Mick Bartley Melbourne Big Punter

Mick Bartley Punter

Mick Bartley Professional Punter

One of the legendary figures of Australian horse racing was not a thoroughbred, a jockey or a trainer, but a wildly effective punter known as Melbourne Mick Bartley.

Something of an anomaly for a professional gambler for having managed to secure a more traditional livelihood by acquiring the skills of a certified electrician, it may have been shocking to some to hear Baryley sum up his profession thus: “Never tackle something electronically designed to beat you.”

Starts Betting Early In Life

As he tells it, he never went to school as a lad. He was but 10, he claims, when he used to collect and sell empty beer bottles to scrape together money to bet with the local SP bookies. He fails to mention how those bottles became empty, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt in this instance. At any rate, he had no moral reservations about the propriety of one of his few years wagering on horses.

When Mick Bartley retired in 1977, if that term is appropriately applied to a professional punter, he had amassed a considerable fortune and managed to hold onto it beyond his betting years. Where big-time punters are concerned, he would be a good one to emulate. He was not as showy as Eric Connolly, Felipe Yshmael or Hollywood George Edser, but he stopped short of being as introverted as Fred Angles. He had the valuable ability to accept losses rather than chase them until he was bankrupted.

Mick Bartley was fortunate to have been staked to almost $200,000 from a win in the 1960 Opera House lottery. He claimed to have a system for even this type of low probability wagering where he always bought 50 tickets at a time.

He soon diversified by establishing a large SP network that catered to big businessmen and politicians as a way to  broaden his risk base. It was he who was the mastermind behind a 1971 syndicate that broke the Canberra TAB to the tune of $400,000, for which he pocketed $265,000.

Who Wages And Turnover

Audits from the 60s and 70s indicated that Mick Bartley was betting sums of around $5 million on an annual basis, using the TAB as his medium.

He was generally swarmed with fans when he showed up for a meeting that were desirous of duplicating his selections. Bookmakers feared him for the damage he regularly inflicted on their cash reserves and other big punters often felt major anxiety over the effect his big plunges would have on their odds.

Mick Bartley of course knew that he had this effect and that it affected him as well, so he wisely used his network of confederates to mitigate this factor.

He was doing exactly this when at Randwick one day he contrived using a red lady’s umbrella as a signaling device. The signal was for his cohorts to restrain from placing any wagers until he opened the umbrella. When the horse Mick was looking to back had its odds increase from 7/1 to 10/1, he raised the umbrella, his agents backed the horse and caused its odds to decline to 5/2.

While the subtlety of this maneuver might be called into question, the result was that Mick’s horse came in, and he had a substantial windfall to show for his tactic.

Daily Doubles Very Popular

One of Mick Bartley’s  major abilities was that of picking daily doubles, which greatly enhanced his take, something of which any punter is aware. He also was adept at finding value in ferreting out long odds that defied form.

The chronicle of Melbourne Mick Bartley is certainly one of boy surmounts all obstacles to emerge triumphant, but it also is practical from the point of view of providing a road map to effective punting through controlling one’s emotions at the track, accept loses without feeling compelled into progressively bigger wagers, and how to remain confident despite the inevitable losing streaks that punting on horses entail.