Sunday, 30 August 2009

My first four figure day

Whenever you start a new project, you always envision the heights it may reach and the possible end results. And I am sure that when all of us started trading, we had impossibly high expectations. Then there comes the crash where you realise that things are not going to be as easy as you thought before, for those who demonstrate the necessary persistence, things do start to take off.

Whilst my initial expectations may have been that I would achieve several four figure days (and I am aware that plenty of people achieve this regularly) it is fair to say that I am still picking up my jaw from the floor after my first ever four figure day yesterday.

Now, this £1,000 day needs to be qualified heavily. Two of my wins came from bets which I had possibly hedged previously to give a return on an associated market whilst the other came from a long standing strategy and the winnings from today will undoubtedly enter me into the Premium Charge which will further reduce the £1,000 day. Still, I could look at my Profit and Loss for 29 August 2009 for a long time yet and it is still worthy of celebration.

The first event was Qualifying for the Belgium F1 Grand Prix which I technically start working on from Friday mornings, throwing out possible entry points should prices move substantially in the Free Practice sessions which bear little resemblance to the Qualifying results, usually.

Now, one of my lays was Giancarlo Fisichella. In fact, I laid £11 at 400. However, that was only possible because of an earlier highly speculative back of £3 at 900. I also backed Fisichella for 66p at 1,000 before Qualifying as well which I will come back to later. I made several other trades, on other drivers as well as Fisichella, which were largely motivated by the fact that I traditionally like to lay front runners in the In Play section but often find myself with a wasted large green on the traditional backmarkers so I like to try to get one or two lays in before the professional high layers block out 1,000 on these drivers.

Anyway, whilst I enjoy watching Formula 1, I have no great understanding of Formula 1 in terms of predictions. However, this seems an atypical season where the grid can often go in reverse even without rain. Now, this has been useful in trading usual mid-grid runners such as the Toyotas or Fernando Alonso or Nico Rosberg who are capable of experiencing massive price drops (As did Adrian Sutil last week) after a light Saturday Free Practice before fading in Qualifying 2 or settling for a high fuel load in Qualifying 3. Such a strategy has assisted me to regularly earning around £100 in the Qualifying session, including £30 last Saturday despite only having my mobile internet connection whilst having lunch in London at Starbucks!

However, believe me when I say that in trading the Force India and BMWs, I had no expectation of them mounting a challenge in Qualifying 3 and I was more than happy to lay the (what turned out to be) smart money; at the time expecting the trades to provide nothing more than a couple of pennies. I also did the same on the Race market! Uh-oh!

Right from the start of Qualifying, there was significant interest in nearly every car as the BMWs and Force Indias dropped to the 20s which seemed too low and opened itself up to some neat gap trading, especially as the overall book percentage was so high, although given my pre-Qualifying position, the amount next to these cars did not look very impressive and when they sailed into Qualifying 3, the market seemed to treat them as serious contenders as opposed to just making up the numbers.

Now my usual tactic in Formula 1 Qualifying is to try to lay cars on good laps, look to lay the field in general, but to try to use the heavy layers (people who will happily lay a car believing that he has no chance at odds which are out of sync with market prices but in tune with current reality).

Given the rather strange results of the session to date, the layers had only really been focusing on the high end cars, and my speculative value backs of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton had gone nowhere! However, it seemed that nobody was willing to drive the price out on most cars until they appeared in Qualifying 3 and someone very kindly offered me £8 on Giancarlo Fisichella at 150! (I also managed to get bets on Rubens Barrichello and the BMWs above market prices, whilst offering such a bet on Nico Rosberg myself after backing him at 900 when he looked out in Q2)

Now, by this time, somehow I had managed to achieve £100 green on all the remaining contenders and was on course for over £200 - £300 which would have been my best result yet and left me very happy given my initial positions on the BMWs and the Force Indias!

However, as Fisichella commenced a good lap, I started to lay off; laying £30 off in the 20 – 30 range, before he went to P1 and I laid £40 off in the 12 – 5 range. At this time I still expected Jarno Trulli to get pole, but he failed and by this time, I could not believe my eyes, and with Fisichella dropping to 2 and below, I tried to equalise my book before the market suspended and my BetTrader screen said over £600 on Giancarlo Fisichella.

Now, I am not sure how, but when Betfair settled the market, I ended up with a win, after commission, of almost £750. Clearly something miscounted, but when I look at my trades, and see that my turnover was in excess of £4,000 it is easy to understand how something may have gone wrong. (The more I examine my bet history, the more I become confused.

Looking back, my trading on the market was probably okay to poor. That sounds absurd when I have won so much, but a lot of it was just down to luck. I definitely traded poorly at the end as I did not keep count of what was going on track, although I guess that is understandable given the amounts involved but even during the end of Q1 and Q2, I did not feel in control of the market. It is hard to keep track of 15 cars on track, knowing who is where, the sector times etc… but this was more about luck than anything although it is said that the harder you work, the luckier you get…

And that is the key. I approached F1 Qualifying this year with no strategy but have quickly learned. Now, it is unlikely to carry on into next season, and my guess would be that liquidity will decline for the non European Grand Prix, but from 10am on Saturday, I settle down and trade the market until the end. I initially was losing £5 or so a Qualifying session, until Formula 1 entered its European season and I think the win is just reward for the effort I have put into this throughout the year.

One final point; when Fernando Alonso won Pole this season, I had laid at the peak. How appropriate therefore, that I back Giancarlo Fisichella at his peak. In both instances, the one trade was only a part of the end result, but it sure feels neat to have my first ever 1,000 winner.

