Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sultan's Blog Review: Part 2

Continuing my blog reviews from yesterday. All blogs can be found on my blog-roll to the right of this page.

There are a few blogs which are more general trading blogs and don't focus specifically on one sport. One of my faves is 'Betfair Trading Challenge - Yet Another One' which has been around for ages under different guises. Another new name for 2012! Here, Average Guy gives his personal account of his trading exploits. It has to be said that in the past, he has been very down on himself, which often results in unnecessarily negative posts. I know he's trying to change that but it's not easy when you can't quite seem to crack this trading lark. Nonetheless, it's writing from the heart and strong writing at that, with a nice dark humour under-pinning it. A very under-rated blog; even the author himself doesn't realise how good this blog could be (if he wants it to!) with some more regular posts that have some of the detail of last year. Average Guy does 'anguish' well, but let's hope the struggles end in 2012.

'Patient Speculation'
is another long-term blog on my list that was a real fave of mine. There were some innovative ideas, such as a 'post of the week' section (the best posts from other blogs highlighted and debated) and top trading-related quotes, as well as some insightful writing. It's a blog that really took part in the notion of a sports trading community and provided help, guidance and wisdom for its readers. Unfortunately, Mark seems to have abandoned this and gone for the run-of-the-mill P&L / picks daily posts, which I have to be honest, I stopped looking at after a few days and have not checked for months. I plead with Mark to give us a bit more because he knows his stuff and has a knack for blogging that most don't have. Patient Speculation is a real resource for traders and even now, is worth looking back through old 'posts of the week' in particular.

Then there's the brilliant 'Sports Trading Life', which consistently has thought-provoking and superbly written posts about pretty much every sport you can trade. Of course, STL has a strong incentive to be good - they have products to sell! No one is forcing you to buy them though, so I urge you to read through the articles and pick up some valuable insight. Not really sure about this 'Mug's Selections' idea though. Surely a true mug punter would just bet on the short-priced favourite every time, so therefore, this section doesn't really work? Anyway, just splitting hairs, as the interviews and knowledge imparted are a must-read for any aspiring trader.

Finally, a few new blogs that have come to my attention. 'Yorkshireman in SE20' is a new title for an old blog that had been rested for a while by Rob The Builder, who you might remember from 'Gambling Cos Building's Up the Spout'. Was a good read in the old incarnation, though don't expect too much trading talk this time around (he says!). It won't matter too much if the humour and quality of writing remains as entertaining. 'It Only Matters When There's Money On It' is a brand new blog, so not much to say about this except that I instantly added it to my blog-roll because it is well written. The author likes his tennis too and that's something we need to see more of in the sports blogosphere. 'Talking Tennis Trading' is also a recent addition and although posts have been sparse, it's again, well written and could develop into something which can fill a bit of a void.

Two young upstarts in the form of 'Bet19' and 'Trading Betfair' are well worth a read. What I like about them is that they are obviously fairly new to trading (or still learning the ropes) but unlike many blinkered, arrogant blogging newbies, seem to have their feet on the ground. Bet19 in particular has a strong quality of writing and plenty to say - a natural blogger. Both authors write about the emotional side of trading and are prepared to admit their mistakes and to take on knowledge from others and improve. That's why I think they could both be successful as traders and why it's worth following their progress. I'm also going to add '500-5000' to this new blog section. After a rocky start to blogging life last year (where the author was torn apart by a few traders for an embarrassing mistake with a Bundesliga bet), the author has returned this year with a new attitude, focus and a more realistic goal (although the blog is still called 500-5000!). We've all made daft mistakes in our trading lives and it's how we learn from these that will often determine how successful we are. I think it's a good sign that 500-5000 (still think he needs a catchier moniker - how about 'The Fuhrer'?!) has taken on board criticism and hasn't just skulked away and is persevering. I will be following to see whether he earns his stripes in 2012 and hope to see him progress.

The above are a stark contrast to the final blog on my list - John O'Dwyer's 'Betfair Profit and Loss'. It's not much of a read these days, more of an occasional P&L update but I follow because I live in hope that one day, John will wake up and admit he's got it all horribly wrong and listen to what I and Cassini and countless others have told him. Read the blog from start to finish (if he's not deleted most of it) and you'll see how cruel this game can be if you get over-confident and think you've made it without following basic principles of trading, such as bank management and finding a true edge. Read my interview with John from last year and Cassini's follow up, here. Again, I stress that I'm not trying to get at O'Dwyer (some of his errors are similar to mine) but trying to get him to end the cycle of madness that he has found himself in for over a year now. And if he remains too stubborn to do that (and recent posts suggest things are actually getting worse, as he now wants a £3-4,000 bank before he has the 'stability' required to win) then I hope at least others out there will learn from those mistakes. Trips to watch the US Open in New York might seem like the pot of gold at the end of the trading rainbow but what does it all matter when a year later, you are struggling to pay the bills?

Any good blogs I've not mentioned, throw them my way and I'll take a look, maybe even review it. Please, no purely P&L, tips or picks blogs, nothing trying to sell a service and nothing too stats based. Anything that is well written and genuinely interesting, I'll stick on my blog-roll (please don't be upset if I don't add you, it's just that I'm not interested in blogs that have little so say other than a list of picks/tips/stats/P&L).


OFF-COURT BEAUTY: More Ana Ivanovic!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Sultan's Blog Review: Part 1

I've noticed as the New Year has begun, that a lot of new blogs have surfaced, as well as some resurfacing of old blogs. It's probably that typical New Year rejuvenation and optimism that is the cause. No doubt in a couple of months, half these blogs will end up on the scrap-heap or shoved to the back of the closet again! But whilst there is a feast of bloggage to peruse, I thought I'd do a little review of what is out there that has caught my eye.

I only tend to add blogs to my roll that I actually enjoy reading, so you'll find all of the following on the right hand side of this page. I'll start with the obvious ones; Green All Over and Mark Iverson. I'm sure you are already aware of these fine reads, so no need to delve too much into them. Mark rarely posts these days but it's worth reading his blog from the beginning if you are new to trading or looking for some inspiration. You'll discover someone's journey from early in their trading life (not at the beginning but certainly before Mark was raking it in) to going full-time.

