Saturday 31 December 2011

2011 review

Well, 2012 is nearly upon us and it's certainly been an interesting year as far as the trading goes...

About this time last year, things started to "click into place" and January was the first month when my income actually matched that of my old job. When February and March followed suit, I could relax knowing I would be financially ok, at least for a little while.

I log all my results in a spreadsheet and it's clear that I've not improved massively since January...and it wasn't for lack of trying believe me! I'm constantly pushing myself for higher returns, but higher stakes and silly "heat-of-the-moment" blunders have held me back a bit.

When I started filming my trading at the start of December (for some training videos I'm hoping to do in 2012) it dawned on me where I was going wrong in my pre-race trading. As a result, I've managed to tighten up my game quite a bit and the last 6 days have been amazing.

My strike rate is approx around 65% at the moment so my goal for 2012 is to improve that to at least 75-80%.

Late 2011 also spelled a mini-crisis in terms of my mental wellbeing. My self-imposed isolation since late 2009 really caught up with me in October of this year and I was feeling pretty miserable for it. I've got good health, a loving wife and wonderful child, a part time job I love, loads of free time to indulge my passions and yet I felt lonely and just...well...crap.

I fought the lows like every man should - with alcohol ha ha!! Obviously, that can only work for so long and then it's a case of figuring out why you're not happy in your own skin. That's for another day but let's just say that certain therapies have helped brighten my mood, like exercising with others (I've joined a gym), taking the St John's Wort herbal supplement (the jury is still out on that one), talking things through with the wife and even some retail therapy (new 32" LCD now takes pride of place in my already overcrowded office space).

I've even installed Sky HD for the office so I don't have to use the crappy video sender from the downstairs box to watch At The Races.

It's all about making life easier for yourself, and it's something I want to expand on in 2012 as I feel we get ourselves into an unnecessary pickle sometimes that could have been avoided with a different approach

another unnecessary pickle?

Anyway, that's enough rambling. To all my regular readers: I wish you a great 2012 and I hope you can continue to follow my journey well into next year...and hopefully beyond!

Take care! :-)

Wednesday 28 December 2011


It's been ages since I checked the viewing stats for the blog via Google Analytics. I had a look today out of interest and noticed there had been more traffic than usual. On closer inspection, it now seems my blog is the "go-to" place for pictures of cows!!

bloody marvelous...

Google has suddenly decided to index the cow picture I used in this post on page 1 of their image search for the word "cow"!

Oh well, at least this blog is useful for something!

Back to trading matters and I'm pleased to report a couple of decent days trading

It's a relief actually, as Christmas over-spending and a recent bout of decorating has left my bank account a bit wounded. Also, the missus keeps banging on about getting a new dining room table so I felt I had a point to prove.

The Boxing Day madness of races going off every five minutes suits me down to the ground as I can really (cliché alert!) get "in-the-zone"; barring any silly mistakes, I know I'll always make money on these days.

Today was nice enough too although I'm still prone to making some horrid gaffes

£100 gone in 15 minutes. Not great, but I'm well used to the ebb-and-flow of money now and keeping a cool head in the next two races quickly made up for those errors


Sunday 18 December 2011

Slim pickings

Not much doing today - got into a bit of trouble early on and spent the rest of the session trying to claw it back...before ballsing-it-up in the second last :-(

Yesterday was far, far better...but this blog doesn't just sing when it's winning!

My emotional state has certainly improved since my post in early November, when things seemed somewhat bleak; my interest in all things trading remains indifferent though, including reading other blogs and even updating my own. I think it's because I'm approaching the end of a long and intense first year trading as a professional and I'm ready for a New Year now and a fresh start.

I've started taking the St John's Wort herbal remedy / supplement in a bid to try and "steady the ship" a little bit - it's meant to be effective at improving your mood and apparently they're mad about it in Germany! Maybe that's why they're so steadfast?! Taking that, combined with the fact I've joined a local gym to train at (instead of in my garage in isolation), have both helped immensely.

I had a couple of nice emails in November from people looking for a bit of advice. It's good to be able to give something back to the trading community in this way, in the same way I absorbed some terrific advice from other bloggers in the early days. My email address is at the top of the blog if you have a question about something I may have written in the past - I'll try my best to answer it.

I downloaded Camtasia 2 for Mac last week on a free trial basis and had a go at recording some pre-race trades for some training videos I intend to publish in Spring 2012.