With my jaw still on the floor (maybe for the 4th time as a Betfair trader), and having reached for a beer, I then settled down to watch the Challenge Cup Final and in the drama of the F1, I had forgotten about my open position on the Rugby. And Huddersfield had drifted from the 1.9s to the low 1.8s, taking several of my Warrington bets. However, given the above success, I decided to keep my Warrington position open for longer than usual and their early try rewarded me.

From then on, I decided to equalise my position for around £150 on either team and to keep my draw trade open having backed the draw heavily pre match and having over £3,000 on the draw. (The £125 profit was largely on the CC Winner after the Semi Finals had been played. Betfair had opted to settle the Saints and Wigan bets which saw nearly £200 come out of my account (I had hedged these positions for effectively no loss during the Semi Games) but was now showing around £80 green on either remaining finalist. Thankfully my bank was large enough to cope with this, but it seems beyond stupid that in settling bets early you can effectively turn even an all green book into a heavier green but remove a user’s funds!)

As for trading the game, I opted to only trade the draw given that I was still hyped up from the Formula 1 and that there was enormous liquidity on the draw. (I wish it was always like this!) And at Half Time, from trading the draw only, I could have taken out an additional £100 profit. There isn’t even that much matched in some games!

I opted to push my luck and largely kept my green on the draw, although I did trade bits out on the way to earning over £200 after commission.

As for the game, it has been a while since I called a game so perfectly. I guess I stepped up for the big game! I pinpointed that I expected Huddersfield to have stage fright, and they looked incredibly nervous early on whilst I also pointed out that Kevin Brown would have to be influential for Huddersfield to succeed, and when he went off injured it is fair to say that the Giants turned to headless chickens.

The only disappointment was the Man of the Match. I would have loved to see Lee Briers get the Man of the Match. I remember Lee getting Saints to Wembley almost by himself in 1997 after Bobbie Goulding was suspended only to be dropped for the final. 12 years later at least he got to play at Wembley, but given that Michael Monaghan was hardly sensational, I would have liked to see Briers get the Lance Todd trophy. At least he did get his drop goal though!

The other point about the game was how nice it was to see real joy on the faces of the Warrington fans on the final hooter. As a Saints fan, you don’t see that joy so much anymore. It is almost expected, and we are so used to it that it dilutes the occasion. However, Warrington had not even been to the final in nearly 20 years and it showed as the Wolves celebrated the victory in a manner fitting of the occasion.

So, almost £950 up and in need of £50 for my first £1,000 day ever; where can I find £50?

It came from my 0-0 strategy as West Ham and Blackburn played out a stalemate. I ended up laying off some at 1.03 and 1.01; I wanted the £1,000 figure and was not going to risk it for an extra £2! Especially when I had been looking to hedge the Birmingham v Tottenham and West Ham v Blackburn 0-0s only for Tottenham to score as it was becoming a possibility.

So again, the real profit was not the amount shown in the Profit and Loss but as you can understand I am not really too bothered about that! The one downside is that this will almost certainly open up the Premium Charge for me but I guess that is a concept that anyone who is successful at this game will have to face.

I was also going to post on my Sunday activities, including possibly my best trading performance (for less than a tenth of the profit of the above!) but given the, as usual, ridiculous length (over 2,000 words - is anyone here? Comment for your free prize!) I will save that for another post where I will also outline my brand new e-book, available for £54.99.

Finally, there is no free prize, or e-book. But I’d still love it if you comment!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ashes regained

Let’s not go over the top, a cricket match is not a life defining moment, but being there as England regained the Ashes is something that will live with me for the rest of my life and I’m already looking to frame my ticket stub!

I have spent the vast majority of this Summer travelling around the country watching what was a fascinating series. A big change from last Summer which saw my cricket tickets gather dust or be used by friends as I was in and out of hospital! From a week in Cardiff, to two days at Edgbaston to the Headingley disaster before one day at the Oval, which turned out to be a lucky choice.

I never thought I would get to the Oval. When tickets went on general sale, I booked the day off work and waited for tickets to go on general sale, only for the Oval to refuse to allow new customers to sign up to buy tickets online. I don’t know how that qualifies as general sale but I was resigned to missing the last test.

Further, when the ECB offered tickets to the Supporters club, they combined the two London tests, and as I wanted to make a first trip to Lord’s, I put that down as my first two choices with day four at the Oval being the third and last choice. And the rest as they say, was history.

It really was a fantastic summer, full of sun, beer and over-priced food. Too much of the last one and probably too much of the second one! Was the cricket as high in quality as 2005? No. Was it as widely embraced by the public as 2005? No. However, that should not take away from the Series because it was still full of highs and lows, drama and good cricket contested in absolutely the right way. I would even say that the booing of Ricky Ponting, whilst unfortunate, was more in a pantomime villain type of way as opposed to being full of any real malice. His standing ovation on Sunday proved that.

As for the cricket, I am amazed at those who look at the statistics and therefore declare England “lucky”. It’s like looking at a football league table and thinking that the table should be arranged by goal difference.

Of course Australia will have the better statistics. When they played well, they dominated statistically. Of course they will lead the wicket tables; they took 19 wickets in Cardiff to England’s 6, and 20 to 10 in Headingley. Meanwhile, England’s victories saw them take 40 wickets to 35. Let us also not forget that Australia had two innings to England’s one at Edgbaston and their dominance at Cardiff.

Yet, and this is the key distinction, where former Australian outfits were like trained SAS marksmen, able to knock you out with military precision from 200 metres, this outfit were unable to knock you out from 5 yards out with any assortment of weaponry.

