The year 2004 looms, and maybe it's time for you to take a fresh look at how you go about actually BETTING on your selections.

Perhaps you've had another frustrating year when you got the selections right and the money management wrong? Still made the same mistakes you did in previous years? Run out of ideas on what to do next?

The aim of this article, and one more to follow, is to hand out a few ideas to consider. After all, if you're struggling then a fresh approach might be just what you need.

Level-stakes betting is the one approach that's always recommended, but I doubt you need me to lecture you about it.

It speaks for itself. Same amount of money on each selection, irrespective of odds. That's it, levels takes betting.

But let's have a bit more action, a bit more fun and a chance to boost profits while not putting ourselves in a dangerous position if the losers continue to arrive.

Using the percentage table, you can try what's known as The 42Unit Play. It can be a profitable method of wagering on the occasions when a race can be reduced to a limited number of contenders.

By betting on each of the chances in the exact units shown, there will be a profit no matter which selection is successful.

Actually, this is similar to the bookmaker-percentage table except that the total amount staked on a race must not exceed 42 units. If you're betting in dollars that maximum outlay would be \$42.

ODDSBETODDSBET
6/4209/29
7/4185/18
2/1166/17
9/4157/16
5/2148/16
3/1129/15
7/21110/15
4/11011/1+4

Not much explanation needed here. Let's say you reduce a field to three main chances. The odds available are 2/1, 7/1 and 8/1.

Your bet would be 16 on the 2/1 chance, 6 on the 7/1 chance and 6 on the 8/1 chance, a total of 28 units, well within the maximum allowed.

Should the 2/1 chance win, your collect would be 48 units, giving you a profit of 20 units. If the 7/1 chance won, you'd get back 48 units, and if the 8 /1 chance won, you'd get back 54 units.

This staking plan can be used to back horses in DIFFERENT races. Thus, you could stake across three races and stand to collect on all three should your selections all be winners.

Want a winner-in-four plan? The one-in-four series is popular in America and can be suitable for the bettor who considers he has the ability to average one winner in every four bets, or one placegetter every four bets.

For the small TAB punter the method can be played for as little a bank as 13.5 units (a unit can be any amount you like).

The starting bet is a half unit. If you don't get a single collect the progression is 1 unit the second bet, 3 units the third bet and the fourth and final wager is 9 units.

You'll note that the stake is always double the amount of the sum of all the preceding bets.

If, for instance, the series went to the fourth bet, the 9 unit bet is double that of the 4.5 units lost on the first three bets.

You can apply this idea to the place tote.

Years ago, there was the story of a man in Sydney who played this particular plan for the place, starting with a bank of \$67.50, and a betting scale of \$2.50, \$5, \$15 and \$45. He always set aside a part of any profit in order to build for the future.

He actually began his betting with two banks of \$67.50 each, holding one in reserve should there be a wipe-out. From profits he added to his reserve until such time as the operating and reserve capital was doubled.

Then, with two banks each of \$135, he bet in the ratio of \$5, \$10, \$30 and \$90.

He told a magazine back in the early 1970s: "I began playing the method on the tote in August, 1963, and only twice in nine years did I go through a series of four bets without hitting a placegetter."

With this series, the straight-out win bettor starts a new series whenever he backs a winner.

There is a different rule for the place punter. He starts a new series every time he is WINNING, irrespective of how small that profit might be.

The next idea is for a chain betting place method. It emerged in Sydney in the late 1960s. It can still be employed very usefully today. In fact, it's probably a more potent staking approach now than it was back then.

In an article introducing the approach, a publication in Sydney in 1967 said: "This is no system for rash guessing. The only time to make a bet on a horse for the place is when you consider the horse can win.

"Forget all about looking for roughies which MAY fill a place. Concentrate on horses, irrespective of price, which figure as CERTAIN to fill a place. Even a money-back dividend is better than a loser."

The betting operation suggested is simple. If betting in \$1 units, your base bet would be \$7 (first race), then \$6, \$5, \$4, \$3, \$2, and \$1.

Each base bet must be sufficient to ensure that the horse is coupled with all the remaining horses in the series.

We will concentrate, as an example, on a series of eight bets, and the unit can be any amount you like. The requirement is for 28 units.

So your base bets to cover the doubles will be:

 First bet: 7 units Second bet: 6 units Third bet: 5 units Fourth bet: 4 units Fifth bet: 3 units Sixth bet: 2 units Seventh bet: 1 unit

In other words, your doubles are in a chain: first bet with 7 others; second bet with 6 others and so on until the seventh bet is with the eighth bet.

If you are, say, betting in \$5 units your opening bet would be \$35 to ensure that if the horse is placed you will have the full dividend to place on your next 7 selections.

Your second base bet would be \$30 to couple with that horse in \$5 doubles with the next 6 selections, plus of course if the first horse had run a place you would have a \$5 bet and return going on to the second horse.

And so it goes on, a moving chain of bets going from race to race. The races do not have to be all on the same card. You can choose them from any meeting through the day, and even carry over the series from one day to the next.

This part of the approach is up to you as an individual punter.

In the original article it was stated: "Whenever a double is completed, you pocket the return from the all up bet and keep playing the rest of the horses until the series is completed. If all 8 selections are placed, you will collect on a total of 28 doubles.

"If the average dividend is as low as 2/1 ON, each double will return \$11.25 for a total return of \$315, a profit of \$175 (this is assuming \$5 doubles).

Even 5 or 6 placegetters will get you square or show a small profit, and the profit will naturally be much higher if a few of the returns are better than 2/1 ON \$1.50 for \$1).

Now to another plan that should prove interesting for those punters looking around for something a little daring and different.

Eachway betting has its critics. Many punters, some of them successful professionals, consider you should bet a one to four ratio. That is, say, \$20 win and \$80 the place. Or in proportion to that, depending on how much you wish to bet.

There is a staking plan based on this method of wagering. It's called the 10 Per Cent Split. Starting bank is 100 units.

The opening and minimum bet is 10 per cent (10 units) split to a fifth for the win and four-fifths for the place.

That is a 2 x 8 bet. Whenever the capital balance is in excess of 100 units, you continue to bet 10 per cent and split it in the 1 to 4 ratio.

If a punter is backing solid selections it is surprising how quickly capital can increase from winners and placegetters.

During a losing run with winners, a continual flow of place divvies will more than offset the straightout losses.

It is, I think, a safe and sound approach to wise betting.

NEXT MONTH: The final hot staking plan for 2004, specifically aimed at punters who cannot afford to bet in large sums!