There are numerous, almost infinite, strategies that can be used in horse race betting.
Consider combinations and variations of these strategies and the available choices expand exponentially.
The term profitable is not used lightly, but is directed at punters who are betting not solely for fun, but for purposes of supplying or supplementing income.
A plethora of websites offering horse racing tips entice the betting for profit punters, all making claims of having the secret key to punting success. All of them offer statistics and proof to back their claims.
It may be wise to recall the words of American writer Mark Twain, who said, "There are two types of liars: Damned liars and statisticians." Mr. Twain was said to be a man who enjoyed a bet, and it's just possible that he may have uttered this after a bad day at the track following some guru's sure fire horse racing tips.
The next time you find yourself tempted to pay one of these gurus in order to receive the secret key to fabulous punting profits, it may be wise to ask yourself, "If I knew an infallible way to consistently be on the winning side, why in heaven's name would I want to sell it?"
Of course, many strategies exist that are common knowledge and don't cost anything to try. One of these is Progressive Betting and Staking.
Progressive betting and staking is not unique to punting. It can be applied to just about any type of betting, and is used for roulette and other games of chance.
Simply explained, progressive betting is the practice of increasing the size of the wager after a loss, in the hopes that a subsequent win will erase the losses and return a profit prior to the stake being exhausted.
Here's an example of this scheme applied to punting.
Our hypothetical punter has $1000 stake. He decides on a wager size of $100, 10% of his bank. He has chosen the favourite to win the first race. Assuming his runner does not win, leaving him with $900, he bets $200 on the favourite to win the second. If this bet does not pay, he is now down to $700, and must wager $300 on the third race.
This time he picks the winner. In order to break even and recover the $300 losses from the first two events, his horse in the third race must pay $2. Anything less maintains a deficit, anything more returns a gain. If following the basic progressive betting and staking concept, he now goes back to the initial tactic of $100 per race.
On the other hand, if the $300 on the third did not pay, he is left with $400 which must be placed on the fourth race. If that one is to supply a break even win, it must pay at least $2.50. Otherwise, his initial $1000 is gone, and he is done.
Faced with the prospect of needing to recover the $600 of losses, can you see where the psychological pressure a lot of punters would encounter in this scenario might compel them to make a poor decision, and chase their losses with a bet that has limited potential for success? Do an internet search of "gambler's ruin," and you will get food for thought that will keep you very busy.
Admittedly this simple hypothetical examination of progressive betting and staking makes no effort to account for more elaborate betting strategies. At a certain higher level of complexity is where the systems promoters get involved. They will often offer an opportunity to test a strategy free of charge, offer horse racing tips and advice, all along with the disclaimer that: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.
The reason for this is simple. Even the best, most successful system will experience losses. These losses are randomly distributed, and if you happen to employ the system when it encounters a rough patch, you will lose. A system that has an 80% success rate will suffer 200 losses in a 1000 bet series.
While the mathematical probability of these 200 losses being consecutive is astronomical, all it would require for our theoretical punter to lose everything would be four losers in a row.
A final thought to consider is that if our punter had paid some sort of fee for a progressive betting and staking system and had the good fortune (luck) to be in the right place at the right time, he still must account for the fee paid. This fee is subtracted from winners and added to losers, so the system absolutely must make a level stakes profit and then some to prevent you from going broke.
This fact, along with issues of bettor psychology, the unpredictable vagaries of Thoroughbred performance, and many other variables that are completely beyond the control of any wagering system is why it's called gambling, not investing.
Progressive betting and staking systems are not inherently evil. They will teach you how to practice sound money management, as long as you don't deviate. One of the key points to keep in mind here is to take a significant percentage of any wins out of play. You deserve a reward for your risk.
You do have to always be aware that you will back some losers. You should decide well in advance, before the inescapable emotions of fear and greed affect your decision making abilities. What level of loss you are able and willing to sustain ?