In Cardiff for example, Ricky Ponting declared too late. Forget the praise he got for taking two wickets at the end of Saturday. Why were Australia batting all through Saturday morning with a poor weather forecast? At this point, they were 150 ahead with a maximum of 5 sessions remaining (The weather forecast had all but ruled out Saturday evening). Therefore, even if England were to score at 100 runs per session, they would need to bat at least four sessions before they could be safe of not losing, and if Ponting could not trust his team to bat out one session, then Australia did not deserve the win. It was this indiscretion, and the obvious fighting qualities of the England team that gave them the edge going forward.

Let’s also not forget the Australian collapses in the first innings at Lord’s, Edgbaston and the Oval. Those wickets were hardly unplayable and Australia were largely able to escape from Edgbaston due to the rain; the majority of their runs coming once the match was all but over as a contest and given their batting to date, it would not have inspired confidence that they would have been able to hold out had the prospect of a result been realistic.

Even when they did win, they did so when any team would have been able to capitalise on a dire England performance. So yes, the Series was close, and the statistics show Australia to have more runs, but let’s remember that at Crunch time, the Aussies folded like a deckchair and that is the reason why England have, deservedly, regained the Ashes on a day that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

As for my trading, I managed to achieve my worst ever loss this weekend on the cricket. Despite the above analysis, my natural pessimism lead me to constantly back Australia. Heck, if they were to somehow win this, then I would want a refund for the rest of the Summer! This, plus if it was going to go to Day 5, I would want some money in the bank to allow me to buy a ticket from somewhere! However, with my phone battery still acting up, and with me not being 100% aware of all the bets I placed (I had forgot that some were unmatched), it ended up with me losing a lot more than what I thought I had! But given the England victory, it’s hard to really be too upset!

My other trading for the week was fairly impressive. Whilst I never foresaw the way the two TV games went on Thursday and Friday, I managed to react to claim around £100 on each and whilst I didn’t have a great week predicting, I did manage to almost break even thanks to Wakefield’s victory although Harlequins’ loss to Hull did really surprise me.

I also managed to complete some great Formula 1 Trades over the weekend despite not seeing any of the racing! Some of it was undoubtedly luck however! And I’ll expand on that in my next post, as I will with a good football trade from last night on the Liverpool v Aston Villa match whilst I will also look forward to the Challenge Cup final on Saturday although it is obviously disappointing to only have one RL game to look forward to this weekend!

Finally, I was trying to complete another free bet offer only to be cut off halfway through, re-inforcing my opinions of bookmakers. They only make the free bets offer to take advantage of those who can’t resist, and whilst I can’t really blame them for looking to turn away custom from regular winners, the fact that they are seemingly so happy to take money from people who might not be able to help themselves is nothing short of a complete disgrace. I almost had the last laugh, as a 25/1 shot almost came in from a £50 stake but despite reaching as low as 4 on Betfair, it didn’t win. (And whilst I had only laid off 80% of my stake, I did not manage to profit as the market crashed so soon and so quickly that I couldn’t respond quickly enough due to eating my lunch! Ah well, c’est la vie!)

Friday, 21 August 2009

Emulating Usain Bolt

No, this post isn’t about my dash from the near end of Platform 1 at Manchester Piccadilly to the far end of Platform 14 (which I made by jumping down the last 5 steps as the whistle went for the train to depart…) but rather Bolt’s insistence on playing down his tremendous achievements. If you listen to the man after he finishes a race, you would believe that he has finished outside the medals despite the fact that he has just smashed a world record.

Now, I am far away from achieving any world records, but if you listened to me after any game, you would expect me to have made a massive loss and never to have won anything although this is more a case of my never ending quest for perfection and refusal to accept satisfaction!

However, believe me when I say that last night’s National League game was my worst trading performance.

Being off work to watch the deciding Ashes test provides me with the opportunity of having my Netbook tuned into Betfair to monitor prices all day and for most of the season, the price on the favourite in the National League game has crashed down during the day of the game.

However, I failed to get onto this as the price seemed so low to begin with and my attempts to trade the match in the hour before the match to get some green on the draw went very wrong as the market sensed Batley were too low and pushed the price up. Mr Lumpy did appear briefly, but I refused to bail and even threw more money at the game and then as Lumpy disappeared, I was looking at a substantial red before kick off. However, being sure of a Halifax win, I moved all my red onto Batley but kept some green on the draw thinking that if Batley were to keep it close, the draw price would save me.

Now, at this time, I also made the mistake of not fully concentrating on the market and getting distracted by a conversation and to complete the vicious circle, I then got so annoyed at myself for having been needlessly distracted, that I approached the game in the wrong frame of mind. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to get pumped up and exercise before trading a match, but I find it is a good idea to spend 10 – 15 minutes looking at the market and thinking about the match and possible early events and the price swings that would mirror the events; getting yourself in tune with the match so to speak.

So, not only did I approach the game wrongly, I missed the first ten minutes and found myself joining a match in which Batley had scored first and had a 6-0 lead. And then there was the slope. Now, for those of you who don’t follow rugby league, Batley’s home ground is subject to a large slope which tends to produce vastly different performance levels and with Batley having the slope in the first half, I was effectively opposing a runaway train. So, I turned myself on, and backed Batley some as they continued to crash down, before believing that Halifax were too large, I backed Halifax and for once, my luck was in, as Halifax then scored through a 50/50 Video Referee decision although fearing the worst, I had actually traded some out waiting for the decision.

However, I still had the chance to get out for almost no loss, when Batley scooped up on a loose ball and scored. However, if the above decision was 50/50, this one should have been 0/100 as the Halifax player was blatantly tripped only for the Video Referee to ignore this and give the try. It’s hard to argue with increasing calls to remove the Video Referee when you see such blatant decisions be wrong. A couple of weeks ago, Blackpool winger Damian Munro was sent off and suspended for one match after an identical trip. Consistency, where art thou?

