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Variation of Odds by Brett Craig

Most punters don't understand statistics at all and that is one reason why most fail. For example, most punters believe that horses at even money i.e. $2.00, should win fifty races out of a hundred. In other words it is the same as tossing a coin so you can only bet heads or tails. It's not true.

Even if over time you get exactly a fifty percent strike rate, recent history suggests that over thousands of events the variation can be out by as much as 20%. So imagine this. 400 winners at even money from a thousand bets, or this, 580 winners from a thousand bets. One delights and one horrifies and so far we are only talking about actual strike rates. Imagine the variations that are possible if we are talking about 5/1 chances!

Here's another but unexpected variation. The TAB price on these very same even money bookmaker chances have been known to vary from $1.30 to over $2.80. Imagine a low strike rate period where a significant number of winners pay much less than the bookmaker price. History suggests that this is the more likely scenario.

How can we beat the odds? We can't but we can make some headway by betting groups of horses in a race. This strategy is called dutch betting and we achieve it by betting enough on each horse so that the same profit is made no matter which horse wins. In theory, if we bet a number of horses in such a way that we will make 100%, the TAB takeout and or the bookmakers margin, will ensure that our actual strike rate for these horses will be around 45%.

Now we will find that our strike rate will vary between say 30% and 60% over significant numbers of horses but because we are backing horses in various price ranges, the fluctuations may not be so steep. On March 9th I noted a strike rate of 37% for the day on my dutch betting and ended the day with six winning races out of seven. With only forty or so races it is a very small sample.

On March 10th, I bet only a dozen races but achieved a 60% strike rate which improved the overall tally to just over 40%.A mate of mine started a similar dutch betting strategy several weeks ago but was alarmed after his strike rate for two betting days was only 27%. He was so unnerved by this he ceased betting the strategy. You can see how difficult it is to remain focussed when things are not going your way.

The key feature of any betting strategy is to know your long term strike rate and also adopt a staking strategy that can cope with the short and long term variations that are inevitable.

The general public does not see Racing as anything but a gamble, yet informed punters like myself, are able to make regular profits most years. Note that I said years, because if you don't have this long term view then like many others you will be not only a short term failure but a long term one. Many punters give up on a strategy simply because they encounter a short term loss but are unable to see the long term because they don't stick with it long enough.

My current strategy is based on betting two three or more horses in a race on a dutch bet. I use Winform's new Money Factory Professional Edition software which includes the most powerful dutch betting software I have ever seen. More importantly, the new program records every bet and where it is placed and keeps a running total of strike rates, dividends, and profits. I have been pushing Winform for years to introduce such a product which also, by the way, allows me in selected races to have a win or place bet or even an each way bet and in some cases a proprotional win/place bet such as one win four places if I believe that is the most appropriate bet in the circumstances.

Today, it is possible by signing up to any number of Racing sites sponsored by the larger bookmaking firms, to get a range of selections, form or ratings for little or no money. Even Winform's ratings which are Australia's most professional and successful, average only about $22 per week with a long term subscription. The point is that you don't have to worry too much these days about finding selections with a good chance of winning. The key factor these days is the staking and bet placement strategy but more about this in a future article...

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