All-up parlay betting is becoming all the rage in TABs throughout Australia. In this special article, PPM's professional  punter Jon Hudson reveals some of the pitfalls, and benefits, of this form of betting.

Since the introduction of afl-up betting throughout Australia, small punters (not short ones, but those who bet in $1 and $2 units!) have latched on to it with alacrity, in much the same way they embraced the concept of trifecta betting.

The reason is that all-up betting--or combined parlay betting--offers the chance of reaping big rewards for a relatively small outlay. This is because all-up, or parlay, punting is exactly that. You 'go for the doctor' in other words and, unlike with most forms of progression betting, you do NOT stop at a winner, you plough on!

This is the beauty of the parlay bet, and its weakness. You probably don't need me to tell you-but I'm going to, anyway-that the more winners you attempt to secure the harder and more impossible becomes the task.

Let's firstly look on the bright side: You take a three-horse all-up bet at your local TAB. That means three doubles and a treble. (If you're sensible you would also back each horse for a win bet, too). But we are going to assume that we are only in the all-up parlay business. Because we are adopting an optimistic viewpoint, we'll assume that all three horses win at (a) 2-1, (b) 3-1 and (c) 4-1.

You have three doubles up as follows: (a) and (b), (a) and (c) and (b) and (c). You also have the (a), (b), (c) treble. Let's say you had $5 on each combination, a total stake of $20.

Your returns would be as follows: $60, $75, $100 and the treble $300. This is a total return of $535 for that $20 outlay, which is absolutely wonderful and would make you a very happy person. The problem, of course, is that actually grabbing the three winners is the hardest aspect of the whole business!

We've all tried it. Pick three winners from three selections. That's s 100 per cent! The average for a newspaper tipster is about 20 to 25 per cent, at best one winner in three over the season. So, if averages are a guide, you'd be doing well to snare ONE winner from the three, and often you wouldn't get any at all!

Had you also backed the three horses for $5 win each, your stake would have increased to $35. One winner at 2-1 would return you $15, leaving a loss of $20. Two winners, at 2-1 and 3-1, would return you $35, squaring the ledger. Two winners at 3-1 and 4-1 would return you $45 for a profit of $10. You also would have nailed the double for another $100 return, thus ending the day with $110 profit.

But, again, you have to find two good-priced winners to achieve this happy status. How difficult, then, is it to achieve consistent all-up parlay success, taking into account your win strike percentage and the prices (average) of the horses you intend supporting?

There are conflicting theories in this regard. What you have to always keep in mind is that as your parlay progresses the prospects of your winning every bet out of several are lowered. Even if your selections could win 60 per cent of the time your chance of striking four winners in a row are only around 12.9 per cent!

Now, think about that. You have a less than 13 per cent chance of striking four winners in a row even if your selections generally win 60 per cent of the time. But, as we all know, there is hardly a soul on this earth who can strike six out of 10 winners on a regular basis.

So let's have a look at your chances of striking a four-horse parlay if your selections usually get up only 20 per cent of the time: That,. means. .2 x .2 x .2 x .2 = 0.0016, which, as you will realise, is a next to nothing chance!

Now you can understand why it's always so difficult to strike trebles and quaddies on a regular basis-unless you take multiple bets. The plain facts of the matter are that unless you have a selection method that can strike at least 35 to 40 per cent winners at average 9-1 or longer prices, then you shouldn't be attempting parlay betting!

My calculations show that you can attempt DOUBLES if you can score 40 per cent of the time at average prices of 7-1 or longer! To go for three winners in a parlay you need a selection strike rate of 65 per cent and an average price of around 1'-;--21 To go for a parlay with four horses, you need a selection strike rate around 70 per cent and an average price of around 13-2!

Pretty awesome figures aren't they-and ones that should certainly make you pause for thought when considering the long-term advantages of parlay betting.

But this is the pure mathematical side of things, and although it sounds daunting-and IS daunting-you can still proceed with all-lip parlays, as long as you are prepared to bet cautiously and with patience.

