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.


  1. Hi Craig,

    really good blog post. Keep up that good working!
    I added your blog to my blog list at
    Please can you do the same for mine?

    All the best!

    Cheers, Loocie

  2. good luck finding the holy grail...a successful method of football trading!!

    Tried them the end I just gave up, and stuck to a more trad approach of backing who I think will win, and greening out if they score.
    Or backing ManU/Chelsea/Celtic/Rangers/Real or Barca if they go a goal down!!

    Good luck with the NFL tonight....won't be able to trade them, but I may have a little punt on the Colts!

  3. Thanks for the comment Lockie. I have returned the favour and added you to the Favourite Blogs section!

    Good luck in the New Year. I am sure that after having had some experience, you will be able to meet your £1,000 target in 2009.

  4. Amorphous - I agree that finding a "holy grail" appears impossible. However, I hope that I can find something that usually works! Football will never be the sport I make the most money on, but I might as well try to make something whilst I watch it!

    As for the NFL, I hope that Indy win, primarily as I am a huge fan of Peyton Manning and do not have much time for Philip Rivers (Rivers runs his mouth way too much, in my opinion).

    I always have trouble backing Indy at the start (They quite often fall behind early) but 1.95 appears way too long. Objectively, I make them at most a 1.7 shot, unlike last year where despite a 10 point start on the Handicap, I actually thought San Diego would win. People appear to be over-estimating San Diego being Indy's bogey team.

    Having said that though, watch the Chargers go and win now!