Sunday, 31 May 2009

Have I got trading talent?

When I first started the blog, I commented that I hoped the profits that I knew I could make on Rugby League will allow me to develop new ideas in other markets to produce a greater profit, and whilst I have achieved greater wins on Rugby League, this last week provided me with my greatest profit from what I consider pure trading.

The amount? Some £274 and spare change before commission. The event? Britain’s Got Talent, which left me wondering whether my talent for accumulating money on Britain’s Got Talent could provide me with a possible entry for next year’s competition. (I’d love to know the running order before hand!)

I’ve mentioned before my fondness of ITV talent shows (this excludes the abominable Big Brother and the equally awful Strictly Come Dancing) and whilst I had not managed to greatly profit from the recent series of the X Factor and Dancing on Ice, I can’t forget that my first ever online bet and introduction to trading was a lay of Rhydian in the 2007 X Factor!

Despite not having watched the auditions in great depth, I settled down to watch the first semi final on Sunday with a reasonable knowledge of the likely contenders, although I have to admit to have not watched most of the semi finalists and it was to my utter astonishment that Susan Boyle drifted as far as 1.4 in the public vote win and eventually won £11.89 from the Public Vote winner and a massive 45p from the To Qualify market. For a woman who had at this point captured the hearts of Britain and America, that price seemed as absurd as her celebratory dance after her performance.

Feeling emboldened by this result, I cast a brief glance on the overall winner market and noticed that Susan Boyle had come in from 2.7 to 2 and I just felt that she would drift out again. The other more appealing note to me was that whilst the amount of money in the market was reasonable, there was nice convenient gaps between prices and it just seemed like a trader’s paradise, and it was to begin with as I pocketed between £6 to £10 on early trades until suddenly the price came right down.

At this point I faced three decisions. I could lay off for a small red, hope that the price would rise again or lay further thereby requiring a smaller increase to find myself green. However, amongst all this I noticed the percentage book on the backside was as high as 108%, and therefore I took the decision that maybe I could attempt to just lay everyone!

743 selections later, a total matched amount of over £8,000 (over £107,000 if you include the amount laid as a liability as opposed to just counting the possible win) and I was £260 richer, but it wasn’t that straightforward.

Of course, what helped most on Sunday and Monday was the fact that you could lay Natalie Okri at around 250 when she.. had… already… been… eliminated… Now I know that Simon Cowell’s shows are more stage managed than anything but this just seemed ridiculous, and whilst I would back her back (at odds between 900 and 1,000) this provided me with a nice amount (£8) which would provide further insurance for laying the field.

Another important note here is this is something that you could not do with a small bank, but thankfully having seen my bank increase lately, this was the perfect example of why keeping a large bank is a good idea. I would also make a similar profit through laying Any Other Act in a similar fashion.

Onto Monday’s Semi Final and this seemed like another “two from three”, or rather one from two as whilst Diversity seemed sure things, the last place seemed to be between Shaun Smith and Jamie Pugh, and the fact that they had placed a teenage boy singer on at the same event as Jamie immediately caught my attention. The fact is, Shaun could have stood there and sang Baa Baa Black Sheep and still made the top three because the teenage girls would think “he is fit”. As it was, Jamie unfortunately completely bombed, so much that Gareth Oliver was able to beat him into the top 3.

Now this is where it got very interesting. In the Winner market, you could lay Gareth Oliver at 80. This completely took my breath away. I mean, I had backed Gareth Oliver (only for pennies) at 950 and 800 before he performed. My one mistake here had been to lay Gareth before his performance at 460 and 510. He was someone who I had not seen before and part of the problem of laying the field is that you can end up with ridiculous green on no hopers. (I would end up with £2,300 on those who I did not manage to lay off on.)

So, this compromised my ability to lay off on Oliver at 80, although I still managed to lay off £52 at odds approaching 80. This did leave me with a huge liability, but I was confident that A.) He wouldn’t get through and B.) If he did get through, his odds wouldn’t drop too much further. I did however insure myself in the case he won the public vote, which would have seen a huge drop in odds, losing £4 from the £6.91 that I had gained from the To Qualify market. (Maybe I should have spent more on this market, but I was too often consumed by the Winner market.)

