Monday, 28 February 2011

Down the Well

I feel sick to my stomach. I genuinely thought I had sorted myself out but once again, I'm back at square one. I felt fine this morning, really positive. I waited patiently for almost 2 hours for an opening in the Schiavone game but when it came, I was only partially matched for a tiny amount. It would have been a win but I wasn't too bothered, onto the next game. Again, I failed to get matched after a long wait. It would've won, again. I was irritated but still ploughed on. I did get matched the 3rd time but let a reasonable green slip back to a red. I kept my frustration under control and was going to leave the match with a very small red - but I didn't. I went into the final set, made a rash bet and ended up having to get out for a large red. I was fuming. Nothing had gone right for me and I just lost all the calmness and composure that I was doing so well to maintain. I thought I had calmed down enough for the Monterrey games but I ended up not greening up on the Pous-Tio game when I could have come out for a decent profit. As always, it reversed on me and I was all red and seriously pissed off. So I stuck a big wedge on Kerber to beat Hercog, a dead cert I thought...............

So I lost my rag once again. Yet looking back, I should have had 3 greens and two medium size reds from 6 games and certainly should have got something from the Kerber game too. I just couldn't contain my frustration at those missed opportunities and thrown away profit. I haven't got the mental strength to cope at the moment. I had no reason to be that upset today, it was just one of those days where the luck doesn't quite go your way.

I waited till late night for the Rezai game and mentally, I felt fine. I had another hypnotherapy session and I started the game with a steely edge that I was not going to be beaten by this mental torture and would battle through. But it made no difference. Even though I executed my trades perfectly, they did not go for me at any stage and I had to red out. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. In the end, I did both. Sorry no P&L today but I don't have the nerve to look at it. I feel like I'm at the bottom of a deep well, clambering up the sides to get out but keep slipping after a short while and falling back down. I know if I can just get near the top, I'll be ok but right now, I can't even see any daylight.

Walking the Tightrope

So I've established that there is a fine line of confidence that has to be walked in order to be successful as a trader. You can slip off that tightrope if you get under or over-confident. For 2 weeks I've been under-confident. Following hypnotherapy and a few wins, I was nudged off the tightrope due to a brief moment of over-confidence. Today, I will get back on the line and try to adjust myself so that I can acheive the right balancing act.

I worked out that there is one technique that could manage to keep me on the straight and narrow - talking. I've mentioned in previous posts that talking aloud through each point and summing up what is happening and how it affects my strategy, keeps me more focused. It enables me to plan ahead of time the trades that I'm going to place. So instead of making snap decisions on the spur of the moment, I am ready a couple of points beforehand, so I know my get-in point will definitely be part of my strategy AND I will have time to think about my get-out point if it goes wrong.

I've noticed that most of my losses tend to come when I have not been talking to myself and so have not pre-planned a trade. I just suddenly think 'Ooh, this looks like a good entry time, quick, before it goes!' and without thinking, I've clicked on the ladder and the bet is on its way. Then when it goes wrong, I freeze-up in shock and don't react quickly enough because I don't have a pre-defined get-out point. Before hypnotherapy, I was doing this because I was scared of missing out on a win. Now, I have begun to do it because I'm so confident it will win, I'm not prepared for it to go wrong. Hopefully, talking and planning ahead will acheive a greater balance.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Mental Midgets

Today I witnessed two of the worst displays of mental strength I've ever seen. The first was from Janko Tipsarevic. I'm still sitting here now in disbelief at how he failed to win the Delray Beach final. Juan Martin Del Potro was on his last legs. He could barely run for the ball and was doubled over after every long point. He tried to keep each point short with drop-shots and to finish quickly with mammoth ground strokes. I've never seen a player so obviously shot - he even said pre-match that he was tired. It was affecting his game too - some terrible serves and weak forehands he was hitting easily for winners the rest of the week. But the mental midget that was his opponent, suddenly lost his mind as he went ahead. It was as if he couldn't handle the expectation on his shoulders, as he shifted from underdog to favourite. His excellent early form disappeared and he was sending simple shots wide and long and into the net. He let Del Potro back into the game, went behind and never recovered. Del Potro gave up trying to win return games in the second set and just concentrated on his own serve - it was enough. He saved about 14 break points. Tipsarevic was just a disgrace.

Unfortunately, the other mental midget is me. Tipsarevic well and truly stuffed me. But it was my fault. I had a lovely early green and should have left it at that. But when I saw Delpo fading, I lumped on Janko and never got out as I was sure he couldn't possibly throw away such a huge advantage. I guess I now know why the Serb has never won an ATP tour final.

I had another hypnotherapy session today and felt fantastic going into the match. But I think I was TOO confident. Once I'd got the early profit, I was so pumped that I felt almost invincible, that I couldn't possibly lose, especially on such an obvious gift. Striking the right balance of confidence is the key to trading in my opinion. Get under-confident and you start losing belief in your strategy and all the things you were doing well. Get over-confident and you start to get lax, make silly errors and try for too much. It's such a fine line between success and failure in this game, which is why I keep saying you have to keep expectations neutral. I didn't today and that's why I lost. I expected Tipsarevic to win and when it went wrong, I didn't accept it. Tipsarevic felt that he was expected to win because of Delpo's fatigue and this caused him to feel more pressure which lead to a lack of confidence in himself. We are both mental midgets.

Positives? I had an all-green book with my 4th winning trade in a row. I was patient at the start and did not jump in early. I followed the strategy initially. I did not get angry afterwards and took it on the chin. I did not place any rash trades to recoup the loss. And most importantly, I don't feel disenchanted. For half an hour, I was dejected but it quickly passed. That is undoubtedly the hypnotherapy at work. If that was earlier in the week, I would have been smashing my fist into walls, boiling over with rage and berating myself for hours. But now, I'm calm, I still feel confident and I'm positive I am going to do well next week. I do feel mentally stronger and I think in any other situation, I would have come out of that trade as soon as it went wrong. But that idiot Tipsarevic did the unthinkable and I wasn't prepared for it. I will never again let myself believe that I am ever 100% going to win a trade. I have to learn from this and always prepare for the worst. I'm confident that I will. I'm going to to become a mental giant.

Saturday, 26 February 2011


You can probably guess what I did wrong for the WTA Doha Final loss - that's right, I got in too early AND at the wrong point. Again. I hadn't even followed the game as I went straight from the ATP Dubai final into Doha. It was literally the first point I saw played and I got involved! It went badly against me and I was all-red in no time. The really excruciating thing is that I managed to whittle it down to zero but didn't come out! I stayed in too long and it reversed all the way back. I ended up losing most of the Dubai profit.

I have to admit I also made mistakes on the Dubai final. My initial trade went against me immediately and I froze again. This is exactly what I mentioned in my last post. I was so shocked that my very first trade of the day was going wrong AGAIN, that I couldn't handle it and stayed in an extra point. The movement was huge on that point and I spent most of the rest of the game working down the red. These are mistakes that I would not be making if I wasn't in such a rut.

The commentators on Delray Beach Semi Finals were talking a lot about the 'brain game' within tennis. The mental side of the game is almost identical to that required when trading. In tennis, more time is spent NOT playing than actually involved in points - the same with trading, where you spend most of the time waiting for opportunities. This in itself brings with it a great deal of pressure and mind control. Then of course you have the psychology aligned with confidence and form. Tennis players talk of having 'amnesia', where they want to reach a state where they forget what happened in the last point or last game, so it doesn't affect how they play in the following game. Same with trading! God, how I wish I had amnesia! But that's the hardest part, keeping everything neutral, keeping emotions in check, staying in the present and playing each point the same. It's the mental side of tennis that separates the average players from the best - and that's no different with trading. Except that if you have natural talent, you can still do well in tennis without great mental strength. In trading, you MUST have mental strength or you'll end up a loser.

Thankfully, these mental deficiencies can be overcome - you only have to look at Doha winner Vera Zvonareva to see that. She was a mental head-case just a year or two ago! Very much like me, I must admit! But look at her now. So consistent and level-headed, rarely smashes her racquet or starts mad, chuntering conversations with herself anymore. You can see that she really has to struggle to suppress it all though, it's always there just simmering under the surface, threatening to explode. I would definitely be a racquet smasher and probably a head-under-the-towel type too!
That said, I'm very pleased with the way I remained calm and dug out a win in the Djokovic v Federer clash. Again, I kept my anger bottled up and didn't do anything rash.

When I returned for the evening games, I'd undergone a session of hypnotherapy. Did it work? Well, I'm in profit for the first day in ages. I've strung together 3 wins for the first time in a while. And I've not had a loss! I felt really confident and was full of energy following the session. I was actually looking forward to trading for the first time this week. Most importantly, I was patient. I didn't even play the Nishikori v Tipsarevic game, as I felt there wasn't a solid enough opportunity. And if I hadn't gotten into the Almagro game so late, I would've made a much bigger green. But I definitely felt different, far more positive. No tennis tomorrow, so I'll be having another session and a damn good rest before next week's WTA. Let's hope this is a true turning point.


