Monday, 28 December 2009

The past few months

So, where have I been for the past few months?

As I mentioned yesterday, I have had some personal issues to deal with and it's fair to say that these impacted upon my trading. I have mentioned previously that the concept of trading is one that I enjoy as much as the financial rewards it brings.

However, not only did I start to not enjoy my trading, but I started trading very poorly. Put simply, I wasn't preparing as I should and I wasn't thinking as I should. Maybe the best example of this is in the Castleford v Wigan playoff match and the Four Nations final where in both matches, I ended up with over £10,000 on the draw.

You might wonder what the problem with that is. However, it illustrated my muddled thinking. I was gambling on the draw rather than trading the match. I was also starting to feel pressure when trading. As opposed to welcoming any win, I became unduly concerned at losing trades. I have always been a largely risk averse person but I became a person who would take undue risks and then severely beat himself up when they didn’t come off.

But I can’t say it was all bad as I managed to earn over £1,000 on The X Factor although this was also increasingly frustrating as I lost effectively £500 in the last two weeks through bad trades and, most conceringly, just getting my maths wrong when trying to hedge between two markets. (Namely laying Olly for elimination and the win.)

I also never really got into NFL trading this year due to the games being on at the same time as The X Factor elimination show.

The biggest problem however was with regards to football trading where I basically adopted an investment plan on the Correct Score market. Now, I had a large enough bank to successfully pursue this strategy. However, I didn’t stick with this. The upshot of it being that when my selected scoreline looked like coming in, I would start to lay off. However, this belied the investment plan and basically things went horrendously wrong and the losses that I started to experience really started to affect my enjoyment.

This all came to a head on Boxing Day when whilst pursuing the strategy, I clicked the wrong button and ended up costing myself over £200. However, whereas previously I would internally beat myself up over this, I just laughed and resolved to kill the strategy.

It’s true that this strategy had indeed cost a lot of money but that was all down to my implementation and not the strategy itself. How much did it cost? A lot is the short answer but the long answer is that I have still achieved a ridiculous profit for 2009 from trading, will help me out with regards to the Premium Charge and has also possibly altered my approach to risk in trading which should have a huge impact upon my trading in 2010.

I also need to point out what whilst the financial rewards have been extremely generous and welcome, I am not reliant upon the earnings that I derive from trading. All they do is provide extras to allow me to shop non stop at Ted Baker, to provide beer money for watching England Test Cricket and to allow me to buy luxuries (The latest being a Tag Heuer watch). I already have a well paid job and am young enough to not have any major financial commitments.

Ironically, since then I have actually started to enjoy my trading a lot more and have even managed to earn over £250 on the four Premiership TV games just through trading the Correct Score market. At times, you need to place things in context, and those earnings are the equivalent of one week’s work for some of my friends which I have just been able to produce through watching football which is just incredible and hugely fortuitous.

So, that’s a brief run down of my trading exploits since my last blog update and now I feel the need to briefly comment on some developments in the trading world.

I started trading in 2008 but stared taking things seriously in 2009 when I joined the Racing Traders forum and became an obsessive user of Bet Trader Pro.

Obviously, Bet Trader Pro no longer exists which presents me with a very large problem which I will address below.

However, the first point I want to address is the demise of the RT forums. Trading can be a lonely hobby and one in which newbie need a lot of help and advice to succeed. Sadly, whilst the RL forum on Betfair is fantastic, the same can’t be said for most of the forums on there so the RT forums were really great as people helped each other and also provided a social community.

Sadly, they went the way of Bet Trader Pro as more and more aggressive squabbling, ridiculously antagonistic posts and people looking to help only themselves appeared. The community and a very valuable learning resource disappeared.

Thankfully, there now appears to be two replacements. Firstly, Tradeshark has set up an independent forum with the aim of helping others and setting up a community. It’s fair to say that it probably hasn’t taken off as envisaged and hasn’t attracted as many posters as you may hope, but the intentions are the best and there’s no doubt there are some very good and helpful people over there, especially with regards to tennis trading.

More generally, The Geek of RT fame has set up his own application and forum and that place has become a safe haven for the more intelligent, helpful and co-operative RT users. The forum has seemed to really take off and what was initially a place for people to validly criticise the events at RT seems to have developed into what The Geek’s initial aim at RT was. Namely, a community of traders who seek to help the less experienced out.

Once again, this is something that I hugely benefited from. I would not have developed my trading the way I did but for the RT forums and I am extremely hopeful that The Geek’s forum will carry on the initial work that was carried out by RT but it can only do so if people join and contribute so if anyone is reading this who is not a member of The Geek or Tradeshark’s forums, I would strongly advocate joining.

Without wanting to comment on the politics of the Racing Traders demise, the way that Bet Trader Pro has been discontinued has left me with a massive problem with my trading as I was a massive user of the system and it really suited my trading style. Put simply, I use the grid interface and need a program which allows for multiple back / lay windows open at once. (Especially in Rugby League where I assign a tick value to most events and look to trade the draw incessantly - I probably make / cancel 10 trades a minutes and the same is true of my F1 trading.)

The only program I have so far found with this capability is Bet Pod Pro which is a tremendous application and one that is being continuously developed. However, I have to say that it does have its limitations in terms of speed, cancelling bets and other issues which are solely caused through my style of trading. So, if anyone is aware of any programs which allow for multiple back/lay windows open at once please let me know!

So that is a brief run down of the past 3 months and 2010 looks like being a year very different to 2009. I’ll look to post my hopes for the blog and my trading in 2010 before the end of the year with a view to closing down and drawing a complete line under what has been a very eventful 2009.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

I have returned

Hello world.

I'm not sure if anyone still visits this place but, in the event that anyone does, I have returned!

Where have I been? Well, I've still been trading but I've just had a few issues to deal with which have prevented me from finding the inclination and time to blog. Whilst these aren't fully resolved yet, I'm hoping they will be shortly and am sure I'll be able to keep the blog up to date from now on.

I'll document my trading activities for the past few months before the end of the year and then look to start blogging prospectively in the new year. The Rugby League season amazingly starts in just over a month's time so there's very little time to waste!

Anyway that's enough for now, except to say that I hope everyone reading this had a great Christmas and that I'll be back soon.


Sunday, 6 September 2009

Review of the weekend to date.

I was looking over some of my initial blog posts earlier and this reinforced the progress I have made. I probably would not have believed that eight months later I would be looking to pay the premium charge for the first time but that looks a 1.01 shot given my weekly results.

The two SKY Rugby League games this week were very different yet very similar in so far as a home favourite yo-yoed to begin with before coming home in the second half. However, anyone looking to trade the draw would have been stunned by the difference in the draw prices.

In the Saints v Leeds game, the draw struggled to rise above 30 in play in the first half which was a surprise. Now, I have always advocated backing the draw early on, and I do get uncomfortable when I don’t have a very large green on the draw as aside from the trading opportunities, it is also good insurance for a poor trade.

Recently however, I have become more comfortable with taking on red on the draw and this game was the perfect illustration of when to lay the draw. For whatever reason, the draw could be laid at 14 at Half Time. Now, the market seems to panic when the scores are level at Half Time as latecomers to the draw look to build up some green on the draw. However, a long term view is that the draw will not reduce in a linear fashion in the second half; and even if it does do given that the draw very rarely enters single figure territory until 60 minutes have gone, it is a fairly low risk trade and whilst the draw never exploded until very late on, it did rise enough to allow me to trade most out in the high teens and low twenties whilst also backing some back at around the laying price.

As for the game itself, it was a heated affair which resulted in one of the most ridiculous sin binnings of all time. Put simply, Keith Senior should have been sent off for his punch with two minutes to go, only for referee Phil Bentham to sin bin him. The colour of the card was irrelevant; Senior would be off for the rest of the match but he should have walked given the touch judges’ report on his punch whilst Leeds’ other tactics, including a disgraceful chicken wing tackle on James Graham, should also see one or two players take an enforced rest next week when they wrap up the Minor Premiership.

The rest of my trading was unspectacular; the only point of real note being my decision to oppose Saints when Leon Pryce was sin binned, only for that to not work out real well although I did at least manage to cut my losses before Saints’ first try although I was quite frustrated by the lack of liquidity on the game but Friday games won’t be the same without me whinging about liquidity!

Saturday’s game was quite the opposite with much more liquidity available which was quite bizarre given that the game conflicted with a cricket match, the US Open and England’s friendly! Still, that may have been helped by someone, or some people, strongly opposing the draw as the draw drifted from 30 to 40 in almost one movement before the match, and the draw was also heavily laid throughout the game early on which did allow me to build up several thousand on the draw which, at 16 – 12 to Hull KR, I felt very comfortable about whilst I even thought that Hull KR’s try on the hooter could be a very good thing, as it would ensure that I did not trade out too much at too high odds! However, a second stray Warrington pass, ensured that Hull KR went three scores up and that my draw bet was effectively over, although the increased liquidity and my draw trades did help me to my best result of the week at around £130.

I also got involved in the other games, with my strongest game being Wakefield v Catalans and whilst a draw lay and a back of Catalans being taken just before kick off did make me slightly nervous and disappointed (I really need to exit non TV games 15 minutes before kick off) I did end up earning a not inconsiderable £30.

A draw lay was also taken in the Wigan v Hull game which again made me slightly uneasy, especially given Hull’s first half performance, and I ended up with a very small £2 loss on the market.

Huddersfield v Celtic also saw Huddersfield start at 1.06 which, even for a layer like myself, was ridiculously high and I only wish I had been strong enough to take some of this and / or take more of the absurd 1.07 in play when Huddersfield were 6 – 0 up. As it was, I ended up winning around £2 from the main market, whilst Celtic’s late comeback allowed me to take around £5 from the handicap market.

Meanwhile, this weekend has fastened up two further strategies which I will look to commence next year. The fact that they could be heavily affected by one result means that I won’t look to implement them next week but I will outline them now.

The first is to lay the draw in non in play games. My draw backing in SKY games comes from the trading opportunities they offer; very few games will end up in a draw. Still, being able to lay the draw in the low 20s would seem to offer value although obviously I will need to strengthen my nerves to follow through on the strategy!

The second relates to handicaps and my reluctance to enter handicap markets because whilst a team will fight tooth and nail to hang on to a victory, they probably won’t always display the same commitment to win by 16 as opposed to 12. So, and whilst I acknowledge that liquidity may make this a non starter, I will look to consider laying handicap favourites in play at the end of games. As I mentioned, very little money gets matched on handicaps in play, although I may look to put out some prices towards the end of matches although this is something I will look to investigate more in the close season.

