Saturday, 31 January 2009

Fighting Back

Just a quick update on today's progress before I go off, look at my monthly results and post a more comprehensive review!

As I have previously mentioned, it seemed like nothing had been going my way, and I found myself almost £34 down for the month, at the start of the day. My football trading strategy is definitely unsophisticated and it had seemed to be going against me - if I backed a game, there would be a goal. If I did not, it would end up 0 - 0.

So, 12.45, Stoke v Man City, and I felt reasonably confident. Stoke had held Man Utd goalless in the first 75 minutes at home, and had not conceded in two matches against Liverpool, and after some decent trading, I found myself in a reasonable position with Half Time approaching, when I attempted to green up and left lay bets in at 4.7 and 4.6. (These would have been matched with ease but for Stoke's Red Card.)

As is the recent run, a goal happened just before I traded out. Thankfully though, this did not leave me red this time, although looking at a big green on 0 - 0, and £1.85 green on all other scores, left me not knowing whether to laugh, cry or do both! Some later trading saw me win a grand total of 59p before commission!

So onto the 3 pm starts, and I opted to place £2 bets on 0 - 0 on all Premier League matches, although this had let me down at the weekend. Therefore, when five out of six games were 0 - 0 at 30 minutes, I opted to trade out, leaving myself with between £6 and £12 on the rest. I had thought there would be either one or no 0 - 0s, and therefore by eliminating any red on 5 games, and leaving myself with between £6 and £12, I would leave with a similar profit to if I had let all games run all the way through untraded.

You can guess what happened next. Yes, three games finished 0 - 0! If I had not traded out, I would have won over £50. Instead, I achieved around £15, although after recent trades, I felt reasonably content with that, if extremely frustrated.

However, all bad luck (or decisions!) will eventually end, and whilst I traded the first half of Man Utd v Everton reasonably well, it was my decision to lay the 0 - 0 at Half Time Score at 1.18, which earned me not only £10, but a feeling that maybe my luck was turning. (Even if an additional bet just missed out on being matched before the Suspension!) This left me just £9.59 down for the month, and over £24 up for the day after commission.

Finally, I opted to place 41p on a tip I had previously seen - Ajax v Heereneveen which had previously traded at 29, and I got on board at 26. It ended up as low as 3.6, and left me wishing I had put more money on, although knowing less than zero about Dutch football, it probably wasn't the wrong decision.

Either way, a day which started off frustratingly as opposed to the recent days of everything going against me, ended up pretty well, and is sure to provide some sort of boost going into February - although it would not be a major surprise to see me falter majorly tomorrow, but more on that in a later post!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

You have to laugh

Sometimes, you just have bad luck. Other times, you add bad decisions to bad luck and sometimes you fluke out.

The past few days, I definitely fall into the second category.

Last weekend, I decided I would trade three football matches. At complete random, I opted to trade West Ham v Hartlepool, Man Utd v Tottenham and Liverpool v Everton. The three matches I opted not to trade were Aberdeen v Rangers, the Barcelona game on SKY Sports on Saturday night and Cardiff v Arsenal.

This decision was completely random, but resulted in me missing out on two 0 - 0s and one which plunged from over 30 to under 15 at least, whilst I traded three games which had first half goals.

The crazy thing is, I have done this all month! The matches I have traded were not 0 - 0. The matches I have not were 0 - 0. The decisions were not made expecting any game to be 0 - 0 or not to be 0 - 0.

I then briefly traded the Dancing On Ice elimination market on Sunday, watching former Saints coach Ellery Hanley in a sequin definitely makes you look twice! Whilst I had not watched Dancing On Ice before this season, his ridiculous dancing made me look twice again when I saw he could still be backed at 13 and I managed to get £7 matched. It soon became apparent that Hanley, in my mind, was at worst a 5 to 1 shot.

What did I do? I traded out before 11, slightly concerned with liquidity. However, for £7 I took a ridiculous price, and this is something I do way too often. Of course, within 30 minutes he was trading below 5, and a potential very large profit had been turned into a small profit, although one that nearly took me back to my balance at the start of the month.

Now, I had thought that in 2009, I would be able to "flick a switch" and start believing in my trades more and being more aggressive. However, I am finding myself doing the complete opposite.

Therefore, I set myself an exercise. Place minimum stake bets on 0 - 0s on football matches where the starting odds were around 10. Now, my thinking was that as I trade out too early too often, it would be a good lesson if I did not trade out on events which would see price drops. I was amazed at how much I wanted to trade out. The price would drop by two or three ticks and I would literally have to stop myself from laying off. I did manage to do so in the end, but thought that I still needed to work in this area and therefore decided to back 0 - 0 on all 10 Premiership Games on Tuesday and Wednesday. I do not need to tell you what subsequently happened!!! Making matters funnier, I had been reading about late goals, and did consider laying all current scores with around 10 - 15 minutes to go but opted against it. Of course, 5 of tonight's 6 games, did experience score changes in this period, and now I notice that Celtic v Dundee has finished 0 -0, another game that I did briefly consider trading but then opted to trade only Premiership games!!!

So now I find myself down £35 for the month, and totally bereft of confidence. It feels like I have the ability to make a game 0 -0!

I am honestly not too sure of the next move to make. Things seem to have gone downhill, ironically, since I let my heart rule my head in the NFC Conference Championship Game. It sure feels that the next match I decide not to back will be 0 -0!

On an unrelated note, I have only just realised how difficult it has been to keep the blog regularly updated, I guess when I started it I forgot how tired I usually feel after work, although I do seem to waste a hell of a lot of time in general just by not prioritising. I hope to review most of my trades over the next couple of days, although this itself won't be easy as my usual way of charting price data on events I trade on, lite Betfair, is still down! and don't know what I will do with regard to trading this weekend. Although I still have close to four figures in my account, I feel like I am in a negative position, on account of this month, and hate to trade from a losing position, as it feels like I will only lose more money.

As always, I would be extremely grateful for any comments (Probably telling me how much of an idiot I am!) and advice on what to do next!

