Sunday, 26 July 2009

My weekend... and my future?

The following is a review of my trading weekend, and a life problem is inserted at the end. No idea what that’s doing here!

It is said that the sign of a great team is the ability to win when you are below par and after this weekend, I hope the same applies to traders as well.

Despite what I believe to be a rather poor trading weekend in terms of trades made, I managed to earn £571.64 from Thursday evening onwards; a figure roughly equivalent to two weeks’ net earnings. I can only be thankful that Betfair earnings are not subject to any student loan charges, although they are subject to a similar tax, one which I shall unfortunately come onto later.

It is no co-incidence that my profit and loss level has dramatically increased since my decision in April to increase my level of professionalism with regard to trading, as well as subsequent increases to risk taking and stake sizes.

Sometimes I do wonder though about the sheer amount of effort I put into my trading, however. Now, I have always been a Rugby League fan, so the preparation that I put in on Monday to Wednesday in terms of watching highlights, getting the news etc.. is nothing extra. However, from Wednesday evening things get a little more like work.

I start by looking at the prices for the National League 1 game, and look to the possibility of any early trades. I will keep up to date with the price throughout the day and then on finishing work, will look at the prices listed from Bookmakers for the Super League games where available, and start looking at the possibility of placing my odds depending upon team news. Then, obviously there is the Thursday night game to trade in play.

Adding to the mixture this week however was the Hungary Grand Prix, and I decided to look into taking some prices before the initial practice session so had to look through this on Thursday as well. Friday saw me monitoring the prices before being delayed on my way home, rushing home to set everything up and trading the in play Super League game.

With that down, I reviewed the odds on all the SL markets and the Qualification and Winner F1 Markets before heading off for a well deserved sleep.

Saturday morning saw me awake to the initial practice session, which is when I first start really trading the Qualification market and even during the break in between, I kept the market open and my thoughts are never far from this as I also go about my usual Saturday morning activities.

Upon this finishing, I load up the Super League markets, look for any opportunities in the In Play game, trade out of my pre Qualification race bets, and monitor the markets for the Saturday evening SL games. Only at the end of these do I relax for the day, although I do keep the Sunday events loaded in my pocket and will occasionally check these.

Then on Sunday, like Saturday, I get up, review the markets, complete my usual Sunday morning activities, and then there is the Formula 1 Race, quickly followed by the Sunday Rugby League games before I collapse, then review the weekend and head off to bed for another week to start.

Now, obviously I do all this of my own volition and I do it because frankly, I bloody enjoy it. I love the challenge of testing myself against the Market, and I would say that drives me a lot more than even the financial incentives, lovely though they may be. Still, I am left exhausted at the end of the week with very little time off before heading into another week.

As much as I enjoy it, I am always “on edge”, especially in play, hateful of any red, and always thinking about ways to improve. Even when I am out with friends, my subconscious thoughts will rarely venture from the markets, knowing that in most cases I have a liability there which I want to work on. Put simply, it is hard to switch off knowing that opportunities are just around the corner and a test around the next.

Still, things look set to change pretty soon. I will miss the next two weekends through being at the Ashes, get back into things for a week, before heading off to London for the final test and then hopefully, to Wembley for the Cup Final the week after should Saints get there. Then, the European Grand Prix season and the Super League season will soon be over, granting me a lot of rest and relaxation which I honestly feel I’ve really earned.

Therefore, with 4 weeks of the next 5 set to be missed, and not much left after that, it was hugely important that I enjoyed a very good weekend for reasons that I will come onto later.

Perhaps that explains why I am very self critical of my performance this weekend, that plus the sheer amount of time invested and effort utilised probably robbed me of maximum performance levels.

To quickly run through this weekend’s trades:

Thursday evening: Sheffield v Gateshead. An infuriating display of refereeing (Poor, not corrupt as some would say) really frustrated me. I managed to heavily lay Sheffield in the 1.0s believing that Gateshead were the better side and that the penalty count would ultimately even out. It didn’t, although Gateshead did come back enough to leave me with a £50 win, although I always had a much much larger figure on Gateshead. It just never came off. Still, I was satisfied with myself, although extremely frustrated with the referee.

Friday evening: We had our third consecutive 1.0 drift on a Friday night although I never really got into it. I had backed the draw massively early on, and did not really want to increase my liability on Leeds much beyond that. And any comeback would be reflected in the draw price. Wigan did come back, and when they took the lead, I had close to £300 on them. Given that they were a 1.01 train then, how did I end up with just £120 profit despite never really closing my draw bet; keeping a couple of thousand on the draw for most of the game.

