Sunday, 15 August 2010

Not for children

Warning: The following post contains language unsuitable for young children, and old children as well.

Imagine you backed a loser at its lowest price. You’d be pretty pissed, right?

Now imagine you’d won £250 despite backing a loser at its lowest price. How would you feel?

How about more pissed off? Without a doubt, the most pissed off I have been ever from trading.

For as long as I can remember, I have advocated laying early favourites in Rugby League, and, it’s fair to say, I’ve made reasonable profits by doing so. However, around June this year, I decided to change and to keep my lays of early favourites.

That is to say, to leave them and to carry on trading the markets as if the lay had never been placed. Since then, I’ve not had much success. I’ve not had many failures however; my trading irrespective of the lays has been good enough to avoid significant red.

Until today.

Wigan v Huddersfield was a strange game with Wigan being 1.06 to lay despite the score only being 4-0. However, I never really lumped on in the way I thought I would but a late first half try allowed me a second opportunity and I took it. Earlier trades had also ensured a massive green on the draw and allowed me to really avoid significant red on Wigan.

However, as the second half carried on, the money kept pouring in and I caught myself with far too much liability on Wigan so I started trading out at just above or equal to the lay price, only for Wigan to look to score.

At which time, I looked to get out for a price below my lays. £200 at 1.04. Now, for f**k’s sake come on. I don’t go into profit and loss on here, but £8? That’s less than 1% of my yearly earnings, if I had let the bet run. Why the f**k do I need £8? Of course, I don’t. Well, I mean everyone does – no-one will turn down £8 but in the grand scale of things, it makes no sense.

So why do it? It goes back to the age old problem of treating each trading event as a “match” where green, no matter the size, is declared the winner. A stupid, stupid approach that I had hoped to long consign to the history bin.

That said, the worst was yet to come…

Stung by the sheer idiocy of my trades, I started to green up. First when Huddersfield score to make it 10-6, securing £50, then when Huddersfield made it 12-10, for £100, and then when Huddersfield 18-16, for £170.

The problem was, this was not what I had promised I would do. I had vowed to leave green on the underdog in the knowledge that big wins come in, and come in regularly. And, the biggest wins come from the most unlikely of situations.

So, here I stand. Comfortably £500 worse off than I should be, and more than that, having regressed to old trading ways which only serve to keep this as an obsessional hobby, as opposed to a lucrative activity.

The fact is, the pressure was applied, and I broke.

Excuses can be made for sure, like the fact that I had a train to catch at 70 minutes, but it is what it is – an excuse that does not compensate for a woeful trading performance. (And given that I was not watching the match, it makes trading out all the more ridiculous.)

And could the evening get any worse? Well, how about spilling drink over my bag and forgetting event tickets for a friend. Yes, I’d say this was a pretty shit night, but more than that – at the risk of hyperbole – I really feel that this could be the night where the trading train was derailed.

For good.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Rugby League - The Greatest Game of All.

To anyone who has questioned my love of rugby league, you only need to look at today's games to understand my love for the greatest game of all.

Four games kicked off at 3.00 PM today. Leeds v Crusaders saw last year's Grand Final winners take on last year's Wooden Spoon collectors, who were missing both of their halfbacks. Regular readers will be aware of my 1.0 first half rule, but even I have to say that at 1.1 pre match, I saw no value in the away side. How wrong was I as the Crusaders collected an unbelievable 32-26 victory. I say unbelievable but really, looking at results over the past two seasons, it was anything but.

Two further games this afternoon saw incredible comebacks. Castleford led 22-6 at Salford (1.7 pre match) after 30 minutes only for Salford to come back to level the game with twenty to go before a late Cas try secured victory whilst Hull led Huddersfield (1.7 as well) 18-0 at the break only to lose 32-18. Sadly, twenty two men kicking a ball from one end of the pitch to another dominated the sporting attention of the nature, and there was practically no money matched in these games.

Adding to the above was the main event. Wigan v St Helens on Sky Sports at 5.15. Quite frankly, anyone who reads this blog with a spare 80 minutes needs to watch a replay of this game to marvel at unprecedented levels of intensity, physicality and, above all else, entertainment. As St Helens fullback Paul Wellens said afterwards, "I've been watching the World Cup and some of them are stealing a living."

Now, in the interests of fairness, I need to disclose a pretty big bias in that I am a childhood Saints fan. Growing up, I hardly missed a Saints match home or away but since defecting to the other side of the Pennines, it's fair to say that I've lost interest in terms of following my hometown club as closely as I used to. It's probably also fair to say that the recent dominance of Saints has also eeked my interest away. With ten successive Cup Semi Final appearances and with the Saints always being there or there about, the thrill of winning has really subdued from the initial glory days at the start of the Summer era. In fact these days, you are more likely to find me at a lower division game!

However, today, for the first time in a very long time, I felt sheer delight at the result in what was otherwise a meaningless league match. Whilst even the most ardent of RL fans would admit that the standard of games served up this year has been substandard, this was as good as any game of the recent past. Indeed, watching the game in the pub (a byproduct of still not having SKY installed in Leeds), I could hardly keep a straight face and even felt the need to watch the final few moments infront of the television. What good that would do, I have no clue.

In terms of trading (Hello Betfair Mobile) I made a conscious decision to keep all my green on Wigan despite laying Saints as low as 1.05. (Note, this was another game where a comeback occured (From 1.01 to 1.3) which I didn't predict and believe me, I predict a lot.) It's an interesting fact that whereas most people often look to back their teams financially, I always do the opposite as if to provide a "can't lose" situation but more likely to support my rather general negativity accordingf to those closest to me! The end result was a loss of £1, but the sheer elation of the victory which returned me to such memories like Twickeham 2001, Old Trafford 1999, 2000 and 2002, Wide to West and the Hand of God - Tommy Martyn style was worth far more than my possible monetary gain.

After all, I trade for enjoyment, the challenge and the profit and as the latter is surely to enhance the first and this result unilaterally provided a greater degree of enjoyment than the financial reward could have.

So believe me when I say that my words are insufficient in describing this game and it is a spectacle that you should really look to watch even if you have never watched a RL game before in your life.

Finally, you may note that I only mentioned three of the four 3.00 PM games. That is as the other, Hull KR v Quins was a 1.01 express train although it did see the return to action of Rob Purdham, Harlequins skipper who has been missing on compassionate leave after his brother Garry was one of Derrick Bird's victims in Cumbria.

And if after watching St Helens v Wigan, you feel the need to watch Rugby League live, well there will be no better chance to do so than England v Cumbria at the end of the year in memory of Garry Purdham. Sure the intensity and skill may not be on the same level, but a more noble cause there isn't.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Trading not to lose

The best advice for a new trader, in my opinion, is to trade not to lose. The worst advice for an experienced trader is to trade not to lose.

Trading not to lose is an expression I use where you set up a trade with the belief that the market will go against you. Therefore, at the slightest twitch, you look to scratch to avoid a major drift, or at the slightest sign of profit, you take it. However, an experienced trader should really not be concerned with looking to lose but rather taking a long term view. A losing trade does not a losing trader make more than a winning trade makes a winning trader.

It is an issue that has plagued my decisions, ironically, the more succesful I have become.

I strongly believe that the biggest skill a trader needs is confidence and the ability to make mistakes. Very few trades are strictly linear. Most will have the odd bump in the road but an experienced trader should be able to deal with that but it seems that the more I trade, the more cautious I become.

For instance, in Bradford v Warrington tonight, I strongly expected the Bradford price to trade below 1.2 prior to kick off. All the trading statistics I hold and market data I have pointed to this. However, despite backing at 1.23 in the early morning, I made a neglible pre match gain. This was due to my reticence to use large sums of money and my unease whenever the price held firm. And when the game went in play, I became more cautious - bailing out of my 1.0 First Half lays in the 1.1s just to avoid red - treating each trade as one that needs to be "won" despite actually "losing" by greening too soon. What could have been a very large position on Bradford became nothing more than a pleasant Warrington position.

It's an annoyance that is near enough impossible to explain to my non trading friends who remain incredulous at my ability to earn my current profits and consider my negative reactions to be absurd.

It's also nothing new. Regular readers will be aware of my issues with red. At the moment though, my trading stinks. Fortunately, my monetary results do not equate to my performance with the premium charge popping back on my radar, but I am becoming more cautious without reason and my net scoreboard position is becoming almost crimson.

There was an excellent point made on the excellent Flutter F1 that the worst feeling is the winning trades that are cut short, and that is definitely my main issue. I've explored possible reasons for this previously - hypothesizing that this may be due to a "need to win every trade" and a desire not to "throw earned money against the wall" but I need to remember that red is my friend and that green is the enemy.

At the end of the day, what I need to remember is "so what if a trade goes against me?". Firstly, I am not dealing in obscene sums of money. At no stage would my liability ever be in excess of three figures and my results show that trusting my instincts would actually lead to much greater results. Secondly, so what if I am wrong. At the moment, I appear to be trading with a thought that I "cannot be wrong" which is complete crap and lending itself to my trading not to lose / scared trading approach.

As usual, imagine if I ever did trade with confidence! Then, there would be no stopping me...

And as usual, any comments would be gratefully received - especially if anyone can offer any advice that can assist me!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Name appeal and favouritism

Reputation is a funny old thing. It is invariably something that you only acquire long after you deserve it and something that you give up long after you should. You only have to look at the NFL all star game, the Pro Bowl, to see a good example of it in action. With alarming regularity, players who had a good previous year are selected despite a mediocre year and, for those who have been a top player for a while, quite often continue to be selected well after their powers have peaked and they approach the steady decline to retirement.

It’s an issue that for mine has interesting influence on betting markets. I’ve chronicled in the past extensively on my beliefs as to the correlation (or lack of) from previous results to future performance in Rugby League, and especially so in relation to market behaviour and starting prices.

It’s also a trend that I am starting to see more and more in Formula One where opinions on driver ability appear fixed and drivers get far more support than they deserve.