The switch certainly hasn't been flicked yet.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Much Better

After yesterday's angry rant, and I apologise for anyone who read that!, I realised that I had merely been getting frustrated with myself for not following the plan that I had previously set out. Therefore, I opted to trade tonight's football match between Derby and Notts Forest.

I decided to be more controlled although instinctively more aggresive, but in case things went wrong, I opted to reduce my stake size to £10 per trade.

A £10 loss doesn't sound good on paper, but it may have been the best result possible in a weird sort of way. I honestly felt that this was the best I had traded all year. In the first 30 minutes, I had close to 20 succesful trades on 0-0. I got my backs in early enough to be matched but late enough so that they were not then stuck at the same price for a while, and by using smaller stakes, I was able to take advantage of price increases upon corners / attacks which, whilst increasing the chance of a goal, still carry a small chance only.

I had just achieved a £10 profit, 100% of the stake size, on any result when things went wrong. The price went up from 5.3 to 5.7 / 5.8 and I managed to get matched twice. Then a goal came. The weird thing was, I had no complaints with this. I had tried to take advantage of a situation which would more often than not result in a healthy profit, but I got burned. That will happen and in a way, having my first football original stake loss will be beneficial. My strategy will only work if I can acknowledge the possibility of losing, and tonight I did.

Indeed, I was then able to get back to -£6 when Notts Forest equalised, which was even more pleasing, although having had enough of the game, my decision to transfer all my red onto the current score did not work, and I ended up with a total loss of £-10.

However, I have always said that this month is primarily about learning and trying new ideas. If they come off great, if not, that's fine. Obviously I have not tried too many new ideas, but I feel that I made a big step forward today, even if I was unnecessarily nervous at times, which is still something to work on.

I am now -£7.92 for the month, but am hopeful of being able to break even by the end of the month, when the sport that I had most success on last year, Rugby League, starts, and am looking forward to doing some more trading this weekend.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Still here

The last entry was entitled it's been a while, this time has been even longer! I guess I completely underestimated how hard it can be to keep these things upto date at times! I am hoping to post something quick up now, so apologies if the structure isn't great (I am just typing straight from the head before I get some sleep), but I am hoping to have a productive weekend.

Just a quick warning, there is a frustrated rant upcoming!

Truth be told however, it has been a pretty hectic two weeks and I have not really used Betfair much. Following Philadelphia beating New York, and Arizona getting a home playoff game, I spent all of the early part of last week trying to get myself a ticket over to Arizona. After all, hosting the NFC Championship could be a once in a lifetime event for a team who had not had a home playoff game for 62 years!

However, despite having everything lined up, it sadly fell through. The extra temporary seating that Arizona put in for the game was only sold over the phone, and despite being on hold to America for most of Tuesday evening, I missed out by around ten minutes. The Cards had deactivated the usual ticket exchange website and whilst some other ticket exchange websites were offering a money back guarantee if the ticket did not work, was I really willing to travel halfway across the world, spending a four figure sum, and then be stuck watching the game in some bar? Ultimately, I decided against it, and watched the game from the comfort of my living room!

And what a game, as the Cardinals somehow held on for victory despite losing a 24 - 6 HT lead! Now, following Arizona, I have seen some major collapses over the years and as the Eagles came back from 24 - 6 down to lead 25 - 24, I ended up with approximately £130 on Phily and -£20 on Arizona.

Now, on that final drive, I was too absorbed to be checking Betfair, but believe that the Cards' price shot up above 3 at one point, which would have allowed me a £80 profit. Instead, I ended up losing £20 by not trading out. Looking back on it, I definitely did allow my heart to rule my head, but at the time, I was so convinced that Arizona could not win (Being a Cardinals fan does that to you!), that I believed by trading out, I would be throwing away £50.

Even now, I think that was probably the best decision, but that boldness is something that is otherwise lacking in my trading. Over the past 12 months, I have identified plenty of massively under priced in play faves, only to trade out for a fraction of the possible profit. However, I tend to place too small stakes given my track record in this area. I should not have placed £30 on Philadelphia when Arizona were 1.07. I should have placed £30 on Arizona not winning at 1.07. That would have led to over £400 on Philadelphia, and whilst I would have probably ended up trading out at an average of 1.3, which again would be too soon, I still would have had over £300 on Philadelphia, which I would have at least partly equalised.

Risk taking has been, and always will be, my biggest issue on Betfair, and I really need to question this area.

All in all, in the past twelve days, I have only traded in nine events, and even in these nine events, I have only traded small amounts for a very short period of time.

I traded all bar the San Diego @ Pittsburgh NFL playoffs. I had all my green on Tennessee and Carolina in the Divisional Championships Week, made £2 on Philadelphia @ New York, and £4.11 on the Baltimore @ Pittsburgh game.

In the football, I have made £2 on the Hull v Arsenal game, £1.99 on West Ham v Fulham, £1.90 on Liverpool v Everton (A game I only traded for 15 minutes, for a reason I will talk about below) and a whole 7p on the Tottenham v Portsmouth game, where I was just caught out by a goal.

For the month, I am now £2.02 up!

As I mentioned when I started the blog, whilst I did very well in 2008, I suffered significantly from cutting bets short and generally avoiding risk, but hoped to be more adventurous in 2009.

However, I have ended up trading less as I have been so annoyed at how risk averse I have been in 2009, and I am not sure why. I need to let bets run, I need to trust my instincts and strategies (I have enough data to show they work in the main!), but I seem to just cut them short as soon as I can lock in a profit. Heck, I have even been wary of laying then backing at high priced drifts pre play incase Betfair crashes which is frankly ridiculous. I have outlined my football strategy previously, and I should have been very profitable on Liverpool v Everton and Tottenham v Portsmouth, but I have been too cautious. I know that has its advantages, but I am being disproportionately cautious and this is really damaging my prospects.

If anyone has any tips on letting bets run, I'd be grateful to hear from them!
I am certainly going to try this weekend to be more aggresive and logical. I set myself targets (Say 10 ticks), but will lay half my stake off at 2 and then the other half off at 5, get annoyed at myself and reduce the stake size but end up laying off even earlier. Logically, it just seems to be an in built fear of getting into a loss situation (I have previously explained my initial in built thoughts regarding gambling having seen the damage it can do) but it now seems a temporary vicious circle which I cannot escape from.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

It's been a while...

