In this final part of his interview with P.P.M.'s Brian Blackwell, leading professional punter Don Scott talks about current betting methods and hands out advice to rank-and-file punters.

The Don Scott of 1987 is pretty much a far cry from the days in the 1960s and 1970s when he stalked the betting rings in Sydney in the endless search for VALUE. It was a search that, for him, paid off handsomely.

Don Scott Horse Racing

Now, though, his betting 'modus operandi' has changed. He bets offcourse, by phone to the Victorian TAB, and he is rarely seen at the racetracks. He is, then, one of the very few off-course TAB punters to actually make a profit, the sad fact being that 99 per cent of punters always fail to make money over a 12-month period.

The following is an adapted text of my conversation with Don, interspersed with some 'inside mail' from his great book, 'Winning More', hailed, rightly so, as the very best book ever written about punting, anywhere in the world.

B.B. How do you bet these days--have you given up betting to prices?

SCOTT: It's principally trifectas now, as well as quinellas and doubles. I bet with the Victorian TAB because it operates trifecta betting on all races. But I am still finding value before I bet, and there is, I believe, more value in trifecta betting; there is a lot of uninformed money in the trifecta pool.

B.B. How much time are you spending on form study etc. every week?

SCOTT: About 12 to 14 hours a day seven days a week. I have two corn punters; one is linked to the Telecom Viatel service, so I am able to call up all the current TAB dividends on racedays to see what punters are backing, and what price each horse is. The other compute has my special programme for the tri fecta betting. I use the data base of War ren Block's service out of Canberra for my actual form of each horse.

B.B. Tell us something about how you approach each race?

SCOTT: Well, you usually eliminate at least one-third of the field, and you are left with six or seven main chances. These are linked in trifectas if the horses are at value odds, and the amount of money on each combination is determined by its real chance of success.

B.B. Could the average punter with about $100 to spend on raceday follow this method?

SCOTT: Not really. My advice to these punters is to go to the track and bet with the bookies. They should bet as I used to, seeking value prices. With the trifectas, you have to expect long runs of outs, maybe 20 or 30 losses in a row and most punters wouldn't be able to put up with it. If they bet properly on the course, betting only when they can obtain value odds on their selections, they could make five to 10 per cent profit every year.

B.B. What would a punter need to launch himself into your trifecta betting technique?

SCOTT: At least a $4,000 or $5,000 bank. He would have to get reliable form ratings for all horses and learn how to combine all the main chances in a race properly. He would have to know how to eliminate the bad value horses.
B.B. Do you operate only on city midweek and weekend meetings?

SCOTT: No, I also operate on the Vic torian provincials, so I am usually betting on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursday and Saturdays. I do all the work myself. have a chap who helps me with the corn punter programmes themselves.

B.B. Why did you switch to trifectas?

SCOTT: I liked the challenge of it. It got tedious year after year going to the races. I wanted the challenge of something different. Racing from the beginning was a way of escaping from trying to earn a living in the business world. I have the idea there's an aggressive, competitive world which I cannot really handle. Therefore, I retreat from it to a world of ideas and my own interpretations. It means I do it all myself and don't have any relationships with anyone. I don't have to rely on anyone and I don't have to sell my soul in any way. I went back into my research for a new winning way of betting because I wanted a new challenge. Just going out to the course and betting with bookmakers and getting good prices and winning-that does get pretty tedious.

B.B. Why do most punters never win?

SCOTT: They don't study racing closely enough, not logically. At the racetrack, they are too emotional; they get carried away by the moment. If you are punting just for the entertainment value and to have a bit of fun, that's all right. But it's not enough if you are serious.

B.B. Is there any other way, apart from finding value and betting only when value is available, to win money at racing.?