A quick look at the Race winner market for the Canadian Grand Prix proves my point. Ferrari were undoubtedly slower than Mercedes and around the same pace as Renault in Turkey, and have no new planned improvements to speed their car up, and Montreal would not appear to be a track which would suit them.

However, Fernando Alonso is a clear fifth favourite despite having a car which would place him at best seventh. Alonso’s poor season (for all the talk that Massa is underperforming this year, Alonso has arguably been more disappointing – he has definitely made more mistakes) has simply not been factored into the price.

Yet, Felipe Massa is eighth favourite for the race, behind Robert Kubica and Michael Schumacher, and is available at odds three times greater than Alonso. Massa has had a disappointing season, but the general perception that he is a poorer driver than Alonso is blindly factored into the price despite the fact that they have the same car.

So, is it clear where the value lies?

In my opinion, trading value lies more with Fernando Alonso.

Allow me to explain. As a trader, it is important to remember what your goal is and that is, to make a profit. To do so, you need not select the winner. What you need to do is back at a price higher than that you can lay at, or vice versa and the successful trader will take into account the fact that Alonso has his supporters which will always drive his price down further below his true chance of victory, whereas the lack of support for Massa will see his price drift out to well beyond his true chance of victory. Of course, for gamblers, there is little question where the true value lies (and the same goes for traders who are more reliant upon on track events to achieve profits.)

None of this should be construed as a recommendation to back Alonso, however. In Formula One prices are so heavily reliant upon grid position that trades should not be made until this is settled. (Note – I would believe that leaving a position open during Qualification is akin to gambling.)

Indeed, in several races this year, I have seen Alonso start behind Massa at shorter prices, stay behind Massa at the start who can drift severely whilst Alonso stays at the same, much shorter price, despite sometimes having a further two cars to overtake to get to Massa, a very difficult proposition in Formula One! (Although we must note that in play liquidity is sketchy if your car is outside the top 5 or 6 and so is more reliant upon individual driver opinion than if Alonso was actually near the front of the field.) Also, in Australia I remember Lewis Hamilton being favoured over Jenson Button despite all pit stops having been made and Button having a lead! Sometimes it can work out, like last week when Hamilton was curiously favoured over second placed Vettel, but the vast majority of times, it doesn’t!

Finally, whilst being far away from a F1 expert, if I had to list the drivers in accordance with likelihood of victory this week, I would go Hamilton, Vettel, Webber, Button, Rosberg, Schumacher, Kubica, Alonso, Massa, Petrov. (I think the Red Bulls have more chance of victory than the McLaren, but the quality gap between Hamilton and Button means that I believe Lewis has the best chance.)

A quick look at the market would show where I believe the value to lie, and for once, I have actually availed myself to keeping an open position on one driver, even if the superiority of the top 4 is such that it will be difficult for an outsider to break in.

Monday, 31 May 2010

I can't think of a title

Hello again. Remember me? I’m the one who keeps promising to blog more, makes two or three posts and then vanishes for a couple of months. Incredibly frustrating for the small minority who keep returning but probably irrelevant to the vast majority.

The fact is, I am finding it hard to find topics to blog about. And equally difficult, is finding the time to write given my current working hours!

When I started the blog, it was designed to do two things. Firstly, it was designed to help organise and develop my trading skills and whilst these are skills that are always in need of being developed, everyone can improve, I am no longer the rookie in such desperate need of this. Secondly, it was designed to preview and review Super League matches. However, as attested by my recent Profit and Loss summaries, this is an area I am focusing less and less on.

I’ve always been a RL junkie and always will. However, just like when I departed to University, finding the time to watch games without immediate access to SKY television is difficult. Last year, I would seem to watch games in my sleep. This year, I am struggling to do any research into the games and a lot of my trades are simply based on blind beliefs, brief glances, market knowledge and statistical analysis.

Ah, statistics. I’ve always been a statistics geek and even today, on a complete day off with no events to trade on Betfair and no work to go to, I’ve done little else but pour over my trading statistics from the past month.

They make pleasant but frustrating reading. My profits are better than ever. At a level that would be obscene to non traders but remains small fry compared to most. However, if I was a computer who applied formulae rigidly, then I would have matched my yearly profits in a single month on a single sport and I would be earning truly obscene amounts. (For example, my 1.1 rule would have come in superbly for Sheffield v Keighley and my general approach to hedge the draw below 2 would have lead to a double success. Instead, my £15 pre match back of the draw at 75 would not have been traded out at 50, largely hedged at HT and then fully hedged at below 2…)

The fact is, I am a human being with an attitude to risk approaching zero. (What 21 year old starts a pension voluntarily and invests primarily in Gilts….) Whereas I had hoped to develop my ATR through Betfair it’s reaching a stage where I am beginning to accept my approach with a resigned indignation.

Ironically, my only departure from this was based on a pure statistical analysis that failed due to my nerves but that is a story for another day.

So, if I am doing better than ever how does this reconcile with spending less time analysing Rugby League and being so critical of myself?

The first answer is that as anyone who reads the archives will know, I am a hyper critical perfectionist which can dominate my trading! And I don’t think that will ever change…

The second answer is that I have a new Number 1. Well, I say a new Number 1 but it is the event that convinced me to carry on with trading in 2008.

Formula One. (Thank you Nelson Piquet JR.)

Of course, having three Grand Prix in the month didn’t hurt but my Formula One trading has really developed over the past twelve months as I have studied the market keenly and used it in accordance with my own personal observations. For instance, I do not agree with the huge odds disparity between most teams’ drivers. Mark Webber at 3.5 or Sebastien Vettel at 1.6 before Q3? Felipe Massa at 65 or Fernando Alonso at 22 before Qualifying even started? The best answer of course would be Lewis Hamilton and that was a source of irritation for I did have a larger than usual green on Hamilton.

In Monaco, I had a similar position on Mark Webber and greened out after his quick lap between 2 and 3. However, when Hamilton crashed below 2.5 in Q3 on his quick lap, I was too slow to take advantage. The £50 I gave away on Webber was doubled in relation to how much a green up would have benefited me. A question on value which I shall hopefully expand upon in a future blog post.

But generally, I have to love a sport which sees a 1.01 overturned in Fernando Alonso to reach Q3 and an in play race related market which sees three drivers trade below 1.1 and a further two below evens!

Even if the love for some drivers does make me want to rip my hair out!!! (E. G. Fernando Alonso being at lower odds than Felipe Massa despite being 4 places behind on a track that Massa loves, and Massa still being double Alonso’s price even once the race has started and Alonso has shown an inability to even get past Kamui Kobayashi! But then again, I don’t see the point in laying a 200/1 shot.)

I realise there isn’t a huge amount of usual information in the above, but I just wanted to get something posted on how I’ve been doing recently. Hopefully, this will help kickstart me to produce a few more (interesting) posts in the near future like the excellent Green All over and Flutter F1. And with time off work this week having bought tickets to all five days of the England v Bangladesh test at Old Trafford, it should be the perfect time for me to start posting again…

As usual, all comments are gratefully appreciated… If only to remind me that one or two people do actually read my posts!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

One Year On - Part II

My last blog post reflected upon my development in my trading throughout the previous twelve months and considered my development to have been unthinkable. Even more unthinkable however, would be the progress in my work life throughout the previous twelve months.

Most people join Betfair with a vision of sitting back, watching sports and having a better, more interesting life away from the daily grind of work. I don’t know if I ever subscribed to the full time dream but it is certainly safe to say that I was highly disillusioned with my work life twelve months ago and frankly despised going into work.

In a nutshell, I left University with a set plan which then flipped on its head due to an enforced job change to something of no interest, challenge or relevance to me and then due to other events involving health and fitness, flipped to an entirely new position. And the next thing I know, I find Betfair and try to use that to edge me closer back to my original plan.

Now, whilst I am still far away from the ideal path I envisioned on leaving University, I feel I am edging closer to it having amazingly been promoted from my current job. (And even though the new job is a fairly significant promotion, the increase in earnings is less than a very good weekend on Betfair due to several reasons!) Still, it not only should produce a confidence boost but also a feel of some contentment given that I am starting to do something to meet the ridiculously high expectations I set for myself.

It’s hard to find the words to illustrate what a dramatic turnaround this is without going into too much detail, which I would rather avoid, but believe me when I say that no-one could have ever seen this coming. In fact, it is such a ridiculous turnaround that any script portraying this would be rejected due to its sheer ridiculousness!

You may wonder why I have chosen to blog about a seemingly irrelevant topic but this actually has a huge effect on my trading.

Put simply, my trading over the past few months has suffered from a lack of preparation (As have the blog posts!). Whereas last year I would watch copious game film and analysis of teams before a RL match, this year I have struggled to even keep up with the highlights and have largely winged it and due to my perfection tendencies, have been too caught up in greening up at the earliest opportunity. This is largely due to the insane number of hours I have been working which, whilst unlikely to decrease going forward, is something I can definitely fit my trading around better, even if I am finding it more difficult this year to fit my trading around my social life.

So, hopefully, regular readers will benefit from greater analysis both pre and post match although I think it might take a couple of weeks to catch up with this.

Before I end the post however, allow me to comment briefly on the weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. On Saturday qualification, I managed a profit approaching £15. On Sunday, I managed a profit over fourteen times greater although I consider my performance on Saturday to be much better.

By Saturday, I usually have an open book expecting the market to move in certain directions but I woke up on Saturday morning feeling extremely ill and unable to trade. Now, at 4 AM, there isn’t a great amount of liquidity and so I looked to largely trade out of positions not expecting to be in any fit state to trade the qualification market in play. However, I didn’t fully trade out due to what I considered to be poor value on some drivers and therefore entered Qualifying with a red of £70 on Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso.

Whilst I did feel terrible, my inability to sleep meant that I did watch qualification and whilst only trading at half speed, eventually managed to remove any red which I considered to be a phenomenal achievement.

Whereas in the race itself, I felt out of control and feel that I rather got lucky with some trades. However, I am starting to wonder if this is just typical of wet races where there is so much activity. After all, if you have cars entering pits and your live timing screen not working, it is to be expected that you can’t keep up with everyone – well I can’t!

