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Principles and tactics

PERMS are the best way to attack the Placepot , as explained last week. But how do you decide how many lines to do and at what stake unit?

Well, you don't want to bet more than you can afford, so that will dictate matters; but perms give you so much flexibility that there shouldn't be a problem.

The important point to remember is that we are chasing the big dividends, so regardless of which meeting you choose, tailor your bet to the demands of each individual race rather than decide in advance that you are going to have a set number of selections in each leg.

When all is done and dusted, the strength of your judgment of form is going to decide whether you win or lose. But there are certain tactical ploys you should adopt at all times.

Never include both the horses which you anticipate will be the two market leaders. If you rely on the racing page of a soap andbingo paper with a dodgy betting forecast, you are not going to get very far with this principle.

But bear in mind that even the trade papers are offering a betting guide which is based on one man's best opinion.These forecasts are often good but they are not laid down in granite and you need to give plenty of thought as to how the market will actually look at the off.

Inevitably, you will sometimes be wrong no matter how much you study form, the news from training centres and the tipsters' panels, but the effort is worth making.

The point is that if you are relying on the two market leaders and one of them becomes a non-runner (this is the absolute scourge of all placepots) then you are going to be put on to the shortest-priced runner under the rules of the bet.

That means you are going to double up on the favourite. If it is successful, so what? Tom,

Dick, Harry, all their in-laws, plus the cat and the goldfish are all going to be through that leg.

But what if the favourite misses a place. Hopefully, you will have made it through with your alternative choice and suddenly you can scent a big dividend.

There will, of course, be occasions when both the first and second favourites are placed and you will be disappointed because they were your main fancies for the race.

Even worse, if there are four runners or fewer and you have missed out, the air will be blue.

But don't forget that you can do fancy perms for small stakes and probably cover small fields with a machine-gun approach if you feel it's necessary.

The overriding principle remains the same. Avoid putting first and second favourites together unless you are including

at least one other selection to go with them.

Not only does this allow you the luxury of knowing you always have the chance of a good result but, vitally, you can probably dodge the bullet when one of them becomes a non-runner and the favourite goes under, killing the hopes of an increased number of punters in the process. Believe me, this strategy pays off so often that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Familiarise yourself with perms. It should become second nature to you to know how to create bets of 96, 128 or 144 lines etc etc.

It's a simple procedure if you apply basic maths. For example, a bet of 3 x 3 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 4 is 288 lines (each leg multiplied up). At, say, 3p a line, that is a wager of pounds 8.64.

And remember, if you happen to get, say, two horses placed in each race you will have 64 successful lines which is the equivalent of having the dividend to pounds 1.92. That gives you almost double the pay-out as declared to a pounds 1 stake.

More strategic ideas next week.