Anyone who has been around the gambling scene for any period of time has probably heard about the massive betting syndicates that turn over millions of dollars on a weekly basis.
The good news for punters who follow Champion Bets is that our current SA Analyst Aaron Barby knows the inside workings of how these massive machines operate.
For more than seven years, Aaron worked for Data Processors (formerly Humbleton), which is one of the major data analysis firms that feed the infamous betting syndicate headed up by Zjelko Ranogecic.
That knowledge and understanding of racing has translated into a highly successful debut at Champion Bets. Since mid-2017 Aaron has put together an impressive track record, with an outstanding PoT of 19%.
Given his background, we were keen to find out a bit more about Aaron Barby and the process he uses to find winners on a regular basis.
Where did your interest in gambling come from? Were you always involved with it or did you have another career path early on?
My interest in gambling started at a young age. Both sides of my family were into horse racing, a mix of recreational punters and industry workers. My Father and Uncle both worked for John Meagher in Melbourne in the late 80s and early 90s. I loved watching the races as a young kid and having a few bets on my Nana’s Tab account, so I was hooked early and it grew from there.
As I understand it, you’ve been involved with a number of highly successful betting syndicates. How did you get involved with them?
I worked for a company called Data Processors (formerly Humbleton) for about seven and a half years. They do form and data analysis for a betting syndicate headed by Zjelko Ranogecic. I was in my early 20s, living in Sydney and working for Macquarie Bank at the time.
I was thinking about possibly changing my career path and to start doing something I had more passion for. I remember googling ‘horse racing jobs’ and finding an advertisement for positions available at a mysterious company in Pyrmont; I was fortunate and knowledgeable enough to pass their entrance exams.
It was not your usual job interview; they had no interest in my resume. There was a written test on all things racing and then I came back for further testing that involved watching race replays and answering questions.
Could you tell us a bit about how they operate?
I can only shed light on the part of the business that I was involved in. They keep things secretive and separate; the left-hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, etc.
It wasn’t like your usual company that has monthly meetings or sends around company newsletters talking about how much money they made last quarter, or what their profit forecasts and goals are for the year. You just know your role and what you are doing, not what your work is being used for and where you fit in the greater scheme.
Well, that is at least what it was like when I was there, it has been a few years now.
What was your role in the various syndicates?
I was part of the form team. They bet all over the world and I did a few different things whilst I was there. Pre-race analysis for Japanese Gallops and post-race work involving video watching and pace/bias analysis for French Gallops were the main ones.
Have you ever met Zjelko? If you’re allowed to tell us.
I’ve never met Zjelko. He would’ve occasionally visited the office during my time there, but I never saw him. I got the impression that he was more involved in the other parts of the business, rather than with the form guys and also may have been more hands-on in the early days.
Is it really all just data science these days in betting syndicates or is there still room for the human element when building models?
There’s definitely still a human element involved. The form team for Data Processors are basically step one of the process. Watching video after video and turning real observations and variables into numbers that are meaningful and accurate, which are then used in models or algorithms, or whatever it is that the data guys do.
Can you tell us a bit about the approach you use to find winners?
My approach would be similar to most punters. I use ratings, watch video replays, build speed maps, etc. But my main focus is finding an advantage. Whether or not there is an ‘advantage’ with a particular runner is subjective. I’m not always right about it, but for every bet I suggest to subscribers, I try to explain it as best as I can.
How would you define your edge in racing?
My main edge would definitely be the time that I spent at Data Processors. It is only one piece of the puzzle and there are many many other invaluable things that I have picked up during my time in the industry, but to have learnt a proven style of form analysis and to be able to use it as a base is very handy indeed.
Why are you focused on SA racing and have you ever looked into other sports or racing states?
I wanted to specialise and pick a state that is manageable for one person and SA fit the bill. Fewer horses, fewer tracks and they only race 3 or 4 times a week. It’s easier to stay on top of things. I also look at Victorian racing quite a bit. It helps to be across it a little because horses often cross the border to SA. I have no interest in sports betting.
What advice would you give to new punters looking to find an edge in racing?
Specialise. You’ll need to invest in a good database like R2W Axis, then pick a state that is more manageable, like SA or TAS and start working backwards. Watch replays and build track and horse profiles. Once you have a sample size and a feel for the horses, jockeys, trainers, tracks, etc., then you can dive in, start betting, losing and learning more.
Do you feel that learning data science and modelling is the most effective way to bet in the future?
Not in my opinion. I have no desire to learn data science and modelling at this stage, so I have to believe the answer is no.
Of course, I might change my mind in the future. It’s only if you want to bet on as many events as you can, all over the world, and make a small percentage on an enormous turnover, like Zjelko.
I think one person can still specialise and find an advantage that the robots can’t see, turn over less, but have a greater PoT.
Aaron Barby heads up Barby’s Bets, focusing on SA racing meetings to great effect.
It is a member favourite, providing subscribers with plenty of reasons to smile since launching in July 2017.
With profits currently sitting at over $8,000 at a whopping 19% profit on turnover, there’s plenty of reason to jump aboard Barby’s Bets and start winning.