“How Much Should I Bet?”

The question of how much an individual should wager presupposes the assumption that there is a level beyond which one is best advised not to go, implied by the word ‘should’. Many people immediately bridle a bit whenever someone tells them they should or shouldn’t do a particular thing. Their immediate response is “Why? Give me good reasons why I ought to take your advice, who are after all just another human being, rather than trust my own judgment”. But of course, there are huge areas of knowledge and life experience which are unexplored by each of us, since we have such short lives, so it very often behoves us to get, and follow, advice from others who have specialized in areas other than those with which we are familiar.

For the purposes of this article we’re assuming that most sensible punters feel strongly that they’ve had to work for their money, and aren’t about to throw it away in a reckless quest for easy riches, which we know from observations of others who like to gamble, most frequently results in the loss of not only the initial capital, but substantial further assets as well. One doesn’t need a Psychology degree to see that a large percentage of gamblers are at risk of either becoming addicted, or occasionally blowing money that was supposed to be earmarked for some other purpose, on a losing binge. When one considers that any rational punter initially bets with the hope of winning money without having to work laboriously for it, the concept of losing, especially over any length of time, should be anathema to them.

Of course, one has to accept that no-one is knowledgeable enough to win every wager, and losses are inevitable. However if a punter is prepared to accept losing consistently over a long period of time, there’s a very powerful case for arguing that they are acting irrationally, whatever their motivation. Since most of a person’s activities eventually become known, especially to their family and close associates, the chronically losing gambler has only four choices available.

  •  Carry on openly, which requires accepting that those who know about it will clearly see that they are acting foolishly.
  • Resort to gambling in secret, in the hope that the first outcome won’t happen.
  • Cease gambling altogether.
  • Radically alter their methodology in seeking improvement.

When we consider that the original intention was to win (if not vast sums, maybe an amount sufficient to provide some of life’s enjoyments, or at least to justify the time spent betting), it is clear that only the fourth of the above choices provides the possibility of achieving that goal. In fact, almost all chronic losers begin with option one and proceed to option two. Eventually, some make it to option three, accepting that they have an addiction which they have no prospect or belief that they will ever be able to control. At least these types have confronted their situation with rationality, but this article will be of no assistance to them, since they’ve abandoned their original intent.

So the goal here is to help those who have the resolve to make it to option four. If we want to win from punting, we must absolutely refuse to accept consistent loss of money. Of course, this implies a few conditions. The first of these is facing the fact that if we’re losing, something has to change. The racing industry isn’t going to change to suit us, apart from the players making whatever changes they see fit to improve their own chances of winning. Now if the trainers and jockeys etc are willing to change their methods in the quest for improvement, the only logical outcome if we want improvement, is for us to make changes too.

So, what changes are to be made? How are we to discover what we need to do differently? When we think about it, it becomes apparent that unless by some miracle of probability we immediately chance upon a winning formula for our bets, our initial goal of consistently winning some easy money is quite unrealistic. In fact, if we’re serious about it, we have to admit that some strongly focused mental activity is going to be required; if not by us, then certainly by someone we pay for their efforts.

There are in fact many ways to find enough winning bets to enable a long-term profit. Which of these we use is often a matter of personal preference, and may be dictated by our own psychological profile as much as anything else. Some people can handle long losing streaks, while others need frequent wins to bolster their determination to persist. Whatever method we use, once we settle upon it, we must have a disciplined method of staking our selections. Again, there are many of these. Some are very aggressive, some chase losses by increasing bets on a losing run (not really advisable), others seek to take advantage of winning streaks by increasing their bets on those occasions.

However, in line with the sound overall philosophy of avoiding the loss of one’s bank as the first priority, we are well advised to favour using a small percentage of the bank as a basis for betting. One or two percent of the bank, adjusted daily, will allow for a large number of bets, without endangering the bank. One sound method is to use 1% of the bank, based on the bank high-point, but never regressing from that figure. Thus, if one’s bank is $1000, the bets would be $10, and would never be lower than that. If the bank runs out, it means either that one has had 100 consecutive losing bets, or such a prolonged run of outs with such a minute number of wins interspersing, that it would probably be best to resort to option three, above. However, if one’s method of selection shows a profit at level stakes (which is the minimum requirement for continuing with any sort of staking system), the bank will never be exhausted with this plan. As it increases, the size of the base bet rises with it, so that one always has the option of 100 bets remaining, once a new high point has been reached.

The question arises: Is it necessary to have the full bank in one’s possession at all times, especially at the beginning? In this case, where the bets are only 1% of the bank, the full bank wouldn’t be required unless one was to have 100 bets in a single day (hardly likely, if we’re operating with any sort of discipline at all). For example, if one decided to bet on each Saturday, and decided that the weekly amount allowable for punting was $40, this would equate to $2000 for the year. The 1% base bet for this amount would therefore be $20, meaning that normally one would only be following a couple of selections per Saturday. However, if the selection method picked 3 or 4 on a particular day and 1 or none on another day, that money must be made available, otherwise the plan would not be being followed properly.

This is probably the best plan for those people to follow who have a reasonable strike rate (say at least 20-25%), or a very good POT (profit on turnover, say 20% or more) and don’t want to tie up a sizable sum all at once, but who are able to contribute a regular amount to their bank. One important point to remember though, is that if one has early success, the weekly (or regular contributions) must still be made, so that the bank continues to grow and the base bet reflects the true level of the bank. Failure to do this will see the plan fall into a hole when a losing streak is encountered.

There are some excellent staking plans available, and whole books have been filled with such information. However the goal here has been to show an easy way for anyone to control their betting, without risking the loss of their capital. Punting, to be profitable, must be approached like a business. And the first rule of business is survival.