Since Last Time.

The majority of sports that I trade on are either Summer sports or traditionally Weekend sports. Therefore, trading during the week is not something that I regularly do, and with it being the first week back at work following Christmas / New Year, I have not really had the appetite to get involved, especially with the only in play British football, being cup games between teams in different divisions.

That said, I did win a quick £2 in the Blackburn v Blyth game when I got involved just before Half Time, although I lost double that amount, £4, in Man Utd v Derby, which I traded with reduced stakes. That said, I did manage to cut my losses in half in the second half which was really pleasing, and is a key part of my trading, which really did help my confidence, even if my bank account was showing a loss!

Stoke v Liverpool.

Despite being totally knackered and not feeling great after spending most of the day shopping, I did manage to trade the Stoke v Liverpool match. Now, I had previously said that when a game ends 0 – 0, that I would hope to win in excess of £50. However, I only managed £16.01, which is not a lot but is a win that is worth more than the price tag for someone who tends to struggles with the concept of risk, which sure is a bad attribute for a trader!

My reasons for the low winnings are two-fold. Firstly, a phone call during the first half meant that I reduced my stake size to £10. Frankly, I had been using £10 in patches before that anyway, but for someone who regularly enters and re-enters the market, I did not want to run the risk of having a £100 liability through getting caught out by not focusing fully on the match or the market. Secondly, I was bloody starving and so went to the fish and chip shop at Half Time, and did not trade until after 80 minutes in the second half.

Hopefully, this will give me the boost I need to be able to trade with more risk tonight, for the NFL games.

Tonight’s Games.

The Tennessee v Baltimore game is a hard one to call and one I am looking forward to watching more than trading on. I can really see it strongly resembling their 2000? Encounter. From a trading point of view, the market looks spot on, in my opinion, and I won’t be getting involved until I see how the teams start.

Watching the Cards in the playoffs is something I can’t wait for after the first home playoff game for 62 years last week! I also can’t get over the price. This is a game that the Cardinals should have won back in the Regular Season, and whilst the Cards have gone backwards and the Panthers forwards from that game, the Cards look too low. I think the Panthers should be 1.33, although if Anquan Boldin is out, or the Panthers receive the ball first, I think the Cards’ price will shorten more. I do expect the Panthers to win, but think the Cards will give them a good game and their price could rise to at least 1.5 in play.


Selection Odds Stake(£) Bid type Profit/loss(£)
0 - 0 7.94 261.00 Back 1,810.87
0 - 0 7.46 277.84 Lay -1,794.02

Transactions: 58

Net Market Total: £16.01

Total Result: £14.01

Next Update.

Probably tomorrow, although with me likely, and hopefully!, being up until 4.15 am, I am not too sure I will manage!! Especially with their being two Premiership and a further two NFL matches tomorrow! I can’t believe that after this weekend, there is only 3 NFL games left this year. The season sure does fly by.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Back to the Start

Miami v Baltimore.

I really only made one trade on this game, namely opposing Baltimore at the start halfway through their first half drive, which worked out reasonably well given that LeRon McClain went onto fumble. I found the game quite difficult to read initially. Whilst it was obvious that the Dolphins could attack the Ravens with small passes, they didn’t seem to want to and insisted on trying to establish the ground game in vain.

Any profit then evaporated when I firstly shifted all my green onto Miami who seemed way too low at 1.33, only for Chad Pennington to let me down, and I ended up with a red on Miami, when I then further laid Baltimore who I thought were a ridiculous price at 1.2 given that the Dolphins would start with the ball in the second half. However, it didn’t quite work and I could not bring myself to trade out at a loss, as their price always seemed too low. Maybe I just underestimated the Baltimore defence.

Minnesota v Philadelphia.

I made a couple more trades in this game and like in the Miami green, had got myself in a reasonable green position, only for my general strategy of opposing Philadelphia to blow up when Brian Westbrook turned up and like in the above game, the price afterwards was simply too low to trade out of and so I ran up a loss, which took me back to where I was at the start!


I looked over the trades I had made on NFL over the last three months and reached at what now appears to be an obvious truth. Namely that my success has come from backing the underdog. Now, this was my first weekend at trying to seriously trade the televised games, and looking back at all four games, I actually had an equal green on both teams in the first half at some point, only to back the underdog in all 4 games in the Second Half.

Now, my trading style is an attempt to recognise value , which is why it works so well in the first half primarily. I am adept at spotting when a price is too low and pretty adept at reading the game. The problem comes that whilst value is fine, in the second half, results matter and it therefore doesn’t matter if the underdog is 100/1. If they lose, you lose.

I realise that I am still a comparative rookie to trading and therefore am not bothered by my overall profit and loss record at this moment and feel like I traded better on Sunday than on Saturday. However, I was still too jumpy and made fundamental errors. I need to e to have more confidence in letting them run, which I knew prior to starting the blog was undoubtedly the biggest area for improvement, although I appear to have made no progress despite making actual attempts to – and stake size is not the issue, I am as keen to lock in a profit using £2 stakes as £100 ones, and I’m not sure why.

The other key is to recognise areas of strength and weakness and build on that, and I feel I can do this. Maybe it is a good thing that I restricted my stake sizes this weekend, although whether I would have “gambled” so much with a significant green, which I could have achieved early on had I used larger stake sizes, is another topic.


Selection Odds Stake(£) Bid type Profit/loss(£)
Baltimore Ravens 1.62 47.00 Back 29.15
Baltimore Ravens 1.47 70.75 Lay -33.15

Transactions: 9

Net Market Total: -£4.00

Selection Odds Stake(£) Bid type Profit/loss(£)
Philadelphia Eagles 1.48 134.00 Back 64.64
Philadelphia Eagles 1.47 142.50 Lay -67.20

Transactions: 31

Net Market Total: -£2.56

Total Result: -£6.56

Next Update.

Hopefully sometime this week. None of the main sports I trade on are active through this week, and I am not convinced by my 0 – 0 strategy in Cup games. I initially avoided the Blackburn v Blyth game, although did place a small amount just prior to Half Time to lock in a very small profit depending upon the final score.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Missed opportunities

NFL Playoffs - Wildcard Saturday.