It's funny how things tend to seem better in the morning. I was able to have a lie in for the first time all week and all of a sudden, I was viewing things with much greater clarity. Instead of getting straight into trading, I analysed why I could possibly still be making the same mistakes over and over, even though I know they will cost me.

As I'd already established, I am placing riskier trades that do not follow my strategy because I'm becoming more desperate to make money quickly due to my dwindling funds. I think I am becoming steadier emotionally AFTER a bad trade and during it. But the issue is really BEFORE I place the trade. I keep jumping the gun with my itchy trigger finger because I am scared of missing out on an opportunity. Also, because I'm entering trades at points which are not part of my strategy, I don't have a pre-defined get-out point. This causes me to almost freeze-up as things go against me - I know I need to react but I can't do it as I'm unsure at what point I should get out. Instead, I just sit there in shock as the red gets bigger and bigger until I either come out for a large loss or stay in with my whole stake at risk, wishing and praying to the betting Gods.

So basically, I need to do just one thing; stop myself from being so impatient and using get-in points that are not part of my strategy. But this will mean getting rid of the underlying desperation driven by fear that I won't make money and be successful.

I've spoken about reaching 'rock bottom' before. I am definitely there now as a trader - on my worst ever run and down to my bare bones of a bank. In life, when you hit rock bottom there are two ways you can go - either end it all or get help. I know all about this because I've been at rock bottom in life. I won't go into it in too much detail but basically, I suffered most of my life from an extreme social anxiety, a fear of people. It was severely debilitating and prevented me from doing even basic things that everyone takes for granted. I spent most of my life indoors, had few friends, crappy jobs on minimum wage and was constantly depressed and paranoid. Once I hit rock bottom, I made the decision to seek help and I did this through hypnotherapy.

Just one session completely changed my life. My fears of other people disappeared instantly and as the months went by I started to do more and more positive things that I'd never done before. This gave me back my self-esteem and a supreme confidence that I could achieve anything that I wanted to. And I did! I became a DJ and club promoter, then moved into teaching, started a new life moving away from my home town to London and fulfilled a dream to travel the world, all within just a few years. I guess that's one of the reasons why I won't give up on trading. I have that inner-belief that I can achieve whatever I want to.

Anyway, something that one of the posters on my blog wrote (Tradeshark) on his own blog, struck a chord with me. He had been through a similar patch as I'm experiencing and turned to hypnotherapy to help him out. It seems to have worked for him. It was something I had considered, returning to hypnosis, but I guess I thought I could work through this period without any help. I've now changed my mind!

There's a lot of stigma and misnomers about hypnosis, the biggest one being that when you are 'under', you don't know what is going on and can be made to do stuff against your will and never be normal again. All hypnosis involves is putting someone into a deep state of relaxation, a trance. This sounds weirder than it is because we all go into a trance every day at some point - daydreaming is a trance-like state. The aim is to get the person so relaxed that their subconscious mind opens up to become more receptive to new thoughts. The subconscious is what drives us to act and think as we do, even though most of the time we don't realise why. It's where our fears and phobias are stored. The hypnotherapist asks you to imagine new scenarios and emotions which should replace the fears in the subconscious. The process is all strangely normal actually. You know exactly what is going on at all times, can hear background noise such as passing cars or birds and never once did I feel as though I was out of control or didn't know what was going on.

I'm not saying it is the answer to all our problems. It won't work for everyone, some people are just not receptive to it and as in any profession, there are good and bad therapists. But there is nothing to lose from trying it, apart from a few quid, and a hell of a lot to gain potentially. I can actually perform self-hypnosis, so will be giving it a shot to see if I can get my head right for trading. I figure that if I can just get rid of the fear of not being successful which drives me to be impatient and do desperate things, I will conquer tennis trading. Let's see how it goes later today..............

Friday, 25 February 2011


This is what I feel like shouting, for a very elongated period. Why won't it just sink in? Why do I keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again? After the two poor early trades from yesterday, I went and repeated the exact same mistakes, not once but TWICE today! The only difference was, I was so frustrated that I didn't just accept the loss, I went back into the matches. The only difference between the two games was that one ended up green (Djokovic) and the other one red (Jankovic) - HUGE red. The end result for the two would have been almost identical if I'd just accepted the early red but I would've saved myself a bucket-load of stress.

I'm trying to look for positives but it's becoming harder and harder now. The main one is that my strategy would have produced a win in both games - as usual. I also managed to suppress my anger, though it didn't do a great deal of good today as I still acted rashly. I had an idea to recoup much of the loss on the Nishikori v Sweeting game but decided that I should act differently for once and shut down the PC and take a break. So much for doing the right thing - my idea would have paid off if I'd done it. This had the potential to send me into a blazing frenzy of fury but I guess the break did work, as by the time I found out about the Nishikori result, I was far more rational and had already decided to just crack on at a steady pace and not take any risks. I placed a speculative bet on Larsson v Parra Santonja and it couldn't have gone more horribly wrong - 6 games lost on the spin for the Swede. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Even the Almagro win left a sour taste as I really didn't do the right thing here (though end result would have been similar with my correct strategy).

I'm drained now, absolutely shattered. There are only a couple of matches on tomorrow, so I'm going to take the time out to refresh my mind and re-evaluate where I am right now. That should be fun.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Gambler's Cycle

You know what I'm talking about! Here's mine:

A) Nice full bank, pressure off, strategy memorised and raring to go. A few small reds here and there but that's to be expected. I can handle that, it's all about consistency and I just need to keep following the strategy.

B) Not long before I'm in 'the zone', where every trade seems so smooth, quick and easy. Nothing to this trading lark, right?

C) Start to get over-confident. I'm doing well, won't hurt to try something a little different, move things along a tad quicker. It works, so I try a bit more of a gamble, let one or two trades run longer. I can do no wrong, why not?!

D) Stray from the strategy one time too many or take my eye off the ball and suffer a big loss. I'm pissed off now. Will try to recoup it on the next game.

E) Next game is a loss. Would have been a win but I stayed in for too long trying to recoup the last game's losses. Now I'm really frustrated.

F) Become bothered by things which did not bother me at the start - failure to get matched, not staying in longer and missing more profit etc. I make silly mistakes and become enraged and in a fit of fury decide to chase just one more time, to recoup all those recent losses in one go. It fails.

G) Bank is now decimated. I have lost all confidence in my strategy, start to question it. I try experimenting with new ideas but without testing them out first. I think I may have found something better but the wins are only short term. In the mean time, I'm losing out on opportunities for my strategy and getting more angry.

H) Decide to go back to basics and use my own strategy all the time. But I'm impatient now, can't wait for the opportunities to come to me and start forcing things. When an opportunity does arise, I'm too tentative, scared to lose and so go in with half stakes or wait too long. I miss out on good greens that I used to get easily. The reds are now outweighing the greens.

I) Pressure is massive now that money is drying up and I become desperate, putting on straight bets, riding them all the way to the end of the match. I don't even bother researching properly or following the game, I just place them and pray. Eventually get caught out and my bank is almost empty.

J) Decide I've hit rock bottom and have no option but to just start again, slowly building up small greens. I follow the strategy rigidly. I have a stuttering start - small greens and small reds in equal amounts. Can't get any rhythm going as too emotionally drained to concentrate - still making small errors.

K) Greens start to slowly filter through and reds lessen. Confidence returns along with enthusiasm. Eventually return to step A.

I'm currently at step J, as you can see from today's P&L. This blog has seen me through the whole cycle now! This time, I must break it. Thanks for all the encouragement that you guys have posted, it has helped spur me on for another crack at this.

I started badly today by once more getting involved too early. But this time, I held my anger inside and quickly ended trading at around the £50 mark, as per my rules. I am really pleased with my reaction following this. I just got my head down and played two of the most perfect trades I have ever placed on the Bartoli and Wozniacki games. I then was doing ok with the Simon v Gasquet game when I was caught offguard by an unexpected over-reaction from the market at the end of the 2nd set. I was about to get out for a scratch trade when money piled in for Simon - completely wrong as Gasquet was well on top. But it put me back in the red and I had to accept a loss, almost getting myself in very hot water. This lead to me getting pissed off and placing a trade I wouldn't normally do on Mannarino but I quickly regained my composure without hystrionics and ended the day well. So no profit but undoubtedly, I feel different to yesterday. Less angry, more calm. Time for stage K...........