As for Cassini, he is so prolific, you need to make sure you check his 'previous posts' because he does often post 2 or 3 times a day! I recently started reading the blog from the very start and although there isn't much new info I've picked up about trading, it has given me real inspiration and reinforced a few ideas. Just seeing that Cassini himself has made big errors and lost large amounts and reading him question himself when trading certain sports, is enough to make you feel better about your own struggles. But for newbies, there are loads of gems of info and it's as valuable a tool in your learning process as any forum or financial trading book.

TradeShark's blog is more of a daily selection of his potential trades but is interesting nonetheless, as it gives a good insight into how to trade tennis and you can learn a lot about the players as the write ups are very detailed and informative. Of course, this is just the way he trades, which may not be suitable for everyone, but still a good read for those learning the ropes. He's particularly astute when it comes to the ATP and although I disagree sometimes with his WTA picks, he has more balls than me because I will not be disclosing my selections any time soon! I would really love to see him blog about his trading in more depth, as there aren't really any decent tennis blogs which go into detail about the actual trading life. I'd certainly like to read about someone actually doing well and their thought processes, as opposed to just me banging on about losing! It's not easy to come up with stuff to write when you are doing well though, which is why Cassini's blog is all the more impressive.

Then you've also got Peter Webb's 'Bet Angel Blog' and Scott Ferguson's 'Sport is Made For Betting'. Both concentrate more on the industry of trading and betting and the sports involved, rather than any personal commentary. Peter's blog often has some very interesting polls to take part in, whilst Scott's blog is more about uncovering controversy and news within the establishments that run the sporting and gambling industries. Scott knows his stuff when it comes to tennis though, so yet another weapon to add to your armoury if you are learning those markets.

I don't really read the horse racing blogs, as I find them very samey and very boring for the most part (though I'm prepared for someone to put me right on that if they know of any good ones) but there are a couple that stand out from the crowd. The first is High Class Equine, a blog that has only recently come to my attention. It doesn't just ramble on about the 3.15 from Catterick or post up inordinate lists of racing results with £0.53 made per trade. If you go to the 'Categories' section on the right hand side, you will see a very handy compartmentalised section for all genres of blog posts. This makes it very easy to pick out what may be of interest (particularly if you are not into horses). I recommend checking out the 'Articles', 'Professional Gamblers', 'Advertise Your Blog For Free' and 'Gambling Psychology' sections. Really excellent articles from a writer who believes in the community spirit of the sports trading blogosphere.

The second horses blog has changed name recently (probably due to the unrealistic nature of the original title, which aimed to make £28K in 2011 - not the only blog to do this!) to 'Trading a Profit 2012'. The monthly P&L section mysteriously disappeared after a few good months at the start (hmmm, wonder why!) but he wouldn't be the first blogger to do this, so I'll let him off. It follows the journey of Caan Berry, a young trader still learning the ropes, who shares a lot of his thoughts on the mental side of trading. This is something I always find interesting and which many blogs don't deal with at all and Caan writes very well on this subject. My only gripe is that the spelling and grammar are often very poor and this distracts from the content, which is actually very well thought out. Not being pedantic, I just would enjoy the blog more if it wasn't such a challenge to decipher! Not hard to use spell check and stick a few commas in here and there. Will be interesting to see his progress this year.

Lots of football blogs to choose from and while most of them fall into the trap of P&L boredom or just regurgitating what we already know about the week's football, there are a couple that write really well about their trading. Lambretta on 'Thoughts of a Football Trader' Gundulf on 'Betfair Football Trading - the Highs and Lows' and BubblesBrian on 'A Gambler's Life For me?' (question mark added for 2012, I notice!) have all been blogging for a while. Though they revolve around football trading, they offer more than just picks, stats and P&L (none of which particularly interest me) by actually talking about their trading in a more generic manner, which means that whatever you trade, there is something you can relate to. None of these guys have 'made it' as long term big success stories yet (Lambretta might want to put me right on that!), which also makes them a nice compliment to the likes of Cassini. We all like to read about the struggles of our peers, if only to make ourselves feel as though we are not alone. Whilst this empathy is good, these blogs also really get involved with their comments and it's great to debate and bounce ideas amongst like-minded peers.

More tomorrow!


OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 22, Serbia's Ana Ivanovic:

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Aaron Jan 25, 2012 03:35 AM

You really are a fucking moron, quit trading for gods sake.

This is the message I woke up to today. Whilst I'd like to say it's the first time some idiot has left a comment like this, it unfortunately is not (although it's extremely rare). Writing a blog does have its downsides and one of them is that you have to put up with brain-dead neanderthals such as our friend Aaron. I do of course, have the option to shut off all comments but this is something I will never do because I enjoy the interaction with non-imbecilic traders. Besides, we all know that people like Aaron are always Angry Young Men who have lost probably thousands of pounds through gambling/trading and are just taking out their seething rage on the world. I almost feel sorry for him. Pity, is a better word. I've never met any successful trader who wasn't humble and polite or would feel the need to attack anyone trying to make their way in the trading world. Aaron is simply pitiful.

I could quite easily slip away and end the blog but I trade because I enjoy it and I write because I enjoy it. There is no ulterior motive at all here and that is why I've always been truthful and written exactly what I feel at the time. I could've lied a long time ago but how does that help me? Aaron seems to find this honesty a problem, though I'm not sure why!? If people don't like that, I would still continue to blog because this blog is above all else, written for ME. It has always been about helping MY trading and recording MY mistakes for MY benefit. If others enjoy it at the same time, that's just a bonus.