This was counter balanced by laying Shaun Smith and then backing him back as low as 11 afterwards, when you consider that he would then drift to over 100 before the final! And by not laying Jamie Pugh for a considerable amount after missing the initial drift and believing that any qualification would see a huge drop in price. Still, after just two days I knew that I could green up for around £100, although I still felt that further money was waiting to be earned with the market still operating between 105 to 108%!

Tuesday was a far more frustrating day, not helped by trying to trade the RL at the same time.

Again, the likely third placed act (MD Showgroup) came in massively throughout the show, and again I had laid off at much higher odds than they would come into, whilst I also would strongly lay Stavros Flatley whilst only laying Shaheen to a small amount. Obviously then when Stavros Flatley won the public vote (as should have been expected given that they were on last, a fact that I seemed to ignore as I concentrated on trading), they came in massively, and I didn’t help myself again by laying them further as high as 19 after the show, thinking they would drift, whilst obviously I could not really capitalise on the Shaheen drift.

Unfortunately, Stavros Flatley didn’t and I would use a not inconsiderable amount of my green backing them .

However, I then had two days to trade my position further, whilst knowing that the third placed act would likely come in massively, and the winner would also do the same. So, I was pretty pleased to have over £1,500 on Thursday evening on both 2 Grand and Julian Smith.

But then the twist came, for the first time in BGT history, the favourite would not be performing last. At this point, I started to lay off Julian Smith, thinking that maybe he would not be as good as what I thought, whilst I increased my green on the last act, Fabia Cerra, to £4,000 on the winner market. Worse still was to follow when after Callum Francis’ excellent performance, I started to lay off on 2 Grand. I’m sure you know what happened next as both Julian and 2 Grand came in after excellent performances, (even further after Simon Cowell’s comments who seemed to be in control of Betfair as he is ITV!), whilst Fabia Cerra never did anything to approach laying off territory.

This was by far the most annoying night of the competition for me. I had called it perfectly before hand, but found a way to mess it up and worse still arrived afterwards when I backed 2 Grand back as low as 40 despite their eventual drift to 200+!

Knowing that I would miss Friday’s Semi Final due to attending Yorkshire v Lancashire 20/20, I decided to equalise my position for all the finalists, despite believing that Susan Boyle was ridiculously overpriced at 2.3. Still, despite all the countless errors, I was able to green up for around £200, whilst maintaining a large amount on the four main contenders in the last Semi Final.

Unfortunately, due to being delayed on the train on Friday morning, I ended up having to work late and missed the cricket, instead getting through the door just as the running order for the last Semi Final was announced.

My trading during the last Semi Final was not as impressive as I would have hoped for. Good Evans were not as good as I expected, and soon drifted out to 1,000 before I could lay off! Then came Hollie Steel, and no sooner did she drift than she steamed back in what appeared to be a stage managed farce. The fact is that if a 20 year old had forgotten the lines, they would not have been given a second chance, yet she was and it sure appeared that the public had been manipulated. Further evidence of this lay in the fact that Greg Pritchard, who had shown himself to be a talented singer, gave a joke performance in a joke costume with a joke background that belied his impressive voice. Amongst all this, I had managed to miss the great prices available, although I did manage to lay Hollie to Qualify at a ridiculous 1.1 before backing back at 1.3, which coupled with a similar earlier back and lay of Aidan Davis, allowed me to cover all options on the winner market in the event that Hollie’s sob story would win out.

And although I had missed the juiciest of prices, knowing that I would be out on Saturday, I was able to close my book with £270 plus green on all finalists and my only activity on Saturday was to back Shaun Smith at 110 for a very small amount before laying him back at 80 to spread my profit almost equally.

If the above post seems frenetic and slightly confusing then it accurately reflects my trading over the past week. The general theory was excellent. Its application was mediocre. With greater patience and thinking the situation through more thoroughly, then my profit would have been far more impressive and referring to the all important net scoreboard, it does feel like I left at least £200 in the market.

Still, I think the biggest point in all this is rather than just accepting a small loss on Sunday, I turned things on their head and stayed relatively calm. Despite the number of mistakes I made, I profited in a way that I would have never imagined even a few months ago and it was on the whole another boost to my ever increasing trading confidence. Bring on the X Factor, I say!

