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Fortune On Four


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My grandfather won enough money one afternoon at the races for the deposit on a family home. It was The Great Depression. Phar Lap and Seabiscuit’s time gave depression populations of the 1930’s excitement and hope. Two racehorses on either side of the pacific – One Australian, born in New Zealand, the other American. For my grandfather’s family and many others, horseracing offered the allure of money and fame. He never won that big again – it didn’t stop him from trying.

Punters always talk about systems and strategies to maximize winnings. One that has been popular over time is a strategy called “The Fortune On Four”. Unlike my grandfathers method It’s a place as opposed to a win betting system. You are looking to back four horses, in the top three places, in four separate races. It is the staking that on a lucky day will turn your investment into a decent sum.

The basics are as follows. You put your stake on the first horse selected for a place, and if it wins, you then bet all the winnings, including your initial stake on your second pick, and if it wins, again you bet all the winnings and your initial stake. If the third horse wins, you then take out your original stake and then place all the winnings on the fourth horse – and if it succeeds – it’s Christmas all around.

Parlay – a cumulative series of bets in which winnings accruing from each transaction are used as a stake for a further bet.

Oxford Dictionary.

The minimum odds must be at least $2 for the place. In other words, you are looking to at least double your money. Here’s how it plays out. Let us say you bet ten dollars on the first horse. The next bet would be twenty dollars – your winnings of at least ten dollars plus your original stake. If the third bet wins, you now have forty dollars – all the winnings plus your original stake. You then take out your ten dollars, i.e. your original stake and bet thirty dollars on the fourth horse for a profit of at least sixty dollars. If you were loose, then you still have your original stake – ten dollars. It is what is commonly called a parlay method.

I want to look at four winning life strategies that will magnify the effect on your life if they are parlayed. And unlike gambling, they will always pay off and will increase the chance of good things happening.

1. Hard or Easy

Those same blue eyes surrounded by fire red hair looked at me again with yet another quizzical look. And then ask me that excellent question, “Why are you making it so hard, Owen?”.

I was back at my Chinese Medicine practitioner for another treatment. It was 6 or 8 months into the treatment, and I showed signs of recovery and progress. It was early in that period of my life where walking to the end of the street was a big day out. Tracy had been working with me every couple of weeks, and we were discussing some of the ways forward. I had just relayed that I was prepared to climb any mountain, to do whatever it would take.

Tracy had asked me why did I want to make it a mountain to climb? Why was I looking to make something harder than it needed to be, looking for the hard way, falling to see that they may be a road around the base of the mountain? There could be a road that would get me to the objective with a whole lot less effort.

Everything affects everything else

E. James Rohn

That is not to say that some things in life are not complicated or require discipline and focus, but our attitudes and approaches make them more complex and challenging than they are already. By seeing the hard way only,  we may indeed miss out on what might be a simple and efficient way forward. Over time, I have learned to ask myself continually – am I making this harder than it needs to be – is there an easier, more straightforward way?

2. Bad Things Happen

They happen to everyone – bad things – divorces, business failures, illness, the list can go on, and some people get a lot more than they deserve. There is no fairness in how bad life events are handed out. Some people are battling from the get-go.

Some things happen to us that are outside our control; we can do nothing about the event. There is only one thing we can do is control our responses to them. And yes, it can be difficult and sometimes significantly so – but bitching about it does not change it – at all.

What to do about them? I have learnt that the best question to ask is this – “how can I turn this to my advantage – is there some seed of a greater benefit that can be found and nurtured?” It can be hard to do, particularly when emotions, hurt, and pain is raw and ever-present. But by asking, it starts the mind looking for something that can move you forward. You will be surprised at how much this can make a difference.

“Do not struggle against your vulnerabilities or try to repress them but put them into play. Learn to transform them into power” 

Robert Greene.

3. Choices…

We are in life exactly where our choices have taken us. Now we may well be poorly equipped to make those choices, but regardless we still made them. We are here today because of those choices – good, bad, or indifferent. It does not matter. It is said that most people get old but never mature – and this is the part that makes the difference – taking responsibility for where we have found ourselves. That is being an adult. 

With some circumstances, the choices are all rubbish, and we have struggled to find the best of the bad lot – but we are where we are; we need to deal and work with it. All we can control is our response to today’s events and opportunities. Looking to make better choices today, we play the possibilities that tomorrow will look a little different.

So how do we make better choices? By getting better information, through getting around people who are wiser than ourselves and reading – looking to stretch our minds opportunities to see. Our poor choices in the past are often based on either imperfect information or lack of emotion and mental strength to make better ones. Seek to find ways to increase awareness; it will change your day.

4. Focus & What Is Your Expertise?

“Believe me, it’s better to produce the balance sheet of your own life than that of the grain market.”


I have a problem with parties; Not the event themselves but often the type of conversations that go with them. Like the old ’80s song goes, “they always find me in kitchens out parties”…not always actual but maybe the balcony or the garden; the places where others of like mind go, and there is a chance of deeper conversation.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy a bit of light-hearted banter, some sporting conversation, and most importantly, a good laugh. I can rattle off a list of anecdotes and humorous stories with the best of them.  – but that is not what I only enjoy. Sometimes early in the event, we start conversations here because the guests are unknown, and we are all looking for some way of connecting with others.

At a recent event, the conversation had gone the usual way for male guests – sports. Some of the guests were right into it – They knew every nuance of the previous week’s games, knew all the game politics and how the rest of the season was to progress etc. You recognize the type of conversation – we have all been there and sometimes actively participated. It can be a lot of fun. In most cases, I have enough knowledge to understand and enjoy but generally lack the depth of knowledge.

Later in the evening, the guests had continued the conversation but moved on to work, careers, financial struggles and dreams for the future. I’d asked some questions about some financial books – like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki and “The Barefoot Investor” – By   Scott Pape. No one had heard about them.

I was surprised as they are some of the most successful selling financial books of all time. The former with over 40 million sold. You do not have to agree with them or like them, but if you are seriously interested in the financial side of your life, they would be on your radar. There is nothing wrong with that; however, it reveals where our priorities lie. Obviously, sports were higher on the list of our party guests.

When it comes to the end of life, what will be the most important – the knowledge of the winning score or a personal philosophy that has enabled us to live a meaningful and happy life? What will be more critical for our families, the development and interest in relationship skills, or the history of political party machinations?

It is a question of where we put our focus.  Where our interests lie, our list of priorities and what we mostly do that matters.

Till next time…

Some Resources

“Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki

“The Barefoot Investor” – By   Scott Pape.

“On the Shortness of Life” – Seneca

“The Art of Exceptional Living” – E. James Rohn


Written By Owen Thomas


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