Cameron O’Brien is a genuine racing lifer. While plenty are introduced young thanks to a keen dad, Cam’s old man wasn’t your regular Saturday TAB punter.
O’Brien Sr was one of Australia’s pioneers of weight ratings, getting the jump on the rest of the market by many years – or even decades. Using a primitive (though then cutting edge!) Apple computer – complete with closets packed with 5¼ inch floppy disks – O’Brien produced a ratings newsletter for Victorian racing, which was soon distributed through news agencies.
So it’s not surprising that Cam caught not only the racing bug, but also the measured, objective approach toward finding winners.
Like many others, the love affair was sealed with an early trip to the Melbourne Cup. With a few dollars’ allowance from the old man, Cam successfully found At Talaq in 1986. He was on his way as a punter!
Recognising his son’s keen interest, Dad set about ensuring Cam had the right education, and he was nose-deep in Don Scott’s punting bibles by age 16.
Indeed, one of Cam’s prized possessions to this day is a signed copy of Scott’s seminal book Winning, in which his dad’s name is printed as one of the key acknowledgements – he helped Scott with the Victorian content for the book.
After school, Cam could begin the punting journey full-time, and he found a job in Darwin under legendary bookmaker Mark Read. He did the form and traded his bread and butter, Victorian racing. But he was also introduced to South Australian and Western Australian racing. The latter would become a long-term staple of his punting diet.
Cameron O’Brien: Professional punter
Following his time with Read, Cam got to work doing his own thing. Starting in 2002, he set about building his proprietary ratings database to keep him ahead of the market… and nearly twenty years later, he’s still here.
With his Key Bets package, Cam now supplies subscribers with the same ratings-derived bets he places himself. A little like the old man many years ago, though the technology has certainly changed!
Victoria remains the key focus, along with the aforementioned Western Australia, as well as the odd play in other states – particularly during carnival times, when he covers Australia’s biggest races with his Key Race Insights package.
But despite his background, racing is much more than hard numbers and business to Cam.
Cameron O’Brien: Spring racing specialist
“I love this time of year,” he says. “I still do really love the sport, even after all these years. You get such pure racing moments, like we’ve seen with Winx in recent years.
And unlike some punters, he’s no fazed by arrival of internationals at the time of year.
“I like it, especially in the Cups because all their form is exposed. It really suits the way I do things and the ratings tie in really well.
“I’ve always gone fairly well in the Cups.”
He’s not wrong. Cam has found the winners of the last three Melbourne Cups: Vow And Declare in 2019 ($11), Cross Counter in 2018 ($9) and Rekindling in 2017 ($17).
How does a pro punter price a race?
Every wondered how?
In this webinar, Cam takes you through the process. It’s a must-watch for anybody interested in serious punting.