Find something new to say about staking," the editor challenged me. Believe me, it's a challenge. So much has been written in PPM about staking and money management that it seems we've already covered all the bases.

I decided to dip into my racing library. One of the books I uncovered, and which I hadn't read for many years, is called Mind Your Betting, which was published in New York some 50 years ago.

The plan that caught my eye in this book revolved around the premise that you can put a limit on losses with no ceiling to the amount which can be won.

Sounds interesting? That's what I thought. The plan is known as The Limit Method and the objective is to keep the punter's risk factor at a minimum yet make maximum profits.

I think it's a plan that might well interest those among you who are bored and restless with level-stake betting and who want to expand horizons to take in something that's a bit more exciting and which has the potential to boost profits.

How is this accomplished? By making small bets with the punter's own money and bigger bets with money won (from bookie or TAB).

The capital required for six bets is only \$80, betting in theoretical \$5 units with the opening bet 2 units, or \$10. I use this only as an example. You can use whatever amounts you want.

If all six bets are lost, the scale of the staking would be: first bet \$10, second bet \$10, third bet \$10, fourth bet \$15, fifth bet \$15 and sixth bet \$20. If such a wipeout happens, and let's hope it doesn't, then you clear the slate and begin a new series.

Now for the 'impact' part of the approach. Whenever a winner is struck, the AMOUNT WON is divided into three parts: one-sixth, one-third and one-half. Let's assume you backed a winner and the profit was \$120. This is divided by 6, 3 and 2, and the next three bets, then, would be \$20, \$40, and \$60.

If you win again before the new units run out, divide the profit once again and continue until you back two consecutive winners. The series then ends. You begin a new one.

In the current example, I'll assume that the \$20 bet was lost and the \$40 bet was on a winner at 6/1. The profit would be \$240 and divided, as stated, into three parts. The next set of three bets would be \$40, \$80 and \$120.

If the \$40 bet won, it would end the series as you would have backed two successive winners. If, however, the \$40 bet lost, you would then stake the \$80 bet and, if that lost, move on to the \$120 bet.

If the \$120 bet won, you would once again divide the profit into three parts and continue betting.

Let's have a look at the bet sheet which was included in the book. The writer, James L. Harvey, took the best bet of a newspaper each day, so his approach was to have one bet per day in the series.

The results were: L-L-1 (9/1), L-L1 (6/1), L-1 (10/1), L-L-1 (4/1), 1 (6/1). The opening bet is \$10 and we begin with two losing bets, each of \$10. The third \$10 is on a winner at 9/1. The amount won is \$90. This is divided by 6-3-2. We now have bets of \$15, \$30 and \$45 lined up. The fourth bet is \$15 and the fifth bet is \$30, both losers. Then
we have \$45 on a winner at 6/1. The amount won is \$270 and this is now divided into three (6-32) which translates as \$45, \$90 and \$135.

The seventh bet, then, is \$45 which is on a loser. The eighth bet of \$90 is on a winner at 10/1 and the profit is \$900. Now we divide this profit figure into three parts (63-2) for \$150, \$300 and \$450. The ninth bet is \$150 and the tenth is \$300, both losers, so we then have \$450 on a winner at 4/1.

The profit is \$1,800. Now there is the usual division (6-3-2) which comes out as bets of \$300, \$600 and \$900. The \$300 is on a winner at 6/1 and the profit is \$1,800.

Now that two successive winners have been backed, the series is closed off. The profit is pocketed. Of course I can hear you say, the US author did a good job in backing such big-priced winners!

I think the test should be seen merely as a guide to how the approach works. Obviously, it will be a rare occasion when you can back such a flow of high-priced winners!

This is certainly not a plan for the faint-hearted, but it could be nicely workable for those punters who are sure and confident about their selections and who are regulars at notching-up two successive winners.

What would happen if your first five bets lost? You would by then be losing bets of \$10, \$10, \$10, \$15, \$15, a total of \$60 and your sixth bet would be \$20. If this won at, say, 3/1, your return would be \$80, leaving you level-pegging on the six-bet series. In this case, you would simply start a new series.

However, if your final bet had produced a winner at 4/1 or better, I would suggest you then continue the series and split up the profit from the 4/1 winner.

What sort of selection plan would you need to operate this approach with long-term success? I think you need a fairly conservative one but not one that tips you into short prices too many times. Look for the good, solid bets at around 3/1 and upwards.

We have talked many times in this magazine about progression betting, and discussed its good and bad points, but I remain one of those who still believe some form of progression is required when you are betting if you are to have a fighting chance of gaining longterm spoils.

The punter needs some form of boldness to break away from the restrictive nature of level-stake betting. The right big bet on the right horse can turn your betting around for a whole year! The plod-plod of level stakes may be comforting and cautious but does it make anyone rich?

