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.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Feeling better

I had quite a few responses to my last post about my post on feeling stressed. Thanks for your concerns, it's comforting to know that there are people in the same boat as me who can empathise with such matters.

In summary, the main points that people made were:

- trying too hard can be counterproductive
- an edge wins over in the end
- get a health check

This week I've attempted to be kinder to myself and have taken it really easy on the trading front. I had Tuesday off because there were too few cards for me to be sitting there like a lemon all afternoon / evening. Weds-Fri I only started about 4pm until early evening. Today was a full day but then Saturdays usually are.

The takings have been a bit patchy but I've managed a bit more beer money without too much stress

Today was interesting

despite a -£100 loss in-running which knocked me into the negative zone for the day, I found it quite easy to build the profits back up again with the mentality that good always wins over I mean that my edge wins over in the end!

Taking the odd big loss, although wasteful, is part-and-parcel of the in-running game. No matter how much you try and formalise your selections to either back or lay, something can and will go wrong from time-to-time and then losses have to be curtailed at the earliest opportunity. The in-running markets can be savage, but I still prefer them to the pre-race markets which I seem to be finding harder and harder to read these days. It used to be that in-running trades would supplement my pre-race profits but I think the tables have turned now and I am more consistent in-running.

Sunday 5 June 2011

What lies on the sea bed and shakes?

A nervous wreck of course!

Where did everyone go?

Since last Sunday's in-running misery, I've fought back hard this week (as in Premium Charge week, Mon-Sun) to regain my losses and then some. By Thursday, I was on for a 1k+ week but Friday was appalling and Saturday was only saved in the last hour.

But I had to have an enforced break today because my nerves were well and truly jangled. This "trying to better last week / month" approach I've been taking has been killing my normal sleep patterns, to the point where I'm making trades in my sleep some nights and waking up tense and tired the next morning.

I saw an optician this week and she said something about getting my blood pressure checked as she'd noticed something when she shined that blinkin' million lumen light in my eyes!

I wouldn't say I've stressed out per se, but this jaw-clenching tension that I get some days (usually the days where I've sat there for 5 hours and made bugger all) is bound to have a physiological effect if I endure it for long enough, so I need to be more aware of when it's happening and try some relaxation techniques...

Stick needles in me? No flippin' way!!