If you're serious about wanting to get your betting under control, and you don't harbour wild dreams of making massive instantly, the way to travel is via multiple betting.

I know many punters abhor multiple betting. They say it cuts down the odds on winners, and it does, and they also claim it takes a long while to make any significant profits. They are right, but only partly so. The odds are cut down because you are backing more than one horse in a race, and therefore you have more chance of winning! Profits can be small but you have to bear in mind that you are reaping profits far more regularly with multiple betting than if you were betting one horse a race.

So, all in all, things tend to even out, and I firmly believe they even out much more in the punters' favour through multiple betting. And this is where we come to what is known as The Dutch Book. The term 'dutching' emanates from the United States. It means a staking method designed to return a set profit irrespective of which of two or more horses backed in the same race are successful.

You can back two, three or more horses in any race and operate your Dutch Book. I thoroughly recommend that you read the following details very carefully and then consider whether you owe it to yourself to change to this method of betting.

To determine the amount of money to be bet on each horse, you use the bookmaker's percentage chart (as illustrated with this article). You simply make use of the percentage chance of each horse as revealed in the chart. Here is an example of how to make a Dutch Book, assuming you have chosen three horses in the one race on which to bet.

Selection Odds Percentage
Horse X 3-1 25
Horse Y 4-1 20
Horse Z 5-1 16.7

The total percentage of these equals 61.7%. Now I'll assume that you are ,small' punters and that you cannot expend too much money on each race. Therefore, I will work to an outlay of \$16 per race. This keeps it all in a bet frame that everyone can relate to.

Okay, the size of your bets on each horse is now determined by the proportion of its percentage of the total percentage (61.7) of all the selections. You find this by dividing each horse's individual percentage by the total percentage-for Horse X its percentage is 25 and this is divided by the total of 61.7 giving the answer of 0.4051. This is the proportion of the total stake of \$16 which is to be placed on Horse X. The actual bet is calculated like this:

Horse X = \$16 x 0.4051 equals \$6.48, or rounded to the nearest 50c that would be \$6.50. The bets on the other horses are as follows:
Horse Y's percentage is 20 divided by 61.7 equalling 0.3241. Now do the following: \$16 x 0.3241 equals \$5.18, or just \$5.00 rounded off. Horse Z's percentage is 16.7 divided by 61.7 equalling 0.2706. Then the procedure is \$16 x 0.2706 equalling \$4.32, or \$4.50 when rounded off to the nearest 50c.

So the three bets in the race are apportioned as follows:
Horse X \$6.50
Horse Y \$5.00
Horse Z \$4.50
Total \$16.

If we assume that we can secure the prices we have worked to (off-course punters simply have to bet to pre-post prices), we can work out potential profits.
Horse X \$6.50 at 3-1 = \$19.50
Horse Y \$5.00 at 4-1 = \$20.00
Horse Z \$4.50 at 5-1 = \$22.50

If Horse X wins, we get a profit of \$19.50 less the money we expended on the other two horses, \$9.50, giving a clear overall profit of \$10. Should Horse Y win, the profit would be \$20.00 less \$11 expended on the other two horses, equalling a profit of \$9. If Horse Z won, the profit would be \$22.50 less \$11.50 bet on the other two horses, for a clear profit of \$11.

So you are looking at having THREE horses run for you in the race and, no matter which one happens to win, you are going to make a profit of AT LEAST \$9 and possibly \$11. This is a great percentage return on your investment of \$16. If Horse Z won, your profit on turnover would be close to 69 per cent. If Horse Y won, the percentage on turnover would be 56.25 and if Horse X won, the percentage would be 62.5.

These are fantastic figures. If you were careful in your selection of races on which to operate, you could enjoy an amazing run of success with this staking method. Naturally, the staking is one thing; picking the winners is another! But let's say that you stuck to only good-class races with, say, 12 or less runners. In a field of 12, you could have two, three or even four horses running for you-a third of the field!

I can hear you saying now, what about if one horse is at a prohibitive price--say 4-5 favourite? Okay, we'll examine this. The favourite is 4-5, and your other two selections are 4-1 and 5-1. You are expending a total of \$16 on the race.

Horse A = 4-5 Percentage 55.6
Horse B = 4-1 Percentage 20.0
Horse C = 5-1 Percentage 16.7
Total percentage = 92.3.

Horse A = 55.6 divided by 92.3 = 0.6023
Horse B = 20.0 divided by 92.3 = 0.2166
Horse C = 16.7 divided by 92.3 = 0.1809

Now we go to the final move:
Horse A \$16 x 0.6023 = \$9.63 or \$9.50 rounded off.
Horse B \$16 x 0.2166 = \$3.46 or \$3.50 rounded off.
Horse C \$16 x 0.1809 = \$2.89 or \$3.00 rounded off.

This is the way you would bet your \$16. Now, because of the short-priced favourite, your potential for gain is limited. Let's see what would happen should Horse A win at 4-5. Your profit on the \$9.50 bet would be \$7.60 only.

Take off the \$6.50 you have bet on the other horses and you would be left with a profit of only \$1.10. If Horse B won the race, you would have a return profit of \$14 less the \$12.50 you spent on the other two horses, leaving a profit of \$1.50. If Horse C won, you would get a return profit of \$15 less the \$13 you spent on the other two horses, leaving an overall profit of \$2.

The message, then, is clear from this simple workout. Avoid Dutching in races where one horse is at prohibitive odds.

Personally, I'd have a cut-off point of around 2-1 for the lowest-priced horse. Otherwise, the percentage return is getting pretty skinny. In the above cases, if the 4-5 shot won, your profit is \$1.10, which is only 6.87 per cent return on turnover. Even the best result, a win by Horse C, would give you only 12.5 per cent return. What you should be looking for are those value races where your multiple choices can provide you with anything in excess of 20 per cent return on turnover; the bigger the better, naturally.

Another Dutching method is to ignore the percentages altogether and just concentrate on the prices. Let's say your horses were 3-1, 4-1 and 8-1. You merely add ONE to each price, making them now 4, 5 and 9. You then multiply these three figures, giving you a result of 180. You now divide the prices (4, 5, and 9) into 180 to give you the stake required on each horse. This would be \$45 on the 3-1 chance, \$36 on the 4-1 chance and \$20 on the 8-1 chance, a total stake of \$101.

Should the 3-1 chance win, your return profit would be \$135 less the money lost on the other two horses (\$56), giving you a profit of \$79. If the 4-1 chance won, the return profit would be \$144, less the money expended on the other two horses (\$65), giving you a clear profit of \$79. Had the 8-1 chance won, your return profit would have been \$160, less the other two bets (\$81) for a profit of \$79.

As you can see, this method works out very neatly, providing the same potential profit for each horse, no matter the price. If you did not wish to spend as much money as \$101, all you need do is halve the stake, or quarter it, whatever you wish.

I have no real preference, though I feel the first example of Dutching is probably the best, although you may find it easier to operate the latter method.

Do remember, though, to pick your races carefully. Wait until you find races that offer value, and in which you have strong feelings about your selections. You may wish to back only two horses a race; at other times the prices may allow you to back four.

This is a staking method that can work wonders for you if you follow it carefully with sound selections at the right prices. Don't attempt to use it on every race. My suggestion is that you operate on no more than four or five races per Saturday-perhaps two races per meeting in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (or Adelaide, Perth).

By Statsman

PRACTICAL PUNTING - JANUARY 1988