What better way to kick off the spring than with the decision to get your betting 'house' in order? Spring clean away all those silly betting habits of many years! Bring in a new order! Decide to manage your money properly and to make your strongest tilt yet at snaring a profit for yourself from racing!

Well, it all sounds exciting and, yes, possible, doesn't it? There aren't too many punters around who have not, at some stage in their betting careers, decided that drastic action was needed -to keep their betting activities on an even keel.

It's been my experience that while punters may desire change for themselves, actually instituting that change is a tremendously difficult assignment. The habits of many years are hard to kill off, even though the bettor knows that they have cost and cost him money.

A change in approach should take on two dimensions:

  1. Get your selection process right. Decide which meetings you will bet on, which races you will bet on, and how you will choose your selections (your own analysis, someone else's, or perhaps you will subscribe to a special selection service).
  2. Perhaps most importantly of all, decide on a course of money management. Bet your money in the right manner. Pick out a staking approach that suits you - make sure it can work with the selections you will provide, and then start it and stick with it.

For any punter, the essence of money management is the correct dispersal of betting funds. Used haphazardly, in willy-nilly bets all over the place, there is no money management at all.

This is what Tom Ainslie, one of America's most respected form analysts, has to say on the subject: "For inexperienced handicappers, for gamblers who would prefer a casino if one were available, for vacationers larking, for club members on an annual excursion, and for that majority of fans who enjoy horseracing without feeling an urge to expend effort on serious handicapping, money management begins and ends with a decision about the sum that can be lost without pain.

"It is a demonstration of mental hygiene. It remains so, with elaborations, among committed hobbyists whose bets invest ego as well as money and for whom seasonal profits are a realistic goal."

Ainslie (in his book The Encyclopaedia of Thoroughbred Handicapping) goes on to warn that even with sensible techniques the punter still has to have the "rare ability" to pick enough winners at high enough odds to turn a profit on most series of 50 or 100 flat bets (level stakes).

Until that stage is reached, he says, the emphasis "belongs on attempts to improve the selection procedure, with betting restricted to a thrifty minimum."

What Ainslie is trying to tell the ordinary punter is that good selecting and skilled money management are tied inextricably together.

We can, then, sum up money management as follows:

  1. Its one purpose is to increase your dollar profits.
  2. Any money management technique (that is, use of a staking plan etc) must be looked at on a longterm (annual) basis.
  3. Record-keeping is essential for money management. Without records, the punter soon loses track if where the money has gone.
  4. The size of each bet has to conform to a long-term plan which suits the individual bettor's own style.

Bearing all these factors in mind, how do we find the betting plans that will help us realise our profit goals each year? Well, let me be the first to say that it isn't easy. But we all know that, don't we?

Firstly, you must ask yourself a question: Do I really want to use a staking plan or am I happy to continue betting as I do, picking and choosing how much I will place on each horse on which I bet?

If the answer is for the latter part of the question then read no further. You are obviously happy and content with what you are currently doing, and, that's great. I realise that many bettors can't be bothered with staking approaches - they want their betting to be recreational and with a strong element of fun.

If you are receptive to a change in your betting habits, then you will be keenly interested in the three staking plans I am going to propose for you. They will, of course, have their critics; all forms of staking attract
criticism, because there are so many conflicting viewpoints about any form of betting which strays away from level stakes.

My belief is that, as serious punters, we must examine all areas of betting, put them to the test, and at the very least use some sort of ordered methodical approach in order to try to maximise our collects and minimise our losses.

The first plan is for punters who want a somewhat radical formula, but one which will enable them to cash in big on value winners, while 'easing' the bets on horses at shorter odds.


