Saturday, 30 January 2010


Risk is usually defined as “exposure to the chance of injury and loss”. Life is full of risks and part of our operation as human beings is to calculate the possibility of risk and act accordingly. Everything that we do is risky. Even sat here right now, typing these words, I leave myself open to risk, from the possibility that I could sprain a finger from typing to the possibility that my heart stops beating.

It hasn’t… Yet.

A successful trader, like a successful human, weighs up the risk involved in a situation before making a decision and acts accordingly. Of course, calculating risk is no guarantee of success in anything; there are always several other decisions and skills that you require to be successful, but calculating risk is an especially important trait which traders require.

My problem is not calculating risk. It is leaving myself open to it and then acting under these circumstances. (Something which probably applies in all facets of my life, but let’s not stray too far off topic here!)

I remember an early post from 2009 when I calculated my potential profit if I had stuck to what my original plan for the 2009 Super League season and compared it to the meagre success I had. I am definitely a “glass empty” person. In fact, it’s not even half empty… It’s just empty!

I am reminded of all this as I sit here now because, as per usual, I ran away from risk again today for no reason other than, well I don’t know!

All week, I had expressed surprise at the odds between Wakefield v Harlequins. I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that proves that my thoughts are not just lucky guesses but rather possibly indicative of an ability to succeed when calling games. Yet, when the time to roll the dice came, I recoiled and found reasons to doubt my initial viewpoint.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Shaking off the Rust

A slow start whilst different combinations were considered on an unusual setting before stepping into another gear and racing home with ease. That is a sentence that equally describes mine and Leeds’ performance tonight.

If I’m honest, I expected this to be a 1.01 train. I never would have thought Leeds would have traded over 1.4 although I am obviously glad they did. As this is the only SKY game of the weekend, I will now attempt to break down how I approach trading a game. I have a particularly unique style which I probably would not recommend duplicating, but hopefully there will be food for thought here for you to develop your own strategies.

The first point is that trading the game does not begin at 7.30 PM or 8.00 PM of the game, but it’s probably something that I initially think about on Monday when I consider expected prices and load the markets into my mobile so I can keep an eye on them although there is hardly ever any activity before Thursday. If you are to trade successfully, you need to have an idea of how you think the game will go and I will often spend some time making notes on expected events and things to watch and react to.

My own views on the game tend to be hugely atypical so I have very limited success in predicting the expected prices but once they are out, usually on Thursday, I begin to compare these to my expectations and try to analyse the reason for the difference. This is nearly always due to the fact that I drastically underrate form and home advantage, but when I am particularly far out, I always try to work out “what I am missing”. Quite often, the answer is nothing but again, it never hurts to be completely sure.

I will usually look to begin to trade the market from Thursday onwards but only if I have particularly strong views. Now, I want to keep some edge, so I’m not going to say what exactly I look for, and I can get it wrong more than occasionally, but I will then look to regularly check on the market from then onwards.

Sometimes however, I don’t have the ability to take advantage of some great opportunities. For instance, yesterday evening just before midnight, £5,000 appeared to lay Leeds at 1.08 which I considered nothing short of a gift. Unfortunately, I was already on to my maximum overnight stake before then (You never know, Leeds may catch swine flu overnight!) and at lower odds but the fact is that whilst there tends to be small amounts traded prior to the day before the match, that does not mean there is no opportunity to profit. Leeds would reach 1.04 prior to kick off so the 1.08 backer could have been green for a very significant sum before the game even started!

One thing that does interest me in all this is my reaction to early success or failure. You would think that the presence of green would enable you to be bolder whereas I find that I am bolder when I am red. My thought on this is that I don’t want to lose what I have “earned” but this would be something I’d love to hear from other people on.

Anyway, despite missing out on the £5,000 windfall and despite forgetting to charge my phone overnight, which left me searching for a mobile phone charger at lunch time and unable to monitor my position in the morning, I managed to have my greatest ever pre match trading performance effectively being green to the tune of around £75 before the game even started. Obviously, low odds have their draw backs for trading, but the fact that so much money gets compressed into such a small odds variation does make it much easier to trade larger sums than usual with less risk, especially if you approach the market early on.

So, that is a brief run down of my particularly unique (and obsessive?!) pre match trading style.

Now, onto the game.

I had spent some time before hand setting up my new trading platform, but it is fair to say that I was definitely preoccupied throughout the first half with learning how to operate the new platform at full speed. I, in particular, loathe change and that was very obvious to begin with! So, I probably didn’t follow the game as much as I would usually but rather reacted to the market and the key events as opposed to reading the game. It was also the case that I was rather “rusty” and was trying to familiarise myself with the operation of the markets and the reading of the game! Even traders need a pre-season.

I plan on watching the game on replay before commenting too much but it seemed that the Rhinos were below par and that the conditions helped to level things for a Crusaders side who lacked nothing in effort.

As for the first half performance, I never saw it coming. I love to lay clear favourites, but I considered the starting price very favourable to Leeds and was never really able to adjust to that but I feel that was down to my advance reading of the teams as opposed to inflexibility.

However, thanks to some small trades, I did manage to increase my profit from £75 to £100 at the Half. £100 is what I usually refer to as the target amount in Super League games and to get that in what I thought would be a 1.01 walkover was pleasing although my draw trading was particularly poor.

I was too keen to level up my stakes and not take the market on like I should. I did not buy heavily enough and I sold too expensively and, aside from dealing with it being the first game of the season, would be the key lesson to take from the half.

At Half Time, I considered the Crusaders too large and the draw too short. With hindsight, I feel that I underestimated the conditions. Whilst I am a draw backer, one thing I had noticed last year was that the draw can bottom out around a certain price and time and I was content to remove my green on the draw. However, not only did the conditions make this a poor choice. (I would green up before Leeds ran away with it due to the time) but there was insufficient liquidity to trade the draw as I usually would which could sometimes make up the removed green.

Whilst I had not seen the closeness of the game, I had commented upon the 2009 season opener between the same two teams which saw a 20 minute score of 22-0 and the next 60 minutes be 6-6. This fact, combined with my thoughts on the game, meant that I would always be keen to back Leeds on the Handicaps and jumped on Leeds + 10.5 at 2.06 or so and Leeds + 24.5 at 1.08 and 1.04 (Lay prices obviously.)

