Sunday, 4 December 2011

John O'Dwyer Interview

As promised in yesterday's post (please read for a full introduction), here is my interview with Betfair forum legend John O'Dwyer:

I think it's fair to say you are one of the most well known names ever to appear on the Betfair forum back in its heyday. Did you enjoy your time on there and what did you get out of it?

I used to use the forum for information purposes back in the day, there is some good information on there, mixed in with some not so good information. It was also quite good entertainment, and I was never too serious when I used it.

Do you still post on there or are you just a regular reader now?

I don't post on there and rarely go back and visit it. I use twitter for information purposes these days.

There's no doubt that the forum is not quite the place it was 2 or 3 years ago. In your opinion, how has the forum changed since you were a regular poster?

I used to use it for the in-play match day threads and to keep up to date with scores as they happened. That was what it was best for. Not sure how it has changed, although like most Internet forums, because most people are anonymous, it's easy to get carried away and say things they wouldn't in person.

I think you'll agree that most of the time, you took a lot of stick from other forumites and you seemed to be involved in arguments every day. How did you feel about it at the time?

I was never too serious when I used it and I think most use it as a form of entertainment. It's only an Internet forum, most people get too involved.

Would you say that 'odwyer1980' was a true reflection of your own personality and did you really tell the truth about all your betting activity?

I'm not sure if it's a true reflection of my personality. Like I say, it used to be a good laugh although sometimes people crossed the line. It could have been monitored better I suppose. Betfair could have done better with that, not sure if that's changed or not.

The bet I always remember most from the forum was your suggestion to lay Real Betis at 80, when they were 2-0 down to Barcelona. Betis came back to win 3-2. Did you really place that bet?

That was real. I only layed it for £2 although it was a big loss for me at the time and stung badly. I think I also layed a German team (Duisburg away to Werder) at 14 on the same day that won, so it wasn't the best of weekends. I did it all wrong back in the day and never used to trade out of bets. I've learnt a lot about how to profit since then.

How would you describe your style? Would it be fair to say you are a gambler rather than a trader?

I go with what I see. I don't categorise myself personally. I rarely bet pre match. I like to get a look at what's going on before I make any decisions. Also, the event has to be on TV or Betfair live video. I won't bet/trade on it unless I have live pictures. I am very much cautious once I have stability, although this year I've been trying to build my bank through gambling and that involves taking more risks. Not the way I prefer, although I've had no option but to go this route. Something I'm hoping will change ASAP.

I had quite a bit of success in 2010 which started from £500 in February that year. Trading is the only real way forward although I sometimes like the odd gamble when I'm confident of how things will go. Where I've gone wrong this year is I've not had the bank size that was available to me last year, so I've been trying to gamble my way forward and it's not really worked.

You have been writing a blog for the past couple of years and achieved some real success at the start. Can you tell us about this and how it felt to be doing so well?

I did well in 2010 which started from around £500 in February of that year. I was lucky enough to build it gradually throughout the year through trading and the odd gamble when I felt things were in my favour, and it worked as I thought it would. I think my profit and loss from Feb to around September time was around £27k, and the most I had in my Betfair account at any one time was £13k. Times have changed since then. Not sure on my blog, as I don't treat it like other people's blogs who make a lot of effort. It's just there to keep up with my profit and loss really.

You seem to bet on a lot of different sports. Most experienced gamblers / traders, will say that you should specialise in 1 or 2 sports. What would you say to that?

I will cut down on one or two once I get the bank size and stability I need. Although this was how I was successful initially so there will not be any major changes. I'm comfortable trading on most sports.

Which sports do you bet on and which ones provide you with most profit?

My best sports are Football, Rugby Union and Rugby League. They're the ones I feel I can make the most profit. I want to avoid the likes of horse racing as I feel I have no edge or knowledge and will never compete with those who have access to the result before I do. You can see the time delay on Betfair and ATR.

Things have taken a down-turn for you over the past 12 months or so. What was it do you think that happened to change your fortune?

I probably got too greedy and took bigger risks, and I've never really had the chance to put things right. During the Australian Open in January for example, I lost too much trying to win too much and it was downhill from there. It's definitely been a bad year as far as Betfair is concerned.