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Struggling On

I should have stopped really. I'm not sure what made me continue; pride? Stupidity? Probably a bit of both! Maybe it was the fact that no matter how often I analyse and look back on my trades, the same thing just keeps screaming back at me, full volume - YOU WOULD BE IN PROFIT IF YOU JUST STUCK TO YOUR STRATEGY!!! And it's true. That's what drives me to start over each day. I would've given up long ago if I didn't analyse my trades. I used to do the same when I bet on the football but this gave me the opposite results. I realised that the months when I came out with huge profit were actually no different to the months where I lost heavily. It was just a couple of results either way that made the difference. But with the tennis, I would have been in profit EVERY SINGLE DAY since I started this blog. That's both a brilliant and a sickening statistic at the same time. I would have had losses still but the greens would have glossed over them. Yesterday, for example, I worked out the following (approx amounts, rounded up) would have happened if I'd stuck to my strategy:

Golubev v Mayer +15

Davydenko v Berdych +20

Schiavone v Peng +40

Hantuchova v Dushevina £0

Jankovic v Mirza +£25

Lopez v Djokovic +30

Pennetta v Safarova £0

Cibulkova v Zvonareva +20

That was £150 profit BEFORE I'D EVEN PLAYED THE EVENING GAMES! There was no point where I would've lost because all my losses were due to things that were not part of my strategy. I backed Cibulkova on serve - I never do this with WTA! I WAS actually £40 green on the Schiavone game but went back in for more - I never go back in when I've made that much! I would not have lost the Pennetta game because I would never even have traded it as part of my strategy.

So I marched onwards into the evening and after a shaky start, I was back in the green again. Always good to finish the day in a positive light. I am now more determined than ever to keep going. During the Dodig game, I fought hard to batten down my anger as I made an early mistake. It was the first time I've ever managed to keep it bottled up, remain calm and knock down the amount of red. It was a very strange feeling. I could feel the frustration pulsing within my chest, like volcanic lava about to spew out into the wilderness. I had to literally force the scowl off my face and take a few deep breaths to suppress it. It worked. No banging of my chair, no smacking of my forehead, no crying out to the heavens, just some lip-biting.

I realise this makes me seem like I need anger management classes but if you met me, you would be surprised at how placid I am. I have never had a full blown argument with anyone in my entire life! I've only been involved in a fight once and that was when a kid at school was picking on me. I don't even recall ever shouting at anyone. But trading brings out a side of me that frankly, even I am frightened of! Anyway, with losses for the day trimmed down, I decided to soldier on with the last few remaining pounds for another day...........

Rock Bottom

For probably the first time in my whole year of trading, I woke up feeling negative. My stake is now the same as my entire bank - in fact, it's smaller than my usual stake. I had lost all faith in myself and had no idea what I was going to do from one match to the next. I didn't sleep well last night due to a muscle I strained in my back because I punched the walls so hard yesterday. All in all, I was not looking forward to today and fully expected it to be my last ever day of trading.

Believe it or not, I was actually a much worse trader 6 months ago! I thought back to some of the things I used to do and have improved upon and it is startling:

1. My concentration is VASTLY improved. I used to watch TV at the same time as I traded. I would get involved in conversations on the Betfair forum during matches. I would even up and leave mid-trade to make food. My mind would wander aimlessly during games so that I had no idea how the players were playing. All of that is now gone. I'm 100% focused behind every point and have no distractions.

2. I would chase on the football. I haven't bet on it for months now but whenever I lost on the tennis I would try to recoup it on the soccer. I figured that if I made it back on another sport, it mattered more because I would not normally have won that money. If I just won it back on tennis, it wasn't really recouped because I would have placed that trade anyway. Warped. And cost me a lot of cash.

3. I would place huge risky bets in fits of rage, to chase losses. I once emptied my credit card of over £1000 and stuck it all on Manchester United to score a goal. There was only about 20 mins left in the game! With 3 mins to go, they were losing to Everton and I had never been so frightened in my life. Fortunately, Everton gave away a lame penalty right at the end and Ronaldo stuck it home - I went ballistic! I also once lost £1000 on one match and so immediately put my last £100 on Barcelona to lose 0-1 at home to Osasuna (I backed the current score). An hour of nail biting later and I won back the whole grand! Stupid times!

4. I was terrible at trading ATP, just could not make money out of it. I barely even bothered watching men's games, I would nearly always lose. This year, my ATP trading has improved ten-fold and I am now almost as comfortable trading it as I am with WTA.

5. I did not treat trading professionally. I'd be constantly late and would miss the start of games. I wouldn't check to see how far behind my stream was. I would have 3 or 4 matches on the go at once. Sometimes I'd just dive into matches that were half way through, with no idea what was going on. I'd be getting ready for a night out at the same time as trying to trade. It was all a mess.

So despite all this improvement, how come I haven't got anywhere financially? I now realise that it is impatience and that is because I've become desperate. The closer that I get to losing all my money, the more desperate I've become, getting involved too quickly in trades, letting them run longer and getting more and more frustrated every time I miss an opportunity or don't make as much as I should have. This is why things have nose-dived lately. The only way I can get out of this is to forget about the financial situation and just take my time and follow the strategy. In the past, I've always managed to do this after a bad spell but I knew I had plenty of my bank left and so was more relaxed and more patient. Now, I can't quite get over the anxiety of losing everything.

Today was a carbon copy of yesterday; a perfect start, calm and sticking to the strategy. But after a few missed opportunities I started to get frustrated and put on a bad trade. Following that, I just lost it again on one game with a trade I would never normally do and didn't rectify the error.

They say you have to hit rock bottom before you are able to make the changes needed to turn things around. This applies to addicts of all kinds and to those who have been through bad patches in life. Well I'm there now. How ironic that the girl who has probably dealt me the final blow is the one in the background of this very blog - Dominika Cibulkova.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

On the Precipice

I woke up this morning with tremendous energy. Year Zero began badly but I felt as though the first day was almost like I was cleansing myself of the old demons. Best to get them out of the way on day one so I can move forward freely. Today, I was 100% certain that I would stick to my strategy and things would start to improve.

Kohlschreiber v Troicki

Great start, just what I needed. Thought about going back in for more profit but realised I just needed to get a win of any kind and left it.

Lopez v Lu

Another splendid trade but sod's law, Lu retired at 5-0. One more game, Lu, one more game!! Where's your tennis etiquette? FINISH THE SET! Is it just me or are players now deliberately retiring BEFORE the end of the set? This is the 5th retirement I've seen recently with the score one game away from the set. Maybe they all realise what it means in terms of betting and voids? I wasn't happy but these things happen, it was just my current luck that it would happen just when I was starting to get some momentum. Empty pot for The Sultan.

Pennetta v Zheng

I have to hold my hand up and admit that I did not follow my strategy to the letter here. However, there were extenuating circumstances which threw up an opportunity I felt was too good to ignore. Sometimes you need to adapt your strategy to take into account unusual opportunities and so I felt vindicated as I was 99% sure this move would work. Plus, I badly needed a good win as I was starting to feel agitated after the Lu retirement!

Hantuchova v Azarenka

The first time my anger spilled out today. I had a decent green but let it slide back to a red. After that, nothing I did seemed to go my way and I was stressed to the max. So I left the PC, hit a few walls, had a cuppa tea and returned to the final set and whittled down the red. I kept my head at least, didn't do anything drastic but the loss of momentum I was gaining was a real downer.

Youhzny v Simon

Just completely lost it. Didn't stick to my strategy and didn't rectify the mistake immediately. Decided to just red out for £125 and not risk making it worse. Again, I was too impatient - I did something I don't think I have ever even done before, that's how stupid it was. This is it now. One more major mistake and I'm dead and buried.

Jovanovski v Mirza

Well I've gotta tell you guys, I thought it was all over. I followed my strategy but nothing was going my way, just like the Azarenka game. I lost my head and started putting in risky trades, digging myself even deeper. I don't know how I got out of it, it is all a blur. Towards the end of the match I suddenly saw light at the end of the tunnel and managed to manoeuvre my way out for a good win. I'm still hanging on in there by the skin of my teeth!

Dulko v Tatishvilli

Honestly don't know what I was thinking here. Foolish, just foolish.

Starace v Cuevas

A desperate straight bet. It lost.

The prognosis? Year Zero isn't working! I think it's because of the added pressure I now have because I am down to the last of my remaining funds. I think this has made me even more impatient to get involved and start racking up profit. I start the day fine but once one or two things go against me, the pressure builds and I go and do something stupid, expecting the win and not preparing for when it goes wrong. By the time I do something about it, it's too late - huge red.

But at this stage, there really is nothing more I can change. I guess mentally, I just don't have it and I never will. I don't even have the enthusiasm anymore. The last two bets were just hopeless chasing, nothing to do with trading. I may return tomorrow, I may not. Right now, Centre Court Trading is just about over.

Monday, 21 February 2011

The End is Nigh

So much for year zero. It's been a frustrating day of mistakes, missed opportunities and sheer bad luck. In order to highlight this, I'll go through each game one by one, with details of what happened and SHOULD have happened if I'd followed my strategy properly.

Almagro v Chela

No problems here, did everything right and profited.