This was not just a game reaction but rather the result of a thought process I have had for a long time which is to lay handicap favourites late on. I always believe that players will give 100% in a close game. However, to the great majority of players, winning by 10 or by 12 is immaterial and you will not always see the same desire.

Obviously this worked well in this game!

I used £10 on both markets but must say that I was disappointed to have traded out too soon. This is a common issue and one that I really need to stop doing. Yes, trade out but only because it is value and not to guarantee a profit. I guess this links into my previous post on the concept of “Winning” as against the concept of “Earning”. However, I did manage to claw back some earnings on the +24.5 handicap with Ali Lauititi’s controversial try.

Was it a try? Probably not. But, I was convinced it would be given. The benefit of the doubt goes to the attacking side and generally speaking, tries are only disallowed through clear evidence to the contrary. Whether you like or dislike that rule, it is the rule and hopefully it will be applied consistently. But, where would be without a video referee controversy!

My only other point on the game would be to reference a lay of Leeds in the 1.0s when 12-6 up. Whilst I considered the superiority of Leeds rendered a 1.0 first half lay to be of questionable value, (Although I usually believe that random theory makes such lays profitable), I had no problem laying with such a small lead late on when time remaining can close the superiority of one team. Like trading the draw, I hope this is another example of flexible thinking which can help this year as opposed to having strict rules.

So there we have a rather unique look into my bizarre approach to trading a match. I probably make it harder than it should be, but this is something that I take great enjoyment and satisfaction from.

In the end, before commission, I made around £120 from the main odds market, £7 from the +10.5 Handicap and around £70 from the +24.5 Handicap.

It also leads onto the question of why I blog for which I can provide two reasons. The first is to provide self analysis. I regularly read over my posts from directly after an event to try to learn new lessons and to try to understand the decisions I make. The second is to promote Rugby League trading and to show what can be achieved through hard work.

I have always watched Rugby League and started trading it seriously in 2008. It is fair to say that in both liquidity and popularity terms, it is often sparse. This is something that I enjoy and I hope to spread the word so to speak.

I also believe that it is something that can be learned and can provide great rewards. I may or may not have a good understanding of Rugby League, but the trading concepts I have developed have all been self taught from scratch and again show what anyone is capable of. I am not going to say “This is how you do it” but what I will say is that I believe that most people who put their minds to this can succeed and I believe that their success will only help to raise even more new ideas which will also help me in the long run.

That is also why I post my profit and loss figures. I do this not to “show off”. Frankly, there are people earning more in a minute than I earn in a week. I do it because I am not only proud of my achievements, but to show what can be achieved with hard work. I am not making millions, but I am making an amount that I consider to be obscene, and I started just from reading blogs and then discussing thoughts on forums. If I can do this, then anyone can.

To that end, I “copied” an idea from Mark Iverson’s blog and was posting my thoughts real time on The Geek’s Forum for anyone who was around. Now, in the cold light of day, they will read like inane ramblings and probably aren’t the most clear and helpful. (In my defence, I am trying to trade the market first!) However, this is something I am keen to do, until I get told to stop! so why not stop by and have a look? Again, I’m grateful for any comments received as I know all too well how helpful a second opinion can be at a time when I am constantly switching my attention between the game and the market.

So, that is how I trade in a nutshell. Confused? Probably. Think I’m a “bit weird” (I couldn’t think of a better expression)? Probably! Think I would do better if I just sat down and bet on what I thought? Probably! Going to look to trade Rugby League and discuss this further? Well, only you can decide that.

Super League XV

Super League XV kicks off in less than 24 hours and I already feel like a little kid waiting for Santa Claus to appear. I just hope that by the end of the season I won’t have realised that Santa Claus isn’t real. Indeed, I hope to meet Santa Claus several times this season if the draw decides to pop in for the occasional visit! I’ll even take just seeing the big guy’s costume!

I probably haven’t prepared as fully as I would have liked due to several reasons, but I have spent today setting up my trading platform for the 2009 season. Last year, I used the grid interface on Bet Trader Pro and that was an outstanding piece of kit which catered exactly to my needs - namely through having multiple back / lay windows open at once and being able to have different markets open at once and still be able to have bet submission windows open which could place instant bets. Obviously, Bet Trader Pro no longer exists but that may not be as bad as I had feared.

The Geek’s Toy will now be my trading platform of choice for 2010 and this is a piece of kit which is simply phenomenal and contains several outstanding features which go beyond my needs! Of course, it will take me a while to get fully used to it, but the fact that it has so many customisable settings is superb and allows you to create your own individual trading platform for your trading needs. The Geek’s Toy also boasts excellent forums with several great contributions and I would unashamedly advise all readers to sign up and make it even better.

Now, onto this weekend’s games. I regularly wrote Thursday previews last year and aim to do the same this year. I also plan to say a bit about how I think the teams will fare in general this year.

Leeds Rhinos are clear favourites this year and it’s little wonder why. The Rhinos boast a young side who are continuously improving and possess a central nucleus of players at the peak of their careers whilst their main rivals, St Helens, are definitely a team in a decline / rebuild period. The only major loss from their 2009 squad is Lee Smith who has been ably replaced by Brett Delaney from Australia. Delaney is more of a defensive centre than an attacking one, but it’s not like the Rhinos are short in attack and their right hand side defence now looks as good as any whereas last year it could be argued that Lee Smith (who I feel is a huge loss to Rugby League) displayed some positional naivete at times.

The scariest thing about the Rhinos is that they boast a new signing in Greg Eastwood who is replacing no-one from their 2009 squad! He was meant to be Gareth Ellis’ replacement in 2009 and whilst his arrival was delayed the potential issues that this could have caused were more than ably solved by the emergence of Carl Ablett into a genuine Super League player. So the Rhinos look the clear favourites to become the first ever time to win four successive Grand Finals.

Equally clear, is that their opening week opponents, Crusaders RL, are likely to be at the bottom of the table come the end of the year. Relocated from Bridgend to Wrexham has been a controversial decision and one that several feel overlooks the reason for their initial inclusion in Super League, but the Welsh outfit are here for two years at least and if they can build on a likely sell out crowd tomorrow, they could also remain for a while longer.

