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In a perfect world we win at a consistent rate, earning the profit we expect to make each and every week. However, punting is a game of chance, and because of that we have winning runs, losing runs and everything in between. The mathematical term for these ups and downs is variation.

Variation is the spread in the overall profit on your betting record over a period of time. High variation means that you have large swings in profit – big winners followed by large losing streaks. Low variation means you’re relatively consistent – you don’t lose much when you lose, but you don’t win that big when you win either.

Variation and price

The major factor that influences whether you have high or low variation is price.

The shorter the price (ie favourites), the more often you win and the less variation (ups and downs) you will experience in your results. The longer the price (ie roughies), the less often you win and the more variation you will experience.

Both situations can be highly profitable. In fact, variation has no influence on how profitable you are overall. For example, you could have two sets of bets, one with high variance (roughies) and one with low variance (favourites) and both may achieve the same profit-on-turnover (eg, 10% PoT). The different variances simply mean that your profit swings will be larger or smaller along the way.

Variation influences our punting in two major ways:

  1. Psyche
  2. Bet size

Firstly, variation sucks. No one likes losing runs and downswings always last longer than we’d like. Ideally we want low variation because the higher your variation, the longer your losing runs will last and the tougher it will be to stave off the doubts and keep on top of your game. That’s the mental side of things, and it’s very important.  Depending on how many bets you have in a given period of time, losing runs can last months on high variance bets and it can take a high level of discipline to stick with it, even though you have a profitable set of bets.

Bet size

Secondly, while variance has no influence on how profitable your bets are (eg both could be 10% PoT), you will tend to make less raw profit on high variance bets due to lower bet sizes. In order to protect your bankroll, good bank management dictates that you should bet less on roughies. Roughies win less often and can go on longer downswings that can wipe out your bank more easily. Therefore, betting less to avoid the worst-case scenario means that high variance roughies tend to make you less raw profit overall.

Ideally, we want consistent profits. So how can you reduce your variation?

  1. Savers
  2. Hedges
  3. Promotions

Savers are bets on long-term break-even selections. For example, you might rate the favourite in a race $3, and $3 are also the odds at the bookmaker. Assuming you have another bet on the race on a value selection, it is also worth backing a saver bet on the favourite. That will increase your number of winners and create more consistent returns.


Hedges are bets on the opposite side of your original bet. Hedges are often done on sports matches. For example, you might bet on Richmond to win at $1.50, then Richmond shortens in the market, and you decide to back Carlton at $3.50, or lay Richmond at $1.40 on Betfair. In both cases, the second bet is a hedge, where you are locking in a profit no matter the outcome. In most cases the hedges themselves are actually losing bets, so you want to be sure they are break-even at worst. But in either case, hedges reduce variation.


Promotions are one of the best ways to reduce your variation. Bookmaker promotions work so well is that bets that would normally be losers will often result in a reward such as money back, a bonus bet, or it might even pay out as a winner. Promotions not only adds profits to your betting bank, but also significantly reduce variation. Just look at the profit graph from the High Low package and you’ll see what I mean.

You should never bet on negative expected value (-EV) bets simply to reduce variation – losing bets simply lose you money and no one wants that. But if you can reduce your variation without sacrificing profit, then that is always a preferable approach – for your psyche and your bankroll.

Rod’s High Low is a staggeringly profitable, specialist service that suits a certain type of punter.

With an average bet size of less than $50, you won't be breaking the bank.

To see if you might be able to take advantage of the unmatched profits it offers, get in touch with us for a chat.

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