Still here!

Apologies for a lack of updates on the blog to all of the people (two? three?) who read this.

I could bore you with all the reasons why I have been too busy to update the blog for a few weeks, but I am sure you're really not that bothered!

Anyway, my recent exploits can be split up into three distinct categories, and I'll hopefully post updates surrounding these over the next few days including my biggest ever trading win, the law of sod and Rugby League draws and a new idea which has gotten off to a very promising start.

All that and more to come, so stay tuned. Actually, you'd probably be best not because this ad break will probably last at least a couple of hours!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Part One – Is this for real and what is value.

The thought first came to my mind after the National League 1 game on Thursday evening. For nearly the past fourteen years of my life, I have watched and followed Rugby League with the same regularity and devotion that some people associate with religion and now I can sit back and watch the weekend games whilst earning money that some people would be satisfied with receiving for a full week’s work.

Of course, I don’t paint a picture as rosy as this all the time, and sure there are some negative aspects. The profit can never be guaranteed, quite often I experience disproportionate feelings of “What ifs” and I probably do spend an unusually large amount of my time thinking about the games and looking to trade the markets on match days. But I have made over £2,000 this year from watching Rugby League and whilst I quite often do this the hard way, it is entertaining and something that I have come to love and appreciate as much as the sport itself.

The weekend always starts on Thursday nights with the National League televised game, and thankfully SKY have chosen some very good games recently, and this one was no exception. National League games are harder to trade than Super League games and therefore any profit that I earn is one that I always appreciate more. The liquidity ranges from poor to dreadful, the players are part time which probably increases the randomness factor and it’s not a league that is as easy to follow and understand.

My trading also suffered in the evening when the API performance became intolerable, and I struggle to trade the amount that I do on the regular Betfair interface, which lead to another “What if” scenario. Part of my strategy is to keep a large amount of green on the draw, even having red on the teams if necessary. At 22-8, the draw could be laid in the low 20s, which was good value and certain to drift, so I removed my green from the draw, expecting to back it back in the high 20s or mid 30s. Up until this point, I had an average first half which had allowed me to build up a high three figure green on the draw, and with the game close at HT, it made more sense to leave my money here for now.

However, it was at this time the API started to play up, and not realising this, I decided to shut down and reload Bettrader. Now, I do have the regular Betfair interface open at all times, and could have backed the draw back

However, I got too concerned with value, and instead of taking one or two ticks lower, I held out for what I wanted, only for Widnes to come back to be level at 22-22 with fifteen minutes to go. Now, at this stage I wasn’t in a bad position. I still had three figures green on the draw and had taken some advantage of a “crazy” Widnes price to be able to build up a decent sized green on both teams. However, I know that if the API had been working correctly, my green on the draw would have been much larger, and I would have been able to trade out around the 4.5 mark for a very nice profit. (Note, that in these situations, I would much rather take the £100 profit than have £500 on the draw. The chance of there being no more scores is low and therefore I always lay off substantially at around such a point. It’s why I find backing the draw so advantageous but why draw layers can be equally profitable, provided they have a strong stomach!)

As it was, a late Whitehaven try meant that I ended up with near enough £50 profit, instead of the low three figures I had on the draw. Usually, such a situation would leave me questioning my strategy but as mentioned above, I felt strangely content after the game. The realisation that I had earned close to £50, a day’s wages for some people, for watching a game of Rugby League finally hit home and more than ever, I am convinced that this could be just the start.

More than ever I am growing confidence in my ability, only to not increase stake size or risk, almost as if I am deliberately holding myself back. I wish I knew the answer to stop trading scared!

I will post on Saturday and Sunday’s games later this week, hopefully tomorrow, but I will leave with one last thought that is currently perplexing me the most. Value. In a series of random events, how important is value. Is taking less than value to avoid loss a good strategy or does it simply reduce long term profits and who and how exactly determines value.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Day 2 of the Magic weekend.

If you would have taken my offer of £100 in exchange for my profits today, you'd probably be pleased that I had doubled your money, as I earned £202.18 when all was said and done. This gave me a total income of over £310 for the weekend, which is a figure that I am struggling to judge.

