Thursday 30 December 2010

Stepping up

It's been a busy few days on the horses with so many races going off on both sides of the Irish Sea.

I've been exploring some different strategies this month and, in the last 3 days, these have proved to be very successful...

This gives me a good deal of confidence as I will be going full-time in January 2011.

It's been a long year, with many ups and downs as far as making a living on Betfair is concerned. Having started trading properly in October 2009, it took until February this year before the profit came, and a modest one at that, but it's been positive ever since and I look forward to doing even better in 2011.

My New Year's resolutions will be to take a more proactive approach to trading by:

• exploring other markets besides football and horse racing
• using some of my programming skills to create some bots (if I can remember how to code!)
• focussing on the 'big picture' and taking a position at the start of an event rather than just during it eg Premier winners market, X-Factor, golf tournaments

Plenty there to be keep me busy.

I'll try and get in some more horse racing tomorrow and then it's off to a party to see in the New Year - somehow I ended up being the DJ??!! I hope they like Fear Factory hehe...

Happy 2011! :)

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Treading carefully

Nice to see a couple of meetings on today. I was a bit wary after Saturday when a bug / feature / anomaly (call it what you will) in The Toy pulled the rug from under my feet...

Basically, since I started exploring in-play betting, when the race begins I would usually tap in £2 across all runners by hovering my mouse over each runner...

and hitting the 2 key on the keyboard. On Saturday, for whatever reason (probably a variable in the code that retained the old value), when the race went in-play and I tapped £2 in across the board, it didn't register and the ladder remembered my pre-trading stake amounts.

So I ended up plonking £100 on a nag at a price of 32, which was quickly shared amongst hungry layers whom anticipated the horse having no chance. The price never recovered.

The Geek explained that "There is a bug in 1.0 where stakes were retained for runners that were not visible on the ladder".

I hadn't upgraded my version to 1.1 since I currently have no need for the charts, but I upgraded today as a matter of precaution. Also before each race began, out of paranoia, I reset the stakes across all runners using the stake tool...

...AND tested pre-race that the amounts registered on the ladder as it should for each horse, with these bets being subsequently cancelled in-play.

It's hard giving away a hundred quid through no real fault of your own, and with so many other hazards to negotiate, this is one I could do without. On the other hand, in the 12 months+ I've been using The Toy, this is the only time my profit has been compromised by this software.

So, nothing special today but I hit my target which is something I need to embed in my brain from now on...

Having said that, I need get out of this bridesmaid mentality ie £30 is enough and everyone else can make their money. It's no surprise that some people make this amount per race consistently, as I assume they are usually the ones dictating the ebb and flow of the prices by bullying others. If Peter Webb really has 250k in his account, he can more or less do what he wants to the prices!

Indeed, he seemed to be a major player in the X-Factor markets by stating "people would be horrified about how much of that market was me". Where does that leave the rest of us?

Despite all the trading blogs out there, no-one really talks about the level of manipulation that goes on in Betfair markets, none more so than horse racing given there isn't much at stake until the race starts. It's akin to steroid use in Bodybuilding: Ronnie Coleman may be at the top of his game but he didn't get there using the protein shakes alone - to do so would expose his methods of winning and assure the end of his livelihood from endorsements.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

I don't use the word Guff enough

One of yesterday's lapses in concentration cost me 34 quid...

At one point I was 45 quid down but ended up with a fiver loss, so I can take some comfort in the comeback. Making 70 quid and losing 75 is really not the way forward though.

I got the sticky notes out and scribbled a few reminders that are now stuck on the bottom of my screen. It's all the usual guff that most traders talk about, and indeed I've talked about in the past, but I've never actually written them down before on paper and stuck them where I can see them.

Today was a different story....

Whether the sticky notes helped I'm not sure, but I was pleased to trade upto £36 on the second race in which made me feel better about the 34 quid I lost yesterday. Not quite up to Didd's standards, who reported a £70+ win on one race yesterday - staggering! (there was a screenshot but I can't see it anymore)

The Nugget Crew called the Seville-Dortmund game correctly tonight, hats off to them. I was going to have a sniff but my dutching spreadsheet went on the blink and it took me a while to find a new one.

I read the Nugget Crew's Trades of the Day and fair play to the lads, they do put their predictions in black-and-white for everyone to see. Quite a few of the trades seem to end up as scratches but they have their moments. At the end of the day, they're business men and creating a buzz around their chat rooms will inevitably lead to curious subscribers to their service, eager to part with their cash in search of riches. Football's pretty subjective though, and 4 pundits on Gillette Soccer Saturday can call a match 4 different ways. Cripes, how many times does Andy Gray call it wrong on his Betfair blog!

