Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The beauty of art? It's always right.

As per any post, the following is just a collection of my thoughts and experience and does not constitute any advice which I would recommend someone using and is no guarantee of future performance! With that out of the way….

From a classical painting to a scrawl on a wall, these days almost anything is capable of passing as art. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that the Draw in Rugby League is a result which provides profitable opportunities for layers and backers.

I hoard data for Televised Rugby League matches and, with the exception of March, have complete records of all my Rugby League bets this year, and believe me, that’s a lot of lines of data!

So far, there have been 65 televised Rugby League games this year by my count. Of these, there have been two draws. Warrington v Hull KR and Batley v Gateshead. From experience, I would say that a determined layer could get matched, on average, at the start of play, in the 26 – 30 region, let’s say 28. (I was hoping to get actual statistics, but this would represent my bets only for now, so I’ll largely rely on my memory!)

Therefore, the average backer would probably be in deficit, and the average layer, would probably be slightly in profit. However, that only tells half the story.

Say, as a layer, you were to choose an exit point of 3.95. Assuming a £10 lay at 28, then pulling out at 3.95 with £70, would limit your liability to £63.50 (It’s not an exact match, but this is just general comment so it’ll do – obviously as well you would need to choose a higher exit point to get fully matched at 3.95 in most cases, but as this is just a general illustration, it will do).

Now, there have been four games where the price has dipped under 4 from my records. In addition to the two above, there have been Castleford v Leeds, where 1.01 on the draw was overturned, and Featherstone v Leigh, where my lowest bet was a £10 lay at 1.41.

In the interests of full disclosure however, I have seen four games where the price dipped between 4 and 6. (Sheffield v Doncaster, Whitehaven v Widnes, Hull v Castleford and Huddersfield v Castleford – I also remember Bradford v Leeds approaching this range, but my API connection was down for that game, and I also don’t have data for Castleford v Huddersfield, where the game was decided by two points.)

So, using this as a liability guide, then you would have four losses at £63.60. And sixty one wins at £9.50. A total profit of £325.50. Not bad, when you consider that you could employ such a strategy with a stop loss tool, and no further work would be required.

Obviously, whether 4 would be the optimum get out point is something that is beyond the discussion of such a limited statistical sample. I am just using this to illustrate the potential profitability for draw layers. I am also not going to discuss whether there is a point where you can back draw bets back, mainly because I personally would never contemplate laying the draw.

Why? When laying the draw appears to be profitable?

Because, my approach, I believe, is far more rewarding, and for myself, entertaining. Put simply, I am a draw trader, and a large one at that. This weekend alone, I traded over four figures on the draw in the three televised games, and if you look at draw liquidity for these games, you will see how comparatively big this is!

Let me state from outset that I would not recommend any novice trade the draw like I do. Not only is it inefficient, if you are unfamiliar with RL or the RL markets, you risk being heavily damaged. It also forms only one part of my trading which sees me turnover a relatively large amount, and without that, I don’t think my strategy would work. I have watched Super League ever since it commenced and have followed the RL markets for over a year. I am at the point where I likely know when to back and when to lay. Of course, I still get it wrong fairly regularly so any newcomers should focus on a more simple strategy.

The draw price in play is of extreme volatility. It appears to resemble more of a betting market than a trading market, which offers opportunity to traders although liquidity is usually poor and therefore you should always be extra careful, especially in Thursday night games which inexperienced traders should just avoid. If you back the draw at a relatively high price, say before the start of the game in the 30s or during the game when the favourite has a clear lead, then usually, you will receive an opportunity to trade out for a risk free profit on the draw. Not always, and sometimes the amount that you can trade out for a profit is neglible (I accept £50 green on the draw from a £10 stake.) which is why I will look to use much larger stakes.

However, if any newcomers adopt such an approach, but don’t equalise the green, then, when the draw comes into single figures or the low teens, you can achieve a nice profit. (My records indicate 16 games have traded in single figures?) The key is that obviously the draw rarely happens, and waiting for 1.01 will cause a loss in the long term unless you have a staking plan. However, if you are willing to trade out, and look to solely avoid a loss to begin with, then you will have the opportunity to profit in the long term once you are able to decipher the RL markets, and once you are familiar with that, then you have the opportunity to increase your stakes, increase your risk and, with some luck, increase your profits.

But for now, and for any newcomer, the number one objective should be to look, listen and avoid losses. Such an approach certainly served me well during my initial learning process and even though I am still learning, I am now able to increase my stakes and risk and hopefully I will profit further. (Certainly, having four figures on the draw for most of the Wigan v Hull KR match was interesting and helped me to achieve my second biggest RL result ever.)

And with that, I will re-iterate my stance on not following my words too closely. There will be several better strategies out there than mine, that is for sure, and I have only started to outline my strategy and to outline that a profit is a possibility regardless of your initial position.

The best advice is your own advice. No-one told me to trade the draw and no-one should tell you what to trade. This is merely a starting point. Your own intelligence will make the next step, but if anyone has any questions, then feel free to comment.

Part Two of my Review

It’s fair to say that the review of my preview took slightly longer than I thought it would yesterday, so I’ll try to condense my thoughts into more manageable bites here!

7. Warrington Wolves

My prediction: 5th

I identified that James Lowes was not ready to coach at the highest level in Super League but paid too much respect to the team’s ability on paper.

New coach Tony Smith has transformed the attitude at Warrington, and they are already becoming a more consistent side, even though they have a long way to go. The Wolves are still over reliant on the erratic but individual brilliance of Lee Briers, although Tony Smith has generated more consistent play from the whole side which makes Warrington as dangerous a side as any outside the top two, although it will be next year before we see them at their best.

8. Wigan Warriors

My prediction: 4th

I identified Tim Smith as a key player, and the fact that he was dropped for a part of the season illustrates why I got this wrong! Wigan have shown what they are capable of, but they have on the whole disappointed. Their forward pack is playing well below expectations, and their backline comprises players who are not reaching their potential.

Looking forward, Wigan’s comeback against Hull KR showed great spirit coming as it did following the suspension of Gareth Hock and the speculation of Brian Noble’s future. Add in the superb way that Brian Noble has handled talented youngsters Sam Tomkins and Sean Ainscough by relieving them of the pressure that has killed the career of several talented youngsters and Wigan are a far more dangerous side than their position suggests.

9. Hull FC

My prediction: 7th

Hull won their first five games, but aside from two close victories over Salford, have lost ten of their last eleven games! What has gone wrong? An injury crisis hasn’t helped, but the main issue is the fact that their halfbacks have the incision of a butter knife. Their average points per game of 19 is way too low to be a strong competitor in Super League, and whilst they do have some good players to come back from injury, I’m not sure I see the talent in the halves to mount a serious challenge this year.

