Wednesday 11 July 2012

Bye bye Blogger, hello Wordpress!

This will be my last post on this blog. I've moved over to a new site and will be blogging from there in future.

Blogger is a great platform but doesn't serve my needs anymore.

The new site is at


Wednesday 27 June 2012

All change

I've been having a bit of a move around in the trading room

I'm probably on my 4th configuration of my trading setup now! I quite like ripping it all out and starting again - it helps me to streamline my setup (and get to that hard-to-reach dust!).

I've moved away from running Geeks Toy on the iMac within virtual Windows, and am now running GT on my Mac Mini with Windows 7 64bit on a Bootcamp partition. The iMac was actually my music / media PC so this way I've achieved a pleasing separation between work and play.

My workspace is vitally important to me, especially as my OCD doesn't cope well with clutter!!

I tried to squeeze a third screen into the mix but it would've required some new hardware so I didn't bother. I did try a workaround, some software called Display Link which enables you to use an iPad as an extra monitor for Windows machines; it worked ok but the cursor was a bit laggy when moving around the iPad screen (because it's doing it over wifi I think).

Not a particularly good 5 days for me. I wasn't nearly as careful as I should've been on the Tuesday and was reeling from an early loss for the remainder of the session. The rest of the week wasn't a great deal better and I managed a few hundred across the festival but that was about it.

I'm a bit apathetic towards my trading at the minute and it spilled into Ascot unfortunately; developing my swing-trading has taken quite a lot out of me these last couple of months when it became obvious (back in February time) that my scalping technique wasn't going to stand up in seemingly more volatile markets. Anecdotal evidence suggests I'm not the only one who's had to adapt their trading styles in recent months.

Other reading
Some interesting posts recently over at 70k Betfair Tennis Trader - my heart raced as the author described his whole-bank punts on the tennis and football. It's all gone a bit quiet since the England-Italy match (he was expecting goals) but it did open my eyes to how quickly you can grow a small bank by backing the low odds in the right matches.

Another eye-opener was the interview with Matt from, over at the excellent Sports Trading Life. It's easy to forget that there are traders out there operating on the different planet to the rest of us - I grumble at a £100 losing day and this guy puts upto 40k on the line in some tennis matches! Good on him though - I find inspiration from this kind of sounds like he's developed the Holy Grail of spreadsheets!

On the move
Mets' Trading Diary is on the move soon - over to a swanky new Wordpress blog - and the blogspot one will shortly be retired. It's been a great ride so far - and the blogging will continue on the new site - but the blogspot sites only let you do so much and Wordpress offers a lot more flexibility in terms of membership offerings. Indeed, hours upon hours of research led me to the Digital Access Pass plugin, which turns any WP site into a fully fledged membership site. I've had a couple of weeks to play with it and I'm pretty impressed so far.

Saturday 26 May 2012

The elusive £500 day

Well, my first £500 day came in the end but not how I expected

I had a fairly mediocre session on the horses and there was even a pad-throwing incident as I started giving large chunks back towards the end of the session. I got blasted in the 17:45 Chester race and had to red up for -£50 on one runner...always a kick in the teeth when you've been grinding away all afternoon to build up a nice bit of green.

The Eurovision, on the other hand, went quite smoothly and accumulated a lot of green on Sweden which I let run once those grannies from Russia had been on and didn't go down as well as expected. The grannies did steam in from about 7 to 3 while the vote counting was going on though, so I don't know what was going on there - they didn't go below about 5.8 while they were on and drifted to about 7 during the performance.

Still looking for a £500 day on the horses but I don't feel I've got enough in my arsenal to reach that at the moment.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

What a difference a-ldi makes

Well, I'm still here grinding away...and what a grind it was today. Two low grade all weather meetings on a Wednesday afternoon should have had alarm bells ringing as far as pre-race trading is concerned but that didn't stop me getting stuck in. One day I'll learn from past mistakes.