Raonic v Roddick

Dreadful mistake. Was too impatient as I was over-confident. I didn't expect what happened and was taken by surprise - always be prepared for the trade to go wrong. Was lucky to get out with just a £70 loss. If I'd followed my strategy properly, I would still have lost but less than half that amount.

Gulbis v Berrer

Did everything correctly but luck didn't quite go my way when I needed it. Happy with what I did, just no reward. Cheers Gulbis.

Dimitrov v Gasquet

Perfect trading.

Groth v Bacsinszky

Entered a low liquidity market. Trade was fine but realised I should not have gotten involved. If it had gone wrong, I would've been in a lot of trouble. Greened early and left alone.

Kleybanova v Bartoli

A complete balls up. Did not stick to my strategy, too impatient again and got in too early. If I had followed my strategy, this was a win and would've been a very good green.

Safarova v Radwanska

Couldn't get matched in time or would have been out early with profit. Then waited for ages but got impatient and placed an idiotic bet. I came out for a small red which turned into a large one with an even more stupid bet right at the death. If I'd used my strategy correctly, this was an all green book.

Petrova v Vinci

Did trade this one correctly but the numbskull that is Petrova could not make the easy shots that would've given me profit. Very frustrating but could not be angry with myself as I followed my strategy well.

Mello v Schuettler

Another perfect trade but ruined by going back in and looking for more profit. I was seething aftterwards. I really needed a win, just any sort of profit, to get me in the right frame of mind but I threw it away.

Blake v Becker

Horrible game where everything I did went wrong. Followed strategy properly at first but as things went against me, I felt the anger starting to bubble until I reached boiling point in the final set and lost my head. I went in LARGE on Blake but quickly reversed when I realised the potential down-side. I came out unscathed but the frustrations of the whole day almost did for me.

What it all boils down to is another poor day that yet again, should have been profitable. Much punching of walls ensued today. Don't worry, I had boxing gloves on! Positives? Plenty. I just need to stick to my strategy. But I don't. Having such a horror start with the Memphis final didn't help and I think has played on my mind. But at least I got out of all my mistakes before they turned really nasty. Unfortunately though, the negative looming large is that my funds are drying up. If I don't stop those mistakes NOW then the end is nigh.......

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Year Zero

Well, I've done it again. Complete and utter capitulation. Just one inexplicable trade has brought me to my knees. Once more, just as it seems I was getting out, I got pulled back in to the gambler's mindset. I'm starting to think that I will just never get it.

How did it happen? Well, the Nalbandian loss from yesterday was still playing on my mind. I would have gone to bed but decided to play the Memphis WTA final and try and recoup some of the loss. There were no TV pictures and this proved fatal in the end - Rebecca Marino retired at the end of the first set. Guess who layed her opponent, Rybarikova, at the end of the first set!?

I was stunned rather than angry. There wasn't really anything I could have done to prevent it. Or maybe there was. If I hadn't been so angry at not taking the green I had on Nalbandian and ending up red, I would never have played the Memphis final. Maybe I should have been more careful. Retirements are most common at the end of the first set and I didn't have pictures. I should really have waited to see if play continued before trading. A trader should always be prepared for any situation and I wasn't. But who figures anyone is gonna retire in a final? After the fortnight I'd had, with Betfair outages and betting on the wrong market etc, I guess I thought I'd had all my bad luck for the year out the way - how wrong I was.

I obviously was still in the wrong frame of mind when I continued today. Even though I said to myself 'It's ok, it won't take long to make it back, it's just a minor blip and there was nothing I could have done', I clearly did not take it on board. The demons inside of me took hold and I changed strategy for the Marseille final. The thing is, it worked! I was £50 green after half an hour. Normally, I would take that happily and close the trade but oh no, it wasn't enough for the greedy Sultan. I wanted to recoup ALL of the Marino money in one go. You can guess the rest............

So there you have it. 3 large losses, 2 of them which should have been greens. Sickening isn't the word. Once more, I analysed what happened:

1. I fixated on the amount of green I had in the Nalbandian game. It wasn't large enough, so I stayed in for more. Why? TOO IMPATIENT.

2. I tried to get it back on the Marino game, despite the fact I was tired and would have gone to bed. Why? TOO IMPATIENT. Couldn't wait till tomorrow.

3. I was now frustrated and angry and this led to me changing strategy for the Soderling game. Why? TOO IMPATIENT. I couldn't be bothered to wait and employ my usual strategy in case I didn't make any money.

4. It worked but I didn't take the excellent profit and stayed in for more. Why? TOO IMPATIENT. I wanted all the Marino losses recouped immediately.

All my bad habits can be traced back to this one crucial personality disorder - IMPATIENCE. Even though I know I have it, I can't seem to suppress it. So I'm going to have one final attempt to overcome my impatience. I am 99.99% certain that if I can bottle up my impatience, I will become a consistent, successful trader. But this next week will be my last attempt. I can't go on anymore after this. I'm too drained and stressed to keep going through the cycle of emotional rollercoaster week-in, week-out. So if I don't have consistency and decent profit by the end of next week, it's over. Here are the final measures I will take to remain patient:


It's been one year since I started trading but I am re-setting the time. I'm basically saying 'forget about the past year'. All that has happened is water under the bridge. Forget the awful losses, the lack of discipline, the lost time. Today marks the start of a new beginning. I will act as if I'm new to trading again. My aim is to recreate the way I traded 12 months ago, when I was ultra-careful and stuck resolutely to my strategy. The baggage of my mistakes over the past year is what is making me impatient, so I need to get rid of it and start afresh, so I don't feel as much weight on my shoulders. There are no losses to chase and no regrets to ruminate over, it's a clean slate. Year Zero starts as of now and I hope that in one year's time, I will look back on February 20th as the day when my successful trading life began. My key rules will be this:

1. Keep talking to myself throughout the day. I need to re-iterate the word 'Patience' to myself as often as possible. It sounds crazy but if you get used to saying the word, you get used to thinking it. I'm also going to write it on my hand so it is always there as a reminder.

2. Bottle up my frustration during trading and let it out AFTER trading. Getting angry during a trade can only lead to losing control but releasing the tension afterwards is a great tactic to keep you calm for the next trade.

3. Start taking profit more often and staying in trades for shorter periods. I need to keep reminding myself not to be a gambler. The more I start cutting trades short and quickly taking smaller green or smaller reds, the less risky situations I will end up in. Once I get used to this, it should become second nature.

4. STICK TO MY STRATEGY!!! IT WORKS!! Again, I just need to constantly tell myself this through the day. A sign is going up on my wall so I can see this at all times.

Wish me luck.................

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Becoming Wozniacki

It's now been 3 days since I implemented my new rules. As you can see, things are going ok so far. There are only 2 major losses and only one of them is over the circa-£50 mark which I now am trying to always get out at. However, I'm not entirely happy with the way things have gone so far. Looking much deeper into those results shows me two really important things:

1. Almost all of the losses I've had were at one stage during the trade, a win. I had an opportunity to get out with some green but did not take it, eventually ending up red.

2. I still have a massive issue with my anger / frustration and the rules I have in place are not enough.

Rule no. 5 has been the biggest problem - I am still fixating on the amount of money. I basically have been taking too many risks. I am not thinking enough like a trader, staying in the trades for short amounts of time. Instead, I fixate on the money; it either looks too small a profit to green up or too large a loss to red up. This leads to me staying in the trade for a few points or even a few games too long. Then, when things turn against me, I don't accept I've made a mistake, which leads to a loss. That is when I get REALLY angry and lose control because I know I should not have made such a daft gamble. Going from green to red is the thing which riles me more than anything.

The Nalbandian v Robredo game I was actually £20 green on but stupidly thought I could get more, despite the fact I had just gotten myself out of a large red. The match turned against me and I had to red out. But at least I did get out - that's some progress. But not enough. My gambler's mentality took over, got greedy and wanted more. Tennis matches can swing so quickly and so violently that you can't afford to relax for one moment and think you can always predict the future.

Afterwards, I got extremely vexed and made the mistake of going straight into the Raonic v Fish game, which was into the 2nd set. The 'red mist' came down and I stuck a bet on Raonic, hoping to recover my Nalbandian loss. I soon realised I'd made a huge error as Fish took the set. My emotions were out of control and I broke down. Fortunately, the wonder-kid from Canada blew Mardy Pish out the water in the 3rd set and I greened up. But it could have ended up with a gigantic loss.

If I was a tennis player, looking at today's matches, I'd be Svetlana Kuznetsova or David Nalbandian - brilliant one moment, bloody awful the next! Zero consistency, you never know what will happen next. But I need to be like Juan Martin Del Potro or Caroline Wozniacki - consistent, mentally strong, showing very little emotion. They'd be great traders! I now realise that I need to add a new rule; 'After a loss, SWITCH OFF the PC'. It really is the only way I definitely won't lose control. I can then calm down and come back and act more like a sane person!