Well, the weather forecast looks pretty bleak for the next few days so I wouldn't be surprised if the racing is turned on its head once more. If there is going to be a big freeze like they keep saying, possibly lasting for a month (!!!), then maybe it's time to get on with all those jobs around the house I keep putting off like decorating (groan) and replacing the kitchen mixer tap (double groan) ;)

Sunday 5 December 2010

Take a chance

I commented in this recent post how I sometimes like to trade outsiders for small stakes and hedge in-play. Well this approach came good again today to the tune of £58, as I let the outsider of a 4-horse field run his race.

This is the single highest amount I've made in a race and I'm very pleased - it's nice to get a slice of luck like this for a change.

This gave me a nice boost, but I then struggled to capitalise on the win for a further two hours as I won and lost equally. Whilst profitable, this "win a bit more than I'm losing" approach isn't very satisfying and only goes to highlight the limitations of my strategy; I just need to pin down exactly what those limitations are.

Monday 29 November 2010

Cheeky Reindeer

Well I'm no weatherman, but at this rate I can't see much end to the cold, snowy weather. Trading-wise, the first half of November was pretty stagnant and just as I was starting to find my way again, this cold front has put my comeback on ice.

I even thought about getting some seasonal work at Tesco or Royal Mail to tide me over, but instead I've just decided to watch my spending by cutting out non-essentials (veg and meat) and only buying the cheaper whiskey for the time being.

So with the racing on its knees, what better way to spend my days than dressing up as a reindeer and having a mate chuck hay all over my carpet...enjoy! :)

Thursday 25 November 2010

High on Meydan

Iron Maiden

I traded a South Africa Dubai race today - Meydan - just so I could indulge in the pun in today's title! Actually, I was prompted by the fact that Kieren Fallon's name came up on ATR. The liquidity was low, and the prices were very gappy, a bit like the dog markets in the last 30 seconds. It's not for me I'm afraid, but worth a sniff.

If there's a strong odds-on favourite and a bunch of outsiders, like in the first race at Wolverhampton this afternoon, I'll look to trade a few of the outsiders for a profit, using small stakes, and hedge in-play. It came good to the tune of 11 notes which is ok for little risk. It's nice to let some run anyway, as I still like a cheeky punt now and again.

Not a bad day but I find myself scratching around for a profit these days, whilst trying to stay out of trouble. I've run into a fair bit of trouble this month, and it's taken me over 2 weeks to claw back to where I was back then. I'm sort of getting a handle on things since the clocks changed so I'm just hoping things don't change again too much before the Spring - my nervous system can't take much more!!

Friday 19 November 2010

Children in Need - traders unite!

That jolly good fellow The Geek is making a concerted effort to raise funds for Children in Need 2010.

The Toy has been free to use since its launch last year, and The Geek has pledged that this will continue throughout 2011 to users who at least pledge a minimum of £5 during fundraising events.

Not a bad deal for such a solid piece of software, which now features a plethora of ass-kicking charts.

The Geek's Toy - probably the best Betfair Trading Software in the world!

Following Children in Need, we then have Mets in Need, a fundraising effort to prop up my ailing PnL for November. Further details to follow...

Friday 12 November 2010

Rude awakening

Well, bring back British Summer Time because I haven't managed to settle into any kind of groove since the clocks changed.

Curiously, I managed to cancel out my profit on four separate occasions, the fourth time being quite severe - a sort of subconscious self-sabotage maybe?

This week has seen more money flow out of my bank account than in.

"You mean you had a losing week, Mets?"

I prefer the way I said it.

Monday 8 November 2010

Tunnel vision

Well I had a thoroughly crap afternoon and lost my money and my rag rather too frequently.

I thought things were pretty volatile today and I got smashed around like a young seal at the mercy of some rather large Orca types. And I haven't said that for a while.

A crumby start didn't help, and the amount of times I traded upto a tenner or so and then lost it and more beggared belief. I had a chance early on to get back to zero which I blew with one of those overtrades and things got a bit silly from thereon in.

I realised that I have a tendency, when I'm losing, to get a bit desperate and start focusing too hard on certain prices whilst failing to notice what's going on around me. I got done for -£30 at Wolves by a sudden drift when I didn't notice something else steaming in.

One thing The Badger said in that conference last week is that he's 100% certain he can make money from any horse racing market, although he admitted that it wasn't always the case. It's a good mindset to have and of course, with the correct decision making, we're all capable of making money.