The markets were so horrendously manipulated that only a fool would get involved...especially when there's a Barney Curley runner involved

To think I can crack these markets is futile - and I know this - but the challenge of getting one up on the people steering the prices is more than I can resist. To cut a long story short, I got smashed from pillar-to-post and ended up -£100 down by tea time. Approx -£70 of that was from pre-race trading, the other -£30 from in-running

Should've just stayed in bed this afternoon!

Since I started jotting down my pre-race and in-running totals for each race, it's been a real eye opener just how slim my pre-race edge is some days; quite often, I'm just glad to break-even and today was one of those days.

While it's tempting to carry on sitting at your desk hoping for a miraculous turnaround, it's likely your brain is already tired and your confidence shattered from the disappointment of one negative total after another. I had no choice but to pull myself away as the weekly grocery shop at Aldi beckoned. I don't know which is worse, sitting at my desk losing money or trudging round Aldi for an hour buying the same old crap I bought last week.

Anyway, the break away from desk seemed to do the trick and I managed to rake back the deficit and half the grocery bill in the remaining 8 races :-)


Even after all this time, I'm still perplexed by the way some days play out. I could've stepped away at 17:00 just -£35 down but the "lure" of one more trade is hard to resist and it ultimately cost me another -£65 over the next 3 races. As I've said in the past, I hate losing days and the bad feelings it brings - it's really exacerbated by my OCD too which insists that I don't leave any "loose ends" and a losing day is a loose end that I can't fix until really bugs me!!

In other news, this weekend brings the Eurovision Song Content 2012 and to be honest it's about the only other thing I do outside of horse racing that I'm confident I can profit on at the moment. I made a measly £30 in 2010 but managed to triple that last year, so let's hope it's another good one. It's such great fun to watch and the betting side of it is fascinating - pity it's not on more often.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Epidemic of addiction

Stumbled across this in the Mail Online today. It's the usual thing: we're all a nation of gambling addicts and everything is set to become 10x worse with the popularity of in-play betting blah blah.

I was more interested in the pictures. The featured trader's 4-screen setup would look rather nice in my office...

Friday 27 April 2012

Reining in the losses

Up until this point in my trading career, I've tended to take the "win-more-than-I-lose-and-I'll-be-happy" approach.

So if I ended a day with £200, after making £350 of positive trades and £150 of negative ones, I'd write the losses off using that old adage: you've got to speculate to accumulate.
    But last week I started to write down my pre-race and in-running trades and was horrified at the state of affairs! Some days, my pre-race game was being bolstered by my in-running game; other days, it could be the other way round.

    What I did notice was that these two disciplines rarely "fired" together: if I made a bit of money pre-race I'd often gamble it away in-running hoping to make more, and if I made a loss pre-race then the in-running trades were merely damage limitation.

    Writing down all my trades is starting to pay off now though. It's putting things into perspective and making me more mindful of my trades. As a result, I'm starting to choose my battles more carefully. Today was very nice and stress-free for me

    and I only made about 20 quid's worth of duff trades overall. With the weather knocking out a couple of cards and totally screwing up Punchestown's schedule, it was pleasing to make nearly a ton on so few markets. That's almost unheard of for me, as usually I need about 20-30 races to get into some sort of rhythm. This week, been just as happy to bide my time and strike when things felt right, rather than trading everything that moves and coming unstuck.

    The other nice thing about writing trades down is you can set yourself little win-streak challenges. I managed about a 10-race win streak yesterday and it really focussed my efforts on not giving away my profits. I know Sam over at the excellent Adapt and Survive blog (wish you'd post more dude!) wrote about this a while back (I think he was putting together 70-80 race win-streaks!!) and it really is a great way of improving the ol' strike rate.

    Tuesday 17 April 2012

    The "glamour" of track-side betting

    Matt Chapman from ATR with his take on track-side betting for those who didn't see it today

    Might have to turn the speakers up a bit as the volume on my telly was quite low.