But looking at the positives, I have done everything else on the list of rules really well. Talking through every game, in particular, has helped me. I just now need to remember to keep my trades short and don't get greedy and go for more. I have actually thrown away some large wins because of this. It's that all important word again - PATIENCE. But things are improving, no doubt about it.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Controlling the Demons

It has been exactly one year since I first started tennis trading, my first tournament being the WTA Dubai. Have I improved that much since then? In almost every respect, yes. My knowledge of tennis and the markets is as you'd expect, much stronger and I have honed my strategy to something I'm now very comfortable with. But I would have to say that my discipline is worse. When I started out I used tiny stakes and followed my strategy very closely simply because I didn't know what I was doing and was scared of getting it wrong.

I actually started very well and got too confident too soon. It wasn't long before I started making mistakes, edging away from the strategy and losing discipline as the gambler's mentality took over. As I've mentioned before, I had been betting on football for years and had dozens of ingrained bad habits. These eventually took over but because my knowledge of tennis and the markets was getting better, I just assumed that it wouldn't matter - the more I learnt, the better I would get and I wouldn't make the same mistakes. This is the wrong attitude. You have to sort out the mindset or it won't matter how much you know or how good your strategy is.

Eventually, I realised this and knew that I had to change. At the end of last year I gave my trading a thorough analysis, following some reading up on financial trading and the mentality required. I studied every bet I made in minute detail and came to the following conclusions:

1. My strategy was fine and would be profitable consistently if I stuck to it.

2. I didn't stick to it because I was being too impatient or losing concentration.

3. I was making silly mistakes sometimes because I was not treating trading professionally enough.

So I bought a new laptop with a better processor, started analysing every trade, started taking supplements to boost concentration, energy and mental sharpness (Korean Ginseng tea and Omega 3 Fish Oil) - these all worked. But they don't stop me making rash emotional decisions in the moment of the trade.

This week, I've come to a realisation - I cannot trust myself. In the heat of the moment, I cannot control my emotions enough to do the right thing every time. I have considered this for many months but never really done enough to try and rectify this. Today, that all changes. So here is what I plan to do to rectify this:

1. Go through a checklist of things to make sure my mindset is right before I start. I will basically be asking myself whether I'm in the right frame of mind to trade i.e. am I tired, hungry, comfortable, focused, prepared etc. If I don't tick all the boxes, I don't trade.

2. Talk through every match. Speak to myself about exactly what is happening and how that relates to my strategy. This helps to keep me focused and rationalise the situation.

3. Use breathing techniques when I start to feel frustrated or angry. These help to calm me and suppress the 'red mist' phase.

4. Stretch and drink regularly. Keeping hydrated and exercising helps to keep the body comfortable and mind focused.

5. Don't fixate on the money. I find I make many mistakes because I am more worried about the amount I'm making rather than just getting the win and building consistency.

6. Red out at minus £50 EVERY time. Accept the loss and move on.

7. Move away from the PC after a loss. Go for a walk, listen to music, lift some weights and get rid of the frustration before trading again.

8. Only post on the blog at the end of the day!!!

It's all about replacing old bad gambling habits with new good trader's habits - it won't happen over-night. Let's see how it goes............

Monday, 14 February 2011

Time Out 2

This time, I mean it! I've had an atrocious day. Just when I thought things were on the mend, disaster struck - 2 horrific trades which have made today my worst of the year. I've decided not to post up the p&l today as it hurts too much right now and will be taking a proper break for a while. I've realised that I'm spending too much time on this blog and it has affected my trading. I'm not saying it is to blame for my results entirely but it hasn't helped my discipline in the way I hoped it would.

I have a massive problem with patience and discipline and writing on here as well as reading other blogs and becoming distracted by what others are doing, has affected this. I need to be more professional and spend more time getting my trading spot on before I start up a blog. Once I'm more stable and consistent and can trust myself not to make silly mistakes, I will be back. Although I feel like giving up today, I know that before this blog started, I was going in the right direction, so I need to stop and get back to the basics, without any distractions. Thanks for reading, happy trading!

The Sultan

Sunday, 13 February 2011

It only takes a second......

Today you will see why it is such a challenge for me to become a successful trader. After two fantastic days where I'd not only steadied the ship but gone on to produce consistent wins with very little fuss just by doing the basics, I did something inexplicable.

I started today well, mindful of my poor opening trades this past week and claimed another decent win on the Hantuchova v Errani final. There were a few hours till the next tradeable match as the Dubai WTA games on offer were all very low liquidity. I normally would not play any match with under 50,000 matched or if the ladders looked gappy but I just couldn't help myself, I just had to get involved. I made a snap decision on the Pavlyuchenkova v Camerin game, took a price that was way too low and then to cap it all, the scoreboard went dead - I had no idea what was going on and couldn't work it out from the price movements cos the liquidity was so poor. When the scores reappeared, I was up to my balls in red and there was very little way of getting matched at a reasonable price. This my friends, is why you should never trade on low liquidity markets.

I redded out for a hefty loss rather than risk my whole stake but I was so livid that I began to worry where this was going to lead. I was seething at my own stupidity yet again and gave myself a good few smacks on the head! All I had to do was ignore the game, go away, chill for a bit, bask in the knowledge that I was at the beginning of a nice run of form but no, I just couldn't contain my impatience for a measly 2 hours.

I then paced around the room, talking myself through the catastrophe and calming myself down. I went to let off some tension by pumping a few weights, which helps get the aggression out of me. I rationalised the situation and as there were no more games for a while, settled down for some lunch. Refreshed and feeling a bit less self-destructive, I returned and gained excellent profit from both finals in Rotterdam and Paris.

But as you will know by now, I always analyse each bet and find out the true story behind them. I saw Clijsters was heinously low against THE form player of 2011, a girl who really should and almost certainly will be, top 10. So I laid her large. Fine so far but I have to admit, I stayed in much longer than normal because I wanted to recoup my Pav loss. It came off this time but I must remind myself, I'm not a gambler, I'm a trader. I even have a big sign on my wall to remind myself 'I AM A TRADER'!

Generally, I don't stay in any trade longer than a few points. My profit is normally gained very quickly and I wrap it up straight afterwards, going equal green on both players. Why risk losing it all by going back in? Why risk putting all the green on one player? You are only causing potentially more stress for yourself, plus, you have to stay and continue with the game. It's just more gambling and a good trader always tries to eliminate risk and play the percentages. Besides, I want to spend as little time as possible sat at my PC! Any chance I get to wrap up early and do something different, I grab with both hands.

I should have listened to this advice in the Soderling v Tsonga final. I went back in again, greedily, after taking a nice green, in an attempt to recoup more of that Pav loss and ended up red. Fortunately I turned it round but it was a major relief to just wrap things up and finish. I got involved later in the Memphis WTA though I only used half stakes as I was still a bit rattled from earlier on and the liquidity was only just about sufficient. I probably shouldn't have bothered in all honesty, I could do with a rest. All this tribulation is needless if I can just reign in my impatience. Why do I always have to do things the hard way?!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Turning Tide?

I clearly have an issue first thing in the morning! I've messed up on several of my first trades of the day this week and realise it's a pattern that goes back a long way. I think I am just so eager to start well but also so impatient, that I jump in too soon. It happened today during the Vinci v Errani tie. What a match it was! Two of my fave players to watch, sparring it out in Pattaya - these Italians really know how to play stylish, all-court tennis. Some of the slices and volleys and lobs and net-play were just sublime - some of the men could do with learning from these girls!

Unfortunately, my trading was not such a spectacle and I found myself with a nasty red from not taking my time and waiting for a 'gut-feeling' moment. I started to get angry but this time, I nipped it in the bud, kept a lid on and took the red. I stayed calm enough to work it down with some nimble sniping and settled for just a small loss. I have to admit, it is these kind of trades that are the most satisfying. All my other trades were green today but it was this one that I gained most pleasure from. I really had to work at it and stay calm and focused for a long period - good signs.

So has the tide turned? Well undoubtedly, I'm now sticking to my strategy much better. Today was almost faultless and my confidence is back to 100%. The challenge now becomes to remain grounded, neutral and fully-focused. None of the greens were massive but they were consistent and that should be all that matters. As I've said before, I can easily double my stakes, so as long as I stay steady the profit will potentially be very generous. Tomorrow, I will be setting out a new set of ground rules which I hope will enable me to keep that perfect trader's mindset and prevent what happened this week from ever happening again. My God, what a week, I'm shattered!

Friday, 11 February 2011

If Egypt can do it.........

I genuinely woke up this morning and felt different. I felt that yesterday things had started to turn but without the results. My first two trades were text-book and my confidence was returning. I placed a third trade on the Errani v Ivanovic game and was preparing to trade out when BANG - Betfair went down. Excuse my language but I need to vent; those fucking bastards at Bet-unfair screwed me over AGAIN!!!