Anyway, I know many will say I should just ignore this ignoramus and normally, I would not give such comments the air-time but this particular verbal diarrhoea just made me laugh! I'm having one of my best ever trading months, so can hardly be upset about what this muppet has scrawled. But I want to have this comment saved and stored to use as inspiration. Any time I have a bad day, I will use Aaron's words as a motivator, to drive me onwards to do better. I don't normally require something like that (being already highly motivated) but I think it's good for all of us in life, to take anyone's negative words and use them for a positive. It's like the old football stories of managers sticking up the derogatory quotes taken from a newspaper, on the dressing room wall to fire up the team. Nothing will please me more than the day I shove those words right back up Aaron's angry rectum from whence they came.

So I no longer need anything to pick me up when I feel down or pissed off with my trading ineptitude (and Aaron, I don't need you to tell me when I've done something stupid, I already know as it's written on the blog by ME, you moron!) because I've got these 11 little words to inspire me - cheers, 'Aaron'!

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 21, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia:

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Roll-on February

I absolutely hate the second week of Grand Slam events. They are the quietest weeks of the tennis calendar, with the number of games barely reaching double figures. The last thing I need right now is for more time to dwell on the horrendous last 3 days I've had. I was on course for my best ever month of tennis trading but ruined that dream within 48 hours, first with an over-staked bet, based (wrongly) on an injury, that I refused to bail out of and then by upping my aggression and not trading out of my bets, which cost me hundreds of pounds with a losing run of 14 straight reds. Thankfully, Rafa Nadal ended that streak for me this afternoon. But I need games right now and they just aren't there!

I'd like to say a break will do me good but to be honest, my mind is perfectly clear and calm. In the past, I would have said a couple of days rest might be for the best but the last 3 days have actually just made me even more hungry to trade. I've said this many times before but there really is such a fine margin between success and failure. I worked out that the vast majority of my lost profit in January, can be attributed to just 6 matches. SIX!! Out of over 100!! Two of them had losses that were considerably larger than any of my standard reds. The other 4 were games where I not only ended up red but failed to take substantial opportunity to go all-green for a big sum. Those 6 matches, if they'd gone as they should have, would have more than doubled my current total, giving me my best ever tennis month to date. So even withstanding all the countless other errors I've made, I'd still be doing brilliantly if only I'd managed those 6 games properly. I don't know whether to laugh or cry!

Still, as January comes to a close, I'm very pleased in most other aspects of my trading. The days of chasing losses for days are GONE. The days of beating myself up (and beating anything within punching range up!) are consigned to history. The days of struggling to retain focus and fight against an approach that didn't suit me are dead and buried. I am still prone to the odd brainstorm but we are talking once every couple of weeks as opposed to once a day now! At the start of the month, I hoped that everything would finally click into place. It hasn't yet. There were still a few issues to iron out (such as still trading with my old approach sometimes) and some new questions arose (such as when to green up, if at all) but I think I've sorted it all out.

February promises to be very exciting. There's indoor, outdoor and clay-court tennis to come and times will be far more favourable to trade than those in January's Australian swing. Hopefully that will leave me a little sharper. My goal for February is simple - no more major fuck-ups. If I can eliminate them, I'm confident I can hit the 4 figure barrier. And if I can do that with the small stakes I'm on (still not into triple figures yet), it could be the start of a great year.

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 15, Germany's Sabine Lisicki:

Monday, 23 January 2012

No Gambler's Life For Me!

After yesterday's debacle, I really needed a nice, steady day to restore some spirit. Instead, every single trade was a loser. That's 10 on the spin now, my worst run this year. I didn't make any ridiculous errors, unlike yesterday, but I missed out on 3 occasions where I should have been all green and well in profit for the day. I have at least been able to draw an important conclusion from all of this - I am not going to be letting my trades run from now on.

A few days ago, I wrote that my notes show that if I'd just let my initial entry position run through to conclusion on all my trades this year, I would have 1200% more profit. So the last 2 days, I decided to try this new, ultra-aggressive approach on all my trades. Typically, I haven't won a match since! Down the years, I have seen many traders ask the question 'Have you worked out what you would have made if you hadn't traded out?'. Many suspect that you would probably end up with a similar amount to what you made by greening and redding up. My recent calculations suggest that it could be even more. But what the last 2 days have shown me is that I would much rather be a proper trader and close my positions, without question.

Firstly, we have to distinguish ourselves as traders - we are not gamblers for a reason. Whatever anyone says about trading and gambling being the same thing, whilst ostensibly, trading is still a form of gambling, in reality, the two require very different mindsets which are poles apart. I have never been a gambler and never showed any interest in it whatsoever. I don't enjoy it, don't get a rush or a buzz and would much rather have a nice, steady, boring income stream from trading, than get involved in the action.

"Amateurs look for challenges; professionals look for easy trades. Losers get high from the action; the pros look for the best odds."

Dr Alexander Elder from 'Come into my Trading Room'

If you are just letting your initial entry position run its course, that is nothing but a straight gamble. Yes, you may have taken value and yes, that trade may keep its value right to the end of the match but you have to take into account other factors. The one that bothered me the most was the stress factor. Having to sit through the ups and downs of a tennis match for 2-3 hours several times a day, is probably going to kill me! I couldn't bear to put my nervous system through that every day and I get no thrill at all from it. Then there is the time factor. If I close a trade after half an hour, whether red or green, I am now free to either move onto another game or to relax till the next match. This can only help keep you fresh for the rest of the day's trading. There is nothing worse than being stuck staring at a PC screen for hours at a time, so any chance I get to take a break, I want to grab it.

Then there is the psychological factor. Redding up for a small loss is fine in my book. I might be a tad pissed off if that trade reverses and goes on to win but I think long term these days and so I take satisfaction in knowing I did the right thing and protected my bank. Plus, I may have already moved onto another game and made profit by the time that big win came in. But there is nothing worse in trading, than when you see a big all-green screen slip away from your grasp. After 3 hours or more of watching a tennis match, can you imagine how demoralising it must be to see the £50 green you could have taken after half an hour, almost hit the end target of a £100 win and then slip back to a £25 red? Well I can because that's exactly what happened in the Sharapova v Lisicki match! I felt sick.