    Sunday 8 April 2012

    Liquid trading

    It was a lovely session of trading yesterday afternoon and I quickly forgot about the nightmare that was last Wednesday

    Was meant to be going out at 4pm and didn't expect to do much in the 2 hours that I had, but as it turned out, we didn't need to leave until 5pm. I was already in blazing form by 4pm and that extra bit of time allowed me to bang out a few more good trades. If I'd have had time to finish all the cards, I feel sure I could've broken through that elusive £500 barrier.

    The odds compiling stuff I'm working on is coming along nicely, with another 5 hours of coding completed on Friday evening. Ultimately, the vision is to create a set of custom race cards not unlike the Racing Post's ones but with more of the data I want to see on there

    Adapting my program to spit out data as an html page (rather than to Excel) was fairly straightforward, but the real headache is styling the page to suit. I want the layout to be clear so I can quickly glance at it and digest it easily; my CSS skills are a bit rusty though and making divs act like table cells can be a bit tricky. At the end of the day, the hard work will be worth the effort as I'm already benefiting from having a greater insight into the runner, rider and trainer stats for each race.

    Wednesday 4 April 2012

    Crappy old day

    WARNING: This post contains lots of moaning and whining!! (but hopefully you'll get something out of it)

    A right crappy old day. Days like this make me wonder what the point of it all is

    What a joke!!

    I was chasing losses from the second race in and, although I'd started to make a dent in the loss by 5pm, things quickly slipped from my grasp again during the evening cards.

    I've said it many times before and I'll say it again: I FLIPPIN' HATE ENDING THE DAY DOWN!!

    It means that tomorrow is effectively a nothing day while I set about clawing it back. With no racing on Good Friday and an early finish on Saturday because of a trip, it probably going to be Sunday before I'm back to where I was at 2pm today.....GRRRRRRR!!! When it's going well this trading lark is great, but days like this really test your resolve if you're wired up anything like me.

    Those who are perhaps considering trading as a career should certainly consider whether you can tolerate these kinds of days. Of course, it may be that your consistency is far greater than mine and losses of this magnitude are unheard of.....WELL GOOD FOR YOU!!! ;-)

    I must have been desperate to trade the evening AW cards at this time of year. The old Wolves-Dundalk combo only equates to two things as far as I'm concerned: long wait times between races coupled with thin markets.

    I tend to switch off if the action isn't coming thick and fast, meaning I'm usually caught off guard when I do get involved. Being an in-and-out-fast sort of trader, I don't often have the patience to sit there looking out for the gambles going on while the clock ticks down from 10 minutes. There were a few gambles going on tonight too, with one Dundalk runner backed in from 12s to 4s in about 3 minutes flat! At the end of a long, frustrating session they're not as easy to spot as desperation has already kicked in and all I want are quick repairs to my battered PnL. In this world of quick fixes, quick wins and instant-this-and-that, I suppose I've become as impatient as everybody else. I want results and I want them NOW! Shame really.

    Outside of my day-to-day trading, I've been developing a spreadsheet so ultimately I can do my own odds compiling

    Setting prices on horses obviously involves some seriously clever statistical modelling, whereas at the moment I'm just bunging some numbers in a spreadsheet and highlighting some data I think is pertinent. You have to start somewhere with these things though, and a very good book I picked up for a few quid on Amazon called The Definitive Guide To Betting On Horses from the Racing Post Expert Series is providing my with some great ideas of what to look for

    Do you know the difference between a Classified Stakes race and a Median Auction Maiden?

    Ultimately, I want the C# program I've written (which for now just pulls data into the spreadsheet), along with the rather cool Conditional Formatting that you can do in Excel 2007, to refine all the data I've got at my disposal and spit out a web page that uploads itself to the internet each day so I've got a custom, at-a-glance overview of my picks for the day. There's still a lot of refinement to do!