Many people have commented that they think you don't have an edge and that you hit a good spell but now things have evened out with a bad spell. What is your response to that?

I've not had 1k+ in my account since March, and that's how I was successful initially. Big bank brings stability and confidence and because I'm using a small bank, it's making things difficult. The last 7 months have been unacceptable, but outside matters have not helped my situation as well.

I notice that you always seem to mention that you need to get your bank up to £1000 before you can start to make progress and get back to a profitable era. Why do you need to reach that figure?

That's just a figure as an example. £1k isn't going to magically mean that I will start to make thousands again. I just need a big enough bank to get going again, as once I do, I'm quite confident I can do as well as I did in 2010.

Having read your blog right from the beginning, it would seem as an outsider having a guess, that you place large sums of money with high risk, on short priced faves or very low odds. Is this correct?

I deleted a lot of blog entries I made last year from January 2010 where I was struggling before things eventually went right. That was a mistake, as I'm in a similar position now and saying the exact same things. I only bet when I'm confident and try to trade-out of most bets. I've learnt quite a lot and feel I know what markets to touch and what not to touch. I rarely touch short priced favourites anymore.

How did you get started on Betfair and how long was it before you were making big profit?

I only discovered it in 2007 and it took me around a month to get used to the trading out aspect of it. I made a lot of school-boy errors early on and lost quite a bit, but finally caught on. Betfair is the only betting platform I use. I don't use Betdaq because of the lack of money in the markets, although I've not had a look for a year, so I'm not sure if it's improved or not. I've not even been in a betting shop for a few years now. 2010 was the year I finally discovered how to make it pay.

You are a full-time sports bettor. What mistakes have you made and what advice would you give to anyone thinking about going full-time?

I've made a lot of mistakes and learnt a lot from them. Always trade out of bets (unless you are doing it for fun) even when you think it's 100% certain, trade out anyway, it's amazing how many times I've thought a bet can't lose only for it to get beat at really short odds 20 minutes later. Trade out of everything, and don't get greedy. You will win that way.

What do you love and hate most about being a full-time sports bettor?

It's fun when you win, but can be stressful otherwise. The social aspect isn't the best as you are on your own for the most part. It can get quite lonely. It was good in 2010 as I was winning and had a good life at the same time. Going to Wimbledon knowing you have quite a bit of money was great. Travelling to New York for the US Open and being able to spend without worry was really fun. Waking up in the morning and doing something you enjoy is great, and although I have respect for people who do 9-5 jobs, I'd always prefer to be doing something that I enjoy. I think we all would! I'm not lazy by the way, I try and run 20+ miles per week to stay active and it helps with my mindset as well.

Have you been hit by the premium charge and how do you feel about it?

I've never been hit with that. Not sure why. I think I am around £14k up since I started using Betfair in 2007, despite having a very bad year.

What is your biggest ever win and worst loss?

My biggest loss was laying Louis Oosthuizen to win the Open championship at St Andrews on the final day in 2010. He was leading by a few shots, but I thought he'd trade lower, so got greedy (I was up around 8k for the year at that stage and had 10k in my Betfair account) and lost around £2k. I was at the event that year thanks to winning on Betfair, so couldn't trade out - they don't have Internet access at the course. The loss can be seen on my blog. The most I've ever won was £1,100 in one bet. That was on Rafa Nadal in his opening match at the French Open in 2010, on the handicap market. I think the handicap was +12.5 games for his French opponent, who I backed.

What do you think the future holds for the betting exchanges and yourself as a sports bettor?

I'd like to see access to Betfair in the US at some stage. I'd also like to see a real competitor to Betfair, but that's not going to come over-night! I heard Donald Trump is creating a betting platform - one he says that's unique in style, not sure if it's a betting exchange though. For me personally, I am hoping for a better 2012. That's what I'm working towards at the moment - start again fresh for the new year, and hope things go in the right direction from there.

Many thanks to John for taking the time to answer my questions so honestly. As I've mentioned before, I'm new to Twitter so come and follow me - starting to get slightly addicted to it now............

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