And the close season is rapidly approaching with just one more round of Super League and just a further 16 televised games remaining. Never fail however, because the NFL is starting up. I had limited success trading this last year and will need to look to reintroduce and refine my strategies for the upcoming year. I will look to outline my thoughts on the season and trades next week although one thing I have noticed is the amount of markets available before the season commences with the Superbowl market, Division markets, Conference markets and Team Win markets all looking to hold some value.

Still, I am unsure whether to get involved in these markets or whether this is too much like straight gambling. (Would this also interfere with my trading of individual matches?) Any thoughts from anyone would be greatly appreciated!

Still, that’s another matter for another day with slightly more pressing issues for today! The first is the premium charge with a £50 - £60 bill looking likely. I was tempted to look to possibly trade between Betfair and someone else to avoid the charge (even if there was little profit, at least it would avoid the premium charge!) but with Betdaq having no introductory offers and most Bookmakers limiting accounts these days, it probably is something that needs to be saved for another day.

Secondly, there are a further two SL matches today and whilst Quins v Cas looks to be priced fairly appropriately (although the draw is too short), I do feel that Bradford v Salford may offer some value and will look to possibly carry some liability in play on Bradford. 1.2 is too short and whilst Bradford stand on the verge of making the top 8 which would be a terrific achievement, I just think the current price is too short given that Bradford have struggled with consistency all season and that Salford have managed to beat both the top two teams this year. Still, that’s just my thought; anything can happen but we will know the outcome this afternoon!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

You play to win the game.

This week’s National League 1 game was by far the most infuriating game I can remember this season. It is perfectly acceptable that a couple of refereeing decisions might go one way, the ball might bounce another way, that’s part of the unique randomness that makes Rugby League so great. However, when a team plays with a certain disregard and apathy to whether they win or not; well there is nothing wrong with that as they are perfectly entitled to do so but it sure is frustrating.

Barrow travelled to Sheffield in tonight’s SKY game knowing that they only needed to gain a “Bonus point” to secure the league. Meanwhile, Sheffield were faced with the prospect of finishing anywhere between 2nd and 6th so were desperate for a win.

Trailing by twelve in the second half, Barrow received a penalty in Sheffield’s half where they made the decision to go for goal. At this stage of the game, the rationale behind the decision was clear. Barrow had little concern as to whether they won or lost; the key aspect was whether they got the bonus point or no points. (A bonus point is awarded to any team losing by 12 or less.) It was a slightly curious decision, because 2 points by itself would not have any real advantage unless Sheffield then dropped a goal.

It did make sense that when Barrow got another penalty, they would go for a further 2 points – keeping the bonus point should Sheffield get an unconverted try.

Barrow then dropped a goal to lower the margin to 7. Again, a slightly curious decision because again by itself, it would have a limited impact although it would make a huge difference when Barrow then dropped another goal, meaning that even another Sheffield try would ensure that Barrow kept their bonus point.

Only Sheffield didn’t follow the script, or followed it too well, as Barrow ended up getting another try to somehow draw level, before a late Sheffield drop goal and try ensured that Sheffield won by 7 in a result that kept both teams happy.

Now, I have no issue with either team. They both had an objective to meet and even though I disagree with Barrow’s method (their safety first approach actually created further risk in my opinion) you can’t blame them. They had nothing to gain by winning as opposed to obtaining the bonus result and in no way was the game “fixed”.

My immediate frustrations were more with my trading, which I shall explain shortly, but before I do, I hope that the fundamental flaw with the bonus point system has been promoted. It is a system which rewards one side whilst not punishing the other. (Obviously there is the issue of points difference but in a game tight enough to invoke the bonus point, a 6 point swing in points difference is negligible.)

And Sheffield themselves have been perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the bonus point system, given that they currently sit 2nd despite winning less games than the team in 6th! The Eagles have achieved the bonus point in each of their losses and maybe it does reward consistency (mediocrity I would suggest).

However, if the RFL are to continue with such a system, and I don’t think they should; the argument that it keeps losing teams “interested” is flawed because any team that is close enough to the bonus point will still have a chance to win (until the very end) whereas a real thrashing will not be brought back to the bonus point! then I think at the very least a system needs to be incorporated where a team is punished for allowing a bonus point. This could be very easily achieved by having a Points system of 4 for a win, 2 for a draw and 0 for a loss, but 3 and 1 if the game qualifies for a bonus point.

Anyway, enough of my thoughts on RL in general; there will be an off-season for them, and onto my trading! My style of trading is very much to trade the market to apportion the green as I see fit. It is something that I have done very well this season; except for tonight where whenever I backed one team, the advantage would shift to the other!

It got to the stage where I just found it funny. I seemed to be able to control the course of the game and somehow at Half Time, I was only effectively £30 down. In part this was due to my draw trading; I had over £2,000 on the draw; a result of the poor liquidity on the draw in National League games! I even got the price swing at Half Time wrong, well I actually got it right, but I had bailed just before the market suddenly swung 3 or 4 ticks!

Anyway, my second half trading was better to begin with, catching onto Sheffield’s score and trading the draw well before Barrow decided to just go for the bonus point. At this time, I had around £2,000 on the draw, a couple of hundred on Barrow and a red of around £150 on Sheffield.

However, when I saw Barrow’s antics, I basically gave up trading the game. I looked to just get out at any price only for Barrow to comeback and see my 1.1 backs of Sheffield and my Draw lays of 30+ go to 2.5 and 6! I’ll let you count up how much that cost me, but it wasn’t over yet as in my haste to try to get on Sheffield in a change of possession, I actually missed the price I wanted and got the next. Only for the liquidity to be so bad that instead of getting 2, I got 1.2!

Looking back, I suppose it was near enough a miracle to win just under £100, but it could have been so much more… And it should have been. I just got so agitated by Barrow’s tactics that I failed to appreciate the context of the match and yet again, I had an abysmal trading performance only to be helped out at the end for a reasonable profit.

Still, I missed out on a chance to earn a larger amount, which I need to start doing on account of my recent qualification for the Premium Charge. Forgive me if I fail to celebrate too loudly. At least Betfair did notify me that they would reimburse the charge for the first week (Gee that was nice but why not also reimburse the remaining allowance for that week as well?) A whole £27.02, I can’t imagine all the delights I can buy with that, but at least Betfair did have the grace to point out that the charge would only apply if I continued to be “successful” (Not true – if I win one week and then lose the next; you don’t refund it!) and they even had the modesty to sign off with Betfair – Betting as it should be. (Indeed, if you like losing approximately 20% of your winnings through a calculation that no-one understands and cannot replicate!)

A quick preview of the weekend’s action, and I do mean quick because I am in need of sleep!

Saints v Leeds – The value will come in play as usual. It depends on which Saints side turns up and whether the rumoured disagreements with Coach Potter are actually true. One to watch.

Wigan v Hull FC – It’s hard to see Hull winning a second successive game but you guys know my feelings on 1.1 or 1.2 shots! Especially when the other team are so reliant upon a rookie halfback who can very easily have an off day. (See Myler, Richard.)

Moving onto Saturday

Hull KR v Warrington – Again, wait and see. The value will come in play and whilst it is a must win game for Warrington, will their Cup celebrations have adversely affected their preparations? Tony Smith is a stickler for detail, but it is incredibly hard to focus fully after such an emotional high. Personally, if Warrington win here and go onto make the playoffs, it would be such an achievement that I would make them a good shot to get to Old Trafford.

Celtic v Huddersfield – Obviously Celtic are putting out youngsters who aren’t ready for Super League, but remember, the same was said about Huddersfield against Saints. Not one to invest wisely in, but if you have £2 which the premium charge would otherwise take, there are worse ways to lose it.

Catalans v Wakefield – Classic case of overrated home bias. Catalans should be favourites and are most likely to win, but might the pressure get to them? Whilst Catalans do have a genuine home advantage, do not forget that Wakefield have had 2 weeks to prepare, and anything over 3 is worth strong consideration.

Finally, on Sunday there are two games.

Bradford v Salford – A mixture of Catalans and Wigan. Bradford are again the clear favourites, but it must be remembered that Salford have defeated both the top two this year (so have Bradford as well). Bradford have put together an excellent run of late but might the week off have stalled their progress? They need to win to keep their incredibly faint playoff hopes alive (although they could be crushed before they play). Again, anything in the 1.1 – 1.2s is worth a back of the away side. It’s worked up until now.

Harlequins v Castleford – The tightest game of the round and probably the most important. Whoever loses will be all but out of playoff contention, although Castleford’s last match against Celtic could see them scrape through even with a loss here. A very tough game to call as my two main strategies conflict. (Recent poor form v Home bias) For that reason, I’d be tempted to go with the outsider which is currently Castleford, but this is obviously not a very strong call!

Although, as with all of them, I have qualified and disqualified them all so many times in my head that whatever happens, I won’t be surprised! If only I stuck to my original opinions, I would have had a much better season (Probably!) And remember, as usual, I’ll send you a 100% refund cheque for the cost of my tips if they go wrong.

14 Super League games remaining, and 18 Televised games remaining so it is time to make the most of everyone of them before I attempt to re-find my social life on weekends!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

My first four figure day

Whenever you start a new project, you always envision the heights it may reach and the possible end results. And I am sure that when all of us started trading, we had impossibly high expectations. Then there comes the crash where you realise that things are not going to be as easy as you thought before, for those who demonstrate the necessary persistence, things do start to take off.

Whilst my initial expectations may have been that I would achieve several four figure days (and I am aware that plenty of people achieve this regularly) it is fair to say that I am still picking up my jaw from the floor after my first ever four figure day yesterday.

Now, this £1,000 day needs to be qualified heavily. Two of my wins came from bets which I had possibly hedged previously to give a return on an associated market whilst the other came from a long standing strategy and the winnings from today will undoubtedly enter me into the Premium Charge which will further reduce the £1,000 day. Still, I could look at my Profit and Loss for 29 August 2009 for a long time yet and it is still worthy of celebration.

The first event was Qualifying for the Belgium F1 Grand Prix which I technically start working on from Friday mornings, throwing out possible entry points should prices move substantially in the Free Practice sessions which bear little resemblance to the Qualifying results, usually.

Now, one of my lays was Giancarlo Fisichella. In fact, I laid £11 at 400. However, that was only possible because of an earlier highly speculative back of £3 at 900. I also backed Fisichella for 66p at 1,000 before Qualifying as well which I will come back to later. I made several other trades, on other drivers as well as Fisichella, which were largely motivated by the fact that I traditionally like to lay front runners in the In Play section but often find myself with a wasted large green on the traditional backmarkers so I like to try to get one or two lays in before the professional high layers block out 1,000 on these drivers.

