Saturday, 25 April 2009

How it came to this.

“If you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. One moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip?”

9 pm. Friday 17 April. Rikki Sherrife throws a ball from out of play to Mickey Higham for the most ridiculous try I’ve possibly ever seen. The crowd are open mouthed, too astonished to launch into the vitriolic attack that was to come. Bradford slip to second bottom in Super League. Fans want the board out, the players out, the coach out. Anything out. SKY do their best to talk up Saints v Bradford next week, but everyone knows it’s a foregone conclusion. I make a throwaway comment that it won’t be that easy, producing a laughter to rival that for Higham’s try.

5 pm. Sunday 19 April. Saints go past 50 at Castleford and a smile spreads across my face. I’m a Saints fan and happy that we are winning comfortably. Tony Puletua is running riot. However, I’m equally happy thinking of the possible over-reaction to the Saints v Bradford market. I might be able to lay Saints in the mid 1.1s.

Later that day, I see a thread on the Betfair forum discussing the possible handicap. Now, I’m no expert in handicaps. Truth be told, I ignore them. I prefer match markets. A handicap is a figure that is irrelevant to the game. If you’re up by 8 against a 6 handicap with a second to go, are you really going to commit as much as you would if you’re up by 2 with a second to go? However, I’m astonished to see talk of 20+. This is Rugby League.

And so it begins.

I can’t really explain my thought process too much, except to say that the more I thought about it, the more I began to think that this may not just be value, but may be a victory. How often do you see teams play brilliant one week and rubbish the next and vice versa. I am reminded of Bradford in the first half against Catalans and against Leeds. Sure, they aren’t a great side. Sure, they are lacking creativity, but they aren’t a rubbish side. Their forward pack is impressive. Their backs less so. Can they trouble Saints? Yes. Will they? Probably not in all honesty.

Wednesday evening. I put up a cheeky lay of Saints. Someone joins me in the market, pushing me up to 1.11. Someone else joins in at 1.15. I think the market may end up around there so stay clear.

Thursday morning. The 1.11 goes. My 1.09 goes. My 1.07 goes a bit as well as Leon Pryce is spared jail. My initial thought is that I’m in the shit. I drop down to 1.05. £500 more goes. I look at my screen in a concerned way at the red on Saints, but in a pleased way at the green elsewhere.

Thursday evening. Now, I have to commit. What level of red am I prepared to take in play? My largest ever was £50 in Huddersfield v Castleford when someone backed Castleford heavily just before kick off. My largest RL loss? £52 on Leeds v Wigan this year, after taking £100+ from a Ladbrokes offer earlier in the day.

I lose £30 in the National League One game. I look at the odds. I could place a lay of 1.04 and wait and see. I’ve made around £500 since Easter. These odds are wrong. I am a trader who hates to lose. I need to accept the possibility of losing. I also know there are bookmakers’ offers out there which could soften the blow, and I know the more I put on, the more an early try could give me a massive win.

Pretty much everyone I discuss it with is sceptical, but of course it is my decision.

So I decide to use £100 liability stakes at 1.03, 1.04 and 1.05. I put up £100 at 26. I am already at around £100 liability.

By this time, I’m shitting myself at the possibility of losing £500, but I think this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and what is £500 in the scale of things. 20% of my winnings over the past 12 months, primarily from watching a sport that I have watched constantly since I was 12? If that goes, so what? I can get it back in 2 months.

I look at possible escape routes and look into handicap markets, first try scorer and points market, but I’m not convinced. They could do more harm than good.

Then, I begin to think of how much I dislike my current job and the possibility of laying Saints at 1.04 for £1,000. That would give me a possible win of £25,000. Dare I go for this? Could it allow me the chance to follow my dreams? Is it worth it? I am undecided. Truth be told, I was worried about the effect losing so much money might have on me.

Finally, just before I go to bed, I look up posts I made from 2000 when I was 16. I find my preview of Wales v Australia in the Rugby League World Cup Semi Final. I said that Wales would come out strong, live with the Aussies in the first half, before tiring in the second half to lose 38-22. In the end, they lost 46-22 after a last minute converted try. Aside from that, I had predicted the game to a T.

I think of other outlandish predictions I have made which have gone in a similar fashion. Saints v Brisbane in the 2001 WCC is the main one but I also recall predictions from last year. Namely, Saints v Warrington in August 2008, lay Saints at 1.05 and back them back when down by 6 with less than ten to go. Hull to come back in the Cup Final. Lee Smith to win the man of the match in the Grand Final. Catalans to beat Warrington this year.