That's been a bit of a learning curve in itself though, as articulating my thought processes while trying to execute them is harder than it seems. I managed a couple of green outcomes but there were a few red ones too as I found I was "putting myself off"! I was also aware I was pausing and saying "eeeeeerrmmm" at lot in between speaking, which is just plain annoying!

I may choose to just record the vids and narrate / annotate them afterwards, but I can't help feeling it would take something away from the experience.

I've chosen my domain name and have a dummy Wordpress blog in place - I just need to "pull my finger out" and get it done now. I'll only release a product that I'm 100% happy with though - and if I don't feel that the vids are up-to-scratch then I won't release them to the marketplace. If I decide that I'm revealing too much of my edge, or not enough to be useful to anybody, then that's another good reason not to release them.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Off the crab

Today went about as well as Thursday and Friday

I couldn't even be bothered to finish the last few races.

I've really struggled to find something to trade these last 3 days and I don't remember it being this bad for a long time. Has everyone buggered off to BetDaq or something?

When I'm not "on the crab", I lose my rhythm, get bored and take more chances than I should.

Things will pick up again soon I'm sure. In the meantime, I'll have a few days off and do something more interesting with my afternoons as I can't face the prospect of another paltry day's profit at the moment.

Friday 25 November 2011

Pot luck

Well, I've found the last couple of days' trading to be very torrid indeed. It always worries me when I see graphs like this

It's all over the place!

For me, trading pre-race on days like this is a bit pointless because I usually end up breaking even at best. I can't read these moves at all and most often it's "pot luck" if I make a profit.

At 15:50 I was only £30 up after 3 hours slog but the 16:00 at Wolverhampton saved my blushes; I decided to call it quits after that.

No records broken today but it's a week's groceries paid for so I can't grumble.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Top of the pops

I haven't looked but I think today's effort just edged my personal best

I traded with a bank of £2500 today, so a bit more than my usual £2000. Just recently, I've been upping my pre-race stake where feasible and am now into £10-a-tick territory. It's been ages since I last upped the stakes but it feels right and anyway, I want to make more money! (don't we all?)

Thursday 10 November 2011

Autumn blues

October was my best month ever, if only by a few quid. Quite remarkable really, as I've been taking my foot off the pedal since the evening racing ended. Two back-to-back £400+ Saturdays helped; the £500+ day continues to elude me.

I've had to dig myself out of an emotional black hole last week as it suddenly dawned on me how solitary I've become. After many stressful years working in IT, I was glad to get out of the "rat race" and away from the politics and egos. The trouble is, I've gone a bit too far the other way now though, and it caught up with me a bit last Monday.

I've been away from facebook for a few years, as I firmly believe that a private life should remain just that. But since most of my friends live their lives through that medium now, if I'm not on it, I'm not part of it! Also, I chose to workout alone in my garage this year instead of going to the gym and mixing with actual physical people. There's been a bit of unrest in the family too which spurred me to cut down on visiting so as not to get caught up in it. With the little one at school full-time now and the wife at work, it pretty much means I don't see anyone from one day to the next. The trading has been boring me silly lately too, and I've had little interest in looking at other blogs or visiting The Toy forum, and updating this blog hasn't even crossed my mind lately.

The question of "what do you actually do again?" comes up time and time again, and I'm getting sick of explaining. As one of the few Dads that delivers their child to school in the morning, I often wonder if the Mums think I'm a dole-grabber. All the money I paid into the system over the years has presumably gone to line someone else's pockets, because the buggers won't give any to me. I got a mouthful from was even challenged by my step-daughter the other day about how her Mum goes out to work and supports me while I sit at home all day (one quick flash of October's profit sheet on the iPad soon put her straight). She right about one thing though: I do hang around the house all day. But what am I gonna do? Give it all up and get a proper job just so I can become part of the system again, never have any free time AND take a pay cut......hmmm no....not yet at least.

Anyway, I'm attempting to rectify my mood a bit: I enrolled as a helper at my daughter's school which will get me out of the house one morning a week. I've also signed up to be a "Reading Buddy" so I can mentor some kids and give a bit back to society (I even signed up the aforementioned step-daughter!). I've also been out for a few brisk walks in the last couple of days, albeit one was to the chip shop! ;-)


Just by making a few changes, I'm already feeling better and am looking forward to "spreading myself around a bit" so to speak.

