There have been many articles written that mention a punter’s comfort zone but unfortunately little is written to discuss exactly what the “Comfort Zone” is all about.

Your comfort zone is the level of investment you are able to make on your selections without the actual bet size affecting your judgement.  Everyone has a different comfort zone that can be attributed to multiple factors such as level of income, selection confidence or betting experience. Confidence and knowledge of how to be successful at punting are probably the two most determining factors that establish your comfort zone.

An example is an appropriate way of displaying someone being both in and out of their comfort zone.  Take a punter who we will refer to as Tom. Tom has 10  bets of $20 each on any given Saturday being an outlay of $200. He can quite comfortably place these bets on his selections without any hesitation.  If we ask Tom to select his two strongest bets for the day and place $100 on each, doubt would creep into his mind regarding the ability of his selections.

Tom has moved out of his comfort zone. He will be risking no more than his normal daily turnover, but asking him to place a $100 bet rather than a $20 bet makes him nervous. He will now start to see problems with his selections and the extra money will cause him to possibly make irrational decisions regarding his bets.

My experience has shown that when I moved out of my comfort zone, I began to second guess my selections. This caused me to be unable to make a clear decision on which horse to place my investment. Many runners become possible selections and more often than not I ultimately made an irrational decision and tended to lose my money. My strike rate fell and I became angry at my losses which in turn led to a downward spiral in my betting bank.

When out of your comfort zone, price can become a significant influence over your selection process. If your favoured horse is not in the top three of betting, you will tend to question your selection and may change to a more favoured horse. This is an example of the type of doubts that fall over your selections.

Other influences will start to weigh more heavily within your selection process. Suggestions from friends, newspaper tipster polls or even the old bloke who is always at the mounting yard's opinion take on unwarranted weightings within your processing of the form. This is what I term looking for external verification of your selections. It is this need for external verification that is a strong sign you are out of the comfort zone.

You may also start considering the consequences of what it means to you financially should your bet lose. Starting to count how many bets you have left in your wallet because you assume all will lose and making sure you have enough for the train ride home.

The comfort zone is a very personal aspect of punting and only you can identify whether you are in or out of this zone. It is important to identify when the size of investment is affecting your judgement and to stop betting and take a break. When starting back after a break you need to make investments of the size that was present prior to the blurred judgment.

Some time ago I came to the realisation that this “hobby” (punting) of mine was actually becoming quite expensive. Most days I would end up even for the day or winning a small amount but not enough to cover the associated costs such as formguides and track entrance fees. It was then that I realised my money management techniques needed an overhaul.

The overhaul needed to achieve two things. The first to bring some logic to the amounts I placed on my selections and also to increase my bet size without affecting my selection process as detailed in this article. I was happy with my selection process as it was my crazy bets when out of my comfort zone that were causing my losses.

After reading many books and articles, I decided that the overhaul could be done and set about developing a simple method to go about it. It is my opinion that anyone can follow my methodology as it’s careful and gradual approach will not only increase your bet size but also encompasses some important aspects required for punting success.

You need to start with a designated punting bank for betting only and nothing else. My suggested bank is forty (40) times your current comfortable bet level. If you do not have access to a bank of this size, it is okay to start with a lower bank. It just means the bet size will be lower than your current level, don’t worry as the amount will slowly grow back to your current level.

The punting bank needs to be actually present and kept separate from other funds. If you do not have the funds you should commence saving the funds by putting aside a set amount of money on a weekly basis. During this bank building phase you should reduce your regular bet size to provide additional funds for the bank. This time is a good opportunity to work on honing your selection skills. My suggestion for building your bank is to set up a TAB/Bookmaker account and have an automatic deduction from your bank account to this betting account of your weekly saving. This makes accessing the funds for purposes other than punting difficult and therefore less likely to occur.

The starting bet to be placed on your selections will be 2.5 per cent of the punting bank. This will start you off at your comfort level. The 2 per cent is 1/40th of your bank and thus provides for forty (40) losing bets before the bank is ruined.

Each time the bank grows to a new high, the bet level is recalculated so that it is always 2.5 per cent of the highest point of the bank. You do not decrease your bet level. The following table illustrates a six bet series with a starting bank of $1,000. It provides two winners at bet numbers 2 and 5, paying $3 and $5 respectively.

Bet No.BetReturnProfit/LossBank
0   1,000
6 27   
We see from the table above that the bank started at $1,000 which provides for a $25 bet. This bet is maintained until the bank increases above $1000. This happens after bet number 2 when the bank is at $1,025 at which point the bet size is recalculated to $26 and then held constant until the bank increases above $1,025 after bet number 5.

As displayed in the above table there is a gradual increase in betting level. There are no large jumps in bet size. The slow increase will just keep pushing along without causing any psychological effect on your decision making. In fact, you most probably won’t even realise your increase in bet size.

Should the bet size provide some angst, just remember that at the point of increase there are sufficient funds to provide for forty (40) bets. This is a comfortable position to be in. If you are still feeling concerned at your new level, drop back a little in the series and bet level stakes until you feel comfortable to resume betting at 2.5 per cent of highest bank.

Some people may suggest that the use of 2. per cent is too high a percentage to risk on any one bet. This is dependent upon the type of selections you are dealing with. Should you be backing lower priced horses with a high strike rate then the 2 per cent is fine. Alternatively, if your selection method is based upon longer priced horses with a moderate strike rate you may choose to use a lower percentage. The actual percentage value is not the important aspect, the method of betting the set percentage of highest bank is the backbone of the exercise.

Along with increasing your comfort zone this methodology requires the recording of all bets and the updating of the bank with all winning and losing bet calculations. This will provide you will an accurate record of your punting ventures and a solid base for the recording of all bet details.

Accurate punting records are imperative for success at horse betting as well as having a systematic business-like manner. Every successful business keeps good records of its financial position and this method will allow you to maintain a succinct snapshot of the profitability or otherwise of your punting. Knowing your actual profit/loss figure at all times may prove interesting reading if you have not kept records in the past and lead to further research and evaluation of your selection methods.

In conclusion, it is important to expand your comfort zone slowly and systematically. If you follow the suggestions outlined in this article you will be able to increase your bet size without external influences affecting your selections.

The most important thing to remember is the comfort zone is a personal aspect of your punting and that only you can decide at what level you feel comfortable.

By Brad Waldron