If I had to sum up last night’s trading, it would be one of missed opportunities. I had hoped to be bolder but that quickly went down the pan. I have very quickly drawn up a brief review of last night before I get ready for tonight’s games, so please excuse any grammatical errors!

Arizona v Atlanta.

Well at least the Cardinals won in their first home playoff game since 1947. It started badly when I laid the Cards, who had opened at 2.2!, at 1.9 upon hearing that Travis LaBoy was out, and reached my maximum liability for taking in play with a further lay at 1.86, and whilst the price did not increase before the start which left me surprised, I traded out after the Cards went 3 and out and was a reasonable green on both sides for a game which had been in progress for less than a minute!

However, like the Falcons, I was unprepared and caught surprised by the general situation and for some reason started using very small stakes only. Despite the game starting in a fashion I had roughly predicted, (Gabe Watson was instrumental in the Cards’ run D, whilst Lawyer Milloy was routinely exposed.) I had seemed to lose all confidence to trade and ended up watching the game flip flop on Betfair whilst cheering the Cardinals onto victory in a second half performance which was as atypical Cards as it gets.

My expectations as a Cardinals fan of the Cards’ breaking down didn’t match the way they were playing, although my emotions ruled my brain on the way to an eventual £2 loss (Not helped by laying instead of backing the Cards at one point in the second half and not realising for 5 minutes!), and by the end of the game I was trading like a complete novice, and making some strange decisions.

San Diego v Indianapolis.

After missing the Indianapolis train in the middle of the afternoon, I was annoyed that the Colts started at 1.8 and after the mess of the Arizona game where, despite the end result, I traded very poorly, I struggled to get into this game. Using very small stakes, I basically backed the offenses and ended up with £3 green on each team when I realised that part of my poor trading was because I was knackered and so went to bed.

Before I did however, I moved my green onto San Diego and this is why I love trading and hate pure betting. You are not bound by earlier thoughts and are able to take advantage of prices. Now, the game had been fairly even so far, and the Colts were 7 – 0 up at this time. In these situations, I fail to understand why the Colts are 30 ticks lower with the Chargers having the ball. Maybe 5 – 10 ticks, but not 30! Therefore, whilst I thought on balance the Colts would win, their price made them a lay and I traded my green to San Diego.

I actually woke up for Overtime and was looking to equalise my green, but at all stages, I agreed with the market and therefore just left my green with San Diego as Peyton Manning was once again denied in the playoffs. (I didn’t watch all of the game, but it sure seemed like the Officials were very strict. You can’t argue with any of the calls, but in a usual game, at least one of the three OT calls won’t be made.)


On a scale of 1 – 10, yesterday’s performance barely gets a 2. I lost my nerve, opposed my thoughts on several occasions, and tried to force things that weren’t there. The net scoreboard sure isn’t looking pretty at the moment!


Selection Odds Stake(£) Bid type Profit/loss(£)
Arizona Cardinals 1.56 110.21 Back 61.48
Arizona Cardinals 1.48 145.17 Lay -70.32
Atlanta Falcons 2.59 10.87 Back -10.87
Atlanta Falcons 2.96 17.71 Lay 17.71

Transactions: 44

Net Market Total: -£2.00

Selection Odds Stake(£) Bid type Profit/loss(£)
Indianapolis Colts 1.78 145.45 Back -145.45
Indianapolis Colts 1.75 123.00 Lay 123.00
San Diego Chargers 2.29 70.63 Back 91.26
San Diego Chargers 2.24 50.00 Lay -61.80

Transactions: 23

Net Market Total: £6.66

Total Result: £4.66

Next Update.

With travelling back to Leeds, and talking to my housemate upon my return, I have ignored today’s football, which was not that appealing in any case! I am looking to trade tonight’s NFL games and will therefore aim to post an update tomorrow. The irony is that I know much, much less about the two games tonight than I knew about the two games yesterday (but I do think that Baltimore and their rookie Division I-AA QB are ridiculously short against the Miami Dolphins, who whilst possessing inferior talent have a veteran QB), although I will aim to use reasonable stake sizes and hope that I can read the games on the fly.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

My biggest problem and a preview of Saturday's Wildcard Playoffs

Why I blog.

When I initially started reading blogs on trading, one thing I noticed was that several people would blog in an attempt to maintain discipline, amongst other things.

Part of the reason I started this blog was to try to increase my boldness. Let me explain.

If you read my previous post, you will note that I comment on a comment from Amorphous concerning tonight’s Indianapolis v San Diego NFL match where he indicates that he might have a bet on Indianapolis.

Let’s review my response.

I start by saying that I hope Indianapolis win. The first thing to note here is that when you have an emotional interest in a game, that this can effect the objective approach to looking at the game, I quite often place bets against teams that I want to win.

I then go on to review the game objectively and note that I believe Indianapolis are a massive price. That is my gut belief. Is it right. Is it wrong. I don’t know. If we all thought the same, there would be no Betfair but that is what I think.

I then throw in a word of caution about the Colts being slow starters which is fine. This is true. It doesn’t mean that they always start slow but if I ignored this, I would be missing a key component of the upcoming game.

I also try to justify the current price which is also fine. If you cannot justify a current price then it would usually indicate that you are missing something. Very often is a Market “wrong”. You may disagree with it, but the market has formed itself based on something and if you are going to oppose this, you had better know why you are opposing it.

However, it is the next comment which angers me, in which I end up predicting a San Diego win.

Why? Because I don’t want them to? It is not because I think they will. After all, I have objectively analysed the game and found that I believe Indianapolis should win. Of course, there are legitimate reasons for believing San Diego will win. They are in very good form, are at home, match up well against Indy etc… etc… but this isn’t what I think so why did I mention it. But I equally know that it isn’t because of any emotional investment as I equally think Miami are ridiculously long in their match against Baltimore, although I have no interest at all in the end result there.

Now, without wanting to scare any prospective readers away, I will delve into some amateur psychology here!