    There are lots of stats programs you can buy off-the-shelf, but they're quite expensive to subscribe to each month and for the sake of learning a bit of scripting, I think it's far more rewarding doing a custom job so you end up with what you want.

    Friday 16 March 2012

    Cheltenham 2012: Day 4

    Bit better today but not the week I'd hoped for

    I managed just over a ton in the main race which was on a par with last year's performance. With Kauto pulling up early on in the race, it really shook up the in-running market as these things usually do; I suppose the writing was on the wall for Kauto ever since his fall in training the other week. I wonder how many insiders laid him for all they were worth?! Nice to see McCoy getting the winner after a baron first three days - what an incredible sportsman!

    I think I might double my bank for next year, which will be 8k, as my 4k bank didn't enable me to be as active as I wanted to be. So in the end, I managed about £450 over the 4 days :-(

    I'm glad this year's festival is over as I put a lot of pressure on myself in the last few days. Still, it gives me something to look back on next year!

    Thursday 15 March 2012

    Cheltenham 2012: Day 3

    My spirit took a beating today...

    I got off to a great start in the first at Cheltenham and was £50+ up but a last minute trade saw me scrambling to red out in-running. That didn't set me up with the momentum I needed to go on and have a good day, and a few other setbacks made sure I wasn't going home with much.

    But my silliest blunder was to assume that Cheltenham's 17:15 charity race was ever going to go in-running. Another last minute trade saw my £150 stake get matched just before the market suspended and all I could do was hope that the selection would come good in the race. It didn't. Another lesson learned (I hope!)

    To say I'm a bit pissed off at the moment would be an understatement. I had a really tough Feb and profits were down on last year, and this month is looking a bit ropey too. Don't get me wrong, it's not so bad that I would ever need to contemplate getting a proper job, but I'm considering going back to basics.

    This means keeping a record of each day - as I did in the beginning - noting the profit made, the rolling profit for the month and a short summation of my behaviour that day. This really helped me back in the day and is probably just what I need to steady the ship once again. I suppose that, in my efforts to push for greater gains, I'm actually hampering my own performance by heaping lots of pressure on myself. I don't need a fortune to live off, and yet I'm trying to play with the "big boys" and getting pummelled as a result.

    Pure greed scuppered me in the first race: once upon a time, I'd have been pleased with earning £50 from a race but now I'm not satisfied until that £50 becomes £60 or £70. For the sake of my blood pressure, I really need to get back to that situation where I'm just being happy with whatever profit comes my way.

    A year ago, I never thought I'd be writing a post like this but it just shows that, once complacency creeps in, things can quickly unravel.

    I'm putting my video production on hold at the moment until I can be sure that what I'm demonstrating can still yield a profit on the right day. I've got 5 videos in the can as it stands, but since I filmed them in late Jan/early Feb, it appears to me that the pre-race markets are too volatile for me to even get involved with any confidence; I don't remember them being this bad last year??

    Wednesday 14 March 2012

    Cheltenham 2012: Day 2

    Nothing special about today's performance in the grand scheme of things...

    I've been using a £4k bank this time round but could do with £8k really to play at the higher prices. Not sure I'll be last year's total at this rate, and that £500 day is still eluding me, but we'll see what the next couple of days brings.

    Even though I'm doing well, I know I've still got lots of improvements to make before I ever had the nerve to make trades like this guy!

    A quick sniff around YouTube and I found this

    I like how this guy uses custom columns in Gruss to do his in-running trading. It's good to get a different perspective on things sometimes.

    Lost a fair bit backing in-running just before the horses took a dive. I often find myself wondering who these people are that hoover up the all back bets when horses fall. I assume it's a couple of people in partnership - one being the "spotter" and the other one the "hooverer"! If obviously requires some deft race reading skills.