If you have some idea of the average prices of the winners you back over a year, then you can easily formulate a progression staking plan that can square you off once a winner is found. This is guaranteed, not theory. In my book, that's not a bad guarantee to have hanging around.

If you back winners at, say, 2/1, then you will need a fairly sharply climbing progressive-betting approach. The following will ensure that you will level out once a winner comes along at your average price; the profit comes when the prices are greater than the average.

For backing 2/1 chances: 1-1-2-3-4-6-9-14.

If you back, say, seven losers, you are down 26 units. But then you have 14 units on a 2/1 winner. Your return is 42 units. Your total outlay on the series has been 40 units. You have made a small profit of 2 units.

If you want to build in a profit element into the progression, you should back a 2/1 progression for average 3/1 winners, and a 3/1 progression for winners at average 4/1.

Let's say you have discovered that over the course of a year the average price of your winners is 3/1. If you follow the 2/1 progression, you will make a profit as soon as a winner is found.

For example: You back five losers in a row which means bets of 1-1-23-4, a loss of 11 units. Your next bet is 6 units. Your horse wins at 3/1. The return is 24 units. You have bet a total of 17 units. You are 7 units ahead, a profit on turnover of 41 per cent. If you had backed all six horses at level stakes (outlay 18 units at 3 units each), you would have got back 12 units and had a loss of 6 units.

So you can see there is some strength in following such a progression. It may not be the ultimate answer to all  your problems but in many instances it is going to prove far more 'strike worthy' than plain old level stakes.

A further staking approach is a variation of the first plan that I outlined here. It may not be absolutely new, but I suspect it will be new to many of our readers, especially those who have joined the PPM readers' team in recent years.

The plan is aimed at ultraconservative bettors and goes like this:

1. Have no more than five selections for the day.
2. Back the first selection for \$20 to win or to place (depending on your favoured approach).
3. If it wins or places, take out the stake (\$20) and distribute the profit among the other four selections in equal amounts.
4. However, if the horse loses, go to the next selection and treat it as your first bet (\$20 win or place again).
5. Each time a horse wins, or places, withdraw the stake and allocate the profit to the remaining selections.

This is a somewhat restrained form of all-up betting. It makes sure that if you can land the first bet, you will, at the very worst, break even on the day.

It is not a way to secure fast riches but it is a safe approach and if your picks are good ones (as they should be!), you can make some nice profits.

Let's look at an example: Let's say your first bet won at 3 / 1. That gives you a return of \$80. You now deduct your stake (\$20) and distribute the rest to your remaining four selections. That's \$15 each.

Now you are betting with WINNINGS ONLY. Even if all four lose, you are going to break even on the day. Let's say you get one more winner at 3 / 1. That gives you a return of \$60 and a profit of \$45. The other three selections lose. Your betting chart will read as follows:

\$20 win bet, return \$80. Four bets of \$15 each, return \$60. Total bets equal \$80, total return equals \$140, profit on the day of \$60, or 75 per cent on turnover. Pretty good by any standards.

Finally, let's talk about quinellas and ways of staking to make a nice pile of cash! A lot of people I know bet almost exclusively on quinellas. I was chatting the other day with The Optimist about this subject and he drew my attention to a plan that he believes is a terrific way to go for Q-bet fans.

His favourite staking plan, he told me, goes like this:

1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 3 - 3 - 3 - 4 - 4 - 5 - 5 - 6 - 7.

Using 50c units, this costs just \$50 over 16 bets. If you strike a win early with a \$25 dividend (say), go right on with the series. As the progression develops, you only need a pay of \$12.55 (2-unit bet), or \$8.40 (3-unit bet), or \$6.30 (4-unit bet), or \$5.05 (5-unit bet), or \$4.20 (6-unit bet) or, finally, \$3.60 (7-unit bet) to make a profit for the series.

Should you strike just one quinella of the proportions mentioned, then you're laughing all the way to the bank. Hit a good one at the end, around Bet 16, and it's really marvellous. All you can lose is \$50.

You go through the entire series, by the way, whether winners pop up or not. Should you strike three quinellas at, say, \$12 on your 1st, 7th and 14th bets, your return would be 1x12, 2x12 and 5x12. This gives you a total return of 12+24+60, or 96 units, a profit over the entire series of 46 units, or close to 100 per cent on turnover.

This is not a bad way to bet quinellas. You are going through a series of bets with slowly rising stakes and, if your quinellas are on target, you can capitalise on winning streaks.

I hope these few ideas on staking have provided you with food for thought. Money management and staking is such an integral part of horse-racing betting that every punter should do all he or she can to learn as much as possible about these finer points. It's a two-edged game in racing. One is being a good selector, the other is being a very good bettor.

Without good betting habits, the best of selectors can come unstuck. I think we all realise this, and would like to beef up our knowledge. Years ago, I knew little about money management. It took some big losses to get me to the learning table.

By Mark Merrick

PRACTICAL PUNTING - MAY 1999