10. Castleford Tigers

My prediction: 13th

I did not rate Castleford at the start of the season, and I probably still underrate them now. That said, they have lost nine of their last eleven games. Their backline has a long way to go although Richard Owen and Michael Shenton have high potential, and their forwards would appear to lack the necessary bite. However, with Rangi Chase in exceptional form, and the wily Brent Sherwin nearing a return from injury, it would be a foolish man who rules them out of the top 8 race.

11. Catalans Dragons

My prediction: 9th

The French outfit struggled at the start of the year, and a lot of this may be related to new coach Kevin Walters acclimatising to Super League. I haven’t seen the Dragons as much as most other teams, but the third worst defence in the league points to a deficiency which requires a fix. After all, the Dragons have both the size up front and the creative talent and finishing ability to trouble even the league’s best defence, but if you concede 31 to your 30, it becomes a bit of a waste.

12. Bradford Bulls

My prediction: 3rd

Now this one I could write an essay on.

Firstly, when I made this prediction, Bradford had signed Greg Bird and he would have offered a creative presence that the Bulls sorely lack.

However, look at Bradford’s first choice pack. Andy Lynch, Terry Newton, Sam Burgess, Steve Menzies, Glenn Morrison, David Solomona. Bench: Jamie Langley, Wayne Godwin, Nick Scruton, Matt Cook / Michael Worrincy.

In my mind, that was and is the best pack in Super League, especially the back three. However, David Solomona and Glenn Morrison have missed most, if not all of the season. As has Wayne Godwin, and Sam Burgess has moved around to cover for the losses, reducing his impact.

What that proves, is how big injuries can be. That, and a three quarter line that frankly, is amongst the worst in Super League. Rikki Sherrife and Michael Platt are two of the most error prone backs in the game and Chris Nero is a back rower out of position.

It really grates me when the usually silent crowd at Odsal get on Steve McNamara’s back. McNamara is a quality coach who is doing a very good job on very tight resources and who can not be blamed for the way injuries have disrupted their preparation. With the right recruitment, including some finishing ability out wide and creative ability in the halves, the Bulls could be a top side next year.

In the meantime, continue to lay Bradford in double figures against Leeds and St Helens, and I’ll gladly take your money all year long.

13. Salford City Reds

My prediction: 12th

Not much to say here. Salford have performed to expectations after a poor start. The drama concerning Richie Myler’s future won’t help, but the City Reds are a solid team who have produced some good performances this season, but lack the overall skill to be a contender for the top 8 at the moment.

14. Celtic Crusaders

My prediction: 14th

I finally get one right!!! Still, the Crusaders have shown ability this year, but need to build on this in the way Catalans built upon their first year. Wins over Bradford and Wigan are as good as anyone could have hoped for, and hopefully the game will continue to grow in Wales. No-one said it would be easy, and it hasn’t been, but there is hope for the future.

So, there you have a brief overview of the season so far. Obviously, my long term predictions have been shown to be suspect, but if you held a gun to my head and made me predict the finishing positions of the teams, I would have to go for.

St Helens, Leeds, Hull KR, Harlequins, Huddersfield, Warrington, Wakefield, Bradford, Wigan, Castleford, Catalans, Hull FC, Salford, Celtic. But be warned, my long term predicting isn’t great!

Monday, 29 June 2009

A review of my preview.

Part One.

I mentioned that I would try to run through some of the basic notions that underpin my approach to trading in Rugby League. For anyone relatively new to the sport, it might be a good idea to briefly run through how the teams have performed this season as against their expectations and to try to give you a brief overview of the teams.

At the start of the year, I came up with a brief preview, which on the face of it, looks pretty poor! However, if you can understand why such predictions were made, then that will help you to understand where the teams are now, and where they are headed to, so in the current league order, allow me to take the p.

In current league order.

St Helens

My prediction: 2nd.

I didn’t so much place Saints second, as Leeds first, and there is little argument that these are the top two sides in Super League. My biggest concern with Saints was the strength of their squad, and that was justified. However, this season has seen an incredible crop of youth emerge with not just the potential to become great players, but with the mental ability and appropriate technique to contribute now.

If you look at Saints’ squad, you can see that Kyle Eastmond, Chris Dean, Gareth Frodsham, Gary Wheeler, Andrew Dixon, Matty Ashurst, Tom Armstrong, Johnny Lomax and Jacob Emmitt have all played.

Of those, only Kyle Eastmond would have been a recognised name to all but the keenest of RL fans, and whilst Gary Wheeler and Gareth Frodsham had been seen to have potential, it has been the emergence of the likes of Ashurst, Lomax and even Chris Dean that has been the most surprising. The youngsters have filled in with very little drop off which is an outstanding achievement, whilst Mick Potter has handled their development very well, by not over burdening them or setting expectations too high.

With Sean Long and Keiron Cunningham improving like fine wine, Matt Gidley, Leon Pryce and Jon Wilkin producing consistently excellent performances, and James Graham and James Roby living up to their standards there is no doubt that Saints are at the top of the class, although there is still a long way to go before the champions of Super League XIV are to be crowned at Old Trafford.

Leeds Rhinos

My prediction: 1st

Brian McClennan’s reputation seemed to be on the rise following Leeds’ 2008 Grand Final win, and I thought that his experience over the relatively untested Mick Potter would be the difference between the two top sides in SL at the end of the year.

However, McClennan’s star has dimmed and Leeds have not looked at their fluent best all season. Pinpointing the Rhinos’ problem is difficult. They are still clearly the 2nd best team in the competition, the 1b to Saints’ 1a, and the Rhinos have the potential to turn it around.

If they do have a weakness, it would be in their forwards, where overseas recruit Greg Eastwood was denied entry to the country, and where aside from Jamie Peacock, they lack a player who can be relied upon to make the hard yards throughout the course of the game, and if you can’t get down the pitch, it doesn’t matter who your creators are.

Hull KR

My prediction: 6th

Hull KR evidence what was wrong with my preview on the whole. For a long time, there have been an established top 4 of St Helens, Leeds, Bradford and Wigan, and maybe I was too deferential to their claims whilst ignoring others’. I recognised that Hull KR would be amongst the best of the rest, and their superb early start including a draw at Bradford and a win at St Helens confirmed this.

Again, they are lead by an excellent coach, and what has been most noticeable, has been the performances of back rowers Ben Galea and Clint Newton who have really impressed. KR’s impressive list of prop forwards including the evergreen, battle hardened Mick Vella and Nick Fozzard have also helped to set the platform for Michael Dobson, who has proven to be a perfect fit for Hull KR.