  1. Your basic betting unit is ONE per cent of your total bank. That is, 1/100th (a hundredth). So, if your bank is $100 your betting unit is $1. If your bank is $1,000 then your betting unit will be $10.
  2. No horse is backed if it is paying 2/1 ($3.00 TAB) or less. Always ensure you stick to this rule. What it means is that you are avoiding short-priced horses, and you will not bet until you can get 9/4 (or $3.10+ TAB) or more about your selection.
  3. You bet in the following ratios according to the price available:
9/4 to 3/11
13/4 to 4/1 2
9/2 to 5/1 3
11/2 to 6/14
13/2 and longer 5
In TAB lingo the ratios are as follows (using $1 units):
$3.10 to $4.001
$4.10 to $5.002
$5.10 to $6.003
$6.10 to $7.004
$7.10 and longer5

You can see that there is a variation between bookies' and TAB prices. With the TAB you are able to obtain 'slight' edges over the limit prices. With the bookies, 9/4 is the least price you can get over 2/1, but with the TAB you can get $3.10. It's up to you whether you follow TAB or bookie prices, but I realise that the majority of punters will be betting off-course and so will be putting their money through the TAB machines.

As you can see, only 1 per cent of your capital is bet on the horses between 9/4 and 3/1, while the bet rises to 5 per cent with horses at 7/1 and longer. Of course, if your bank rises you will actually be betting less in comparison with what you have, because the actual unit size of the bets does not rise or fall with the bank's fortunes.

Even if the bank falls, you remain on the same unit bet sizes. However, if at any time your bank falls to half of its original size then the recommendation is that all unit sizes are halved until such time as you make it back to the original bank size. Now, hopefully, this situation will not arise. Your bets should be selective enough to enable you to make steady profits with this approach. Don't bet on every race; don't go 'silly' in selecting your bets. Try for no more than two or three choice bets per meeting/per day.

Let's assume you decide on three bets. They are at (a) 4/1, (b) 3/1 and (c) 5/1. This means your bets will be as follows:

Total stake6
If you are working to a 33 per cent strike rate with your selections, then only one of this trio will, on average, win. Let's say that the B horse wins at 3/1. You get a return of 4, so your loss on the day is 2 units. If the A horse wins at 4/1 you will receive 10 units back, and that would give you a profit on the three bets of 4 units (66 per cent).

Should the C horse win at 5/1, you will receive back 18 units, for an overall profit on the three bets of 12 units (200 per cent). This clearly shows how this particular method works: Short-priced winners, if they only strike once in, say, three bets, will usually leave you losing a little, or around break even.

But a win at around 4/1 will be enough to give you a decent profit most days. Compared to level stakes, what would the situation be in the example I have just illustrated? For a start, at level stakes you would stand to make a profit no matter which of the three won (assuming a 2 unit bet each horse). But the profit level on the C horse would be cut back to 10 units instead of 15.

At level stakes, if all three won you would receive back 30 units. Using the staking plan, you would receive back 32 units - an edge of a couple of units. Translate that into $10 terms and it means an extra $20 for you and multiply that by a potential 52 times in a year and that's an extra $1,040 in your pocket.

Of course, it won't work out as smoothly as that, but you can see that the 'edge' is there if you can crack the winners with your bigger bets. I did a rundown recently on the best bets of a leading Sydney tipster: Over 10 meetings, he got 5 winners. The following is the staking plan workout of them:

1 9/4 1 Nil
2 3/1 1 Nil
3 5/2 1 3.5
4 5/2 1 Nil
5 9/2 3 16.5
6 6/1 4 28.0
7 5/1 3 Nil
8 9/4 1 3.25
9 11/2 4 26.0
10 5/1 3 Nil
TOTALS  22 77.25
Profit using staking plan …………… 55.25+
Level Stakes (2.2 units per bet) …… 34.65
You can see how the staking plan has achieved a far higher return on this example than with level stakes betting - yet each method outlaid the same amount of money. Had the five lowest-priced horses won, the situation would have been reversed with level stakes betting at 2.2 units per bet returning a profit of 16.5 units, while the staking plan returned only 17.5 units, a loss of 4.5 units.

This, then, is a plan for those punters confident of hauling in the value-priced winners on which they will have the larger bets. Should you be a more cautious punter aiming always at shorter-priced horses, then stick with your level stakes betting.

NEXT MONTH: We unveil the final two great staking plans - both suitable for use by small-bet and big bet punters, and both with the potential to lead you to big annual Profit.

Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

By Richard Hartley Jnr