I am reminded of less successful predictions as well, like Leeds v Celtic, Leeds v Wigan and Widnes v Toulouse, but by now my confidence is raised. I am going for this.

Then something strange happens. Friday morning, someone takes the price out all the way to 1.1 from 1.06. Seeing this, I try to buy some of Saints at 1.08 and 1.09. I’m pretty sure this was just one guy and that the price is now over-inflated. I don’t imagine it getting any higher so I get rid of nearly my entire red, whilst adding in a lay bet at 1.07 and putting in back bets of Bradford and the draw. As they get matched throughout the day, I throw in another lay bet at 1.06 but as I leave work, the price is still around 1.07. I’ve had pennies of my 1.06 matched, but there is now a huge amount at 1.07.

I get home at 7 pm and get everything set up. I see the draw at the hilarious price of around 90, and get a fair amount matched at that price, whilst willing the price to come in. My 1.06 has been matched in parts, and I’m now willing it down to 1.05 as I know I’m first in the queue.

And this is where I began to think this could be something special. People who know me, know I am one of the most negative people around. I find £10 but lose 1p, get 99% on a test? I got 1% wrong. I’m naturally pessimistic and a moaner. I’m very rarely content.

However, for the first time in a long time, I was positive. This was not just possibly going to happen. This WAS going to happen. Bradford were going to win, and I was going to get the 1.05 matched. I had one phrase whirring in my mind. Fortune favours the bold.

The 1.05 began to get matched, and as the game started, I was £146 red on Saints and £2,500 green on Bradford and the draw.

To be honest, my trading performance throughout the game was very poor. Having taken this risk, I decided to leave backs in at 1.06, 1.07, 1.08 and 1.09 which all go as Bradford score an early try. Bradford score another try. They score a third. Is this really happening? Well no, as the video referee disallows it! Saints look like scoring, so I decide to trade out an even larger amount. Wait, no, the Video referee disallows that one too. Steve Menzies scores for Bradford, and the Saints are out to 1.7 range before the Video Referee disallows that one.

Less than 30 minutes in, and I’m guaranteed £200 despite trading like crap. I could have had £1,000 if I’d have left it, but equally I could have had £0, and Saints come back, scoring five quick fire tries on their way to 1.01. I get £1,100 matched on Bradford between 1.01 and 1.02. At this point, I think these are worthwhile lays. I gave up £17, and I think that a 16 point gap is not worth a 1.01.

In the second half, Bradford score and then Saints reply. Saints have the upper hand. Bradford are without Newton and Solomona. I begin to think that it’s all over. I’m not even going to get my largest ever RL win, but I gave it a bloody good go and fortune did favour the bold to the tune of £250.

What happened next is inexplicable. Bradford scored, and then scored again. 28-26 and once again my poor trading came back. I saw an opportunity to get my biggest win and did so. I gave away very poor value and then Bradford… score? Michael Worrincy touches down from a kick, although I’m sure he bounced it so I begin to back Saints. Wait, it’s a try. Wait, Bradford are ahead.

The next ten minutes are a bit of blur. Except to say that again I traded like rubbish although in my defence, I was there when Wide to West happened and I was equally certain we would see it again. I had joked before the match that Wide to West would be perfect. This is Bradford. Their choking against Saints is legendary. Surely, they can’t hang on.

Well, they did. And that is how we got to a situation where I was incredibly gutted by a £683.31 win. A win, which I called from the start. Maybe I lost faith in the middle, but by that time, my call would have already come far closer to the truth than anyone else could have expected.

Now, it’s Saturday, and as I reflect, I’m happy with my win. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it can also create second guessing, and whilst I did a lot of stupid things, even after the game!, I backed my initial judgement and it came off. Not to the extent I could or should have, but I did well enough. Too often I criticise myself, but I think I will take the day off today!

Forget the monetary win for a moment though. I think last night could turn out to be the most significant event in my life in the past three years. For too long, I have been overly cautious. I have been afraid to take the slightest of risks. I had accepted mediocrity in life because, well, I just had and I had been too afraid of the possible consequences of taking actions to attempt to turn my life around, in case they failed and made things worse. Dreams are a powerful tool, but more than that, the death of a dream can be a dangerous thing.

Now, it might sound crazy to alter this because of 80 minutes of a Rugby League game, but the events of this week have shown me what can happen when you back yourself. Sure, you won’t always get it right, but getting it wrong is never the end of the world, and the possibility of fulfilling a dream is a far more powerful tool than the negative prospect of a dream being delayed, especially when you consider that inaction delays the dream anyway!