My prediction: 11th

I said that I thought 5th to 11th was too close to call and wanted to place the Giants higher but could not find room for them. Truth be told, I did not see the excellent job that Nathan Brown would do, and the former Aussie hooker’s best worse has been with Scott Moore, who has improved ten fold from last year. Moore’s potential, (he debuted in style against Wigan at just 16 for St Helens) and the skills of fullback Brett Hodgson have helped to ease some of the pressure from Luke Robinson, who is clearly at his best when he is liberated from organisational duties. Add in some excellent forward displays from Eorl Crabtree and the underrated Simon Finnigan and Stephen Wild, and it is easier to understand the Giants’ current league placing.

However, the Giants have looked to freeze on the bigger stage, and there must be some doubt as to whether they are just a good side who excel against lesser sides, or a side who are capable of challenging at the very top.


My prediction: 8th

Harlequins have been the feel good story of Super League. I anticipated their talented youngsters developing further under some excellent coaching, and that has clearly come true. The Quins are no longer a side full of Aussies coming over for a pension but are a team made up of talented youngsters, with some very good British players who know their way around Super League.

In terms of possible weaknesses, the Quins don’t have the biggest squad, and will really miss captain Rob Purdham and halfback Luke Dorn who are both out for several weeks still, but the Quins are a club with the arrow firmly pointing up.


My prediction: 10th

Like Huddersfield, I thought that Wakefield could do much better than 10th, but struggled to place them higher. Wakefield have an excellent coach and are traditionally very fast starters, and they won seven from their first ten, only falling to St Helens, Leeds and Hull KR. Since then, their form has been dropped off which probably represents their long term potential more accurately.

However, you have to admire Wakefield’s fighting spirit given the fact that they have achieved so much despite the off season death of Adam Watene and the death of Liam Walker in an academy match. Under John Kear, the Wildcats are capable of beating anyone, but they are equally capable of losing to anyone.

Coming tomorrow: A review of 7th to 14th.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

What a weekend.

Like most of my blog posts, what follows is probably more of an emotional rant than a structured analysis of the weekend’s events! But, if you can hang on in there, there may be one or two half decent pieces of information and if you have any comments, please feel free to leave them!

I can’t really remember what my initial aim was when I first started my Betfair adventure. I remember being interested in trading, and the possibility of making profits from taking a statistical approach to football markets. I read a lot of blogs, and a natural love of numbers definitely peaked my interest.

However, I struggled with the concept of risk. I made a lot of crazy trades, but looking back on it, it was all part of the learning process. It’s a learning process that never ends, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I definitely feel like I have now graduated the first stage.

My initial attempts to take my trading more seriously failed at the start of the year, when I started the blog with £1,000 from my 2008 earnings. They failed at the start of the RL season but I resolved to take things more seriously from 6th April, and I have.

Forget the earnings, and I do treat any income as “earnings”, this is very much a second job for me, it is the hard work and acquired knowledge that I am most proud of. Maybe I have researched things more than I needed to, maybe I still make bad decisions (I definitely do!), maybe I still get too emotional (Definitely!), maybe it will end tomorrow and maybe I do spend too much time on Betfair or contemplating games, but this has been some journey, and one which I could never have expected to embark upon.

So, what happened to make this weekend different from any other? Not much really to be honest, but just how one straw can ultimately break a camel’s back, this weekend has been that straw.

I made a conscious decision to attempt to trade all games this weekend, and that decision is one that has paid off handsomely.

After losing £1.40 on England’s footballers winning a penalty shoot out, I set myself up for Friday night’s games in Super League, and whilst there is usually little money in non televised markets, the quick starts of Leeds and Huddersfield produced laying opportunities at 1.04. Obviously, Huddersfield went on to win fairly comfortably, but Bradford v Leeds was some game, as Bradford came back, sending Leeds out to 2, and looking like they would snatch a possible draw just before the referee ruled out an opportunity in the closing stages.

Although I was not quick enough to back Leeds at 1.92 and level my green, I had managed to earn just under £50, although the extra £200 green sat on Bradford did seem to be wasted in the end!

On to Saturday, and I somehow managed to disconnect myself from Betfair just at the start of the Castleford game! This meant that not only did I miss the plunge on Castleford down to 1.2, but that my draw bets were taken at a fraction of what the price eventually rose to. I was so put off by this that I failed to take full advantage when I eventually re-connected, although I didn’t do too badly, as I eventually earned over £130.

Sunday afternoon saw two games where I fancied the underdog heavily, and even used a free bet on Hull FC which I did not green up on prior to kick off, and whilst Warrington’s four quick tries did not help me, I still managed to earn over £15 before I turned my attention to Harlequins v Wakefield.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and I was very pleased to accommodate a Wakefield backer at 1.1 when they lead 14-12. Harlequins then took a very narrow lead at 14 – 18, and I was willing to offer the very generous price of 1.8 before someone took a fairer price of 1.25, only for Wakefield to come back and score just before the hooter went. With the touchline conversion left, I was once again willing to offer the draw at a better than value price, only for Danny Brough to kick the goal, and leave the 1.1 backer with a very fortuitous win, whilst by that time, although I had slightly more green on the draw, I was more than happy to walk away with over £50 in earnings for less than a half hour’s work.

Onto the main event, and whilst I missed the plunge in Hull KR and the rise in the draw pre match, I was in a decent position when the match started, and caught a quick ride on the Hull KR express, which allowed me to keep backing the draw at the ridiculous 50+. Now, let me say here, I am a massive favourite layer. I’m not exactly Elliot Short, but generally speaking, I’ll take anything under 1.3 to my maximum liability in the first twenty minutes.

However, I refused to back Wigan other than for a very small amount. They looked disinterested, and unmotivated as I suggested they might. The only saving grace was the enforced introduction of Sam Tomkins, who might be capable of pulling Wigan out of a hole. Why back the draw then? Two reasons. A.) I had earned over £350 by this point and was not bothered about a small loss for a big gain. B.) I am a hopeless romantic who backs the draw to death.

You could say it worked out, as by half time, with the game in the balance, I was not only four figures green on the draw, but three figures green on the teams. There was a heck of liquidity in the game, and for an experienced market trader like myself. (I have probably studied and reviewed every in play Sky RL game since August 2008) there were lots of opportunities.

The second half continued in the same vain, but with one exception. The ridiculous price that the draw had been backed at in the first half created lots of draw layers who were willing to give up big value for some payout, something which I have previously stated that I will try to avoid.

In the second half, I was on auto pilot, and pulled off several good trades to provide me with my second best result on the RL markets ever of over £300.