However, if they want to achieve that, they will need to either overhaul their playing squad or rely on a terrific job from Brian Noble. There’s no doubting that in Noble, Jon Sharp and Iestyn Harris, the Crusaders have a coaching staff as good as any in the league, but there’s also no doubt that their playing squad is amongst the weakest in the league.

You can expect the Crusaders to improve as the season goes on, and their squad does look improved from 2009, but you can expect them to receive a second straight wooden spoon at the end of the year unless their collection of fringe NRL players, Hull bad boys and Welsh youngsters (And going by Brian Noble’s comments and previous form, you can expect them to only be used sparingly) have the season of their lives.

So, there’s no doubt that Leeds should be clear favourites on Friday to defeat Celtic. The Rhinos are probably better player for player in the 17 man team, but you can never be totally certain. Last year in the same game, the Rhinos went 22-0 up after 20 minutes before drawing the next 60 6-6! And who can ever forget Wales’ first half performance against Australia in the 2000 World Cup Semi Final.

Still, with the Rhinos currently being laid at 1.08, let’s remember that last year Bradford Bulls travelled to St. Helens in April and defeated the Saints who started at 1.05. Whilst form lines were more apparent then, the talent levels were uncomparably closer than they will be on Friday night. The very large amount to lay at 1.05 suggests to me that the price will end up hovering around 1.05 / 1.06 pre match and there’s certainly no value in laying that but equally, there’s probably insufficient value in backing 1.05. I’ve never been the best at predicting kick off prices though. My prices are often greatly different to what everyone else’s is.

As the next match shows…

I am much lower on Harlequins than most people are. I have a huge amount of respect for Brian McDermott, but I fear for the Quins this year. I make the 10/1 on them to finish bottom exceptional value and you only have to look at their squad to realise why. Whilst they do have some genuine young talent and a hugely exciting prospect in Ben Jones Bishop, they equally have an insipid collection of players who have never looked likely to have successful Super League careers.

I also wonder where their inspiriation will come from, especially with two of their best players missing the start of the season in Luke Dorn and Rob Purdham. Dorn can be hugely inconsistent and do nothing for 79 minutes, but can create something from nothing and is a huge loss whereas Rob Purdham has always been a player I have enormous respect for and who I feel has never garnished the respect he deserves. Purdham is at home anywhere on the pitch and is far more creatively talented than he is given credit for. He displays excellent leadership and all he lacks is that extra ounce of athleticsm that would have made him a truly great player.

All that said, it is entirely possible that Brian McDermott could push this bunch of players into overachieving, especially if one or two of the young players raise their games and Purdham and Dorn come back quicker than expected.

Meanwhile, I am higher on Wakefield than most are. I don’t have a definitive placing for them just yet, but I feel they will be around the 8th spot. They fall into the middle of the Bradford / Catalans / Hull KR / Castleford group of clubs. They will miss the leadership and acumen of Brad Drew, but Ben Jeffries could fill that void by returning to the form he showed to earn a move to Bradford.

If the Wildcats do have a weakness, it is definitely in their backline where they have lost Tony Martin, Ryan Atkins, Matt Petersen and Scott Grix whilst Damien Blanch will also miss the start of the season. Luke George and Sean Gleeson look set to step up but that looks like a loss. George can score heavily but is suspect in defence and Gleeson looks more of a back up at this level. New signing Daryl Millard is capable of doing well but quite often overseas players take a while to settle and whilst Paul Johnson, Jason Demetriou and Kevin Henderson can be shifted to centre when required, none have the pace to worry a defence.

That said, Wakefield look very strong up front with new signings Shane Tronc and Paul King joining Michael Korkidas and Richard Moore in a front row that can set the platform for new signings Terry Newton and Glenn Morrison to control. Morrison in particular could be the domestic signing of the season if he can remain healthy although that is a big if and with Jeffires, Danny Brough, Sam Obst and Tevita Leo Latu all capable of posing questions, enough chances could be created to allow the Wildcats to possibly suffer from a below average conversion rate.

One final note on John Kear’s squads is that they traditionally start well before fading away which suggests a heavy pre-season in say contrast to Brian Noble whose sides usually start poor but peak for the playoffs. It is possible that Kear may look to switch things up this year with his best squad (on paper) for some time, but his history makes the Wildcats exceptional value against Harlequins.

Now, there are two ways to approach the opening weeks of the season. You can either accept that no-one has a true reading on teams yet, or you can embrace this unpredictability. Sure, there is a lot more luck involved now, but Wakefield look a hugely attractive price against Quins. At a neutral venue, I would make Wakefield 1.5 favourites and I have written enough about home advantage previously, to believe they are outstanding value this weekend at a current best price of 5/4. Even when I try to talk myself out of this view, the best I can do is call this a 50/50 game.

The Wildcats should have enough muscle and intelligence to out play the Quins and whilst a home victory would not stun me, nothing ever does in Rugby League, the current price looks worthy of a nice investment.

Update: Just as I went to hit post, someone is laying Leeds at 1.08 for £5,000 and I am shocked. I’ve already looked to get onto my maximum level and most of that was below 1.08. There is no money to back at 1.07 and hardly any at 1.06 so someone with a very big bank could look to make a very nice profit.

Monday, 25 January 2010

95 hours til kick off

It doesn't seem three and a half months since Leeds Rhinos lifted the Super League trophy at Old Trafford and yet here we are, ready for a new season to commence. Super League has come a long way ever since Sheffield and Paris Saint Germain played the first ever Super League match infront of a crowd of 17,873 at the Charlety Stadium on Friday 26 March 1996 and who knows what the next eight and a bit months will bring as fourteen teams go to battle for the right to be crowned Grand Final winners on Saturday 2 October 2010.

Of course, the opening spectacle does appear to be more damp squib than summer fireworks as the "Crusaders" play host to the Leeds Rhinos. The second successive time this fixture has been used to launch Super League and whilst the merits of that can be debated the more passionate amongst us will just be glad to have anything back. And let's face it, you don't want to devour the steak without having tasted the soup.