Anyway, whilst I enjoy watching Formula 1, I have no great understanding of Formula 1 in terms of predictions. However, this seems an atypical season where the grid can often go in reverse even without rain. Now, this has been useful in trading usual mid-grid runners such as the Toyotas or Fernando Alonso or Nico Rosberg who are capable of experiencing massive price drops (As did Adrian Sutil last week) after a light Saturday Free Practice before fading in Qualifying 2 or settling for a high fuel load in Qualifying 3. Such a strategy has assisted me to regularly earning around £100 in the Qualifying session, including £30 last Saturday despite only having my mobile internet connection whilst having lunch in London at Starbucks!

However, believe me when I say that in trading the Force India and BMWs, I had no expectation of them mounting a challenge in Qualifying 3 and I was more than happy to lay the (what turned out to be) smart money; at the time expecting the trades to provide nothing more than a couple of pennies. I also did the same on the Race market! Uh-oh!

Right from the start of Qualifying, there was significant interest in nearly every car as the BMWs and Force Indias dropped to the 20s which seemed too low and opened itself up to some neat gap trading, especially as the overall book percentage was so high, although given my pre-Qualifying position, the amount next to these cars did not look very impressive and when they sailed into Qualifying 3, the market seemed to treat them as serious contenders as opposed to just making up the numbers.

Now my usual tactic in Formula 1 Qualifying is to try to lay cars on good laps, look to lay the field in general, but to try to use the heavy layers (people who will happily lay a car believing that he has no chance at odds which are out of sync with market prices but in tune with current reality).

Given the rather strange results of the session to date, the layers had only really been focusing on the high end cars, and my speculative value backs of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton had gone nowhere! However, it seemed that nobody was willing to drive the price out on most cars until they appeared in Qualifying 3 and someone very kindly offered me £8 on Giancarlo Fisichella at 150! (I also managed to get bets on Rubens Barrichello and the BMWs above market prices, whilst offering such a bet on Nico Rosberg myself after backing him at 900 when he looked out in Q2)

Now, by this time, somehow I had managed to achieve £100 green on all the remaining contenders and was on course for over £200 - £300 which would have been my best result yet and left me very happy given my initial positions on the BMWs and the Force Indias!

However, as Fisichella commenced a good lap, I started to lay off; laying £30 off in the 20 – 30 range, before he went to P1 and I laid £40 off in the 12 – 5 range. At this time I still expected Jarno Trulli to get pole, but he failed and by this time, I could not believe my eyes, and with Fisichella dropping to 2 and below, I tried to equalise my book before the market suspended and my BetTrader screen said over £600 on Giancarlo Fisichella.

Now, I am not sure how, but when Betfair settled the market, I ended up with a win, after commission, of almost £750. Clearly something miscounted, but when I look at my trades, and see that my turnover was in excess of £4,000 it is easy to understand how something may have gone wrong. (The more I examine my bet history, the more I become confused.

Looking back, my trading on the market was probably okay to poor. That sounds absurd when I have won so much, but a lot of it was just down to luck. I definitely traded poorly at the end as I did not keep count of what was going on track, although I guess that is understandable given the amounts involved but even during the end of Q1 and Q2, I did not feel in control of the market. It is hard to keep track of 15 cars on track, knowing who is where, the sector times etc… but this was more about luck than anything although it is said that the harder you work, the luckier you get…

And that is the key. I approached F1 Qualifying this year with no strategy but have quickly learned. Now, it is unlikely to carry on into next season, and my guess would be that liquidity will decline for the non European Grand Prix, but from 10am on Saturday, I settle down and trade the market until the end. I initially was losing £5 or so a Qualifying session, until Formula 1 entered its European season and I think the win is just reward for the effort I have put into this throughout the year.

One final point; when Fernando Alonso won Pole this season, I had laid at the peak. How appropriate therefore, that I back Giancarlo Fisichella at his peak. In both instances, the one trade was only a part of the end result, but it sure feels neat to have my first ever 1,000 winner.

With my jaw still on the floor (maybe for the 4th time as a Betfair trader), and having reached for a beer, I then settled down to watch the Challenge Cup Final and in the drama of the F1, I had forgotten about my open position on the Rugby. And Huddersfield had drifted from the 1.9s to the low 1.8s, taking several of my Warrington bets. However, given the above success, I decided to keep my Warrington position open for longer than usual and their early try rewarded me.

From then on, I decided to equalise my position for around £150 on either team and to keep my draw trade open having backed the draw heavily pre match and having over £3,000 on the draw. (The £125 profit was largely on the CC Winner after the Semi Finals had been played. Betfair had opted to settle the Saints and Wigan bets which saw nearly £200 come out of my account (I had hedged these positions for effectively no loss during the Semi Games) but was now showing around £80 green on either remaining finalist. Thankfully my bank was large enough to cope with this, but it seems beyond stupid that in settling bets early you can effectively turn even an all green book into a heavier green but remove a user’s funds!)

As for trading the game, I opted to only trade the draw given that I was still hyped up from the Formula 1 and that there was enormous liquidity on the draw. (I wish it was always like this!) And at Half Time, from trading the draw only, I could have taken out an additional £100 profit. There isn’t even that much matched in some games!

I opted to push my luck and largely kept my green on the draw, although I did trade bits out on the way to earning over £200 after commission.

As for the game, it has been a while since I called a game so perfectly. I guess I stepped up for the big game! I pinpointed that I expected Huddersfield to have stage fright, and they looked incredibly nervous early on whilst I also pointed out that Kevin Brown would have to be influential for Huddersfield to succeed, and when he went off injured it is fair to say that the Giants turned to headless chickens.

The only disappointment was the Man of the Match. I would have loved to see Lee Briers get the Man of the Match. I remember Lee getting Saints to Wembley almost by himself in 1997 after Bobbie Goulding was suspended only to be dropped for the final. 12 years later at least he got to play at Wembley, but given that Michael Monaghan was hardly sensational, I would have liked to see Briers get the Lance Todd trophy. At least he did get his drop goal though!

The other point about the game was how nice it was to see real joy on the faces of the Warrington fans on the final hooter. As a Saints fan, you don’t see that joy so much anymore. It is almost expected, and we are so used to it that it dilutes the occasion. However, Warrington had not even been to the final in nearly 20 years and it showed as the Wolves celebrated the victory in a manner fitting of the occasion.

So, almost £950 up and in need of £50 for my first £1,000 day ever; where can I find £50?

It came from my 0-0 strategy as West Ham and Blackburn played out a stalemate. I ended up laying off some at 1.03 and 1.01; I wanted the £1,000 figure and was not going to risk it for an extra £2! Especially when I had been looking to hedge the Birmingham v Tottenham and West Ham v Blackburn 0-0s only for Tottenham to score as it was becoming a possibility.

So again, the real profit was not the amount shown in the Profit and Loss but as you can understand I am not really too bothered about that! The one downside is that this will almost certainly open up the Premium Charge for me but I guess that is a concept that anyone who is successful at this game will have to face.

I was also going to post on my Sunday activities, including possibly my best trading performance (for less than a tenth of the profit of the above!) but given the, as usual, ridiculous length (over 2,000 words - is anyone here? Comment for your free prize!) I will save that for another post where I will also outline my brand new e-book, available for £54.99.

Finally, there is no free prize, or e-book. But I’d still love it if you comment!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ashes regained

Let’s not go over the top, a cricket match is not a life defining moment, but being there as England regained the Ashes is something that will live with me for the rest of my life and I’m already looking to frame my ticket stub!

I have spent the vast majority of this Summer travelling around the country watching what was a fascinating series. A big change from last Summer which saw my cricket tickets gather dust or be used by friends as I was in and out of hospital! From a week in Cardiff, to two days at Edgbaston to the Headingley disaster before one day at the Oval, which turned out to be a lucky choice.

I never thought I would get to the Oval. When tickets went on general sale, I booked the day off work and waited for tickets to go on general sale, only for the Oval to refuse to allow new customers to sign up to buy tickets online. I don’t know how that qualifies as general sale but I was resigned to missing the last test.

Further, when the ECB offered tickets to the Supporters club, they combined the two London tests, and as I wanted to make a first trip to Lord’s, I put that down as my first two choices with day four at the Oval being the third and last choice. And the rest as they say, was history.

It really was a fantastic summer, full of sun, beer and over-priced food. Too much of the last one and probably too much of the second one! Was the cricket as high in quality as 2005? No. Was it as widely embraced by the public as 2005? No. However, that should not take away from the Series because it was still full of highs and lows, drama and good cricket contested in absolutely the right way. I would even say that the booing of Ricky Ponting, whilst unfortunate, was more in a pantomime villain type of way as opposed to being full of any real malice. His standing ovation on Sunday proved that.

As for the cricket, I am amazed at those who look at the statistics and therefore declare England “lucky”. It’s like looking at a football league table and thinking that the table should be arranged by goal difference.

Of course Australia will have the better statistics. When they played well, they dominated statistically. Of course they will lead the wicket tables; they took 19 wickets in Cardiff to England’s 6, and 20 to 10 in Headingley. Meanwhile, England’s victories saw them take 40 wickets to 35. Let us also not forget that Australia had two innings to England’s one at Edgbaston and their dominance at Cardiff.

Yet, and this is the key distinction, where former Australian outfits were like trained SAS marksmen, able to knock you out with military precision from 200 metres, this outfit were unable to knock you out from 5 yards out with any assortment of weaponry.

In Cardiff for example, Ricky Ponting declared too late. Forget the praise he got for taking two wickets at the end of Saturday. Why were Australia batting all through Saturday morning with a poor weather forecast? At this point, they were 150 ahead with a maximum of 5 sessions remaining (The weather forecast had all but ruled out Saturday evening). Therefore, even if England were to score at 100 runs per session, they would need to bat at least four sessions before they could be safe of not losing, and if Ponting could not trust his team to bat out one session, then Australia did not deserve the win. It was this indiscretion, and the obvious fighting qualities of the England team that gave them the edge going forward.

Let’s also not forget the Australian collapses in the first innings at Lord’s, Edgbaston and the Oval. Those wickets were hardly unplayable and Australia were largely able to escape from Edgbaston due to the rain; the majority of their runs coming once the match was all but over as a contest and given their batting to date, it would not have inspired confidence that they would have been able to hold out had the prospect of a result been realistic.