You might wonder how I handle losing days. Not very well. Throwing stuff usually helps, as does using profanity. But typically I'll go and push some weights to get it out of my system.

The hardest part is actually walking away from the PC in the first place, as it's not always wise to walk away too early in case a comeback is on the cards.

Thursday 4 November 2010

I hate London

I think it was John Lennon that said "life is what happens while people are busy making plans" - or something like that. Well in London, life is what happens when people are busy trying to get somewhere. Where the hell are they all going exactly, scurrying around like rats....?

An so concludes my trip to the big smoke, lol!

I just got back home from my free Betfair Advanced Sports Trading Course. Actually it was more like a (deep breath) Betfair-endorsed-but-held-in-central-London-at-Centaur's-offices-and-presented-by-people-in-Betfair-clothes-that-don't-work-for-Betfair-type-thing. In summary, I'm not sure what to make of the day really.

I'm well aware of the whole Badger / Geek / Racing Traders saga having read some things on the Geek's Toy forum. So I turned up at this big building and was greeted by a chap from Betfair (ok there was one) although he didn't do anything expect skive off his day job to man the big fridge full of soft drinks and beer. Nice touch with the beer, by the way!

Big building

The conference soon got underway with Tony Hargraves and a couple of associates giving a presentation discussing aspects of trading psychology, software tools and in-game strategies. The content was fairly brief but sparked a good deal of debate amongst the trainers and the 26 or so that attended. Some of the attendees didn't pull any punches and were getting properly stuck into Tony et al! I think Tony wanted to punch the lady at the front that was talking a load of toss, and I did too because she was annoying (and really posh which was even more annoying).

In fact, traders are a bloody annoying bunch of know-it-alls. They can't wait to tell you what they know but don't have any listening ability. Worse than IT geeks even.

Tony discussed the 4 main players in the trading-tools market - BA, BetTrader Evo, Gruss and The Toy. The discussion inevitably landed at the door of BT Evolution and he demonstrated its various tools during a live trading session. The banter was fun and he made a few quid to boot. On his RT videos, Tony always gave the impression he was in control of a trade and he was equally cool in the live arena, albeit for small stakes.

After lunch - and I must say that the catering was excellent - we all each had a dummy Betfair account with a £100 to play with using Evo. Sitting there drink Stella and messing about with some play money on live races was quite a nice to spend an hour or so....until I got frustrated with Evo (cos it's rubbish compared to The Toy) and the fact I wasn't making any real money of my own.

I'm not sure where the whole Centaur thing came into it which is, by my reckoning, Tony and his chums trading with other people's money? And why were they wearing Betfair t-shirts when they stated that they don't work for Betfair? All I'm asking for is a bit of transparency. If you wanna flog Evo and slag all the other products off, do it, it's your course! It was funny the way Tony almost had to mutter The Toy under his breath. The bottom line is The Toy is free and better than most things out there. Did I mention it's free?!

According to Tony, a new version of Evo is coming out soon with the ability to simulate trades so you can just have a play without sacrificing any of your own money. Evo can't even display jockey names next to each damn horse for goodness sake!! Get that fixed first!!!

Anyway, I'm coming to end of my summary which is turning into a bit of a rant. But it's my party so I'll cry if I want to ;) All-in-all, I'm glad I went just to see what it was all about but having traded on Betfair for over a year now, it was a bit like teaching me to suck eggs.

The remains of the buffet - a trader's metabolism can't digest fruit, it's just there for show

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Off to see the Wizard

Tomorrow I shall be venturing down to London to attend a Betfair-endorsed advanced trading course in the City. I've been led to believe that Tony Hargraves AKA The Badger will be doing some of the talking; Tony's video antics over at Racing Traders were one of the things inspired me to trade the horses in the first place.

It should be very interesting and I'm hoping to learn a few bits I might not have thought about before. Besides which, it will be nice to get out of the office for a day and see some different surroundings.

Didn't get anything out of today and ended up a few quid down. Tried a couple of evening races and one of my winning trades ended up getting withdrawn in the last. Just that sort of day really, where my mind wasn't in it and everything seemed such hard work. Was in that "chasing a deficit while trying not to make it any worse" mode - very frustrating.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Red Thunder

I needed a dose of poor man's Red Bull today to get me in the money. It was such a sloooooow rise to profit, I mean it took me 2 1/2 hours to claw my way out of the red!

Anon: "You could say the Red stuff got you out of the red stuff there, Mets"
Mets: "Yeah, but I won't"

Nothing stressful really, just annoying. It's so important to me to end the day in profit, my 17th in a row now, because I find it encourages winning ways.

