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Some years ago there was a greyhound racing system floated around that was infallible, couldn't lose, It was the ultimate scheme. It still floats around today under various guises and flogged off under different names. In fairness, it does work - THE SYSTEM THAT IS. In practise it doesn't work because of the number of variables, particularly with regard to the size and operation of Australia's chronic three tote system with inordinately small pools.

The idea is sound and this is how it supposedly works. There are only a maximum of 8 boxes in each greyhound race and usually a minimum of ten races on each greyhound racing card. Therefore it follows that one box MUST win at least two races on each card. Simple, no? Well, yes but no. The idea was that you didn't bet in race 1 and merely observed which box won the race. You backed this in race 2. If this didn't win, you backed the winning boxes in races 1 and 2 in race three. If none of these won, you backed the winning boxes in races 1, 2 and 3 in race 4 and so on until you cracked that elusive winner and stopped with your set profit for the day / night.

The trick of course is carrying forward the amounts lost betting on unsuccessful races to the next race - not an insurmountable problem with the software programmes around today but a real problem trying to estimate the prices that will pay after the tote is closed off. The really big problem is that if a lot of people started doing this and the run of outs was even moderately long, the weight of money on the next race would distort the eventual small pool tote payouts. Well, thinking about it, the dividend distortion may or may not be the case - but I can't be bothered wasting valuable time mentally arguing that one!

About five years ago, apparently, a chap using the nom de plume of "Duritz" summed it marvellously well on some forum. His post has been sent to me for comment. Unfortunately they didn't tell me which forum it came from but it is well written:

"Eventually, you're going to get to the situation where the 8th race is required to get the collect. IE, eventually you're going to have to back every dog in the field. So, the system by the oracles at (magazine) says, back every dog in the field for profit.

Genius! Why hadn't I thought of that! In fact, if it's that easy, why aren't we all backing every dog in the field for profit in every race!!!

Because there's a little thing called percentages, which ensures you can't. In short, eventually you're going to get to a situation where it is impossible to back every dog in the race for profit, which will of course mean that it is therefore impossible to recoup the losses from the previous seven races on the card. Then, what you are, is a little word that rhymes with "trucked". And you're right regally "trucked".

Say you're trying to win a measly $20 on the night. Say that's your goal. First race, you watch it go by, #1 dog wins. So, second race, you back #1 dog, price $3.50. To win your $20 you therefore have $8 on him.

He gets beat by #2. So, next race, you back #1 and #2, to profit $20 PLUS the $8 you lost on the first. #1 is showing $2.50 and #2 is showing $6. Without going into the maths as to why, you have $26 on #1 and $11 on #2. Total outlay $37.

Dammit. They ran second and third, to #3. OK, so your now down $46. You need to collect that, plus win your $20, so your target on the next is now $66, and you're backing numbers 1,2 and 3.

OK, so, odds are (Oh yeah and this is dogs remember, you don't know what odds they'll be until after the race, often by many points but we'll forget that and assume you know their final price several minutes before the jump, so odds are #1 $4.00, #2 $12, #3 $8. Thank God some roughies, we could have been in trouble.

Anyway, with those odds you need to outlay $56 on the race - $30 on #1, $10 on #2 and $15 on #3. Whichever of those three dogs wins, you'll collect $122, for a profit of $66 on the race, minus the $46 you've lost in two races so far, for a profit of $20.

Unfortunately, #4 gets up (it was the fave, after all you were on outsiders mainly). So, next race you're chasing $102 of losses so far, and of course your $20 profit (don't forget that, it's the reason we're here at Dapto after all), making a total of $122 profit required, and you have to get that by backing dog numbers 1,2,3 and 4.

OK, so, after returning from our time machine with Marty McFly we're able to know the final prices in advance for the upcoming 5th race, and they are as follows:

#1 - $2.30
$2 - $6.00
#3 - $10.00
#4 - $5.00

Bit of percentage in those four. Numbers 5,6,7 are all outsiders, and #8 is in the market.

So, anyway, we crunch the numbers happily enough, because with those four dogs running for us, one of them will surely win and we'll walk away with $20 profit.