So, at Half Time, Batley were in the 1.1s and I had a significant red on the Bulldogs. What do I do next? Obviously, I lay Batley and back the draw. Going against the slope and with a 22 point lead, Batley were too low and the draw price was absurd at the high 40s. Halifax are in a rut, but they can score points, and a 22 point gap against an inferior side, going with the slope, is very little and the market eventually realised, pushing Batley upto 1.24 and the draw coming into the 30s so much so that I could get out for no loss and I did due to an error. When Halifax were awarded a penalty at the start of the second half, I thought it had been given to Dewsbury and looked to largely lay off before realising my error, and keeping some money on Halifax.

Anyway, Halifax scored four consecutive scores to level the game up at 28 all with ten t go and give me a green screen of £100. Don’t be fooled however by the nice green, that was pathetic. I had identified a dream trading opportunity, and had largely bailed too soon and most of the £100 profit had come from my draw trading, which I had given away too much in the 10s and 20s when the draw eventually crashed down into middle single figures. Now, I advocate backing the draw quite strongly and have done pretty well in this regard despite only 3 TV games ending up as a draw and part of this is due to my draw trading which regularly sees me take a few ticks on a £10 stake and keep the profit on the draw. Whilst that is nice, too often I am giving away value which is only going to hurt in the long run.

Anyway, my evening wasn’t over yet as Batley scored to take the lead and I ended up getting amounts matched on Halifax at 8 and 16 and on the Draw at 40. Of course, at this time, I didn’t really trade out and they didn’t come in, leaving me with around £200 on Halifax and £300 on the Draw at the full time whistle and whilst £115 was a nice eventual return from the game, the fact is that my net scoreboard suffered a massive red due to my worst performance of the year by some distance.

And speaking of rubbish ideas, before I briefly get onto looking at this weekend’s games, allow me to explain my latest strategy, which is probably as ridiculous as it sounds.

Now, with the RL season approaching its conclusion, I don’t really have any solid ideas to fall back on, especially with the F1 season also nearing the end of its European season.

So, my latest idea is to back 0-0 in every Premier League game to earn £50 increasing the stake sufficiently to cover previous losses. One thing that my RL trading has allowed me to accumulate is a large bank and whilst 0-0s are a rare score, they (hopefully) occur often enough to make a profit.

As for a losing run, a bank of £500 would cover 27 games and a bank of £1,000 36 games and if that happens, then I would walk away, admitting that this idea has failed.

Obviously this idea should be ignored unless you have a very large bank, but as the saying goes, money makes money. Of course, there are significantly easier ways to make money, but the idea is to earn money with little work.

There are also two other advantages with this approach. The first is that at the moment I am a trader and strongly averse to gambling. Hopefully this strategy will allow me to develop the ability to let good trades run longer and become more accustomed with having money at risk. It didn’t start well as I couldn’t follow Wednesday’s games due to the 0-0 on the Birmingham v Portsmouth game but hopefully it will improve and whilst my natural instinct would have been to trade out, at 1.15, the price seemed to large for a game with only 2 minutes of injury time left.

Secondly, is the Premium Charge. Obviously, this approach will see me lose lots of money before I win money and whilst I will end up in profit, the hope is that the money turned over will be sufficient to placate the Premium Charge and possibly build up a nice enough sanctuary for the start of the 2010 RL season and if not, I trust myself to cut my losses and move on.

So, looking ahead to this weekend’s RL tips and I would like to re-iterate that I accept no liability for typing errors or just getting it plain wrong! These are my thoughts and useful for me to run through. By all means, feel free to use them, but if they go against you, you probably won’t be able to cut and run as quickly as I can.

Anyone who is familiar with my posts on the Betfair forum will be familiar with my thoughts on Hull v Harlequins. I would initially have Harlequins as the team more likely to win. Can Hull win? Of course, and with my tip, they probably will, but the 9/4 that was available with Bookmakers was absurd and something that went quickly. I have kept monies in Bookmakers who I have taken free bet offers up on with the possibility of taking prices if they so appealed and this was my first chance to do so, although I am obviously wishing that I had placed more than the £37.50 I did!

Why do I like Harlequins? If you look at the form, you see they have won 1 from 9 whilst Hull have won 2 from 12 but whilst Hull appear to have no creativity, Harlequins will have Danny Orr, Luke Dorn, Chad Randall and Rob Purdham. Quins also have a more desperate mentality needing to win for the playoffs, and their best form has come away from home. Of course, Hull will be playing for pride and with the pressure off, they could surprise, but 9/4 was a ridiculous price. Still, we have seen this season that a ridiculous price does not always equal a victory.

Unfortunately, the Friday SKY game looks like being a damp squib with Huddersfield sending out their reserves. Hopefully people will recognise this and come together on the handicap market, but it is doubtful. I just hope that Huddersfield get the same stick that Saints have received for performing similar antics before, which the records actually show can disjoint the team and gives Warrington the edge in the final for now in my opinion.

Speaking of Warrington, they need to win to maintain playoff hopes against Wakefield on Friday and they have a reasonably strong squad. Without Danny Brough Wakefield may lack creativity and the market on Betfair currently looks appropriate as both teams have question marks. That said, I think the current value lies slightly with Wakefield although I feel more comfortable having backed Wakefield at 4 on Betfair overnight than I would if I backed them now at 3.5.

The other Friday game sees Salford play Hull KR. As I mentioned last week, I am uncomfortable backing against a Salford side that have shown they can beat anyone. However, whilst I have a dislike for odds on shots, Hull KR in the high 1.4s seems another case of home bias as Hull KR have a chance of 3rd place and will be on a maintainable high after last week’s victory over St Helens.

