When it comes to betting, few punters give much thought to the venues at which they are betting. But betting the right tracks as well as the right races can be all important when determining if you have a fighting chance of making a long-term profit.

It's a fact that tracks can play tricks on you. I suggest that if you were to keep a detailed record of your bets, including the tracks where the bets were laid, then you would find that some tracks are good for you, others are a trap.

Minor country meetings should be avoided at all costs. In fact, unless you really feel the need to, it would be advisable if you steered clear of Monday and Friday TAB meetings. They attract a lowly class of horse and the form can be unreliable.

By all means, run a test to see how you go - but I'm willing to bet that over a year you are more likely to be chasing losses on minor tracks than winning at them.

Your betting record, spread over 12 months into track-by-track form, will show you clearly which ones are doing you a favour, and which ones are not. A friend, who bets quite heavily, ran such a test some time back, and discovered that his betting on Canterbury, Warwick Farm, Caulfield and Sandown was deeply in the red.

He also found that certain classes of races were not pulling in profits for him. He cut back on the losing races, pruned his betting back at all the losing tracks, and lifted his bets on the profitable ones. It was a sensible ploy. His profits have been edged up some 10 to 15 per cent.

If you restrict the number of tracks you bet on, you are going a long way to leaving yourself with a comfortable number of bets. For example, if you're a punter who bets, say, three races a program then over 12 months you are going to avoid betting on hundreds of races if you drop, say, four or five tracks from your list.

After all, why keep betting at these tracks if they are proving losers for you. Better to concentrate on the 'winningest' tracks.

Once you have decided on which tracks your money is going to be invested, you can start looking seriously at how to bet. In the last issue of P.P.M., I talked about betting on trifectas and said how I regard them as a fascinating form of betting.

But, like most everything else in betting, they have to be approached on a methodical basis. Decide firmly and clearly how you will bet the trifectas - then stick to the plan, through thick and thin.

There is nothing worse than doing a certain staking plan for week in, week out and then dropping it and, to your horror, seeing it win without you being aboard!

One of my close friends made such a mistake recently. He bet the First Four on the Queensland TAB and every week took two sets of combinations for a half unit - a multiple 2 x 3 x 4 x 8 combination, each costing $20. On Caulfield Cup day, though, he changed one of the combinations and instead made it a 1 x 3 x 3 x 8 linkup.

Naturally, had he bet his usual way he would have collected the First Four on the Cup. It paid $29,000 and he would have had half. That mistake cost him some $14,000. He learned a bitter lesson.

So when you choose a staking approach - your form of money management - don't decide to change things midstream. Work at it, have patience, and if your selections are okay you will reap the reward.

Professionals who work the trifecta pools like to limit their multiple combinations. Some only bet when they have a standout banker to win - and when this horse is not a heavily-backed favourite. Others will take two horses to win and then link them with others.

Another ploy is to select a banker, pick about 6 or 7 other runners, then play the banker in all three slots - 1st, 2nd and 3rd. If you're a good selector, this virtually guarantees you the trifecta should your banker run1st, 2nd or 3rd.

But with this approach, you have to nominate a horse at a value price as the banker. You need high paying dividends every now and again.

A banker to fill all placings taken with 5 other runners is going to cost you $60 for $1 units. Taken with 6 other runners, the cost mounts to $90. For 7 other runners, the cost is $126. But there is room for some decent profits to be made, even if you stretch to the $126 bet.

We all know banker standouts get beaten. If you don't cover them in 2nd and 3rd slots, as well as for the win, you will be tearing your hair out time and again when they are knocked off in photo-finishes. So play safe on this one.

NEXT MONTH. I'll be looking at multiple betting for the win. How best can you manage your money and why you should pick level stakes ahead of betting to odds.

Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 1.

By Jon Hudson