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The Three Simple Mistakes Too Many Punters Make

Maybe you'll back a winner this spring carnival and maybe you won't. Either way, these handy tips are all good things.

Ready? Here goes. These are three of the most common mistakes that punters make -- especially punters who only bet once or twice a year during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

You've been warned!

Having blurry vision too early in the day is another mistake you can make. (Image: PAUL CROCK/AFP/Getty Images)
1. Backing too many horses in one race

It's OK to back more than one horse in a race. And in a race with a really big field like the Melbourne Cup, it's fine to back two or three, or even four horses, because the odds of each horse tend to be much longer.

But here's the mistake too many once-a-year punters make: They back more than one horse EACH-WAY in a race. Never, EVER do this. It's a totally dud strategy, and here's why.

When you bet each-way, you're actually having two bets -- a win bet and a place bet. So if you have 10 each-way on three different horses, you are spending $60 in total. Think of it as six $10 bets.

Here's the rub. You might actually back the winner, and still lose overall. An average favourite on Cup Day might pay, say, $4.00 the win and $1.70 the place. So you'll collect both of those bets for a total of $57 in your pocket. But if the other two runners are unplaced, you'll lose overall.

Backing a winner and STILL losing money in a race? Not clever.

BOTTOM LINE: Back one horse each-way by all means. But if backing two or more in the same race, go for the win only and suck it up if they run second or third.

Maybe don't back every single one of these, OK? Image: Getty.
2. Backing last start winners

Sure, lots of horses can string wins together. Heck, Winx won 33 in a row before she retired.

But it's a really common mistake for once-a-year and casual punters to briefly check the form guide, go "oh, this thing has been winning" and assume it will win again.

Doesn't work that way, and if it did, there would be no betting and no racing. Today is always different from yesterday in racing, as in life. The trick, generally speaking, is to look for horses who are building up to a win.

Learn to the read the form guide and look for the bit where it says how far a horse finished from the winner at its recent starts. A horse that finished 10th, three lengths behind the winner, has potentially better from than a horse who finished second, four lengths behind the winner.

BOTTOM LINE: Ever seen your footy team bounce straight back after a heavy loss? Happens all the time, and horses are the same.

Well at least he didn't lose his shirt. Image: Getty.
3. Putting THEIR FAITH IN FORM GURUS

Punting is a great fun hobby. Done responsibly, and calmly, and without the influence of too much booze, it shouldn't cost you much because your return should be close enough to your outlay. Hey, you might even win a little overall.

And while it's fine to listen to experts like Network 10's David "Gator" Gately -- who knows more about form than anyone, you and you alone are in charge of how you spend your hard-earned.

BOTTOM LINE: This particular punter has found over the years that the trick is not to annoy yourself. Make rules and stick to them. That way if you win, you win your way, which is extra-satisfying. And if you lose, at least you don't drive yourself crazy going "D'OH! I SHOULD HAVE BACKED THAT!"

Tabcorp’s gambling operations are governed by its Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct and for South Australian residents by the South Australian Responsible Gambling Code of Practice. Think! About your choices. Call Gambler’s Help or Gambling Help 1800 858 858 or visit www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au or www.gamblinghelponline.org.au. You know the score. Stay in control. Gamble responsibly.