a two-unit win bet to the return. Had the punter been betting a win only he would have been down $50 and would have needed a winner at 5/1 just to get square.

This approach, as you would realise, also negates long losing runs. By backing for the place, you are getting three chances per race of a collect and so you are very likely, if your selections are sound, to be receiving a continuous flow of place dividends which will more than wipe out the losses on the win component.

This is what I would call safe, sound and crisis-free punting. You are being cautious, but understandably so, and this should hold you in good stead as the weeks and months roll by. Think very carefully about what I have written, and check to see how your betting would have gone had you adopted such an approach.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Alan Jacobs