It's All About Consistency for Leading Challenge Finisher

David Betten, this week's Investment Challenge winner, is the only contestant to have taken one of the top five spots every week.
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Over the past month,

David Betten

has quietly emerged as the person to beat in

TheStreet.com Investment Challenge

. After his first win Friday -- with a record gain of more than $4 million -- he's the only contestant to have made the top five leaders' list every week.

Betten, a professional equities trader in New York, credits his career choice for his performance in a field of roughly 9,000 participants. The contest started June 28.

Because he bases his fantasy investments on his real-world investments, Betten has all the information he needs at his disposal. Then there's the fact that Betten is willing to gamble big. In the fantasy competition, he can loosen his normal strategy and stick to his gut feelings more often. Last week, for instance, Betten bought a slew of shares in

MP3.com's

(MPPP)

IPO, gaining a cool $1,087,035. He garnered a comparable amount by shorting

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

throughout the week.

He finished last week at $8,857,987 with a weekly gain of $4,154,125.

Another professional trader who continues to do well in the challenge is last week's second-place finisher,

Bob Arciniaga

. During the challenge's

first week, the Denver-based trader was the highest gainer, but he then fell out of the top five during the next two weeks.

Last week, Arciniaga shorted technology stocks to get back into the top five. The downturn in

Onemain.com

(ONEM) - Get Report

,

Prodigy

(PRGY)

and

iMall

(IMAL)

stocks boosted his portfolio.

Over the past 10 years, Arciniaga has developed his own system of analysis for technology stocks, and now he's testing that system in his challenge portfolio. Though he believes amateur traders are at a disadvantage in the challenge, he says that using a straightforward, short-term growth strategy can produce gains for any contestant.

Arciniaga finished last week at $6,560,211 with a weekly gain of $3,175,842.

Last week's third-place finisher,

Michel Strickland

, has plenty of trading experience. When he was in the military, Strickland called in trades from places like South Korea, Africa and Vietnam, accruing astronomical phone bills along the way. Now a professional trader in Springfield, Va., Strickland makes anywhere from 80 to 300 trades a day for his private trading firm

Mad Dog

.

Strickland's big winners are usually in biotechnology, his field of expertise. Though he only has time to work on his fantasy portfolio during "slow periods" in the market, he has been fighting hard to get into the top five.

"This is a tough bunch," Strickland says. "I'm surprised I'm still in this challenge." He finished the week at $3,047,220 with a weekly gain of $2,229,108.

Fourth-place finisher

Michael Fung

found success by daytrading Amazon and capitalizing on MP3's IPO. A fan of the most volatile stocks in the market, Fung is making his first appearance in the winner's circle.

A former professional trader, Fung usually likes trading stocks that are making headlines, as both of his big winners did last week. Though he remains far from the overall lead, Fung plans on staying in the hunt. He finished the week at $2,070,669 with a weekly gain of $1,528,627.

Harris Kupperman

, the only amateur trader to make the top five quite regularly, stayed in the pack last week with a gain of more than $1 million. Though he couldn't trade Friday because of a trip to

Woodstock '99

, a light work week at the local mall left him with extra time to improve his portfolio.

Kupperman says he's enjoying his

recent success, but believes that his ultra-aggressive style of trading "would never be profitable in the real world." He finished the week at $6,801,664 with a weekly gain of $1,283,450.

For a list of the current overall leaders,

click here. Registration for the challenge continues until 9 a.m. EDT Aug. 9.