I am a perfectionist. Now, there is nothing wrong with that. We all wish to be the best that we can be. The problem is that perfection is near enough impossible and when you strive for perfection, you can end up achieving nothing. Perfection is simply not being wrong, and it can lead you to attempt only to not be wrong, but that doesn’t make you right, because you can end up being nothing.

If you take this back to the above comment, then you can see that if Indy won, I was right, they were too long. If San Diego won, I was right as well. However, in reality, you can see that I simply never made a decision. Therefore, actually, I was wrong.

Now you can see the problems I have had on Betfair over the past year, and why I feel that my winnings so far are in fact a far greater accomplishment than what they appear to be just on paper, and why I hope this blog will make me bolder!

After all, I have shot myself in the foot on several occasions this year. In one particular Rugby League match, St Helens v Warrington, Saints raced into a ten point early lead, when I said that Saints would not win and so placed £2 on a 20 to 1 shot. Now, Warrington did come back to lead with less than ten minutes to go. However, by this time, my ultra conservative nature had actually been trading out from as early as 10 to 1! For £2! I worry about losing large amounts of money which is understandable, but this example indicates that maybe money isn’t the main issue!

Now, what makes this story even more hilarious was with Saints approaching 15 to 1, I said that Saints would go onto win, but did not place any money on this. Saints did win and what could have been a £600 win was a £10 one.

Whether I got lucky or understand Rugby League is irrelevant. The fact is that whilst I was able to make a “wacky prediction” knowing that if it didn’t come off, no one would remember I was unable to stick to my belief, and ended up with a net scoreboard loss of £590 or so!

And believe me, that was not the only time a “wacky prediction” came true, although as you are only prone to remembering the most successful of these, I am hoping that this blog will keep a true record of such predictions, and that we shall see whether these come true more often than not, or whether my memory is unduly affected by time!

Such an approach carried on in the NFL, where to avoid losing, I would trade out at ridiculous odds and ended up costing myself a lot of opportunities!

The good thing is that this issue can be fixed, and is being fixed! When I started using Betfair, I did remark that I hoped that it would lead to a greater degree of risk taking in general as I can be too cautious and I am confident that the blog will assist this further by enabling to get my stronger thoughts down on paper for others to see.

Now I don’t intend to go into such detail on every post, but I thought that this might be a good indicator of why I will blog and also a good point for myself to remind myself to stick to my convictions.

For those of you have who survived the ordeal of reading that load of crap, well done on getting this far! Hopefully such monologues will be rare and now on I will state my opinions of tonight’s games and if I’m wrong, so what. This is what I think.

Arizona Cardinals v Atlanta Falcons.

A word of warning here. I am a Cardinals fan. I first got into the NFL in 1998, when the Cards’ appeared to be on regularly and were an exciting team, with a young impressive Quarterback in Jake Plummer and also were regular comeback kids so they became my team. What I didn’t know however, was that they had only ever had one playoff home game, and it would be a further ten years until their next post-season appearance!

The NFL is an interesting sport where any side is truly beating of any other, and therefore predictions are usually meaningless until you see how the teams start. That said, I believe the Cards should be favourites tonight and would price them at around 1.9. Let me explain why.

As I see it there are two main areas in the game which Arizona have to control to win, and they are areas that I believe can be controlled.

On offense, Arizona have one of the most dynamic passing attacks in the NFL. Led by former Superbowl and league MVP Kurt Warner, one of the toughest players in the NFL today Anquan Boldin and one of the greatest catchers of the football in the NFL today, Larry Fitzgerald, the Cards can be close to unstoppable at home.

Making this match up even more promising is that Atlanta are coached by Mike Smith. Now, I believe that Smith is the coach of the year without a moment’s hesitation, but I would choose to play against the Falcons’ D over any others left.

My mind goes back to New England Jacksonville last year in the Playoffs where the Jaguars sat back in Zone, allowing Tom Brady to slowly go down the field, and I believe the Cardinals can do the same this year, as I expect the Falcons’ D to mirror the Jaguars’ D from last year. The Falcons are typically vanilla, and Kurt Warner should be able to take advantage to find Q or Fitz or Steve Breaston or Jerheme Urban to great effect.

However, the one potential problem comes in the name of John Abraham. Whilst the rest of the Falcons D Line are merely above average at generating pressure, Abraham is the one who can create something from nothing and I am sure that he will be licking his lips at the prospect of going up one on one against Levi Brown who frankly, is little better than poor against speed rushers. The Cardinals must double Abraham all day, and ensure that they give Kurt time to find the right man. If they can do this, they will march down the field to good effect against Atlanta’s vanilla defence which is not aided by Safeties Lawyer Milloy and Erik Coleman who are little more than average in coverage, which will not do against Arizona.

On defence, the Cards need to have Adrian Wilson in the box at all times for Atlanta’s offense goes through Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood. Like I do for Mike Smith, I have the utmost respect for what Matt Ryan has accomplished this season and believe that he is destined for great things. However, if the running game can be stopped, and the Falcons forced to rely on Matt Ryan, I believe the Cardinals have the advantage.

However, stopping the run will not be easy for a team who have struggled at times this year and the Cardinals will need a big performance from NT Gabe Watson. This time last year, Gabe looked on his way to being the next Casey Hampton or Jamal Williams. A tremendously gifted defender, whose attitude had been his main stumbling block in College, Watson had dedicated himself to the Cards and the NFL when it was showing. Sadly, Watson sustained major damage to his knee in the off season and has spent most of the year recovering from it and has lost his starting spot to the average at best Bryan Robinson. However, the Cardinals must rely on Gabe to stop the run upfront.

With Adrian Wilson also in the box, the Cards should look to use him on the blitz as he can be devastatingly effective when blitzing. The Cards also have one of the most creative DCs in Clancy Pendergast and whilst Pendergast blows hot and cold, this could be his time to shine.

Of course, Matt Ryan will occasionally beat you due to his talent, although with rookie sensation Dominique Rodgers Cromartie likely to play a key role, the Cardinals should be confident in their back three of Cromartie, Rod Hood and Antrel Rolle and thrust the game on the right arm of Ryan and hope that the Cardinals can exert enough pressure on the right arm to gain victory.

San Diego Chargers v Indianapolis Colts.

