When we talk about punting we have to, alas, talk about illogicality and irrational thinking. We must talk about cashing the small bets and losing the big ones, about catching little 'fish' and missing the big ones, of putting too little on the winners and too much on the losers.

The behaviour of punters down through the years has followed a steady path where calm and reason disappear to be replaced by fear and chaos. The only way to prevent such disaster happening is to have a definite betting plan that will turn losses into gains, and make small I gains into bigger ones.

We all know the ever-present temptation to think you have an absolute hotpot this time and that NOW is the time to strike to collect the big goodies. Sometimes it works and you feel pretty damn smart-but in the long run, and it IS a long run, you'll find that those hunches will let you down.

What's required of the punter who seeks some order in his activities is self control, patience, determination and character, all vital elements if your punting behaviour is to be turned around to your complete advantage.

In racing, time can weigh heavily. Race after race comes up when you have no really reliable selection, but the temptation is always there to 'dabble' and it's when you start dabbling that you usually lose. The losses zap your confidence, you ignore the special plan you were following, you go into siege mode and things continue to go wrong.

The answer is simple, all too simple for most punters: Research carefully what you want to bet and decide on a 'modus operandi'-in other words, decide exactly how you are going to bet and on what type of selections. If you are satisfied with your system, then don't toss it away because of one bad losing run.

We are talking here about behaviour. Your behaviour when you are investing your own money. It's on the money management side that many punters are found wanting. They don't know how to bet and they take no steps to find out how to bet; that's the rub.

Modifying your erratic and negative behaviour is essential. What you should do, after reading this article, is to sit down with a blank sheet of paper in front of you. Take up your pen or pencil and write the following words:

Now you have to be totally frank with yourself and write down all the reasons you can think of to answer this point. I told a friend of mine to do it, and this is what he came up with:

  1. I don't have the courage of my convictions.
  2. I put money on haphazardly.
  3. I am afraid of betting on too few horses.
  4. I bet in too many' races.
  5. I am a risk-taker and I bet the price not the horse.
  6. I'm lazy and I don't study the form enough.
  7. I am swayed by other people's tips.

Shall I go on? There are seven reasons my honest pal came up with to explain why he has spent a lifetime chasing the dream of winning money at the races. He rarely wins, and yet he keeps coming back for more. He loses yet he won't change his behaviour pattern.

Why is this? According to the psychologists it's because the 'dream' aspect of his betting life is far more appealing than settling into a more conservative form of approach. The punter desires the risk, the adventure rather than the grind.

Professor Frank Schaeffer, an American psychologist who has studied gambling behaviour for 20 years, says: "If a person has been betting a certain way all his life he will rarely make the change to a new way of betting, even if he understands that such a change will give him a far better chance of winning money.

"The reason is that his behaviour pattern has become engrained. It's almost addictive in a way. I have known bettors who have made enormous efforts to change, and have succeeded in doing so for a short while, but all their good intentions are thrown out the window as soon as the first or second losing streak is encountered.

"The easy way out for them is to revert to what they have always done, and this is justified in their own mind because they can still believe in the dream enough to convince themselves that profits can be achieved, that the windfall bonanza can be gained."

Okay, knowing all this, if you fit this picture of the battling punter, isn't it time you started to learn a few tricks of the game? Isn't it time you made a pact with yourself? A pact to do it properly from now on?

You really owe it to yourself to make your punting pay. Even if you bet only a small amount each day, it's still your money and you've had to earn it, and it deserves your respect.

So the advice is this: Bring some order into your betting. Get yourself a solid staking plan. Bring money management into your life. Adopt a set method for choosing your bets-maybe a mechanical system, or a ratings approach. Make sure it's a good method and stick to it.

Don't overbet. Choose just a few bets a day. Ensure you have enough of a bank to cover losses. Decide if you are going to bet win and place, or try the exotics. Make the decision and stick to it.

Once you have overcome the withdrawal symptoms of leaving behind your old ways of betting you'll find that you are more satisfied, more pleased with your new-found discipline. Confidence will follow. Faith in yourself.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Jon Hudson