Still, despite being caught out by the ridiculous pre race odds on Lewis Hamilton (I had laid at 10 post Qualy considering this to be huge value; especially when I was able to back his team mate who was AHEAD of him at 30!) and amazed at the odds on Mark Webber (9 whilst second?!), I obviously managed to do some things right!

It’s interesting to note that someone could have easily made my profit just by two or three well placed trades on Sebastien Vettel before the race, but I feel my strategy is much less risky and therefore the profit (whilst more difficult to obtain and involves much more hard work) is much much more rewarding and meaningful!

A three week break from the races is now on the cards before they move onto Europe which I feel shall see an increase in liquidity and may take me a couple of races to react to; especially if such seemingly ridiculous prices continue!

Until then, any comments are gratefully received as usual!

Monday, 5 April 2010

One year on

I’m at an age in my life where years speed by faster than you would like but the progress in my trading over the past twelve months has been so vast that I could easily believe it has been twelve years.

Twelve months ago to the day, I wrote this where I outlined my plans to take my trading endeavours more seriously.

The truth is, a lot of my bad habits remain. I do trade out too soon. I do panic too much at the sight of red. I do focus on “winning” too much. I do kick myself unnecessarily and most importantly of all, I still do not take the risks that I had hoped increased exposure to trading would help me to.

However, in terms of market knowledge and its application and in terms of profit, I do not think I could have ever anticipated being at the level I am currently at. Of course, markets do not stand still but constantly evolve, and are doing, and my success could be turned into failure at any time. However, as someone who drives themselves to beyond perfection and is never satisfied, I feel I should step back, achieve focus and congratulate myself for my achievements – even if they have come to the detriment of several other areas.

Reviewing my posts from April 2009 in particular, I see my astonishment at earning £700 from one rugby league match and my aim towards my income in general. Well, I’m now at the stage where even when I have earned £600 - £700 per week, I kick myself and feel I have underachieved. A case of redefined boundaries for sure but in a broader context, that is a jaw dropping amount for a hobby which is in addition to my day job.

Of course, the aim now is to take my trading exploits to another level, but I have to admit, I am not sure how. Of course, I should look to increase my exposure to risk and be more willing to let trades run, perhaps stick to a pre defined plan in relation to investing in Rugby League markets, but there is no simple on / off switch I can press to produce a difference in my attitude this time.

It would be very nice to have a list of goals to set for the next twelve months, but that will have to wait for now. Maybe, however, my goal for the next twelve months should relate to development in my personal life – where I have quite clearly fallen short recently.

That is an area of my life which I have largely left off my blog for valid reasons apart from references to my decision re: Law school last year and references to “personal issues” earlier this year. The fact is, I would imagine that anyone who reads the blog can already make certain assumptions based upon the general tone of my comments! (Why do I always feel more willing to list these things late at night!)

Clearly, the number one thing to address would have to be commitment to perfectionism and fear of failure. Whilst these are very decent goals to have in life, they can actually have a very negative, stalling effect as can be evidenced throughout my trading. That is also just the tip of the iceberg of the things I wish to change about myself following a highly tumultuous past three years but I would dare suggest that is probably all I should say for now on a public forum!

However, if regular readers (Are there any – who actually reads this *****!) can spot any other areas for development please, please, please leave a comment!

That is definitely something to ponder – but for the next thirty minutes I shall bask in a glow of contentment before reverting to type and criticising myself for every area in which I fall short of perfection!

And I shall also briefly comment on today’s Formula One race in which I enjoyed pleasing success.

As to be expected, I almost fully equalised prior to the start – deciding that a green of around £100 was far better than a green of £110 and £0 on Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. I was also able to increase that by around 50% during the race itself which was particularly pleasing.

As for the race itself, I continue to observe a market which behaves differently to how I would expect. Despite a tremendous start, I never saw Lewis Hamilton trade in single figures, whilst Felipe Massa, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso all drifted but not to huge extents. The price on Alonso was particularly baffling given the noted problem with his car and the fact that he was behind Felipe baby, which would have meant that even if rain would have resulted in an alternative strategy – he would have been second in line for any pit stop.

There seems to be a definite advantage for in play position takers but as a trader, it is my job to spot these trends and to try to profit accordingly. Especially when I am all green, it would be relatively foolish to take large positions for the sake of a relatively long shot.

One thing that has interested me the most as well has been a pivot table that I have put together to indicate my success and failure on all drivers actually during the race and qualifying. The markets pre event and during event are two different beasts and as a trader, it is always nice to review statistics to see if they match with the belief I held during the race. Plus, I am a statistics junkie! So that is something to work on prior to China.

Finally, I have posted a quick preview of Round 10 in the Super League and this can be found here - if anyone is sufficiently interested.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Malaysian Grand Prix – Yet again I want to oppose the market

Tomorrow is the third Formula One Grand Prix of the season and the third time that I have had a disagreement with how the market has been formed. Being someone who primarily opts to trade the market as opposed to taking positions this creates a dilemma for me in so far as how far I trust my instincts.

In the first two races, I have equalised my book prior to the race due to the fact that I would not be watching the first rain and in Australia, due to the rain which can render the race a lottery. However, if tomorrow’s race starts in the dry, and that is a big if, I will likely be more inclined to scatter my green in line with the view of the market.

To recap, in the first race, I disagreed with the market making Fernando Alonso favourite over the pole sitter Sebastien Vettel as I thought the new regulations could make the race more of a procession. Whilst Alonso did win the race and prima facie, support my decision to equalise, it should be noted that was only due to a reliability issue. The race did render a procession which supported my initial view.

In Australia, my main disagreement was with the price of Lewis Hamilton, although once the rain started to appear, a factor that was probably built into the price, I equalised but the race continued to throw up some prices that I disagreed with; the most memorable being Fernando Alonso a much shorter price than Felipe Massa despite being stuck behind his team-mate on a dry track.

So, what is wrong with this race?

In a nutshell, everything. Whilst rain does make the race a lottery, it also appears to provide some of the same opportunities as in qualifying whereby a driver’s reputation is more of an influence on the odds than his overall position.

How else can you explain Sebastien Vettel, starting behind his team-mate Mark Webber, being a shorter price? Webber lines up on the front row of the grid alongside Nico Rosberg who appears a far too appealing price at 8. He isn’t exactly in a Hispania car, and by way of comparison, is 8 to Schumacher’s 22, despite Rosberg comfortably outpacing Schumacher all season and qualifying 6 spots higher!

Nico Hulkenberg’s impressive qualifying showing also appears to have counted for little; the German being two spots ahead of team-mate Rubens Barrichello who, whilst no slouch in the wet, is shorter!

All of the above I could understand and probably equalise before the start. However, then we have the McLarens and the Ferraris who could not even out qualify a Lotus and a Virgin car.

After qualifying, I looked to lay these cars at 50 believing that this was more than fair odds.

However, I got it wrong. Majorly. (Although, thanks to other trades I have effectively managed to restore my pre-qualifying position.)

Jenson Button in 17th is available in the 30s, the same price as 4th and 6th placed drivers Adrian Sutil and Robert Kubica who are both good drivers and in competitive cars. Lewis Hamilton is 20th and behind Button but is as short as 20.

Now, Hamilton can be quick in the wet, but shorter than his team-mate whilst being 3 places down the grid is just something that is beyond me. Especially when you consider that if a pit stop is required at any point, priority is given to the higher placed driver which would only delay Lewis further.

The fact is that the market appears to have love for Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who is the same price as Hamilton. However, the market appears to have no respect for Felipe Massa who is three times as big as Alonso despite being only one place behind him. We saw how Alonso could not pass Massa in the last race and it stands to reason that a good start like last time could see Massa leapfrog Alonso.

There is no question that in the wet, driver skill and the car comes more into play. However, it appears to me that these factors are being grossly overestimated. We saw last week how a quicker car and a better driver can be easily held up by a slower car, be it Alonso, Massa and Kubica or Schumacher and Alguersuari. The current market does not appear to be factoring this into play, although in fairness I should note that McLaren have a straight-line speed advantage that should help them to overtake the midfield in Malaysia.

Also, at the end of the day, I have to bear in my mind that I am effectively advocating backing 1.03 – 1.05 shots and so it definitely isn’t worth carrying red on these cars. However, I’m currently loathed to allocate any green to prices which appear ridiculous although given the price of these cars, I may look to equalise before the race to satisfy my risk averse nature.

As for qualifying itself, the liquidity that had been missing in Australia reappeared which was advantageous. On the downside, I yet again gave too much value away; the best example being levelling up my book before Q3, giving green away on Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber.

My general qualifying strategy is one of franticness, making several trades per minute with one eye on the live timing screens and one eye on the market with my ears trying to follow the TV.

I look to take value and then get rid of it as soon as possible. The downside to that is that I always end up kicking myself for giving away green. The upside is that I tend to have a level book which can produce a consistent profit.

Of course, this does work well at times. I didn’t get saddled with pointless green on the McLarens and Ferraris for instance, but maybe come Q3, I should embrace the value that I find, trade in a more calm and composed manner and only give it back at market value. However, given how I read the race markets, perhaps I should continue as I am!

However, to put this into context, 12 months ago I would never have thought it possible to make the profits I do now on Formula 1. I have identified and worked upon a successful strategy in a market where I do not have any form of natural edge although as with everything, there is always room for development.

Friday, 2 April 2010

The psychology of losing and the schizophrenia of the Draw

Life is about expectations. If you expect the best, the smell of second is akin to standing next to someone who is yet to embrace deodorant. If you expect the worst, the smell of second is like a garden of roses. You can always try to condition yourself to expect little to try to appreciate the natural smell, but the fact is that once you are accustomed to roses, it can be very difficult to remove them from your memory.

I guess that’s a particularly long winded way of saying I did well this weekend, but I should have done better!