The Red Thunder actually tastes quite nice, not bad for 20p a can. Better with vodka or bacardi though muwahahahaha ;)

The word on the street is that Geek's Toy has new charting bells and whistles. I can't say I'm too bothered by this latest development, since I don't really understand what half of those graphs mean anyway! There's enough for my poor brain to consider without these added graphical shenanigans! Besides, they take up too much valuable real estate on my monitor and I like to have 5 nice big ladders in full view.

I captured a funny little clip from At The Races that I thought I'd share. I love some of the off-track things they pick up on - some of those lads have got a great sense of humour! :D

Incidentally, I recorded the clip on my new iPhone 4. I posted a while back that I was considering getting an Android phone - the HTC Wildfire - so I could run the Betfair Touch app on it and that it could probably do everything an iPhone can without the restrictions that Apple put on things. Well, as it turns out, the HTC Wildfire has such a crap screen on it that as soon as I booted it up I knew in an instant that I'd made a mistake. I flogged it on eBay and bought an HTC Desire (the next one up) which had a beautiful screen on it. But there's an old saying...

You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear

... and at the end of the day, the Desire just didn't cut it; the HD video camera hasn't been implemented properly (drops frames, noisy microphone), the satellite navigation seemed laggy and slow to get a satellite fix, and Google's app store is a loooong way behind Apple's. I love the iPhone have installed ibetmate as recommended by Handy Andy, and I've gotta say it's a lovely little app for interacting with Betfair, very slick and preserves the session so you don't keep getting logged out - brill!

Monday 25 October 2010

Wakey wakey!

It wasn't a great start today at all. I don't know what it was - a bit of complacency, a bit of lethargy maybe - but by 3 o'clock I was -£41 down and starting to think about calling it a day.

After giving myself a good telling off and a blast of Megadeth on the hifi, I managed to turn things around with a good win at Southwell, which quickly got me back into winning ways.

I got to my target daily average of £30 so I'm pleased with that, given the uphill climb I faced. It's amazing how negative thoughts can snowball when you're in deficit though. It takes a strong mind to overcome adversity in any pursuit, and it's not something that comes easily to me. Once again, I had to remind myself what I was in this for and to have respect for the markets, the bank and the opportunity to be doing this in the first place.

As I've mentioned once before, I work off of a bank of 1k and my whiteboard is instrumental in getting me out of a deficit because I find, once I start scrawling numbers on the board, things become more real. I then concentrate on making that chunk of money back before anything else; other people may have a different approach to staying on the straight-and-narrow but this seems to work for me. After all, £30 a day is a tidy £900 a month which is not to be sniffed at.

Saturday 23 October 2010

Strength to strength

Well things are definitely looking up having hit my third £100+ day in as many weeks.

"Make hay while the sun shines" makes a lot of sense after being reminded this afternoon, by one of the Racing UK pundits, just how cold last Winter got. The prolonged bout of snow certainly did play havoc with the race cards.

I was reading Chris Evans' auto-biography recently and he mentioned that his Dad was a bookmaker when Chris was a lad, during which time there was a 4 month frost! He went on to explain that having got through that rather lean period, his Dad then accepted an accumulator from a punter but hadn't covered the liability; the bet duly came in and put his Dad out of business! It's a surprisingly good read by Mr Evans - very well written.

My performance last week surpassed my £30-a-day target and I ended up making more than £50-a-day. Choosing my battles more carefully does seem to have helped a fair bit, and trading <= 3 minutes before the off has ironed out a few inconsistencies.

Sunday 17 October 2010

"Ton" it on again

Fans of Genesis might appreciate the play-on-words in today's title.

Question is: what era Genesis were you? The "Peter Gabriel dressed as a flower" period? Or the "Phil Collins coming from behind the kit to be lead singer" era?

I don't know what's happening but Sundays are starting to be my most profitable day. Another ton reached on a day I used to really struggle with. I suppose that as my approach has evolved, then so has my alignment with particular days' markets.

Fans of my UFC forecasts will be looking forward to my new subscription-based tipping service. I'm 0 from 3 so far but I'm sure it's just a blip. There can be so many twists and turns in a fight that maybe the only money in MMA markets is fools' money?

"Oi 'ardy, I'm down 20 notes cos of you! What you gonna do about it?"

Saturday 16 October 2010

All bets are on

Not a bad arvo on the horses results wise. Chucked a good £40 away though mid-session which made for a bit of teeth-grinding for the next two hours.

