Adam Mintz is a professional punter who has focused on South Australian racing for more than 20 years.
He is on the podcast to explain how he goes about form analysis and betting.
– Why you dont need a huge bank to get started
– How weight ratings form the basis of his form analysis
– Why he does all of his own videos and how that helps him find value
– How a history of rail positions helps inform his ratings
– The sweet spot in the market for most of his bets
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What Do You Think of the Show?
Dave Duffield: Thanks for joining us Adam and I wanted to run through a bit about your background; who you are and what you’ve done? Tell the listeners a bit about how you got started in this game?
Adam Mintz: I’ve always sort of been interested in the races. Got a little bit more interested when I went back and did some study. Started keeping a few records; did a few computer subjects and started to keep a few records. It really went rom there. I was betting as a hobby, just doing Adelaide races back in the early ’90s. When I finished my degree there weren’t many jobs around and I pretty much fell into this and kept doing it.
Dave Duffield: How did you know you had the skills. I mean, you said you kept records and stuff, but how did you know you had the skills to make it from a hobby to a profession?
Adam Mintz: Well, I sort of didn’t. A few years prior to that I’d worked at the races and there’d been some very successful punters here who I’d always looked up to and realised that you could, if you were good enough, you could make a living out of it. Pretty much progressed from there.
Dave Duffield: When you say worked at the races, what were you doing?
Adam Mintz: I did a little bit work for back then was 5DN who were the racing station back then and then worked for bookmakers.
Dave Duffield: You saw how successful people went about it, did you have much contact with those people? You said they’d shown that they could make a go of it as full timers, did you manage to learn anything from them?
Adam Mintz: Not really, I just used to observe them at the races. Occasionally, over the years I sort of got to know a couple of these guys and used to have a chat, but not really. Not really with my Adelaide stuff. I started looking at betting in Macau, I did that in Macau for a little while and I got a bit of help from someone for that. Apart from that with the Adelaide stuff, no I was pretty much self taught.
Dave Duffield: So to get up and running, how did you finalise the methods and the way you wanted to go about doing the form? Also building a bank but at the same time protecting it?
Adam Mintz: That’s a long story; pretty much I do weight ratings, so it’s pretty much based on the Don Scott method. That’s what I’ve always done, but I use a database and pretty much have an intimate knowledge of all the horses running around.
With regard to starting a bank, it was, back then, it was a lot easier. I think it was a lot easier, I mean you used to do I’d say 80% + of your betting with on-course bookmakers. There were a lot more bookmakers back then. I slowly grew my bank. I pretty much finished university and I couldn’t get a job so I was doing this, and I got engaged soon after that so whatever money I did have I put towards a house. After that, I was trying to get a job and couldn’t. My wife said to me, “Why don’t you have another crack at it?” Pretty much with very limited funds, I started from scratch in about ’92, ’93. Just continued on from there.
Dave Duffield: What a wonderful wife. You guys still married?
Adam Mintz: Yeah, married, three kids.
Dave Duffield: Sounds like a keeper to me.
Adam Mintz: Well it’s a funny story, because when we bought the house we paid the deposit for the house and there was nothing there and she said, “Why don’t you have a go at this again?” I said, “Well I haven’t got any money” And she actually gave me her last $700, so it is a good story.
Dave Duffield: That’s 25 years ago?
Adam Mintz: Yeah, that would have been ’93, maybe? However long that is.
Dave Duffield: You talked about weight ratings there, the Don Scott method which has been around for a long time. Just maybe expand on the way you do the form?
Adam Mintz: Well, I have a database that’s been changed around a little bit by a friend of mine who’s in that field who also does this. I do video analysis, I do all my own videos of all SA races.
Other little things I do; I used to walk tracks. I actually don’t walk tracks anymore. I have rail positions and track ratings going back years and years, a long time, so I find that I can actually be as accurate by going back and analysing that data than I can by walking the tracks. It’s just one of a number of variables I use.
I think probably the biggest things are your class ratings and analysing the class of the race that they’ve run in, and your video comments. I’d say they would be two of the bigger things.
Dave Duffield: When we’ve chatted before, you’ve mentioned that there’s actually a few little angles to work with with the video comments, at times where the ones that a lot of people use are actually incorrect and that creates betting opportunities for you?
Adam Mintz: I just think that most punters nowadays, and I think most corporates are using the same video comments which come from the one central place, which is Best Bets. I think when you do your own and you’re a punter, I think you probably take a little more effort and you’re a little bit more precise with it and you don’t miss things. I think when your own cash is involved and you’re a punter, I think you’re a little bit more careful. That’s with regard to tipsters as well. I’m not really interested in anyone’s opinion unless they have a bet. I just think you’re a lot more precise and concise and exact when your own money’s involved.
Dave Duffield: You’re doing all the video replays, you’ve got a good understanding of the tracks, trainers, jockeys. When it’s an upcoming race and you’re looking at the full field, what’s the process you go through to come up with your rated prices?
Adam Mintz: First thing I do would be a speed map, positions in running and then I’d decide if there’s good speed, some speed, minimal speed and take it from there. Then using past performances and today’s conditions, I’ll come up with a weighted ranking and that takes into account all sorts of different things: jockeys, barriers, everything. That’s then transferred into a market. I do a pretty much close to 90% market, just under 90%. I’ve sort of always stuck to the same thing.
Dave Duffield: You talked about a weighted ranking there, are you saying that the field is sorted in the order and then you come up with the rated price?
Adam Mintz: Pretty much, yeah. Each horse will have have its own final rating, and that’s just a mathematical equation that turns that into a percentage and hence, odds.
