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!


  1. Great blog Craig nice to see someone doing one about Rugby League it's the first one I've seen.

    I trade theses markets but probably in a different style to you, I very rarley touch the draw odds. I also do a fair bit on the Under/Overs market, liquidity permitting.

    I got caught out with a similar pre match trade last year in the NRL, I failed to cut my loss and let it ride in play. Of course it went tits up and I ended up losing a few months profit in no time. It was something I had to go through in order for me to learn my lesson. Now everytime, before I enter the market I always run through my head what my liabilities are and what my exit strategy is. It takes discipline of course but once its over and your out you can review it and work out where you went wrong.

    Good luck for the rest of the season.


  2. Thanks for the comment.

    I often find the Unders/Overs market to be wholly illiquid in play and given that most of my opinions change during the game, I probably wouldn't find myself too succesful there!

    Very good advice on the exit strategy point and sometimes it can take a big loss to re-inforce this! I'd like to think that I always have an exit strategy planned, but in this game I just got too cocky!

    Good luck to yourself as well.