Now, traders (gamblers) who let all their positions ride will say that it doesn't matter about this because in the long run, your big wins will be far more than those losses. That may be true but you can't put a value on your own health! Sure, I could just go away and do something whilst the game runs its course but who in the hell is able to concentrate on another activity knowing what is at stake? I know I couldn't. There is nothing more satisfying than greening up before the end of a match, in my opinion. You might win more by waiting till the end of the game but the way I see it, by that time, you EXPECT to get the win for all the hours you've put in. Anything less is just a massive let-down, so that win doesn't even seem that exhilarating. So just for my own sanity, I've decided that I will be doing traditional trading from now on. Besides, I will be more than happy with just half of that 1200% profit increase!

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 4, Maria Sharapova:

Sunday, 22 January 2012


I've often wondered whether I should be putting myself through this day after day. I had a bad day yesterday, the first really bad day I've had this year. When I say 'bad', I mean that my losses were completely avoidable and I let one in particular, run way out of control. It annoyed me because I'd done so well this season and now a chunk of my bank has been bitten off. I went to bed in a nasty mood but as I write this, I'm more philosophical about things. I know I won't go on tilt and start chasing (haven't done that for a few months now) and I know the major error I made is unlikely to happen again. Some days, I just wake up in a strange mood and it affects my trading. It's not a bad mood; I don't feel anxious or worried or tired or unfocused. It's more like I'm too casual, like I'm not emotionally sharp enough to be dealing with large sums of money. Because I can't quite put my finger on this emotion and why I'm feeling it, I sometimes don't catch it until mid-trade - and by then, it's often too late.

Although my confidence isn't knocked, my spirit has been somewhat deflated. I always believe that I will come out the other end of the tunnel one day but on days like today, I need to draw inspiration from those who have succeeded. I would urge anyone to read back through Cassini's 'Green All Over' blog and Mark Iverson's blog, from the very beginning, as I have done. Nothing can give you greater inspiration than your own peers. Those blogs, as well as books written by successful financial traders such as Curtis Faith and stories from rich business-men such as Richard Branson, Simon Cowell and Alan Sugar, also are good reminders that even those who succeed go through rough patches.

Branson's 'Virgin' almost went under in the early years and he was fortunate not to end up in prison during an early fraudulent venture as a teenager. Alan Sugar pulled himself back from the brink of financial ruin. Simon Cowell's early record label went bust and he was forced to move back in with his parents in his 30s. But what they all had in common was tenacity and positivity - they never gave up and they learnt from their mistakes. Those are qualities that I believe I possess, although that tenacity can easily be mistaken for stubbornness. It is this stubbornness which I believe can hold many traders back and maybe held me back for months if not years. A refusal to change and try new ways, or a refusal to accept you might be wrong or worst of all, a refusal to accept any form of help or advice, will probably lead to the demise of most sports traders. Giving up too soon is obviously quite weak and a sign of impatience or lack of work ethic but similarly, not knowing when to stop and get help or to ignore what others are saying, is just as destructive.

I'm constantly amazed whenever I see a trader say that they just want to pick up trading from scratch by themselves or go against what experienced traders are saying. For many years, there was practically no help at all available online about trading. Now, it's everywhere and it's not difficult to find forums, books, guides, videos and blogs that will impart valuable knowledge. Why turn all that down just so you can muddle around for months in trial and error? I'd have killed for just a fraction of this readily available knowledge when I started on the exchanges 5 years ago. Everything I find these days only reinforces what I already know but even so, that's very good for morale. To know that you are on the right path and have it confirmed by those who have been there and done that, is a great motivator.

One thing that makes trading unique as a job, is that there are no qualifications, no definitive guide book to follow, no 'right way' pinpointed as the road to success and no mentors, management or award winners to look up to. Most of us don't have anyone to guide us and so we have to motivate and assess ourselves, which requires us to be objective about our performance - a very difficult thing to do. I guess what I'm trying to say is, this trading lark is hard enough as it is without making things harder for yourself by shutting yourself off to other's ideas. Especially when inspiration is out there, if you just look hard enough.

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 1, Caroline Wozniacki of, I mean, Denmark:

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Winning Curse

I firmly believe that if I had started my trading life badly, I would have improved a lot quicker. The worst thing that can happen for a newbie trader is to go immediately on a winning run. It gives you false hopes; you think trading is easy and you're about to make vast sums of money at the click of a mouse, day in, day out. I remember after my first month of trading (with tiny stakes) I had done really well and thought it was just a matter of upping wrong I was. It's a classic mistake made by novice traders and one which I believe ends the brief trading life of the majority of people because eventually they start losing, only the stakes are now enormous relative to their experience.

I was using £250 stakes after less than 6 months, which I believe is way too big. It was almost a whole year before I reduced those stakes to something more suitable to my level but even then, I probably should have gone back to the drawing board and started on tiny stakes. My stakes now are less than half of what I was using after 6 months and the liability is usually even less but I am far more profitable. So it never fails to amaze me the number of times I read about traders who have been learning for just a few months but are playing around with 3 figure sums, even over £500. It's just ludicrous for the average person to risk that amount when they are still learning the ropes.

But I guess that's the problem; these people don't recognise that they are still an apprentice. They think they are either some sort of prodigy or that their short term success is going to last forever - it rarely does. And so when that rough patch comes and the losses mount up, they have no idea how to deal with it. All they've known is success and when defeat comes, it will be a huge blow to confidence because the stakes were upped so much. Then comes the chasing and we all know how that ends!

I reckon some people never recover from that stage because they lose so much from having upped stakes too soon, that they can't get over it. Either they chase it all back (which can then give the false impression that they still have a gift for trading) or lose the lot and give up. Those who survive will probably go through the 'boom and bust' cycle for ages, because whenever they have a winning streak, it reinforces the belief that they don't need to change anything. Often only hitting rock-bottom can force them to make changes required to be successful.