Still, with the Crusaders coach Brian Noble publicly claiming that he will be forced to give shirts to players who aren't yet ready, you could be forgiven for expecting nothing short of a massacre which will do nothing to boost the fortunes of the Welsh outfit who have endured a tumultous off season which has seen them move from Bridgend to Wrexham and overhaul their playing roster with NRL fringe players and Hull bad boys. However, their coaching backroom offers some hope for later on in the year.

As for Leeds, they will be looking for an unprecedented fourth straight Grand Final success and they will be able to benefit from an extremely stable off season. The key switch having been the departure of Lee Smith to rugby union to be replaced by Brett Delaney, an Australian more known for his defence than his attack but who should be able to slot in seamlessly to the Leeds backline. And any side that can boast a new signing such as Greg Eastwood who just "adds one" to their 2009 squad will look to better their previous record, which will make Leeds a scary proposition for even their most fierce of rivals in 2010.

Newcomers to the game probably won't learn much by watching the game. In all probability, the match odds market will be 1.01 within the first twenty minutes and the handicap markets never attract the liquidity to make them a worthwhile proposition. However, you can never say never in Rugby League.

As for myself, I'll be looking mainly to sort out my approach for 2010.

In 2009 I developed a very highly energetic and succesful trading strategy which would regularly see me attempt to submit upto ten bets per minute depending upon odds fluctuations and the on field events. I did all this using Bet Trader Pro which now unfortunately no longer exists.

Moving software has been harder than you would think as, given the copious number of bets I submit and need to respond quickly I became reliant upon (what I considered standard) multiple bet windows... Which nowhere else seems to have.

I did find Bet Pod Pro which offer this functionality although sometimes the program can be cumbersome; especially at peak times when nearly all API programs are sluggish and whilst the newly launched Geek's Toy is indeed an excellent piece of software, it doesn't have multiple windows availability.

That said, its speed and customability makes it my preferred option and I have one or two ideas which I will look to test early in the season before fine tuning. After all, everyone needs a pre-season! And I have even been trading the Draw market in Rugby Union in a similar fashion to how I trade the RL draw market (although I haven't a clue about Rugby Union so have just been market trading, not reacting to in game events) to help me prepare for the upcoming season. Preparation or Obsession? Probably both!

Anyway, 4 days to go and I'm sure I'll be back here long before then to post some further comments as well as dropping by the forums listed on the left to discuss the upcoming season.

Just a quick note on my other trading which hasn't gone as well recently. The 'issues' I referred to previously are making a comeback and effecting both my desire and ability to trade as I am making some very peculiar decisions and this is heavily affecting my profitability. I just hope it won't effect my RL trading!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Personal (too?) Revelations and why trading is analogous to Sonic The Hedgehog.

“What is also pleasing is that I have largely been very consistent. I have traded 20 markets this year, and only one of these markets shows a loss. That was a small pre match trade in Valencia v Espanyol where I lost £1.86. All other markets have showed a profit.”

Compare and contrast the concept of trading as against 1990 console games such as Sonic The Hedgehog and Super Mario Brothers.

Confused? Let me explain.

The first comment was one I made back on Saturday 9 January 2010. A more recent comment would be.

“What is gaoling about my trading through the past 8 days has been losses of £200, £80, £150 and £230.”

The second comment is a question I will attempt to answer through the following post to attempt to explain my recent losses.

Loss One. A £200 back of 0-0 prior to the start of the Leicester v Ipswich game. I am a 0-0 scalper. The odds drifted pre kick off. I backed to my maximum liability. Joined the laying queue in play but a goal after 30 seconds meant I lost £200. I have no issues with that. An occupational hazard so to speak.

Loss Two. A loss of over £80 on Dancing On Ice. This was slightly annoying but explainable. Usually, ITV reality shows offer a recap before voting lines close. They didn’t and the market was suspended with an unequalised book. I wasn’t too concerned at the time as late money had been highly unreliable during the X Factor. However, for the first show, it was a poor idea to make any assumptions and what did aggravate the loss was that I had accurately called one of the Bottom two, but had looked to lay for a total green book and did not recognise value as it appeared.

Loss Three. £150 on Arsenal v Bolton. The 0-0 market was highly abnormal in this game due to the presence of a five figure layer of 0-0 at the start, rendering my usual in and out method futile. I therefore “recognised value” and the fact that 0-0 was likely to crash in price. Which it did. At 12.5, I looked to lay off for £0 although I wanted to earn some money from the market so turned around and entered at 12, knowing that I had placed a lay at a largely empty 10.5. However, a large chunk of money appeared at 11, but I declined to exit as I usually would and got caught out. The stupidity rating on this was high. I behaved in a manner that was “If the market is being irrational, I too will be irrational.”

Loss Four. £230 on Newcastle v West Brom. I looked to trade the Half Time Correct Score market and did very well save for a drift on 2-1. However, this was a linear train that would come down with time, and being first in at 4.5 and 4.6, I was content to leave my money there and not quit. Also, a goal for Newcastle would do well for my trade so in effect, I was laying West Brom not to score in the opening 2 minutes. I missed the start of the second half, and a goal was scored after 32 seconds.

This raises an interesting question. Is this a loss one type event or a loss three type event. I am minded to say loss three. To not be aware of the start of the second half is ridiculous and this was not an “occupational hazard” as much as a display of arrogance.

So what has gone wrong? How has someone so risk averse that at age 21 they set up a pension invested in Gilts to avoid the Stock Market turned into someone who treats the Betfair markets with utter disdain.

I can think of three possible explanations.

The “personal issues” that I have referred to previously as a reason for not writing the blog have developed into thinking errors. Is it a good idea to be trading a market at 8.30 after being awake from 5.30, out at work until 6.30 and generally feeling fatigued.

Secondly, have I lost the value of money. My main income is (hopefully) Rugby League and Formula 1. Knowing that, and with the knowledge of my 2009 earnings, am I thinking that “it is only £200” and therefore leaving trades open. However, if this is so why am I so bothered about one tick trades? Why not make two tick trades at £100.

Thirdly, and this will answer the initial question posed, goes back to the intrinsic reason I trade and my nature as a person. (Apologies if I get deep and away from the general trading comments!)

My trading is fundamentally a “hobby”. It is something I do for enjoyment. I like watching sport. I like testing my brain. This combines the two. However, there is a third underlying reason, which the “personal issues” can attest to.