On the one hand, I comfortably exceeded my intended profit of £250 per week. On the other hand, with 7 games of Rugby League, I would have hoped for more. Including pre match trading, I probably earned around £15 per hour although I essentially received £310 for watching Rugby League, something which I would have done regardless of whether I was trading or not.

My pre-season hope of £100 per televised match now looks unrealistic, although stepping back for a moment allows me to see that I have earned £3,500 in the past eight to ten months. This is an outstanding amount considering that my initial hope was that my trading would pay for my Ashes summer. It's clear now that, barring a disaster, not only will that be paid for, but that a trip to America to watch Arizona Cardinals is also a conceivable option, given my current earnings.

As for today's games, the £100 wanted at the start of the day, probably didn't look so likely after the first game. I had identified Huddersfield as a possible 1.01 train, and they were exactly that although I did continue to lay Huddersfield throughout the first half, although some market trading despite poor liquidity and the bizarreness that was the Giants at 1.03 at HT. (Definitely the best 1.03 shot I've ever seen) allowed me to get out for a £5 loss, which was tempered by some small handicap betting to produce a total loss of £1.70.

The game illustrated a fundamental flaw in my trading. I recognised value in Huddersfield but rejected backing them for what reason? I suppose it could be because I recognise the fact that a random refereeing decision or piece of skill or rubbish can produce a swing, but that swing would not cause much more of a loss than it would if I had laid a favourite, especially when you consider that the further away from a 1.01 a match gets, the more opportunities I have to trade the market. Maybe it could be because of the initial outlay or possibly because backing favourites does not produce a big win, but that would be a poor line of thinking long term, as the only effect it would have is in reducing my long term profit.

On to Hull v Castleford, and this was the only match of the weekend that I was unable to watch. The game was hidden on the red button, away from Cable and Virgin viewers. However, I found an internet radio stream through the BBC and was able to listen to the game, albeit significantly behind the action.

The plan going into the game was simple. Back the draw and look to lay the leader if and when the market clearly over-reacted. The latter only happened once, namely following the first try when Hull could still be laid at 2.3. However, at Half Time, the score was 6-6, and I had £500 on the draw for no liability.

In the second half, I commenced laying the draw to guarantee a profit although my actions were far from sensible. I laid the draw in the teens for £35 all in all, but considering the closeness of the game, this was me giving away value, partly through the lack of liquidity on the game, and partly due to my desire for any profit. However, such an approach will cost in the long term, and I was thankful that my mistakes were not punished severely, as whilst I did miss the opportunity to heavily lay the draw in the single figures, when it was value, I did manage to achieve a nice profit for a game which did not end up as a draw.

Onto Leeds v Catalans, no rest for the wicked, and again I identified value in Leeds, believing that another 1.01 train was a strong possibility, and so it was in the first half as Leeds leaped out to a 30-0 lead, and this should have seen a loss of around £20 for me, but for some people offering extremely generous lays of Catalans and the Draw which left me with a £5 liability at Half Time, and a nice green on Catalans. Catalans' two early tries even allowed me to secure a profit of over £5, which was definitely a return which I was extremely fortunate to secure, and would lead me onto Hull KR v Warrington.

Straight away, I knew this game would be different. Whilst the other three games had struggled with liquidity, this game seemed to have more traded before the game than the others did during their games! Indeed, I was able to trade the market very well before the game commenced, giving me a sizable three figure green on the draw.

I'd love to say that I went onto trade the game very well, combining market trading with well thought out positions, but in the first half, I was very poor. The amount of liquidity in comparison to the previous games, made me feel like I was trading a market with the fast forward button jammed in. Thankfully, the amount of liquidity did compensate for my mistakes and at Half Time, I was in a reasonable position of around £50 on either team, with a larger amount on the draw.

The second half started out much better, as I was able to use my market trading to support my thought that first Hull KR were too large, before Hull KR went too short. Now, I must say that I still didn't get on board to begin with as much as I should have. Now, if I have no green, and I think a 1.2 shot should be 1.3, I have no hesitation in laying them and creating a large liability. However, when I already have green, I fail to take full advantage of this. It can only be that I become wary of throwing away already earned profit as opposed, but yet again this is another simple failure which will only cost me in the long term.