Now imagine what would happen if you started out losing. If you blow your bank, you probably were using small stakes so the amounts being used can be easily re-loaded and you give it another shot. You also now should realise that trading is tough and you will have to make an effort to learn the ropes and take your time. This can only help your patience and discipline, the most vital components for your trading arsenal. You are also less likely to up stakes too soon because you know how easy it is to lose your whole bank. Basically, your whole approach will be more cautious and this can only benefit you in the learning process.

Also, you won't have that mental scarring built up from messing around with high stakes. There won't be those huge losses or those heart-busting moments fretting on big red positions etched into your brain and so that subconscious need to chase or needless fear of the markets won't be there. That's the theory, anyway! No one really knows how they will handle losing until it happens, though you are far more likely to still be in the game if you don't up stakes so quickly and the only reason people up stakes is because they think they are doing well. Usually though, this is just a short term fallacy and people often find that results will average out over the long term. You only have to look at John O'Dwyer and his attempts at trading on his blog. A classic case of someone who hit a big winning streak and thought he'd cracked it but then lost thousands. Unfortunately, he still thinks what he was doing was the right way. The winning curse had well and truly been cast.

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 12, America's Serena Williams:

Friday, 20 January 2012


Long time readers will know that I am not much of a statistics guru. I'd go as far as to say I have very little interest in them. However, I do keep detailed notes on all my trades; what I did, the prices I took and the errors I made. These help me to work out what I could/should have won or lost and to see what is working and what isn't. I usually calculate a few basic stats every so often. As I write this, I have traded 101 games this season. Of those 101, I have made errors in 40. So almost half of all games traded could have been traded better. That is a lot of mistakes but miraculously, I'm still turning a good profit, which just goes to show how I'm not letting those errors affect me. It gives me great hope for the future too because if I can cut out most of those mistakes, my profit will boom.

The majority of those mistakes were made because I jumped into the market too soon. There were 27 matches where, if I'd waited longer for a better value price, I would have made a profit / increased profit, over what I actually got. I also counted 15 matches where I didn't exit early enough from an all-red position and another 15 matches that I got involved in when I should have just stayed away. So that's almost a third of all matches that have cost me more money than they should have. But the most staggering statistic of all is the following; if I'd let my initial entry bet run on for longer (either right to the end of the match or greening up closer to the end of the match) I would have increased my current profit by more than TEN TIMES! I worked it out as a monumental 1200% difference!

It's been tough to adapt to my new approach, particularly with the fact that I now have to accept far more losses. It's a challenge to maintain discipline when I frequently get a run of small reds but one I'm dealing with really well. My old approach was based on gaining lots of little to medium sized wins and hoping to keep my reds (which were medium to large to super-size) to a minimum. Now, I'm looking to maximize my wins by being more aggressive and letting my green positions run as long as possible. This is only just starting to become more natural for me and I am getting better and better at choosing the best moments to green up. However, these stats show that I could still be even more aggressive and let those green positions ride even further. There is a danger that it could just be a short-term anomaly and that the stats will even out in the long term but this isn't the first time that my analysis has shown that letting my greens run for longer would produce greater profit. It's just never quite been on this scale!

Redding-up is now less of an issue as it was last year. I've only had two losses which were over £50 and just one of those was a three figure sum (a blip from week 1 on a market I don't normally and haven't since gotten involved in), so I'm in control of things much more these days.

The overview of those first 101 matches though, is very simple; I'm STILL not being patient enough. Nothing new there then! My new mantra which I appear to have subconsciously picked up from another blog I think, is 'Keep your powder dry'. I keep re-iterating this every day but now these stats show that by doing this, I could be exactly where I want to be with my trading after all these years.

By the way, does anyone remember 'Statto' from Fantasy Football League back in the 90s? Brilliantly witty programme hosted by David Baddiel and Frank Skinner (comedy genius). Think Statto's real name is Angus Loughran (?) and is known to be a sports trader these days. Maybe someone can fill me in on that.

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 46, Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic:

Thursday, 19 January 2012


One of the most pleasing aspects of my trading so far this year, has been that I am enjoying it again. I spent large periods of last year where I didn't enjoy trading - either I couldn't get focused, couldn't make money, was bored, anxious or simply pissed off because of all the horrendous errors I kept making. I found the whole thing too stressful for the most part, to be enjoyable. This year though, I feel different.

Much of that is because I have a new approach that not only suits me better but also is far less risky. That means that, although I now have to take far more losses on the chin, the reds never reach heart-stopping levels. Because I'm less stressed, I am making less errors and because I'm making less errors, I'm not getting as frustrated and because I'm not getting frustrated, I feel physically and mentally better. I don't fear situations anymore because my staking and money management is much stronger. And all of this means that I can actually watch the tennis without pacing the room with my heart threatening to leap out of my chest! I'm not just enjoying trading again, I'm enjoy tennis again.

I think what also helps is that I am far more accepting of my mistakes these days. Last year, my goal was always to not make any errors at all, so whenever I did (even the smaller errors) it would frustrate me to the point that I couldn't get over it until I'd somehow atoned. That would normally mean chasing. The perfectionist within me had too much of a stranglehold on my emotions. This year, I now expect that I will make mistakes pretty much on a daily basis and this means that when I do make errors, I deal with them a lot calmer and quicker. And because my risk is a lot less anyway, I am not getting myself into situations where I'm likely to implode.

I would say to any new traders, if you are not enjoying trading then you should either make some adjustments (either in the sport you are trading or the style/approach) or stop altogether. You will struggle to succeed at anything, especially something that is so solitary and requires so much patience, if you don't get some fun out of it.

So altogether, I'm happier than I've ever been with life as a trader. But of course, it all means nothing if I am not making any profit. That's something I'll write about very soon...............

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 106, Sania Mirza of India:

Sultan's Blacklist

Often you'll see on betting forums people mention they have a 'blacklist' of teams or players they supposedly will no longer bet on. This is nearly always an over-the-top reaction because they've made a poor bet and lost. But there are undoubtedly teams and players that have an uncanny knack of throwing away good leads, losing their heads or just being very erratic. With tennis, I find it is usually the players with the most natural talent that are like this. They look like world-beaters one minute and the next they are crumbling as if they had never set foot on a court in their life. That is a dangerous combination because we as traders can keep getting sucked into believing that this time will be different. Sometimes, it will be, which makes it even harder to resist temptation to give them another chance. The Australian Open has already served up many of my potential 'blacklist' players.