It’s important to note at this stage that I had misread the game, but the experience and skills that I have gained, pulled me home. The price (on the favourites, Hull KR) roughly went from 1.6 to 1.12, to 2.3 to 1.7 to 10+, to 6 to 8 to 4 and then out to 1,000, and that just provided so many opportunities.

Obviously, a pure favourite layer could have risked just £42 to win the amount I did, and that is somewhat galling, but it is important to note that I was in control and let’s be honest, an hourly rate of £165 after commission sure isn’t bad.

So, total earnings this weekend of £580. Obviously when you consider all the swings that the weekend saw,

Oldham at 1.25 get turned over on Thursday.Leeds reach 1.04 before drifting to 2 on Friday.Cas at 1.12 get turned over yesterday.Wakefield matched at 1.1 and Quins at 1.25 today.Hull KR at 1.12 get turned over.

there will obviously be a lot of people who have profited more than me, and you could definitely say that this weekend was a freak weekend, and one which I should have done better in, but I feel confident, without being arrogant, that my ability in this area is able to generate a long term profit.

I mean, I had been top of the Rugby Forum SL Tipping Competition, and got 6 out of 7 games wrong this week! (I backed the two favourites in the SKY games on the handicap as I felt they were 50/50 calls, and knew that any failure here would be compensated by profits in the game!)

So, that makes this weekend even sweeter in some respects, and when you consider that three of the four underdogs I tipped traded much lower than their starting price, it isn’t that bad!

It has taken a long time to reach this point, and I have no doubt that I will experience several more downs in the upcoming weeks, but I do feel like this weekend could be a massive breakthrough, and it is one that I would not have been able to experience without obsessively reading the Racing Traders Forum, various blogs around the internet on trading and even the Betfair Forum itself! As I said at Racing Traders this evening, there will always be idiots around who will post nonsense, but if you can filter these out, you will always find some tremendous advice from some very generous people, who have more skill in their little finger than I have in my whole body!

Next week will be my last week before the start of the Ashes, and with tickets for all days at Cardiff, Headingley, two days at Edgbaston and with a Sunday ticket for the Oval, it is fair to say that my trading will likely take somewhat of a back seat, and even this week I have lots of things to sort out for my week in Wales, which will see me staying in Bridgend! Heck, I might even buy some things which, for those of you who know me, will be a big surprise!

However, I will hope to post several informative blog posts about how I approach RL trading this week. I’m far from being an authority on this but I hope that I can set out some tips that I have learned which may be of help for some people and create some discussion that will even help me further.

The past twelve months have been hard work. But it has been great fun and is starting to become extremely rewarding, even though I know I have a very long way to go.

But the most important thing of all is for a guy who is naturally a pessimist, has wasted a million last chances, and deeply struggles with confidence, the best lesson of this is that it has shown me exactly what I am capable of and can do.

And if I can do it, then you definitely can too.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

A look ahead to the weekend and a review of the recent TV games.

It’s fair to say that my previous blog post was posted in fairly significant anger, and equally demonstrated a need to change my trading style. Initial results were mixed. In the Harlequins – Leeds game, I was stunned to see that despite being 4 – 0 up, the Quins were still available in the low 1.6s or high 1.5s.

Despite this, I did not back the Quins heavily at this point because it was obvious that there were some big time Leeds backers who were determined to keep the Quins price down so backing the Quins further (I had carried some 1.4 in play) would only lead to disaster if Leeds scored next. In fact, Leeds scored consecutively to lead 12 – 4.

At this point, I had a major argument with the market. You could lay Leeds at 1.2, and within a minute, they had slipped to as low as 1.15. To my amazement, there were people who described this as value for a team with a two score lead who had started at 1.4.

Well maybe, but that would assume that the starting price was correct, that Leeds “two score” lead was a genuine one, (an 8 point lead is only a converted try and a penalty) and that the game had gone to plan, which it had not as Leeds resembled an Under 9s side to begin with (although it could be argued that as they had since improved, that Leeds were being underrated) and ignored the fact that there are seemingly lots of comebacks in Super League. People say assumptions only make an ass out of you and me. In this case, I was hoping the assumption would only make an ass out of them.

Anyway, I heavily laid Leeds, having around four figures on the Quins, and as it would go the Quins did score next although only after some market trades had gone against me. At that point, I could have greened out for around £50 or £250 on Quins. However, I didn’t.

At 1.3, and only trailing by four, the Quins price was still in my eyes extremely generous, and I refused to equalise, although I did reduce my red on Leeds. However, from there it was one way traffic and after Will Sharp threw the ball into touch at the start of the second half, I made the decision to red out.

So, my decision to be “bolder” had cost me £100, but I actually didn’t care as I felt that I was right. Now, value is a very subjective topic, and who is to say whether I was right, but I certainly feel that if I let my value bets run longer, then I will eventually become more profitable but we will see.

Anyway, after I had taken the decision to red out, I looked at the Warrington v Catalans market, to try to see the score as the game was not being reported anywhere other than Sky Sports’ intermittent updates. (Presumably when a try is scored, but you can never be sure.)

I was amazed to see that Catalans could be laid at 1.06, and not just for pennies. There was over £450 sat there. I gawped at it. I scratched my head some more whilst frantically trying to find the latest score. I eventually couldn’t but took the decision to take £100. Even if Catalans had stormed into the lead, what was £6? The reward far outweighed the risk, so I even took another £100. Then, Sky Sports reported Warrington as being in the lead. I was sure they must be behind, but decided to take it all and sat with £450 green on Warrington for around £30 red.

I then found a link, and whilst not knowing how far behind it was, saw for myself that Warrington were winning. Now, non televised games often have very poor liquidity, but I felt that I had to get something from this gift, and backed Catalans at the very generous 1.5 for £100, the slightly generous 2 for £100 and generously laid Warrington at 2.7 for £50. These all went, and I found myself looking at a green screen of over £170 within ten minutes.

Obviously, at no point did I accept true value, but in my eyes, I had received a gift and the possibility of receiving nothing from a gift would have been stupid. If someone offers you a pair of Gucci shoes which are a half size too large, you don’t turn them down, but wear an extra pair of socks.

Indeed, someone was keen to give me the socks to go with the shoes and backed Catalans after the full time whistle as low as 12. Not for a huge amount, but it just added to a very weird but profitable half hour. I sure would like to know who laid Catalans and why. If you are reading this, please get in touch!