I will be in Larndarn for the 5th test over the weekend so I haven’t analysed the Sunday games that much. As for the Saturday game, my only comment would be that whilst a crisis usually draws a team together, having 6 players deported will probably mean that whatever their spirit, Celtic have no chance against Leeds. My only surprise is that someone is willing to lay Leeds at 1.03.

Bradford v Catalans sees another case of home bias. Whilst Bradford are in good form, and Catalans can struggle away, I think the current prices are more favourable to Catalans, although I think it is more a case of slight home bias rather than outstanding value.

As for the other Sunday game, it is a tough one. The market has displayed a huge love for Wigan this year, and they have been one of the most unprofitable teams to back. However, Castleford have struggled at home this year and the home side bias could ensure that Wigan are priced favourably. Ultimately, this is a game however where the best opportunities will come in running, and as this is a game that I will be unable to follow, I will probably blind back the draw and hope for the best.

Still, all of this will pale into insignificance in comparison to the real sporting event this weekend. The decider at the Oval. Unfortunately, James Anderson’s streak without a duck has gone, but hopefully England will be able to retain the Ashes although the odds don’t look too good at the moment. Still, come on England.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Is an e-book the best way to profit and a review of Sunday

There seems to be a lot of people offering training courses or e-Books or tipping services at the moment, it definitely seems the new thing to do and I had my first experience of tipping this week!

Well, not really, except that someone happened to misunderstand my analysis of the Salford v Harlequins game which culminated in them backing Harlequins and losing money although with 5 minutes to go, they would have looked to be in a pretty position.

Firstly, this is entirely my fault. Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with both my general trends (Away underdogs) and writing style (Streams of consciousness before sleep!) but for a new reader, it is very easy to see why they thought Harlequins would be the tip.

Being a rare Saturday with no Rugby League and Cricket, I had actually ventured over to Sheffield for the day and can honestly say that after receiving the comment via e-mail, I felt like genuine rubbish. Here was someone who had placed their faith in my analysis and had ultimately lost. Maybe I shouldn’t have. After all, no-one forced this person to follow my analysis, but that is the type of person I am. Loathe to take any risk even when the odds are massively in my favour, my DNA is simply incompatible with that of investing.

So I don’t think there’s any danger of me releasing an e-book or promoting a tipping service anytime soon. Heck, I was sweating on Saturday over my £20 on Salford, desperately trying to trade out only to find the liquidity skinnier than a supermodel. That is clearly an irrational reaction and one that I need to look to change but again, as regular readers know, I have been trying without much success for a long time now!

As for the whole concept of e-Books and trading courses, my own opinion is largely against them. Not because I think the promoters are conmen (in the main) but because I started out on Betfair with nothing except the blogging community and my own thoughts and latterly the Betfair forum (Rugby) and the Racingtraders forum.

Put frankly, I don’t think I would be in the position I am in today if I had access to an e-Book or trading courses. The fact is that the best strategies are the one you learn yourselves. You need to learn the markets and learn how to react. I have obsessively studied Formula 1 Markets, Rugby League Markets and Correct Score Football markets to get to where I am today.

Now, obviously having a helping resource is a great thing and one that can really help, but I find they help best once you have knowledge of the basics. You don’t want to be blind to one person but to take their advice on board and use it in conjunction with your own opinions and that is partly why I always advise people never to follow my tips. I am pretty decent at knowing when things are going against me and bailing out and switching positions. You probably won’t be. If you study the markets or know the games, then my comments will help a hell of a lot more but if you blindly rely on my comments, you’ll likely be stuffed. (The other reason is my nervous DNA. If I sweat over £20 on a market given my profit to date, imagine how I would feel if I had people’s holidays riding on my comments!)

There are definitely enough free resources out there at the moment to use in connection with your own study before then accepting the professional help. For what its worth, through the free resources, I have happened to get to know a couple of people who I know are not only genuine but also very good at what they do. Still, it would be wrong for me to recommend them, especially as I do not use their services! All I will say is that they aren’t charging £55 per month despite reportedly earning a six figure sum, somewhat berating people recently for wanting too much money and then offering such ingenious advice as the price may go up but could also go down. Subscription services to the initial target must not be going as well as planned.

Anyway enough of that, I never used to be so cynical! I wish I wasn’t, nothing like the wide eyed naïveté of youth.

It is another sign of greediness / my current ability that I was very disappointed to have only earned around £100 on Sunday. I made around £60 on Hull KR v Saints after the initial spike when Saints went 4 – 0 up but once again traded out too soon. I lost on the 1.01 train that was Wakefield v Catalans but then managed £75 on Huddersfield v Bradford.

It is that £75 which is the most annoying. Not only did I call Bradford as the value selection but I called saving money back if Huddersfield got the first try, and then the 1.1 rule also came in good use as Bradford drifted out to 1.3. After all that, £75 is clearly a disappointing return.

So what went wrong?

Well firstly the liquidity was poor. I didn’t want to get on the wrong side of a 1.01 so used smaller stakes than usual. That was sensible. Secondly, I traded out too soon, after Bradford scored their first try in fact and once I have green, I do tend to go more conservative. This was not so sensible. I have mentioned before my quandary in SKY games of backing underdogs. As a market trader, I know that any comeback will lend profits that way so it always seems sensible never to overload in case the favourite storms clear, but possibly I should be using my judgement more. Anyway, with another 22 TV games to go this season, I won’t dwell too much on my mistakes but rather look to rectify them in the close season.

A final comment on my RL trading. I reviewed my mid season projections and once again, they seem very poor. Goes to show that whilst I can identify value and read games in play, I am definitely less able at predicting long term events!