Even when they did win, they did so when any team would have been able to capitalise on a dire England performance. So yes, the Series was close, and the statistics show Australia to have more runs, but let’s remember that at Crunch time, the Aussies folded like a deckchair and that is the reason why England have, deservedly, regained the Ashes on a day that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

As for my trading, I managed to achieve my worst ever loss this weekend on the cricket. Despite the above analysis, my natural pessimism lead me to constantly back Australia. Heck, if they were to somehow win this, then I would want a refund for the rest of the Summer! This, plus if it was going to go to Day 5, I would want some money in the bank to allow me to buy a ticket from somewhere! However, with my phone battery still acting up, and with me not being 100% aware of all the bets I placed (I had forgot that some were unmatched), it ended up with me losing a lot more than what I thought I had! But given the England victory, it’s hard to really be too upset!

My other trading for the week was fairly impressive. Whilst I never foresaw the way the two TV games went on Thursday and Friday, I managed to react to claim around £100 on each and whilst I didn’t have a great week predicting, I did manage to almost break even thanks to Wakefield’s victory although Harlequins’ loss to Hull did really surprise me.

I also managed to complete some great Formula 1 Trades over the weekend despite not seeing any of the racing! Some of it was undoubtedly luck however! And I’ll expand on that in my next post, as I will with a good football trade from last night on the Liverpool v Aston Villa match whilst I will also look forward to the Challenge Cup final on Saturday although it is obviously disappointing to only have one RL game to look forward to this weekend!

Finally, I was trying to complete another free bet offer only to be cut off halfway through, re-inforcing my opinions of bookmakers. They only make the free bets offer to take advantage of those who can’t resist, and whilst I can’t really blame them for looking to turn away custom from regular winners, the fact that they are seemingly so happy to take money from people who might not be able to help themselves is nothing short of a complete disgrace. I almost had the last laugh, as a 25/1 shot almost came in from a £50 stake but despite reaching as low as 4 on Betfair, it didn’t win. (And whilst I had only laid off 80% of my stake, I did not manage to profit as the market crashed so soon and so quickly that I couldn’t respond quickly enough due to eating my lunch! Ah well, c’est la vie!)

Friday, 21 August 2009

Emulating Usain Bolt

No, this post isn’t about my dash from the near end of Platform 1 at Manchester Piccadilly to the far end of Platform 14 (which I made by jumping down the last 5 steps as the whistle went for the train to depart…) but rather Bolt’s insistence on playing down his tremendous achievements. If you listen to the man after he finishes a race, you would believe that he has finished outside the medals despite the fact that he has just smashed a world record.

Now, I am far away from achieving any world records, but if you listened to me after any game, you would expect me to have made a massive loss and never to have won anything although this is more a case of my never ending quest for perfection and refusal to accept satisfaction!

However, believe me when I say that last night’s National League game was my worst trading performance.

Being off work to watch the deciding Ashes test provides me with the opportunity of having my Netbook tuned into Betfair to monitor prices all day and for most of the season, the price on the favourite in the National League game has crashed down during the day of the game.

However, I failed to get onto this as the price seemed so low to begin with and my attempts to trade the match in the hour before the match to get some green on the draw went very wrong as the market sensed Batley were too low and pushed the price up. Mr Lumpy did appear briefly, but I refused to bail and even threw more money at the game and then as Lumpy disappeared, I was looking at a substantial red before kick off. However, being sure of a Halifax win, I moved all my red onto Batley but kept some green on the draw thinking that if Batley were to keep it close, the draw price would save me.

Now, at this time, I also made the mistake of not fully concentrating on the market and getting distracted by a conversation and to complete the vicious circle, I then got so annoyed at myself for having been needlessly distracted, that I approached the game in the wrong frame of mind. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to get pumped up and exercise before trading a match, but I find it is a good idea to spend 10 – 15 minutes looking at the market and thinking about the match and possible early events and the price swings that would mirror the events; getting yourself in tune with the match so to speak.

So, not only did I approach the game wrongly, I missed the first ten minutes and found myself joining a match in which Batley had scored first and had a 6-0 lead. And then there was the slope. Now, for those of you who don’t follow rugby league, Batley’s home ground is subject to a large slope which tends to produce vastly different performance levels and with Batley having the slope in the first half, I was effectively opposing a runaway train. So, I turned myself on, and backed Batley some as they continued to crash down, before believing that Halifax were too large, I backed Halifax and for once, my luck was in, as Halifax then scored through a 50/50 Video Referee decision although fearing the worst, I had actually traded some out waiting for the decision.

However, I still had the chance to get out for almost no loss, when Batley scooped up on a loose ball and scored. However, if the above decision was 50/50, this one should have been 0/100 as the Halifax player was blatantly tripped only for the Video Referee to ignore this and give the try. It’s hard to argue with increasing calls to remove the Video Referee when you see such blatant decisions be wrong. A couple of weeks ago, Blackpool winger Damian Munro was sent off and suspended for one match after an identical trip. Consistency, where art thou?

So, at Half Time, Batley were in the 1.1s and I had a significant red on the Bulldogs. What do I do next? Obviously, I lay Batley and back the draw. Going against the slope and with a 22 point lead, Batley were too low and the draw price was absurd at the high 40s. Halifax are in a rut, but they can score points, and a 22 point gap against an inferior side, going with the slope, is very little and the market eventually realised, pushing Batley upto 1.24 and the draw coming into the 30s so much so that I could get out for no loss and I did due to an error. When Halifax were awarded a penalty at the start of the second half, I thought it had been given to Dewsbury and looked to largely lay off before realising my error, and keeping some money on Halifax.

Anyway, Halifax scored four consecutive scores to level the game up at 28 all with ten t go and give me a green screen of £100. Don’t be fooled however by the nice green, that was pathetic. I had identified a dream trading opportunity, and had largely bailed too soon and most of the £100 profit had come from my draw trading, which I had given away too much in the 10s and 20s when the draw eventually crashed down into middle single figures. Now, I advocate backing the draw quite strongly and have done pretty well in this regard despite only 3 TV games ending up as a draw and part of this is due to my draw trading which regularly sees me take a few ticks on a £10 stake and keep the profit on the draw. Whilst that is nice, too often I am giving away value which is only going to hurt in the long run.

Anyway, my evening wasn’t over yet as Batley scored to take the lead and I ended up getting amounts matched on Halifax at 8 and 16 and on the Draw at 40. Of course, at this time, I didn’t really trade out and they didn’t come in, leaving me with around £200 on Halifax and £300 on the Draw at the full time whistle and whilst £115 was a nice eventual return from the game, the fact is that my net scoreboard suffered a massive red due to my worst performance of the year by some distance.

And speaking of rubbish ideas, before I briefly get onto looking at this weekend’s games, allow me to explain my latest strategy, which is probably as ridiculous as it sounds.

Now, with the RL season approaching its conclusion, I don’t really have any solid ideas to fall back on, especially with the F1 season also nearing the end of its European season.

So, my latest idea is to back 0-0 in every Premier League game to earn £50 increasing the stake sufficiently to cover previous losses. One thing that my RL trading has allowed me to accumulate is a large bank and whilst 0-0s are a rare score, they (hopefully) occur often enough to make a profit.

As for a losing run, a bank of £500 would cover 27 games and a bank of £1,000 36 games and if that happens, then I would walk away, admitting that this idea has failed.

Obviously this idea should be ignored unless you have a very large bank, but as the saying goes, money makes money. Of course, there are significantly easier ways to make money, but the idea is to earn money with little work.

There are also two other advantages with this approach. The first is that at the moment I am a trader and strongly averse to gambling. Hopefully this strategy will allow me to develop the ability to let good trades run longer and become more accustomed with having money at risk. It didn’t start well as I couldn’t follow Wednesday’s games due to the 0-0 on the Birmingham v Portsmouth game but hopefully it will improve and whilst my natural instinct would have been to trade out, at 1.15, the price seemed to large for a game with only 2 minutes of injury time left.

Secondly, is the Premium Charge. Obviously, this approach will see me lose lots of money before I win money and whilst I will end up in profit, the hope is that the money turned over will be sufficient to placate the Premium Charge and possibly build up a nice enough sanctuary for the start of the 2010 RL season and if not, I trust myself to cut my losses and move on.

So, looking ahead to this weekend’s RL tips and I would like to re-iterate that I accept no liability for typing errors or just getting it plain wrong! These are my thoughts and useful for me to run through. By all means, feel free to use them, but if they go against you, you probably won’t be able to cut and run as quickly as I can.

Anyone who is familiar with my posts on the Betfair forum will be familiar with my thoughts on Hull v Harlequins. I would initially have Harlequins as the team more likely to win. Can Hull win? Of course, and with my tip, they probably will, but the 9/4 that was available with Bookmakers was absurd and something that went quickly. I have kept monies in Bookmakers who I have taken free bet offers up on with the possibility of taking prices if they so appealed and this was my first chance to do so, although I am obviously wishing that I had placed more than the £37.50 I did!

Why do I like Harlequins? If you look at the form, you see they have won 1 from 9 whilst Hull have won 2 from 12 but whilst Hull appear to have no creativity, Harlequins will have Danny Orr, Luke Dorn, Chad Randall and Rob Purdham. Quins also have a more desperate mentality needing to win for the playoffs, and their best form has come away from home. Of course, Hull will be playing for pride and with the pressure off, they could surprise, but 9/4 was a ridiculous price. Still, we have seen this season that a ridiculous price does not always equal a victory.

Unfortunately, the Friday SKY game looks like being a damp squib with Huddersfield sending out their reserves. Hopefully people will recognise this and come together on the handicap market, but it is doubtful. I just hope that Huddersfield get the same stick that Saints have received for performing similar antics before, which the records actually show can disjoint the team and gives Warrington the edge in the final for now in my opinion.

Speaking of Warrington, they need to win to maintain playoff hopes against Wakefield on Friday and they have a reasonably strong squad. Without Danny Brough Wakefield may lack creativity and the market on Betfair currently looks appropriate as both teams have question marks. That said, I think the current value lies slightly with Wakefield although I feel more comfortable having backed Wakefield at 4 on Betfair overnight than I would if I backed them now at 3.5.

The other Friday game sees Salford play Hull KR. As I mentioned last week, I am uncomfortable backing against a Salford side that have shown they can beat anyone. However, whilst I have a dislike for odds on shots, Hull KR in the high 1.4s seems another case of home bias as Hull KR have a chance of 3rd place and will be on a maintainable high after last week’s victory over St Helens.

I will be in Larndarn for the 5th test over the weekend so I haven’t analysed the Sunday games that much. As for the Saturday game, my only comment would be that whilst a crisis usually draws a team together, having 6 players deported will probably mean that whatever their spirit, Celtic have no chance against Leeds. My only surprise is that someone is willing to lay Leeds at 1.03.