I am a perfectionist. I abhor the concept of losing or worse still, being wrong. Give me 99% on a test and I won’t celebrate the 99%. I’ll focus on the 1%. In a previous job, we had a sample of our work checked. I developed a system to avoid “sampling”! A lot of who I am as a person relates to my perceived accomplishments. It sounds ridiculous, but one losing trade can equal one losing person and that is why I focus on small, mathematical based trades.

Recently, I have noticed that maybe my confidence is pretty low and it has been ever since I commented on going back to law school back in August. Certain other events and people haven’t exactly helped either. Therefore, I am incorporating more and more “thinking errors” into my trading and striving for 100%, turning down even 99% because in my eyes, that is as wrong as 0%.

So, how does this relate back to Sonic The Hedgehog? Well, that’s easy. Number one, trading fulfils a relaxing / entertainment role in my life like computer games do for others. Secondly, and this is the key, in Sonic The Hedgehog, you get 3 lives per level and a continue at the end of each level.

If you get something wrong, it is not game over. At least not to begin with. It is in fact an unavoidable destination on the road to success.

And that’s the key. Perfection (which is also not using and to start a sentence!) is an unobtainable goal and something that is generally not required in any case. After all, it measures you against objective standards when all you can control is subjective. Is James Milner not a “better” player than Robinho for his industry and dedication. Talent is something that we are born with. Making the most, or least, of this is something that we can control.

So, maybe in my trades, I need to realise that I won’t always “get it right” but focus on accepting that. Usually I can do so without exception. Recently, I am not. And the ultimate irony in all this is that at Half Time, I could have “won” in any case by laying all scores for a 100% book given previous trades! And for the year in total, I am now around £30 down, which is pretty exceptional given my recent trades.

There’s probably a good chance I’ll read this in the morning and take the post down for fears that it is too self-revealing. Assuming that it is still here, I would be grateful for any comments received. Although short of “get a grip you loon!”, I am not sure what you can say!

Friday, 15 January 2010

How accurate can gut feelings be

One thing I have noticed recently is the correctness of my “gut feeling”. So many times recently, I have thought something may happen and it has both in trading and in my personal life. When I wrote my last blog entry, I commented that a loss was surely just around the corner. Little did I know how close.

Ipswich v Leicester. 32 seconds gone. Goal. What made this particularly disappointing was that when I had turned to the Correct Score market, I placed a back bet pre play of £100 at 11.5 which was the current lay odds at 11.5. In most games recently, the 0-0 price has collapsed so I wasn’t confident of getting matched, but not only did I get matched, but the market edged out to 12 so I placed another £100 expecting to be able to lay off at 11.5 within the first 90 seconds or so. The match kicked off and as expected, the initial back price was 11.5, so I put in a £200 lay and then saw the ball appear to crawl over the line in slow motion.

I very rarely have £100 liability in play, but had used my maximum limit of £200 and it was all gone. Still, I wouldn’t have done anything any differently. That’s the game I play.

The end result was a £166.11 loss, although that was slightly offset by earnings of just over £20 on Hamilton v Rangers and Real Madrid v Mallorca.

The evening saw the return of Dancing On Ice on ITV. Now, I dislike most reality shows, but I actually quite enjoy reality shows on ITV. I can’t explain what the difference is – I suppose the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent contain an element of ordinary people realising their dreams, but I can’t explain the appeal of Z list celebrities on ice. However, I do enjoy it.

I did not, however, enjoy my result on the market which lead me to lose £86.48 despite correctly calling Sharron Davies to be Bottom two after her performance. How? Well, I was around £10 green at various points but continued to trade most acts although the liquidity was very poor. And then, just as the show came on, the price on Davies and Sinitta suddenly shortened, whilst the price on Emily Atack and Tana Ramsey suddenly lengthened. Anyone who had followed the X Factor would not have been too concerned by this as it seemed that the late drifts were always wrong so I remained unconcerned, expecting the market to either swing back my way or for the insiders to be proved wrong.

However, the market immediately suspended when the show opened and immediately closed the lines. I had expected a further ten minutes of waffle, and had been wrong which was my major mistake. And then, the late market movements were proved accurate and I was looking at a very, very red book thanks to a set of ridiculous mistakes which had betrayed my cautious but successful approach so far this year.

The evening ended slightly better (or rather the morning began well) when Arizona Cardinals advanced in the NFL playoffs. At 31-10, I was happy enough that they would hold on for the win, and decided to go to bed as I was up at 5.30 for work. Before doing so, knowing what the Cards are like, I placed a small insurance bet on Green Bay at 21. Anyway, the Packers then scored two consecutive TDs and the game was tied at 38 with the Cards having the ball with time running out. Thanks to some small trades, I had around £170 on Green Bay and £40 on Arizona when Neil Rackers attempted a possible game winning Field Goal. After umming and aahing, I was going to go with my gut that Rackers would miss, and was about to lay Arizona when he missed.

I then didn’t look to even up my book (any other time I would have, but I usually lay any sports teams that I follow) and a great play by the Arizona D won the game, reducing my profit but allowing my team to advance in the playoffs. Although it will all count for nothing if they lose against New Orleans! And I also was incredibly tired when I woke up the next morning at 5.30 after only getting to sleep at 1.30!

So after a good start to the weekend, the ending wasn’t quite so great and this week hasn’t been too great either. I have previously promised plenty of posts on RL trading before the season starts but unfortunately some of the personal issues which I have previously referred to have re-appeared which also explains the lack of blog posts this week. There is nothing unduly serious about these issues but when they do crop up, I lack the ability to write blog posts or contribute on the forums.

Usually, when they do crop up, I like to immerse myself in trading as a distraction, but I couldn’t even be bothered for that in the middle of this week, losing £3 on Coventry v Portsmouth and winning nearly £2 on Liverpool v Reading. Games which I looked to trade, but couldn’t be bothered with. However, I did sandwich them with some good trades as I made close to £45 on Man City v Blackburn and £35 on Blackburn v Aston Villa, largely through my usual tactics.

Finally, I also managed to earn just over £10 from tonight’s Rugby Union between Ulster and Edinburgh as I simply transferred some of my usual RL trading skills across whilst trading the market before kick off and in the last twenty or so minutes.