Fernando Verdasco

How on earth did he manage to lose that game against Bernard Tomic? He was completely in command, playing superb, attacking, bold and confident tennis, the kind we don't see regularly enough from the Spaniard. Tomic is wilting at the other end. He's clearly ill and doesn't seem to have any desire or energy for a fight in the Melbourne heat. The crowd is quiet and he's playing passively. I am all green by now and so confident that I stick the lot on Fernando. Tomic calls out the trainer but then refuses his help when he arrives. From that point on, Verdasco disintegrates. Tomic (barely even trying), somehow wins the 3rd set and Verdasco mentally capitulates. He's talking to himself, chuntering at his box, wildly gesticulating with his hands, pulling that inane, wry smile he always pulls when things aren't going his way.

Tomic still seems ready to give up but probably just looking at Verdasco's body language is enough to keep him going. He levels it at 2-2 and now Tomic has belief he can win and ups his game. He's now playing Verdasco off the park but despite this, the Spaniard keeps saving break points. I decide to keep all my green on Verdasco as he's playing clutch tennis on his serve, world-class stuff. I remember a year ago at the Australian Open, he almost knocked out Rafa Nadal. He's probably the closest thing to Nadal on the tour, with the way he plays. But he will let you down when you least expect it. Except really, I should say when you MOST expect it - I just keep giving him one more chance to prove me wrong. He didn't.

Jarmilla Gajdosova

Another player I cannot stand. Her power, stroke-play and timing of the ball are as good as anyone on the tour but time and time again, she loses her head and with it, her ability. She would be an absolute nightmare as a girlfriend, you can see it in her eyes and her body language. I'm not surprised her and Sam Groth's marriage didn't last! I remember him being her coach too - bad idea! She was always arguing with him and he looked as though he required the patience of a saint. It only takes one bad point from her and she seems to crack. And when she cracks, it's like Teutonic plates shifting.

She becomes an unforced error machine and doesn't ever seem to have the self-realisation that she needs to take some pace off the ball and just keep the damn thing in play for a bit! And that sulky look and shoulder-shrugging she does must give her opponent a massive lift. She looked beaten after the very first game against Maria Kirilenko on Monday. To be fair, she at least stuck it out and didn't give up, as she appeared to do in recent matches.

In the Hopman Cup against Marion Bartoli, she stormed out the blocks, hitting three breathtaking winners. She then missed an easy put-away at 40-0 and that was it - mentally finished. Gajdosova was broken and lost the match without winning a single game - double bageled! Yet knowing her fragile mind-set, I still got involved, taking what appeared to be a value early price against Kirilenko but not taking into account my past experience of this girl. Just like what I was saying in my previous post - I didn't factor this instinct about Gajdosova into the price. The look on her face told you that she never believed she was going to win that game.

The thing is, you can guarantee that whenever I decide to stay away from the aforementioned players, they will put in an amazing display of shot-making. Gajdosova almost beat Wozniacki last year and probably should have done, as she was brilliant except when it really mattered on the key points. It just goes to show how important the mind is when it comes to sport - and that's no different with trading.

***Other hypothetical black-list players include: Sania Mirza, Alexander Dolgopolov, Aravane Rezai, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Sam Stosur, Fabio Fognini, Nikolay Davydenko, Mikhail Youzhny, Jelena Dokic, Klara Zakopalova, Nadia Petrova and Stanislas Wawrinka all of whom have done me time and time again. They are all capable of giving the very best a run for their money but are just as likely to lose to someone ranked 250. All have one thing in common - supremely naturally gifted but flawed mentally. Except Stosur - she's just flawed mentally.

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 29, Maria Kirilenko of Russia:

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

A Valuable Lesson?

We are now just over 2 weeks into the 2012 season and so time for an update with how my trading is going. On the whole, I'm content. After a shaky first few days (where the month without trading had left me decidedly rusty) I am now really settling into a groove. This year was always going to be about cementing the new approach that I'd been working on towards the end of last year. I knew that I had to fully ingrain the aggressive, value-seeking, discretionary style of trading which I feel suits me best and will reap long term profit. So far, this has been going very well. In those first few days, I did slip back into old habits (such as trying to play the match rather than the market) but now I feel as though a switch has occurred somewhere deep in my subconscious, and the new approach is becoming steadily an automatic process.

Probably my main New Year's resolution was to improve my patience. This still appears to be the biggest struggle but I am improving. Despite saying (yet again) that I would not rush into a Grand Slam like a bull in a china shop, I did just that on day 1 of the Australian Open. It wasn't like last year though, where I was all over the place and losing large reds. This week was much calmer and the reds much smaller but I just need to follow my gut a little more and keep my powder dry for longer.

I've been noting whenever I've gone against my gut instinct, to see whether it's something I need to rely on more often and results show that I would have made significantly more money if I'd trusted my intuition. The problem is, sometimes I see a good value price and so take it, even though my gut is saying 'yes, it's value but I've a nagging feeling this is gonna bite you on the ass'. That gut feeling is normally based on an assessment of the players - what they are doing on the court and what I know of them from the past. I guess this is something I'm now grappling with as a trader - should you ALWAYS take a value price? I've come to the conclusion that the answer is 'no'.

A 'system' trader should probably always take that price as it falls within the rules and trigger points of their strategy but a 'discretionary' trade such as myself, relies much more on their instinct and reading of games in-play. I feel that if something is screaming at you to stay away, then you should listen to that inner voice - as long as you are experienced enough to have been in that situation hundreds or thousands of times. Without experience, you don't really have a well-tuned instinct that you can rely on and that 'gut' feeling is probably nothing more than fear or greed. Besides, my notes back up this idea so far because when I've ignored my gut and just taken the value, I've been burnt on almost every occasion.