Basically, the game illustrated my major flaws, which are equalising out too soon, and then succumbing to value. Now, green is green, and obviously value is value and neither are bad concepts. However, in a game where you have a massive green on the draw, there is no need to position yourself further towards the dog. Any comeback will see a drop in the draw price. In effect therefore, I was double backing the underdog, ignoring the natural drop on the favourite and ignoring the clock. A very poor performance and one which deserved a loss.

Saturday afternoon: I traded the Formula One market reasonably poorly in the practice session, opposing the drop on Lewis Hamilton far too early. A good move at a silly price for betters, but not for traders. Still, it did not ruin my position, although the usual Rosberg / Trulli late crash never really happened.

Onto Q1 and with less than a minute to go, Fernando Alonso is down in 16th with yellow flags following Jaime Alguesuari going off track. Having backed Alonso reasonably heavily, I saw the chance of him going out and laid him at 90 – 200. I kept a large green on Alonso in any case, but obviously at those odds, I am giving up a lot of green as well.

Q2 sees Rosberg and Alonso experience major price crashes, only for me to have laid further too early. Further infuriation built up in me.

Given Felipe Massa’s incident, and obviously it is without saying that the best is wished for him, the session was delayed but the market was left open, which allowed me to improve on my position only for in Q3, the timing sheets to drop.

Now, this was fortunate for me, as I would usually look to trade out way before the huge price drop in Fernando Alonso, and a seemingly premature suspension from Betfair disallowed any possibility. Thankfully, Alonso was one of my larger greens, and I earned close to £150. Another good result which was largely undeserved.

Nothing much happened in the Saints – Harlequins game, so I was then ready for the Saturday night SKY game. Obviously one of my major ploys is to back the draw pre match, but for the first time ever, I laid it. Put simply, starting at 26 was beyond absurd and I was happy to oppose it; worst case scenario would be 17.5 at HT. Again, two early scores for the home favourite, but given how dire Hull FC are these days, I could not bring myself to lay Hull KR heavily at this stage. I can honestly say I can rarely recall seeing a team so bland in attack and appearing so devoid of confidence. However, some lucky bounces, poor play by Hull KR and a general improvement from Hull FC saw them come back into it. By now I had handily taken to backing the draw again, but continued to trade poorly. Still, my belief that FC could not win and the plunge on the draw late on helped me to a near £90 win although once again, I felt it to be totally undeserved.

And breathe….

Sunday: Whilst I find qualifying easy enough to trade, I don’t find the race as easy. However, the pre race markets are slightly easier and some overnight positions, as well as some Sunday morning trades (Button from 18.5 out to 36 into 21) allowed me to start the race £90 in profit. I was very pleased by this as for once I had traded well, although there were obvious areas for improvement. (A £1,000 trader of the favourite could have achieved this much more easily for instance!) Some further tick swings during the race helped me to an eventual win of just over £100, almost doubling my previous best.

No sooner was that over did the afternoon RL start. I had not commented much upon the games beforehand, and it is probably best that I didn’t – my tipping this week was poor, but the one game I felt strongest about on Sunday was Castleford. Regular readers will know my thoughts on both away teams and underdogs, and after being matched at the generous price of 3 overnight for £30, I was fairly comfortable. However, I cannot sit back on a bet, and having completed a draw trade for £18 green on the draw, I cut my liability to Wakefield to £18 pre match and then traded the match in play and although the liquidity was short to dreadful, I had managed to achieve £25 green on Wakefield at 18 – 12 down, before Joe Westerman’s late penalty effectively sealed the match and I ended up with near enough my pre match green on Castleford of close to £35.

As for the other matches, I was surprised, and disappointed!, that Warrington never really traded in the mid 1.0s despite being 12 – 0 up, and largely missed Salford’s comeback to 12 – 20, although my belief that they were way too large at Half Time did allow me to earn nearly £25, whilst I managed to earn the princely sum of £4.99 from the Huddersfield game through small trades. I wisely avoided the half time lay of Huddersfield at 1.11. If it had been in the 1.0s though, I would have been down for the day on RL! Sadly, there didn’t seem to be the large lays available that I had seen in recent weeks. Hopefully this was a one off though! They have proved most profitable.