In other news, I continue to be shocked and amazed by the way markets can twist and turn as certain events unfold. Now the hairy Cocoza (I'm not wasting my time checking the spelling) has been booted out for sniffing the white stuff in some slappers bog, the market has been sent into a tailspin by the news that one of the rejects will be brought back in. Jeez, I wish I'd camped outside the X-Factor studios to get the scoop on that one, as just look at Amelia's price now

Bloody 7s in from 1000!! I thought it was a bit suspect that she didn't trade at 1000 immediately after she was booted - her price loitered at around 400 - although she obviously went onto do so as the competition unfurled.

Now she's back in with a chance to rejoin the show pending a public vote, and could very well go on to win the thing as she was IMO way better than the others, with the exception of Marcus and Little Minxes (or whatever name they go by these days).

The whole show has been a sham this year for the following reasons:
  • the drug-addled, bed-hopping Cocoza being allowed to prey on vulnerable housemates and fans
  • Cowell leaving Louis on the panel even after he kicked himself off
  • Louis being forced to bring back a "judges house" reject because that crazy Chinese woman didn't want to go to the live shows
  • the whole mixing-and-matching of the boy bands at boot-camp, the judges houses AND even on the live show - who are these faceless bands? At least JLS came to the competition complete, prepared and oozing class
  • and finally, the public being encouraged to vote some idiot back into the show that they've already spent money removing
Bah - I'm going for a lie down......

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Nothing day

Quite literally a nothing sort of day, with everything I made

being robbed back off me again tomorrow

Before I started this afternoon's session, I checked to see what my PC would be this week. Now is today's profit a coincidence, or did something happen on a subconscious level? Perhaps I've been watching too much Dynamo!


The botting venture continues to flounder. Conscious that I've only got 3 months left of my subscription, I've been furiously writing and re-writing my triggers in between races and testing them out in-play. I've lost count of the times I've started from scratch, building them from the ground up.

My ultimate goal is to take some of the in-running strategies I use every day and approximate those in trigger-form. The thing is, in-play trading has become a very intuitive thing after months of doing it, and programming intuition obviously takes more than a few routines slung together! Therefore, I'm trying to keep the strategies functional enough to make me some money, but also simple enough to ensure the logic remains straightforward and bug-free.

Starting with a £100 in test mode, I was upto £146 at one point in the afternoon and was already planning my retirement. But a few automated trades later and my virtual profit quickly evaporated, leaving a massive £4.66 profit for the day. Breaking even for the day is good progress though, as I've lost many starting banks in the past trying out different things; thankfully it's not been my own dosh on the line so far!

Once I get the first bot in place and earning, I will then introduce some variants to execute alongside it, to cover different scenarios...

Not that sort of Variant!

Monday 3 October 2011


A bit of a strange one in the 14:50 at Warwick today, when Rios Girl traded at 1.01 for 17k and finished 10th. Looks like there was a mix up during the photo due to the similarity in colours of Rios Girl and the eventual winner, Straboe. The Rio price pinged all over the place so I whacked a few speculative bets on at big prices, which were quickly taken, and managed to green up for a tidy amount before the market suspended again

If only it were always this easy!

I had a comment on my last post, where I was predicting the imminent demise of everyone's favourite betting exchange

Betfair's not going to dissappear overnight despite all the current bad press, mets. Even when it does eventually collapse that'll be due to something else there to replace it so don't think you need to worry.

Yes, I know (hope!) you're right, and I'll try and be less of a doomsayer from now on! ;)

Saturday 1 October 2011

Autumn shakeup

The second half of September was a tough one for me. The returns from the pre-race trading have been getting thinner and attempts to make up for it in the in-running markets have been less-than-successful.

I was intent on winding down for the Autumn and Winter and perhaps only trading 3-4 days a week, but it hasn't happened. It's always in the back of my mind that the "writing may be on the wall" for Betfair amidst the current hoo-ha...
  • falling share price
  • serious data breach
  • Tote foul-up
  • increased downtime
  • harsher Premium Charges
  • top execs leaving
...and could spell the beginning of the end for us Betfair journeyfolk. That list is just too much bad stuff over a very small timeframe. So I'm just "knuckling down", trading any day I can and "grinding out a day's pay" *.

