The fundamentals of betting to percentages continue to plague many punters, specially newcomers to the betting game. I suppose that an education in betting via the tote machine doesn't do much for your understanding of what makes the betting market tick.

Straight percentage betting is easy to understand. An example is the 10 Per Cent Plan. A punter starts with, say, $100 and his bet is always 10 per cent of whatever figure the bank happens to stand at.

Opening bet, then, is $10 and if it loses the next bet is $9 (that is, 10 per cent of $90). As the bank rises, as hopefully it will, you always bet to 10 per cent of the total.

There is a strong school of thought which says it's wrong that a punter should just pluck a percentage figure out of the air and bet to it.

The people behind this belief reckon there's a lot more to it, and they could well be right.

They contend the percentage to be bet should be based on the “expected percentage" of winners, and average prices. They say this allows the punter greater protection of the betting bank, an important ingredient of any serious bettor's staking armoury.

Before starting a staking system based on a "'percentage of bank" it would be wise to check your betting records to determine, accurately, how good you are at picking winners and at what prices these winners arrive.

For example, a punter who bets longshots should not be betting 10 per cent of his capital on each bet, otherwise he'd quickly be out of business once the inevitable losing run loomed.

The general view seems to be that if you bet at prices ranging from odds-on to 6 / 4, then betting 15 per cent of your capital should be safe. It would allow you to begin with eight straight losses and still have $26 left out of your $100 bank, with a $4 bet on the next selection.

Many punters do very well betting 15 per cent of capital via the place tote on standout horses. A friend of mine does exactly this and wins most weeks. He is content to wait for the right time to strike.

On horses whose average price range is between 6/4 and 3/1, the 10 Per Cent Plan is workable. On a $100 bank, this allows for 10 straight losers at the start and you would still have $35 left in the capital account with a $3.50 bet coming up.

On selections averaging between 7/2 and 5/1, the professionals recommend that your bet figure should be 8 per cent of capital. A punter kicking off with $100 could sustain 12 straight losses and still have $35 left. The next bet would be 8 per cent of $35 ($2.80 or $3 rounded off).

Selections whose winning prices average between 5/1 and 10/1 should never have more than 6 per cent of the bank staked on them. On a capital of $100, the 6 per cent punter could go 15 straight losses and still have $36 left.

Punters confident enough to bet on horses averaging 10 / 1 or longer can expect frequent losing streaks. Their stake should be, at the most, 4 per cent. This would allow for an opening losing streak of 20 with $43 still left in the kitty.

American expert Barney Poole is one expert who follows this betting approach. He says: "Most bettors using the above figures probably won't get away to such disastrous starts but the beauty of the plan is that if they do, all the money is not going to disappear quickly."'

Why do you need to keep your bets on longshots so low? If you are backing horses at 10/1 or longer, you'd be very lucky to avoid losing runs of anything from 15 to 25 or more. This occurs because horses at around, say, the 16/1 mark win over a period of time no more than 5 per cent of their races. To bet 10 per cent of your bank on horses in this price range is asking for problems.

You can use this betting percentages approach race by race, depending on the prices of your selections. For example, if your first selection is 2/1 you would bet 10 per cent of your bank. If your second bet is a 5 / 1 chance, you would bet 8 per cent. If your next selection is 5/4, you’d bet 15 per cent of the bank.

To sum up, then, the graded percentages betting approach goes like this:

Odds-on to 6/415
13/8 to 3/110
7/2 to 5/1 8
11/2 to 10/1 6
11 / 1 and longer 4

While we're on the subject of percentages, several readers have asked for a re-run of the One In Ten at 4/1 Plan. This is a good method provided you have a sound selection method.

It's a progression approach and the recommended staking steps are as follows:


This means a total outlay of 26 units oVer 10 bets. If you have five bets a week, that's two weeks' action.

Each loser takes you onto the next stage of the progression but if you strike a winner and show a profit you rule off that series and start again.

Don't launch into this series unless you are confident you can land at least one winner at 4 / 1 or longer in a 10-bets series. A 4/1 winner will get you into profit or out of trouble.

Let's look at some recent examples. Stephen Moran of Best Bets on February 16 went five races without a winner from his top selections, but then he struck Barkada at $5 (4/1). By this stage, betting his selections, you would have been out 1-1-1-1-2, a total of $6. Your next bet, then, is $2 on Barkada. Your return is $10.

That means a total outlay of $8 and a return of $10. You are $2 ahead, so rule off the series and start again.

Had you bet this same amount at level stakes, assuming an "impossible" bet on each horse of $1.33, your total return would have been $6.65. A loss situation.   

So the progression, in this instance anyway, enabled a profit to be made where level stakes failed. This won’t always happen because with progression betting, much depends on at which point the winners occur.

We've had quite a few letters in recent times regarding a system we published back in the 1980s. It was called Ben's Sleepers and came from the pen of Des Green. Ben's Sleepers is a system that produces a steady stream of good bets.


  1. Look for horses that have no more than two mentions by any of the panel of experts appearing in The Australian's racing section. One mention at least must be the first choice of an expert.
  2. A qualifier must not be among the first three choices in the Most Favoured column.
  3. If two horses qualify, bet on the one that's at the best price in the pre-race betting market.

The winners that can come from this approach are usually high-priced ones. When we first ran the system in 1986, there were two winners at 5/1 and 9 /1 in a short test, and later tests showed the average price of winners was around 9 / 2.

Mr Terry Hannon, from Frenchs Forest, NSW, has kept in touch with PPM regarding Ben's Sleepers for some years. A great believer in it, he informs us that he has now switched from The Australian to the Sydney Daily Telegraph. He finds this provides better results.

The other plan about -which we continue to receive inquiries is The Plus 15 Place Plan, which we unveiled in April, 1990. It doesn't provide a great many bets but for place punters it can become a treasure trove.

The rules are as follows:


  1. Check your newspaper tipsters' poll (at least 10 tipsters required). The only horse to be considered is the top selection on the poll.
  2. The contender must be at least 15 points or more in front of the second horse on the poll.
  3. The horse must be between 2 and 5 years old and must not carry 58kg or more. Ignore apprentice allowances.
  4. The horse must have won its last start OR have finished 3 lengths or less from the winner.

For punters content to back very well-fancied horses at short prices, this is the plan you need. It's sensible, it is very choosy, and it doesn’t encounter long losing streaks.

By Mark Merrick