Much less of a preview here. I really need to cut down on the length of these posts!

The Colts and the Chargers have faced each other three times in the last two seasons. San Diego did the double last year and Indy won their only meeting this year.

Through the air the Chargers’ D has been poor this season, with the only bright spot being rookie Antoine Cason. They have regularly been abused by Tight Ends so Dallas Clark, who has had a phenomenal end to the year, could be heavily involved and at Cornerback, Antonio Cromartie’s aim of 15 Ints appears to have been replaced by an aim of allowing 15 TDs, although Cromartie is playing hurt and his natural athleticism always make him a danger to pick off a pass.

The Colts’ running game has been horrible this year, and don’t look for it to get much better against San Diego’s impressive front three. The Colts are also hurting on the O-line, with Jamey Richard and Mike Pollak likely out which could create some problems and allow San Diego to pressure Manning extensively. Despite this, you have to feel that the smarts of Manning, who has been in the form of his life lately, should give the Colts a big edge here.

The battle between the Chargers’ offense and the Colts’ D is more intriguing and less clear cut. The Colts have done a phenomenal job this year considering injuries and the lack of cap space that the D has. Their NT for most of the year has been 260 lb Eric Foster, a UDFA who was an under-sized pass rusher in College and came up with the critical stop against Pittsburgh. The loss of Gary Brackett will hurt and allow the Chargers to exploit the Colts in the middle of the field.

As for the Chargers, there is surely no question that L.T. and Antonio Gates will be active, although their effectiveness can be. That said, the key for the Chargers in the second half of the season has been Philip Rivers who is really improving under the coaching of Norv Turner. That said, the Colts have only allowed 6 passing TDs all year, so Rivers could find it hard. On paper, it would look like the Chargers must have the advantage, but the Colts have been playing superbly and therefore this is too close to call.

The final element of the game is Special Teams where the Colts have a usual clutch kicker in Adam Vinatieri, whilst Nate Kaeding has not been so clutch in recent years, although he did perform last year with a broken plant leg. As for returns, the Chargers have a huge advantage here with the Colts’ coverage units usually amongst the league’s worst and Darren Sproles being a huge threat to go the distance at any time.

On review, I still think the Colts are too short and should win but with two QBs who are on top of their game, this one could be a shoot-out which goes down to the distance.

(Update – I wrote this this afternoon at 3.30 when the Colts priced spiked to 1.98. I placed a bet at 1.98 certain it would go down, only for it not to be matched. The current price at the time of writing is 1.89, and the Cardinals have also flip flopped from 2.2 to 1.9. I never saw that one coming. I was certain they would remain outsiders and if anything increase!)


Not a lot happening today. I have unscientifically charted the Barcelona (Still in progress.) and Hearts games, mainly to track liquidity, and was happy with what I saw. However, I did not get involved in either game.

The only game I did get involved in was Liverpool v Preston. Games between opponents in different divisions are likely to see goals so I therefore keep my trading to Pre-Match and early match at reduced rates. I did trade £65 on 0-0 and had a massive profit of £12.50 on 0-0 although my plans to trade out at Half Time for a meagre return (Although it would have bettered last night’s!) fell foul to an Albert Riera goal.

Next Update.

Tomorrow. Hopefully with a lot less to say, based upon tonight’s NFL matches!

Friday, 2 January 2009

A missed chance and a bit embarrassed.

The theory.

Football and trading. They really should not go together. At least, that was my initial thought. Maybe trading before the event, or possibly at Half Time could work, but trading throughout the event? I didn’t think so. After all, a goal not only produces a massive shift in price but also a suspension, which effectively denies you any real opportunity to get out of a bad bet at a slightly better than worst case scenario.

Now let me say that I am not a football fan. Sure, I watch it, but only on account of the saturation of the sport on TV. However, this mass availability combined with the seeming endless amount of markets attracted my interest initially. Somewhat naively, I thought there had to be a way to make this work.

As I have previously mentioned, I have been looking into and playing around with ideas on Betfair for over a year now, and whilst I have found several things that don’t work, I’m still looking for something that does work.

My latest idea centres around the notion of a goal. Since the introduction of the Premiership in 1992, the average game has 2.6 goals per game. Assuming 4 minutes of injury time, that means the average chance of a goal per minute is 2.8%, or 97.2% that a goal is not scored in a specific minute.

Therefore, I became interested in the possibility of betting in the Correct Score market and namely the 0 – 0 scoreline. Of course, the chance of the game finishing 0 – 0 is low, but the chance of the 0 – 0 odds decreasing is high. The other advantage of betting in this market is liquidity. In televised matches, which is what I am currently limiting myself to, the liquidity is sufficient for trading without being excessive such as can be seen in the Match Odds market.

The major difficulty in the market is in trading. Namely, when to trade out. Whilst you do not want to end up with a large green on 0 – 0 and then see a goal eradicate such green, you do not want to trade out too soon, and this is where the obsessive charting of data assists in identifying likely trends. The other major difficulty is in the perceived chance of a goal. As we have seen, the chance of a goal in a random minute is around 2.8%. Therefore, not every attack will result in a goal. Yet, I tend to find myself reaching for the lay button way to soon, at the merest hint of an attack, and this is definitely an area in which I need to improve.

However, using £25 stakes in general, I have identified three main trading out points (9.8, 5.9 and 3.95) where I will tend to put between £5 to £10 green on the other side. I have also, for the moment, decided that when the market is below 3, then I will only use my green, and that when a goal is scored and I see red, that I will only attempt to trade to turn the red into zero. These are all general notions for now though, as I regularly find hard and fast rules to be too restrictive, especially without an expert knowledge of the topic area.

Tottenham v Wigan.

So with a general theory expounded, I moved onto tonight’s game, and the start mirrors the end.

I start looking at the market data approximately three hours before kick off. So far I have not identified any specific Pre Match trends, but thought the 10 / 10.5 starting point on 0 – 0 was low and placed a bet at 11 in, trying to get a reasonable position in the queue, and as the 10 / 10.5 were heavily accounted for (around £20,000 and £5,000) so there was no need to do anything right now.

