When the editor handed me the assignment to write a series on 'money management' I pleaded with him for a leave pass! I wondered if there was anything new to say on this subject. But I was being too pessimistic. Of course, there is much left to say.

My first idea was to test some of the lads down at the local TAB on their money management knowledge. Few knew anything at all about 'betting to prices', others were even ignorant of how a bookie frames his market. Still others confessed they had absolutely no plan whatsoever for backing their horses, and none kept a record of their betting.

So it hit me, full force, that money management remains one of those areas of gambling that few want to address in any real or positive manner. Perhaps the average bettor thinks it's all too hard for him? Maybe he doesn't want to discover the real 'profit/loss' figures on his betting because he knows he'll be deep in the red?

It all gets back to knowing how to bet as well as what to bet. Proper money management requires a high degree of mental discipline, and these are not the times for mental restraints, are they? We live in an age of instant gratification (I read an article in a British magazine the other week which pointed out that many people can't even wait for Christmas to come around anymore).

The money management betting situation has been much the same for a hundred years. Back in the 50s, US pro Sam Lewin was writing that the average fan had only the 'foggiest notion' of how to handle his money at the track.

This is what he said: "A few swift losses usually put him in a hole, and he proceeds to dig that hole deeper and deeper by increasing the size of his wagers in futile attempts to make up for his early bad judgement.

"At best the upshot of this sort of betting is an unhappy and frustrating day at the races."

Lewin told the story of the downfall of a man who was the only one he ever knew who had an edge on the game. His name was Al Windemere, a New Yorker who started following the horses seriously in the late 1930s. He used 'wind velocity' figures to nab scores of winners at Belmont.

For a long time, Al had an edge on the game, and on the rest of the betting public at the track.

But then the others learned what he was doing, and called on the tracks to release the 'wind velocity' figures to everyone (they are still listed by some US clubs today).

But Al never knew how to handle his bets. Lewin, in his book How To Win At The Races, wrote: "Al picked enough winners to be extraordinarily successful during the period when he was alone using the wind velocity figures.

However, he fell so much in love with his against-the-wind longshots that he never seemed to have enough money to bet on them.

"Al liked to bet round sums. If he had $98 to put on a horse, he'd try to borrow $2 to make it $100. More often, he'd be out looking for a couple of hundred dollars to round off a bet to the nearest $1000. He always seemed to want to bet a few hundred dollars more than he had when he came up with a 'fuzzy', which is what he called a horse he thought was a sure thing to win.

"All of Al's fuzzies didn't win, of course, and it's said that he died broke while still a fairly young man.

The moral of the story is that if you are going to pick winners, then for goodness sake make sure you bet them properly. Easier said than done, I can hear you say. Yet it is something that HAS to be done.

At the very least, decide on how much you are prepared to lose. Set yourself a daily, or weekly, loss limit. That way, you will at least have peace of mind in knowing that no matter how badly you fare you will lose only a certain amount of money - at your own sensibly applied limit.

This approach will stop you falling into the trap of 'last race desperation' when, like many others, you will be spraying bets and money every which way in a desperate attempt to leave the track with your cash intact.

In order to get a 'handle' on your betting, there are two major steps to take. Get a 'bank' and get yourself a book in which to register your bets, and your daily cash flow. It means such a lot.

American professional Richard Zane Casey has this to say on the importance of sensible money management: "The professional has a prescription for success, the amateur doesn't.

The pro has an operating capital of an amount that's enough to accomplish the profit objective he sets himself, he has patience, and he has self-control.

"The most successful pro bettors I have known have bet 'one to three' for win and place. This bet means they can make a small profit even if their bet gets rolled for the win. They don't bet at under 2/1 or 5/2 and they pick their spots carefully.

"Then there are the guys who don't bother with putting money on for the place - they are content with fewer pickups but bigger ones. It's a matter of choice. I'm in the latter category and my main aim is to hit around 30 to 35 per cent winners."

But what about you, the Aussie (or Kiwi) punter? How can you emulate the professionals and make yourself just that little bit more of a money manager than you are right now (all those claiming to have made a profit regularly over the last few years can skip to the next story in the magazine!!)?

Firstly, you have to get the bank together, be it $50 or $500. Put it somewhere - a bank, a moneybox, a top drawer(!) - so that you can see it, feel it, touch it. In other words, the bank really does have an existence. It doesn't just exist in the back reaches of your mind. It isn't a fantasy.

Once you've achieved this 'state' you can sit back and look at yourself, the punter. You have this cash at your disposal, to bet as you see fit. What will you do? How will you use the money to your advantage? How will you protect the bank from devastation? How will you build and protect profits?

These are all questions needing to be answered before you make your first bet. Don't rush helter-skelter into betting mode. As the old saying goes, 'take time out to smell the roses' - or, in betting parlance, sniff out which way to go.

Don't forget that by having a bank you are providing yourself with a measure against which you can determine the size of your bets, using whatever staking method you choose, be it level stakes. a progression, or betting to prices or betting to a percentage of the bank.

If you have, say, a $400 bank, you won't want to risk all or nearly all of it on the first day's betting! Each individual bet has to be a small percentage of the bank, and never any more than 5 per cent.

The choice of a staking plan is vitally important. To choose correctly, you first have to look at yourself, and categorise yourself. What sort of a bettor are you? Can you handle rising bet stakes? Are you cautious or a risk-taker? How much discipline do you have? How easy is it for you to fall off the wagon under pressure?

Basically, your bet size - no matter what sort of punter you are - has to be a small proportion of your available bank. If your selections have a high strike rate (in the shorter odds range, naturally) the proportion can be raised slightly.

The truth of the matter is that if you go to the races, or the TAB, with, say, $50 you should be betting in $1 units (2 per cent). Doesn't sound much, does it, and you will probably not do it. You will, being a punter without a plan, bet in $5 or $10 shots, perhaps more, and the $50 can be wiped out before you've finished eating that first meat pie!

You have to seek a stable staking plan, and here I suggest that to begin with you do not look beyond level stakes. Now you need to seek a profit on turnover. This is calculated by taking the profit and dividing it by the turnover.

Let's say you bet $50 on the day and you got back $60. The profit is $10. In percentage terms this means a 20 per cent profit. This is an excellent day's betting. If you could manage a 20 per cent profit on turnover throughout the year you would be doing exceptionally well.

Fifty-two multiplied by $50 equals annual turnover of $2600. A 20 per cent profit on that would give you $520 extra on top of your $2600 - a gross of $3120 if you bank your $50 weekly turnover as well. Not bad!

Achieving that 20 per cent target is the tough one! It isn't easy at all. Professionals I know would love to achieve that sort of figure, but the best man in the business that I know right now is happy to settle for 12 to 15 per cent.

NEXT MONTH. We'll bring you a complete array of staking plans and we'll 'grade' them for you as well. Progression methods, percentage staking, target betting they'll all be there for you to consider. Don't miss this very special staking feature in the March 'Enjoy Racing with P.P.M.

Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 4.

By Denton Jardine