Bradford v Catalans sees another case of home bias. Whilst Bradford are in good form, and Catalans can struggle away, I think the current prices are more favourable to Catalans, although I think it is more a case of slight home bias rather than outstanding value.

As for the other Sunday game, it is a tough one. The market has displayed a huge love for Wigan this year, and they have been one of the most unprofitable teams to back. However, Castleford have struggled at home this year and the home side bias could ensure that Wigan are priced favourably. Ultimately, this is a game however where the best opportunities will come in running, and as this is a game that I will be unable to follow, I will probably blind back the draw and hope for the best.

Still, all of this will pale into insignificance in comparison to the real sporting event this weekend. The decider at the Oval. Unfortunately, James Anderson’s streak without a duck has gone, but hopefully England will be able to retain the Ashes although the odds don’t look too good at the moment. Still, come on England.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Is an e-book the best way to profit and a review of Sunday

There seems to be a lot of people offering training courses or e-Books or tipping services at the moment, it definitely seems the new thing to do and I had my first experience of tipping this week!

Well, not really, except that someone happened to misunderstand my analysis of the Salford v Harlequins game which culminated in them backing Harlequins and losing money although with 5 minutes to go, they would have looked to be in a pretty position.

Firstly, this is entirely my fault. Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with both my general trends (Away underdogs) and writing style (Streams of consciousness before sleep!) but for a new reader, it is very easy to see why they thought Harlequins would be the tip.

Being a rare Saturday with no Rugby League and Cricket, I had actually ventured over to Sheffield for the day and can honestly say that after receiving the comment via e-mail, I felt like genuine rubbish. Here was someone who had placed their faith in my analysis and had ultimately lost. Maybe I shouldn’t have. After all, no-one forced this person to follow my analysis, but that is the type of person I am. Loathe to take any risk even when the odds are massively in my favour, my DNA is simply incompatible with that of investing.

So I don’t think there’s any danger of me releasing an e-book or promoting a tipping service anytime soon. Heck, I was sweating on Saturday over my £20 on Salford, desperately trying to trade out only to find the liquidity skinnier than a supermodel. That is clearly an irrational reaction and one that I need to look to change but again, as regular readers know, I have been trying without much success for a long time now!

As for the whole concept of e-Books and trading courses, my own opinion is largely against them. Not because I think the promoters are conmen (in the main) but because I started out on Betfair with nothing except the blogging community and my own thoughts and latterly the Betfair forum (Rugby) and the Racingtraders forum.

Put frankly, I don’t think I would be in the position I am in today if I had access to an e-Book or trading courses. The fact is that the best strategies are the one you learn yourselves. You need to learn the markets and learn how to react. I have obsessively studied Formula 1 Markets, Rugby League Markets and Correct Score Football markets to get to where I am today.

Now, obviously having a helping resource is a great thing and one that can really help, but I find they help best once you have knowledge of the basics. You don’t want to be blind to one person but to take their advice on board and use it in conjunction with your own opinions and that is partly why I always advise people never to follow my tips. I am pretty decent at knowing when things are going against me and bailing out and switching positions. You probably won’t be. If you study the markets or know the games, then my comments will help a hell of a lot more but if you blindly rely on my comments, you’ll likely be stuffed. (The other reason is my nervous DNA. If I sweat over £20 on a market given my profit to date, imagine how I would feel if I had people’s holidays riding on my comments!)

There are definitely enough free resources out there at the moment to use in connection with your own study before then accepting the professional help. For what its worth, through the free resources, I have happened to get to know a couple of people who I know are not only genuine but also very good at what they do. Still, it would be wrong for me to recommend them, especially as I do not use their services! All I will say is that they aren’t charging £55 per month despite reportedly earning a six figure sum, somewhat berating people recently for wanting too much money and then offering such ingenious advice as the price may go up but could also go down. Subscription services to the initial target must not be going as well as planned.

Anyway enough of that, I never used to be so cynical! I wish I wasn’t, nothing like the wide eyed naïveté of youth.

It is another sign of greediness / my current ability that I was very disappointed to have only earned around £100 on Sunday. I made around £60 on Hull KR v Saints after the initial spike when Saints went 4 – 0 up but once again traded out too soon. I lost on the 1.01 train that was Wakefield v Catalans but then managed £75 on Huddersfield v Bradford.

It is that £75 which is the most annoying. Not only did I call Bradford as the value selection but I called saving money back if Huddersfield got the first try, and then the 1.1 rule also came in good use as Bradford drifted out to 1.3. After all that, £75 is clearly a disappointing return.

So what went wrong?

Well firstly the liquidity was poor. I didn’t want to get on the wrong side of a 1.01 so used smaller stakes than usual. That was sensible. Secondly, I traded out too soon, after Bradford scored their first try in fact and once I have green, I do tend to go more conservative. This was not so sensible. I have mentioned before my quandary in SKY games of backing underdogs. As a market trader, I know that any comeback will lend profits that way so it always seems sensible never to overload in case the favourite storms clear, but possibly I should be using my judgement more. Anyway, with another 22 TV games to go this season, I won’t dwell too much on my mistakes but rather look to rectify them in the close season.

A final comment on my RL trading. I reviewed my mid season projections and once again, they seem very poor. Goes to show that whilst I can identify value and read games in play, I am definitely less able at predicting long term events!

A quick note on my football trading which continues to disappoint. My major issue at the moment is with pre match trading. I laid 0-1 and 1-1 in Man Utd v Birmingham expecting them to drift. (0-1 did in the Chelsea v Hull game) and 1-1 was around the bookies price and whilst there was large amounts to back, small amounts were available to lay. Ultimately, both went the other way so much so that if I had doubled my stake when I bailed, I would have still had a nice profit by kick off. Obviously late team news played a part, but once again I got the pre match direction totally wrong, and the effect of this limited me to a £5 win in the game.

I had a similar experience in Liverpool v Tottenham with any unquoted, and eventually bailed at Half Time for around a £10 loss although had I gone out, I would have won a nice amount. I am struggling to read the likelihood of a goal and the market reactions thereto, but have started scalping 0 – 0 reasonably well. Maybe I would be best served by just doing the 0 – 0 whilst observing the market in the interim. Something to definitely consider this week.

Finally, to end on a non trading note, I was left relieved by the England squad but disappointed. Relieved at no Mark Ramprakash, but underwhelmed by Jonathan Trott and Monty Panesar. If a rookie can be relied upon, there is little reason for not going with Adil Rashid over Monty Panesar who had an excellent performance in the County Championship at the weekend. Rashid looks to be getting more turn, bowls with greater variation and can chip in with the bat. He is also more of an unknown quantity. Quite simply, I don’t get England’s plan with Rashid. They are disrupting his 4 day season, where he does need experience, to turn up and play one day games, something which he has never even performed to a mediocre level at.

As for the batting, I called Ravi Bopara flopping at 3 before the Series began and was sad to be proved correct. That said, I would have gone with the experience and know how of Rob Key. Admittedly, I have never watched too much of Jonathan Trott so I cannot be 100% certain but I am not sure that he is the answer. I am also sceptical of moving Ian Bell about. Bell is a player who I really rate, unlike most. However, I believe his future does not lie at 3 but 4 or 5. Bell can score runs and the questions about his mentality, whilst justified, are overblown. Bell has performed admirably in comparison to Alistair Cook for a while now but whilst Bell always appears to be the scapegoat, Cook seems to be the golden boy? I am also undecided about getting tickets for day 5. I have to return to work on Tuesday so am faced with a dash up to Leeds on Tuesday AM or a dash through London on Monday evening to catch the last train. Neither seems an attractive proposition, but missing England winning the Ashes seems even worse!

As always, feel free to leave comments. Like other bloggers, I always really appreciate any comments!

Friday, 14 August 2009

A disappointing evening

It always seems that whenever I am most bullish about a weekend’s schedule the more I seem likely to be proved incorrect and it is fair to say that this weekend did not get off to the best start possible with Leeds thrashing Castleford 76 – 12. I did speculate that Leeds had the ability to annihilate a side before the end of the season and they did so in spectacular fashion with winger Ryan Hall scoring five tries alone. I don’t think the end result makes my initial position any worse however. It seems like Leeds were at the top of their game and Castleford the bottom. Replay the game 100 times and this might happen 2 or 3, but I equally think that Castleford would win and contest more than their starting price suggested.

The SKY game was a damp squib from 30 minutes onwards as Wigan raced to 1.01. It had to happen sooner rather than later I suppose and I can only say that I traded the game terribly. I have a difficulty in backing underdogs on SKY because, if the score goes against you, there is very little in the way of recovery whereas the longer a game is close, the more I know I can trade the market to build green on the value selection. Such a thought means that I dip in and out of the underdog and that was evidenced in so far as I largely missed Warrington’s score early on which sent Wigan out to the 1.4s. I had managed to build around £50 green on Warrington and around £750 on the draw but that would all come to nothing as Wigan raced back as Warrington tired and saw the influential Lee Briers leave the field. I ended up losing £10 on the main match market.

I had also traded abysmally as I got too caught up in reacting to the events in the first half, overstating the value of changes of possessions, penalties, knock ons etc. However, I won’t dwell on those too much because I probably only have around 20 games left to trade this season and I should focus on what I do right to make the largest profit I can. I do feel however that my confidence in predicting has taken an irrational hit tonight; I know my strategy is capable of extended losing runs, and getting just 2 wrong is hardly the end of the world, but it just reflects my loss avoidance mentality when really a profit and gain mentality is more appropriate for my strategy.

A quick note on the football as the Premier League starts tomorrow. I have looked to trade 4 games so far to warm me back into the swing of things and I must say that on the whole they went okay if not brilliantly.

To recap, my current strategy is to scalp 0 – 0 down to 6, back 2-1 and 1-2, cover the higher scores and back unquoted. I have yet to decide on liability size for the upcoming season. I clearly have more money to play with, but clearly need to learn more about the markets.

In fact, I almost wonder if just scalping 0 – 0 and leaving it at that would be best given this week’s performances – the fact is that I have struggled in trading sensibly after the first goal goes in. For instance, a goal to the favourite sees my 2-1 and 1-2 backs almost entirely reliant on an underdog goal next and although unquoted can cover this, maybe I need to consider 3-0 although the relative size of this would mean that I could not cover unquoted and a couple of quick goals would leave that very precarious.