Frankly, I wouldn't even begin to think about all-up parlay betting on a regular basis unless you are confident of picking at least three or four winners per 10 selections. With this piece of advice in mind, you should now think about price. At 30 or 40 per cent winners, you will not be wanting to back horses at short odds.

My tip is that you do not take shorter than 2-1 for the first bet of your all-up. Lees do some more theory work: Over a year you have 100 three-horse parlays. You are astute enough to strike with 10 of them (three doubles and a treble each time). The average price of all the winners was, say, 5-2.

Okay, your total stake on $10 bets would be $40 per parlay, or $4,000 over the 100 parlays. Using the average price, each winning parlay would return you $428.75. Multiply that by 10 and you have $4287.50, giving you a profit on the total 100 parlays of $287.50.

Assuming you are backing two parlays a week over the year, you would need to strike a winning parlay at average 5-2 odds each horse once every five weeks. At first glance, that may seem an easy job but it isn't.

To be more realistic, over the year you would be doing well to strike with, at the most, five full three-horse parlays. However, it's much more likely you would hit with quite a lot of doubles (two horses from the three winning). Your five winning parlays would return you $2143.75.

If we assume you could strike with two winners on another 20 occasions that would give you (assuming that 5-2 average price each horse) 20 lots of $60 returns, another $1200. Add this to the $2143.75 and you have a total return of $3343.75, still well short of your total outlay of $4,000.

This gives you some idea of how difficult it can be when you set out to bet on the all-up parlays. In this example, you have performed quite well and yet you end up still losing a lot of money despite 55 winners!

All this is based on an overall 5-2 price. Naturally, things would be looking brighter should you perform the minor miracle of achieving the above results with horses at better prices. In theory, one can imagine oneself doing exactly that and adding up riches galore; in practice the theories tend to be trampled into the dust by the bitter reality of winner finding.

Thus we return to the basic reality of parlays-they are high-excitement betting, giving you the 'advantage' of big wins but at the same time calling for a selection approach that demands very high strike rates, usually greater than the average punter can provide.

I now refer you to an article published in P.P.M's November, 1988, issue. This tackled the parlay problem head-on and came up with a most innovative way of betting on them. I won't go into all the details again, but suffice to say that Statsman, who wrote the article, recommended a safety-first approach, and one that I heartily endorse.

He said you should not risk everything on pushing the parlay. Instead, retain 40 per cent of the profits from any winning section and then re-invest the rest on the next horse (or dog). In the examples Statsman gave, the profits were there all right, even if your parlay faltered.

He advised that you should seriously consider it for place parlays. I agree again. If you are serious about this all-up betting, then it may well be that 'place only' is the way to go. You have much more chance of striking three and four-horse parlays with place bets than with win only. Sure, the returns are going to be smaller, but the strike rate is going to be very high.

The safety-first parlay is a sensible approach. Look at it this way. Let's just suppose you had a great start to the parlay and got two winners at 8-1 and 9-1. You bet in $10 units on the three doubles and treble. The double has already returned you $900. Now, you have $900 going on the third horse.

Wouldn't it be safer to have to have kept back 40 per cent of that first 8-1 winner and 40 per cent of the 9-1 winner, so you instead have only $324 being risked on the final horse?

Safely in your pocket would be 40 per cent of the first 8-1 winner's returns ($36) and 40 per cent of the 9-1 winner ($216). I say all this because the figures suggest that in just about every parlay that third horse is going to lose!

Another important point to remember, and one that can help you achieve profits to a greater extent, is that parlay betting does not have to be all carried out on the same day. You can begin a parlay with a bet on Saturday, roll into the next leg the following Tuesday, and then go for the final leg the following Saturday.

In this way, you are asking yourself to pick just one winner per day, and not three per day. Sounds easier to me.

All you need is a dose of patience (I know that's hard to come by where punting is concerned), some sensible selection strategy and the will to battle through losing runs.

By Jon Hudson