* that takes all the romance out of it, doesn't it?! ;)

The way I see it, if my Premium Charge rate is going to be hiked after £250k, then there's no harm in getting there as fast as I can while it's still a 250k threshold and not less. It's a good incentive to get the mortgage paid off sooner!

Having said that, I need to curb my losses as I'm still giving away loads more money than I should; I haven't updated the Betfair lifetime results spreadsheet for a few weeks but I just know it's loads. Today, I got upto 90 quid twice before being bashed back down again

losses easily amounted to £150+

£150 for a Saturday is pretty disappointing to me these days (but then I am quite hard on myself!). The funny thing is, I managed £150 last Saturday and Betfair was down for half of the afternoon lol !

Just going back to the data breach (that I only just found about out via Scott Ferguson's excellent blog), it's prompted me to change my Betfair password immediately in case someone logs in and tries to blow my wedge in a single go!

At the end of the day though, even though Betfair are taking a hammering in the press and on various blogs and forums, it's still the best thing around and when it works, it works brilliantly. I haven't fallen out of love with them yet, but I think that's only because I haven't been screwed over in a big way....yet!

Friday 16 September 2011

Bot botheration

I managed to raise some enthusiasm this week to continue creating automated trading scripts for the horse racing markets using MarketFeeder Pro.

I bought a 6 month subscription for £100 with a view to writing a bot to slowly recoup this (and more if possible). With only 4 months left of my sub I need to get a shift on!

My previous attempt at implementing an automated lay system using MF Pro proved fruitless. Nothing to do with the tool I might add - the rules were easy to implement and I had a couple of good days in test mode - but when I switched it over to live mode one afternoon, it proceeded to find about 5 winners in about 9 races and blew most of my £50 starting bank. 5 winners from 9 - that must be a record?!

Creating a winning bot is no walk in the park...not to me anyway. Anything that has even the slightest amount of complexity to it, usually ends up becoming a major pain in the backside to devise and implement.

The examples on the MF Pro site did come in very handy and gave me a good start, but even implementing a Fill or Kill function takes 3 triggers, and a function to work out how long is left in a race (I'm glad they wrote that function and not me!) takes 5 triggers. So I've got 8 triggers in this cramped little pop up window that I can't collapse and which get in the way of my own triggers that I'm trying to add in there too. I hope they tidy up the UI in the version 7 as it's a bit clunky in places.

Anyway, I reached a point at about 4pm this afternoon where I was ready to let my shiny new bot loose on the win markets (in test mode) and lo and behold, it came up two decent wins and a bunch a scratches in the space of an hour...

"Great, huh?" I said the misses as she passed the office door,

"I'm onto something here" I then exclaimed, smugly.

Through some further examination of the logs though, it soon became clear that I wasn't really on to anything at all, at least not anything intended; it turned out that by programming one condition wrong, the bot was now doing the opposite of what I designed it to!!

So now I've got an anti-bot that's a potential money spinner, while my original idea seems to be a dead in the water

I'm at a wedding tomorrow so what I think I might do is run the original bot and the anti-bot in separate instances of MF Pro (taking care to reduce my refresh rates of course) and let them duke it out while I'm quaffing champagne and devouring canapés* at the reception.

* more like Fanta and sausages on sticks if I know my mate


Friday 9 September 2011


I suspect, like me, most full time horse racing traders have been pretty "flat-out" during March-August. Only now, with the reduced schedules, can I take a step back and breathe a sigh.

This time last year, I was still hungry for opportunities to trade, but things have improved so much since Jan that I'm now looking forward to the reduced schedules and the weather cancellations!

With the little nipper starting school next week, I want to shift my priorities to my music studio so I can get some more writing done without any distractions.

As other have commented on this blog, it's hard to put down the racing when the money is flowing in nicely. I did as much as I needed to today but still pulled in enough to pay a few bills

These 70 / 80 quid days are fairly common for me and add up nicely over the month. Today didn't really flow and I wasn't very active either so I didn't expect much more.

The Results Summary Spreadsheet that I talked about in my last post, brought home that I don't have many losing days any more; from memory, I think there's been only one since June. Keeping losses under control was a mantra I followed from the very beginning, and I never managed to get more that -£75 in deficit throughout my whole journey. I've got a lot better at stemming early losses, as making up losses never sat with me too well; as long as I don't go more than -£30 down early on I'm usually fine and come out ok by the end of the session.