And as for how I got this right, I can’t explain it. Maybe I make so many outlandish predictions that I only remember the winners, as they are the only ones to have impact or maybe I just have a high degree of success in spotting unlikely winners. Either way, the feeling that I had before the game was on a level with Lee Smith to win the Man of the Match in the Grand Final, Hull FC to come back in the 2008 Cup Final, and as much as I can remember!, Saints to win the 2001 WCC and Wales to perform so admirably in the 2000 RLWC Semi Final. All I know is that before kick off, I had managed to convince myself somehow, probably through sheer will and hope, that Bradford would win. I guess it is amazing what a positive frame of mind can do.

Just don’t be in a rush to expect another such prediction!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

What Could Have Been - Part II

There are a lot of Super League players and coaches calling for the end of two games being played over Easter, and given how I feel after trading 7 games in the past 8 days, I can only begin to imagine their exhaustion!

It says something for the standards that I set and the run of success I have had that I look back slightly disappointed after making over £400 since last Thursday, a figure which I’m sure I would have gladly accepted before that. At the end of the day, I have ‘earned’ £400 for simply watching Rugby League, something that I have done for years without even considering that this interest could provide such a windfall.

Still, there is a long way to go I feel. Take last night and Warrington’s demolition against Bradford. I won £100 before commission after trading the game. However, a typical punter could have placed £40 on Warrington, gone to the pub, and emerged £100 richer, whilst I frantically traded the market via short term positions to achieve my goal.

And that’s the problem I am having. My positions aren’t long term enough and my stake size is smaller than it could be. Without wanting to toot my horn too much, in the 5 Super League games over the past week, I have advocated that the favourite was too short, although I should qualify that I always prefer to watch the opening few minutes to see how teams show up before making a definite opinion. The results? Wigan at 4+ into 2, Hull KR at 2.2 into 1.1, Bradford at 4+ (and then 10!) to 1.01, Wigan from 2.6 to 1.4 and then out to 1000 and last night, when Warrington last night from 3.4 to 1.01!

Now, is that a set of events that should produce a £400 win or more? It’s the same problem that I recognised I had after Week 3 of the season, when sticking to my pre-season goals would have earned me around £4,000. I managed around £250.

I am now at the position where a stake size of £100 is less than 5% of my bank, but I still dare not let £100 ride on a team for more than five minutes, and usually I make a lot of additional trades in that five minute period. I regularly have 60% of my attention on the market, and 40% on the game. The irony here is that of course the one time I let a bet run for more than a couple of minutes, it went pear shape. (Saints v Wigan) although I still managed to recover from -£60 to finish the game in profit.

The fact is that whilst my Ashes summer is now paid for, I may never have another opportunity to make this amount of money again.

Still, I can’t play the woe is me card too much. I am constantly improving, especially in short term trades, and have achieved a fantastic profit. I just feel that I am being vastly inefficient, and still leaving a lot of profit behind.

As for how I have had such a good spell, it is important to note three factors. Firstly, the draw is your friend. Secondly, Rugby League is a game where a random piece of brilliance or piece of rubbish can appear without a moment’s notice and drastically affect the market. Even an odd refereeing decision can have this effect. Thirdly and finally, it is important to note the recent schedule of teams. Take Bradford. In 12 days they had flown to France, played a match there in sweltering heat, come back to Britain, played two tense local derbies and then had to back up for a fourth game. Such a schedule reduces the overall talent level on account of the exhaustion of the players and levels the game up.

That was also evident on Thursday, when I managed to win close to £40 on account of Sheffield’s come back from 31-12 down at Gateshead to 35-30 with ten minutes to go. Heck, I would have had a much larger profit but for Gateshead’s ridiculously timed drop goal in the first half, which hampered my draw bets, and prevented me from backing Sheffield at HT, as I was pretty much already at my max loss on Gateshead.

As for tonight’s game, I don’t really have an opinion at the moment. For once, I almost agree exactly with the market. I do think that Leeds won’t lose their fourth game on the bounce, but Huddersfield have improved considerably this year and surely will produce another good performance in front of what should be a bumper crowd. I do think that value may lie in the draw however, and will look to probably trade the draw during the match, as well as any other value prices that come up during the game.

Finally, I can’t go without commenting on Rikki Sheriffe’s actions last night. Words fail me to comment further, except to say that I honestly believe that was possibly the most bizarre thing I have seen on a Rugby League pitch. I mean, he threw the ball forward to begin with!

As always, any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Losing my nerve.

Identifying value in in-play Rugby League markets is something that I regularly find success in. However, I have always maintained that finding value in games which you can’t see is much tougher. The truth is, the range of performance is such that I don’t think anyone can predict what will happen. What should? That’s possible, but should’s don’t pay the bills.