I make no apologies for mentioning figures in this blog. I know there is heavy debate as to whether bloggers should post their profits (and losses). I believe that they help to set the background and provide context. I also believe that they help to show what can be achieved with hard work and determination. I know that the amounts I make are comparatively modest, but I continue to be amazed at being paid for watching events I have watched gratuitously for the first 24 years of my life, and I hope that this blog can show you what can be achieved

With that, I have currently made £325 from Rugby League trading in the space of 26 hours and have open green positions on both qualifying and the race for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Not bad, especially when I consider that I write this whilst being wrapped up warm with glands the size of golf balls and a growing inability to eat solid food!

I also know that most prefer not to read an unedited “I did this and then I did that” account of trading, but if you’ve read this far, then I am sure you can continue to indulge me as I attempt to analyse the trades of someone whose thinking is at best contradictory and confused by feeling ill and at worst, woeful. (Imagine how I will profit if I ever put it together!)

I love the Easter weekend. Two days off work is good. Two rounds of Super League is great. Four games on SKY TV in 24 hours is… well, there are just no words!

And it began with Whitehaven v Barrow in the mud at a sodden Recreation Ground at 6 PM last night. (A kick off I almost missed due to National Rail who conspired to leave me sat on a stationary train with no phone signal for 30 plus minutes yesterday.)

Having seen the conditions and with knowledge that Whitehaven would field two Super League standard players in Gregg McNally and Kyle Amor, I opted to start with a small back of Whitehaven although my pre match trading had been hampered by the fact that, at 6 PM, liquidity in such a game is in short supply and my reticence to embrace red.

As it was, the game was a low scoring affair which saw Whitehaven lead early on before falling to a Barrow side whose overall superior quality shone through as the match progressed. The game also served notice of the change to the draw, but I will deal with this later.

As per standard, I traded out of my small Whitehaven position too early to embrace green and then just made small trades as opportunities arose on my way to a profit of around £35. But this was just the starter and the main course was still to come, Leeds v Bradford. And with a 8 PM kick off, there was just time to get a drink and get back to work.

Now, this is where I start to infuriate myself. At the start, I acknowledged that Bradford were too high, but did not really get involved; opting to keep a fairly level book, but did try to back them shortly before they opened the scoring, but failed to get matched.

Leeds then came straight back and looked to score before turning the ball over. However, possibly due to how I was feeling, I had forgotten to cancel my Bradford back which had been matched, and now could be traded for a nice profit, which I rushed to make – accepting below market value on account of the red on Leeds. (I prefer to make short trades; staying in rarely longer than a set of six.) Only for Bradford to score, and if I had not traded out at poor value, I already would have had a treble figure green screen!

At the same time, a peculiar thing was happening. Last year, two tries to a team would have sent the draw price out to 40. Instead, it had contracted to 20. Now yes, I know that Bradford were the underdogs and therefore the draw contracting may make sense but that’s not how the draw works in RL and I continued to lay the hell out of the draw for the first half, only to reach, at Half Time, a four figure liability on the draw which was trading at the ridiculous odds of 15!

My aversion to red meant that I opted to equalise my book (which by now was just in three figures thanks to some momentum trades). And that was a decision that still irritates me as much as it did then. The fact is, 14 was ridiculous value; almost as ridiculous as the Bulls being up by ten and trading at 2!

Now, I do have a good understanding of Rugby League and am able to spot value, and this was so obvious that everyone could have seen it. However, my aversion to position taking meant that I watched as it went down to 1.08 (The draw shot out to 30+ at this time) when it became value to oppose Bradford who were tiring.

However, I declined (probably due to my computer game mentality when trading although how many times have 1.0s been overturned in RL!) but did eventually lay Leeds at 1.2 only…. To equalise at 1.3!

Anyway, the game went on to finish 20-20, the first draw of the season, and despite making a catalogue of errors, I somehow managed to earn £200 from the game. However, this was more from luck than any skill.

I say that, but it was important to note the increased liquidity flying around in this game which helps me. Last year, I was able to be so successful thanks to spotting value from events and being able to sell them on once the market realised. This produced a very heavy trading style, but one that minimised risk. However, the awful in play liquidity this year and the seeming rise in fast fingers (Or Virgin TV getting slower) has made this impossible. I did however, manage to improvise a variation and that was what helped me to make the profit I did.

And if there is one part of this piece that you should read as a RL trader, it is this.

Previously, I have advocated backing the draw. I now wish to retract this position. Las year, the draw was so easy to trade. You could get ridiculous prices which you could then trade out of as the side behind made their comeback. I remember Saints v Wakefield from last year as an example where I backed the draw at 40 on 78 minutes in a 2 point game. Leeds v Warrington is another where I backed the draw at 70 after 2 minutes. This year, the draw is starting around 25 and reaching ridiculous lows at Half Time.

Now, I do not want to advocate backing 1.04s, but this was the first draw in Super League after 56 games, and it is not so much the starting price I have a problem with, but rather the Half Time price. 15? That is absurd. It is so ridiculous it can only be fairly described by words that have yet to be discovered. Yes, the draw did come in this time, but where is the value?

The other salient point to raise here is that imagine what would happen if Leeds had started to come back. It would be very rare for the draw to be below 10 with 20 minutes to go, and there is a strong chance that you could profit from backing the draw later, and even if you needed to buy it back later, the odds are you probably could do at odds not too much lower than the Half Time price.

I have no idea why the draw has shifted so spectacularly from being something that is so backable to something that should be laid. Are too many people spotting the opportunity and the theory but not appreciating the odds? Or is this a reaction to the RU season where low scores are more popular and therefore the fact that RL sees so many shifts thanks to the number of tries not being factored in? I don’t know, but what I do know is the draw has gone from being my biggest green to my smallest green.

Anyway, armed with this knowledge but with my throat feeling worse than ever, I moved onto Friday’s doubleheader.

Only for the draw to return to its 2009 form in Hull v Hull KR and shoot out to the high 40s as Hull KR built an early 12-0 lead. Yet, they too were underdogs like Bradford although be it more marginal underdogs.

Heavily in profit, I was more than willing to accommodate these odds and felt that they would come back in. Only, to trade out at 28 despite the draw then resembling a one way train to 8 and then back out to 1000. Again, I can only blame my computer game mentality of looking to secure a “win” and despite such awful trading; I did manage to earn £60.

The final game was Saints v Wigan and by this time I was starting to feel worse than ever. Now, I had managed to catch some draw at 30+ in the morning and yet again, knew the direction of the draw… Only to trade out at 28 pre match despite it going to 25 and then being a one way train in the first half!

At times like that, I really do bother why I wonder trading. If I am so risk averse to make trades like that just to “win” well, it’s ridiculous.

Not as ridiculous as the draw however, which was 20 at Half Time! Before sense prevailed and it drifted to 28 which whilst still too short, was approaching reasonableness and by this time, I was satisfied with a profit of around £80.

At this time, Wigan were in the 1.1s and were a definite lay, only my risk averse nature and not wanting to lose any of my earnings from the first half, prevented me from jumping on.

Saints’ comeback brought the draw into single figures for the fourth time in four games and some more trades did allow me to reach my three figure goal. Only, and I’m not too sure what happened next, but I crawled on Saints and then just made a series of abysmal decisions to eventually pull my profit down to £80 but I did climb back to £90.

Either way, I had “lost £30” and it wasn’t even as if I could console myself by saying that I had wanted to lay a big favourite. If anything, the value was with Wigan at above evens!

Although, after 4 games, I was willing to cut myself some slack for the first time ever and blamed it on tiredness / illness and decided to have a quick sleep before waking up to see if anything interested me in play in the evening games.

Which were a complete disaster!

Firstly, I overslept, did not check the team news and placed a lay of Huddersfield pre match and then compounded that by clicking the wrong price in play! I only ended up losing £20 but it was a ridiculous loss whilst the Castleford v Wakefield game is still confusing me.

At 6 – 6, someone placed a lay of £900 at odds of around 5 on Castleford. I regularly follow the non SKY games to see if any value appears and whilst some does on occasions, never have I seen anyone willing to risk £3,600 before!

After that, Castleford sounded like they capitulated as Wakefield went onto an easy victory. I had placed £25 which whilst understandable is in total contradiction to my willingness to take risks when I either have green on the market or the game is on SKY. (my trading style will usually produce some profits for comebacks)

I’ve blogged about it before but if I continue to make such stupid and irrational decisions then the trading ability I have developed and my natural ability to read games will all go to waste.

And it was this that had me so annoyed at the end of the day as well as having ended the day on three successive losses as I went from having £400 profit at one stage to ending up £325 which is still a great amount but the overall losses are really irksome. £75 is a lot of money and it has been wasted wholly unnecessarily. However, if I had started off £75 down but come back to earn a total of £325, then I feel my view on the past 24 hours may be completely different.

So that’s my review of the past 29 hours. Sorry if things seemed to get rather short at the end but I started writing this at 9.30 PM. It’s now 11 PM and I’m desperate for some sleep before waking up for Qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix tomorrow.

I don’t make predictions in Formula 1, but what I will say is Jenson Button and Felipe Massa look great value being available in the 20s whilst their teammates are only 7s! Both have a 1-1 qualifying record with their teammates this year and I can’t explain the difference at all.

I may look to edit / tidy this up tomorrow but it is always useful to write immediately after events to capture raw emotions and the one thing that shines through is my risk averse nature needs to be overhauled. For example, if Castleford had scored the next try, I still would have probably looked to lay off at poor value to avoid red.

As always, any comments / feedback will be hugely appreciated and I will respond to the comments on the previous post tomorrow, so long as I am not feeling so rubbish!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Still here... Barely!

Just a quick update to acknowledge my continued existence despite the fact that I haven't updated the blog for ages!

To keep a potentially long story as short as possible, I have been pre-occupied with some personal issues (which have hopefully now been fully resolved) and have also had to move locations due to my job. And not only that, but since moving (Which was designed to increase my free time and cut back on travelling!) I've only actually been home from the day job before 6 PM once. And that was to prepare for an interview! Pretty crazy considering I leave at 7.30 AM most mornings and now live within a fifteen minute walk as opposed to a 75 minute train journey. Still, as most people have said, it is good to see me applying myself to something beyond trading!

So, a quick update on my trading can be summed in a popular board game from the 1990s. Frustration!

