We've all known the experience. You set out on a day's betting full of confidence and keen to land the money with your first bet. But what happens? It loses!

How a punter reacts to that losing first bet can often mean the difference between a winning and a losing day.

Renowned handicapper Joe Takach has what he believes are a few answers to the problem.

Takach, author of some of the best books written about betting on horse-racing, says: "Let's look at the scenario. We're up half the night handicapping tomorrow's card and come up with only one playable spot for the day. It comes in the second race.

"We bet and we lose. Boo-hoo. It isn't the first time, nor the last time, this will occur in your betting career. You learn to live with it. What's next? We can do one of two things at this point.

"We can stick to our game-plan and keep our hands in our pockets for the rest of the day, not betting again while taking copious notes for the future, OR we can try to get out for the day."

Takach is referring, of course, to the old betting approach of "getting out", trying to recoup all losses for the day by the end of the last race on the card.

"It matters little exactly where you lost, or how much you're behind for the afternoon," says Takach. "If you're financially even for the afternoon, after being in a sea of red ink, as you exit the track, you are said to have gotten out for the day, avoiding a disastrous dent in your betting bankroll. Sticking to your

game-plan, and merely taking notes all day for potential future bets, is highly advisable, but tough to implement and religiously stick to. This is doubly-true if your only pick for the day was in an early race.

"Professionals can pass with little or no problem because they know they'll be back tomorrow, so there's no need to panic and try to get out or rush a marginal bet."

Takach rightly points out that professionals, most of them anyway, live in day-tight compartments where their self worth comes down to a single bet, win or lose, for any specific afternoon. They look, he says, at the big picture.

"They concern themselves only with how they are doing for the year, not with single events (race, races or simply a bad day) along the way," he explains. "Seasoned but non-professional punters are a bit different and always seem to have a hunch in every race, even though the professional knows that certain races might not warrant a bet under any circumstances."

Takach goes on to say that any "day tripper" knows that in the long run his bankroll will quickly deflate by wagering on hunches every race just for betting action.

"Since seasoned players are usually not in attendance on a daily basis, although frequent participants, they almost feel like they are obligated to bet because they can bet only a day or two a week instead of five and six, like a pro," says Takach.

"If they do bet every race, or nearly every race, they can only end up in the red, because betting nothing more than a hunch will literally bury them in the long run."

He reasons that there is a case to be made out for riot sticking to your game-plan for a specific day, if a horse "jumps out" at you on rare occasions when you are doing your work for future bets.

He says: "There is nothing wrong with intensely following this horse right up until loading, and wagering if, and only if, you have a very valid reason to do so.

"Such reasons might include the scratching of a hot favourite, or the favourite showing up in the mounting yard looking like a physical wreck, or just having a bad hair day!"

Nothing, says Takach, is carved in stone in our great game and opportunity could be around the corner in any situation.

"But if you find yourself betting past your intended stopping point, win or lose, every single day, or most of them, you're pushing bets, you're positively pushing your luck and eventually you'll be pushing yourself into a hole," he warns.

"The only way to really judge yourself in this game is with a balance sheet at the end of a year, much like the stock market and your investment portfolio.

"Do you buy every stock? Of course not. So why should or would you bet every single race? just as some stocks are not worth the investment and potential loss, so some races offer nothing but very steep downside risk!"

You can read more of foe Takach in The Digest at the Gambler's Book Shop website at: www.gamblersbook.com.

By Richard Hartley Jnr