Dave Duffield: Do you find you have more success in the metro area or the provincials?
Adam Mintz: I think now provincials are probably more value for me. I think everything seems to be more exposed in the city. I think the trouble we have here in Adelaide is I think we have Morphettville and Morphettville Parks, I think Morphettville Parks is not a great track to bet on. I think there are a lot of hard luck stories. I probably don’t bet as much at Morphettville Parks on the Parks track. Overall I think probably the provincials are a little bit more value for me nowadays.
Dave Duffield: So you’ve got your ratings at the start of the day. Are they ever adjusted later on if there’s any track bias or other conditions?
Adam Mintz: Yeah, I think you have to be flexible. Track bias is a huge one. You have to be flexible enough to be able to change that. You also need to be able to, with some runners, first start for a new trainer or whatever, you can’t be confident of your rating. You have to take into account what the market’s doing. Yeah, I do change things around depending on certain circumstances throughout that half hour before the race.
Dave Duffield: Then with your staking, it’s based on your rated price but it’s also based on your confidence level? You’ve got a couple of confidence levels depending on how involved, how much exposure you want on that race?
Adam Mintz: Yeah, depending on how much fully exposed the form is. How confident I am how the race is going to be run, all that sort of thing will determine how much I bet, my staking plan. It’s not too involved; it’s pretty easy to follow. I pretty much have two levels. I used to have three, but I pretty much have two levels now, with regard to confidence.
Dave Duffield: Speaking of confidence, do you look at your success across different classes of race, distance ranges, anything like that? Tracks?
Adam Mintz: Not precisely, no. I mean that’s probably something that I know, I know sort of where I’m more successful, and tracks I have less success at. Distance wise, I really don’t like anything over 2000m. I don’t have as much confidence and don’t seem to have as much success over races over the mile and a quarter.
Dave Duffield: What about favorites? We’ve got Snowy in Sydney that tends to take them on more often that not. Trevor Lawson in Melbourne is probably the other way, I mean he bets across all prices but he’s quite often on some of the favored runners. Are you somewhere in the middle, or where do you sit?
Adam Mintz: Pretty much with my markets, a lot of the time you’re not on your favorite. Your favorite seems to be unders. No, definitely my better results are the middle pinners. It’s all pretty structured what I do, it’s set so it just seems to be the fact that a lot of the time I’m just not on my favorite.
Dave Duffield: So you might have rated it $3 and it’s a clear top-rater but the market has it $2.50 so you just can’t be on it?
Adam Mintz: No. There’s a bit of leeway there; if I’m betting in the race and I’ve got it $3 and it’s a little bit under that, and I’ve backed a few in the race I may save it still. But it would want to be very close to the mark, my price.
Dave Duffield: What about jockeys? I know watching every race you get a pretty clear idea of the talent levels of various jockeys, but there’s also just the consistency factor isn’t always there. How do you incorporate jockey ratings into what you do?
Adam Mintz: I take that all into account. Usually if you’ve got one of the, what I judge to be one of the better jockeys here, when you come up with your final figure it’s taking into account that jockey should give it every chance.
There’s probably, I don’t know, six jockeys here that I would say they’re all around the same mark, not much between them. I think there are huge opportunities for apprentices in Adelaide. I’m on claiming apprentices a lot when I’m betting, I’ll be on them. I think a lot of them are worth their claim. Jockey’s skill factor is a huge thing.
Dave Duffield: What about trainers?
Adam Mintz: Yeah, that’s another issue here. I don’t think the consistency in performance in Adelaide is probably as good as maybe it is elsewhere. But there are a number of trainers that we have here that their runners produce very consistent figures. But that does come into it, the trainer of the runner. Also the theory, I think the smaller trainers, I’m quite happy to back the horses first up or early in their prep with a trainer who only has a few runners but I think the effort and the sort of time that goes into each of those runners when they’ve only got a few in their stable, I think that usually pans out that they run pretty well early, or fresh in their campaign.
Dave Duffield: Surviving in this game for 24, 25 years, whatever it is now, have you had to evolve the way you do things much from the early 90s to where we are today?
Adam Mintz: You’ve got to be a lot better. It’s a lot harder now. There’s still an opportunity there, but you have just got to get better and better at it and make less mistakes. I still find myself jotting down little notes that help me, and then I realise that you’re always sort of learning and getting better at it. It’s very easy in this game, you can be on top of the world and think you know it all, and then you can have a few bad runs and you’re doubting yourself. If you stick to your principles and what’s sort of been successful for you, that’s worked for me over the years.
Punters we all have bad runs. When you start to second guess what you’ve done and you’re rehashing your market all the time, I think it’s probably a good indication that maybe you’re not on top of your game.
Dave Duffield: You’ve had contact with a lot of other pros along the way, do you think there’s much of a difference between being a good judge and a good punter?
Adam Mintz: I think opinion’s a big thing. Being a good judge is a really important thing, I think you’ve got to have a good opinion. The data and your program and everything can only do so much, but still you’ve got to have an opinion. I think you’ve got to have that ability to read a race and to be able to come up with something that gives you a slight edge. Having a good opinion I think is all part of that.
Dave Duffield: We’ll leave it there for the podcast, Adam. Obviously one of the reasons to be getting you on, as well as filling people in on how you’ve gone about it, is to welcome you to the team. We’re really happy with who we’ve got for New South Wales and Vic Racing and to add a South Australian professional to the stable’s pretty exciting for us.
Adam Mintz: Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.
Dave Duffield: Yeah, it’s going to be a great association I believe. We’ll cover all the details on the membership side of things in another chat, but for now I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Adam Mintz: No problems, thanks Dave.