Yes, I am making a profit which is very impressive but I am way behind on the net scoreboard as a result of my risk averse nature shining through together with my computer game mentality of treating green as victory.

I've not had as much time to devote to my trading (Thanks to the above and a social life has also proved far more difficult to accomodate) but the two weekends which I have blocked out for trading recently have produced excellent results, largely thanks to Formula 1 which is quickly becoming my favoured trading sport. (Averaging a profit of c. £300 per weekend.)

As for the Rugby League, I have definitely not had enough time to study the games this year. Whereas last year I would watch copious game film, this year I have hardly watched any extra games and have also been focused more on the markets dealing with very poor in play liquidity. (Ironically, when I have sat back I have traded much better.)

So, whilst I have been struggling relatively in the keys to watch out for, it is fair to say that my general strategy continues to work very well with an incredible 5 1.1 and below overturns in SKY games since I moved at the back end of February, which unsurprisingly, I have not made the most of.

Also, I have very kindly been granted a Rugby forum over at The Geek's Toy Forums. I have previously mentioned how valuable a resource I find both the application and the forum although at the moment, I am pretty much talking to myself over there so feel free to drop by with any thoughts / questions / ideas. As with comments, they are massively appreciated given that trading can be an isolatory event and one that very few of my friends are capable of comprehending well enough to discuss, other than requesting I buy more beers!

Anyway, just a quick alcohol induced post for now. I'll hope to go into further detail on the past two months trading shortly with a massive four days to rest and do precious little coming up beginning Friday. Although 5 SKY RL games and a Grand Prix weekend will keep me occupied!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Tough Going

For someone who backs outsiders, it is especially galling when an outsider wins and you haven’t backed it and that is exactly what happened when Crusaders defeated Salford last night. It also throws into question whether my “success” in assessing RL matches is more down to the general theory of backing the away underdog as opposed to assessing the teams.

I thought Salford would over achieve this season but after two games the pressure already seems to be on Shaun McRae. One look at the Salford side shows that they are a young and inexperienced side and you have to wonder whether this is the main reason for their struggles. The return of Mark Henry and Willie Talau may help the Reds, and let’s not forget that Salford had a similarly poor start last year before going on to defeat Saints and Leeds but the Reds already look to be rivalling Crusaders for the Wooden spoon, although I would think that the real value would lie in Harlequins who have looked equally as poor but are almost three times as long!

I also managed to get the other two games wrong. Hull defeated Huddersfield in a game that I considered to be a coin toss although the injury to Brett Hodgson did give Hull the advantage although at 2/1, Huddersfield still seem overpriced to me despite the eventual result. Also peculiar was the draw which usually trades in the mid 20s for non in play games but reached 40 before kick off which I also thought represented value despite not coming in.

Of greater concern was the Wigan v Hull KR match. Not because I thought that the value lied with Hull KR (As per any SKY game, I believe the real value comes in play and so use minimal stakes pre match and increase during the game – the 1.1 rule came in handy here) but because of the way the markets operated in play.

As per any in play event, you will encounter fast picture people but in the past, they have usually left “value” prices at non try events such as knock ons, penalties etc… However, I found myself knowing what would happen before seeing it because the market seemed incredibly ahead of my television which is making the markets impossible to trade in my usual manner.

However, the markets do seem unusually thin during the games at the moment so maybe the problem is not that the fast picture people are spreading their net wider, but that there are less traders taking a position. Either way, as long as the markets continue like this, then it is effecting my trading as I usually like to trade cautiously before imposing my position on my book whereas at the moment, I am having to do the latter first.

Maybe I shall have to display more confidence in my initial positions!

So on to tonight’s game and last night re-inforced my thoughts that it is hard to establish accurate opinions at ths stage without seeing the teams in action so far this season.

However, both Warrington and Castleford are fairly settled from their 2009 squads and I do feel that the maket might be overreacting to Castleford’s impressive win last week and home advantage. However, whilst I do think Tony Smith has removed Warrington’s inconsistency, I still cannot bring myself to fully recommend them at 1.5! Nonetheless, the value should emerge in play although if it is anything like last Saturday’s game, you may struggle to get matched. Here’s hoping to increased liquidity going forward!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Super League Round 2 - Quick thoughts

I like to get some brief thoughts down on here for the upcoming Super League games so here’s how I see things. I’m only going to do the Friday games now as it has been a very long day.

Wigan v Hull KR

As this is the SKY game, I would stress the point that you are more likely to find value in play so I would avoid overstaking to begin with. That said, I disagree with the opening odds. For mine, Wigan should be more like a 1.6 shot. I’m notoriously abysmal at predicting pre match prices, however!

This is the second game of the season for both sides, and neither have any new injury concerns. Both teams played inferior opposition last week and so you probably can’t read too much into their performances.

One thing I have noticed is that the markets have a tendency to hop onto bandwagons but also like to support long held views. Wigan have a reputation for being a “big side” despite not living upto this in the recent past – indeed their price nearly always seems lower (in my eyes) than what it should be.

So, why do I consider Wigan underpriced? Well, I agree that they should be favourites. Wigan can probably expect a Top 4 berth at the end of the year and this is the games that they need to win. However, 1.3s appears too low a price for two teams who are fairly well matched. I consider Wigan to be overly reliant upon Sam Tomkins for creativity and whilst he has been supplied with an improved pack in 2010 (Stuart Fielden seems to be as keen as ever, Iafeta has lost weight and Paul Prescott has a year’s more experience) and a master organiser in Paul Deacon who can take some pressure off him, I would always worry about a second season player being the hub of your team.

Hull KR are no mugs either. I do think they will struggle to replicate their 2009 success and they are light going forward but having reviewed the stats from their opening match, I think I may have overestimated their weakness in this area. Admittedly it was only against Salford, but Hull KR’s starting props set a good platform averaging over 8 m per carry whilst their interchange props averaged over 7 m. Not outstanding, and you can expect that to decrease against a better defence, but when you factor in the kicking game of Michael Dobson and Paul Cooke, I start to believe that KR are capable of matching Wigan in a territorial battle.

On account of the above and my previously expressed views on the fact that early in the season, so much is unknown and that RL can be a random game at the best of times, 1.3 is too short an opening price but I wouldn’t dive in. A good start from Wigan will see their price drop massively and allow you time to analyse the game on the field itself.

Salford v Crusaders

Crusaders have scored two tries this year and have gained fewer metres than Warrington despite having played twice as long. I like underdogs and you can never rule Celtic out, but their odds look very skinny.

Crusaders will improve as the year goes on, but I would be surprised if they found the cohesion that they have lacked so far this season against a Salford side, who appear to be largely underrated. I really like the Salford halfback pairing, especially with Daniel Holdsworth offering guidance from loose forward although the Reds’ backline is very green and lightweight.

Backing 1.3s will only lead you to the poorhouse so if you are going to cover anything, I would look at Celtic, but I would only advise very small stakes.

Hull v Huddersfield

Heads or Tails? That’s how I see this one. And given that one side is a widely available 6/4, I know who I am backing.

I was very impressed by Hull last week, but I was equally impressed by Huddersfield. Both have the makings of solid sides who will be impressive in 2010.

I just think the market has over-reacted to a good display against a very poor Saints side and are factoring in home advantage too much. Yes, Hull do have better go forward and have more experience in the halves, but Huddersfield’s backs look far stronger than Hull’s and they aren’t exactly poor in the halves and forwards.

This one really could go either way; no result would surprise me but given the odds available, I know where I think the value lies.

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Superbowl - The case for not trading out.

For various reasons, I had not really got involved in trading NFL as much this season as I had hoped to although I more than made up for this on Sunday night. I have given myself a lot of criticism recently over my trading performance in Rugby League, but it would be very difficult for me to offer any criticism of my Superbowl trading.

Before the game, I held a very strong opinion that New Orleans would win the Superbowl. Their starting price in the 2.7s not only seemed generous to me but also seemed to be extraordinarily high for trading purposes although I was keen not to overcommit given that the market could collapse if Indy started quickly. So, I regularly fed £10 lays of Indy into the system until the point where I would reach my maximum liability.

In addition to this, I had placed a £50 lay on Peyton Manning as MVP. Now, of all sportspeople worldwide, I would assert that I believe Manning to be the best of the very best and believe that his work ethic and cerebral approach sets a superb example for all he acts as a role model for. However, I expected Manning and the Colts to under-perform. Manning is so great at processing information quickly that I considered the two week delay would be a disadvantage as the extra time to gameplan would not help the Colts as much as it would the Saints, whilst I also could not get away from Manning’s previous struggles in big games.

As it was, the Colts did get a flying start and at 10-0 up, could readily be laid at around 1.25 although my drip feed strategy ensured that my average laying odds were significantly higher than that! However, on account of my maximum loss, I opted not to invest in the Saints any further.

The turning point of the game though when Pierre Garcon dropped a regulation third down pass when Garcon had a lot of space ahead of him and could have turned the play into a big game. What happened next was the result of several unprecedented but courageous decisions which history will prove to be the correct calls but were decisions that I supported and even predicted!

The first was the decision to go for it on 4th and Goal from the 1 with two minutes to go in the first half. Not only was this the correct call, but in an ironic twist of fate, I believe the Saints’ failure turned out to be the best result. By backing the Colts up so much, they neutralised the Colts’ two minute offence which scored 14 points against Baltimore and 7 against New York. So, rather than losing the two minute game 7 – 3 or tying it 7 – 7 by getting the ball back and kicking a field goal, the Saints won this encounter 3 – 0 which really was an exceptional result.

The only issue in all this was the Colts’ decision to run on 3rd and 1 which was a huge error but even if the Colts had converted here, New Orleans’ decision to go for it would have still been the correct one and the failure would have rested upon the run D of the Saints.

And then there was the onside kick. The play that more than any other will define the coaching career of Sean Payton. However, this was not a gambling play but a carefully considered decision and one that had little downside. Given how Peyton Manning can tear a defence apart in the first drive of the second half, it was almost irrelevant whether he first fielded the ball on the Saints’ 40 or his own 20 whilst the chance of denying Manning an all important possession was one that could not be turned down.

