Do you have what is known 'in the trade' as a weak betting habit? Do you go crazy once you have set foot on a racetrack?

If you do, then take a little heart from the fact that you are one among millions. The sad truth, as far as punters are concerned, is that ninety-nine per cent of them never discover how to bet profitably.

But that one per cent, the ones who usually are labelled 'lucky', go on and win the money that eludes everyone
else? Why? Because they employ common sense and money management when they bet.

A famous card-sharp once said he never bet on racetracks because "you can't shuffle racehorses".

He has something there, although many of today's professional punters might disagree. They do, in fact, manipulate horses by the proper handling of their money when they bet.

These big winners make a point of being low-key people; you will never see them jumping in the air over a big win. On top of their quiet lifestyles, they never divulge the secrets of the methods they operate.

What we do know about the winners is that they have an ability to win money, something most people lack. The legendary Pittsburg Phil was a man who had the knack of winning money on racetracks.

He owned many of the horses on which he bet, his brother trained the horses and the jockeys were three or four trusted friends.

Phil never took a chance when he didn't have to take one. He showed such an ability for making money that he was among the first turf celebrities to engage the services of a certified public accountant. This was Everett Stanhope, a member of the Philadelphian firm of Creighton and Stanhope.

He was the man who handled much of the financing and distribution of Phil's racetrack investments.

So Phil, then, knew the importance of correct money management and he made sure he had the best advice behind him.

Phil did all the work on choosing the horses he would back - then Stanhope would come in with proper advice on how to back them. It proved a magic formula.

Stanhope once said that the secret to betting was to AVOID LOSSES.

Before you can start winning, he said, you have to stop losing.

Couple up BAD selections with WEAK betting habits and you produce a surefire recipe for disaster. Insolvency follows. Bet too often and mishandle the amounts you bet and you are hurtling down the path to financial suicide.

If you are in this category, why not try a simple psychological test. Go and stand in front of a mirror and CONFESS that you are a losing punter. Tell yourself what you are. Humiliate yourself - then return to reading this article, and all the articles in PPM, and you will have started the long climb back.

There is a key premise, or plan, that is reasonably simple to understand: Bet more when you are winning and less when you are losing. So let's take the case of a punter with $100 and we'll assume a betting unit of $2.

Joe Blow is spending an afternoon at the races and let's say he strikes two winners - in the fourth and eighth races on a nine-race program.

Joe Blow, however, is one of those haphazard punters. He throws money around like confetti. He will be in trouble almost immediately because by the third race he has decided to recoup early losses by plunging. Losing again, he feels that three losses in a row could mean a bad day and he becomes cautious, his fourth bet being a modest wager only. The horse wins at 3-1.

Now he feels that glow of happiness and he is encouraged to bet more in the fifth - but this time the horse loses and then in the sixth and seventh races he strikes more losers.

By the eighth race he decides to have only a token bet, but hardly enough to get all his money back, even though the horse wins at 4-1.

He goes all out on the last race -but again it's a loser and he goes home deep in gloom and minus most of his money.

Now this sort of thing is happening all the time on Australia's racetracks and we all know people who are like it.

So let's take that $100 and institute a few simple rules.

Bet $2 until you win and then increase your bet to $4. After the initial three losers you are $6 down so in the fourth race you bet $2 on the 3-1 winner, collecting a total of $8.

Now you advance $2 and increase your bet to $4 wagers on the next three races; that's $12 in all and you lose. But then in the eighth race you bet $4 on the 4-1 winner and collect a total of $20. This is the time to proceed to the exit. You have backed two winners from eight bets and that should be quite enough.

You can now leave the track with a profit of $4. You laid out $24's worth of bets and you got back $28. The key is to stop once you have backed two winners.

The assumption is that an ordinary judge should be able to select one winner in four races (25 per cent) or two winners from eight races.

Once you start seeking that third winner you are trying to push your winning percentage up to 33 per cent (ie three winners from nine races) - and this is a virtual impossibility without a great deal of luck, particularly if you bypass horses that are 2-1 and under.

So use the progression as we outlined but do not make more than two trips to the payout window. This is easier said than done, we know, because punters like plenty of action.

But we are pointing out what should be done; it is up to you whether you stick to that maxim.