Moving onto tonight’s game, and it was another very good but slightly frustrating game. I fortunately laid Oldham at 1.25 and 1.26 just before York scored a try at 12 – 0 down, grabbing 1.26 as they were attacking and the 1.25 which someone left up for a quick second after York touched down. This enabled me to potentially green up for £50, which throughout the game I turned into £50 on the teams and close to £800 on the draw as York came back to lead 20 – 18 with fifteen minutes to go.

At this time, I was obviously hoping for a penalty for Oldham to level the game, but it sadly never came making this the second two point game which did not end in a draw in a week. Now, if this was a Super League game, the liquidity probably would have allowed me to trade out in single figures, but the draw here only traded between 10 and 15, which I deemed to be slightly too high. I did trade some out to end up with £64, but I was determined not to lose value with so close to call, and 14 was definitely too high a price to lay in the long term, and so I am actually very pleased that I managed to avoid equalising. I just hope this pays off in the end!!!

Looking ahead to the weekend again, and I immediately notice the success my thoughts had last week. Obviously Castleford provided the big winner, with Warrington not too far behind and Hull KR also managed to win for low odds backers. My thoughts on Harlequins and Leeds may have looked accurate after ten minutes but eventually failed, whilst I advised that I thought Hull v Salford and Bradford v Saints games were pretty much even.

The important thing to note is that I never universally support one team but rather produce qualified opinions. I do not offer my thoughts as any tips, in fact I often change my mind, (I backed Saints with the Handicap on the Betfair forum) so I cannot claim that I have tipped any winners! Also, as I am looking primarily at the concept of value rather than winners in the actual game, as I see it, then it is hard to qualify any success.

Hopefully, over a sustained period of time, my opinions would produce a net gain, but such an approach means that weekly results are not crucial. In fact, last week’s success probably means that I am more likely to fail this week, and I would say that my opinions this week are significantly weaker than last week.

There is no SKY game tomorrow, but there are still three games to be played. The odds in Leeds v Bradford really surprised me, but look to be correct. They surprised me because usually I disagree with strong favourites, but I had expected Leeds to be a best price of around 1/10. (Compare this price to the price Saints were at home to Bradford earlier in the year.) It is easy to just recommend backing underdogs, and I am sure a blind pattern would work in Super League, but I don’t really see any value in this one. Having said, that watch Bradford go on and win now!

The first price I saw on Salford v Huddersfield was 1/3 for Huddersfield at Ladbrokes, and I would definitely see some value in laying Huddersfield at that price but that seems to be best price, and neither prices on Salford v Huddersfield really shout out as being value to me.

The other game on Friday night sees Celtic Crusaders travelling to Saints. Saints start massive favourites for this, and whilst I would not mind laying Saints at 1/500, it is very hard to see anything but a Saints win. However, due to Saints’ perceived superiority, it might be worthwhile keeping an eye on the game as if Celtic can stay with Saints in the first half, you might be able to get a nice price.

So, three games and no strong thoughts. Saturday isn’t much better either. I think that there should be value during the game, but I think the pre-match prices generally look fair although it should be noted that Catalans have had a tendency to start slow this year.

The Sunday night game between Wigan and Hull KR is one where the first ten minutes will be crucial to form an opinion. Have Wigan fallen into disarray with Brian Noble seemingly certain to leave at the end of the year, and Gareth Hock having failed a drugs test or will they group together and produce a spirited performance. Watch the opening 10 minutes, see how Wigan approach the collision and react to adversity. Those of you who can spot this first will have the opportunity to collect a juicy price.

Wakefield v Harlequins also seems to be a game that has been priced fairly. I do see some value in backing Quins, who have performed very well away from home this season. However, I have not seen any team news, and am reluctant to back the Quins, although if they were to drift to 2/1, then I do think they would become a very good value bet, whilst the return of Rob Purdham would probably allow me to consider them value in the 2.8 – 2.9 range.

The other game of the round, Warrington v Hull, holds for me the greatest value in the round. Tony Smith has definitely removed some of Warrington’s inconsistency, but any time Warrington are 1.2 Favourites, you must question the price. Warrington have drifted to 2/7 best price from the 2/9 I saw at first, but I do think there is value in Hull at anything above say 4/1 or above.

Warrington are coming off a good win in Barcelona, whilst Hull have struggled lately, but I am not one to follow form too closely and Hull are rumoured to have one or two players back from injury. The last time these two teams met, Hull lead for most of the game before falling away to a late show from Lee Briers, and if Warrington’s main playmaker is out again, it is fair to wonder whether they will be able to break down a generally solid Hull side, whilst Warrington could produce enough errors to give Hull the field position they need to score.

Obviously, there are a lot of if’s there, and Warrington are deservedly favourites and could run away with the game, but from a value perspective, Hull do look enticing. Obviously the fact that you will unlikely be able to trade out during the game does reduce the appeal and I would wait for the team news before deciding whether to back them, but the initial prices do look to be very generous.

Friday, 19 June 2009


Person A read this blog this morning. He decided to risk £100 opposing Huddersfield at the generally available price of 1.29. Person A is now over £300 better off.

Person B wrote this blog last night. He not only opposed Huddersfield at the off, but recognised the value in laying Castleford when they reached 1.2 and backing the draw in the mid 20s. Person B is now £112 better off.

Now, I don’t know if Person A exists. I doubt so, but I equally recognise that there would have been at least a couple of people who profited using the above strategy. Alternatively, I do know that Person B exists because it is me.

If I was to list my positives and negatives in RL trading, I would identify that I have a good grasp of the game and an excellent grasp of the market. However, it is clear to anyone that I really struggle with the mental aspects of trading, and if you don’t have that, then you will always underachieve.

How the hell can I accurately predict the flow of the market and end up with just £100. Let’s be honest. That’s downright pathetic. In fact, it’s worse than that. A casual punter could have strolled up to the market, placed a £25 bet on Castleford at kick off, gone to the pub and he would have received more money than I did.

Reviewing the game, I entered with -£40 on Huddersfield, £130 on Castleford and £450 on the draw thanks to Huddersfield drifting just before kick off. I re-adjusted to -£60, £190 and £440 before Castleford’s first try. I then was at -£50, £150 and £625 when Castleford scored their second try. At the start of Half Time I was £25, £55 and £800. At the start of the second half, I was around £10, £40 and £1,300. Just before Huddersfield scored I was £80, £70 and £700 and I ended up £123, £118 and £498.

The low number of tries make this a pretty easy game to analyse, so I will try to fathom out where I went wrong.

My opening position looks weak. Whilst Huddersfield never dipped into the mid 1.2s like I thought they would, given my strong belief that the price was crazy, I should have started with a larger red on Huddersfield. I would not want to be in too deep in case Huddersfield got off to a good start, but really I should have been -£100. On a related note, only £25,000 was matched in total prior to kick off which is pathetic. Liquidity is declining sharply in the RL markets and it is a huge concern now. Even Lumpy appeared to be elsewhere tonight.

