There are many who say winning is impossible when you bet at the races. They are absolutely right if you apply the claim to each individual punter, because the sad truth is, as we have explained before in P.P.M., that most punters bet wrongly.

They do not take enough care in their approach, and they become addicted to losing (please refer to Statsman's articles in this issue and in the April P.P.M. if you want further evidence!).

Now, we all know that most bookmakers prosper, even in these parlous economic times. And why do they do so?  Because they treat racing as a business, whereas the ordinary rank-and-file punter tends to treat it as a pastime, or purely as a sport. The average punter gives his spare cash a 'fling' and that's about it. What he should be doing is betting to a plan.

Even if a punter starts with, say, a bank of $50 and makes $2 a week, this would amount to a profit of around $100 in a year, or a 200 per cent gain on the amount invested. Now he can start another year with a bank of $100 and have $50 in reserve. From this small base, a punter could easily build his dream castles in a matter of years!

If, then, you sincerely wish to adopt a new, winning approach to racing, you will first have to scrap what you are doing wrong at the moment, and acquire a new psychological approach. The 11 rules I have compiled should help you on the path to a change of mind and a change of fortune.

Few of us are blessed with ice in our veins. Some punters are, and benefit from it; they bet big where those with normal blood draw back from the fray, and have a small bet! A successful punter needs a cold and logical mind. Do your best to 'steel' yourself and to cast emotions aside.

The ability to know when to ignore someone else's opinion, and in the process to have a much higher regard for form facts, is another essential ingredient of being a truly successful bettor. The racing world thrives on everyone else's opinion, from the newspaper, TV and radio experts to your taxi-driver. Having the sense to see through the smokescreen of 'I reckons' will benefit you enormously. Trust yourself; query others.

Concentration is always a significant thing in a punter's life. The technique of intense concentration when studying form can impress on you the vital need to consider even the smallest detail when analysing any horse's form  background. Never skip details.


A sound grasp of the principles of percentages (betting figures in relation to a horse's actual chance in a race) is essential. Study all you can (see Winning More, Winning In The 90s by Don Scott, Dollars & Sense published by Equestrian, and Commonsense Punting by Roger Dedman to name a few publications).

This is one thing that few punters possess. If you can acquire patience, along with all the other virtues, you will be well on the pathway to betting success. Knowing when to bet, and having the patience to wait for the right race, is enormously important.

Picking the right race on which to bet is just about as important as choosing the right horse. Choose the right race and your task in picking the right horse will be made that much easier. Don't try to bet on every race (advice we at P.P.M. try to impress on our readers at every available opportunity!!). Never allow yourself the stupid 'luxury' of a bet for the sake of an interest in a race (unless, of course, you merely regard racing, and losing, as a hobby or a bit of fun).

Never bet beyond your means. For your own peace of mind keep your bets well within what you regard as your personal 'safety margin' and if you've got domestic economic troubles, refrain from betting altogether, and never regard betting as the way out of your problems. Approached in a desperate frame of mind betting can only make your problems worse.


If you win, always keep something back before you re-invest. A lot of professionals will slice off at least 40 or 50 per cent from winnings for themselves, before re-investing. That is, you win $100; you pocket at least $40 or $50, and then add the rest to your bank. Never be overgreedy.

Never be afraid to cover yourself with 'insurance' betting. You might fancy a horse very strongly, but a lot of things can go wrong. Bet on another one or two horses in the same race to 'save' your stake should your main horse fail. Potential profits are trimmed but your savers will ensure that on many occasions you will, at least, get your stake back.

Always seek the best price. To obtain this, you need to attend the races to compare prices between tote and bookie. If you cannot attend a track, draw up your own prices and don't bet unless the tote offers better odds.

Keep a careful book ledger of all your betting activity, win or lose. You must have a sound grasp of how you are going. It's easy to forget lots of losing bets! Act like a businessman, and tally everything up. Do it the professional way.

By Rick Roberts