Now's your chance to get your year's betting off to a sound start! PPM's expert Jon Hudson discusses tactics and goal-setting, and brings you the views of Statsman, The Optimist and Martin Dowling.

Here we go with another year of punting. Hopefully, by this time in 1990, you will be able to look back and smile, not groan. Fact is, most punters will still be groaning after yet another year of losing betting.

Readers of P.P.M., however, don't have to suffer this painful fate. The information in our pages each month should contain enough material to enable you to stay ahead of the 'red'. All you need do to give yourself a fighting chance of being a winner is to get your house into order. Punting isn't a game and unless you do something positive about selection and staking then it's odds-on you will-bar a miracle big win or twoend up losing at year's close.

So you must think 'money management' because it's as important as making winning selections. And the goal of proper money management is to make as much money as possible while avoiding the prospect of losing your capital. Now, the easiest way to avoid losing your capital is not to bet at all, but then you also erase any hope you have of increasing that capital.

It entails, then, a compromise between considerations of safety and considerations of profit. You have to bet as efficiently as possible.

First rule is to remember this: You will not win every race. You will be lucky to win one race in four. With that in mind, your betting has to be related to such future projections.

My personal view is that you can't beat LEVEL STAKES BETTING. When all is boiled down, this is the one method that keeps everything on a sane platform. Progression betting, and 'percentage of' betting have their supporters-and they do have good points-but  like to rely on the level stakes approach. I also use Dutch Book betting in my armoury.

But, firstly let's examine the approaches of other PPM experts. The first is our ratings wizard The Optimist, who has this to say:

Write down the following:


Now let's assume a hypothetical punter's approach. He has a BANK of $500, he wants to increase this to $732 after 4 months. So he needs to make a profit of 10 per cent per month (approximately). Over 14 weeks, it means an average investment of around $50.

To make 10 per cent profit per month is extremely difficult, but not impossible. Over a full 12 months, your profit target would go like this:

Month One$500
Month Two$550
Month Three$610
Month Four$671
Month Five$738
Month Six$811
Month Seven$884
Month Eight$965
Month Nine$1061
Month Ten$1167
Month Eleven$1283
Month Twelve$1411
Month Thirteen           

By making 10 per cent per month, you would, after a year's activity have increase your bank well over 200 per cent! Of course, the big question is whether you could achieve that 10 per cent per month target? It means winning about $12 per week initially and stepping up to around $35 per week.

Well, that's The Optimist's theoretical target plan. It sounds like a sensible one to me. A cautious, clever punter could easily set off after this target and achieve it, or come close to achieving it. After all, if you just double your initial $500 bank in a year you would be doing well.

Statsman, like me, is a great believer in level stakes. He suggests a maximum of 50 bets for the year, and explains it this way:

What I propose will not suit many punters because there is just one bet per week. It's a patient week to week approach, but it can bring you consistent profits as long as your selections are made on a sane and sound basis.

I'll assume you have a bank of, say, $1000. This will cover you in case of runs of losses. You bet $10 a win on your first selection. I'll assume it wins! The following week, you have your usual 10 units a win, PLUS 20 per cent of the profit from the previous week. If this horse wins (!) you go into the third week betting 10 units a win plus 20 per cent of the profits from Week 2's bet. If a horse loses, then the next bet is just a normal $10 win bet.

A quick summation:
BET ONE: $10 win, 1st 2-1. PROFIT $20.
BET TWO: $10 win, plus $4 win from previous week's profit. Total stake $14 win. 1st 3-1. PROFIT $42.
BET THREE: $10 win, plus $8.50 from Bet 2 profit. Total stake $18.50 win. LOST.
BET FOUR: $10 win. LOST.
BET FIVE: $10 win. 1st 5-2. PROFIT $25.
BET SIX: $10 win, plus $5 from Bet 5's profit. Total stake $15. LOST.
BET SEVEN: $10 win. 1st 6-4. PROFIT $15.

After seven bets (seven weeks) the situation is this:
Total Stake: $87.50; Total Returns: $146; Profit to Date: $58.50 (66.8% on turnover). If you could continue at this rate, you would be doing very well for the year.

Thanks, Statsman. This simple, patient and yet very positive approach is well worth considering. You could, naturally, work this staking approach on a day-today basis if you wished.

My colleague Martin Dowling, one of the very best pro punters in the business, believes small punters should seriously consider the merits of an American staking plan, based on a 12-month projection. This is what Martin has to say:

You start with a capital of $40 and a $2 flat bet, and the investment increases at five per cent per month. Okay, beginning with the $40, the bets during the first month are $2 per selection and play stops as soon as $20 (10 points, say) profit has been made. You have, then, a possible 20 bets or more. Let's assume you get that $20 profit. You now have $60 (including your original $40 bank) and five per cent of this is $3, which is the amount you will bet on each selection in the second month. You now have to win $30 for that month (10 points). The following table explains how the staking would go:

Month Bank Bet per Race $
MARCH 90 4
APRIL 120 6
MAY 190 9
JUNE 280 14
JULY 42021
AUGUST 630 31
OCTOBER 1410 70
NOVEMBER 2110 105
DECEMBER 3160158

If you do not make each month's anticipated profit, don't worry. Just carry over what profit you have and bet five per cent of the total bank on each selection for the month. You will be adopting the same procedure as above but with different figures resulting. The theory will be the same.

A good idea, Martin, and one that should appeal to many punters. By the end of the year, were you on target, the size of the bets may be somewhat daunting! But you could always declare yourself a 50 per cent cut of the profits and proceed on smaller bets.

My own annual betting approach is simpler. It is based on a method used by a friend of mine, who bets on doubles. What I am suggesting is that you have 50 doubles per year. They do not have to be the tote's selected doubles, but two horses paired in any races in Australia.

You could use the All-Up tote facilities if the horses are running at the same meeting. If they are at different meetings, you simply bet the first one to win and put everything on the second one.

Now, I suggest that each double is worth $50, making an annual outlay of $2500. Taking an average double at say 21 into a 3-1 you would need to strike FIVE doubles from those 50 to break even. What I am suggesting is that you should be able to hit with at least eight, doubles, possibly 10, from the 50 for the year.

Eight hits from 50 is a 16 per cent strike rate. This is not too high, because you do not have to chase extraordinarily high dividends. A 2-1 winner into a 3-1 winner is really a double of 11-1 odds (return of $600 for your $50).

Let's say that each double you got was a 2-1 with a 5-2. This would give you a return of $525 (odds of 9.5 to 1) each double. Eight doubles returning this amount would give you a total for the year of $4200, and a profit of $1700. How does that sound?

Put another way, you would need to strike a double once in every 6.5 weeks. Reckon you could do it? I'm sure you could. Even if you hit with only six doubles at 2-1 and 5-2 you would still make a profit of $650 for the 12 months.

If you were a really successful picker, you might even exceed my estimates and get into double figures. Imagine 12 winning doubles returning $525-that's $6300 on a stake of $2500!

Then there is the possibility that you could strike with a much bigger paying double. Let's suppose you collared a 5-1 into a 6-1 chance-for $50 you would get a total return of $2100, odds of 41 to 1. In one double you would have covered all but $400 of your year's outlay.

And-remember-I am talking LEVEL stakes here, not progression betting. You are always having just $50 on a double. Now to the bad news: To follow this method, you are going to need a bank of $2500!! It's no good spinning off with the doubles unless you have the $2500 that's s required following the $50 staking method.

If you don't want to spend that much each week, then cut the doubles down to the size that suits your pocket-$5, $10, etc. But always ensure you have 50 times that amount in your bank.

By Jon Hudson