My position after the first try shows how illiquid the market was, as I struggled to get out of my Castleford back. I would usually look to use the initial shift to remove more red than £10, although maintaining a liability of at least £50 would have been a good idea, although I did feel extremely nervous at this point, which I will come back to.

The rest of the first half went okay. I possibly traded out of Castleford too soon, but moved money gradually across to Huddersfield as their price became more and more appealing, and the half time draw trading was also fairly successful.

My next major mistake came in the second half. Castleford could be laid in the mid 1.2s, which was a gift price for trading. However, I failed to get involved, which I will again come back to.

After Huddersfield’s try, I attempted to trade to maximise profit based upon who was attacking, given that a score would sway the market far more than the number of unsuccessful switches made. I also was caught between using my draw excess to build profit and wanting to keep profit in case of a Huddersfield try, and it was a balance I actually think I achieved well.

However, there is a key point (beyond my initial refusal to be a deep red) that needs to be addressed.

When Castleford scored, my initial thought was to achieve green. I did not wait for the market to reflect the match, or take a long term viewpoint. Furthermore, in the second half, I was equally short sighted. I did not want to lose any earnings given my work up to this point, although I recognised that over the long term, such an approach will only decrease profit.

The battle between red and green is one that I struggle with. My natural instinct is to take profit. I am fine re-arranging green, but I struggle with having red on a green book. I always have, and have never been able to address this. If anyone can offer any feedback, it would be great. This also explains my refusal to back Huddersfield later on, even though I acknowledged the price as being a gift.

Games like tonight honestly make me want to give up. I call it perfectly, and earn less than a lucky guess for £30 does. It makes me feel like all my hard work is in vain. It is also getting to the point where the same issue is holding back as it was at the start of the season, but yet nothing is changing. I may have a good grasp of RL, but I don’t always read games as well as this. The risk was minimal at all times and therefore I feel I should be making at least five times more from a game like this. A stronger lay at the start and more aggression when trading would easily have achieved this.

For example, a £300 lay of Huddersfield at kick off (-£300, -£1,000, followed by a £300 buy back at 1.5 (-£150, £700) followed by a £300 lay of Castleford at 2 (£150, £400, £1,000) followed by a £100 lay of Castleford at 1.33 (£450, £300, £1,300) followed by a 1.5 back of Castleford (£350, £350, £1,200) and a £100 lay of the draw at around 7. (£450, £450, £600.)

I don’t think that is unreasonable or after timing, but a sensible strategy which would have been even further improved by my market trading.

Instead, here I am, achieving £100 which probably doesn’t reflect the effort I put into trading.

I know I have the ability. The question is the mentality, and I am starting to feel like this is something that I may never be able to crack. There is no reason for me to trade so scared. I have always been a cautious person, but this takes the piss. I do this for fun, I am not in desperate need of the money or anything like that, so there is no logical reason for me to not take risks in line with how I see things. Indeed, if I had done so this season, my profit would have been at least doubled and I would feel far more comfortable about my performance.

In Rugby League, you see plenty of players with superb ability, who never make it due to their mentality. I am starting to feel like I am falling into this trap.

That ends what has been a pretty disjointed rant but one that sums up my feelings perfectly, and its feelings that probably equally apply in almost all areas of my life. Any comments or advice would be gratefully received as usual.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Looking ahead to the weekend.

Decent game in the Northern Rail Cup tonight with Featherstone very unlucky to lose at Barrow. Aided by some fortuitous refereeing decisions, Barrow were able to establish an 8 – 0 lead early in the game against a Featherstone who were at this point down to 12 men with Stuart Dickens in the Sin Bin.

Featherstone then showed tremendous resiliency to battle back and actually take the lead at 8 - 10, only for Barrow to score with less than three minutes on the clock, a late penalty goal taking the final score to 16 – 10.

As for my trading, I backed the draw before the game at odds of 34 and 36 and would go onto lay from just before kick off at 29, at 26 in the first half, between 21 and 17 at Half Time, and then spent the second half trading small stakes between peaks and troughs. I ended up with just over £30 which is a pretty reasonable result. I could have taken close to £50 just after the Featherstone try, but held out for the draw, keeping between £150 and £300 on the draw, in case Barrow received a kickable penalty which would tie the game up.

I think this game displayed perfectly my new approach to trading, in so far as I held a red position for extended periods of time, and was less hasty in greening up. I feel I am at the point now where consistency should be replaced by perceived value. I am not dealing in massive amounts, more on that later, but I am still carrying red far more than I previously would, in the belief that my bank can tolerate less successful periods to allow me to capitalise more on the very large opportunities that my trading style can offer.

One thing that I have noticed recently is a very large decrease in liquidity on the RL markets. Thursday night games have become almost impossible to actively trade in play with prices disappearing on attacks and re-appearing when the game is temporarily stationary, and even then with large margins in built. The Varsity match at the start of the year attracted more than £70,000 in bets whilst tonight’s match I think was around the £35,000 to £40,000 mark. I don’t know where the in play betters have gone, but the market is definitely a worse place without them.

Even Super League matches have seen reduced liquidity. Not to the extent of the Thursday night games, but there never seems to be as much money around these days. It is very easy to spot the welcoming arrival of Lumpy, but betting before and during matches definitely seems to be smaller and smaller. At the start of the year, it was usual for four figures to be matched on a game the night before. Now, it is sometimes as low as three figures.(Sometimes the market will display a large amount, but that often seems to have been placed, shall we say, curiously.) More recently, the starting draw price also appears lower and lower, although this may just be a reaction to the Hull KR v Warrington draw.

I cannot understand why there has been such a decrease. RL remains a good sport to trade, and I haven’t spotted decreased liquidity in any other markets.

Anyway, before I ramble on too much about life’s woes, I’ll turn my attention back to the point of this blog entry which was to look ahead to this weekend’s games. Now, I don’t want to appear to be “tipping” or recommending anything, just more to get my thoughts down on paper for others to comment on although obviously I will be expressing opinions! I just commonly can change my opinions and obviously team news can always be a big factor, but I am sure any readers will see some common but unusual themes running through, such as a disregard for form, a favouritism for underdogs and a leaning to the away side. The middle probably being sandwiched by the other two.

A strange fact about my general tipping performance so far this year. At the moment, I believe I am top of the Super League tipping competition on the Betfair RL forum whilst in another competition I enter, I am languishing close to the bottom. The difference between the competitions is that the former awards points in line with bookmakers’ odds, the latter awards points solely based upon the team you think will win and the respective margin. I dare say you need not be a genius to possibly recognise a strength here.