However, as I mentioned in the previous post, I have had some success in flipping the coin recently. Maybe that’s because when I predict underdogs, you don’t need a 50/50 success rate. I also think this is particularly true at this time of year. Playing 2 games in 3 or 4 days is such a tough task, that it automatically pushes the teams closer together.

I identified possible value last night, and so set out to back Hull, Castleford, Bradford and Huddersfield. I managed to obtain small risk free bets on Hull and Salford, and also managed to get £25 bets matched on Huddersfield and Bradford, and £6 on Castleford. All in all, a combined liability of less than 3% of my bank.

Yet, I panicked. I ended up reducing my liability to around £4 in the Hull KR and Wakefield games, and half that in the Castleford game, and even then I traded away potential profit in the Hull KR and Castleford games, equalising green, although the sheer lack of liquidity means that reducing the red on a losing trade is impossible, even when the game is relatively close.

In the end, I did make around £10, largely thanks to Salford’s unexpected, but not impossible, performance. Maybe I am uncomfortable committing money with no escape route on a situation I can’t see, but it just feels another potential profitable opportunity that I am not taking advantage of.

Onto the in-play game today and I did not have a great pre game trading, losing any potential profit as I continued to lay Wigan even as they crashed. I really have no idea why Wigan started at a price even lower than most bookmakers! But like the Leeds game on Friday, I was once again caught out, even if I was more aware of the situation this time.

Although it did look like Lumpy would be about to win one in straight forward fashion at one time, Catalans caught a direct train to 1.01 despite Wigan being 1.4 early on! Thankfully, that put me in the almost unprecedented situation of having a three figure green at HT. I did “lose” some of this by keeping a very large green on the draw, should Wigan come back, as I looked for further opportunities in the second half, unsuccessfully (and any small successes were shifted onto Wigan and / or the Draw), but I can’t be too disappointed with an end three figure result from a game in which the draw never approached single figures.

However, I do feel that the policy of keeping equal green on the sides in the first half may be best adjusted. I can’t say for certain but after greening up practically as soon as Catalans hit evens, it does feel that I did waste a large amount of potential winnings, although equally, if Wigan had gone on a ride to 1.01, I do wonder whether I would be having these thoughts!

As always, any feedback would be greatly appreciated and welcomed!

One final thought, despite the tone of the blog, it should be pointed out that I am rather happy with my progress over the past few days. If there was this much RL on all the time, then I obviously would be in a very good financial position! I just want to note that I am a person who suffers from perfectionism, and will always look for ways to improve, rather than sit back and enjoy my achievements as is, no matter what they are. However, even I recognise that a total profit of around £275 since Thursday evening is a very good achievement, especially considering that I have really only traded Rugby League during this period!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

A mixed bag.

2 days, 4 games of Rugby League on the TV. It should be great. It wasn’t.

Things started well enough. Too well possibly, if such a thing exists. I had managed to lay Sheffield for £50 at an average of 1.2 before kick off, and in the minutes before hand, I got a £10 back of Doncaster at 7.2 matched. Doncaster score in the first two minutes, and I halve my liability, trading out at just over 4. Doncaster score again, and I green up equal on both sides at 2.2. I knew I would likely be busy for the rest of the match, and a £25 profit for less than 10 minutes work and over 100% ROI can’t be grumbled at.

A Doncaster penalty then made it 14-0 and they slipped further to 1.8. I know National League 1 games can be erratic, the last two have seen the draw trade in single figures, so I threw some cheeky backs out, and they got matched. After that however, no-one was interested in the draw market, and I was forced to keep more green on the draw than I would like. (I had next to no green on the teams, and whilst I had mentioned the need to be more aggressive, eliminating all green would have just been reckless.)

However, that worked out well in the end as the draw price traded in the mid 3s before a late Doncaster drop goal pushed it out. I ended up making close to £90 as I traded out in instalments. Sure, it could have been more, but it could have been less, and for a game which I only had half an eye on, it was pretty impressive. Especially considering my initial stake was just £20!

So, on a high, I settle down to watch Wigan v Saints. Pre match, I thought Wigan would show up well. They have always done so in the past when their backs are up against the wall, and the opening sequence showed this. However, what happened next was one of my biggest mistakes in trading sport. Basically, I was so desperate to get on Wigan that I accepted too low a price just before their first try, in fact I went in so low that even after Wigan’s try, the market shot up! (The liquidity was pretty poor early on, and pretty much missing in team attacks.)