    That's the other thing that amazes me is how these commentators call a race so quickly and accurately - are you saying to me that they remember the silks of every runner to enable them to call the race with this amazing stream of consciousness? With the US racing on ATR, they show a position indicator at the bottom of the screen, and me and a mate were discussing whether each horse's saddle is chipped so that their coordinates can be tracked automatically; if this technology was linked to some trading software you'd have a pretty powerful bot right there!

    Tuesday 13 March 2012

    Cheltenham 2012: Day 1

    Well, a right crappy old day for me as far as making my millions at Cheltenham goes...

    I put a lot of pressure on myself to get a decent sum and it contributed to some silly errors, like trading upto £50 in one Cheltenham race only to blow £70 in-running :-(

    Also, I'm finding it hard to deal with the pre-race markets at the moment - they seem to be all over the bloody place and I'm wondering if there has been some monumental shift in the way they behave? The word on the street is that I'm not the only one that has noticed a change. Be interesting to see what happens during the flat season.

    If things don't improve with my pre-race game, I may very well be shifting over to Betdaq for a while to take my chances there. The Toy works really well on that platform and everything looks the same, which is nice. I'll have to stick with Betfair for the in-running stuff though as the liquidity on the 'daq was terrible the last time I looked.

    Hope you're all suffering as badly as me having a great week ;-)

    Tuesday 28 February 2012

    Lift off

    After my last post, I managed to turn things around a bit in the last 7 days

    It's a good job really, as my confidence in (and enthusiasm for) trading took a bit of a hammering during the first three weeks of this month.

    It was interesting doing the Leicester card today having just visited the track the week before last. Having an appreciation of a track's layout helps me to view the race in my mind's eye, which assists my in-running judgement calls. A tight, undulating track like Leicester, with its uphill finish, can certainly shake up the in-running markets more than a 1-miler on Newmarket's "July course" for instance; I find those a waste of time to trade in-running, especially if Tommo is calling them :(

    "let's leave that one to the judge...!"

    With Cheltenham just 2 weeks away, I want to try and get together a 4.5k trading bank. Last year I used a 3.5k bank and managed to get into a good stride to earn a decent sum. I don't really like chasing targets as it puts undue pressure on me but I've got a few more weapons in my arsenal since last year - especially in-play - so let's see.

    Tuesday 21 February 2012

    A thoroughly crap Feb

    I think the title says it all!!

    I can't get any "lift-off" this month at all, and 1st-21st February takings are pretty poor

    Of course, the snow caused a lot of problems at the start of the month but I simply haven't been able to get into any kind of rhythm when there's been racing on.

    I'm finding the pre-race trading almost impossible at the moment - there seem to be too many "players" out there moving the prices around too quickly for an out-and-out scalper like me. It's not just odd days now either, but pretty much every day. All this low grade / small field dross doesn't help matters obviously, and I expect a lot of other traders are feeling the pinch too without much punter money around.

    I was up by a ton today just from the in-running stuff but as soon as I dipped my toe in the pre-race waters I was "done" for £70!!
    "Profit gone!"

    I'll just have to try and abstain from the pre-race stuff at the moment until I can get a handle on it again.

    I ventured over to Leicester racetrack last Thursday for a little "jolly"...and jolly cold it was too!

    the uphill finish

    Despite doing a lot of prior analysis and turning up "armed" with my selections for all six races, I only ended up putting my money down on the feature race of the day in which McCoy was running. I find it difficult to get out of trader mode when it comes to gambling - I suppose I'm just more appreciative of money now and can't bear to throw it away.

    I managed to land the winner...well one of them! Mr McCoy got up besides my selection in the final furlong  to force a deadheat grrrrr! A fiver stake on a 4-1 selection at half the odds didn't exactly have me laughing all the way to the bank ;-)

    It was nice to get out from behind the screen though, even if Leicester is a complete nightmare to drive through! I did my degree there many years ago, and I have a certain fondness for the place.

    I want to make a habit of getting to the tracks a bit more, and have decided to make it a life's ambition to visit every UK track before I peg it. I was going to include the Irish ones too, but I've just been on Wiki and there are more than I thought!!

