At odds with Retirement Plan's value.

Byline: CHRIS FORWOOD

LAST time we looked at what is called the tyranny of numbers - if the house has an edge in its favour no matter how you arrange your stakes they will always win in the long run.

Despite this, many punters still think there is some secret staking plan which will turn losers into winners.

There is nothing new in this: staking systems have been sold for hundreds of years - Little Nell's grandfather in the Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop had a 'winning' system which led to his ruin.

One which does the rounds is called the Retirement Plan.

As with most staking systems there are many variations on the theme but it is, in essence, a complicated cover-to-win system.

The difference with this one is that there is no guarantee you will make a profit when a winner does turn up, but your betting bank will not drop so quickly when the evitable losers come around. The basics are: Set up a betting bank. Work out the average odds of your recent winners - not selections just winners - and double this figure.

So if the average price of your winners is 2-1 this becomes 4, 4-1 is 8, 6-4 becomes 3, 15-8 is 3.35 and 11-8 is 2.75.

The easiest way to do this is to add together the level-stake profit of your last 10 winners (excluding losers and stake money), divide that profit figure by 10 and then double it.

Now the real fun begins. Assume the average price of your winners is 2-1, this gives you a divisor of 4 (2x2). Your first bet is one per cent of your betting bank - so pounds 1 for every pounds 100 in your bank.

If you go six bets without a winner add one to your divisor (so in our example four now becomes five) and keep adding one until you hit a winner. This has the effect of reducing the size of your bets. If you do hit a winner, but are still showing an overall loss, deduct the amount you have just won from your target, then add one to work out your new target.

Then look back at your records to find the last time this sort of figure was your target, see what number you were then using as your divisor and use that figure again.

If the winning bet takes you into profit, then start again wagering one per cent bet of your new bank.

This all looks fine and dandy but just because you have hit a winner it does not mean you are in profit. And if you hit a losing streak, and we all do, because the amount you are staking is falling it is going to be harder to get back into profit unless you just happen to back a big-priced winner.

The biggest problem is that the profit and loss is dependent on where the winners fall in your sequence rather than the accuracy of your tipping.

The system also rules out having bigger stakes on the selections you are most confident about and smaller ones on the ones you are less sure of. All-in-all, it is a fair amount of hard work for no real purpose.