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 canap├ęs* 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 :/