Since its inception, Practical Punting Monthly has done all in its power to guide and educate Australian punters. We enjoy some sales in New Zealand, too, and sincerely hope we have managed to offer some help to the Kiwi punter, but he, unfortunately, suffers badly from the abysmal lack of form detail available through the racing publications in that country

In this article, I am taking a look at some of the best staking methods I have come across, and some which I devised myself. What you should do is examine them closely and decide which ones you would like to follow. A staking method that suits one punter might not suit another punter; it all depends on how you like to bet.

You are raising your bets when you are winning, and decreasing them when you are losing. Sensible stuff. The only problem is-as reader Peter Travis pointed out to me in a letter recently you tend to find that your small bets are on the winners, and your bigger bets are on the losers! What this method suggests is that you should alter your bets according to price. It reasons that you should not risk the same amount of money on horses at widely differing prices. You should seriously question the advisability of placing the same amount of money on a 10-1 shot as you would a 5-2 chance.

Surely, the odds demand that you should have MORE on the 5-2 horse than on a 10-1 chance? Yet under the straight 10 per cent of bank plan you are making no difference between the two horses, and having the same stake on each. The method changes all this. It emphasises the need to bet according to price and to do this, we use the actual percentage chance of the horse as reflected by its price. But we have a range of prices to suit a percentage stake.

This is the recommended betting structure:

Evens to 7-4 Against: These horses win a lot of races. The plan is to bet 15% of your capital on horses in this price range. Never bet odds-on.

2-1 to 3-1: With horses in this range, you can satisfactorily keep to the 10% bet. Even if you had 10 straight losers in this price range, you would still have \$35 left from a \$100 bank.

7-2 to 5--1: The recommended staking for horses in this price range is 8%. You will find you can go a dozen losers and still be travelling sweetly with plenty left in the bank.

11-2 to 9-1: Past results show that horses in this price bracket win about 6 per cent of races-thus you should be pretty safe in allotting 6% of your bank to a bet on them. You can go 15 losers and still have more than \$35 left in your bank.

10-1 and longer: As most punters will know, winners are hard to find in this price range. Few come up. My suggestion is that you bet only 4% of your bank on them. A run of 20 losers would still leave you with more than 40 per cent of your \$100 bank.

If your selections are sensible, you should be able to keep your betting well under control with this staking method. It is soundly based and quite rational. You know at all times exactly what you are doing and it allows you long runs of losers without seeing your bank devastated. I thoroughly recommend it.

As an adjunct, I suggest that once your bank is doubled, you withdraw 50 per cent of the actual profit and place it in a reserve fund. So, if you start with a \$100 bank and it doubles to \$200, you withdraw \$50 (half of the profit) and put it in reserve. You then continue with a \$150 bank.

Let's look at an example of how this staking plan works:

With 40 per cent winners, you are ahead \$60.50, with the winners at 2-1, 7-2, 3-1 and 4-1, an average of just over 3-1. Now, it might be unlikely you could maintain a 40 per cent strike rate. But even if your last bet had lost, you would still have been winning \$10.50, with a 30 per cent strike rate.

The next staking method to examine comes from America, where I am advised a number of professional punters have used it successfully for many years. One punter operates at the Saratoga track and has made a fortune over the years.

The Leaping 20 rules go further than most flat stake methods. Now, your betting starts in level stakes and this continues until you are 20 units ahead. Once you are winning 20 units, or more, the bet becomes double the first figure in the profit column. When this first figure reaches six (that is, a profit of 60 units) the series is closed off and a new one begun with the same or slightly higher betting unit. (A unit can be any amount from \$1 up.)

Here's an example: A punter is betting in \$1 units. His bets remain at the \$1 level until he is \$20 in profit. He then does the big leap. His next bet is double the first figure in the profit column-this is two, so his stake is now \$4. If the horse loses and puts him back below the \$20 mark, he again reverts to level stakes of \$1 until such time as his profit rises above the target of \$20 or more. He then once more stakes \$4 and remains on that bet as long as his profit range is between \$20 and \$29.

Now, should the profit hit the \$30 plus mark, the bet increases to \$6 (i.e. double the first figure in the profit column, 3). From \$40 to \$49 the stake is \$8. From \$50 to \$59 it is \$10. If you end up showing a profit of \$60 or more, you close off the series and start again. It is now better to begin a new series with an initial \$2 bet and then go on until you are 20 units in front (\$40) and then your leap would take you to a bet of \$8 once you struck the \$40 profit. The stopping mark is a profit of 60 units or more (\$120).

You can operate this method quite successfully on both win and place betting. With place betting, it can be something of a tough slog to reach the 20 unit profit mark, but once there the profits can increase dramatically. Now, let's be frank, some punters will say why bother with the small stuff, let's get straight on to the Leaping 20, without the bother of racking up the needed 20 units profit. In this way, you are simply starting off as you would had you bet to reach the 20 unit level.

For your initial bank, no matter how you operate the method, I suggest a bank of \$100. If you want to miss the one unit level stakes bet to kick off with, you can go straight to the Leaping 20 and begin your punting with the required \$4 bet. If you went under the 20, you could replenish your capital with money from your \$100 bank. Or you could reduce your bet to the level stakes \$1 until the bank struck \$20 again.