Anyone with any hint of regard for their customer base would have pulled out all the stops to make sure that everyone was given the best possible information of any planned down time and with at least a few hours notice. Anyone with a modicum of sense would simply email every customer well beforehand, make the whole of the front page of the site dedicated to a huge message about it and also would place a note on every potentially affected market. But not at Bet-unfair. Those greedy c*nts don't give a fuck as long as we keep betting because they know we don't have an alternative. There was certainly no message on the home page when I looked in the morning and one only appeared later during the actual outage. A tiny square in the corner, barely noticeable, did remain afterwards but most people would probably bypass that. How I wish we would all do an Egypt and sow the seeds of revolution. We should all leave on mass and go to Betdaq, away from this dictatorship, where we won't get taxed for doing well and probably where we will be treated as though they actually care about us. Anyone fancy starting a revolution?

Anyway, during the few minutes of down-time, my trade turned into a massive red and I was completely gubbed. I could have come out for a smaller red but by then I was too pissed off and just let it ride. I lost the lot. I have never been so angry in my entire life. If I knew my neighbours were out, I would have screamed the walls down with pure animal rage. I completely flipped out, though in a macabre, silent way. I emptied myself of all the boiling frustration of the past few days until I was just a limp husk of a man. My energy and soul were drained of all emotion and I just sat in my swivel chair staring into the grey sky. At that point, I wanted to give up. You are probably thinking that maybe I should. But when I think of all the hard graft I've put in over the past year and all the analysis and research which shows that I'm just one last piece of the puzzle away from success, how can I? I have the strategy, the knowledge, the intuition, the experience, the passion for the game and I know what is needed for the correct mindset and I've done everything I can to improve it - but I don't have it yet. So near, yet oh so far.

I was so tired that I didn't even care what happened next. I noticed Petra Kvitova was a set down to Yaninna Wickmayer and casually tossed in a lay at low odds of the Belgian. She's known for throwing away leads and ice-cold Kvit is just the sort of player to demolish any inkling of a fragile mind. So it wasn't a completely senseless bet. But I would never normally just ignore the match and let it ride. So you can imagine my delight when up popped £250 into my account an hour or so later - fist pumps all-round! Kvitova won it in a final set tie-break to give me my largest ever tennis win! The relief must have been palpable. I felt as though I'd been given a reprieve. My mind was suddenly back in focus and my energy recouped.

I completed the rest of the day and was pretty normal service resumed. I still made some small mistakes but redded up early on the Cilic match instead of letting it run and the Dolgopolov loss I promise will be last time I stray from my normal tactics. I feel confident again now and just hope this cycle of the gamblers mindset is now broken. I started this blog chiefly to record weeks like this so I can remind myself of what I did wrong more easily. I never expected things to be quite this eventful! But if it was going to happen it was best it happened in week 1.

This past week, my first ever week of blogging, has undoubtedly been the most dramatic, topsy-turvy and unbelievable week of trading I have ever experienced. I have had one of my best ever days of trading, placed one of my most risky and stupid bets ever, been completely in the zone and then totally lost all discipline in a shocking collapse. I've also placed a bet on the wrong market without realising and been caught 4 times by the Betfair outage, 3 of them costing me money. Today, it reached an almighty climax of bad luck followed immediately by good. What will happen next? Tune in tomorrow for more excitement on Centre Court Trading!!!

Crisis of Confidence

I thought today would see me knuckle down and get back into a groove but once again, I started the day poorly. I backed Errani from the off, thinking her price was too good to miss. She promptly collapsed and was 5-2 down in the second. By that time I'd already redded out and of course, what should happen? She won 5 games on the spin, took the set and then won the match! I felt like vomiting. Not so much at the result, these things happen in WTA quite regularly, but more at my own lack of discipline. First trade of the day and what do I do? I place a straight bet! That is not my strategy at all and never has been. Maybe it's something about me and early mornings, I don't know. I was still under the covers when I placed this bet, so maybe I need to make sure I'm fully awake before trading from now on. That sounds so unprofessional it's untrue!

My biggest problem today was a crisis of confidence in my strategies. I spent most of the day wondering if I was doing the right things and considering new ways of trading. This affected me badly, as I didn't do things as decisively as I would do normally. I just couldn't really get any momentum going. When you trade well, you get into 'the zone', where everything seems so smooth and easy, you have complete confidence in your strategy and don't let setbacks affect you. Today was the opposite. With the Petkovic v Kucova loss, I actually let what a commentator said affect my trade - how fecking daft is that?! God damn Eurosport! And the Ljubicic v Paire match was another trade that had nothing to do with my usual strategy. I would actually have profited from Petkodance and had a 'no bet' on Ljuby with usual my strategies. Annoying.

It was also just one of those days where opportunities were thin on the ground and when they appeared, I didn't quite get the rub of the green. But at least I closed the trade and accepted the losses early. These days happen, you have to stay patient as you grind you teeth with frustration. These are the sort of days you just try to get out of with little or no loss and I would've done too, if it weren't for that pesky Errani.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


I woke up with the completely wrong attitude again today. I took a hefty red on the Kirilenko game, as she capitulated against Voskoboeva. Of course, my bet was totally against my strategy and this continued into the Cornet game where I just decided to back Cornet from the off - a tactic I never do anymore. She played one of the worst sets I've seen and to lose it to Arvidsson (the poor man's Wozniacki) made it even worse. It was the best I've seen the Swede play but still, she is average at best and the form Cornet was in, I cannot believe how bad she was. Nonetheless, I let my opinion cloud my judgement. I mentioned previously about how the blog may have had some effect on my trading and that perhaps happened here. I named Cornet as my 'Woman to Watch' and thought I'd prove it by just straight betting on her and recouping my Kiri loss at the same time. Never again.

To be honest, even some of the greens I had today were fortunate. I was worried about how my p&l was going to look on the blog and I'd started using different tactics and leaving bets to ride for longer. I need to get back to the basics and grind out those small greens, build up slowly using my proper strategy. Whenever I use my strategy properly, it always produces consistent results. So why can't I stick to it? It all boils down to one thing - patience. It requires a lot of this quality for my trading to work and I just don't have it. I can do it for a few days, weeks even, but then something daft will happen (such as lack of professionalism, experimenting, loss of concentration) and that will result in a big loss often followed by chasing and then a total loss of discipline.

I get to a point where I lose patience or focus because I desperately want to get things moving and try to force a win or go for bigger greens instead of being happy with small, consistent profit. I start to think 'I'll get in earlier here, it's only one or two points early, it won't matter just this once' and of course, it proves fatal. Or I'll have decent green but decide to let it run a few points longer 'just this once'. Then it goes wrong and I find it harder to accept the loss because it was an error and so leave the trade to run longer, hoping it will turn back in my favour. I'm fine when I actually follow my strategy to the letter, I can accept the reds no problem. It's only when I try to force it and lose that I get pissed off and my head goes.

But it can be worked on - I'm better now than I was, believe it or not! I think the key for me now is maybe to just accept that I am going to have the odd lapse and take it on the chin. So when I make a mistake, I should just rectify it immediately, take a smaller red and move on. Until I get to the stage where I'm able to focus 100% almost every day, I am just going to have to live with the odd mistake rather than get frustrated by it.

Horror Show

That is some painful reading, I can tell you. So what happened? Well it's the usual answer - loss of discipline. But each loss has a different tale to tell. The worst thing any trader can do is refuse to look at their losing trades. It's not easy to do, to face the demons of failure but analysing your mistakes can only help you get better.

As you can see, there were actually only 2 major losses. Without them, I would've been in profit. However, when analysing trades you should never be so naive to think that just the red trades were the mistakes. You have to be honest with yourself and recognise that maybe some of the green trades should not have been done either.

Tuesday started badly. I placed a bet on the Errani v Chang game, thinking someone had left up a very juicy price on the Italian that simply had be taken. A few minutes later and all of a sudden, the market was suspended. I thought maybe Errani had retired as she'd just lost the first set but I could see from the scoreboard that they were still playing into set 2. But the market was now closed! I was fuming as I phoned up Betfair, ready to berate them for yet another cock up. The guy on the other end of the line soon put me straight - I had accidentally clicked on the 'Set 1 betting' market. My full stake was gone forever. No wonder I'd gotten such a good price! I was simply stunned for a good 10 minutes. I have never done that on a tennis match before, such a stupid lapse in concentration. But that's all it was. And it will in all likelihood never happen again. I just had to brush it off and not let it affect my trading. And for most of the day, it honestly didn't. I made it all back in no time and was hitting my stride when disaster struck again.

I was following Dokic v Safarova when I did something so inexplicable, I still can't believe that it happened. I placed a trade at a risky point, it went wrong but instead of coming out, I got pissed off and let it run. The longer I left it, the worse it became until I just snapped and shoved my ENTIRE bank into the mix. I was close to tears at that point and seething with rage at my own idiocy. Fortunately, I closed the trade rather then let it ride - I had everything on Safarova and Dokic won. But why did I do it? It will sound silly but I did it because I was tired.

