Pro Trader

Nick Pinkerton, a 48 year-old Betfair trader from the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria and well known through a variety of racing endeavours, says it’s all a mind game. Successful betting, that is!


“It’s 80 per cent psychology and 20 per cent mechanics,” says Pinkerton who had a finance background before working for several of the biggest punting and form outfits in Australia.

“Your mindset is crucial. You have a set of prices and an action plan and you have to have the mental strength not to deviate from it. It’s amazing that you can give ten different people your analysis and they’ll come up with ten entirely different outcomes. Some will bet too much early; some won’t want to back what they perceive as the ‘skinnies’.

“You have to trust in your process. Have the confidence that it will lead you to more good decisions than bad ones. In a sense you have to be detached from the results and get yourself conditioned to back more losers than winners.

“If you have a 20 per cent strike rate, you’ll back 400 losers in every 500 bets. But if your method and staking is right and you’re winning at that strike rate then you just have to have all 500 bets and close your eyes,” he said.

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Value Betting

Pinkerton is a win only punter. “I do some laying but no multiple betting at all and I’m fundamentally interested in the winner. Obviously look for the horse who is undervalued and overpriced. I’m skewed to looking for those I consider have some decent hope, on form, rather necessarily the obvious as they’re more inclined to be undervalued. Most of my volume is in the top end of races as I believe there’s a more reliable set of data.

“All the while I acknowledge that the market is often right and if I am very much at odds with it (the market) I will be inclined to pull my head in rather than have it shot off. For example, if I’m $6 about a general $3 chance in the market I will carefully consider my position rather than simply assume I’m right.

“You have to understand where the value is coming from. If you’ve got the 6/4 ($2.50) chance marked $10, you’ve assessed it as a 10% chance of winning compared to 40%. You’ve almost got it scratched,” he laughs, “so you have to consider that carefully. Be disciplined.”

Pinkerton honed his understanding of risk and reward through 15 years on the Sydney Futures Trading Floor before turning to racing which had been in his blood from his early childhood growing up in Adelaide.



Passing on his Knowledge

He believes the skills learning on the trading floor – and augmented by those he honed during time with renowned punting operators John Manuel, Dr Nick, Con Kafataris and Mark Read – have set up his successful punting career and well qualified him to take on a coaching role in the same manner as qualified and experienced professionals might offer stock or real estate tuition.

“I’m turning more towards coaching the skills of overlay punting for a small number of serious clients. The coaching opportunity will be under the ‘Over The Line Punting’ banner but it will be offered on an ‘exclusive, invite only’ type of scenario.

“That is, any prospective client will need to ‘jump through some hoops’ in regards to turnover and positive intent in order to be accepted. I only want to work with well-intentioned people who have the capability to make the biggest difference to their betting outcomes and will only be opening up 5 or 6 spots initially,” he said.

‘Over The Line Punting’ already offers a number of services and many punters will be familiar with Pinkerton’s tips and views via the ‘pink sheets’ on Betfair and also through his various spots on Radio RSN.

After his punting educative years, Pinkerton launched into his own successful punting endeavours in 2010 and while continuing to bet he has diversified with his work including form and video services, the media and the ‘coaching’ which he’s passionate about.

“People might ask ‘why don’t you just punt?’ and that’s fair enough but the answer simply comes back to risk and reward and return on investment for the hours involved. Couple that with reducing exposure, the demands of a young family and my enthusiasm for the coaching…. that’s my motivation.

“I believe that betting on horse racing can be a viable financial investment. A smaller per cent of people win but you can be part of the other group of people thanks to the exchange if you can marry up the right methodology and the right mindset to make it work,” he said.


Benefits of the Betting Exchange

Pinkerton sees Betfair as a critical part of most successful punting but candidly concedes there’s times when it can bring you unstuck. “You may not always maximise your profit when trading on Betfair when you are right but you generally cop the full whack when you’re wrong.

“Overall it (Betfair) is extremely significant in that you can profit from both sides of the coin. I particularly like to use Betfair in play. I might choose to lay a fancied horse drawn wide who is immediately out of position or I’ll look for an early indicator that a horse who is up in trip, won’t stay….

“I try to have a handle on various different scenarios from the start rather than making decisions mid-race or during race day. If A happens, then I’ve already got B mapped out. And I’ll have made allowances beforehand for any bias or obvious racing patterns,” he said.



Video Analysis

So what is the one key thing he looks for in terms of his form approach? “The cornerstone of everything I do is video analysis. The horse has to have demonstrated something to me visually and then I’ll turn to the data to support my observations and that will include Vince Accardi’s IVR (incremental velocity ratings).

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“Doing the videos, I’m always comparing the horses relative to those around them. Looking for characteristics, scope, the way they run through the line. And you will think I’m mad but after all the video work I’ve done, I believe I can see the psychology of the horse in running. The look in his eye, the way he carries his head. I can see if he’s enjoying or hating the struggle. I trust my intuition and believe in it. You have to believe in what you’re doing,” he said.

The bulk of his betting is now done on South Australia. “I’d say my favourite state to bet on is Victoria but this year I have primarily focused on South Australia as the smaller pool of horses makes it a bit Hong Kong-esque and therefore appealing. I tend to avoid New South Wales as there’s too few trainers and jockeys dominating,” he said.

Inevitably the conversation with Pinkerton comes back to psychology. “That is the key. You can have the highest quality of predictive analysis but, in my view, that’s still only 20 per cent of the equation. You must be process driven and believe in it.

“Many punters will say that they believe they can win but deep down they lack the belief. It’s the manner in which the punter acts, not the manner in which he thinks, that determines his or her success,” he said.


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