There's plenty to do over the coming months: I want to improve my horse racing and golf databases, and continue the development of my EPL trading tool. I'm not setting any deadlines for these and I tend to just do a bit when I feel like it. Coding never was the most enthralling endeavour!

The run up to Christmas is exciting, and the first Christmas-challenge blog of 2011 has sprung up already (and I thought John Lewis were premature with their Christmas run-ins!! ;) I look forward to reading about his exploits. There used to be a lot of fun trading blogs about a few years ago but they're mostly lying in my defunct folder in Google Reader now :(

Finally, I'm glad Google have decided to revamp Blogger a little bit. Certain things like be able to import images within the body of your text - as opposed to sticking it at the top of the post every time(!!!) - is a nice improvement. Google seem to be trying to get all their products to appear in line with the style of Google+ but they made a real "balls up" of their Calendar product, and I switched back to the old look immediately. It's all very well changing the appearance of something, as the eyes will soon get used to it, but removing useful functionality (e.g. the new calendar doesn't highlight the day you are on!!!!) is a real pain.

EDIT: The new Blogger interface doesn't put any line breaks in if you compose in HTML view....sigh! Already switched back to the old interface for the time being :/

Monday 22 August 2011

Results Summary spreadsheet

Kudos to Matt over at Mind Games for helping me load my lifetime Betfair profit-and-loss log into his excellent Results Summary spreadsheet.

For a couple of quid this thing is the biz. I've finally got an idea of how I'm doing on other events besides the horse racing and the answer is...rubbish!

I'm pleased that I haven't got too much to claw back on the football and golf, as I'm intending on becoming consistently profitable in these sports within 12 months.

What did surprise me was how much I typically lose on the horse racing every month in order to make an overall profit. Take my total so far for August and you'll see that £3,270.26 of positive trades were eaten into by -£1,078.00 of negative ones

August to-date

with my strike rate averaging around 60%

last 4 days

It'd be interesting to hear from other pro traders re their typical losses across the month as a percentage of their overall profit, as I think I'm letting too much of my hard earned slip through the net.

Thursday 18 August 2011

World Domination

Well, my US PGA Championship golf picks landed out-of-bounds. Despite playing well a week before in the Bridgestone Invitation, Ishikawa managed to hit an 84 on his first round. Great. Ryan Moore drifted like a barge too, Choi and Snedeker were scratches, and I had greens on Mickelson and Jiminez for the win...but neither of them did much in the end.

I hexed John Senden by backing him at 120, prompting a drift to 150+. I thought I was fortunate to get a scratch on him but he ended up -4 and trading in the 20s by the end of day 2...ho-hum!

I backed a couple of top 10 hopefuls at the beginning of day 3 but they both had poor rounds and soon drifted too. Tenner loss overall.

I'm no further forward with my golf stats database since last Wednesday, as I've now become distracted with building Football Brain as I've now christened it - an EPL monitoring system that will take into account historic data, in-play stats and lineups, and player ratings which will all be processed as an EPL match unfolds to give me a real-time forecast of each game. It's quite an undertaking as it involves lots of data processing, but I'm convinced I can build it.

The manual horse racing trading continues to go from strength-to-strength, with £200ish days becoming more common now

I'm really incentivised to make consistent profits on other sports, a la Handy Andy, who has developed a successful football trading strategy alongside his horse-racing activities. I don't want to have my eggs all in one basket in case the horse racing rug is pulled from under my feet.

The angles in tonight's Thun v Stoke game are Thun's plastic pitch and the altitude. Think Spurs against Young Boys away last season and you get the picture. I'm looking at the 2-0 and 3-0 as possible trading options, with the 3-0 at 50 on Betfair currently. I might even consider revisiting my dormant Twitter account so I can post up these pearls of wisdom more easily ;)

Thursday 11 August 2011

US PGA Championship 2011 picks

The WGC Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament last week left me -£6 worse off. I read a lot of column inches in the lead up to the tournament and was certain of achieving some profit. At one point I was 26 notes in the red but some good trading during days 2 and 3 helped me reduce the liability. At this point in my fledgling golf trading career, I'm happy to just get back to 0.

Golf trading is something I've been wanting to get my head around for quite a bit. I'm not a follower of the game by any means, and didn't see a single ball hit at Bridgestone, yet it doesn't mean I shouldn't get involved. The way a 4-day tournament plays out usually sees the lead change hands many times, and there are lots of scalping opportunities. Unlike in-running horse trading, the golf has a nice slow pace to it and i'm happy just to get some back bets matched and lay my stakes at lower prices, leaving the profit on the player if the lays are matched.

