Level stake betting is all very well - but sometimes it can be frustrating and a little boring. Many punters like to have an element of excitement and possibly danger in their betting forays.

Progression betting is one way to satisfy that sort of hunger - and there is little doubt that if you handle it properly it can beautifully streamline your approach and boost profits. It can also provide profits where there were none at all using flat level stake betting.

The problem nearly all the time in punting is that you never know when your winning and losing runs are going to happen, nor how long they will last. You may have a super system that averages 40% winners, but all those winners may come at the tail-end of a disastrous run of losers.

Have a look at Chart A, which accompanies this article, and you will be able to clearly see what losing runs you can expect with your favourite system. The only requirement is that you have had a long enough period of testing your system to reliably know how many winners it will serve up.

The top line of the chart is your expected percentage of winners. Run your finger down the column and you will see the average number of bets you can expect to make before striking a losing run - the number of which you will find in the column on the extreme left.

Example: Your system throws up 50% winners yet even with this high average you can expect to strike six losers in a row every 64 bets. Every 128 bets you will expect to strike seven consecutive losers. If you are using most forms of progression betting you are going to have to cope with this run of losers.

Most systems would be lucky to strike 50% winners. What if your system only gets 33% winners? You can expect 10 losers in a row every 85 bets! Enough to roll you out of business.

One of the most popular progression plays is what is known as the 'baby carriage' and it goes up after losers and down following winners. The increase may be2-4-6-8or2-3-4-5or2-2-3-3-4-4 or even 2-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-4.

The advantage of a progression staking method like this is that the average bet on winners is greater than the average bet on losers. The disadvantage is that it climbs like an escalator in a bad spell and slows down only when you hit a winner.

To let you have an example of the 'baby carriage' method we have filled in a 20-bet workout (see Chart B). The eight winners gave us a 40% winning record at average prices and you will see that the winners returned us $10, just enough to make level-stakes betting break even.

Using the progression method of 4-4-55-6-6-7-7 we were able to make a small profit of $4.75. So the progression worked out a lot better than the level stakes operation. A steeper 4-5-6-7-8 progression, by the way, would have returned you a profit of $9.50, but the bet went up twice to $8.

The progression method I want you to seriously consider is one which I have tried and tested for many years. it is a solid play, I can assure you, and I urge you to give it a' dry run' test on your own selections or system.

The idea is quite simple and I refer to it as 'two speed' betting - that is, you switch to a lower gear (lower bet) when a bad losing run starts to hit your bank. You turn on the safety valve, in other words, and it can save you from pitchforking yourself into disaster.

What you have to do is work out in your own mind - based on the results of your systems or selections -what kind of percentage regression you should use how much you need to play safe with in those poor runs. A 5% regression will stand an enormous losing run. For example, after 20 consecutive losers $200 is cut only to $73 with a 5% capital bet.

There could be another 30 bets before you were wiped out. A 5% scale should be satisfactory for most punters, although a 10% scale is okay if you are using a solid type of selection play, say on Best Bets and the like. If you are betting for a place only you could go to 15% of capital.

Once you have decided on a 'baby carriage' and 'percent of capital' progression scale, here is how to use them: Use your 'baby carriage' through the ordinary periods of your betting but when the danger signal flashes you shift gears and move into the percentage of capital bets.

Example: You decide you are going to use the 4-4-5-5-6-6 scale of progression and you figure that in a bad period you may have 12 or 14 losers in a row. So you decide on a 5% regression scale. This means, then, that whenever your 'baby carriage' bet is equal to 5% or more of your available capital you switch to percentage scale betting and reduce your bets to 5% of whatever your capital might be at the time.

Take a look at Chart C: We have 18 bets, which include seven winners at prices which enable us to break even on level-stakes bets. The left-hand side of the chart shows what happens, sometimes, to ordinary progressions. I have assumed that after some bets our capital amounts to, say, $87 and we are using the 'baby carriage' progression mentioned previously (4-4-5-5-6-6). After only 10 bets, the capital is down to $27 and we are called on to make a $9 bet! This is one-third of our remaining capital! Could you, or would you, make such a bet after having been hit with so many losers? No, neither would I.

Anyway, I have taken the progression to its end and you will see that despite having made that $9 bet, and having struck a winner with it, the final tally is only $84, a loss of $3 on the bank we had at the beginning, $87.

Now, we will look at the action on the right-hand side of the betting chart. The same bets were made down through and including bet No 6, but following that we shifted gears. Our capital, you see, was down to $57 and the next wager would have been $7 under the normal progression but this would have been more than 10% of our capital, wouldn't it? Okay, then, time for a shift in gears and we begin in betting to 10% of whatever our capital is. So, for the first bet we will be betting 10% of $57, which is $5.70, which we round off to $6.

Our bets go down steadily as our losers continue but mount fast when the trend reverses itself and we get our overdue winners. We continue betting until we have regained all our losses and show some profit.

The moot point about this idea is that it practically nullifies the possibility of capital loss when any reasonably steady and sound selections are made.

Using the two-speed method, we at least improved on our opening balance of $87, ending up with $91.50 at the end of proceedings, with our largest bet having been $8. In addition, under the ordinary 'baby carriage' progression play on the left-hand side, we had out-layed a total of $109 and ended up losing $3. With the two-speed method, we only had to outlay $92 and we made a profit of $4.50.

You can easily see for yourselves the benefits of this safety-brake approach. Not only does it give you peace of mind in a bad run of losers but it works out well once the winners begin to flow.

The best thing to do now is to check it all out for yourself. Try it on the past records of your method, or devise hypothetical situations, as I have done, and work out what would have happened. You will find that very rarely does the two-speed method prove inferior to the ordinary 'baby carriage' progression.


By Ted Davies