A quick note on my football trading which continues to disappoint. My major issue at the moment is with pre match trading. I laid 0-1 and 1-1 in Man Utd v Birmingham expecting them to drift. (0-1 did in the Chelsea v Hull game) and 1-1 was around the bookies price and whilst there was large amounts to back, small amounts were available to lay. Ultimately, both went the other way so much so that if I had doubled my stake when I bailed, I would have still had a nice profit by kick off. Obviously late team news played a part, but once again I got the pre match direction totally wrong, and the effect of this limited me to a £5 win in the game.

I had a similar experience in Liverpool v Tottenham with any unquoted, and eventually bailed at Half Time for around a £10 loss although had I gone out, I would have won a nice amount. I am struggling to read the likelihood of a goal and the market reactions thereto, but have started scalping 0 – 0 reasonably well. Maybe I would be best served by just doing the 0 – 0 whilst observing the market in the interim. Something to definitely consider this week.

Finally, to end on a non trading note, I was left relieved by the England squad but disappointed. Relieved at no Mark Ramprakash, but underwhelmed by Jonathan Trott and Monty Panesar. If a rookie can be relied upon, there is little reason for not going with Adil Rashid over Monty Panesar who had an excellent performance in the County Championship at the weekend. Rashid looks to be getting more turn, bowls with greater variation and can chip in with the bat. He is also more of an unknown quantity. Quite simply, I don’t get England’s plan with Rashid. They are disrupting his 4 day season, where he does need experience, to turn up and play one day games, something which he has never even performed to a mediocre level at.

As for the batting, I called Ravi Bopara flopping at 3 before the Series began and was sad to be proved correct. That said, I would have gone with the experience and know how of Rob Key. Admittedly, I have never watched too much of Jonathan Trott so I cannot be 100% certain but I am not sure that he is the answer. I am also sceptical of moving Ian Bell about. Bell is a player who I really rate, unlike most. However, I believe his future does not lie at 3 but 4 or 5. Bell can score runs and the questions about his mentality, whilst justified, are overblown. Bell has performed admirably in comparison to Alistair Cook for a while now but whilst Bell always appears to be the scapegoat, Cook seems to be the golden boy? I am also undecided about getting tickets for day 5. I have to return to work on Tuesday so am faced with a dash up to Leeds on Tuesday AM or a dash through London on Monday evening to catch the last train. Neither seems an attractive proposition, but missing England winning the Ashes seems even worse!

As always, feel free to leave comments. Like other bloggers, I always really appreciate any comments!

Friday, 14 August 2009

A disappointing evening

It always seems that whenever I am most bullish about a weekend’s schedule the more I seem likely to be proved incorrect and it is fair to say that this weekend did not get off to the best start possible with Leeds thrashing Castleford 76 – 12. I did speculate that Leeds had the ability to annihilate a side before the end of the season and they did so in spectacular fashion with winger Ryan Hall scoring five tries alone. I don’t think the end result makes my initial position any worse however. It seems like Leeds were at the top of their game and Castleford the bottom. Replay the game 100 times and this might happen 2 or 3, but I equally think that Castleford would win and contest more than their starting price suggested.

The SKY game was a damp squib from 30 minutes onwards as Wigan raced to 1.01. It had to happen sooner rather than later I suppose and I can only say that I traded the game terribly. I have a difficulty in backing underdogs on SKY because, if the score goes against you, there is very little in the way of recovery whereas the longer a game is close, the more I know I can trade the market to build green on the value selection. Such a thought means that I dip in and out of the underdog and that was evidenced in so far as I largely missed Warrington’s score early on which sent Wigan out to the 1.4s. I had managed to build around £50 green on Warrington and around £750 on the draw but that would all come to nothing as Wigan raced back as Warrington tired and saw the influential Lee Briers leave the field. I ended up losing £10 on the main match market.

I had also traded abysmally as I got too caught up in reacting to the events in the first half, overstating the value of changes of possessions, penalties, knock ons etc. However, I won’t dwell on those too much because I probably only have around 20 games left to trade this season and I should focus on what I do right to make the largest profit I can. I do feel however that my confidence in predicting has taken an irrational hit tonight; I know my strategy is capable of extended losing runs, and getting just 2 wrong is hardly the end of the world, but it just reflects my loss avoidance mentality when really a profit and gain mentality is more appropriate for my strategy.

A quick note on the football as the Premier League starts tomorrow. I have looked to trade 4 games so far to warm me back into the swing of things and I must say that on the whole they went okay if not brilliantly.

To recap, my current strategy is to scalp 0 – 0 down to 6, back 2-1 and 1-2, cover the higher scores and back unquoted. I have yet to decide on liability size for the upcoming season. I clearly have more money to play with, but clearly need to learn more about the markets.

In fact, I almost wonder if just scalping 0 – 0 and leaving it at that would be best given this week’s performances – the fact is that I have struggled in trading sensibly after the first goal goes in. For instance, a goal to the favourite sees my 2-1 and 1-2 backs almost entirely reliant on an underdog goal next and although unquoted can cover this, maybe I need to consider 3-0 although the relative size of this would mean that I could not cover unquoted and a couple of quick goals would leave that very precarious.

However, it’s all food for thought at the moment. I need to develop further in this market and whilst it will never be as profitable as RL is, I’m hopeful of getting to know the market well enough to be able to make a good profit, as I felt confident of doing towards the end of last season. I am out tomorrow but will look to trial the system on Sunday, although I must say that neither game looks a good fit for my strategy, but I don’t really know enough about football to be confident in that!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Only four rounds left

With only thirty seven Super League games left this season it really is time to start making the most of what is left and thankfully there seems to be plenty of impressive opportunities this weekend.