I'm not going Billy Big Stakes on the golf until I've got some decent stats together in my database, which I've been busy importing this week. I was hoping get done before the start of the PGA Championship but, despite burning the midnight oil last night, I don't have enough data enable me to make solid predictions yet. So at this point, I'm just going to guess!

Actually, it's more like educated guessing, since I've been keeping an eye on the golf markets for a whopping two whole tournaments now, and have noticed a few trends. Day 1 is more guessy than 2 & 3 anyway because you can't really get an idea of a player's chances until they've completed at least a round. Most of the value has been sucked out of the market by Day 4 and you have to use decent sized stakes to get anything back.

We'll see what happens :)

Thursday 4 August 2011

WGC Bridgestone Invitational 2011 picks

Current Odds bets Order by Matched Date
Hunter Mahan 32 £4.00 £124.00
Bubba Watson 55 £4.00 £216.00
Zach Johnson 55 £2.00 £108.00
Justin Rose 85 £2.00 £168.00
Retief Goosen 120 £2.00 £238.00
David Toms 110 £2.00 £218.00
Darren Clarke 110 £2.00 £218.00
Heath Slocum 410 £2.00 £818.00

Graphs "Я" Us

Been tinkering with the Betfair C-SharpAPI6ExampleV1.1 code again this evening (this is the sample code you can freely get from the Betfair Developers Program website once you sign in).

I've been looking for way to automate the grabbing of graphs from the Betfair site so I can gain some perspective on certain tournaments, mainly golf ones at the moment. With the WGC Bridgestone Invitational 2011 starting this week, I once again have absolutely nothing to go on from previous years in terms a player's chances.

So my tweaks to the core code have yielded quite a nice solution. You basically fire up the app

Select "Show Active Event Types" and drill down to the event that you want

and it spits out all the runners' graphs for that event. Simply rename the directory to something a bit more meaningful - in my case WGC Bridgestone Invitational 2011 - Day 0 - lob the directory somewhere that Picasa (other photo viewers are available!) can see it and you get a snapshot of the event as it stands with the each graph labelled with the "runner's" name and ordered alphabetically

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to reproduce the whole code here but if anyone is interested, drop me a line via the email address printed on my blog's banner and I can email you the frmMain.cs file.

That's 3 hours of my life I won't get back - I'm off to bed!!

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Settling in

Well I managed to get the new iMac in without too much bother

and the Mini is on the other side of the room to run my bot and so I can write some more data import code

Not my usual mug you understand

Porting my routines over to the Mini has broken them, partly because SQL server names are now different but also because (I think) I wasn't running the right Visual Studio 2005 service pack. I downloaded about a gigabyte of updates and patches this evening and they seemed to have installed ok, so it should just be a case of picking it up in the morning where I left off.

The beauty of running a virtual machine is that you can copy over the image and run it in another vm on another machine right away. I copied over my Mini's vm image to my iMac last night and was glad to see Windows 7 boot up without any bother.

The iMac screen is physically closer to me than my previous screen (there's no room behind to push it back any further) and it took a little while for my senses to adjust to the new distance whilst trading this afternoon. Whereas before I had 10 in-running ladders, I now only have 8 because the reduced distance between my eyes and screen means I can't scan all 10 ladders without moving my head (it's a bit like watching a movie from the front row).

I got on okay with things in the end and was impressed by the speed and stability of the new machine. The Toy ran effortlessly within the VMware session. The iMac gets quite warm at the back when it's working hard - the metal case must be acting as a heat-sink I suppose. There's a big slot in the top for the warm air to escape from....I just hope the thunderflies don't get in there as I've already had some get in and then die in 3 other screens and they're unsightly. I was typing the other week and (no joke) I was wondering why I couldn't delete this stray apostrophe from the text......only it wasn't an apostrophe grrrrrrrr :(

The markets were quite kind to me today and I was pleased with my achievements. I messed up the big race of the day by trying to trade Canford Cliffs with larger stakes than I'm used to and never really got on the right side of anything, ending up 25 notes down. I haven't really noticed a huge shift in the markets since the new PC was introduced, but then I'm still a relatively small fish in the large pond and I suppose the changes are more noticeable at the "top end". Bottom Feeders (see glossary) like me are grateful for the scraps, and damn tasty scraps they are too!