However, it’s all food for thought at the moment. I need to develop further in this market and whilst it will never be as profitable as RL is, I’m hopeful of getting to know the market well enough to be able to make a good profit, as I felt confident of doing towards the end of last season. I am out tomorrow but will look to trial the system on Sunday, although I must say that neither game looks a good fit for my strategy, but I don’t really know enough about football to be confident in that!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Only four rounds left

With only thirty seven Super League games left this season it really is time to start making the most of what is left and thankfully there seems to be plenty of impressive opportunities this weekend.

It only seems like yesterday that Leeds kicked off the season at home to new boys Celtic but my trading has evolved massively since then although I will ultimately look back at this season with a feeling of what if. There have been several huge opportunities that I never grasped and several swings which I bailed on too soon. In fact, I still am, and I keep doubting that the swings will keep coming but hopefully they will.

And that is the problem with predictions and why I get so nervous when I stick my neck on the line. It also explains why I can talk myself in to and out of almost anything! It is alright considering something to be “value”. I feel that I can certainly nail that concept but at the end of the day, the game will come down to 80 minutes of individual play which has an enormous variable. The difference between losing 40 – 0 and winning 40 – 0 is smaller than ever and whilst that will obviously lead to a natural favouritism towards underdogs, there is very little justification when you find yourself well down after the side you fancied gets a beating.

Indeed, I keep expecting the law of averages to pull me back but so far so good largely, and I just hope that I can defy the law of averages for the rest of the season.

So the weekend starts on Friday with Leeds v Castleford and Warrington v Wigan. Immediately, I am drawn towards Leeds v Castleford. Both teams had last week off and Castleford lost their last game whilst Leeds won their last game. Leeds have home advantage. As regular readers know, that makes it the perfect time to favour Castleford.

Obviously in a one off game, Leeds are favourites. Clear favourites. But when Castleford are a best price of 5/1 with the bookmakers, I know which team I would feel more comfortable backing. I keep expecting Leeds to come good, and I have little doubt that they will hammer one or two teams before the end of the season, maybe even this week but in considering value, I will be looking to back Castleford.

Last week saw Bradford go from 1.3 home favourites against Harlequins to around 2.9 underdogs when they met 6 days later in London and Friday sees two teams meet for the second time in 6 days in Wigan v Warrington. Last Saturday, Warrington secured their first trip to the Challenge Cup Final since 1990 with an impressive victory over Wigan who were pre match favourites at 1.8 in the morning and as low as hilarious 1.2s at just 8 – 0 up.

However, despite losing, Wigan are favourites again and there are three key reasons why. The first is home advantage. The second is that the market has had a man crush on Wigan all year but the third is slightly more genuine in that Warrington have a lot of players out injured. However, when considering Warrington’s first 13, it still looks more than adequate. The problem will likely come in their bench where they will probably field several debutants who are unlikely to have the size to match up with Wigan’s substitutes. (There is also the bounceback factor which means that I automatically consider a bias towards Wigan.)

However, the 1.2s is a ridiculous starting price, although we must equally consider the effect that an early score by a home favourite has on the market in SKY games which means that any initial trade should ensure that some money is kept behind to lay Wigan further if they go ahead. So, whilst a revengeful Wigan should be favourites against an injury hit Warrington side, again the value lies with the underdogs.

I just wish I had followed my advice of not getting involved in the Betfair markets until they have properly settled as I looked to lay Wigan before I had received correct team news although I still believe that the price I laid Wigan at was fair even given Warrington’s injury news.

Moving onto Saturday and there are a further two opportunities. Salford look set to recall Richie Myler and have produced some impressive performances this year defeating both Saints and Leeds. They travel to Harlequins where Quins are a best price of 2/7. Again, the Quins should be favourites, however how short would they be had they not capitulated against Bradford last week? That performance actually makes them more likely to win in my view as they know that they will be in desperate need of victory to reach the playoffs.

Further, the travelling distance involved in playing Harlequins can give them a legitimate home advantage, even if they have tended to perform better away from home this year, and the Quins look to be almost back to full strength. Still, Quins look too short.

The Saturday evening game of Catalans v Hull also sees, surprise surprise, a home favourite looking way too short. Again, I don’t dispute the favourite tag but I do dispute the fact that Catalans are a best price of ¼ to win.

Again, this needs qualification. Hull have been woeful recently and they definitely have injury worries. However, Catalans haven’t been superbly impressive either recently. Looking set to be without their key player Thomas Bosc, Catalans only just scraped home against Salford last week whilst Hull were able to put their feet up and rest. Further, the game is being played at almost a neutral venue, although obviously Catalans will keep the geographical advantage of playing the game in Southern France where the conditions will naturally favour them.

Still, experience tells me that they are too short and despite Catalans needing to win like Harlequins, I know where I would want my money if I could stand the strain of betting as opposed to trading.

Onto Sunday’s games and amazingly, I agree with the bookies on one game. I think the Hull KR v Saints game is priced up correctly and can see no clear edge there.

The other afternoon game sees Wakefield v Celtic, and with Wakefield a best price of 1/16, if you could lay that, well, it wouldn’t be the worst bet in the world. Obviously Celtic are massive underdogs, but at that price, there are definitely worse ways to spend a few pounds. Celtic have defeated Bradford and Wigan this year and if they can produce a good performance and catch Wakefield on an off day stranger things have definitely happened.

Sunday evening sees Huddersfield host Bradford in the SKY game and my immediate question is whether the liquidity will be bursting through like it was when Hull KR hosted Wigan on a Sunday night or whether the liquidity will be all but absent like it was when Catalans hosted Harlequins. My guess is that it will be somewhere in the middle.

Again, I lean towards Bradford being the value selection here. Huddersfield will still be on a high following last week’s Semi Final victory and it can be very hard to replicate the necessary intensity in a game situation after such a great win, although equally it could inspire confidence and allow them to produce a great display. Bradford meanwhile have been inconsistent all year. They have defeated Saints and Leeds but on the whole, underperformed dreadfully although last week’s thrashing of Harlequins should give them a good confidence boost without being such a great win that they can afford to sit back and rest.

Again, in a one off match, Huddersfield should be favourites but at a best price of 4/11 with the bookmakers there is very little value there long term although as advised in the Wigan game, keep something back as an early Huddersfield try will likely crash the price to 1.1s.

So, there we have some quick thoughts on this weekend’s game and they aren’t much different from my usual fare but I do feel that this weekend when I looked at the prices, I was very surprised by three or four whereas usually there is only one stand out price. Obviously, Sod’s law probably indicates that this means that I will be wrong this week, but anyone who has followed my hints so far can probably afford to lose a couple of quid, as such an approach will invariably do from time to time.

Just a quick note on Thursday night’s game which is becoming ever more difficult to trade as the liquidity continues to decline. Still, I did manage to earn a respectable profit of £90 largely through laying Barrow in the 1.1s as the market overreacted to a fast starting favourite and generally fell in love with Barrow. The draw price was bizarre again as it stayed at a generally low 20 – 30s for the first half and then exploded upto 120 as Widnes took the lead in the second half to go 10 – 8 up. Most odd and from then, the price was definitely higher than it should have been. My biggest regret in the game was in backing Barrow at 1.5 after Widnes took the lead to green up. It was a regret because 90 seconds later with nothing further happened, the price was as high as 1.7. Given that I was backing between £300 - £500 back, I’ll let you calculate the missed profit! (Although I must note that Barrow were looking the better side at this point and one knock on or missed tackle or debatable refereeing decision could have crashed price.) It just goes to show though that however experienced you are in the markets, one big player can always do strange things, especially in the less liquid markets.

Anyway, hopefully I will be able to build on this good start with some good underdog performances this weekend. Given the current prices, even just one victory could result in almost breaking even but hopefully there will be more than that although I must say that surely we are due for a 1.01 express in the TV matches shortly!

Finally, with the Premier League starting on Saturday, I will aim to post my thoughts on my Correct Score strategy, to try to make sense of it if possible, tomorrow as well as hopefully being able to comment on a very exciting Friday match.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Quick Update

As you can see, I haven't updated the blog in a while due to being away the past two weekends in Birmingham and Leeds and frankly, for reasons of weather and ineptitude respectively, I almost wish I had not bothered!

My time in between these days was spent as a mixture of being ill and deciding to reject all offers received to complete the LPC against my wishes. Sometimes wanting something is not enough.

With respect to my RL trading, I'll post a more detailed review sometime this week. In short however, I can only say I wish I had a phone that had decent battery life. (I have been able to upgrade for 6 months but a combination of not wanting to pay £200 and laziness means that I am stuck with a battered MDA Vario III, which appears to lose power quicker than Usain Bolt.)

In short however, I had a great position on Wigan away at Saints, only for my phone to die and lose £40. I saved battery power for the end of Warrington v Leeds, but having left Walkabout on account of my friend's protestations, I "only" ended up with £200, which when you consider that I initally chose to place my refund of the Edgbaston ticket on Warrington and the Draw, is not brilliant!

Having returned home on Sunday, I did manage a decent win on Bradford v Harlequins, although I did lose some of my green when my computer crashed as Bradford took the lead (I am noticing a pattern here..!) and then panicked when no-one was taking Harlequins backs once they resumed the lead and gave away ridiculous value.

I then decided to take a break from Thursday's National League game, only to get involved in the last ten minutes for £10 or so. Traded Friday's Super League game on the train home, believing that Salford were too short at Half Time although again, with 5% of battery power remaining and with going through tunnels, I missed out on some great opportunities.

I then managed to win £60 on Warrington v Wigan despite being at the cricket although again, this was impacted by poor battery life and you know... watching the cricket! I even managed to lose £7 on Bradford v Harlequins despite ridiculous odds after the draw price crashed and I panicked to get out of the red on the draw in play where liquidity is as scarce as clothes on Jordan.

On Sunday, I managed to watch Saints v Huddersfield in the pub and despite realising that Saints had no chance at Half Time, managed to only win enough to cover my backs of Saints in the Winners Market. Again though my phone died in the second half... I probably would have earned enough to pay for the new phone by now! But, it just seems ridiculously expensive!

I'll break them down in more detail later this week.

Just a quick note that with the RL season approaching the finish line, my attention starts to turn towards my "off-season" sports. Now, I am nowhere near as profitable on other sports as I am on RL and Formula 1, but I will probably look to trade soccer and NFL this winter.

My approach to NFL is to generally go with what I think will happen. It isn't very scienftic but it seemed to work reasonably well with small stakes last time so we will see. I am just concerned at the moment that Sky may not be covering the NFL this year, certainly they have scrapped the Pre Season coverage but that is no biggie. However, I feel that there would definitely be ways to profit further for a NFL junkie like myself, but at the moment I only have one trick up my sleeve. Hopefully that will expand soon!

