Sick and tired of betting race to race and never getting anywhere? Feel frustrated by the fact that your 'bank' is always too small to make significant gains? Feel as if you are fighting a losing battle on the punt?

Well, if you feel one or even all of these things, don't despair. You're not the only one in the boat. The 'small bet' punter faces an enormous task to make big money gains, though that doesn't mean he cannot make the same percentage profits as big punters.

Only trouble is, a 100 per cent profit on a $10 bet is a far cry from the same percentage profit on a $1000 bet! The skill is the same, the actual money reward is different.

The aim of this article is to look at ways and means that the 'small bet' punters can have a lash at landing windfall divvies. It's not easy, and it takes some risk, but even an occasional slam-dunk will return you big profits.

So how do you go about it? You have a limited amount of money, and you want to win a decent amount. Nothing too outlandish, but certainly better than whacking 10 bucks on a 6/4 favourite and copping a $15 profit.

You can, if you like, concentrate on shooting for TAB doubles or perhaps trifectas. Most punters follow this path. But trifecta betting is a trap for players who don't understand the odds. The average punter never wins on trifectas in the long run because he bets on favourites, and when he does strike a tri the return is below what it should be.

Favourites are overbet in trifectas. The only long-term hope for the small punter is to bet against the favourites - and hope that value-laden selections fill the placings, thus ensuring a sizeable return.

My three-pronged suggestion is that you take the idea of 'hitting a windfall' a step further. My advice is that you consider a mass attack, choosing from the following three staking ideas:

  • THE PATENT Comprises three selections linked into three single win bets, three doubles (A-B, A-C, B-C) and one treble. That's seven bets in all.
  • THE YANKEE Comprises four selections linked into six doubles (A-B, A-C, A-D, B-C, B-D, C-D), four trebles (A-B-C, A-B-D, A-C-D, B-C-D) and one four-horse all-up accumulator. That's 11 bets.
  • THE CANADIAN Comprises five selections linked into 10 doubles (A-B, A-C, A-D, A-E, B-C, B-D, B-E, C-D, C-E, D-E), 10 trebles (A-B-C, A-B-D, A-B-E, A-C-D, A-CE, A-D-E, B-C-D, B-C-E, B-D-E, CD-E), five accumulators, and one running five-horse accumulator, making a total of 26 bets.

I think it is useless to venture in the next area, that of the Heinz, comprising six selections of 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-horse accumulators, and six five-horse accumulators, plus one six-horse accumulator! In all, 57 bets (thus the name). But that's not to say you can't have a lash at a Heinz if you feel like it!

The Patent is a cheap bet that costs, at $1 a unit, just $7. Yet it provides the canny punter with a good chance of scoring a big return. With the Patent, as with the other two methods, the use of good 'key' horses, especially if they are from top stables, is important to long-term success.

You need one horse in the three that is going to deliver a win - for sure. So even if it's a bit short in the market, don't hesitate to put it in as one of the three selections. Then you can pick the value for the other two.

A hotpot like Strategic (at Rosehill, race 2, February 11) is an example of a strong key horse. It looked like a good thing and won like a good thing. At the same meeting, Concise (race 5) looked a readymade winner, and produced the goods.

So, always think firstly of the horse that you are going to 'hang your hat on' as a bird. Once you have nailed this one down, you can cast around for the selections that are going to inject the value into the bet.

Depending on the price of your selections, a winning Patent can turn $7 into some heavy dosh! For example, two winners at evens and 4/1 will give you 5 units profit from the win bets, and the double will give you another 9 units profit. In all, then, 14 units on top, a percentage take of 200 per cent.

But throw in a third winner at, say, 4/1 and you start to look really sweet. Here's what you'd have:

2 WINNERS 4/1 each PLUS 8
Two doubles at evens x 4/1
One double at 4/1 x 4/1 PLUS 24
One treble at evens x 4/1 x 4/1

The final tally, then, is $7 bet for a return of $107 - and all this from what is basically two value winners and a hotpot thrown in for good measure! You have basically landed a double and for $7 you have won $100!

You can see from this example the power of the Patent for a small punter. You can, if you wish, extend the bet a few dollars more by having $2 on each double.

Now we come to the Yankee. This is a tougher bet to land because you are chasing four winners to make a complete haul. The outlay, though, is still only $11 because we have dispensed with the single win bets.

Those punters desiring regular returns may well be tempted to try place betting for the Yankee. Okay, this will reap you more returns, but it takes away the thrill of a huge win.

Usually, one double is enough to save the day on the Yankee, so if your selection process is sound there shouldn't be too many wipeouts.

Remember always to throw in that hotpot special as the key anchor part of the bet. It's like having one leg tossed in for nothing! Of course, racing being racing, the hotpot won't always win but it should win enough times to keep you smiling.

For those of you seeking even greater returns - but a stiffer task again - the Canadian is the way to go. It sets an exacting selection minefield, doesn't it, with five horses needed. You are shooting for high returns indeed with this one and if the glorious day should come to pass when all got home first then you would be deeply into the cash.

Imagine a five-horse all-up rolling in with winners at, say, 2/1, 3/1, 4/1, 5/1 and 6/1. For a $1 bet you would receive back $2520. Then throw in the 10 doubles, 10 trebles and five four-horse accumulators - and, boy, you'll be looking at buying a block of land!

If you decide that place betting is the way to go, then the Canadian is certainly not beyond reach, given a good day and some sensible selections. Newspaper tipsters often land five or six placers from the top selections.

Even a successful 'all place' Canadian could return you thousands of dollars for the $26 outlay. But I recommend this approach only for the punter who doesn't mind risk-taking and who is prepared to accept losing weeks. You cannot hope to land a full Canadian very often, but you will be able to snag enough doubles and trebles to post some decent returns.

What are you looking at, then, with the Patent? Let's say you have $21 a week to invest. That makes you a very small punter, but it's enough to enable you to have three Patent bets in a week. Your annual outlay will be 52 x 21 ($1092).

If you don't wish to bet three times a week, you could merely bet on a Saturday and invest $3 per unit on the Patent, putting all your eggs in the one basket, so to speak. This is a sensible way to go, because you are maximising profits when you make a collect.

Using this approach you would need only a handful of successful Patent pickups to break even. For example, should you hit with those three winners at evens and two at 4/1, you'd win $300 each time, so if you landed four out of 52 that would put you in profit, and anything else would be cream on the cake.

What you must always keep in mind are the following points:

  • The aim of betting on Patents, Yankees and Canadians is to shoot for big windfall returns every now and then.
  • You cannot expect to win every week, and you must be prepared to take risks.
  • Always ensure that at least one of the selections is a strongly fancied hotpot. Look for horses from the stables of trainers like Jack Denham, John Hawkes, Lee Freedman, David Hayes, etc.
  • Decide upfront whether you want to continue with your current win/place singles betting, and whether you really want to switch to the small bets-big wins basis of Patent etc betting.

By Alan Jacobs