At this point, I’m slightly nervous at the huge (by my standards) liability I have on St Helens, when they get the ball back from the kick off and score. All of a sudden, I am in a hole. A massive hole. Now, I have only ever had one big loss on Rugby League, and that was when I let a draw bet run in Leeds v Wigan this year.

I start to panic and make a series of ridiculous trades, which sees me accept a red screen of over £60 at Half Time. I then allocate some onto the draw, even though the price was lower than I would have liked, to at least have some green on my screen.

Anyway, during the second half, I get my screen back to around £30 red after regaining some composure, when Wigan begin to pressure Saints’ line with less than 10 minutes to go. I can’t remember the exact number of consecutive sets of six, but the Saints price rose to 1.5, and I went in pretty deep on them, thinking that even if Wigan scored, they would need a conversion to draw, and I know Saints usually finish strong.

Thankfully, Saints hold out and I can green out, although my mistakes aren’t over as I double back Wigan, leaving my green on Saints as £2. By this time, no-one wants to back Wigan and so I left my screen, still amazed at having got to an all green screen.

Looking back, I have to say that I really reacted poorly to my initial mistake. I never chased losses. However, I never thought through the subsequent bets. If I had stayed calm, I would have been in a better position, and I also really did not like the way I reacted to the events. At the end of the day, I was down £60. If I can’t handle losing £60, I should just give up now. So much for accepting more risk!

Onto Friday, and I was £20 up on the teams with a larger green on the draw at Half Time of the Hull derby. At 18-4, I was getting progressively greener on the draw, and I also decided to lay Hull KR at 1.1, for a measly £10.

Now, this is where I have the most difficulty in betting on RL markets. At 45 minutes gone or so, no team should be 1.1. I don’t care how the match is going so far, it is a crazy price for a sport which can be so heavily influenced by a piece of luck, or a mystifying referee decision. However, I equally know that if I lay the price, and I get it “wrong”, then all the profit that I have gained up to now, will go. Over time, I know that laying the price would be profitable; however, I am still reluctant to lose profit on that particular market. (Plus, the two instances where I have done this have been two of the only times that the price has never rebounded!)

Anyway, my heavy green on the draw allowed me to increase my green up to £45 on Hull KR, £55 on Hull and still have a large three figure green on the draw, although Hull’s comeback just fell short, at the last possible moment when a huge win was a distinct possibility.

Onto Bradford v Leeds and I got caught out before the game, turning a pre-game profit into a pre-game loss, as my lays of Leeds from 1.33 downwards kept getting matched! At the start of any Super League game, I will equalise to red or level between teams no matter the price, with at least £500 green on the draw.

And when Leeds scored first against a butter knife like attacking Bradford, it looked like a wise decision, although once Leeds appeared at 1.11, I started to lay them, convinced that Bradford would come back, although I was more interested in adding to my green at the equally wrong price of around 55.

Bradford equalised, and at Half Time, I was looking pretty decent. I had been conservative but I had a pretty good green on the draw. However, then the API system went completely nuts, and the game became untradable through the API, so I traded out to almost level green and watched the game, keeping slightly more green on the draw, although had the API been working properly, I am convinced my profit would have been far more than the £30 I managed.

Just a quick word on the game and the controversial decisions, I am sure that Leeds’ late two tries were indeed no tries, but I also felt that Bradford’s second score should not have been given. The ball from the kick appeared to change direction twice. I feel there was a very slight forward touch from the Bradford player, before the Leeds player re-directed the ball. It is only obvious when the incident is super slowed down, but I do feel Bradford got lucky with this decision, although their overall commitment probably justified the win.

All in all, I earned £208 profit this week as against my weekly target of £250. Overall, the £208 was pretty pleasing, although yet again, I feel that I did leave a lot of profit behind again. Especially when considering my near £1,000 profit in the Betfair Tipping Competition this week as against £100 stakes on Bookmakers’ best prices (I was successful on tipping Wakefield, Salford and Catalans in the non TV games. I tipped Celtic on the Handicap incorrectly, and also tipped Hull KR, Bradford and Wigan). Obviously, I would never risk £100 in any non televised game, but the concept of value is something that I should look into more. I do seem to be able to correctly predict as many underdog victories as I do incorrectly, and given that the odds of these are usually higher than 2.0, perhaps there is an edge there to be exploited. Perhaps, I’m just lucky, but I am doing very well in tipping competitions, despite this including several handicap markets which I am historically much poorer on.

More food for thought and maybe something I will look into more after tomorrow’s games. For anyone who is interested, I find the Warrington price to be ludicrous, (I think they should win, but I have no idea why Castleford are as high as 2.8), whilst I also think that Bradford are perhaps very slightly longer than they should be, the same with Huddersfield and I also would not be shocked if Hull defeat Saints. Certainly, at 8/1 or greater, they would be decent value.