After all that, there was never any doubt in my mind that the Saints would win and from a trading prospective, this was the ideal game to show how I wish to trade.

At this point, I could have locked into a nice profit and left the market happy and profitable. However, I didn’t. Until the Saints went two scores up, I considered the market to be out of line with the odds as I perceived them to be. Therefore, I didn’t trade out but rather sat on my position. Then, after the interception of Manning, I considered 1.02 and 1.03 to be a generous laying price and was able to equalise my book for a very nice profit of between £200 and £300.

That is how I perceive my “sports” trading should be. If I identify value, the key is not to achieve green but to rather profit from the investment. By all means, give away 2 or 3 ticks of value; especially when eliminating red but I should not look to green up simply for the sake of green. This is not like how I trade the Correct Score market on football where I take no view and therefore should always look primarily to achieve green but rather I should take advantage of any knowledge I have about the sport and remain true to my convictions. Once I do that, the profit should follow.

The irony in this is that I achieved this in a sport where my knowledge is substantially less than it is in Rugby League but what if that is not irony but the crux of the issue. Regular readers will be well aware of my tendency to be overly harsh on myself and people who know me on a more personal level will be well aware of my poor reaction to any type of “pressure”. Maybe, by advocating certain selections and by holding these views, I am in fact placing perceived pressure on myself to be correct, and therefore, as opposed to being able to sit back, I look for any possible method to justify my initial opinion.

Of course, that’s complete rubbish but that doesn’t mean it is not true but the real irony in all this is that when I advocate these selections, I am not advocating them with any planned trade out but rather doing so in a general sense so regardless of my Profit and Loss, the desire to be correct will emerge only from the end result of the game, further negating the need to trade out early.

And if a blog is designed to be used to allow you to develop trading strategies and to think through your approach, I consider that the above could be the epitome of what I want to achieve through the posts that make up my blog. Now, only if I can stick to it!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A quick update and how do you solve a problem like St Helens

A rather quiet today on the trading front where the odds of all three games at kick off meant that I would want an initial small stake on the underdog although in all cases the outsider did not reach the odds that I would have expected. As it was, thanks to pre match trades in Wakefield and Warrington, I ended up with a very small profit in those games despite having greater green on the losers whilst the Salford v Hull KR game saw a small loss which was largely though in play lays of Hull KR at 1.1 (12 – 6) and 1.05 (18 – 6) which I’d be happy to take on every day of the week.

So, despite a losing day, I actually feel far more up beat than yesterday. I feel that performance will produce profits and not the other way round. So, whilst I felt I traded abysmally on Friday and Saturday, I actually felt that I traded well today and feel confident in asserting that making such judgements in the future should lead to nice profits.

I also continued my theme of trading the draw in Rugby Union and ended up with a small profit from the two televised games today although once again I ended up keeping a large green on the draw which amounted to nothing in the end!

So given that the post so far has been very short and as I am merely waiting for the Superbowl to begin given my decision to avoid Dancing On Ice, I thought I might take this opportunity to post on the problems that I feel St Helens are likely to encounter this season.

Now, I could write enough on this to crash my computer so I will try to keep it brief.

Saints’ problems, for mine, start with the midfield combination that Mick Potter is looking to use in 2010 in Kyle Eastmond and Leon Pryce. In Rugby League, nearly everything will go through your halfbacks and when you lack a controlling influence there, you shall struggle. It is very difficult for me to recall a successful side who lacked a chief organiser. Of course, that is not all you need but it would be like preparing a roast dinner but not including a meat dish. (Or meat substitute for vegetarians.)

Whilst both Eastmond and Pryce have exceptional ability and dynamic skills, neither is cut out for the organisational role. More are creative runners who will do their damage by taking on the line, albeit in different ways. The irony in all this is that Leon Pryce came to St Helens to assume the stand off role because he wanted greater responsibility. However, Saints fans will struggle to recall one game which Pryce has directly influenced in his time at Saints. He has had some exceptional performances, but these have come off the back of other players laying the foundation. Without that, he sinks quicker than quicksand and his otherwise poor effort will only stand out like a sore thumb in such a team.

Kyle Eastmond is one of the greatest natural talents to emerge in Rugby League in a long time, but like such naturally gifted players they have never really been tested on their way up to the game. Being such a fantastic athlete, Eastmond has always been able to rely on his physical skills to influence a game as opposed to being forced to develop the mental side of his game. More than any other young player in Super League, Eastmond has the ability to make your jaw drop, but that is not enough for a number 7. Especially one who is being asked to exert a controlling influence.

If you look at the other young talents at halfback in Super League, you will notice that Richie Myler has been paired with Lee Briers, who is one of the most intelligent players in the game. Sam Tomkins has Thomas Leuluai who can alleviate pressure from him and Wigan have also made an excellent signing in Paul Deacon, whose experience will greatly assist Tomkins in avoiding the second season syndrome.

Even Stefan Ratchford has the fortune of playing alongside Matty Smith, whilst inexperienced and raw himself, and Daniel Holdsworth who will play a more controlling game allowing Ratchford the freedom to express his natural ability.

In so many ways, Eastmond is so similar to Sean Long when he arrived at St Helens. A terrific athlete and outstanding broken field runner, but he could not control a game. However, he did not need to as Long was often paired with Tommy Martyn who would play this role, and he would also benefit from Keiron Cunningham and Paul Sculthorpe at the peak of their careers. Long would go on to become one of the best controlling halfbacks in Super League, and there is no reason why Eastmond won’t. However, this will take time and will also require help from his team mates.

Of course, St. Helens have a natural organiser who is not only a member of the first team squad but who is a regular member of the starting thirteen. A player who has displayed huge potential previously but has never quite managed to convert this into ability. Step forward Jon Wilkin.

It is no co-incidence that Saints’ best performance of 2009 came when Jon Wilkin was forced into playing 7 and assuming the controlling role. Like Lee Briers, Wilkin is one of the most naturally intelligent players on the pitch and it is the fact that Wilkin has never been able to assume this role that I believe has lead to him never fulfilling his potential. At the moment Wilkin is used as a wide player who gets through a lot of work and makes some good runs. But that’s like hiring Hugh Grant for a film and asking him to portray an American. Yes it can be done, but why waste what he is best at.

Wilkin has invariably been compared to Paul Sculthorpe throughout his career and whilst he lacks the athletic ability that Sculthorpe possessed, Wilkin is as naturally creative a player as Sculthorpe ever was and is the man who could step into the organising role and save Saints’ season.

Meanwhile, if Saints wanted to keep Wilkin in his current role, they could do a lot worse than giving youngster Gary Wheeler a run at halfback. Wheeler is a far more intelligent player than Eastmond who has looked at home whenever he has played in Super League. However, Wheeler has suffered from injuries and has never been given a run in the middle of the park.

Even if Saints solve this problem however, they still have several others that they need to address; one of which being the three quarter line. Over Super League, Saints have had some of the best attacking three quarters. From the Paul Newlove and Anthony Sullivan combination to recent Australian signings Matt Gidley and Jamie Lyon, the Saints have not lacked for strike power out wide. Until now.

The current three quarter line of Ade Gardner, Gidley, Sia Soliola and Francis Meli possesses a world of size but a dearth of speed, finishing ability and with the exception of Gidley, creativity. Soliola is a second rower in all but name but so were Lee Gilmour and Willie Talau and that never hurt Saints, but at the time, there was a lot more creative outlets on show. Ade Gardner is another who has not come close to realising the potential he showed as a youngster. A solid Super League player he is, but it would be a stretch to label him as anything more whilst Francis Meli gets through a lot of work but can be a liability in defence and does not possess natural finishing ability.

Added into Saints’ creative problems in the middle of the park and you can see why the most attacking team in Super League history is now finding themselves in a slump going forward. However, the proposed solution to the halfback problems could also help to solve the lack of firepower out wide.

By freeing up Leon Pryce from the centre of the pitch, you would be able to move a strike player who can take on the line out wide whilst still allowing Pryce the freedom to showcase his skills. Of course, Pryce has previously expressed displeasure at playing out wide and this showed in Saturday’s game when Saints moved James Roby to the wing as opposed to Pryce, who has played for Great Britain as a winger previously. So, such a strategy would potentially result in an unhappy player although hopefully a more mature Pryce would be willing to accept such a move for the benefit of the team.

Those changes might help Saints to score more than 20 points in a match, something they have managed just twice since July 2009! Issues would still remain however, including how you fit three hookers into a side (something I admit to having no idea on!) and the biggest problem of all, Mick Potter.

Potter did a fantastic job at Catalans but has arrived at an entirely different creature in St Helens and the tactics he appears to have learned at Bradford and implemented in Catalans have not gone down so well with the Saints fans. Potter appears to prefer a naturally conservative form of attack and relies more upon brute force than individual brilliance. This style of rugby goes against what Saints have come to expect and coupled with a lack of silverware last season and Potter’s rather dour outer personality has already lead to some fans calling for his head – an overreaction not usually seen on the terraces of Knowsley Road. However, this is the squad that Potter has put together and without a major upturn in performance levels, the fans might get their wish sooner than expected.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Red is my friend - Green is my enemy

The above title is possibly the strangest you shall see in a trader’s blog but it is the most accurate representation of my current feelings that does not involve swear words. Nights like tonight make me want to give up trading. Allow me to explain.

I earned £12 on the Hull v Saints match tonight. £12. From a match where I tipped a team who started at 4.5. Yet again, I employed the computer game mentality of avoiding losses but in doing so only proceeded to overlook the part of my brain that analysed the game.

I have already explained why I saw value in this game. The weather conditions only served to increase the value I saw and at one point, I did have a substantial red on St Helens. However, the market was very very illiquid on account of the fact that the game clashed with the 6 Nations. (And judging by that market, there were enough ill advised bets to justify such a switch for general rugby traders.)

So, in my panic and in the absence of my usual trading style working (submitting several bets based upon various events – it failed because there was no money in the market) I closed my position for a tiny green. Why? I have a substantial bank and have already mentioned the fact that any monies earned are purely “profit”.