But this then begs another question; if your gut is saying 'don't take the price!', does that mean that the price ISN'T actually value? Do we factor in that gut feeling into our assessment of the price? From a pure, cold, unemotional 'systems' perspective, that same price would be considered value but when incorporating instinct and feel at that very moment, from a 'discretionary' perspective, I guess I am saying that it isn't value. I'd like to know what others think.

I guess the lesson for me is that perhaps I should just stay away if it doesn't feel right. After all, you can't lose any money if you don't get involved. For now, I'm going to stick with what my P&L is screaming at me, which is 'TRUST YOURSELF MORE OFTEN, YOU NUMBSKULL!'

OFF-COURT BEAUTY - world number 59, Romania's Sorana Cirstea:

Monday, 16 January 2012

Grand Slam Punters

The first Grand Slam of the year is upon us, and as always with these major tennis events, liquidity will increase massively. It never fails to amaze me how many people ignore tennis for 44 weeks of the year, yet somehow think they can make vast profit on those 8 Grand Slam weeks. If you don't understand the markets or know the players, how are you going to compete with those who do? I'm not just talking about your casual punter who has an occasional flutter on all major sporting events, I also mean those who trade entirely different sports for the rest of the year but suddenly switch over to tennis for 2 weeks.

Not that money can't be made; I'm sure there are those who do their research and keep tabs on the ATP and WTA tours but I am positive that the vast majority are completely clueless and won't even know any of the players outside the top 10 (even less for the women!). I'm not complaining because this I now realise, is where I am going to find great value. It just amuses me to see half the Betfair football forum shift their inept banter over to the tennis forum for two weeks. When you see what gets written there by regular punters, it gives you real hope for some easy pickings.

A classic example of this cluelessness, was last year's Wimbledon final. Djokovic was world number one by that time and had beaten his opponent, Nadal, on all four separate occassions in 2011 already. Yet somehow, the market priced Nadal up as clear odds on favourite. It made absolutely no sense to me and the value was proven by a comfortable win for the Serb. But I did nothing. I wasn't trading with any value at the time and the opportunity was not taken. The only reason I can fathom why Nadal was priced so low, was because most people didn't know much about Djokovic and went with what they knew. This year however, will by my first Grand Slam where I trade with a value-seeking approach and I will be licking my lips at those sort of mistakes this coming fortnight.

Still, don't want to get too cocky. My Grand Slam results have tended to be very disappointing in past years. I have always rushed into them like a bull in a china shop, taking on too many games at once as I gorge myself on the feast of matches in-play. I've always set my expectations too high simply because it's a major tournament and so tried to force things too much - not this year.

I realise now that there isn't any reason for me to get any more excited about a Grand Slam than a 250 tour event. When you have 3 or 4 tournaments on at the same time in an average tennis week, it means there are actually just as many, if not more opportunities to make money in any of the other 44 weeks of the year (bar the off-season). I know a lot of traders will only play the Grand Slams and the big Masters / Premier events but I have never understood this. I don't suddenly do any worse just because less of the top players are involved. If you put in the effort to research your players, it makes very little difference to your chances of making money - the same opportunities arise in the 250s as in the Grand Slams, it's just with a (partially) different set of players.

So this year, I will not be making a big fuss over the Grand Slams. For me, they are no different to any other week on the tour - except this year, I won't be one of the mug punters for a change!

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 20, Italy's Flavia Pennetta:

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Australian Open

Ever since I tipped a few players up at Wimbledon last year who did really well (most notably Tamira Paszek) but didn't place any money on them, I decided to stop any form of picking winners on this blog. It pissed me off too much, especially as my trading was terrible! But I may well take a look at the 'winner' market for this year's grand slams, so here are my thoughts on the Australian Open.

With the men, I am going for Novak Djokovic to defend his title. He hasn't played a tournament this year, preferring to save himself for the Australian Open, but he did play an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi at the end of December. He beat Gael Monfils in 3 sets but was playing as if it was an exhibition i.e. had a good laugh and a joke with the irrepressible showman Monfils. But he stepped it up in set 3 and looked strong. Considering he finished 2011 in poor form, there was no sign of that at all, as he demolished Roger Federer (though he was seemingly disinterested) dropping just 3 games. But trust me when I say that Federer at his best would not have won that match. Djokovic showed commanding brilliance and was taking it deadly seriously. The same happened in the final against David Ferrer and although he would expect to win, Ferrer had beaten Nadal and was at the top of his game. I saw enough from those last 2 games to see that he is back to the level that saw him go 42 games unbeaten last year.

Nadal looks out of sorts and I really think he has been scarred mentally by those losses to Novak last year - don't see him winning. Federer will I'm sure pick up his game, as he's not started the year brilliantly but Murray will probably be Novak's closest rival for the title and I'd go for Tsonga as an outsider. He is now the top challenger to break into that established 'big four' and let there be no doubt, he's playing well enough for it to happen this year. Also keep an eye on Bernard Tomic, the immensely gifted home talent who raises his game in the big tournaments. He is a star in the making and this could be just the time and just the stage to take out some big scalps.

Of the big names for the women, Williams and Sharapova have not played enough games in my opinion, whilst Clijsters is almost certain to aggravate an injury at some point. She does love Australia and the fans there are obsessed with her, which may push her through in tight matches, so if she can stay fit, you never know. As always, Wozniacki can be ruled out straight away! Stosur looks appallingly bad right now. I did fancy Kvitova for the women, though she was well beaten in the end by Li Na in Sydney this week. The Chinese-woman therefore has to be in with a chance as it will have lifted her confidence, which has suffered for a long time. Azarenka will obviously be a threat having just beaten Li in the Sydney final and I think she'll breeze through what looks an easy quarter of the draw.