I'd been running earlier on and I was shattered plus I hadn't eaten and my stomach was rumbling. I remember watching the game and struggling to concentrate and focus. I was irritable and uncomfortable, so out of impatience, I took on a risky trade. It shows once again how you must be in a steady frame of mind at all times. I've traded when tired, hungry, busy, drunk, angry and distracted in the past and it very rarely leads to good things. But I never set down a firm rule to prevent it happening. So now I am - I MUST NEVER TRADE WHEN TIRED OR IN THE WRONG FRAME OF MIND.

I felt physically sick afterwards. It just came out of nowhere, it wasn't even as if I was on-tilt. But I will learn from this and move on. And as always, I look for a positive from a negative and that is that I at least redded up and didn't lose my entire bank, as I would've done last year. However the following day, things got worse............

Time Out

After 2 absolute horror days, I've decided to stop posting for a few days. I have had excessive losses in 4 matches which have wiped out my profits for the past couple of weeks and as you can imagine, I'm pretty low right now. I will definitely be back, probably next week but for now, I feel that I need to get back to basics and have no distractions.

I will post up my P&L eventually, as although I am ashamed of those losses, I think It is the right thing to be honest in any blog like this. I did not start Centre Court Trading in order to show off about how great a trader I am or to brag about how much money I'm making or for the advertising money or to dupe people into buying something. I did it for 2 reasons:

1. I need a creative outlet. I am a big writer and have done lots in the past in my spare time, from writing my own books to working for websites writing music reviews. It is a passion of mine and I felt I would enjoy doing this in between trades, to satisfy my creative urges and keep me off forums like Betfair!

2. I thought it might help me with discipline by giving me a tangible record of what happened when I messed up.

This is a warts and all blog - if I have a bad day, you will know about it and in detail! I wanted to be different than these blogs you see where all you get is a brief post about the actual tennis and a screenshot which doesn't really mean anything except that they are making money and you don't know how! I wanted to show what trading is like for a relative novice, someone who is not consistently profitable yet but is battling to get there. That means getting inside the mind of the blogger and maybe learning from what they are doing mentally. 75% of trading is all about mindset. It might even be higher than that! The rest is knowledge of the game and the markets and anyone can learn those things given enough time. But learning the correct mindset? That is the hard part.

A select few will already have that mindset naturally and will take to trading relatively easily but most of us don't. I'm not one of them! I'm a creative person, a dreamer, someone whose mind wanders easily. I don't like to be sat in one place and I have no patience to wait for half an hour for an opening. I am not good with numbers and I have always struggled to make quick decisions. All these things go against what a good trader requires. This has been my downfall. But I am working on it and I will get there one day. And that is what this blog is about - watching someone struggle to get that mindset and hopefully over-come the obstacles that prevent most people becoming successful traders. So if you are looking for someone to post endless screenshots of profit in the hope that you can work out what their strategy is - this isn't the blog for you! But I'd say one thing about that; be wary of those blogs. Never trust someone who only has greens and never has reds. Every trader loses occasionally. And if they take a few days or even weeks away from posting, ask yourself what is really going on?

Anyway, I'll be back to talk about my shocking performance soon. I actually have realised that it is partly this blog that is causing me problems. Having analysed all my bets and gotten to the root cause of each one, as I always do, I've realised that I have been thinking about what I'm going to write here and how I'm going to be perceived a little too much. This has definitely affected my mindset and some of my trades. I basically lost discipline and all of those large losses were as a result of me going for a bit too much, trying out stuff that had nothing to do with my strategy. So at least I can take a positive from that because if I'd just stuck to what I had been doing successfully this year, I would have been in profit.

I'll be back in a few days with all the gory details - hope you'll join me :)

Monday, 7 February 2011

How NOT to trade

If anyone would like an example of the wrong way to approach trading, please read on! I woke up this morning in a fine mood; I'd had a brilliant day of trading yesterday and could only see it getting better through the week. 5 tournaments with matches spread out right through the day - this is a week that tennis traders dream of. I had a lovely breakfast of fresh blueberries with those new Crispy Weetabix Bites - full of anti-oxidants and fibre to set me up for a long day on the ladders. I started with some WTA in Pattaya. I had a good old laugh at the fact that a local girl named Wannasuk was playing - mightily ironic considering Pattaya is famed for being Thailand's biggest party hotspot! That's where the laughs ended.

I decided that none of the 8am starts were suitable to trade, so instead, decided to use the Craybas game to test out a new strategy. But I did so using full stakes - wrong attitude. I realise now that I had woken up feeling over-confident due to my success last week. The key to good trading is never to expect to do well. Every game should be treated the same and that means approaching it with a neutral expectation - 'I could lose on this trade aswell as win, therefore, I have to be careful'. I didn't care about losing some red on that game because I EXPECTED to win it all back and much more through the day. I did lose from that experimental trade and just brushed it off.

I took a nice green from Kirilenko v Brianti straight after and all was well with the world. But I continued my blaze attitude into the Peng v Chan match, where I took a price that I knew was wrong. It came back to bite me and I ended up redding out. That was when my trading mentality went to pot. All of sudden the Craybas loss DID mean something - I was pissed off. So I wrecklessly re-entered the Kirilenko game to make more profit to 'make up for' the loss. It was just a couple of minutes before my large green became a large red. I was fuming by now - £100 down and the profit from yesterday being whipped from under me. I was very fortunate to make back my Kiri green but not without a nasty few games sweating on whether I'd lose my full stake.

At that point, I should've switched off and sorted my head out but the games were coming thick and fast so I ploughed on to some ATP. What I did with the Davydenko v Llodra clash was utterly unforgiveable. I totally abandoned my strategy and did something I would never normally do. I backed the mercurial Russian to the set after watching just TWO points! I knew by then that I had totally lost it and was about to go into a deep tailspin if I didn't sort myself out. I took a hefty red when it became apparent Llodra was in top form and Davy was on a lazy day. What made me even more livid with myself was that if I'd just stuck to my strategy, I would've easily made a nice green.

But the capitulation didn't stop there! I then entered the Barrois v Benesova game, even though I'd watched it for 2 sets and decided it was not suitable to trade. I was duly burnt. You'd think that would've been a final message to shut-down the bloody laptop but alas, I then switched in a furious rage to Golubev v Tursunov, where I placed a bet at ridiculous odds right at the closing stages of a match I had not been following at all! I quickly realised my stupidity and closed out for a small red before things could get worse, logged off and went away for a cuppa tea, chocolate fudge brownie and some cooling off time.

When I returned later in the day, I had given myself a good talking to, rationalised and analysed all my mistakes and re-entered the markets with the correct mindset. As such, my trading returned almost to normal, though still not to its best. I should've taken a good green from the Volandri match and should not have entered the Smyczek game as I was too busy preparing dinner! Nonetheless, to end this most abject of days, (where my performance was worse than a Black Eyed Peas half-time medley extravaganza and a Christina Aguilera vocal-aerobic farce put together) with just a miniscule red, was remarkable.

It just goes to show you how just the smallest of mistakes can spiral out of control when trading. The fragility of the human mind when working with the markets knows no bounds! What today shows is that you have to be fully concentrated and in the right frmae of mind at ALL times. Let your guard slip just a fraction and you can get burnt. But whilst today showed that mentally, I'm still not there as a trader, I can take many positives from the day. Firstly - no significant losses! I can guarantee you that if this had happened last year, I would be sitting on a humongous red and it would probably be about to get even worse over the coming days as I chased back. The fact that I have a few small to medium sized reds shows good progress because it means that I saw things were going wrong, admitted I'd made mistakes and came out before they got worse.

Secondly, I physically moved myself away from the work-area, took time out, relaxed and forgot about trading. I find that listening to music, watching some comedy or going for a walk really helps clear the mind and get things in perspective. I then analysed my bets, rather than just try to sweep them under the carpet. I discovered that if I'd traded each game using my correct strategy, I would have been massively in profit. Annoying but at least reassures me that my strategy is good - it's just ME who needs to change!

So there you have it. Third day over and you couldn't have had 3 more eventful trading days to begin the blog! But this is why I started it, so I can look back at days like today and learn from them. It's easy to say you will learn from your mistakes but the truth is, when you have no reminder of them they tend to magically erase themselves from your memory. Now, I have something tangible to remind me forever exactly how not to trade.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

I Love Fed Cup

The colour, the passion, the national pride, fantastic crowds, noisy fans and of course, loads of trading opportunities crammed into a couple days - it doesn't get any better than this!

