Monday, 2 February 2009

Review of January 2009

Monthly Result: £-10.00

It says a lot about the month that despite losing 1% of my bank overall, I feel pretty good about the end result. Looking back to the start of the month, I had envisaged that merely by clicking my fingers, that I would be able to transform my trading methods of the past year. I now realise that was absurd.

I had gotten to where I was primarily by trading on Rugby League and backing events with very small stakes or looking to take an immediate tick and green up. Therefore, telling my brain to use larger stakes and to ride the rollercoaster some more proved to be very challenging, but it is a challenge which I am much more prepared to deal with now, than I was at the start of last month.

I primarily traded two sports this month – Football and American Football, and will look at these separately.

American Football

Monthly Result: -£19.85

Up until the start of the month, I had very rarely traded games that were broadcast on SKY. I can remember having a little go a couple of times, but the large amount of my trades were in games which weren’t broadcast in the UK.

Now, I don’t have the relevant statistics for the regular season, but my basic plan was to trade on games in which I strongly disagreed with the price, with stakes between £2 and £10, and trade out in the first quarter if possible, with the green being split in line with the way I thought the match would end.

I would also keep an eye on most markets, during the game, and look to get involved where I strongly disagreed with the price. For example, I would regularly lay a team if they scored on the first possession. The drop in their odds can often be quite ridiculous, in the NFC Conference Championship Game, the Cards went to favourites based upon the opening drive for example.

Consequently, not only was I betting on a much more liquid market when I bet on the Playoffs, but I was largely attempting short swing trades, which were harder than I thought and something I had little experience in dealing with. Therefore, I often got stuck in positions I did not like or became wary of entering the market.

The only games that I attempted long term trades on were the only games I made more than £2 profit on!

In the Indianapolis v San Diego Wildcard game, I went to bed leaving my green on San Diego, whilst in the Baltimore v Pittsburgh game, I backed Baltimore pretty early on for value reasons for a small stake, and whilst they crashed early, which led to me increasing my Baltimore back, they did come back just enough to allow me to green out.

The most interesting game was the Arizona v Philadelphia game. Being a Cardinals fan, I was too involved in the game to really attempt to trade it, but I decided to back the Eagles as soon as they went over 2. I had set myself a maximum loss at £25, and kept adding to my Philadelphia green as Arizona reached prices of 1.07 before they came back, and at this time I had three figures green on Philadelphia and £20 or so red on Arizona.

The Cards then traded over 3, but I was largely convinced that the Cards would find a way to blow it, that I allowed my heart to rule my head and did not trade out. Therefore, a £80 win, which I would have taken if anyone but Arizona had been playing, became a £24.06 loss, and this really caused me to mess up on the football, see below.

Looking back on the game now though, I feel that this provided a huge lesson; it made me realise that once I can learn to stomach the rollercoaster, that longer term betting would be more effective than being forced into quick trades, just because the game is on SKY. It is much harder to bet on whether a receiver will drop a pass on 3rd and 9, or whether a Quarterback will be sacked on 3rd and 4, than it is to look at the direction of the game. (I was able to largely avoid this in non televised games, by poor liquidity, small stakes and a belief that my view would eventually be right. I failed on SKY due to wanting to get involved afresh on the new series.)

Lesson Learned: In the new season, trade with a view to long term results. It appears to be what I am better at. I won’t get every 1.07 that I lay, but I don’t need to.

Markets Traded: 9

Wins: 3
Losses: 4

Average Result: -£2.20

Average minus largest win: -£1.65

Average minus largest loss: £0.53


Monthly Result: -£2.77

I started the month by articulating my 0 – 0 strategy and aside from varying the stake sizes due to decreased confidence and poor performance, not much has changed. Obviously my strategy can be problematic once a goal is scored and I have been looking into other scores as possible escape methods, but with Lite Betfair still being down, I haven’t been able to chart as much data as I would like so that remains a work in progress.

I had previously delved into the To Score market and Clean Sheet markets which I may look into again, but again more research is needed, as is with my backing of 0 – 0 scorelines which by the end of the month, seemed to have a direct correlation with the eventual result!

One thing that I quickly learned with my 0 – 0 strategy, is that I am much better when the tick sizes are above 10, and therefore trade in .5 increments. When that went down to .2, .1 or .05, I really struggled with the increased volatility. It’s very easy to look at the higher tick sizes and jump in and out where liquidity is low, but on the lower markets, they tend to track play more accurately, and whilst I do watch the games, my current strategy can fail when a large amount of money is placed on the market, or when an obvious goal scoring opportunity is missed and the market dives by 2 or 3 ticks. Looking forward, I am sure that there is a method to take advantage of this, and I have put this on my to track list as well!

Perhaps the most interesting part of the month, was when I found myself seemingly able to alter the course of a match. Not backing 0 – 0 meant it was 0 -0. Backing it, meant it wasn’t, and this strategy caused me to lose £16 when the last midweek Premiership Fixtures all ended up having goals scored, although my decision to then back all 0 – 0s on the Saturday seemed to end the curse – with 3 games ending up 0 – 0, although my trading out policy meant that I only won £14.15. Leaving them all would have resulted in a win of over £50.

It also showed that I simply cannot chase losses. Even in a position where I found myself down, I did not increase the stake size. Sure, I made some questionable decisions, but this was not due to the loss, just due to the situation, and any “curse” that may have been hanging over me was then expelled once I laid 0 – 0 HT in Man Utd v Everton moments before a penalty was awarded. Not that any such curse existed in the first place, just several random events all conspiring in one direction which created severe feelings of exasperation!!!

I know that I have a lot to learn on football trading, but I do feel that I learned some important lessons in the past month.

Markets Traded: 40

Wins: 14
Losses: 17

Average Result: -£0.07

Average minus largest win
: -£0.34

Average minus largest loss: £0.24

Lesson Learned: I need to chart more data and reduce my liability in the 0 – 0 problem areas.

Additionally, in the interests of completeness, I did win £15.03 on the 3rd Elimination in Dancing on Ice and also lost £2.41 on Horse Racing, which was very interesting. Previously, I had refused to entertain the idea of trading on Horse Racing due to what I now believe to be illogical ideas. The fact is that trading before the start of a horse race, whilst seemingly completely random!, is something that could potentially become profitable, although a lot more work is needed on this front.

General Thoughts

It has definitely been the most difficult month I have had trading since June 2008, but looking back that was only due to the unrealistic expectations I set myself. Certainly, I feel more prepared to approach February as I had hoped to approach January, which is important because the new Rugby League season starts this month. Rugby League was by far my biggest earner last year and it is along with the NFL, the sport I follow most (Cricket is a close 3rd and I hope to start trying to trade on that, although I am not sure how successful that will be!). Without giving too much away, in 2008 I largely backed the draw and the underdog. It won’t always work, but certainly in 2008 a lot of the prices did not reflect the actual game, just the scoreboard.

I have also been amazed at how time consuming the blog has been – although to be honest, that is largely due to the amount of time I waste, as well as getting caught up in Arizona’s run to the Superbowl! Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep the blog updated more in February, and hopefully I’ll be able to update it more with positive results!

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