The market then stayed that way until 7.45 when I went to get a drink. Within five minutes, and probably not even that, not only had the 10.5 gone but my back of 11 had been taken and a sizeable amount was willing to back 10.5. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing as the market veered between 10.5 and 11 I entered in play with - £87.50 on 0-0 and £10 on any other result.

I very quickly backed at 11 In Play and within a couple of minutes had £12.50 on 0-0 and £0 on anything else.

Now, one specific note about my trading style is that I don’t like to tie my money up for large periods of time, as whilst the chance of a goal at Minute A is low, the chance of a goal at Minute A is as high as at Minute B and the chance of a goal at either A or B is obviously higher. Therefore I restrict myself by trying to be “Last on, First Off”. What I mean by this is I will look ahead to a particular price which has little money on it, place a lay in and then attempt to back one or two ticks ahead just as that tick is going. I also tend to leave backs in at one or two ticks higher than the current price to benefits from any swings, thinking a goal would trigger a Suspension before that can be matched, although I fear this could eventually bite.

Obviously the whole theory can create problems – as on several occasions I can be too late and miss the opportunity, and this was particularly the case tonight, which was not helped by a starting price that was too low and therefore hovered around the same price for the opening ten to fifteen minutes. Also, I am not entirely certain but the usual in play delay of 5 seconds had been replaced by 7, and this seemed to really effect me in getting bets matched, but this could just be a co-incidence.

I decided to stick to my staking plan though and despite having minimal green to cover it, I moved £5 to “Any Other Score” at 9.8, leaving me with a red on 0 – 0, but one that I thought I would be able to cover shortly.

However, one of my major weaknesses at the moment is when the tick size reduces from .5 to .2 and the increased pace of movement which I tend to be slow on. The market certainly gets more volatile and my “In and Out” clearly doesn’t work as well here but I declined to push it, just accepting what I could and moving on in the main. I did however change my stake size to £10 and was slightly more aggressive instead at some times.

Making matters more complicated was the fact that as I am home for Christmas / New Year I lack control of the Remote Control which I take for granted when in Leeds. No problem I thought, Radio 5 Live will suffice. Only, they were not broadcasting the match, and seemingly no other Radio station were. (Radio London was but I did not want the time delay of Internet Radio.) Of course, I should not need the pictures or radio to trade – they just help to provide liquidity, but I did not want to push it.

I was able to catch the last few minutes of the first half and a well placed bet as the Half Time whistle (When I will increase my stakes) went helped me to a book that read £21.50 0 – 0 and £5 “Any Other” book.

At this time, I did consider trading out for an equal £8 or £9 but opted not to. The price of 4.3 was too high, in my opinion. Another contributing factor was what I call “Net Scoreboard”, which is something I use that can drive friends crazy. The general theory behind this is what should have been achieved as opposed to what has been achieved. I believe that a multitude of opportunities in the past may only exist due to the small sample of time, and that, if anything, in the future these opportunities will be countered against rather than repeated. This has helped me several times in Rugby League betting, which is the sport I know most about, and the fact that I was significantly behind where I thought I would have been had I known the game would be 0 – 0 at HT led me to have more green on the 0 – 0 to try to take advantage of the very fast 55 – 70 minute decline in the 0 – 0 odds.

However, I never got to see the decline as an early goal for Tottenham in the second half left me with unusable green on the 0 – 0. However, I was not overly concerned by this. I felt I made the right decision.

What I did not make the right decision on was an ill advised bet on the next scoreline, 1 – 0, which I had previously said I would not do, and only an excellent save from the Wigan goalkeeper allowed me to escape, albeit with £7.50 now on 1 – 0 to which I set up a lay to allow me £6 after commission on any result.

Only with the 1.89 lay approaching, Tottenham scored with the market around 2. Now this angered me for two reasons – Firstly, a Wigan player was down for the goal and the ball clearly should have been kicked out of play. Secondly, I should have layered my trading out to ensure I got something.

Still, I was on for £5 from a trying evening which would also increase my knowledge, when stupidity hit. Recently, I had been trading at the end of games to cover my commission. Only, after missing a couple of times, I succeeded with a bet at 1.09, and when the referee ignored the 3 minutes injury time, and Tottenham ignored the corner flag, they scored a third goal. A stupid bet, a poor decision and one that summed up the night as I left with a £2 profit pre commission. I can only laugh.


To be honest, I had expected to start the blog with a loss, so to avoid that is possibly pleasing. However, if I refer to my net scoreboard, given the way the game went, I would have expected to make a profit approaching £20. Therefore, my net scoreboard is considerably down. There simply aren’t enough games where my strategy will work to leave such profit on the table.

In positive news, I was slightly concerned that my Netbook might not be able to fully handle all the different applications I use whilst trading, but I experienced no problems with it.


Selection Odds Stake(£) Bid type Profit/loss(£)
0 - 0 7.25 255.00 Back -255.00
0 - 0 7.04 260.00 Lay 260.00
1 - 0 3.40 25.00 Back -25.00
1 - 0 3.30 25.00 Lay 25.00
2 - 1 1.09 3.00 Back -3.00

Transactions: 31

Net Market Total: £1.90

Daily Result: £1.90

Next Update.

I am not sure if I will be trading any Soccer tomorrow, but I will definitely be trading the Arizona Cardinals v Atlanta Falcons playoff game, and probably the San Diego Chargers v Indianapolis Colts playoff game if I can stay awake. I have had some success in the NFL this year although this has primarily been through trading outsiders in non televised games and therefore I am not confident! But we shall see how things go.

I am also aware at the excessive length of my posts so far! Hopefully they will be toned down going forward, as I am currently discussing some ill advised theory and hopefully I will soon find a method and not need to explain it so much.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

What’s it all about?

This blog will primarily be an online diary of my happenings on Betfair. It is my first ever attempt at a blog and I am sure that won’t interest everyone but for anyone who is interested, feel free to read on and I would appreciate any comments that you leave.

History and a Review of 2008.

By way of background, I had never used a betting website, or taken any interest in gambling, until late 2007. If anything, my views towards betting were negative, and I was the ultimate risk averse person.

What changed was when a friend placed £10 on Croatia to beat England in that 3 – 2 game. He won £75 that night and for the first time ever I became marginally interested in betting. I can’t explain why. I just was.