    Blog stats
    Following on from this post, I'm pleased that the blog remains the go-to place for "cow" searches on Google

    No 7 made me chuckle :-D

    Tuesday 31 January 2012

    Taken aback

    I wasn't even going to trade today but was pleased I did as just about everything I did went right

    The pre-race trading has been a bit hit-and-miss lately but I couldn't put a mouse-click wrong today. Sometimes, just having the rub of the green and being able to scratch a trade can do wonderful things to the PnL sheet; when the markets are swingy and erratic, I usually end up redding-up more often that not and then find myself trying to claw back my losses in-running, which can be pretty exhausting.

    The in-running stuff was kind too and one of the strats I've been working on came to fruition in the 15:05 at Wolves. And while on most Winter days, I'm happy to 'knock off' around 16:00 to go to the gym, I just knew I had to keep going until the end today otherwise I'd be out of pocket....I was right - I would have forfeited a month-and-a-half's gym membership!

    Training videos
    Last week, I spent ages in the editing room, polishing up some footage of my trading which I recorded recently.

    I've basically got 4 videos done now: three are 'real-time' i.e. I'm explaining my actions as I'm doing them; the fourth one is annotation-only because I really wanted to concentrate and make the best trades I could. I plan to do about 10-15 vids altogether. I won't talk over all of them, as it's a bit like having a hands-free phone call whilst driving - your mind isn't fully focussed on the road. I was very kindly asked to do some live webinars recently, but had to decline for this very reason, I'd probably end up losing you money!!

    Anyway, I'm hopeful that there will be a 'package' available by the end of March, containing a mixture of talking+annotated and annotated-only videos. They'll be aimed at the beginner trader looking to make the step upto an intermediate level. I'm using my usual stakes, the plan being that beginners can scale-down their stakes and the strats will still work...obviously it doesn't always work the other way round so small stakes trading is not realistic in my opinion.

    Today's effort would have been perfect video fodder, but I wasn't recording as there was someone in the house and I feel a bit self-conscious talking away to myself in my office when there are people around!

    Saturday 14 January 2012

    Purple debut

    With Betfair down again yesterday afternoon, the positive side was that I could take a look at the Betdaq version of the Geeks Toy. I'm really impressed actually, everything looked exactly the same as the Betfair version (more-or-less), even the profiles that I've set up in the Betfair version were shared with this version - quality!

    As for the Betdaq pre-race markets, well it felt a bit like trading the dogs on Betfair: loads of gaps in the prices and no obvious clues as to which way they were heading. I managed a few quid, enough to take the wife out for tea maybe!

    The in-running markets are about as liquid as a typical Meydan race on Betfair - doesn't suit me one bit.

    It's nice to know that - if Betfair did suddenly implode - I could probably still scrape some sort of existence on the 'daq.

    ATR Tracker
    I often find that I need to jot down a note or two about a horse if it does something interesting in-running that may serve as an angle the next time it runs.

    At The Races have launched quite a useful tool on their website which lets you make some quick notes on upto 50 horses that might catch your eye

    They then send you a reminder on the day that the horse is running (if declared).

    Sunday 1 January 2012

    New year, old habits

    There seemed to be some opportunities today that were too good to be true - it was like "taking candy from a baby". I was feeling quite invincible at one point and was getting excited about a potential first £500 day before it fell apart

    " you go, Mr Drain, have a share of my profits - it's not like I've been busting a gut to make it for the last 3 hours!!"

    150 notes wasted. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell happened at at 14:55 that made me go off the rails for 20 minutes!! At one point, I swear I had an out-of-body experience and someone else was operating my keyboard and mouse!!

    Just glad I managed to get back on an even keel again. A complete waste of an hour though.

    Lazy Trader from Greed All Over made an interesting observation about his own trading via his comment on my last post

    At this rate, neither will I.