Hopefully, I’ll be back soon with more posts but if I don’t manage to make a post for a few days, I wish everyone has a good weekend.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Slow and steady – A time for reflection.

Perspective is an invaluable tool and something that I usually fail to consider properly so allow me to indulge myself for a moment whilst I consider today’s achievements.

I have “earned” over £100 from watching sports. From clicking buttons on a computer whilst watching television. From the same activities that I have performed for 25 years of my life. From doing what the ‘average’ person does on a daily basis. It has been all too common recently to overlook this fact. To consider winning a normal occurrence and fail to appreciate the achievements made.

I hit the “reset” button at the start of 2010 and since then, I have earned £288.14. Some people will not have earned that much through their day jobs in 2010.

Today’s trading was, as a matter of fact, particularly routine and unmemorable and my first triple figure day of the year came at a time when most sporting events were actually called off due to the snow. With only one 3.00 PM kick off in the football, I looked to trade the correct score market in the Arsenal v Everton game and despite actually having laid an Everton scoreline at the time they scored, still profited to the tune of £13.

At the same time, I had one eye on the Rugby Union match. Now previously I have run in to trouble when trading multiple markets at the same time, but most of my trades were done before the match went in play as I sought to use some of the more general trading strategies that work well in Rugby League and then traded the draw during the first half to earn over £25 from the market.

I then traded the Birmingham v Man Utd game and was able to scalp 0-0 down from 11.5 to 10 as per my usual strategy before Birmingham scored at a time when I had significant green on 3-3 and 3-1. Pure luck it must be understood, but they all count and some small trades at Half Time took my earnings on the market to over £50, which was my largest profit of the year.

Finally, with the £100 barrier in sight, I sought to trade the Valencia v Almeria Correct Score market before kick off and combined with some small in play trades, profited to the tune of £19 before commission, bringing my daily earnings to over £106.

The most amazing thing about all the trades was that at all times, they just felt like small trades. There was no in depth preparation or frantic trades as I associate with my more “in depth” trades in Rugby League, Formula 1 or even when I was trading the X Factor. Everything feels in slow motion at the moment.

As I look back on my trading so far this year, the two major things that stand out have been divergence and pre play trading. Namely, I have started looking to trade markets before they kick off more than I did previously, when price swings are possibly more rational and don’t suffer from liquidity issues. Secondly, I have expanded the range of markets that I trade; incorporating the likes of Rugby Union and European football using the same basic principles that I have learned.

What is also pleasing is that I have largely been very consistent. I have traded 20 markets this year, and only one of these markets shows a loss. That was a small pre match trade in Valencia v Espanyol where I lost £1.86. All other markets have showed a profit. Even when I dipped into the 3rd test market of England v South Africa on the last day, I managed to make a penny! I expect that one of my 0-0 scalps will soon get caught out but I am confident enough in my overall strategies that this will just be a blip in the road and an inevitable fact of my trading.

As they say, every little helps and my trades this year will certainly help to go shopping in the Sales just as soon as I can actually stay on my feet when I go out! My trading has definitely improved so far and has benefited from greater consistency and clarity of thought. Now, if only it was so easy to make similar changes in my personal life!!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A slight delay - so join the Forums!

With the weather forcing me to take a couple of days off from the day job, I was intending to be able to start my team previews. However, even in this Internet age, getting full squad information isn’t as easy as you would think (Crusaders RL don’t even appear to have a squad!) and that, combined with general procrastination, England’s third test match and my refound appreciation for Coupling on DVD means that they have been put on the backburner for now.

Those of you who use either of the trading resources I refer to at the top of my blog will be aware that I did spend some time looking at available Season bets and hope to turn that into a future blog post at some point but for now, they are just thoughts that I am awaiting feedback on. That’s also how I hope the blog will develop in 2010 – the forums being a place to discuss ideas which will then magically tidy themselves up into a coherent blog post (although I’m yet to manage one yet!)

Either way, that’s just an unashamed plug for the forums which I am quite keen on seeing grow. Trading can be both a lonely hobby and one in which you can greatly benefit from outside advice and with several sports being discussed, as well as general trading thoughts and off the cuff banter I really would advise anyone who has not yet signed up to sign up as soon as possible. You won’t regret it, unless you are easily distracted in which case you might as they can be very interesting and time consuming!

With two days off work, I took my football trading skills and tried to apply them to the Spanish and Italian correct score markets although the Italian suffered from seemingly inconsistent liquidity and the Spanish suffered from me not bothering to check the second half had kicked off and therefore not exiting positions in sufficient time. (I was trying as the goal went in.)

Post Commission earnings of £3.89, £3.75 and £15.45 probably justified the effort involved and I added to this by winning a single pence on the third test today. (I had moved my green onto South Africa.) /Amazingly, the draw could be backed at 1.19 with one ball remaining which seems a ridiculous price but I was happy enough to just collect another England last ball “victory”. Bring on the Summer, even if it is only Bangladesh and Pakistan!

The Rugby League season starts in just 22 days now so I’m hoping to get at least one preview up this weekend as well as looking to start some pieces on general RL trading for those of you with limited experience but excessive enthusiasm unless I get stranded at work. And if I do, well you should join the forums if you still haven’t, because they will keep you more amused than I ever can anyway.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Slow and steady

When I first set up this blog at the start of 2009, my January trading was less than spectacular. I was putting in a lot of effort but actually ended up that month down by £10. This year, I am five days into the month and am somehow showing a profit of £136.43 despite feeling like I have put no real “work” into my trading.

Maybe his is due to my previous efforts paying dividends, maybe it is luck or maybe it is just the size of my bank which is helping me to achieve my current progress but it sure seems odd to several people that I can come home from work, turn on my computer and earn enough money to pay for my addiction to Ted Baker.

On Saturday, I initially benefited from a lucky break as the Cardiff v Bristol City FA cup match was postponed. I had tried to duplicate the strategy I employed in the Stevenage v Cambridge game but had got caught out and was looking at a £4 loss before I decided to close my book and head out into the January sales. (Is it just me or are “Sales” just a way for companies to sell items which would never have been sold at their full price) Anyway, the match was postponed and my loss erased from my balance sheet.