Just to emphasize, in all four games, I agree the favourites should win. I just think the favourites are shorter than they should be. I don’t really have any opinion on Catalans v Wigan, but I’m sure I will be able to find one during the game!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

An encouraging start

If you are going to be successful, you will always need some luck, and this is especially true when trading football. Whether a novice or an expert, I don’t think anyone can say that they know when a goal is going to be scored, and whilst you can take advantage of this, it can also bite you on the backside when you least expect it.

I traded the Birmingham v Wolves game on Monday evening with an initial outlay of £20, although I would look to use £25 to trade 0-0 in the short term. My initial strategy was to cover Any Unquoted and the higher scores (where both teams had to score once) and to focus most of the £20 onto 2-1 and 1-2. The main rationale behind this is that these are scorelines which require both teams to score, and therefore regardless of who opens the scoring, the trade won’t be completely killed off after one goal, whilst it is always useful to have green on higher scores; for a minimum outlay they can prove pretty useful later on.

By trading 0-0, any profit that I gained I primarily used to cover 2-0 and 0-2, knowing that a goal would bring these odds tumbling down, whilst I also began to eat into 1-0 and 0-1 as the first half went on. However, I was more lucky than anything when I laid my profit on 0-0 one minute before half time, only for Birmingham to score in injury time, even if this still left me with a larger red on 0-1 than I would have liked.

As the second half progressed, I kept the green on 1-2 and 2-1 largely in tact, and looked to cover 2-0 and 3-0. The problem with this however, was that I was ever increasing my 1-1 liability, which was now up to around £28 and knowing that the odds would plummet on 1-1 if a goal was scored by Wolves with less than 15 minutes to go (so much so that my green on the next scorelines would not really cover), I got myself ready to trade out for a £5 loss on 1-0 and 1-1.

However, just like the initial goal, I got very fortunate when Birmingham scored literally seconds before I was planning to back 1-1. I could have then greened up for around an £8 profit, but decided to push my luck further, re-arranging my book to around £20 on the next scores of 3-0 and 2-1, whilst only keeping a couple of quid on 2-0. After all I have mentioned below, I would have been far more annoyed had there been another goal and I was level green, than I would be if there was no goal and I only ended up winning a couple of quid; after all this was substantially better than the loss that I almost accepted.

Obviously, there were no more goals, and my total win of £2.02 after commission probably doesn’t sound much, but it was an encouraging start, and a reminder of what patience can achieve.

I then looked to trade the Man Utd v Porto game, and aside from a mistake on the Unquoted scoreline, which drifted from 7.4 out to 9 before the game, I had a decent book, with an outlay of £40 and £160 on 1-2 and 2-1, a small cover of the higher scores, and I had also traded the Porto to nil scorelines to give a nice profit on 2-0 and 3-0 in the unlikely event Porto scored first. The Any Unquoted of £30 was probably less than I would have liked, however.

Exactly because I was trading 0-0, which was substantially higher than 1-0, I opted to place a lay of 1-0, knowing that an early goal would see this price drift massively, and although no goal would see this come in, I knew that the 0-0 trading would at the very least, cover this.

What I did not expect, was an early Porto goal, which left me in a far nicer position than I could have ever expected, although I did have £10 on 0-0 when the goal was scored.

However, whilst I have spoke of in the past, the need to be bolder and more patient and logical, the goal took me aback and caused slight panic. Whilst I was handsomely green on 2-1 and 1-2, the game seemed ridiculously open, and my small green on Any Unquoted was making 3-1 look very worrying. I knew I could green up for £20, or risk having -£40 + on 3-1, with very little in the way of Unquoted to support it, and this was heightened by Man Utd making it 1-1. (Again, I had placed £5 or so on 1-0 which was now gone.)

One major mistake, with hindsight, that I had made, was to back 1-1 at 5.7 to clear the red when it was 1-0. What I failed to remember was that whilst 1-1 would only decrease, the rate of decrease made it a poor idea to back it then. If a goal was scored, the price would shoot out, and it did. Meanwhile, if no goals had been scored, then my enhanced green on 1-0 would allow me to use that and the excess green on 1-2 and 2-1 to more than cover 1-1. It was a panicked response to a situation that I had not expected.

