Last month, I wrote about the life and career of R.W. 'Georgie' Wood, an English schoolteacher who created and published a string of top-selling books, booklets and systems in the 1940s through to the early 1960s.

In this second article in a series based on Mr Wood's beliefs, we take a look at his views on staking.

Most of Mr Wood's books feature his commonsense approach to betting. Now, we know that he wasn't a big bettor; on a teacher's wage in the 1950s in England there was hardly enough money to keep body and soul together, let alone for betting on dogs and racehorses (I know, because I was raised in London in the '40s and '50s and clearly remember my own family's financial struggles).

But Mr Wood probably would have been successful had he possessed the money required to punt up big. His writings show that he had a wide knowledge on all aspects of the betting game.

In 1952/53, he wrote in his book Systematic Professional Betting: "What is the use of knowing what won the Oaks in 1921? What is the use of being able to name every Derby winner since Grand Parade?

"Men who are stuffed with this kind of knowledge hive simply wasted their racing time on trifles when they should have been investigating the ins and outs of practical betting.

"When you are faced with the problem of how to make racing pay, it doesn't help in the least to know that Steve Donoghue won the 1921 Derby on Humorist. It would be far better to know something about the percentages of winning favourites in 2yo Maiden races, or why 15 round doubles on the favourites at Chester is a mug's bet.

"There is the right kind of knowledge and the wrong kind. The betting side of racing is something quite apart from the sporting side. There are racing men who do not bet; there are betting men who have no interest in racing!

"They are concerned with getting m money on winning chances, and they don't care a fig who gets the turf honours."

Mr Wood was a stickler for betting the right rices in the right way. He also liked to look at stats from the past to discern trends that might point the way to future winners.

This is what he wrote: "If you back favourites in 2yo Maiden races every bet will be on a sound winning chance. In three recent seasons that I investigated I found 286 winners against 271 losers.

"If you back horses that start at 33/1 you will be lucky if ever you touch a winner. During a typical year, 2378 horses started at this price and only 9 of them won.

"Every bet you make must be on a sound winning chance, and you must know why you are betting. Have done, once and for all, with backing your fancy; back your knowledge instead.

"On any day's racing, search out the best winning chance you can find, stick your money on and you can rest assured that you have done the best that can be done."

On exactly how to bet your selection? Well, 'Georgie' Wood had a wide-ranging set of opinions. He wrote: "Well, believe it or not, it doesn't really matter in the long run! Singles are just as good as doubles or trebles when it comes to the final reckoning up.

"Let us take a simple example: Assume we are backing horses with 50-50 chances to win, and the SP is evens. I will back 2 singles per day while you back your double.

"In 100 bets, I will have 50 winners and 50 losers (theoretically), so will end up even. You will have 25 winning doubles and 75 losing doubles because your winning chance is represented by the multiplication of 1/2 x 1/2 which equals 1/4. You will win three points per double (total 75) but you will lose 75 points on the losing doubles. So you will also end up quits.

"If you work out the trebles, you will find 87.5 points won and the same amount lost. So in actual fact all these fancy bets don't matter a tuppeny toss in the long run.

"On any one day a winning double is better than two winning singles (identical horses), but the serious backer isn't concerned with any one day. He is concerned with the final reckoning at the end of the season.

"I have used simple figures and examples to illustrate my point but no matter how complicated you make them you can't dodge around mathematics.

"Single bets are as good as complex bets in the long run."

Mr Wood goes on to describe his personal preference in regard to actual bets.

"The reader will rightly conclude that I prefer simple singles to the more complicated bets," he wrote. "There may be no difference in the long run but with singles we can win more regularly, and regular wins give the backer a zest for his work.

"If you prefer doubles, go ahead, as long as you back the goods. I don't want to preach, but personally I am a purist in the matter of betting.

"I would rather have my stake on one good tliirig than fiddle about with five shillings here and 10 shillings there. Commonsense tells me that among all the horses that are running there must be one that makes the most appeal.

"That is the bet, and why back anything else? How often have you made the mistake of spreading your stakes instead of concentrating on that one good thing?

"Of course, it's sometimes a good idea to back two or more horses in one race. Many professionals work along these lines; others sort out one good horse.

"Just as there are many men, so there are many methods. But all bets must be on good things so far as the winning chance goes. Three horses in one race is likely to be a bet at odds-on, just as a bet on one good horse may be at odds-on. But both bets carry sound winning chances.

"However, one single bet per day allows the backer more easily to operate a staking plan. And this brings us once again back to the ticklish problem of staking.

"Automatic selections and staking may be very well indeed up to a point; but the really shrewd backer never bets like a robot. If he feels that his good thing for today is a genuine cast-iron certainty, he doesn't invest one point because a staking plan tells him he must.

"He backs according to his level of confidence. Tomorrow the best thing he can find may not seem so very good, but he does not allow any staking plan to force him into investing 4 points when he should invest one.

"Staking according to the estimated winning chance is the winning way. By working on these lines the majority of big stakes will be on winners, while most of the minimum stakes will be on those inevitable losers.

"The aim of every staking plan is to get the big stakes on winners; but can this really be done by automatic staking? Maybe, but I doubt it."

Mr Wood was a believer, then, in trying to classify the 'class' of each selection. He came up with a plan to do just this and it makes for most interesting reading.

In next month's February PPM, I'll bring you the full details of the selection classification process and the recommended staking approach.

Also, I'll be revealing a number of Mr Wood's best staking plans and selection approaches. I'm sure you will find them as fascinating as I have.

This is a staking method for backers of doubles and it will prove a great success as long as moderately priced  horses are chosen. The plan allows the backer to have a losing run of 9 and yet recover all losses with a mere 4/1  winning double.

A bank of 20 points is required and the staking is as follows:


Mr Wood suggests that right tips for the plan are pre-race favourites, tipsters' poll top choices or 'best bets' handed out by various newspaper tipsters.

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

By Brian Blackwell