On the crab!

Sunday 24 July 2011


I actually feel like I'm getting somewhere with my data imports. The Betfair data extractor I've written is working fine except for one niggle around the totalmatched field which, depending on what time of day you query the API, may or may not break the delimiter I've set on the columns. I'll have to write some more clean-up code to eliminate the manual effort I'm forced to do.

The Betfair data and MFPro action logs (ie the logs which actually detail what bets have been placed) are then imported into a SQL database via this SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) job that I've set up. I love the graphical nature of SSIS and really got to grips with the technology while I was in paid employment. The fact that I'm now using my skills in this fashion is really quite ironic!

SSIS chain of events

Finally, some meaningful data in a SQL view - the pain was worth it

My bot is now using real money and by the end of yesterday was 4 points up - whoopee! Sitting here writing this, I've just heard the software make that comical "wah wah wah" noise so not exactly the start I was hoping for in the first at Carlisle. Now I'm using real money, I'm compelled to gather as much data as I can so I can fine-tune the bot and make it as profitable as possible. Test modes are all very well but unless you're losing real money, it's hard to get motivated to find winning ways.

If I can get the bot winning, I'll be keen to interface it with BetDaq as quickly as possible because, like many others, I'm appalled by Betfair's new Premium Charge structure (despite not having to pay it yet). Betfair's website is shockingly slow now with all these panels popping up everywhere, their API was down yet again last Saturday and the whole ethos of the company now smacks of corporate greed.

There have been many requests on the Geek's Toy forum for a "purple" version of the software but The Geek is keeping quiet on the topic. There was talk a few weeks ago on the forum of a sell-out and The Geek was being very cryptic (perhaps because of a non-disclosure agreement?) so what the future holds for the software in general is anybody's guess. I still love using the software but in this fast-changing industry, fickle users will migrate to something else if the "grass is greener"...or purple-r! The Toy is classier than anything else out there and I've tried them all now; if I had to use BetAngel or something else just to get BetDaq access I will be gutted, especially as I would rather not line the pockets of certain well-publicised characters in the API software industry.

I've changed my set-up now in case The Toy / my internet / my PC goes belly up. I used to run another copy of The Toy on my netbook with a 3G O2 dongle. It helped me out a few times but I wasn't happy with the time it took to load a market ladder using the netbook - it could take anything upto 30 seconds which is too long in this game. With the O2 dongle having come to the end of the contract period, I decided to ring up Vodafone to see if I could use my iPhone's data tethering feature with my current contract. Surprise surprise, that feature was an extra £10 per month but what it means it that I can use my iPhone as a 3G wireless hotspot and then run BetTornado on my iPad so I quickly exit a trade. It works really well and is nice and quick, the login takes about half a second and markets load in a second of two.

The BetTornado app on the iPad

Hotspot set up on the iPhone...what is a hotspot not?

BetTornado: another MASSIVE green!

I've not yet manually traded with the 'Tornado but I can see it being really handy to use in front of the telly when the footy is on.

More Apple free-advertising
After a sticky start, the Apple Mac Mini has been earning her keep in the last couple of months. I've been running Windows 7 on VMware Fusion, and The Toy has been running like a dream. Now that I'm botting more actively, I managed to convince myself that I need a more powerful Mac to trade on so I can run the bot on the low-power doesn't take a lot to persuade me to empty my purse at the Apple store! The new Minis (released last week) didn't float my boat so I decided to order an iMac instead

Well if you don't spend your money on anything else, you might aswell have some nice gear - right?

Thursday 30 June 2011

Taking it easy

Things have been pretty intense since the beginning of the year (when I officially went full time) and haven't really had more than about 2 consecutive days off all year.

So in the latter half of this month I decided to take some time off from the ladders and do some nice things like visit the seaside and go out for a nice Sunday lunch at my favourite country retreat, followed by a meander through the countryside

bloody countryside...

I've also endeavoured to get my bot up-and-running using the Market Feeder Pro software I was getting to know earlier in the year. There are a million things you can do with the triggers - think of a strategy and it can probably be achieved without programming. I've so far managed to implement about 5 in-running strategies now using the test mode (ie no real money used), and none of them have brought me the riches I was anticipating. Things happen very quickly in-running, and my bot seems to be behind the action, chucking in bets long after the opportunity has vanished. Of course, this has meant that lots of virtual money has been thrown down the virtual drain.