It only seems like yesterday that Leeds kicked off the season at home to new boys Celtic but my trading has evolved massively since then although I will ultimately look back at this season with a feeling of what if. There have been several huge opportunities that I never grasped and several swings which I bailed on too soon. In fact, I still am, and I keep doubting that the swings will keep coming but hopefully they will.

And that is the problem with predictions and why I get so nervous when I stick my neck on the line. It also explains why I can talk myself in to and out of almost anything! It is alright considering something to be “value”. I feel that I can certainly nail that concept but at the end of the day, the game will come down to 80 minutes of individual play which has an enormous variable. The difference between losing 40 – 0 and winning 40 – 0 is smaller than ever and whilst that will obviously lead to a natural favouritism towards underdogs, there is very little justification when you find yourself well down after the side you fancied gets a beating.

Indeed, I keep expecting the law of averages to pull me back but so far so good largely, and I just hope that I can defy the law of averages for the rest of the season.

So the weekend starts on Friday with Leeds v Castleford and Warrington v Wigan. Immediately, I am drawn towards Leeds v Castleford. Both teams had last week off and Castleford lost their last game whilst Leeds won their last game. Leeds have home advantage. As regular readers know, that makes it the perfect time to favour Castleford.

Obviously in a one off game, Leeds are favourites. Clear favourites. But when Castleford are a best price of 5/1 with the bookmakers, I know which team I would feel more comfortable backing. I keep expecting Leeds to come good, and I have little doubt that they will hammer one or two teams before the end of the season, maybe even this week but in considering value, I will be looking to back Castleford.

Last week saw Bradford go from 1.3 home favourites against Harlequins to around 2.9 underdogs when they met 6 days later in London and Friday sees two teams meet for the second time in 6 days in Wigan v Warrington. Last Saturday, Warrington secured their first trip to the Challenge Cup Final since 1990 with an impressive victory over Wigan who were pre match favourites at 1.8 in the morning and as low as hilarious 1.2s at just 8 – 0 up.

However, despite losing, Wigan are favourites again and there are three key reasons why. The first is home advantage. The second is that the market has had a man crush on Wigan all year but the third is slightly more genuine in that Warrington have a lot of players out injured. However, when considering Warrington’s first 13, it still looks more than adequate. The problem will likely come in their bench where they will probably field several debutants who are unlikely to have the size to match up with Wigan’s substitutes. (There is also the bounceback factor which means that I automatically consider a bias towards Wigan.)

However, the 1.2s is a ridiculous starting price, although we must equally consider the effect that an early score by a home favourite has on the market in SKY games which means that any initial trade should ensure that some money is kept behind to lay Wigan further if they go ahead. So, whilst a revengeful Wigan should be favourites against an injury hit Warrington side, again the value lies with the underdogs.

I just wish I had followed my advice of not getting involved in the Betfair markets until they have properly settled as I looked to lay Wigan before I had received correct team news although I still believe that the price I laid Wigan at was fair even given Warrington’s injury news.

Moving onto Saturday and there are a further two opportunities. Salford look set to recall Richie Myler and have produced some impressive performances this year defeating both Saints and Leeds. They travel to Harlequins where Quins are a best price of 2/7. Again, the Quins should be favourites, however how short would they be had they not capitulated against Bradford last week? That performance actually makes them more likely to win in my view as they know that they will be in desperate need of victory to reach the playoffs.

Further, the travelling distance involved in playing Harlequins can give them a legitimate home advantage, even if they have tended to perform better away from home this year, and the Quins look to be almost back to full strength. Still, Quins look too short.

The Saturday evening game of Catalans v Hull also sees, surprise surprise, a home favourite looking way too short. Again, I don’t dispute the favourite tag but I do dispute the fact that Catalans are a best price of ¼ to win.

Again, this needs qualification. Hull have been woeful recently and they definitely have injury worries. However, Catalans haven’t been superbly impressive either recently. Looking set to be without their key player Thomas Bosc, Catalans only just scraped home against Salford last week whilst Hull were able to put their feet up and rest. Further, the game is being played at almost a neutral venue, although obviously Catalans will keep the geographical advantage of playing the game in Southern France where the conditions will naturally favour them.

Still, experience tells me that they are too short and despite Catalans needing to win like Harlequins, I know where I would want my money if I could stand the strain of betting as opposed to trading.

Onto Sunday’s games and amazingly, I agree with the bookies on one game. I think the Hull KR v Saints game is priced up correctly and can see no clear edge there.

The other afternoon game sees Wakefield v Celtic, and with Wakefield a best price of 1/16, if you could lay that, well, it wouldn’t be the worst bet in the world. Obviously Celtic are massive underdogs, but at that price, there are definitely worse ways to spend a few pounds. Celtic have defeated Bradford and Wigan this year and if they can produce a good performance and catch Wakefield on an off day stranger things have definitely happened.

Sunday evening sees Huddersfield host Bradford in the SKY game and my immediate question is whether the liquidity will be bursting through like it was when Hull KR hosted Wigan on a Sunday night or whether the liquidity will be all but absent like it was when Catalans hosted Harlequins. My guess is that it will be somewhere in the middle.

Again, I lean towards Bradford being the value selection here. Huddersfield will still be on a high following last week’s Semi Final victory and it can be very hard to replicate the necessary intensity in a game situation after such a great win, although equally it could inspire confidence and allow them to produce a great display. Bradford meanwhile have been inconsistent all year. They have defeated Saints and Leeds but on the whole, underperformed dreadfully although last week’s thrashing of Harlequins should give them a good confidence boost without being such a great win that they can afford to sit back and rest.