Throughout the rest of the first half, I did move around my green, leaving me with over £30 on any scoreline, albeit at the expense of the very large green on 1-2 and 2-1. The fact is, I find it very hard to play with green when a large percentage of profit as against the initial stake can be locked in. Maybe, if I had included Any Unquoted in the 1-2 and 2-1 mix, and not just attempted to cover it, I could have left my green on 1-2 and 2-1, but at 1-1, knowing that another goal would see 1-2 disappear and 2-1 lengthen considerably, I felt it better to take the profit now. A decision I don’t regret, even if having left it would have been more profitable in the end. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but such a decision would have been pure gambling, and could have left me with an overall red, which would have been truly ridiculous.

I avoided the second half with a profit locked in, aside from looking to back 3-1 and Any Unquoted when Man Utd scored a second, as I had still slightly more green on 2-1 than on the higher scores, although unlike yesterday, my timing was slightly off as I was just trying to back 2-2 when the goal went in. Still, a profit of £39.62 before commission is one I would have happily settled for before the match, and one that has given food for thought with regard to the need to maybe increase the green on Any Unquoted.

With more than £40 gained through two events, it has been an encouraging start. I may look to trade tonight’s Liverpool v Chelsea game, but having looked at the odds initially, they do not look great and therefore I may just miss this game, or use small stakes, especially with four Rugby League matches to trade on Thursday and Friday.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The way forward. Press play.

Well I got my bank up to £2,000 after what could be best described as a tumultuous Sunday. Now, I am one for laying favourites, but when Bradford were 20 – 0 up against Catalans, and with my red on Bradford at the max loss limit, I backed Bradford as low as 1.08. I know anything can happen in rugby league, but Catalans were looking awful, and 1.08 seemed a crazy price, as I bit into my £200 on Catalans and near £2,000 on the draw. If I could near enough halve my max loss limit, it seemed a good deal. Otherwise, my aim for a £2,000 bank by the end of the day seemed destined to failure.

Then, everything seemed to go crazy. Catalans produced the greatest comeback since Wigan in the 2007 playoffs, and the API and even the Betfair website seemed to go very slowly, to the extent that I could not hitch a ride on the Catalans train, and could not even cancel my backs of Bradford and lays of the draw! The end result was £60 profit, and whilst it could have been so much higher, I was pretty pleased as this allowed me to trade out of the Saints v Leeds game, get my £2,000 bank and watch the game.

This followed an interesting Saturday where, in the pub with friends, I put three bets on the Grand National for £2 each. The results? The three horses I backed came 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively! I’m not sure what the odds would be on that, but I’m still laughing now, although I fear that the person who laid the eventual winner at 1,000 to 1 probably isn’t!

I’m one for constantly making fresh starts, so I guess it would be a good idea to lay out my strategy for going forward, even if it isn’t exactly rocket science, as I am determined to put into practice the past twelve months of learning.

The first issue to decide upon is what to trade. Sounds pretty simple, but over the past twelve months, I have traded several sports, and whilst general principles do apply amongst them all, it is certainly true that particular knowledge of particular markets can offer great assistance.

Obviously I will continue to trade Rugby League in the main. In play RL trading is definitely where my current edge lies, and to be perfectly honest, this has subsidised development in other sports.

The mass availability of football also lends itself nicely to being a sport to be traded upon. I even feel fairly comfortably in this market as well.

Looking forward, I watch Formula One and Cricket extensively. I therefore think that it would be wise to continue developing skills in these.

Horse Racing trading is an interesting option. It is something that I certainly feel could be profitable, and something that I will aim to develop. However, given my current daily schedule, I would be looking to trade this on a weekend only, when the API connection is poor to abject, and when there are also plenty of other sports to trade upon, so this is firmly in the “Possibly” category.

As are tennis and golf for the same reasons.

I was quite profitable last year trading the World Championships in Snooker and may look into this. However, again I would be limited to evening trading and given that this is only for a couple of weeks anyway, it may be something I have a go at, but it won’t be something I rely on.

“Special” Bets are another option, but given the randomness of Britain’s Got Talent and my dislike for Big Brother, this is an area that will probably be left alone until X Factor.

Finally, I would like to trade NFL, but obviously that has shut up shop for the next few months!

I think that’s everything covered, although if any opportunities emerge, I will certainly look into them.

I think the two main changes that I need to make are to increase both stake sizes and attitude to risk. There is no need to go high risk, but certainly I should start to trust my opinions more, and stop trading out too soon, although dealing with green is something that I really struggle with after locking in a profit. The fact is, I have doubled my bank alone in the past two months, and whilst trading out too soon has sometimes eliminated losses, it has probably cost me larger victories.