I'm wondering whether the software is not fast enough for my needs or is it just that my triggers are inefficiently written? It's obviously one of those things that I can only figure out for myself as sharing the strategies obviously isn't the smartest idea.

I'm willing to give Gruss a try, but it's lack of a test mode worries me. I don't want to throw real money down a real drain while testing whether my strategies work more efficiently in that software.

Incidentally, a few years ago, when I was dipping my toe in the Betfair markets, I came across a horse racing lay system and coded a bot to find the selections for me according to the rules of this system. It took me ages to get my head round the API and although the bot did its job, it was a bit flakey. Anyway, I implemented this same system in Market Feeder in about 10 minutes using a couple of triggers. I'd say MF Pro is ideal for pre-race strats and for watching and reporting on markets, but the jury is still out on its in-running capability.

The time off was nice but the profits have taken a bit of a hammering - first 18 intense days of the month...

versus the last 12 days...

1.8k for the month is still pretty respectable though and brings me a decent lifestyle. In retrospect, since the announcement of the Premium Charge changes this week, there isn't any hurry to reach 250k anymore!

Regarding the PC, obviously it has long-term "career" implications for me as it does many others. It's a bit shocking how suddenly it came into force and how mercilessly it has affected big-hitters like Peter Webb, who made a cool 1.7k on Saturday racing. Unless he finds a way to play the system, I shouldn't think he'll be too happy handing back a grand of his winnings in the future.

I'm a long way off the 250k threshold but as other traders have commented, the goalposts could move again without warning. Whilst 250k gives me some decent "headroom", who's to say that Betfair won't eventually decide to move the 250k limit down to 100k before too long. That will affect a lot more people, me included - I'm expecting to have reached 100k in the next 3-4 years. I never really expected to be trading for more than about 5 years anyway as I figured that if the PC didn't catch up with me, some new tax ruling would hammer another nail in the coffin. It seems the Betfair "golden era" is very much over now and, as someone else said, anyone thinking of making a decision to leave a job and try and make it on the exchange should probably think again.

Still, as someone who decided a while back that living in the moment is the best policy, I'm not going to worry about the next 2/3/4 years as anything could happen in that time.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Why don't you....

...just switch off your television set and go out and do something less boring instead?

Essential 80s viewing

In my case today, it was more like "close down The Toy and go and do something more useful instead".

£50 up early on, back to a tenner, £100 up a bit later, back to a tenner. Ho-hum. I'm going to have to start seriously monitoring how much money I'm forfeiting as I enter my profit into my spreadsheet each day; it's not something I account for at the moment and I think things have got worse on that front just lately.

Not much doing for me at Ascot this week. Day 1 on Tuesday was a non-starter and I was chasing a silly in-play loss from another meeting for most of the session. Days 2,3 & 4 were steady but nothing to get excited about. So just another fair-to-middling return for the week

I'm off to the sea-side tomorrow and will probably have Monday and Tuesday off too, to recuperate. I don't want to see another ladder now until Wednesday!

My golf trades were damp squibs in the end. I set up Market Feeder Pro (cool Betfair tool I blogged about a while ago) to email me market updates triggered by certain price movements. Well, KJ Choi drifted like a barge early on and activated my stop-loss and I was out faster than Duncan Bannatyne after a bad sales pitch!

"Musical bog roll holder? Sorry Mets, but AAAAYM OOOOOT!"

I haven't used the 'Feeder in anger yet, but this market watch facility alone is very useful when you haven't got time to be sitting at the computer. I'm intending to employ it during Wimbledon to notify me of certain match odds, and because I'm using GMail's push email, the notifications appear on my iPhone practically instantly. As my automated trading venture evolves, the Mac Mini will probably end up being on 24/7 eventually as it watches markets, gathers data and puts on bets; it has a low power consumption though so as far as my Southern Electric bill is concerned, I should be ok! This virtual utopia is still a long way off mind you.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Golf US Open 2011 predictions

I've made my choices, so get your money on and then sit back and watch the green come in ;)

Bit of a "finger in the air" job in choosing - there are lots of differing opinions on the interweb!

First and foremost, I want to get my stakes back so when (if) the prices come in enough I'll lay off my stake. I'll look to hang on to Mickelson until 54 holes when I can hopefully trade out for a nice bit of green.