A quick note on my approach to football is that this tends to resolve around the Correct Score market. I have no real feel for football, so take a market trading approach which I have outlined previously and will do so in more detail later - I am currently testing new ideas like teams do in Pre Season! I lost £6 on Aston Villa v Juventus but did win £2 on Darlington v Leeds tonight. However, I tend to approach the soccer markets in a much more relaxed fashion. I do not expect to make serious money from this, but rather use it in a relaxing and challenging manner. I used to play Pro Evolution Soccer a bit on an evening to unwind but feel that I will probably look to the Correct Score market this year, unless I start to constantly lose! However, I am hopeful of making consistent but small profits this year although it will take me some time to get reacquainted with the markets; still it should hopefully be as enjoyable as it was last year and that is the key, especially given that I'll likely be taxed 20% on any winnings!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

On the train.

I’m writing this latest update on the train to Birmingham; ironically enough being in the “Quiet zone” with a screaming baby. Not sure how that works…

Anyway, it was around last time that Betfair announced the conception of the “Premium Charge” and like many others, I was understandably annoyed by the concept. However, 12 months down the line, all the outrage and potential boycotts appear to have settled down, with people accepting, through gritted teeth, the premium charge.

I did remember thinking at the time that despite its obvious unfairness, at the end of the day, you would have to be in profit to be a victim and that you would need to have used up the £1,000 allowance. A concession that I knew would make me safe for a long time.

Unfortunately, my £1,000 allowance is now almost fully used up, and I am looking at being another victim of the premium charge. Suddenly the apathy that I showed towards it is no longer quite so applicable!

In terms of potential avoidance, it is fairly apparent to me that my style of trading Rugby League, which is my most profitable market, makes the charge one that I have to live with. I can’t really take my business elsewhere, and 80% of something is greater than 100% of nothing.

Recently, a general Profit and Loss per week of around £500 has resulted in a £75 premium charge, so what can I do to try to avoid this.

The only option that I can see, is to lay an event on Betfair and look to back it back elsewhere, and hope that the result goes my way. However, when you consider that I would only get 80% of any winnings if I laid the event correctly on Betfair, I would obviously require a large price difference to make this option work, so it may just have to be a tax that I pay through gritted teeth.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s Rugby League, well I’m scheduled to be at Edgbaston for Friday and Saturday before returning on Sunday. Therefore, I don’t expect to be in profit at the end of the week given my dislike of outright bets and my tendency to leave Draw backs up in all games, just in case…

However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t profit, so I’ll just briefly run through this weekend’s games, although as ever, these are mere thoughts and I am also without team news at the moment, which would obviously make a large difference.

On Friday, Huddersfield travel to Hull. Suddenly, Huddersfield look like a team that could break in to the top two which would be a phenomenal achievement. Meanwhile, Hull have been talking a good game, saying that their top 8 options are not over. However, given their injuries to their front row, and the fact that their halves look totally insipid, I would argue that they are. Of course, there are no certainties in Rugby League, but a Hull recovery would be the most surprising event of the season to me. Huddersfield could be distracted by their looming Challenge Cup Semi Final, and it is rare that I find value in odds on shots, but certainly Huddersfield are by far the better value selection at anything above 1.5, and anything approaching 1.8 (The current gap on Betfair) is extremely good value.

Salford host Wakefield on Friday and Salford will be keen to put in an improved performance in view of last week’s events, which has even seen their coach threaten legal action to possible detractors. Still, despite Salford’s likely bounce back, Wakefield should be the favourites here. Despite a poor performance last week, Wakefield’s Top 8 ambitions should ensure that they regroup and put in a solid performance. However, Salford have defeated both Saints and Leeds this year, and they aren’t a team that I would like to oppose without seeing which Salford side are going to turn up.

The other Friday night game is the real big one. Saints v Wigan. This one has the potential to be a classic and should be a great game to watch. Much will depend upon Saints’ team news seeing as how they have had a host of players ruled out through injury and illness lately. As for Wigan, they seem to have come together very nicely recently and as usual under a Brian Noble coached side, are peaking at the right time for the playoffs. Much will depend however upon how Sam Tomkins shows in his first game at Knowsley Road. Tomkins produced an excellent performance last week to bring Wigan home against Leeds and has shown nothing to suggest that the occasion will get the better of him, but he won’t be guaranteed the same freedom that he was provided with against Leeds as Saints look to get one back on their rivals after the Murrayfield debacle.

In terms of the game, four strategies would appear to be possibilities here. The first is to watch early on and trust your eyes. The second is to note that the past three Friday games have seen a team go to 1.0 and then drift out to 20+, and the third is obviously the draw. The fourth relates to the Challenge Cup Market. Ever since their defeat to Salford, Saints have drifted from 1.6 out to 1.8, whilst the bookies’ best price is still in the 1.6 range. Now, I thought Saints were good value at 1.6 and I still think they are outstanding value at 1.8. Personally, I can’t see Saints drifting much further even should they lose to Wigan, whilst with Wigan likely to be trading at around 4 before the match starts, there could possibly be a route there to explore.

Onto Saturday’s games, and whilst Catalans are favourites against Celtic, the bookies’ best price of 1/25 this morning is quite frankly hilarious and should be opposed if Betfair looks like being that low. Of course Catalans are favourites, but anything in the 1.0s should be opposed at a level that you are comfortable losing.

The Televised game is Leeds v Warrington and this is one that could produce some good trading opportunities. Historically, Warrington on SKY have been terrific to trade. Back when odds against, lay when odds on. However, Tony Smith has removed some of Warrington’s inconsistency, although he was helpless last week as they went from a 12 -0 lead to trail 20 – 12 before winning 62 – 20!

Still, Warrington have a decent record against Leeds as of late and with Tony Smith returning to his former club, you can be assured that Warrington will be keen to produce a good performance. Leeds will look to bounce back from last week’s defeat and that has to be considered, but given Leeds’ current price (1.3?), the value lies with Warrington / the Draw although as we have seen how an early score for favourites crashes the market, more money should be kept in reserve in case Leeds start well.

Last week my strongest feeling was that Castleford were overpriced against Wakefield as the Home side looked to be backed almost blindly and whilst the value isn’t as strong this time, laying Castleford at home to Hull KR would be a good move. Hull KR have been inconsistent and below par recently, but I consider this game to be pretty much a 50/50 affair. However, home advantage will once again make Castleford the favourites, and when that happens, the correct approach would be to back Hull KR. It may not work in a one off match, but no one will have gone broke backing the away side this year.

The other Sunday game sees Bradford host Harlequins where team news could be crucial. Harlequins have been dreadful recently, but with Danny Orr and Luke Dorn back, if either Rob Purdham or Chad Randall also make it back, then the current 4.3 best price on Betfair looks very good value, whilst if they are both out, then Quins will likely be larger but still the value selection.

Of course in a game like this at the end of the season where both teams need a victory for Play-off reasons, both teams will be looking to give it everything, especially Bradford given their below par form so far this season. However, whilst they are undoubtedly the favourites for the game, and are on paper the better team, the odds would appear to dictate that the value lies with their opponents. Quins are approaching desperate territory and that should produce a good performance as Brian McDermott returns to the club that he had so much success with as a player. However, once again, the key thing will be to check that team news.

So that is a brief(?) preview of the weekend’s actions typed up with a baby screaming on a crowded train and my phone not working so to deny me information on team news and the latest odds. Still, some would say that my thoughts are as relevant as a toss of the coin in determining who to back so…!

One final comment is also in response to some replies that have suggested that I am too harsh on myself when reviewing my trade. To that I would agree with but with one caveat. I have strongly commented upon the benefits of laying at 1.1.

Anyone leaving 1.1 bets to run in Super League, would have achieved a £1,900 profit in the past three weeks. Anyone who traded out at 1.3 to 1.4 in all games would also be very nicely in profit and so on… Indeed, given this recent rule, it makes me feel that the recent run of games has left me massively behind on the net scoreboard; such odds won’t always reverse and it seems like I have been pushing the car into first gear too early recently when in reality, there was still an entire street to reverse up.

Finally, I today received my second offer for the LPC, from my second choice. It seems the more that I think about my options, the harder the decision becomes. Especially with a recent BBC article trying to dissuade people from doing the LPC on account of the recent economic happenings which now see more people qualify than jobs are available and obviously that is another dimension that will factor into my decision. Indeed, it is now looking to be a very big risk and that so many things could go wrong. (I would be 25 and starting a new course with no experience and no contacts and without having undertaken any legal study for the past 4 years – Far from ideal!) Still, as we have seen recently, a lot of 1.1s have been turned over!

So I have a weekend in Birmingham to decide given the deadline on acceptances! And as you can see through the muddled state of my last paragraph, I still haven’t got a clue! I just hope the same can’t be said of my RL predictions!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

My weekend... and my future?

The following is a review of my trading weekend, and a life problem is inserted at the end. No idea what that’s doing here!

It is said that the sign of a great team is the ability to win when you are below par and after this weekend, I hope the same applies to traders as well.

Despite what I believe to be a rather poor trading weekend in terms of trades made, I managed to earn £571.64 from Thursday evening onwards; a figure roughly equivalent to two weeks’ net earnings. I can only be thankful that Betfair earnings are not subject to any student loan charges, although they are subject to a similar tax, one which I shall unfortunately come onto later.

It is no co-incidence that my profit and loss level has dramatically increased since my decision in April to increase my level of professionalism with regard to trading, as well as subsequent increases to risk taking and stake sizes.

Sometimes I do wonder though about the sheer amount of effort I put into my trading, however. Now, I have always been a Rugby League fan, so the preparation that I put in on Monday to Wednesday in terms of watching highlights, getting the news etc.. is nothing extra. However, from Wednesday evening things get a little more like work.

I start by looking at the prices for the National League 1 game, and look to the possibility of any early trades. I will keep up to date with the price throughout the day and then on finishing work, will look at the prices listed from Bookmakers for the Super League games where available, and start looking at the possibility of placing my odds depending upon team news. Then, obviously there is the Thursday night game to trade in play.

Adding to the mixture this week however was the Hungary Grand Prix, and I decided to look into taking some prices before the initial practice session so had to look through this on Thursday as well. Friday saw me monitoring the prices before being delayed on my way home, rushing home to set everything up and trading the in play Super League game.

With that down, I reviewed the odds on all the SL markets and the Qualification and Winner F1 Markets before heading off for a well deserved sleep.

Saturday morning saw me awake to the initial practice session, which is when I first start really trading the Qualification market and even during the break in between, I kept the market open and my thoughts are never far from this as I also go about my usual Saturday morning activities.

