When we talk about the 'exotics' in the world of betting we mean doubles, trebles, quinellas, exactas, First 4s, quadrellas, Superfectas and 6-Picks. In other words, the bets outside the usual win and place range.

Huge amounts of money are bet each day on the exotics. The average punter sees them as a chance to make a windfall collect, which he regards as a far more attractive gambling proposition than grinding out a small profit with win and place bets.

It all depends a great deal on the individual punter. In the good old days, punters had little choice but to bet for a win and the place. Now, the options have widened. Trifectas have proved immensely popular in the last decade and any perusal of betting pools on any T.A.B. will reveal the huge size of the average trifecta pool.

On major races, like the Melbourne Cup and the Caulfield Cup, trifecta pools soar even further, pumped up by 'mug' money from people who have only one or two bets a year. These are the races where many professional punters take extensive multiples and clean up big dividends.

Any bettor wishing to even up the exotics' by betting on them in a serious way should go about things the right way. Be sensible, study the form of betting you intend to concentrate on, and don't put your money down until you are sure you have the best approach. Staking can mean just about everything. It is certainly as important as selection. Get your selections right, and then make sure your staking fits the bill. With both items tied up neatly, you are well on the way to making things work out economically wonderfully!

But how do you do this? Your first task is to decide the form of exotic betting which appeals the most to you. If it's doubles, then concentrate on them. Go back over form statistics to discover which horses have been winning the T.A.B. doubles' legs. Is there a pattern to the successful horses? Do certain trainers dominate in certain areas, either on Saturdays or midweek?

Have a good look, too, at the dividends the doubles have paid. See what divvies emerge from the various winners and their SP odds. These might tell a story.

One valuable point about exotic betting is that the vast majority of your punting counterparts is betting incorrectly.

They take 'field' bets with a banker and give little thought to obtaining real value for the invested dollar. This is where astute punters move in and cash in. Many bettors take multiple bets but they fail to arrange their multiples into any semblance of order. In the long run, it works against them and the battle is lost.

Big professionals, like author Don Scott, make money by betting to 'value odds' in the exotics. Scott has written books about how it's done. Yet the average punter will never take the advice, preferring to soldier on in the old haphazard way, hoping against hope for a few big wins and a lot of little ones that will help to even up the ledger. It's a tough, unrelenting struggle and without a massive hit or two, the ordinary punter is right behind the eight-ball.

In his book Winning More, Scott wrote: "The vast majority of punters know very little about the mathematics of betting and nothing at all about the mathematics of exotic betting. Betting for a win and a place, they lose moderately. Betting exotically, they lose on a grand scale.

"This is because exotic betting multiplies and magnifies their errors and illogicalities many times over. However, for the successful punter, who refuses to copy mass betting habits, the rewards are greater than ever before."

Scott's formula was to find a 'true' price for each of his selections, and then to bet the quinellas and trifectas according to these prices. He doesn't bet if he cannot obtain what he believes is value. His money goes on the quinellas and trifectas he considers are 'value'.

His rules are simple but effective ones. Take the doubles' rules as an example. Scott wrote that there were just 2 main rules - eliminate all bad value chances (outsiders as well as favourites) and consider the good value chances in doubles, according to their true odds. By following these rules, he said, the average punter stands an excellent chance of making regular profits, betting on or off course.

Of course, as Scott anticipated, only a handful of punters ever took his expert advice. He said most bettors would never change their betting habits. They would, he predicted, go on taking the wrong approach.

While rank-and-file punters find Scott's approach daunting, there is no reason why they cannot go at least part of the way to getting exotic betting into some sort of rational order.

Once a plan is drawn up, based on rational factors, the average punter can start betting with greater confidence than before. He will, at least, know that he has done as much as he can to ensure his 'house' is in order, and that he is not making the same silly mistakes he was making before.

If you are going to back trifectas, then a study of multiple betting approaches is necessary. You are never going to beat the trifecta with one-out trifecta combinations. For instance, many punters try to beat the trifecta by taking a single combination (say numbers 2, 5, 7) and the task of hitting the first 3 with one combination is an awesome one.

You may achieve the feat once in a blue moon, but you'll be spending a long time between collects while waiting for another blue moon to start shining.

Even a low-priced multiple bet on the trifectas, used on a regular basis, will provide you with (a) peace of mind (b) a feeling of doing the right thing (c) a reasoned approach to a tough problem!

Better to bet in a consistent manner than to spray your bets all over the place. Haphazard betting is hit and miss stuff, and in the long run the bettor is the loser, often in a big way.

For instance, for only $6 you can have a good little trifecta combination which, providing your selections are soundly based, can return you some good divvies.

It's a 2 x 2 x 3 linkup of horses/dogs AB, AB, CDE. That is you pick two horses to run the quinella (A and B) and then slot in 3 other runners (CDE) to fill 3rd place. If you are able to find a race in which you are supremely confident of horses A and B, then it takes only some careful form analysis to come up with the 3 runners to fill that 3rd place.

Taking this idea further, you could add as many horses as you like for 3rd place. A combination of A and B for 1st and 2nd with 4 horses for 3rd costs $8, with 5 horses for 3rd it costs $10, for 6 horses it costs $12, for 7 horses the cost is $14 and so on, each extra horse adding $2 to the cost.

Rules, rules, rules, These are the vital ingredients in the armoury of any punter wanting to make money from betting on the exotics. Take a look at the following key rules and employ them in your attack on exotic betting.

  • Ensure you have a sound, rationally-based selection method. Cheek it out properly over a lengthy period,, take note of losing runs, and don't bet your cash until you are sure the selection method will do the job,
  • Always seek value. The vital point in betting is that you must try to be right when just about everyone else is wrong. To beat the percentages stacked against you in the betting game, you bet only when the 'true' value is available. Horses bet under the odds - at less than their true chance of winning – will bring you undone.
  • Never try to beat every race. Select your races carefully. Restrict yourself to a few races each day. In this way, you can spend more per race and give yourself a better chance of winning.
  • Decide after careful consideration which form of betting suits you best then stick to it and learn all you can about it.
  • Pick out a staking approach that suits your pocket and your psychological profile. Don't bet beyond your means.
  • Never expect to win a fortune. Set yourself realistic goals instead of wishing for the moon and the stars.
  • Be prepared to accept losing runs as part of the game. With exotic betting, the losing runs can be tough ones. If you can't cope with long losing runs, you'd better revert to place betting and always remember that good betting behaviour will propel you towards profits. Try not to lose heart at setbacks.
  • Before betting, try to predict how much return you are likely to receive. If the return doesn't meet a reasonable minimum figure then don't bet. Wait for another race which offers more value.

By Martin Dowling