I then followed that up by attempting to trade the Reading v Liverpool match on the Correct Score market. The key lesson I learned from this is not to get involved in such markets before team news is announced as certain prices drifted fairly substantially once the Liverpool team was announced with the inclusion of Fernando Torres. Not that it mattered much as Liverpool once again were held to an awful result.

As for my trading, well I nearly had a panic attack at the start of the game when Betfair crashed. Interestingly, judging by the forum, it appeared that it crashed for some people and not others. Either way, I had taken a heavy position on 0-0 before the match went in play as the score drifted just before kick off and had attempted to submit a lay of 0-0 once the market opened so I had ten minutes or so of not knowing whether my 0-0 lay had been submitted correctly or not which caused the explosion of a few nerves!

When I finally got the market loaded, my 0-0 lay had been submitted and taken but I was understandably hesitant to get involved in anything but the smallest trades until half time when I was satisfied that the website had started behaving itself and that with some small second half trades lead to a profit of £16.35.

On a related issue, it does appear that Betfair’s website is becoming more and more unreliable which is of great concern given that they are taking more and more commission through the Premium Charge. It is rather inconsistent to look to take more money from traders (I know that punters are also affected by the Charge) and then not be able to provide a consistent service. It would be impossible to seek to reimburse traders who get caught through the downtime of the website mid trade but something more than a half hearted acknowledgement and apology on the forums may be appropriate although it is more apparent than ever just how much disregard Betfair have for their customers these days.

My Saturday evening trades were then followed up with me once again trying to trade pre match markets in Spanish football and I lost £1.86 on the Valencia v Espanyol market but gained £9.57 on the Atletico Madrid v Sevilla market. I also popped into the Correct Score market for the latter game before the game and at Half Time and a late goal from the home side helped me to a £13.47 victory which was quite astonishing really considering the little effort put in.

The key thing to take out of this is once you have a strategy that you are confident in, you can look to apply this in other areas which are out of your comfort zone. It won’t always work but on occasions it can.

With Sunday being the last day off before the return to work, I was keen to do as little as possible and just put my feet up and there was enough football on to even allow me to look to dip my toes into the Correct Score waters again.

Now before the turn of the year, one of the areas where I had recognised a significant weakness was in poor preparation and a tendency to rush into things and unfortunately, I carried this into the Leeds v Man Utd market. I had been out for dinner before hand and then upon returning home ten minutes into the match, launched myself into the market without a true appreciation for how the market was behaving. (Whilst I have been putting little “effort” into my trades recently, I had been keeping an eye on any market drifts and the general liquidity on certain scores.)

So, whilst a Leeds goal probably could not have been predicted, the fact that I got caught with a lay on 0-2 probably could have been predicted. However, my relatively small stake size allowed me to exit with just a £13 red. Whereas in previous months, I would have probably got agitated by “going behind” and looked to make stupid trades, I accepted my errors and walked away from the market.

Until Half Time. By which point I had familiarised myself with the liquidity and the way the market was behaving and I was subsequently able through trading at both half time and in the second half to turn my £13 red into a profit of £12.25 which was as pleasing as any profit I had made from Betfair in a very long time.

Buoyed by this, I then took a look into the Hearts v Hibs game and was perplexed by the lack of liquidity given that there was no competing football. Either way, whereas I had been caught out by a goal in the earlier game, I benefited from a goal of sorts in this game.

I had been matched at 3-3 and was in the process of trying to lay off (but the liquidity was such that there was no takers) when a goal went in which gave me a total profit of £6.77. Not bad for a £3 stake.

I then followed this up by trading the Arsenal v West Ham game which saw the 0-0 price come in from 16.5 allowing me to scalp the 0-0 scoreline in 0.5 increments as per my preferred approach when West Ham scored just before half time. (There seems to have been several late goals in the first half this season,) The impact of the goal was largely neutral on my book as although I had a large red on 3-1, I had an equally large green on 3-0 which countered each other out.

However, where as in the past I had looked down on such goals because they tend to de-stabilise the market at Half Time, I looked to take advantage of this and managed to achieve a green book of over £30 which I largely sat on until towards the end of the game where I tried to equalise my book exactly on my way to an eventual £33.57 profit.

Over the weekend, I had made small but consistent profits from an approach that was incredibly laid back. Whereas my 0-0 scalps are usually made often, I was in the middle of re-organising some finances and therefore my bank was only at 50% capacity. (Which had meant that I was hesitant to use as much funds as usual.) Everything felt much slower as well and maybe this might be the way forward whilst I am becoming increasingly confident in my approach at Half Time which, whilst will never make a huge amount, is becoming increasingly profitable.

I had also looked into the Rugby Union game on Sky Sports and had tried to trade the market before kick off but got caught out and ended up with a red book before kick off (again, only for £2 or so) which I had been prepared to leave, but managed to use my Draw trading for two minutes at the end of the game to turn my red into a £0.07 profit.

Finally, after travelling a total of near 7 hours today in order to complete 5 hours work, I was in need of relaxation tonight and was disappointed that the Blackburn v Aston Villa match was postponed but was equally pleased that Sky used this to show the Stoke v Fulham game.

Despite 0-0 starting at a preposterous 8, I managed to scalp 0-0 before the goal to earn £10.50 before I then traded some more around Half Time to take it up to just over £20 but I was hesitant to trade any more as at 3-0, another goal could see the market end. However, I hadn’t properly balanced my book and the second Fulham goal allowed me to take £25 exactly. (£23.82 after commission.)

There are times where I feel I have to pinch myself and this was one of them. I have received £23.82 for pushing a couple of buttons on a computer whilst a game of football is on. It feels beyond absurd and it is a fact that any remotely successful trader should remind themselves of how fortunate they are to be in their current position.

It is also a complete world away to how I felt towards the end of the Rugby League season and when using the football strategy where I was possibly placing myself under too much pressure (and I have never been one to cope well with stress!). As much as I can make excellent earnings from this, I should always remember that fundamentally, this is a hobby and something I derive pleasure from. The day that ends is the day I will cease to trade.

Anyway, I am sure I have rambled sufficiently about my weekend’s trades. The intention of this blog is not to dialogue every trade I make but to speak generally and with particular emphasis on Rugby League as this is where my main interest lies.

