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- Mac Swanson
- Betting In The Know

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Betting carries an interesting balance; the desire to win consistently and the desire to win big and these two options aren't always easy to do together. The higher the odds, the lower the chance of success. There is however an option you can use to keep stakes small, success rates high and still retain the possibility of a big win - permutations. Within betting, permutations generally mean the different variation that offer a solution to a problem. Let me give you an example that should hopefully make that a little easier to understand.At Epsom today there is a three horse race. The horses are called "A", "B" and "C". They will obviously come home in first, second and third and you want to put a tricast on the race. This means that you are going to predict the first three horses in order. How many different orders can the horses come in?Well lets see, they could finish in these orders:ABCBCACABACBBACCBAThese means that there are 6 permutations of three finishing orders from three horses. So what difference does that make to us gamblers?Well, its fair to say that I am a strong advocate of straight singles betting. The problem with this is that the returns are very rarely spectacular. Of course, the best way to improve them is to do multiple bets in an accumulator but the more results you link together then the lower the chance of getting them all right. This is where permutations come in - if we had placed a bet on all of the options above then we would have guaranteed to have got the tricast for the race by covering every possible solution. Sounds great huh? Well it is and it isn't. The fact that the bookmakers allow you to place these permutations in itself should be proof enough that they don't see them as a risk. The main reason for this is that as multiple bets increase then the number of permutations also increases generally putting the cost of backing them higher than the potential reward. Lets look at the 3.15 today at Wolverhampton, there are 11 runners with odds ranging from 2-1 out to 33-1. If we covered every possible comination of three horses finishing in order we would have to cover 990 different combinations. This would leave us in a rather precarious position. If we had placed a Â£1 bet on each permutation then it would cost us Â£990 and if the three favourites came in first, second and third then we would get back Â£175.50. Thats a great return on a Â£1 bet but pretty awful when compared to a Â£990 outlay.