Sunday, 22 February 2009

When a loss is worse than a win

Ordinarily, a weekend winning £100 would be construed as a good weekend. It is not enough to retire on, but it is a nice amount when you consider that the profit has solely come through watching rugby league, something that I would have done for free.

However, winning £100 when backing a 4/1 shot before the match, and maintaining faith with them when they were available at 15/1 on Betfair, is quite frankly appalling.

Last year, by the end of the season, I had settled into a nice routine of winning around £50 per match via trading the market and re-ordering my green as I saw fit, and so winning £47 on the Leeds v Hull KR match was nice, if frustrating in some respects due to the errors I made, although given that this was just the 4th traded match of the season, the errors were largely excusable.

Going into the match, I harboured concerns about what Leeds outfit would turn up. Would they be too concerned about the impending World Club Challenge, and how would they miss the controlling influences of Rob Burrow and Danny Buderus.

Trading at 3.85 pre match, Hull KR were very close to the price that would have made me consider whether to back them (I had their value price at 4) but I was glad I didn’t when Leeds scored the first try, although seeing Hull KR at 5, I decided to transfer my green onto Hull KR, a decision which paid dividends as KR led 10-4 at the break.

However, I had by this point managed to eliminate a large proportion of my green on the draw, when I accidentally used the wrong stake at one point, and in my haste to cut major losses, I traded out at an immediate loss.

Again, I spotted value at Half Time, backing Leeds at 2.38 (They had not been great, but they were clearly up for the game and I had them rated as a 2/1 shot), and whilst I did not ride them home to victory, I did enough throughout the second half to achieve a nice profit, even if I was frustrated that I had not dived on the value (I merely put one toe in the water), as I had said I would at the start of the season.

Still, it is early in the season, and this was my first time watching Hull KR, so caution was probably advisable, and I had no complaints with my win.

Saturday night was oh so different, and could turn to be a major turning point.

Before I look at the prices for any match, I attempt to predict what the market may be, and what prices would constitute value in my opinion.

I had expected Warrington to be somewhere in the 1.4 – 1.6 range, maybe a bit lower, and I had their value price as 1.8.

Imagine my absolute shock then, when I saw that Warrington had traded as low as 1.2 on Betfair and were as short as 1/6 with some bookmakers. Now, I know that Warrington had seemingly performed well against Saints for 50 minutes, and that Catalans were surprisingly well beaten by Huddersfield last weekend and had a long journey to make for the match, but this price seemed wrong.

My initial shock was brought back somewhat when I looked into the matter more; Catalans had endured a horrible Pre Season, Kevin Walters is a very unproven coach, and a lot of people whom I talked with about the game, and whose opinions I deeply respect, saw this match as a walk in the park for Warrington.

However, I could not get away from what I had seen with my own eyes when watching the game against Saints back (I thought they looked dreadful in attack and sieve like in defence for the last half hour, against a Saints side who looked rather insipid. This belief was reinforced by the fact that last year, Warrington were undeniable flip flop kings, with seemingly every game resulting in Warrington turning the form book upside down, and I saw no reason for this to change, with the Wolves having stuck with James Lowes as coach, a decision which in my view was at the least, very questionable.

That said, I am not an instinctive gambler. I am a trader. I use my knowledge of the market to get my green, and then adjust the green slightly in the way I see fit. I especially do not like calling games before the opening 10 minutes, teams’ range of performance levels is such that calling games before they start is largely a lottery.

However, with over £150 profit from the past eight days Rugby League, I thought that my belief was strong enough to risk at least some of this, especially as my confidence levels were reasonably high, having called the past three matches with some degree of success. This is what I had said I would do before the season and there would never be a crazier price than this.

However, I chickened out. Not totally as I took some red in play on Warrington, but I had left corresponding backs in which were minimally above the starting price, the effect being that I was already green on Warrington before Catalans scored the first try.

However, as Warrington raced into a 18-6 lead and were as low as 1.06, you may have thought that I was pleased with my lack of courage, after all I had seemingly tipped a game wrong. Only I wasn’t. I know Warrington well enough, and saw enough with my own eyes, to know that this match was far from over, and as I converted my green on Warrington into green on Catalans, the French outfit scored a try which reinforced my belief only for the Video Referee to intervene and me to chicken out once more, at a minuscule profit.

The second half was more of the same, as I mixed my belief of a Catalans revival with my inability to take risks, regularly taking £2 to £5 profits, ending up with an end profit of just under £60.

One thing that is worth noting though, is whilst I tipped Catalans at the start, they did fall behind. What would I have done then? Cut my losses, or hope for a comeback? It is not as if they were an easy 1.01 train to ride.

So at the end of the week, I am £100 better off, but with serious questions having been raised about my ability to succeed.

The simple fact is, that whilst I have never been a gambling man, and have always naturally tended to be risk averse, I thought that this would be something I could overcome. Sadly, it looks like I can’t. Over the past nine days, I have successfully identified value in all four matches, only to be too cautious to act upon it.

Why? I have no idea. The money that I trade with is profit from last year. The stake size isn’t a problem, I trade out of £2 bets!

So, why?

The only logical answer is that I am scared of losing. Not of money, necessarily, but losing. Now, that would appear to make no sense given that I regularly point out value to others, but it would seem that when it is all on the line, I draw back into my shell.

Is this something that can be fixed? I have mentioned before that this approach can also be found central to my life where quite often, I will always take the safest option, be it with anything. I am not a natural risk taker, but at the moment, I seem to be avoiding risks that are the equivalent of crossing the road. Yes, there is some risk there, but it is largely minuscule, and even if the risk goes against me, it is not going to make a material difference.

Do I just not trust myself enough? Is that the problem, and can this be fixed.

I will stop there, but the fact is there are serious questions that I need to answer, and if I can’t then I won’t succeed here or possibly anywhere, but to end with a positive, at least it is all in my hands.


  1. Craig

    A trick I've tried is to write off an afternoon beforehand, decide on a pot I'm prepared to lose, and then play in a forthright ( nearing aggressive ) manner. It's a good stress reliever, and you can end up winning, particularly if, like yourself, you have prepared and analysed beforehand.

  2. Thanks for the comment, mate. Sorry it has taken so long to reply - My internet has been down until yesterday!

    Your suggestion is definitely a good one, and one that would probably be worthwhile trying out.

    Good luck with your betting - I especially like your highly professional set-up! Let me know if you find a quad mug-stand!