I also have to say that this was without doubt the most ridiculous market I can recall trading on Betfair. With an 8 point lead and twenty minutes to go, Hull KR could be laid at 1.2. What??? That price was simply ridiculous beyond belief, but the whole market in the second half seemed to be exaggerated at all times. Looking back on things, it would appear that there were new people in the RL market who were using large stakes but frankly did not understand Rugby League.

Now, I don't wish to insult these people, heck I want them to come back, but they were offering some ridiculous odds, although the speed at which some of the prices seemed to disappear indicated that they may have had some inside information. Despite this, they did seem to be using it in a poor way as Warrington came back and I remember seeing Hull KR as high as 1.83 with less than ten minutes to go, which was another exaggeration. Yet again, I managed to miss the bulk of this as it quickly disappeared and I was wary of committing too much money at such a late stage in the game.

In the end Hull KR did win, but only after crashing to 1.01 before the try being disallowed, pushing the market back out to the high 1.0s, doubtless creating some brown pants!

Amongst all this frenetic happenings, I somehow managed to earn my second biggest win of the season, with over £160 post commission. Frankly, I made a load of mistakes, but the increased liquidity and ridiculous prices sure helped me out!

I am not too sure what to make of the weekend in review. £310 is a very good profit considering all the difficulties I encountered and mistakes that I made, although I had started the weekend with much higher hopes. Hopefully, every mistake I make now will turn out to be a lesson learned for the future. I am very self critical of myself, and am aware that I did leave a lot of money in the market, but even I am pleased with my recent results although they do pose several questions.

As for Rugby League in general, it was a very encouraging weekend, with good local ticket sales. However, it must be said that a lot of the matches did seem to lack intensity, partly due to fatigue, partly due to the number of empty seats, and possibly due to declining standards. The move to 14 teams and the equalisation of the competition has many positives, but at the moment, the quality doesn't appear all there, although I have no doubt that this will come in time.

Back to the trading and I have now earned more than £1,500 in the past four weeks, which is a phenomenal amount although it does raise several questions as to the future direction of my trading, largely to what extent is this a hobby and to what extent is this a profitable exercise which I should take more seriously. Obviously, at the moment, all my efforts are concentrated on Rugby League, which is not a bad thing, but I am sure that there are other areas which could also be used to produce a profit which I am presently just not finding the time to investigate.

Hopefully, that time will come soon, although I am hoping to have a day of relaxation tomorrow. My method of trading can be slightly tiring, and I am looking forward to watching the snooker, and hopefully completing things on my to do list, one of which has been there for years! Procrastination is a powerful foe, but tomorrow I am hoping to slay the


If there was one word to sum up yesterday's events, frustration would be the choice. Not that it was a bad day. £100 profit is definitely a sound return, but the whole day seemed to pass by in a flash.

The biggest problem was liquidity which was frankly mediocre for position takers and largely unworkable for market traders. I am primarily the latter which I use as the foundations for the former and I was definitely on shaky ground.

The Salford v Harlequins game was first up and I had taken, by my standards, a very large position on Salford before the game. This runs counter to my usual thinking, especially with so many questions about possible liquidity, but emboldened by last week's results, I thought that the value was too good to pass up.

And then Harlequins got an early try and a 1.01 train looked a possibility, but if 1.3 was value at 0-0, then 1.1s was great value at 6-0 with less than ten minutes gone, and further backing of Salford was proven appropriate as Salford replied.

I then possibly traded out too soon, wary of the large red, before Salford scored again and Quins could be backed around 1.5 and with the woeful liquidity, I reduced my red to a manageable amount whilst maintaining a decent sized green on Salford.

At the same time however, I was growing increasingly frustrated by the woeful amount of liquidity, with practically nothing being traded on the draw.

The second half was a tepid affair, before a fortuitous refereeing decision sealed the win for Harlequins by which time, I had traded out for a small green on Harlequins, pocketing just over £10. As much as I recognise that I tend to trade out far too early, and the perfect example of this was to follow, I certainly welcomed my approach at the end of the game.