It can only be my complete and utter desire to avoid failure in any walk of life. My quest for perfectionism which turns a fear of failure into an absence of action.

What I need to recognise is that in all this, green is my enemy. It is the friend that is the bad influence. Red? Red would be the true friend. The one that you probably don’t want to admit to liking. The one that isn’t cool but the one who will be there for you when you need him. Part of the reason I became attracted to trading was the fact that my risk averse nature needed overhauling. Rather than doing that, it appears to have cemented the risk averse nature. (I am a person who at 21, started a pension and invested in Gilts to avoid the Stock Market…)

And of course, the more errors I make like this the more I beat myself up and the more risk averse I become. A self perpetuating motion of avoiding failure which in fact only achieves avoidance of success.

I guess that’s enough psycho-babble for now though! Just one thought though. I have turned down Castleford at 12 last night and Hull at 4.5 tonight. I’ll allow you to count the potential loss of earnings. (And that does not include other successful positions that I have recommended in the past eight days.) Maybe my future lies not in trading but in offering advice. After all, those who can’t, teach!

I would love to hear from anyone who might be able to offer any advice which would help in rectifying the fact that I trade out too soon. Of course, the Castleford and Hull victories were extreme examples of my problem. (Usually, I can minimise the issue by making successful trades and apportioning the green in a manner that reflects the game but in these two games, the in play markets disallowed this.)

As for the game itself. Hull’s forward pack was as impressive as advertised and whilst Saints did suffer from the fact that three of their three quarter line either missed the game or went off injured early, they suffered from a complete lack of direction. Kyle Eastmond and Leon Pryce cannot play together. Like Sean Long in his early career, Eastmond needs a controlling influence which Leon Pryce is not. Of course, Saints already have someone like that in their match day seventeen, Jon Wilkin, but Mick Potter continues to ignore this despite the fact that when Wilkin was asked to control the game, Saints managed to beat Leeds at Leeds.

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s games, and I see no stand out value but I do know which side I would want to be on in all games.

In Wakefield v Catalans, I consider the away side underrated. I would have been all over them but for an injury to key man Thomas Bosc which makes me less keen on them given that everything is likely to go through Bosc now that Greg Bird has left. However, Catalans have other impressive players and their sheer physicality could cause problems for Wakefield, especially if the Wildcats go with only three props again which is likely given the absence of Richard Moore through suspension. I consider that the market over-estimates Wakefield’s win last week (although the match fitness gained last week could be key) and the home factor but I would advise against piling on given Bosc’s injury.

Salford v Hull KR is another match up between two teams where I am higher on the underdog than most and lower on the favourite than most. I would ideally prefer to watch the game and validate my thoughts but at anything around 5/1, Salford are good value to get involved in whilst the value obviously increases the more Salford drift.

Hull KR for mine could struggle this year given the lack of go forward. Joel Clinton will be a very important addition and his absence is therefore a big blow for the Robins. Meanwhile, Salford have the task of bedding in several new players which could hamper their start but they have some very talented individuals including Stefan Ratchford, who I feel outshone Richie Myler last year. The Reds’ backline is very young and inexperienced but could cause some problems, especially if Ashley Gibson can realise some of the potential he showed before suffering some unfortunate injuries.

Apologies to the Red Red Robin who has posted some good comments recently!

Finally, Warrington v Harlequins seems to contain the least value, but surely all readers have noticed the trend by now which compels minimal involvement? Warrington have the strongest squad in the competition by my estimation and whilst Tony Smith has strived to remove their inconsistency, you can never be 100% certain with Warrington. As for Harlequins, the loss of Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook only serves to further weaken a light pack but the Quins did show good away form last year and after this week, you never know.

As usual, any comments would be greatly appreciated. Am I being too hard on myself and after timing too much or am I spot on? I endured a similarly difficult start last year (See posts from February / March) but such feelings subsided as the season went on. Maybe I just need a pre season too?

Friday, 5 February 2010

Even more furious

Last year I won the Rugby League Tipping Competition on the Rugby forum on Betfair and did so largely due to my belief that favourites are massively overpriced when at home. So, when the corrected Leeds v Castleford odds were settled today, I knew that this was a great opportunity. Castleford could be backed at 12.5 whereas I would make them somewhere between a 6 – 9 shot.

Irrespective of the initial stake placed, I then proceeded to do the one thing I had vowed not to do this year. Accept crazy odds to avoid red. So, from my initial pre match position, I managed to earn merely one third of my potential profit. That was beyond ridiculous and summed up tonight’s trading which once again saw my emotions take control of my brain. And of course, next time I look to back an away underdog and let it run, you can be as sure as anything, that it won’t come in. The worst of both worlds.

And in a twist of fate that is beyond ironic, I managed to cost myself £21 by getting the markets mixed up and backing Crusaders in their game. To the person who had left a lay of Crusaders up at 9.2, enjoy my money. You thoroughly deserve it. (That may sound sarcastic, but it is not intended to be.)

So I am in a position tonight whereby I am thoroughly annoyed with my trading performance, although pleased that I was able to call the Bradford v Huddersfield game rather successfully.

Before the game, I stated that I thought Huddersfield were too large. A position that is very uncommon for me as usually I think home favourites are backed too short. At one point Huddersfield were as low as 1.57 which was probably correct or maybe a bit low but drifting to 1.7 made them exceptional value and whilst I adopted a wait and see approach, I was able to profit from the return of the draw on LSD with 50 readily being available with the score at 0-0. Erm yeah. Good luck with that.

As you know my one big rule in first half trading is to oppose 1.1s and this strategy worked out very well tonight. However, I must say that I had expected Bradford to tire around this period but the Brett Hodgson mistake when attempting to score and the whistle of the referee gave Bradford renewed enthusiasm which saw them score two late tries in the first half to send the market out to 1.3.

At Half Time, I could have opted to take a level green of around £100 but instead opted to take around half this on Huddersfield, leaving £300 or so on Bradford. At 1.3 I considered Huddersfield marginally underpriced although their early scores brought them into a level which was not worth jumping on and so my position largely remained the same throughout the second half. Another ironic incident given my actions in the Leeds v Castleford game.

So all in all, a total profit of £100 from tonight’s work although I understandably feel that I am significantly behind on the “net scoreboard”. You only get so many gifts in a year and I feel I have wasted a couple this evening due to an abysmally constructed attitude towards trading.

In more positive news however, the markets felt the same as last year and I called the games well so I guess if that is to continue, then my trading performance should improve (this was after all the first “competitive” Super League Friday night of the year) so maybe I am being unduly harsh on myself. Truth is however, I always am!

I will want to watch the replay of the game after posting this but my initial thoughts are that the game went as expected. Huddersfield are a solid team who probably will offer the most consistent range of performances this year. Bradford are poor. They lack go forward. Their backs have very little pace and creativity and their Australian halfback pairing is disappointing. I expect Matt Orford to find his feet and play better as he becomes more comfortable, but Brett Kearney was every bit as poor as I expected. Maybe it is rust following a long lay off, but I don’t see anything in him at the moment which makes me think he can even be an upgrade from Ben Jeffries last year!

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s game (which hopefully I will trade better), I think the current market prices are right. The return of Sean Long is such a wild card but we know that Long produces his best performances in big games and there won’t be any bigger than this. I would probably favour Hull as like I am with Bradford, I am low on Saints who I feel have no organisational ability in the halves and a dearth of pace out wide although their forward pack looks impressive. Hull will take time to develop a comfort level with all their new signings, but it is hard to see them disappointing as greatly as they did last year. However, I would want to watch the opening to the game before making any predictions that I would need to rely on!

Time to go and calm down now and to work out how to improve on today for tomorrow. It is natural to make mistakes. It is just frustrating to make the same mistakes!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A quick look at Round 1

For the reasons set out in the below post, my preview for the first round of Super League probably won’t be as detailed as usual but it always helps to get a few thoughts down so here goes.

The first round is always more unpredictable. Whilst it is relatively easy to analyse teams on paper, you can never be certain how they will actually perform.

Huddersfield v Bradford

As this is the SKY game, I feel the best opportunities will arise in play and so initial positions should be relatively small to begin with. Usually I prefer away underdogs but for mine, the value is with the home favourites here.

I’m really low on Bradford this year. They have a horrible three quarter line and only four recognised props in their squad; two of which are Danny Sculthorpe and Craig Kopczaz. The former is definitely out of this game and the latter is doubtful too. Add in the fact that their second rowers are more second rowers / centres than second rowers / props and I really think they could struggle to gain the yards. I also have a huge question mark hanging over Brett Kearney who missed all of last year with an ankle injury. Last year I was very high on Bradford but this year, I expect them to not make the Top 8.

Huddersfield look to be a solid outfit who have a very deep squad. I’m not sure they have the genuine talent to be a Top 4 team this year but equally they look very likely to finish in the 5th – 8th slots. They have made some shrewd new signings and with Kevin Brown back from injury, they should have a more attacking presence than they had at the back end of 2009 when they fell away badly.

However, this is the first real competitive match of Super League XV so it might be worthwhile to watch the game as much as to trade it to try to assess how things might play out.

Wigan v Crusaders

I would expect Wigan to finish 4th this season. Whilst they have only signed Paul Deacon to add to their 2009 squad, new coach Michael Maguire has seemingly given Wigan a lift in the off season and has improved the fitness of several key players which should help them as the season progresses. The key concern for Wigan will be avoiding the second season syndrome for star man Sam Tomkins. The experience of Paul Deacon should be hugely beneficial in avoiding this and giving Tomkins greater freedom to impose his considerable talent on games.

The Warriors should therefore be too strong for a Crusaders side who whilst impressing last week are clearly the weakest side in the league at the moment. However, anything at around 20/1 represents some value and whilst speculative, is a decent shout.

Leeds v Castleford

Leeds proved last week why they are the cream of the crop with their performance in the last 15 minutes and with Brent Webb and Jamie Peacock returning to the fold, the Rhinos should improve on last week’s showing.