At the time, I was watching the X Factor (Don’t judge me yet!) and had been following Oddschecker to try to keep up with who the favourite was just out of interest. Now usually, I will always have a favourite in each Series, and this one was no different. I was convinced Rhydian was by far the most talented. However, in every X Factor / Pop Idol I had ever watched, my favourite had never won and I was convinced that this year would be no different. As talented as Rhydian was, I just thought that his early portrayal would cost him. I was equally convinced the winner would be Leon. Not only did he have the Scottish vote (See MacDonald Brothers, 2006) but he had the teen female vote, and these are the largest voters on X Factor. (See Ray, 2006 and Shayne, 2005.)

Therefore, when I saw a free £25 bet on Betfair, I was drawn in and spread this between Leon and Same Difference. (It was the week before the Semi Finals and was convinced Niki had no chance. (See Rowetta 2004, Maria and Brenda 2005.)

It won, and I was drawn in further.

My next foray was just as successful. I had been regularly viewing Betfair since but had so far not bet since. I still did not want to part with any money although my interest was increasing. Despite being heavy underdogs, I was convinced San Diego would beat Indianapolis and so placed a very small bet. Watching the game, Philip Rivers threw an early interception when already down 7 – 0 and at this point I placed another small bet.

Again, I was right and the more I looked into something called trading and read some excellent blogs which intrigued me further, the more drawn in I was as I began to formulate various plans which I thought would work and be successful.

None of these actually worked (the worst being a lay of £100 on Chelsea v Barnsley – I was sure they could not lose following Manchester United earlier losing to Portsmouth and seemingly giving them the FA Cup) and at June I had almost lost the money that I had won, and at this time was more or less ready to give up.

Then came the German Formula 1 Grand Prix. I was watching the race when the Safety Car came out. Now, I had already had Betfair Mobile up as I had previously placed a lay on Lewis Hamilton. I knew that Nelson Piquet had previously pitted and was astonished to see him at 1000. He would at least be close to the front when all the cars went into the pits while the Safety Car was out. Therefore, I placed £2 on him expecting nothing but hoping everything. I traded out way too early (This has been a common problem!) but still managed to secure my largest win on Betfair, and the interest was back.

Next, my housemate who is a big football fan, wanted SKY, and whilst I have little interest in football, I was more than happy to get it so I could watch Cricket, Rugby League and the upcoming American Football season.

Since then, and for all of 2008, I carried on trading, mainly with small stakes. Somehow, despite withdrawing all my initial stakes, my bank balance now sits at £1,000 which is largely due to “The draw” – this being the Salford v Celtic National League 1 Grand Final at a time when a mysterious layer had been laying close to £10,000 at 100. Despite winning a lot less than I should have and hedging my bets at a ridiculous 4 before the equalising kick (Which in usual situations was at least 80% likely, but I, and a lot of others, were not willing to walk away with nothing!) I still managed my largest ever win.

Although in reality my bank account should be even more, but for closing out traders too soon (A real problem) and not having the courage of my convictions to back my intuition several times, the worst being Lee Smith for the Grand Final Man of the Match despite proclaiming it to everyone who would listen before the game. (Whilst I am a Saints fan, the hurt of losing was nothing compared to my lack of balls!)

2009 – The Plan.

If you are still here, well done, and I would love to receive any feedback!

Now that I have a very significant bank account, in my view anyway, I plan to “Go for Gold” in 2009. Trading is something I genuinely enjoy, which is key – the interest drives me more than the money, and something that I have obsessively researched over the past few months! (Past performance is no guarantee of future success, but if you are shooting blind, you are more likely to fail.) I like watching sports and I like the feeling of “Getting it right” and of following the Markets and trying to keep up and occasionally beat them.

This blog will be used to describe any successes, failures and experiences that I encounter in 2009. I hope to regularly update it and to also post on other thoughts I have, such as the methods and psychology of trading, why I am doing this, and also sports generally.

The sports that I am likely to trade on the most are Rugby League, American Football (For the next month!), Cricket, Soccer, Formula 1 and the occasional ITV talent show. The first three are my passions, where I try to use my knowledge, the fourth is a sport which I have little natural interest in, but whose mass availability combined with trading strategies provide interest, and the latter two are also what I enjoy and lend themselves to trading strategies. Golf also interests me but at the moment I have no clue about that. I also have no interest in either Horse Racing or Tennis, which appear to be the sports which are most blogged about in relation to betting – although I hope traders of these sports will still find the blog an enjoyable read. I have learned a lot from such blogs and followed some with great interest, despite having no interest in the sport.

I will usually explain the method I am using when discussing the actual trade as this will often change depending on the way the event is going and the resources I have available in relation to the event – I am acutely aware that there will be people who receive information before me and try to vary my plans accordingly – It would be useless taking a short term position on a non televised Cricket match for instance.

I currently do not have pre-defined stake sizes – I tend to vary these depending upon the price and how I feel, but I will be slightly more brave / reckless than before. This upcoming weekend I plan to trade both the 3rd Round of the FA Cup and the NFL Wildcard Playoffs (Go Cardinals!) and will probably look to use £25 and £50 respectively, but that’s far from sure.

I don’t therefore have any solid rules, but I am open to helpful suggestions – I am still a novice!

The Equipment.

The one thing that I believe is key is to have the right equipment. You never know when something may stop working. Taking things excessively (as I do!) I plan to trade on my brand new Samsung NC10 Netbook with my phone connected to Betfair Mobile as further back-up! (Won’t help if Betfair crashes though, which is the ultimate disaster) I will also have access to Cable TV / Radio as required unless I am out and about and placing a trade which does not require constant monitoring. And I’ll also largely be using the excellent BetTrader Pro, with the main Betfair site as back-up.

About Me.

Just a few words for now about me for those of you who don’t know me. I am 24 years old and currently living in Leeds, which is actually a pretty decent place. I hate my job and the Company that I work for and have been promising to return to University ever since I graduated! We’ll see on that!

Next Update.

Assuming I avoid the pub, probably tomorrow after the Wigan v Tottenham FA Cup game.