Again, in a one off match, Huddersfield should be favourites but at a best price of 4/11 with the bookmakers there is very little value there long term although as advised in the Wigan game, keep something back as an early Huddersfield try will likely crash the price to 1.1s.

So, there we have some quick thoughts on this weekend’s game and they aren’t much different from my usual fare but I do feel that this weekend when I looked at the prices, I was very surprised by three or four whereas usually there is only one stand out price. Obviously, Sod’s law probably indicates that this means that I will be wrong this week, but anyone who has followed my hints so far can probably afford to lose a couple of quid, as such an approach will invariably do from time to time.

Just a quick note on Thursday night’s game which is becoming ever more difficult to trade as the liquidity continues to decline. Still, I did manage to earn a respectable profit of £90 largely through laying Barrow in the 1.1s as the market overreacted to a fast starting favourite and generally fell in love with Barrow. The draw price was bizarre again as it stayed at a generally low 20 – 30s for the first half and then exploded upto 120 as Widnes took the lead in the second half to go 10 – 8 up. Most odd and from then, the price was definitely higher than it should have been. My biggest regret in the game was in backing Barrow at 1.5 after Widnes took the lead to green up. It was a regret because 90 seconds later with nothing further happened, the price was as high as 1.7. Given that I was backing between £300 - £500 back, I’ll let you calculate the missed profit! (Although I must note that Barrow were looking the better side at this point and one knock on or missed tackle or debatable refereeing decision could have crashed price.) It just goes to show though that however experienced you are in the markets, one big player can always do strange things, especially in the less liquid markets.

Anyway, hopefully I will be able to build on this good start with some good underdog performances this weekend. Given the current prices, even just one victory could result in almost breaking even but hopefully there will be more than that although I must say that surely we are due for a 1.01 express in the TV matches shortly!

Finally, with the Premier League starting on Saturday, I will aim to post my thoughts on my Correct Score strategy, to try to make sense of it if possible, tomorrow as well as hopefully being able to comment on a very exciting Friday match.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Quick Update

As you can see, I haven't updated the blog in a while due to being away the past two weekends in Birmingham and Leeds and frankly, for reasons of weather and ineptitude respectively, I almost wish I had not bothered!

My time in between these days was spent as a mixture of being ill and deciding to reject all offers received to complete the LPC against my wishes. Sometimes wanting something is not enough.

With respect to my RL trading, I'll post a more detailed review sometime this week. In short however, I can only say I wish I had a phone that had decent battery life. (I have been able to upgrade for 6 months but a combination of not wanting to pay £200 and laziness means that I am stuck with a battered MDA Vario III, which appears to lose power quicker than Usain Bolt.)

In short however, I had a great position on Wigan away at Saints, only for my phone to die and lose £40. I saved battery power for the end of Warrington v Leeds, but having left Walkabout on account of my friend's protestations, I "only" ended up with £200, which when you consider that I initally chose to place my refund of the Edgbaston ticket on Warrington and the Draw, is not brilliant!

Having returned home on Sunday, I did manage a decent win on Bradford v Harlequins, although I did lose some of my green when my computer crashed as Bradford took the lead (I am noticing a pattern here..!) and then panicked when no-one was taking Harlequins backs once they resumed the lead and gave away ridiculous value.

I then decided to take a break from Thursday's National League game, only to get involved in the last ten minutes for £10 or so. Traded Friday's Super League game on the train home, believing that Salford were too short at Half Time although again, with 5% of battery power remaining and with going through tunnels, I missed out on some great opportunities.

I then managed to win £60 on Warrington v Wigan despite being at the cricket although again, this was impacted by poor battery life and you know... watching the cricket! I even managed to lose £7 on Bradford v Harlequins despite ridiculous odds after the draw price crashed and I panicked to get out of the red on the draw in play where liquidity is as scarce as clothes on Jordan.

On Sunday, I managed to watch Saints v Huddersfield in the pub and despite realising that Saints had no chance at Half Time, managed to only win enough to cover my backs of Saints in the Winners Market. Again though my phone died in the second half... I probably would have earned enough to pay for the new phone by now! But, it just seems ridiculously expensive!

I'll break them down in more detail later this week.

Just a quick note that with the RL season approaching the finish line, my attention starts to turn towards my "off-season" sports. Now, I am nowhere near as profitable on other sports as I am on RL and Formula 1, but I will probably look to trade soccer and NFL this winter.

My approach to NFL is to generally go with what I think will happen. It isn't very scienftic but it seemed to work reasonably well with small stakes last time so we will see. I am just concerned at the moment that Sky may not be covering the NFL this year, certainly they have scrapped the Pre Season coverage but that is no biggie. However, I feel that there would definitely be ways to profit further for a NFL junkie like myself, but at the moment I only have one trick up my sleeve. Hopefully that will expand soon!

A quick note on my approach to football is that this tends to resolve around the Correct Score market. I have no real feel for football, so take a market trading approach which I have outlined previously and will do so in more detail later - I am currently testing new ideas like teams do in Pre Season! I lost £6 on Aston Villa v Juventus but did win £2 on Darlington v Leeds tonight. However, I tend to approach the soccer markets in a much more relaxed fashion. I do not expect to make serious money from this, but rather use it in a relaxing and challenging manner. I used to play Pro Evolution Soccer a bit on an evening to unwind but feel that I will probably look to the Correct Score market this year, unless I start to constantly lose! However, I am hopeful of making consistent but small profits this year although it will take me some time to get reacquainted with the markets; still it should hopefully be as enjoyable as it was last year and that is the key, especially given that I'll likely be taxed 20% on any winnings!