I started with a midnight session from the Australia v Italy rubber. Franny Schiavone's comical grunting reached fever-pitch, a hilarious contrast to the stoical Stosur. During the day, I began by testing the water with a new strategy that paid dividends in the Kanepi v Martinez-Sanchez tie. It's something I'd been keeping an eye on for a while without actually betting and I'll look to add it to my arsenal in future. I'm always slightly wary of incorporating anything new into my strategies. Mostly because I only usually look to do this when I'm going through a rough patch, which is never a good idea - if your strategy works, you should always stick to it and show confidence in what has worked in the past. However, I feel that this new strategy has shown so much promise that it could take my trading to the next level - it certainly did today.

I also used it on the Pavlyuchenkova v Cornet match. With Sharapova rightly dropped after her appalling display yesterday, I was expecting Pav to pull Russia back into this tie. She did but I have to say, it was looking unlikely at one stage. What is it with Russian women and serving? They all seem to go through horrendous problems with their serves which often last for months - Sharapova, Safina, Kuznetsova, Petrova to name 4. It seemed as though Pav was about to begin her own descent into double-fault delerium in set 1 but turned things around miraculously to see off an improving Cornet. Alize is hitting a rich vein of form and I think we'll see her really climb the rankings this year, having taken a couple of big scalps already.

I'm sure all WTA traders were licking their lips with glee when they saw Bethanie Mattek-Socks take the first set off Kim Clijsters today. Kimmy seems to repeatedly storm into early leads then switch off and get pulled back these days, before coming back to win, so it was a no-brainer to take her after the 1st set - I only wish I'd stayed in longer! But I see it as a good sign that I didn't let it run to the end. That's not trading, it's gambling and once you get into the habit of leaving bets open, it's only a matter of time before it comes back to bite you on the arse. I've learnt that the hard way - better to take the early green than risk losing it all.

Onto the men and 3 ATP finals to finish the day. Ivan Dodig's brave displays have lit up the tour this week and today was no different. I've given him my first 'Player of the Week' award despite the fact he cost me money! I didn't expect him to win today, after an exhausting week of 3 setters where he threw himself literally into every shot, I picked a very strong looking Berrer to beat him but he was simply outfought and outclassed by the inspired Croatian. I was rather lucky not to take a much larger red from this game, having gotten a tad impatient and taken on Berrer during a risky period of the game. Impatience is my biggest flaw both as a trader and a life-skill and is the major reason why I have struggled to get a trader's mindset. I had a small green after over an hour but tried to force a trade where the downside was potentially far too great. I'd like to say 'lesson learnt' but I've said that so many times now, I can't be sure it actually is!

The end to this match will surely turn out to be one of the highlights of the year though. Dodig hit an ace on match point and raced across the court, throwing his raquet high into the crowd to a massive roar from his home fans - only to be told by the umpire that the serve was out! My sides almost split through laughter, though a couple of points later he deservedly took the trophy.

In Santiago, Santiago was beaten but I incorporated my new strategy into my trade and produced my biggest win of the year so far. I won't be getting carried away though. A good trader is a consistent trader. I get far more pleasure from having a day with no large reds than I do from a day with large greens. It doesn't matter how small the green is, as if I'm consistent, I always have the option of increasing my stake for more profit, safe in the knowledge that I won't throw it all down the toilet with erratic trading.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Thanks a lot Betfair

What a day for my first ever on the blog! I doubt I'll have a more eventful day of trading for the rest of the year! It is of course, mostly down to the fact that Betfair was down intermittently all day - again. Following a recent upgrade, matches have been unavailable to access, suspended temporarily, unsuspended again - a total balls up. The fair thing to do would be to simply void all bets on markets affected by the down-time. After all, it is we the loyal Betfair traders, who are most affected and by something which we have no control over. It was Betfair's cock-up, yet the punter who suffers. Fortunately, I was not badly affected by the shenanigans.

I began with a nice win on the Fed Cup match between Bethanie Mattek-Socks and Yanina Wickmayer. The site went down just as I was about to green up with the Belgian 5-1 up. I was livid at the time, as Betdaq did not have the game in-play so I could trade out. Fortunately, Wickmayer was a break up in set 2 when Betfair returned and I gained a larger profit as a result. But had Mattek-Socks gone ahead, I would have been fuming.

Then came Sharapova putting in a truly abject display against Virginie Razzano, not for the first time this year. Her serving sunk to new lows but rather stupidly, I expected her general play and return games to make up fo this, as per usual - they didn't. The Moscow crowd was stunned into silence - as was I, when Betfair collapsed again, leaving me fully exposed and with no way out. Rather than risk an impending massive red, I hedged out using an online bookie, the first time I've ever had to do this. Just goes to show you how you always need to be prepared for the worst.

The final game of the day saw clay court slugger Robredo and the infuriating Fabio Fognini play out the semi in Santiago. I layed Robredo, thinking he was far too low and I was proved correct as Fognini battled back from way behind with some sublime tennis to take the first set. But you know with him, it's not likely to last. His attitude stinks at times and his play does too - I get the feeling he really isn't that bothered about winning matches, he just enjoys the lifestyle. Anyway, he duly capitulated in the next two sets and of course, what should happen in the midst of this? Down goes Bet-unfair. I closed my position on Bet365 for a small loss, deciding the risk of waiting around just wasn't worth it.

So, my first ever P&L screenshot looks a tad strange! It appears that I am possibly the world's worst trader but the two large reds were both off-set by greens at the bookies - though I did end up with a loss in both cases. That said, I am satisfied with the day overall. In fact, it was one of my best ever days on the ATP and I now feel more comfortable trading the men than I have at any point previous. I just hope that tomorrow, everything is back to normal - I can't take much more of the stress I've experienced today!

First Service

I begin this blog with an unexpected midnight treat from the red-dirt of South America, which I stumbled upon whilst readying myself for logging off following a hard slog of a day's trading. With hindsight, I wish I'd just gone to bed! I ended up with a small red following Tommy Robredo's defeat of Maximo Gonzalez.

It was one of those frustrating matches where I ended up with a loss despite things going exactly as I thought they would. Just 3 months ago, I would have taken profit from this game. Doesn't sound like progress but actually, I can take some positives from this. If there is such a thing as a good red (and I believe there is), then this game was it. In the past, I would've become pissed off at not getting my immediate green when Robredo failed to convert a break point and instead of playing it safe with a trader's mindset and getting out, I would've let this one run, as a gambler would, potentially putting my entire stake at risk.

That said, I still had an opportunity to take a small green just before the missed break and didn't snatch it up. But at least this time, I accepted the loss of a green position and didn't let it affect my decisions afterwards. Accepting the loss of a green position has proved to be THE hardest mental situation that I've struggled with in my short career as a trader and so I'm pleased with the way I handled it today. I realise now that consistency is more important than the win and just because you've got the green, it doesn't mean you've done the right thing.

This week has been a particularly tough one for me as my beloved WTA has been out of action. I make most of my money from the women's tour and to be frank, I much prefer to watch the leggy-lovelies bouncing around the court than two sweaty dirt-ballers powering through seemingly endless rallies, as with tonight. Though the first clay tournament of the year did give me a welcome respite from watching Jonny Von De Mentional (insert choice of identikit 6 foot 5 inch South African here) slamming down a 21st ace of the match inbetween sloppy forehands into the net. Thank the lord for today's Federation Cup matches!

Friday, 4 February 2011

About This Blog

I have been learning to trade tennis for almost exactly one year. It has been an exhausting 12 months of sweat and no shortage of tears! From a very limited knowledge of tennis, both as a sport and as a Betfair market, I have toiled almost every day, watching hundreds of matches.

The penny finally dropped for me during the week of the ATP World Tour Finals 2010 in London. After reading a highly recommended financial trading book 'Trading in the Zone', I was finally able to pinpoint exactly where I was going wrong. I felt like a weight had been lifted from me, as this book showed me that I could be successful. It re-affirmed exactly what I had always believed but had never been able to put into practice - that basically, I would succeed if I changed from my horrendous gamblers mentality to the correct traders mind-set. This however, is easier said than done. After several years of football betting, my head had become clouded with dozens of bad habits that dictated subconsciously, that no matter how good my strategy or knowledge was, I would always end up making the same horrific mistakes.

Changing my whole mentality and the way I perceive my trading has been one of the most difficult challenges of my life. I have not only had to change my attitude but also my lifestyle; from what I eat, how I look after my body, how I create my work environment to how my entire day is planned. This year has seen a vast improvement in my consistency. I feel I'm almost there and this blog I hope will be the final piece in the puzzle. I will use it as a tool in order to help me keep track of where I've been going wrong. Record keeping and trade analysis is something I've ignored too much in the past but has been vital in my turnaround from erratic, boom and bust trader into profitability.

But will it last? I'm the first to admit that I am not naturally suited to trading and the patience and discipline it requires. This is one of the reasons why it has taken me so long to get the hang of things. But I do have one quality which gets me through this obstacle - when I want something badly, I never give up! I hope Centre Court Trading will finally show the fruits of my labour.