So, in order to get it, this is how much we must have on each:

#1 - $538
#2 - $206
#3 - $124
#4 - $248

for a total outlay of $1,116 on the race. Should any of those four dogs win, you'll collect a healthy $1238, for a profit on the race of $122, which will cover your $102 losses so far and your required $20 profit on the night. When one of them gets up, you can use $5 of the $20 to buy yourself a large shot of whiskey.

So, after #3 takes #2 out at the first bend, and #4 misses the kick, it's a race in two between #1 and #5... and unfortunately #5 wins by a short half can of Pal.

Hmmm. Bit of a loss there.

Never mind though, we've got the system behind us and the infallibility of the brains at (magazine) backing us every step of the way. They've researched this method. It's sound. If it weren't, they wouldn't dare publish it in such a reputable magazine.

So, our confidence renewed and the DeLorian time machine on idle, we return with the final prices once more for the next race, the sixth. We sit down next to Ma and Pa Kettle in the grandstand, who tell us that they like the #6 dog, because it has "Bale" at the end of its name. We roll our eyes, how can they be so naive?

So, we now need to make $1238 on this upcoming race in order to make a profit of $20 on the night. With that, here are the prices:

#1 - $4.00
#2 - $9.00
#3 - $26.00
#4 - $6.00
#5 - $5.00

OK, so with those odds, here's what me must have on each dog in order to make our $1238 on the race, so we can walk away with $20 profit:

#1 - $1324
#2 - $588
#3 - $204
#4 - $883
#5 - $1059

for a total outlay of $4058. So, you borrow $4000 of Ma and Pa Kettle's retirement fund and punt up, knowing with surety that you're about to win your $20 for the night.

Unfortunately, Ma and Pa Kettle were right. #6 did win. Now, we have $5296 profit we need to make on the next race in order to get our $20. Our nerves are a bit frayed. We owe Ma and Pa Kettle $4000 and we don't know how we'll pay. $4000 is 200 winning nights at $20 each. That's more than half the year, every night, of winning nights, and we haven't even lasted the first yet.

Fortunately, the barman "shouts" us a large shot of whiskey. It was needed.

So, tentatively we step into/out of the DeLorian again with final tote prices for a race that hasn't yet run, the next, and calculate what we need to outlay, given that we're backing dogs 1-6.

Here's the totes in full:

1 - $4.5
2 - $8
3 - $11
4 - $27
5 - $19
6 - $10
7 - $20
8 - $2.0

OK, so, backing dogs 1-6, here's what we have on them:

1 - $3162
2 - $1779
3 - $1294
4 - $527
5 - $749
6 - $1423

for a total outlay on the race of $8,933. That's OK though, because as soon as one of the 6 out of 8 dogs that you've backed wins the race, you'll collect back $14,229, be able to repay Ma and Pa Kettle their $4,000, and you will walk out of here a cool $20 richer. Let the good times roll.

OK, so you mortgage your kneecaps and firstborn son to Louie the local Mafia rep to borrow $9,000 and you head to Mavis at the tote window (who by now is regarding you with pity), and you outlay nearly $9,000 on the 7th race at Dapto dogs, spread over 6 dogs.

You realise, as they load the dogs into the boxes and you take your seat in the stands, that one of them really needs to win. If it doesn't, not only are you down $14,209 on the evening, your kneecaps are in jeopardy, your firstborn is in danger and Ma and Pa Kettle are polishing up their best whoopin boots.

So, as the dogs jump, you're confident again. You are certain that $20 is about to come your way. Rounding the first bend, as the favourite, #8, surges to the front, your smile falters only slightly. It WILL work, you tell yourself. Down the back, as the commentator alerts us to the fact that it's a new track record first split, you nervously glance over your shoulder at Louie the Mafia Rep, who is cracking his knuckles. Rounding the HOME bend, as #8 surges clear by 20 lengths, you vomit on Ma and Pa Kettle in front of you. Mentally, $100 jumps onto the bill for their dry cleaning.

When the next race rolls around, you don't bother starting up the DeLorian to get the totes. You know that you can't win. You have to back dog numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 8. And, looking at the early totes, #7 is a 50/1 outsider. So, whilst you will certainly get the winner, it is mathematically impossible to back all those seven dogs and make a profit.

Forlornly, you try to sell the DeLorian, but no-one's buying. No-one wants a car that was driven by a loser."

Whoever "Duritz" is, he has his head screwed on right!

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