If your winners appear early in the day so much the better. If you strike the winner of the first race and then the winner of the third you have invested $2 on the first winner and $4 on the third, with only one losing $4 bet (on race 2).

If your winners come late in the program, say in the seventh and ninth races, you still have lost only $12 going into the seventh race and an additional $4 on the eighth.

Deduct your profit of a $2 win on the seventh and a $4 wager on the final race and you should emerge winning a little or losing practically nothing.

If your winners had been at 2-1 in the seventh and ninth races, you would have lost $6 on the day. But if your second winner had come in the eighth race you would have lost only $2 on the day.

But let's say you strike a 3-1 winner in the first and a 2-1 winner in the third event. You would have $2 on the 3-1 winner, returning you $8 in all, then a $4 losing bet on race 2, followed by $4 on the 2-1 chance in the third race, for a return of $12. This gives you total collects of $20 for an outlay of $10, for a good profit of $10.

Remember, though, that you do not back any more horses. You have already achieved an outstanding strike rate for the day - two wins from three bets!

People who advocate progression betting usually tend to ignore the rise and fall of winning and losing patterns. They say you should press on when you are losing because that 'inevitable' winner is bound to appear. It's true to say that this is the cornerstone of most progression methods.

But conserving your money during those losing runs is vital if you are to survive financially. Losing is a fact of life, an unfortunate one, for all punters but you must learn how to cushion the blows of misfortune by an intelligent outlay of your money.

The psychology of losing is to lose less - the psychology of winning is to win more.

Sadly, most punters cannot balance their budget. They bet too heavily on gimmick races (trifectas, quinellas etc) and because of this do not bet enough on what are known by the professionals as bettable, beatable races.

We don't wonder that the toll each year is high, as battered punters withdraw from the fray. Exotic wagering knocks punters for a six regularly.

Once they start concentrating their attentions on trifectas and quinellas and doubles they lose sight of the easy profits to be made with single bets, win or place.

The lure of striking thousands of dollars with a trifecta blinds many punters to the easier pickings that stare them in the face.

Naturally, there are people who do earn profits from the exotic wagers; what we say in this article is that some punters are not made of the right stuff to play the exotics.

They should stick to the simple bets, and smaller profits on a regular scale.

We set out, then, to choose sample races for a test of a money management workout. We knew we needed enough action to keep punters interested over extended periods of time and we also realised that we wanted a high percentage of cash transactions, without extended losing streaks.

Thirdly, we tried to find a flat bet loss, no matter how small because without that there would be no basis for a demonstration of money management.

You can take a losing method and show a profit by handling your money properly. And you can then always enhance, or upgrade, your selection method.

In our workout of results we took all the pre-post favourites listed in The Australian newspaper for Saturday meetings in Sydney. The only condition placed on them was that they had to be quoted at between 2-1 and 3-1 inclusive. Joint favourites were split by taking the one that was set to carry the biggest weight.

All bets were made for the PLACE only. There were 13 winners in 55 bets and a total of 34 horses in the first three placegetters - a win percentage of 23.6 and a place percentage of 61.8.

But this is not put forward as a selection method but as a demonstration of money management.

The first statistics to bear in mind is that on level stakes the 55 selections made a profit of 1.71 per cent, which is virtually break-even. The longest losing run was four successive losers and that's about as long as we might expect when betting on such a powerful type of selection basis.

A well-known, and used, staking plan is the progression of the initial bet until a series profit is made, and then reverting to the initial bet (ie 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 etc) and this is a progression used when a punter is LOSING money. The bets are increased to recoup losses. In our workout, this method is detailed under 'Losing Progression'.

At one stage it was making a profit of 1091/2 units but on the closing of the test period it was showing up the very real danger inherent in this type of betting - it was losing 801/2 units.

The column on the right of the workout, 'Winning Progression' is the use of a simple unit advance of $5 on each winning wager, and returning to the original $5 bet when a loser is struck.

As you will see, a great financial improvement was made on the same results. With no additional requirement in our 'bank' we found that a 125 units' profit was made by the simple rule of handling our betting more scientifically.

Study our workout closely and you will see how things can work out to your advantage - or to your dismay.

Incidentally, on the test we have shown, the plan used in obtaining the selections is a sound one. You may like to keep it in mind when you are thinking of a sound selection method, especially a method aimed at place betting, because a strike rate of close to 62 per cent is very good.


By Statsman