Two other options, given my bank size, are to set aside two £100 pots. One, for shots around evens. Using £5 to £10 stakes and on the understanding that if it goes, the challenge ends. The other £100 pot would be used to back low priced favourites, with the possibility that if the market moves the other way, I would try to trade out at evens, to leave something in the pot, but if that went, then that too would be the end of the challenge. Options to consider, but I won’t be rushing into that just yet.

Another main change will be relative to the concept of “value”. Put simply, I am a trader, but I will now look to back where I see value. I will probably include this in the main bank, and begin using small stakes, and predominantly on RL markets. The fact is that I have predicted too many outsiders this season, which I haven’t backed. For example, I recommended Hull KR against Saints, and recommended Salford today (In the interests of openness, I also recommended Barrow, and even that didn’t turn out too badly for a near to 50 to 1 shot!). Both could be backed at around 8 to 1, so laying the favourite to gain potentially £100, would allow me to be wrong quite often whilst still netting a nice profit!

Ideally, whilst absolute targets should be avoided, I would like to earn £250 per week, (Note, I will also start looking into free bets with bookmakers to assist me, a profit is a profit and it is especially sweeter coming from bookmakers!) although I will have to wait and see how well, or badly, I do.

Hopefully this blog will be updated more frequently (and far more coherently!), come win or lose, (and hopefully anyone who reads this far will start leaving comments or does no-one read this far!), beginning with an outlining of my strategies on the two sports I trade the most, football and rugby league.

Anyway, with an early start in the morning (5.30 am to be precise!) I will save them for another day.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Temporary Interruption

I interrupt setting out my plans for world domination to provide a brief update on tonight’s trading.

Up until yesterday, I would have gone home from work and looked to trade the England football game. However, as I previously outlined, my new daily commute could impact upon my trading. The reason being that whilst I usually like to follow the market beforehand (Or at least have the window open to see liquidity / shifts) to get a feel for its general direction, spending an hour and a bit on a train after work probably isn’t conducive to this!

However, I had thought that getting in at around half six would allow me enough time to do the things I needed to get done whilst briefly following the market; indeed I could always get a quick overview from mobile internet and Lite Betfair. But I had forgotten one thing. One crucial thing. Namely National Rail, as my train was delayed and then cancelled due to, reports of “a cow on the line”.

So, late home and having not been bothered to check the market out, I was initially planning to skip the game and not trade, until I changed my mind at the last moment, loaded up BetTrader and decided to follow my 2-1 / 1-2 strategy having quickly looked at the odds, for a total liability of £10 (£7 on 1-2 and 2-1, £3 on Any Unquoted).

This strategy, which I will explain in more detail later, sees me back 2-1 and 1-2 with a proportionate saver on Any Unquoted. The line of thinking behind this is that the game can usually go in three ways; no goals (which allows me to take advantage of my 0-0 trading which I am comfortable with and have previously outlined), the underdog scores (which sees 1-2 and 2-1 prices come into the sphere of 1-1 and 2-0 prices, which tend to allow for a reasonable green) or the favourite romps home (bringing in Any Unquoted).

Of course, it isn’t that simple in reality, and I need to work on my laying off and not getting caught out in the middle of a temporary trade, but it seems to be a decent strategy. However, its application in the England game was hampered by the fact that 0-0 seemed to crash down from 11 to 9 from 7.55 to 8.05! (The .5 tick swings are usually particularly useful in building up 0-0). That and somewhat reduced in play liquidity could have had me regretting the decision to trade the market.

However, I didn’t get caught out by England’s goal, and with the game then staying 1-0 for 70 minutes, I was then in a position of looking at around a £1 profit or loss on 1-0, 2-0, 1-1 and 3-0 with much more healthy positions on the far out scorelines of 1-2, 2-1 and Any Unquoted although I did have an uncomfortable £30 red on all other scores. My current trading strategy is to avoid losses first and foremost, so any red always makes me slightly antsy, no matter how unlikely it seems.

Of course, Ukraine then grabbed an equaliser and I was then looking at 25p on 1-1, £30 on 2-1 or 1-2, and £10 on 1-3. (A very nice 50p back at 85)

Now, up until this week, I can pretty much guarantee that I would have traded out here for a reasonable £8 or so and left it at that. However, I decided to let it run, knowing the benefits that an extra goal could bring.

This is very much unlike how I have previously traded, but luck smiled on my side as a late England goal, allowed me to secure a £20 profit, whilst pretty much eliminating all red, and leaving an extra £10 or so on 2-2 and 3-1 in case of another goal.

More than anything however, what was a small win has given me a very large confidence boost, and shown me what can be achieved by letting bets run rather than laying off too quickly just to remove any red from the screen.

Maybe, I can do this. At least until the next time I make a mistake and have an equally disproportionate confidence loss!