So, a poor weekend trading wise although a good weekend results wise, even if I do think that outright betting would be more profitable and a lot less hassle – it just isn’t me. This is a guy so risk averse that when starting a pension at 21 I put most of that in Gilts!!!

My profit and loss through Betfair and Free bets now stands at over £7,000 in total, £5,000 of which has come since 6 April. An incredible amount really and a testament to the sheer hard work I have put in, in my opinion. Obviously though that looks set to drop considerably going forward. My off-season ideas of NFL and Correct Score Football won’t bring in much, but they hopefully will prove profitable; they did produce a small profit when I was less experienced last year.

So, maybe it is time to treat myself. If my savings from work have provided this Ashes summer, what about a trip to America to watch Arizona Cardinals, or a trip to Australia for next year’s Ashes. Or, a year off work… whilst I go back to study for the Legal Practice Course.

Those of you who know me, know my love of procrastination, but I finally submitted an application for the LPC at the eleventh hour on Wednesday, and I am now faced with the biggest decision of my life, well at least since Strawberry or Vanilla ice cream on Friday evening. (On a serious note, I had anticipated applying for University / LPC before my Ashes summer and having left my job before then which was why I moved back home to St Helens in April, despite working in Leeds! No point taking a 6 month lease when I thought I would only need it for 10 weeks. The past 4 months commute has not been fun and will have to end whatever decision is made, probably.)

I should hear about my application within the next two weeks, and I would have to hand my notice in at work immediately so it is imperative that I arrive at a decision as to whether I would accept any offer, and it is an issue that is running through my mind constantly; shortening my sleep and probably effecting my trading.

Those of you who are purely interested in trading can close the window now because I will probably rant through my mind for the next two minutes in case any kind visitor can make some sense of my thoughts. (It is good to get them down on paper in any case. I have no idea why I am airing them on this blog however. Am I that desperate for clarity?)

All my way up to University, I had wanted to train as a barrister until I effectively became confused in my second year, and refused to commit to anything; getting a job whilst I thought about things. Four years later and I am still unsure! (I have suffered a fairly big injury and illness in the intervening periods which explain most of the delay!)

I had always dismissed the LPC, and had visions of returning to University and possibly going into Academia aka Student forever. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that I could not decide, and given the past six years of my life, Barrister training is out and the LPC is an option if I want to pursue law.

Anyway, with University not an option now until next year, when I will be 26, and 30 at the very least before I would probably finish my further education, the LPC has become more and more appealing. I have an interest in law, could always eventually train to become a barrister, or revert back to Academia. Heck, I could even continue as a solicitor; that’s not too bad!

However, £7,000 - £10,000 is a lot of money to spend on something which isn’t clear cut, and I also have concerns as to whether I would waste this opportunity like I have so many in my life, and how overawed I would be having not read a law textbook in four years. I also can’t completely discount the current economic climate. The course is no guarantee of a related job. Some people get those before starting the course, and I would definitely be behind the 8 ball.

If it was purely 50 / 50, the decision would be easy. It’s the fact that I’m 85 / 15 in favour that makes it so tough and further complicating matters is the emergence of a possible job at my current workplace which would make use of my law degree and allow me to research my options further.

All in all, I suspect my passion is Academia. However, passion must give way to realism and the LPC would be a great challenge; one to open more doors than it closes. It would also end my current life dissatisfaction through wasting away in a mediocre job and not really following my passions (I really don’t want another year of that above all else). The easiest answer would be rejection from the Course, and I think that will happen anyway (I always think all my trades will lose too!) but if it shouldn’t I have to be prepared. And I’m not.

And there is the end of a completely unrelated rant to the blog, and I apologise if I have wasted anyone’s time! However, to make it up to anyone who has got this far, might I suggest trading Rugby League. It’s profitable. Honest!

Coming next: The Premium Charge and more life rantings.


  1. Hi Craig,

    I suspect my passion is Academia. However, passion must give way to realism...


    A couple of years ago I quit a well paid job to be a rowing coach, and despite being completely 'unrealistic' and financially difficult at times it was one of my best decisions I have ever made.

    Follow your passion!

  2. Cheers mate.

    Some very good advice there - if you follow your heart you will always have the enthusiasm to make it succesful.

    I think the crucial word though is "suspect". If I knew for certain what I really wanted, it would be much easier!

    Complicating matters, my plan to rely on rejection has failed with my third choice making an offer. (Still waiting on the top 2)

    Seems like I don't have much more time to think... Heads or Tails? :-)