Upon this finishing, I load up the Super League markets, look for any opportunities in the In Play game, trade out of my pre Qualification race bets, and monitor the markets for the Saturday evening SL games. Only at the end of these do I relax for the day, although I do keep the Sunday events loaded in my pocket and will occasionally check these.

Then on Sunday, like Saturday, I get up, review the markets, complete my usual Sunday morning activities, and then there is the Formula 1 Race, quickly followed by the Sunday Rugby League games before I collapse, then review the weekend and head off to bed for another week to start.

Now, obviously I do all this of my own volition and I do it because frankly, I bloody enjoy it. I love the challenge of testing myself against the Market, and I would say that drives me a lot more than even the financial incentives, lovely though they may be. Still, I am left exhausted at the end of the week with very little time off before heading into another week.

As much as I enjoy it, I am always “on edge”, especially in play, hateful of any red, and always thinking about ways to improve. Even when I am out with friends, my subconscious thoughts will rarely venture from the markets, knowing that in most cases I have a liability there which I want to work on. Put simply, it is hard to switch off knowing that opportunities are just around the corner and a test around the next.

Still, things look set to change pretty soon. I will miss the next two weekends through being at the Ashes, get back into things for a week, before heading off to London for the final test and then hopefully, to Wembley for the Cup Final the week after should Saints get there. Then, the European Grand Prix season and the Super League season will soon be over, granting me a lot of rest and relaxation which I honestly feel I’ve really earned.

Therefore, with 4 weeks of the next 5 set to be missed, and not much left after that, it was hugely important that I enjoyed a very good weekend for reasons that I will come onto later.

Perhaps that explains why I am very self critical of my performance this weekend, that plus the sheer amount of time invested and effort utilised probably robbed me of maximum performance levels.

To quickly run through this weekend’s trades:

Thursday evening: Sheffield v Gateshead. An infuriating display of refereeing (Poor, not corrupt as some would say) really frustrated me. I managed to heavily lay Sheffield in the 1.0s believing that Gateshead were the better side and that the penalty count would ultimately even out. It didn’t, although Gateshead did come back enough to leave me with a £50 win, although I always had a much much larger figure on Gateshead. It just never came off. Still, I was satisfied with myself, although extremely frustrated with the referee.

Friday evening: We had our third consecutive 1.0 drift on a Friday night although I never really got into it. I had backed the draw massively early on, and did not really want to increase my liability on Leeds much beyond that. And any comeback would be reflected in the draw price. Wigan did come back, and when they took the lead, I had close to £300 on them. Given that they were a 1.01 train then, how did I end up with just £120 profit despite never really closing my draw bet; keeping a couple of thousand on the draw for most of the game.

Basically, the game illustrated my major flaws, which are equalising out too soon, and then succumbing to value. Now, green is green, and obviously value is value and neither are bad concepts. However, in a game where you have a massive green on the draw, there is no need to position yourself further towards the dog. Any comeback will see a drop in the draw price. In effect therefore, I was double backing the underdog, ignoring the natural drop on the favourite and ignoring the clock. A very poor performance and one which deserved a loss.

Saturday afternoon: I traded the Formula One market reasonably poorly in the practice session, opposing the drop on Lewis Hamilton far too early. A good move at a silly price for betters, but not for traders. Still, it did not ruin my position, although the usual Rosberg / Trulli late crash never really happened.

Onto Q1 and with less than a minute to go, Fernando Alonso is down in 16th with yellow flags following Jaime Alguesuari going off track. Having backed Alonso reasonably heavily, I saw the chance of him going out and laid him at 90 – 200. I kept a large green on Alonso in any case, but obviously at those odds, I am giving up a lot of green as well.

Q2 sees Rosberg and Alonso experience major price crashes, only for me to have laid further too early. Further infuriation built up in me.

Given Felipe Massa’s incident, and obviously it is without saying that the best is wished for him, the session was delayed but the market was left open, which allowed me to improve on my position only for in Q3, the timing sheets to drop.

Now, this was fortunate for me, as I would usually look to trade out way before the huge price drop in Fernando Alonso, and a seemingly premature suspension from Betfair disallowed any possibility. Thankfully, Alonso was one of my larger greens, and I earned close to £150. Another good result which was largely undeserved.

Nothing much happened in the Saints – Harlequins game, so I was then ready for the Saturday night SKY game. Obviously one of my major ploys is to back the draw pre match, but for the first time ever, I laid it. Put simply, starting at 26 was beyond absurd and I was happy to oppose it; worst case scenario would be 17.5 at HT. Again, two early scores for the home favourite, but given how dire Hull FC are these days, I could not bring myself to lay Hull KR heavily at this stage. I can honestly say I can rarely recall seeing a team so bland in attack and appearing so devoid of confidence. However, some lucky bounces, poor play by Hull KR and a general improvement from Hull FC saw them come back into it. By now I had handily taken to backing the draw again, but continued to trade poorly. Still, my belief that FC could not win and the plunge on the draw late on helped me to a near £90 win although once again, I felt it to be totally undeserved.

And breathe….

Sunday: Whilst I find qualifying easy enough to trade, I don’t find the race as easy. However, the pre race markets are slightly easier and some overnight positions, as well as some Sunday morning trades (Button from 18.5 out to 36 into 21) allowed me to start the race £90 in profit. I was very pleased by this as for once I had traded well, although there were obvious areas for improvement. (A £1,000 trader of the favourite could have achieved this much more easily for instance!) Some further tick swings during the race helped me to an eventual win of just over £100, almost doubling my previous best.

No sooner was that over did the afternoon RL start. I had not commented much upon the games beforehand, and it is probably best that I didn’t – my tipping this week was poor, but the one game I felt strongest about on Sunday was Castleford. Regular readers will know my thoughts on both away teams and underdogs, and after being matched at the generous price of 3 overnight for £30, I was fairly comfortable. However, I cannot sit back on a bet, and having completed a draw trade for £18 green on the draw, I cut my liability to Wakefield to £18 pre match and then traded the match in play and although the liquidity was short to dreadful, I had managed to achieve £25 green on Wakefield at 18 – 12 down, before Joe Westerman’s late penalty effectively sealed the match and I ended up with near enough my pre match green on Castleford of close to £35.

As for the other matches, I was surprised, and disappointed!, that Warrington never really traded in the mid 1.0s despite being 12 – 0 up, and largely missed Salford’s comeback to 12 – 20, although my belief that they were way too large at Half Time did allow me to earn nearly £25, whilst I managed to earn the princely sum of £4.99 from the Huddersfield game through small trades. I wisely avoided the half time lay of Huddersfield at 1.11. If it had been in the 1.0s though, I would have been down for the day on RL! Sadly, there didn’t seem to be the large lays available that I had seen in recent weeks. Hopefully this was a one off though! They have proved most profitable.

So, a poor weekend trading wise although a good weekend results wise, even if I do think that outright betting would be more profitable and a lot less hassle – it just isn’t me. This is a guy so risk averse that when starting a pension at 21 I put most of that in Gilts!!!

My profit and loss through Betfair and Free bets now stands at over £7,000 in total, £5,000 of which has come since 6 April. An incredible amount really and a testament to the sheer hard work I have put in, in my opinion. Obviously though that looks set to drop considerably going forward. My off-season ideas of NFL and Correct Score Football won’t bring in much, but they hopefully will prove profitable; they did produce a small profit when I was less experienced last year.

So, maybe it is time to treat myself. If my savings from work have provided this Ashes summer, what about a trip to America to watch Arizona Cardinals, or a trip to Australia for next year’s Ashes. Or, a year off work… whilst I go back to study for the Legal Practice Course.

Those of you who know me, know my love of procrastination, but I finally submitted an application for the LPC at the eleventh hour on Wednesday, and I am now faced with the biggest decision of my life, well at least since Strawberry or Vanilla ice cream on Friday evening. (On a serious note, I had anticipated applying for University / LPC before my Ashes summer and having left my job before then which was why I moved back home to St Helens in April, despite working in Leeds! No point taking a 6 month lease when I thought I would only need it for 10 weeks. The past 4 months commute has not been fun and will have to end whatever decision is made, probably.)

I should hear about my application within the next two weeks, and I would have to hand my notice in at work immediately so it is imperative that I arrive at a decision as to whether I would accept any offer, and it is an issue that is running through my mind constantly; shortening my sleep and probably effecting my trading.

Those of you who are purely interested in trading can close the window now because I will probably rant through my mind for the next two minutes in case any kind visitor can make some sense of my thoughts. (It is good to get them down on paper in any case. I have no idea why I am airing them on this blog however. Am I that desperate for clarity?)

All my way up to University, I had wanted to train as a barrister until I effectively became confused in my second year, and refused to commit to anything; getting a job whilst I thought about things. Four years later and I am still unsure! (I have suffered a fairly big injury and illness in the intervening periods which explain most of the delay!)

I had always dismissed the LPC, and had visions of returning to University and possibly going into Academia aka Student forever. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that I could not decide, and given the past six years of my life, Barrister training is out and the LPC is an option if I want to pursue law.

Anyway, with University not an option now until next year, when I will be 26, and 30 at the very least before I would probably finish my further education, the LPC has become more and more appealing. I have an interest in law, could always eventually train to become a barrister, or revert back to Academia. Heck, I could even continue as a solicitor; that’s not too bad!

However, £7,000 - £10,000 is a lot of money to spend on something which isn’t clear cut, and I also have concerns as to whether I would waste this opportunity like I have so many in my life, and how overawed I would be having not read a law textbook in four years. I also can’t completely discount the current economic climate. The course is no guarantee of a related job. Some people get those before starting the course, and I would definitely be behind the 8 ball.

If it was purely 50 / 50, the decision would be easy. It’s the fact that I’m 85 / 15 in favour that makes it so tough and further complicating matters is the emergence of a possible job at my current workplace which would make use of my law degree and allow me to research my options further.

All in all, I suspect my passion is Academia. However, passion must give way to realism and the LPC would be a great challenge; one to open more doors than it closes. It would also end my current life dissatisfaction through wasting away in a mediocre job and not really following my passions (I really don’t want another year of that above all else). The easiest answer would be rejection from the Course, and I think that will happen anyway (I always think all my trades will lose too!) but if it shouldn’t I have to be prepared. And I’m not.

And there is the end of a completely unrelated rant to the blog, and I apologise if I have wasted anyone’s time! However, to make it up to anyone who has got this far, might I suggest trading Rugby League. It’s profitable. Honest!

Coming next: The Premium Charge and more life rantings.