Got a fiver on the draw in the Villa v Chelsea game which is looking good at the time of writing.

Despite a few mis-hits on the UFC in the past, I'm going forth with my UFC gamble tonight.

UPDATE: Hardy got chinned in the first to lose me the bet. Not looking a great night for the Brits with Wilks defeated too. I hope Bisping has got what it takes to win his bout.

The "Outlaw" is back

A bumper night of fighting at the O2 tonight for UFC 120, and Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy returns for a fight with the USA's Carlos Condit. I don't recall seeing Condit fight but then again, since UFC and TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) went off Bravo, I haven't been keeping up with it as much, unfortunately.

I know that there aren't many with Hardy's level of self-belief though. Indeed, despite nearly having his arms ripped off by George St-Pierre in his last bout, he must have won over a large contingent of UFC fans with his gutsy performance. I mean, GSP seriously opened a full can of whoop-ass on him in that match!

With the UK crowd behind him, I'm expecting Hardy to put the smack down on this New Mexican upstart. I'll being having a £20 punt on Hardy fo' shizzle, provided I have a good arvo on the horses today, cos I don't gamble with money I haven't earnt that day, period!

Decent week on the horses, bouyed by last Sunday's uncharacteristic performance....for a Sunday.

I hope to do some in-play trading in the future, along the lines of a recent post by Alistair over at Bet Your Life Sports Trading. Eddy over at Trading Times had some punting joy backing Frankie Detorri yesterday at Newmarket. There's no doubting the man's horsemanship and I'll be looking to see of any in-running opportunities present themselves as far as the dimunitive Italian is concerned.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Turning my swag on

"I said wazup, wazup, wazup...."

I have no idea what I just said, but I'm down with Cher from the X Factor. Fo shizzle.

For anyone trading the X Factor in play, I say wazup wazup wazup if you're watching the live show in real time - it went on for nearly 3 hours last night! At least with the old Sky+ I can blast through it in a third of the time. It used to be same with UFC when they showed it on Bravo, I could blast through an entire 3 hours fight night in about 45 minutes!

I pulled off a great heist today. Bit more respectable than the fiver I made last Sunday. I wasn't planning on using big stakes today because I find Sundays can be a bit volatile, but I saw a few opportunities early on that I couldn't help but get involved in.

After a difficult few weeks, trying to get to grips with £4-£5 tick sizes, I've managed to steer the profit line back in the right direction.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Just one more

Another reasonable Saturday I suppose. The last trade was a bit of a duffer, a case of "just one more trade for luck". The old "see what happens" approach - marvelous (not)!

I celebrated my one year trading anniversary last Wednesday, although I didn't start the blog until the redundancy was confirmed a month later. A friend asked whether I would've done anything differently...I can honestly say I wouldn't. It's taken a while to convince myself (and others) that this is a genuine career path....ok perhaps career path is a bit strong! Some came round to idea pretty quickly (my wife); others are still waiting for me to get a real job (my mum)!

My performance has only been mediocre since a ground-breaking August, which has led to a few anxious moments and self-doubt. Admittedly, I've been upping the stakes which has affected my bottom line, but I'm hardening (nurse!) to the effects of the losses I've incurred as a result.

I'm still of the opinion though that, as long as you can cover the bills and have a few treats like the odd take away now-and-then, then it's worth living without flat screen tellys and expensive holidays in order to have more free time for yourself and the family.

If I can make it beyond the Christmas period by continuing to take home some modest monthly profit, without losing my money and mind, then things should go from strength-to-strength in 2011.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Early bath

Time to call time early on this month's trading and reset my approach for October. The larger stakes are killing my game, as I find I'm chasing losses a lot more and expending a lot of energy and cash in doing so.

I started today's session with a clear mind and good intentions but after getting a tenner up, I began to get complacent and got caught out a few times, including one -£23 loss. Total loss nearly 60 quid :(

I feel I'm being braver, playing the favourite a lot more and getting involved in the fast money, but I'd hoped I would be suitably battle-hardened by now. I'm not.

When I came downstairs yesterday after sustaining a similar loss, I went into the garage and beat the crap out of my punchbag. Proper UFC-style ground-and-pound hammerfists too. The bag didn't stand a chance!

My wife reminded me of similar behaviour the last time I upped my stakes and went downhill. Indeed, my overall profit graph shows a few battle scars.

It was a disappointing end to September after a strong start but on the other hand, nothing-ventured-nothing-gained as they say. I have a better idea of what level I'm at and what works and what doesn't. I need to build up some momentum again by drawing a line under September and taking a less gung-ho approach in October.