I have always had major problem in betting on non televised matches. Aside from my general theory that it can be too hard to predict such games as you cannot watch the early stages and get a feeling for what sides have turned up, in play liquidity is practically nil, at least until the closing stages. For a trader like me, that is close to hell. Still, it is becoming apparent that this may be an area in which I could potentially perform reasonably well in, and it may be something worth looking into.

So onto this weekend’s games. Recently, I have had difficulty in attempting to guess bookmakers’ opening prices, and rather than view this as a disadvantage for early trading, it may be a positive in so far as when I attempt to calculate prices, if there is a large difference, then might there be scope for profit. Possibly.

Huddersfield v Castleford is an encounter that I’ve already seen twice this season, and on both occasions the games have been very close in the opening half, before Huddersfield secured victory late on. In the first game, at Castleford, I believe Huddersfield drifted to as far as 3 on Betfair pre game as Castleford had enjoyed a successful start, and whilst I can’t recall the starting price of their most recent game in the Cup, Huddersfield were clear favourites and did start well before Castleford came back to look set for victory before collapsing late on.

Words cannot express my shock then when I saw that bookmakers had Castleford as long as 10/3 this afternoon. I had considered Castleford to be a decent 2/1 shot! Such differences often cause me to re-think my opinion, but on this one I’m stumped. There appears to be no obvious injury news and this price seems to be too good to be true. With this game being on SKY as well, then I will also consider a trading price and not just a betting price, in so far as if I see two teams as being close, then I will take lower odds because even if they don’t win, I expect them to offer the opportunity for an in play trade.

My only concerns would be that the prices are so different, but that hasn’t stopped me being successful in the past (See Saints v Bradford and Warrington v Catalans), the fact that my draw trading automatically needs the underdog to perform well, and therefore in effect any bet on Castleford is in effect a double bet against Huddersfield, and the fact that obviously I agree that Huddersfield should be favourites, showing that I am likely to lose in a straight bet, although if perceived value is now to be ranked higher than consistency, that should not be a factor.

Obviously, I also usually like to watch the game early on, before committing myself to a bet which may also dissuade me from getting on board, but it is certainly something that will occupy my mind whilst at work tomorrow.

The Saturday night TV game sees Harlequins host Leeds. It is interesting to note that these two teams met at the same time as Saints played Bradford earlier on in the year, and that an accumulator bet on the successful underdogs could have paid out over 100/1. No such luck this time, but my initial thoughts are that again Harlequins are too large.

I initially thought Leeds should be in the 1.6 to 1.8 range, but given the Quins less than great home performances this year and after re-consideration, I think that Leeds might be as low as 1.5 and that this is a game where the opening 10 minutes could be crucial, although in the event Leeds drop below 1.4, that could convince me otherwise.

The other games on Saturday also see me disagree with the prices listed. Hull KR appear generous at anything over 1.3 away at Celtic, but I view the game differently to most; I would take the opinion that Hull KR must win in June at some point. (Hull KR have never won in the Super League in June) whilst I think Celtic will still be on a high from last week’s success and therefore unable to rise to the occasion again. Still, backing such a short favourite with no opportunity to trade out is not something that appeals to me and therefore I can’t see me betting on this.

Catalans v Warrington is a different kettle of fish. I initially thought this would be the most difficult game to call. Both teams will want to put on a performance after last week, add in that the game is to be played at a neutral venue and it is a tough one (I usually afford Catalans, Celtic and Harlequins some home credit due to the distance that needs to be travelled). I honestly believe however, that Warrington are a very large price, in what should be an almost level game in my mind. Warrington have stabilised a lot under Tony Smith, last week’s display can be attributed to the fact that he was in France for most of the week in my view, but Warrington are without Lee Briers, and their recent performances have shown that he is the battery that makes them tick. They are no longer the one man side that they once were, but without his controlling influence, they are not half the side they should be, and that is a huge question mark. Therefore, I will probably only decide on a bet once the teams are actually announced.

You may have noticed that I have not commented on Hull v Salford and Bradford v Saints and that is because I largely agree with the bookmakers’ prices. I do think that at 11/4 and 4/11, the better bet is Bradford, but I would not think that is a great price, whilst Hull v Salford is a genuinely tough game to call. I did comment that I thought Salford would beat Hull in the cup, when Hull could be laid in the mid 1.1s, but in the 1.4s I am not convinced. Put simply, I don’t believe that Hull will carry on playing as badly as they have been for much longer, although again, if I had to choose what the better value was, I would probably say Salford at 3s.

So that is a brief window into my mind’s thinking on this week’s rugby. It wouldn’t surprise me now if I got all the games wrong! But we shall see, and if anyone has any thoughts, comments would be great.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Morally irresponsible.

With a rare day off today, I opted to indulge in a favourite hobby of mine – taking advantage of free bet offers from bookmakers. You won’t get rich doing this, but with a little bit of effort, you can sure earn yourself a few pennies at no risk.

One major bookmaker, well their name suggests they are open every day of the year, has a tiered system with the opportunity to receive up to £200 in free bets. Approaching 75% of my way through the offer, they suddenly stopped accepting my bets.

Whilst this was annoying, and slightly humorous, I acknowledge that they are totally within their right as a business to do.

However, it is worth noting that at this point (although I had £100 in outstanding bets, both of which would lose) I had won in total £202.52 from them (Now £102.52). Whilst any business would be concerned if they were losing £202.52 per day from a customer, it isn’t really a significant amount to a company that must surely turn over that amount of money in mere seconds. Add in the fact that this was after just ten bets, by far too small a sample to gain an understanding of whether I had an “edge”, and that only three of my bets had been successful, (indeed I lost on the first four), and it appears an odd decision.

Maybe they just did not want to give me the third free bet that I would qualify for on completion of another bet, and again, that is not a problem, although why produce such an offer if you won’t honour it to anyone who is mildly successful is beyond me.

What personally aggravated me is there was no acknowledgement of this, no message informing me of this, just a random limit inserted, which strangely enough allows me to bet up to £40 on some markets, and allows winnings of £3 on others (I particularly enjoyed them offering me 13p on a Draw in tomorrow’s Rugby League match). This leaves me wondering whether I can still profit from the offer, and I will look to see how much I can place over the weekend, because that will allow a free bet of an identical amount.

However, if the company will close down the merest hint of a winning account, (which in itself seems odd given that the odds it sets would always allow for the bet to be laid off elsewhere, securing a guaranteed profit) then surely their only method of business is in those customers who are less successful, and who can go on to lose thousands of pounds per annum through an addiction.