SCOTT: No, I don't think there's any other way. Most punters, I'm afraid, are doomed to lose. Only the very hard workers win in the end because racing is a complex business. But the TAB, with all its multiple and exotic forms of betting, gives today's punter a better chance of winning than any bookmaker. Trebles, quadrellas and trifectas provide the best value, followed by quinellas and doubles. If you are an off-course punter, you are no longer underprivileged. You can win as much as any on-course punter-and more.

B.B. What other important points can you stress that might help the average punter to have more of a chance?

SCOTT: A study of bookmaker percentages is very rewarding. You will find that bookmakers are most vulnerable in small fields where sharp fluctuations can quickly turn a safe profit into a dangerous loss. As the size of the field increases, so does the bookmaker's margin of profit. Bookmakers in Perth work to small profit margins and offer punters good value whereas bookmakers in Brisbane work to large profit margins and offer punters bad value. In recent years, I have kept a close watch on bookmaker percentages in all States. In general, bookmakers in the mainland capital cities bet to the following percentages:

City Start Price% Best Odds %
Sydney 120 109
Melbourne 120 108
Brisbane 127 119
Adelaide 123 113
Perth 119 106

Each-way bookmakers give you a place bet equal to a quarter of the win odds in fields of eight or more runners so in a field of eight runners a place return of a quarter of the win odds is good value. In a field of nine runners it is fair value.

In fields of 10 runners or more, the value gets steadily worse. In a field of 24 runners down the straight 'six' at Flemington, a place return of a third of the odds for a win would be fairer value. If you are interested in place betting, you should bet with each-way bookmakers on races where there are fewer than 13 runners. As the fields grow in size, you should compare place tote odds with bookmaker odds.

B.B. Do most punters have a proper grasp of the actual mathematics of punting?

SCOTT: The vast majority know very little about the mathematics of betting and nothing at all about the mathematics of exotic betting. Betting for a win or a place, they lose moderately. Betting exotically, they lose on a grand scale. This is because exotic betting multiplies and magnifies their errors and illogicalities many times over.

However, for the successful punter, who refuses to copy mass betting habits, the rewards are greater than ever before.

B.B. In your book Winning More, you go into great detail about how punters can make money from doubles, quinellas and trifectas IF they are prepared to put in the work that is required. But were you ever worried that by revealing your exotic betting secrets you would cruel the pitch for yourself.?

SCOTT: No. Most punters will never change their betting habits. They will go on taking field doubles, field quinellas and box trifectas, and pursuing all the other popular exotic betting practices, which only ensure that they lose their money faster and faster.

B.B. That sounds to me like a fair warning about what not to do. I'm sure it will be to our readers, too.


Are you lured by the appeal of the exotic bet? Do you dream of cracking trifecta divvies worth thousands of dollars? You probably do. Most punters like to dream.

Don Scott knows all about the dreams. He also knows all there is to know about exotic betting-as the accompanying article reveals.

Here are some of his thoughts as expressed to Brian Blackwell in their interview in 1980's before Don passed away:

Trifectas and the like are a challenge to punters because they demand more skills or good fortune than an ordinary bet on a winner or placegetter. The trouble is, under the pressure of this challenge, most punters succumb to false reason and false logic. They tend to bet with a frenzied desperation.

Most punters, I believe, are pretty conservative people. All they seek is a modest return on their investment. According to their way of thinking, a 75 cent return on a 50 cent bet is a 50 per cent return on capital, but unfortunately they need two such dividends for every $1.50 invested to break square. Most can't achieve this.

Early tote betting merely reflects the uninformed opinions of thousands of small punters who like to back their fancies on Friday night or Saturday morning with no thought about the value they are getting. This is betting blind. I use this term because early offcourse punters are betting in the dark, with little or no knowledge of the likely dividend they will receive if their bet is a winner.

When there is a big support from TAB punters for one runner, the tote odds are unrealistic. Every punter seriously looking for a profit should be AT THE TRACK comparing the odds offered by bookmakers and the tote. Always seek the best possible price. This way, when you back a winner you will be getting value for money.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Brian Blackwell