To that end, and with the season set to kick off in 24 days, I will be looking to start making some Rugby League posts. Whilst my long term prognostication powers are less than impressive, I will hope to write some detailed previews on all teams as well as general articles on how I approach both Rugby League trading and how I often look to read games. I know that some of you are very keen to learn about Rugby League whilst maybe not having a great technical knowledge of the game, so if you have any questions feel free to ask them. There are far worse ways to spend your Friday and Saturday early evenings!

And with time running out, and the weather leaving me snowed in tomorrow (I opted to take a holiday rather than wait for a freezing train to crawl through levels of snow I have never seen before) I will have to start updating squad lists and pulling my thoughts together pretty soon!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Start as you mean to go on.

The start of a New Year is often a perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean, dust yourself down and hit the refresh button and that’s exactly how I am approaching 2010. So, like most things, my trading adventure is set to start from the beginning again, with the results from 2009 a distant memory although hopefully the lessons learned will remain stored.

The plan for 2010 is very simple. Just enjoy trading, look to improve wherever possible and move away from financial objectives. Hopefully this blog will document all that and any lessons I learn which I feel would be of interest or value to others.

I traded two events today. The first was the Cambridge v Stevenage game which was curiously in play despite not being televised. All I did whilst cleaning out rubbish from old cupboards which had accumulated dust over several years was look to trade the match odds market before the kick off.

Given that I knew nothing about the sides, or any team news, I looked to be as cautious as possible and eventually settled for a green book of around £9 on each possible outcome. With hindsight, I could have taken advantage of the swings slightly more but trading on an event you know little about is notoriously risky. For example, a key player may have been ruled out and therefore a 2 or 3 tick swing could be irrecoverable as opposed to being a traditional punting swing. Stevenage were the victors, and my account profited to the tune of £9.02 before commission; £8.60 afterwards. Obviously a small amount monetary, but it was a pleasing win to start 2010.

This is something that I may look to do more of going forward. It is not really suitable for Premier League matches given the volumes natched, but if you are confident in your trading skills, I would imagine that it could be a worthwhile endeavour if combined with other activities, although I would guess that you are prone to late breaking news creating a large swing which could counter two or three wins.

The other event that I traded was the Sale v Harlequins Rugby Union match. I consider my forte to be in Rugby League trading and there are clear parallels between trading the two sports. Trading Rugby Union was something that I considered looking into at the end of the Super League season but never got around to doing. I also need to state that whilst I am a huge Rugby League fan, I dislike Rugby Union as much and have never watched an entire match.

Before the game, I had accumulated a profit nearing the amount I achieved on the Stevenage v Cambridge game, through similar strategies. The market benefited from good liquidity, and could have been a trader’s dream as the Sale price wobbled between 1.51 and 1.57 for no reason other than incoming money.

I also looked to monitor the market in play whilst I did other things but without a knowledge of Rugby Union as a game and without watching it, it’s hard to accurately comment on the price swings. Nonetheless, there were some clear similarities between the market and that which you would expect in a RL game, although I was amazed to see the draw as low as it was early on but it was the end of the game which reminded me of a Super League game and provided the greatest draw parallels.

With twenty minutes to go, and a 12 point lead, Sale, who were the favourites pre match, could be laid for 1.06. Now, tries in Rugby Union are less common than in League but this seemed very much a RL price. It only ever takes one piece of random luck such as the bounce of a ball from a kick, an inexplicable knock on, a curious refereeing decision, a desperately poor attempt at a tackle or a moment of genius from the attacking side to score a try. And obviously if one is scored, the market then reacts to any second attack from the trailing side, knowing that another score could create a flip flop on the scoreboard which, late in the game, is difficult to overturn.

However, as I wasn’t following the game, I didn’t get involved and am not recommending that 1.06 shots with 20 minutes to go in RU are an automatic lay. Rather, I am using this situation as support for my general theory of laying 1.1 in Rugby League.

The ending of the game would also provide excellent support as to why I love to trade the draw and how profits can be made.

Firstly, and it should be acknowledged that only pennies were matched, the draw drifted out to 100+ with a 12 point lead which in RL terms is two tries and one goal. In such a situation, I find it preferable to back the draw as opposed to merely laying the favourites. Whilst you could have laid the favourites 1.06, backing the draw at anything over 70 would be better in my view.

Obviously the chance of the draw at this point is less than the trailing side winning, but would it really be three times less likely (To achieve a near 100% book at 1.06, the trailing side would be around 23 if the draw was at 70) and even if it is, if you are confident of a turnaround then you should also factor in the fact that a try scored would bring the draw down allowing you to trade out whilst an unconverted score would mean that one more score could only allow for a draw or a win to the leading side.

So that’s one advantage to backing the draw in this situation.

As it was, a converted try was scored which brought the gap to a try and the draw was still available in the 20s. However, at times like this, a further score can obviously kill the draw and as a result, the liquidity on the draw drops from poor to very poor which then allows for greater gaps between backs and lays and quite often people who for their own reasons are desperate to get matched will and do take prices that do not represent anywhere near value. I suppose that getting matched in such a situation is akin to gambling, but if you are doing it regularly over a season and look to subsequently trade out any red, then over the long term your risk is massively diluted.

As an example of this situation working, in the St Helens v Wakefield game from last year, I got matched at 40 in a 2 point game with 2 minutes to go for £10. A penalty was subsequently awarded and the draw priced caved to 2 whilst there was also opportunities before hand to still lay off at around 20 and eliminate your red on the teams. The kick was actually missed but by that point I was already nicely green on every outcome.

In this game, I got matched for £2 at 34 and 42 before trading out between 15 and 20 and split my green accordingly not having a clue what the true prices should have been, before walking away with £14.50 before commission.

Obviously, this is all very easy to say. The difficulty is in knowing and recognising the best opportunities and that is something you can only learn from watching the game and the market. Not every 1.06 favourite is a lay, and some 1.06s are more attractive than others and that is the split second judgement that a trader has to make.

Thankfully, I’m better in RL than I am at Rugby Union!

Nonetheless, I managed to profit £22.42 on a day when I didn’t sit down and trade. This time last year, I’d have been very happy to have made such a profit on a day’s trading without any Rugby League.