Of course, over the Internet it is hard to qualify whether anyone has an addiction. Certainly, my twelve bets in one afternoon could well be seen to be an addiction to an untrained eye, although this is obviously not the case. I was rather just availing myself to what was essentially free money.

However, if you walk in any betting shop, then you will undoubtedly see and meet people who clearly have an addiction. Does this bookmaker, I wonder, ever refuse their money, or will it rely on a poster on the wall to claim that it is meeting its social responsibility?

Or rather, is it just a morally bankrupt company whose only method of profit is via taking advantage of those who cannot say no?

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Getting too big for my boots

Losing is a good thing. That might sound a strange thing to say, but a loss can shift focus and teach you valuable lessons. At least that’s my excuse for losing ten times over my max loss.

Wakefield v Hull was the game, and it all went wrong in the morning. I thought Wakefield were a good lay with a view to trade at 1.91. However, both Bookmakers and Betfair prices dropped in the morning, and I just kept on laying. The worst being when I placed large amount in the 1.8s.

I did this not expecting the whole amount to be matched. I’ve studied the RL markets with huge awareness over the past few months, and noticed that when a large amount is placed in the morning, then the price usually drifts the other way. However, there was obviously a very keen Wakefield backer who abnormally took everything. Faced with a £2,000 liability, I did not panic and steadily backed Wakefield back, accepting the loss, although with the price dropping into the 1.7s, and a possible three figure loss, I refused to back further, and take a three figure level loss into the game.

I set my liability to £500 on Wakefield, knowing that a first try for Hull would enable me to trade out for no loss and a try to Wakefield would likely see a £250 loss. Given that my usual weekly winnings are around that amount, I was content to let it go.

Now at this point, let me insist that I fundamentally believe this was the correct decision. This was not a random pre match trade. Rugby League is traditionally an event which sees few 1.01s. The amount of times I see massive swings is large.

The error was in not accepting the £250 loss. The other error that I made is that whilst, throughout the game, I trebled my green on Hull from £400 at the start to £1,200 at the end, I never looked to reduce my red on Wakefield. I could probably have got to £300 level red but I was more concerned with reducing the odds required to trade out for no loss.

Note that I also adopted this approach in last night’s Super League game, turning down £40 level green for an eventual four figure green on Hull KR and a £14 loss on Harlequins. (Maybe overcompensating for chickening out in earlier games this year?)

About the game itself, and you could say that Hull were unlucky. Two very 50/50 Video Referee calls went against them, the referee did not seem to penalise Wakefield to the same level that Hull were penalised, and Hull bombed so many chances that they could and possibly should have taken.

Now, no way did they deserve to win, but equally, with one or two fortunate bounces of the ball, I could be sitting here a very pleased man.

As it is, I am sitting here £500 worse off, but I think I need to explain how I got to the situation of where a man who lays off from £2 bets was able to sit and watch a £500 loss with very little care.

Everything seemed to go wrong on the evening of the final of Britain’s Got Talent. I was out for the final, and had managed to win £270 regardless of who won. I traded the first ten minutes of Hull KR v Warrington before going out. At this point, I was amazed that the draw was trading in the 40s and had £2,000 on the draw for a £50 liability. Before going out, I traded out for £250 or so green on the draw because I did not want to risk £50 on a game I could not watch.

The game ended up a draw, and due to my blind trading through Betfair mobile, I won £120. Obviously a good result, but for a draw trader, a nightmare and one that had been caused through sheer stupidity. If a price is good value, and it was, you should not focus upon your earnings after one instance, but rather know that over a larger sample, you will be profitable, and trading with a £4,000 bank allows for you to trust your instinct. This in itself was a major “breakthrough” and a possible lead away from £100, £20, £100, £0, -£10 to -£100, £0, £280, -£20, £30, £500.

Last weekend, I missed the Huddersfield v Hull KR game and managed to win £60 on Warrington v Castleford. A good win but one that should have been so much more as I traded the second half very badly, ending up with a very nice green on Castleford but never balancing the books.

At this time, I learned a lesson that should have prevented tonight. The past two grand prix have seen me earn £100 in qualifying, and when the winning market was released, I laid Jenson Button at 3.5. For £200. I thought this to be value, the market did not, going onto make Button the favourite based on two extra laps of fuel. I thought the 3.5 was value, but I should have waited for the market to settle before trading. Frankly, sky high confidence enabled me to make a poor decision on a market that I had not studied enough. Unfortunately though, I continued to throw money around like no tomorrow, trading over £9,000 on Button alone which reduced my red to a manageable level, although excitement on a closing Vettel after the first pit stops saw me lay Button at the peak, after deciding not to lay Button at 1.18 when I first saw Vettel closing. However, the confidence had been increased by the trading before the start, which reinforced my belief that I could buy my way out of trouble.

So onto this week, and my confidence sky high, I put out early prices on England v France, only to get it spectacularly wrong, backing France at 10, only for England to trade at 1.03 before the game, and again I bought my way out of trouble, trading over £10,000 to reduce my red on England to £20 whilst having large green on France and the draw. Not that it mattered after England stormed to victory.

The other disappointing aspect of this weekend was tipping Celtic to beat Wigan, but not backing them on any level. (I have always avoided games which have no in play liquidity, but maybe I should look to back such outsiders, when I feel they will win.)

So there we are. How I went from a £2 nervous trader to someone who would throw money around like nothing.

I don’t think there is any doubt that I have progressed rapidly in the past month and definitely learned some good lessons. The fact that I am able to trade in larger amounts, acknowledging the tick size rather than the outlay, is a huge boost. The fact that I have been trading without thinking is definitely a major negative and something which I need to amend.

The fact is, I have definitely done plenty of stupid things over the past few months, even beyond Betfair. Without getting too personal, I seem to have lost focus in a lot of things and made ill thought out decisions, which has definitely been reflected through my trading. I seem to be sitting back and watching things going forward, not driving them like I should.

Going forward, I think I need to combine the more aggressive approach with more focus. It’s great being able to use £1,000 blocks, but it is stupid to throw them out recklessly. I have been thinking about the amount of time I spend trading, but believe it is not too much. At the moment, I really only trade rugby league and formula one, but I do need to be more logical in my approach, especially concering pre-play trades.

I hope to set some targets tomorrow, one of which will be in updating the blog more regularly to help increasing focus. However, I would be grateful for any feedback which anyone cares to leave. It’s important to note how far I have come – my profit for the year remains over £3,000. However, I will fail in my attempt to get to £5,000 before my 25th birthday, the first time I’ve missed the target I set!