However, Castleford Tigers are no mugs and 1.1 is a ridiculously low price. The Tigers are clear underdogs for the game and I expect them to finish 11th. However, they do have some genuine quality in the halves and pace in the backs. Whilst they have a thin squad and the strength in the forwards can be questioned, if the Tigers can play an expansive style at Headingley they could cause an upset.

I will post on the other games tomorrow. For now, I have a very nice e-mail to write to Betfair!


Warning: The below post may contain strong language.

Usually I would look to post a preview of the weekend’s upcoming Rugby League but frankly, I feel too pissed off to do so.

I have mentioned before how I keep an eye on RL markets from Monday onwards and on this Monday, I noticed that there was already a large amount of money available to back Castleford at 15.5.

I thought this represented a good trading opportunity and therefore backed it. More money kept on appearing at these odds and I kept topping up. I had expected the market to possibly have Leeds as low as 1.1 and whilst it was definitely unusual to see such money early on, who am I to quibble. For all I know, Castleford’s squad could have been hit with Swine flu.

Of course, when someone started to lay my draw bets that I put up as an attempt to possibly green up, I began to get an idea that something weird was happening in the market. However, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and after checking that I was not misreading the team names, proceeded and by Tuesday evening, I had a very nice position which would enable me to fully green for £100 before the game kicked off once the draw market fully formed.

Today, Betfair voided the market as the market had been “malformed”. Instead of them listing Home, Away, Draw they had listed Home, Draw and Away. Clearly someone had not realised this and had been trying to take advantage of me by offering odds out of sync with the market.

However, for a company who regularly switch the order of teams in connection with odds, I fail to see how a market has been “malformed” when all the freaking possible options have been listed. If when they change the running order in Formula 1, and I get mistaken about which driver is on which line, can I claim that the market has been “malformed”?

The lines clearly displayed the possible options. The fact that someone did not realise this is the fault of the individual. (Or bot – more on that to come).

So why have Betfair voided the market? Frankly, I do not believe for one instance that they looked at the market, realised their error and decided to void it. As a company they have proven that fairness is not a key issue for them, and the commission on my winnings would be worth something! On a few occasions you see early market prices to be completely out of line, but as far as I’m aware they are not voided.

So why void this? The key issue here for me is that the Rugby League markets usually have no liquidity so early in the week. Look at this week’s games. They have around £10 matched but they all have an attempt to lay a short price favourite and to lay the draw at the same odds at around the same price that I backed Castleford at. This points to one thing. I was not betting against an illiterate user but rather a bot that had been misprogrammed. For that, I take no issue with taking prices. This bot was merely attempting to collect money at prices which it considered to be advantageous for itself. If it gets it wrong, it deserves to have to deal with the issue.

Now, if Betfair had e-mailed me to explain the situation, I probably would not have been bothered. If it was a genuine error, then fair enough. It is the fact that they unilaterally voided a market which they did not communicate to me which really pisses me off. Possibly an announcement on the forum confirming the error? No, they just voided it.

How can I rely on bets that I place in the future not being voided? How can I rely that when I take a price it will stand? For instance, last year during Warrington v Catalans, Catalans could be laid at 1.06 despite being 6 points behind with 10 minutes to go! In the future, will Betfair look to void such markets? Because again, this was clearly an error.

And what about errors I have made where I have typed the stake in the odds and vice versa. Can I expect these to be voided? And why not? If it is my responsibility to proof my bets before submission it is surely another user’s responsibility to proof their bets before submission.

I simply cannot understand this. So are Betfair seeding the markets? Or are they seeking to protect someone? Or am I hellbent on conspiracy theories unduly? The fact is, I’m honestly not concerned about the profit lost. It is rather the precedent that it sets that concerns me and the fact that this seems very unfair.

All in all, I find Betfair’s conduct disgraceful. Now, I know that the only place I can trade in play on Rugby League is Betfair so I won’t be cutting my nose off to spite my face. However, equally I do not feel that this can be let drop because of the precedent it may set.

So what do you the reader think? Is this an overreaction? Or do you think like me that this poses serious issues which need responding to?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

During a Super League Game

In my previous post, I outlined the rather unique way I consider pre match odds when trading Super League matches. Now, I will very briefly outline some of the easier to explain strategies I use during the match.

Now, this is just an overview. Obviously some of my trading strategies will be very difficult to explain and will depend upon the flow of the match as I see it and there will be very little point in outlining these. (I also don’t want to explain how I do things 100% - the market isn’t liquid enough to allow someone to copy my entire approach and leave a profit for me!) However, I shall outline some of the more general things to look for when trading a match without explaining how I attempt to read the game during the game because as anyone who has read the below post will know, it makes no sense!

Trading the draw was pretty much the first strategy I ever used. I started trading at around the time the Draw layer appeared. (Someone would push the draw out to 100+ for around £1,000 until there was a draw in the Salford v Celtic Crusaders 2008 Grand Final)

Now, trading the draw can involve using small stakes and yet be very profitable if you back first. The simple idea is that whilst the chance of a game ending up as a draw is small, the chance of the game being close enough to bring about a drop in the draw odds is relatively high. (I know that draw layers can consistently profit which does beg the question of who actually loses, but as we all know, everyone on Betfair wins anyway…) In two years, I can probably count on one hand the games that have caught the express to 1000. And, to be honest, most of these have been games where the draw strategy is clearly unavoidable.

So, you back the draw early on. What to do next is entirely up to you. You can either leave it until it reaches a point where you are happy to trade out to remove any liability, or you can look to consistently trade the draw throughout the game; taking advantage of price swings as the market overreacts to events and the relatively low liquidity available forces position takers to take up positions which are amenable to traders.

One position I have recently started to adopt is to look to lay the draw. The truth is, there are times where the draw odds can be too low and are profitable laying. Any game which sees a starting position of below 25 is definitely a long term laying proposition whilst I have also been interested in the differences in the market for a game that is level at Half Time or which sees a gap of 2 or 4 points. The fact is, if a game is level at HT, I don’t think the odds of a draw at FT are necessarily lower than if there is a gap of say 2 or 4 points. We are not dealing with football here where the result sees few changes. You can look to expect over 20 points on average in the second half of a RL game which should see points differentials increase. Even the most recent game, Leeds v Crusaders, which was scoreless between 41 and 60 minutes, saw the draw occasionally peak out to beyond the Half Time odds!

And whatever happens, I have never seen the draw be less than 10 after 60 minutes, which limits the potential liability involved.

Of course, the chance of the game ending up as a draw is low which raises the question of when to trade out. In the playoffs and the 4 Nations final, I took the position of letting my draw bets run but on the whole I would say this is unadvisable. (You have no idea of my reaction to the Wigan v Castleford playoff game when with 77 minutes gone, Castleford kicked to the corner and the ball just bounced into touch before Kirk Dixon got there. My £14,000 possible profit on the draw matched the colour of my face!) It depends on how you trade the game in general. The truth is I prefer to close my liability pretty quickly but to keep my green on the draw. That sounds somewhat of a contradiction but that works well with my trading style.

One other piece of information is what to do when the draw comes in. I can recall several draws being overturned last year. The 1.01 in Castleford v Leeds when I was sat in a pub without SKY not having a damn clue what was going on. Leigh v Featherstone(?) where 1.4 got turned over. Saints v Wakefield where 1.8 got turned over as Saints missed a late kick. Leeds v Warrington where the draw traded around 2.5 before getting turned over as I again sat in a pub clueless.

In situations like these, I advise to take the profit. I am a trader and when the draw comes in, I get out. However, when the draw is reliant upon a conversion being made, there tends to be several people like me who are too keen to get out and offer very appealing prices for gamblers to take a good punt.

The fact is, you can either join the draw train at the start or the end. However, if you jump on in the middle, you will probably find there is no door.

Finally, there is the whole issue of to what extent backing the draw covers the underdog but I don’t plan to go into this right now other than to say that I usually view the two as separate to begin with although if I have a large enough green on the draw in the second half, I will sometimes use this to justify having a lesser position on the underdog when the chances of a 1.01 train are higher.

Which brings me onto the next strategy and also relates to some of my points that I made yesterday.

Fundamentally, Rugby League is a game full of random events. You can be the best player in the world, but you will still drop a ball and miss a tackle. When that happens cannot be predicted but it will happen. For that reason, I will look to lay 1.0 shots in the first half (Possibly discounting Crusaders). Of course it won’t always come off but it will come off even in the most unlikely of situations. For every clear 1.0 lay (Warrington at 16-6 v Catalans in 2009) there is a 1.0 lay which looks so unlikely but comes in (Catalans 30-0 v Bradford in 2009) or an unlikely 1.0 lay which drifts to a very profitable price (Salford 18 – 0 v Celtic in 2009). Plus you will regularly run into the evening up of the penalty count!

It is easier to do so when you already have some green on the market, but it is something that should be done at all times. 1.0s in the second half aren’t as clear cut and cannot always be advised although at times there are definitely some great opportunities.

For that reason, I always advise laying handicap markets late on. Not only can anything happen, but to the vast majority of players, whether you win by 6 or by 10 is immaterial. They may sprint 100 metres to win a game, but to preserve a margin of victory in a game that has already been decided? It doesn’t always happen.

The final thing to discuss is definitely the most difficult but profitable trade and something I call the inverse tick. Markets on Betfair as a whole overreact to events and this is definitely true for tries and Rugby League has a special friend in this instance – the video referee.

Now, to get this correct is not easy and requires you to almost be at one with the market. However, if you place your lays correctly then not only can you get matched at the trough of the market, which might allow for a few ticks profit when it recovers but you run the hope of saying hello to the video referee.

When this happens however, there is one thing to remember and that is that the benefit of the doubt always goes to the attacking side. So, unless you can be 100% certain that it is no try, you are always more beneficial to trade out before the decision arrives especially as in some cases people who have matched your bet at the bottom can be anxious to look to limit their possible loss.

So there is a quick introduction to the world of rugby league and trading a match.

Obviously however, the key in all this is to study the market and study the game. I believe there is profit to be made in the RL markets and I know I started from scratch so it can be done. However, at the end of the day, it is only your observations and your application that can allow you to prosper.