The next game, Bradford v Wakefield, seemed a million miles away from the previous game in terms of liquidity, atmosphere and the speed of the game. I had thought before the game that this game would be close and therefore slightly favoured Wakefield on account of the odds, and I ended up backing Wakefield all the way down to 1.1 in the first half, although they did rise enough after their try to enable me to reduce the red on Bradford to a manageable level.

This game was the perfect example of the odds representing the score and not the game. Wakefield had three tries disallowed by the video referee, tries which had they been given, would have equalised the game, and therefore I continued to lay Bradford in the 1.0s.

For all their pressure in the second half, Wakefield could not seem to find a way to score, and their lack of incision was making my decision look questionable, when they quickly scored two tries to close the gap within four.

At this time, my tendency to trade out too soon raised its ugly head. Having removed any red on Bradford following the first try, I continued to lay the draw for small amounts at around 30, only for the draw to plunge under 10 at 20-16. I had built up £1,000 on the draw prior to this, and had frittered it away in order to merely achieve green, rather than taking account of the situation and taking value. In the end, I managed to come away with just under £40. Again, a sound result, but unlike the last game, this was substantially less than what I could, and should, have achieved.

The final game was Saints v Wigan. As a Saints fan, I expected them to win and thought that the 1.3s represented as good value to favourites as I have seen in recent weeks. Still, I prefer to lay the favourites, and in the high 1.2s thought that the value was with Wigan, although I have to admit that I thought there was little to no chance of them securing victory after 80 minutes.

However, Wigan produced a good performance against an awful Saints side, who must have believed their own comments about the Magic weekend, and did not bother to turn up.

Despite this, I largely managed to avoid getting on Wigan. I did get on them at certain times, and built up a decent green, but nowhere near the amount of green that I would usually expect to achieve on a side that start at higher than 5 and trade below 1.5 in the first half. Part of this was due to my own belief that Saints surely would not lose twice on the bounce and part was down to the very poor liquidity on the game. However, there did seem to be an abundance of liquidity on the draw, and again I had managed to build up a nice green on the draw.

At Half Time, I was astonished to see the draw trading as low as 17, and could have achieved an equal green of £80. Now this was value, but unlike the Bradford v Wakefield game, I disregarded this and hoped for a Saints comeback only for Wigan to score again within the first few minutes of the second half. This was a poor decision by me, and one that cost me, although I did manage to gain just over £50, representing a total win of over £100 on the day.

It says something that I look back with more than a tinge of disappointment despite winning £100. Mistakes and poor liquidity were the major factors and whilst £100 is definitely a good win, it is fair to say that I had hoped from more following 6 hours of Rugby League. Although having seen the markets in action yesterday, I would gladly take £100 if anyone offered that to me now for today's action.

As for today's games, I feel that Huddersfield and Leeds could produce 1.01 trains, whilst the other two games are too tight to call, although as per usual, the opening 10 minutes can very quickly eradicate pre match thoughts. I am just disappointed that what could be the best game trading wise, Hull v Castleford, will be hidden on the red button, away from my television and countless others' which will probably drop liquidity to an impossible level.

I have already commenced trading the matches before play, and will hope to transfer any green onto the draw before the match begins before hoping for underdogs to come good before the favourites come back to level the game up at the full time whistle. Well, that is what I am hoping for!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

It's here

Murrayfield magic that is, or whatever the title they have given to this weekend's events.

7 games of Rugby League across 2 days. I am just thankful that it is a bank holiday weekend, I will need Monday to recover now that SKY are showing all the games.

For some strange reason, I don't have a great initial feeling about this weekend. A lot of questions for me, including liquidity and how will Betfair hold up. Not that the RL will cause it to crash, it's the soccer and horse racing combo that does that!

I am also caught between a desire to be more aggressive like last week where it helped me, and the obvious issue that such a strategy will cause larger fluctuations in short term profit, something that I am less than keen on. Especially when I consider the fact that this weekend happens but once a year, and therefore I am feeling under more pressure than usual to take advantage of it.

Rather than duplicate my thoughts here on individual games, I'll be posting random thoughts here - (And also on the Betfair forums.) Feel free to drop by, usually I end up talking to myself. The men in white coats can't be far away. I'll soon know whether I would have been wise giving myself up. I can only hope that my decision to avoid them will prove profitable.