Svetlana Kuznetsova is my dark horse and yes, I think she can win the whole thing. I watched her in Auckland and she was frighteningly good. I backed her at over 100 as soon as I saw her first couple of matches. She came in to 60 though has drifted out to 80 now but she dropped out of Sydney with heat illness. She spanked Zvonareva the match before that and was actually feeling ill even then. She just looks fitter and mentally much stronger, more aggressive and dominant. With her talent, she should be top 5 easily and it's her head that has let her down in recent years. It's not an issue judging from her start to 2012. Unfortunately, there are some big names in the Russian's quarter of the draw and she may have some long, tough battles on her hands.

Radwanska can always cause an upset and Schiavone loves playing these big events but they are not going to win. Zvonareva has been out of sorts for a long time now. Bartoli is playing well but I think she'll fall short, especially with her fitness levels in the heat. Kaia Kanepi is one player who has improved her fitness massively and is playing lights-out tennis right now. She would be my big outsider to watch, as she can upset anyone in her current form.

I would go for Kvitova, Azarenka or Kuznetsova to win. Vika looks a certainty for the semi finals, so I'd give her the edge with the easier draw.

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 8, Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska:

The Apathetic Masses

In the battle to create some sort of competitor to Betunfair, I am now going to show you just what we are up against. I was reliably informed by Cassini from 'Green All Over', that the US College Football (that's the game that's not really got anything to do with kicking a ball, for those who aren't sure) Final was untradeable on Betunfair due to the down-time last Tuesday morning GMT. On Monday evening, I saw a tweet from a bloke on Twitter, complaining that he would not be able to bet on that match because of the planned maintenance. After a quick check on Betdaq to find the match (Alabama v LSU), I replied to him that it was going in-play on the purple place. He graciously thanked me.

Now that doesn't seem like much but it is no exaggeration to say that this man spends more time on Twitter chatting about gambling than any other of the 800+ people I follow / are following me. I don't think I have ever logged on and NOT seen this bloke posting up bets. He's constantly engaged in conversation about every single sport going. I'm not having a go (in fact, he comes across as a really nice guy - please don't unfollow me!) but the fact that this particular gambling afficianado had no idea that this game he wanted to bet on was on Betdaq (with over £20,000 matched on it), was astonishing. It shows just what Betdaq are up against when it comes to getting the masses of small fish punters to switch betting exchanges.

He obviously knew about Betdaq, yet hadn't even considered that he could simply place his bet (with lower commission) on another exchange. Or maybe he HAD considered it but then couldn't be bothered to even check the availability of a market for the match, which is even worse because that is just laziness as opposed to lack of knowledge. I mentioned apathy in my previous post and I think that's part of the problem here. If this bettor, of all bettors, cannot be arsed to even look elsewhere than Betunfair (deciding instead to not trade it at all and moan), then how on Earth are Betdaq ever going to catch up?

There was more matched pre-match on this frat boy 'football' game, than in all the tennis matches starting at midnight on Monday, combined; even after they'd finished in-play! I would be interested to know what Betunfair would have seen matched for this game but I'm guessing very few bothered to take the opportunity to move their money to Betdaq, judging from the poor in-play liquidity. It begs the question; do most of the people on Betunfair even care about leaving? Does higher commission actually bother them? Do they think they will ever do well enough to hit the PC charge? And do most of those who moan about Betdaq's liquidity and getting shafted by Betfair, actually do anything pro-active to change the status quo? I'm starting to think the answer is 'no' on all counts.

It's certainly dawned on me that I am wasting my time 'crusading' (a term I hate because really, all I'm trying to do is inform a few people) when I need to just look after myself. I do love a revolution though, what can I say, it's in my nature! I like pro-activity and positivity and I hate apathy and negativity - they get you nowhere in life.

Off-Court Beauty - world number 258 (has slipped from a top 30 spot due to long-term injury) Agnes Szavay of Hungary:

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Betdaq: What Next?

My own experiences with Betdaq tennis trading, started back in July 2011. If anyone has any doubts that Betdaq cannot attract traders over, read this blog post from July and check out the screenshots. I wrote on the blog that liquidity was excellent following the premium charge rate increase, downloaded all available API software and tried to trade matches (some of which had MORE liquidity than on Betfair). Unfortunately, I was doing badly at the time and only had a small amount of funds that I could transfer to Betdaq. I lost all that very quickly! But I had no problem getting matched. I tried again a few weeks later with a re-loaded bank but my issue was that trading using the free software available then, felt very cumbersome and it made trading too difficult. The Betdaq Jinx, continued! Basically, I was hamstrung until something more intuitive came out - Geek's Toy for Betdaq.

In fact, until last Tuesday night/morning (when I layed Cibulkova at 2-0 in set 3 in my only trade) I had lost every single trade I'd made on Betdaq! So now that I have software I can trade comfortably with, it's time to look at the alternative again. Despite the miserable liquidity on Tuesday, I'm fairly confident the latter stages at least, of the Australian Open will have strong liquidity and once the tour moves back to Europe in February, I think we might see an upsurge in the number of people trading. These next few weeks will perhaps give a greater indication of where Betdaq is at with tennis and I will be keenly reporting my experiences on the Purple Place and seeing if I can do what Robin Hood (of yesterday's post) said we should try.

However, I still know that Tuesday was a missed opportunity. People ARE staying up late to trade the tennis on Betfair with multi-millions being matched, so why not on Betdaq, even when there is no way of trading on Betfair? Apathy? Laziness? Not enough small fish to take advantage of? Probably a bit of everything.

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 255 (ex-top 30) Alona Bondarenko of the Ukraine.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Robin Hood to the Rescue?

I wanted to share with you a comment left here by Robin Hood (an apt name, considering he is taking from Betfair to give to Betdaq!), which is real food for thought:

"Here's a little story about my trading in Betdaq. 1st week after BF (Betfair) introduced the new PC, Betdaq markets were full with money. After that week the markets were suddenly empty again, but then it started to grow again - slow but steady improvements. I think late in August someone was working on a bot (don't know if it was a courtsider or just a bot copying BF odds) and this attracted more traders/punters.

Then came the US Open and as soon as there was only 1 match on at a time, the liquidity improved rapidly - if i remember correctly in the semis or even QF on a women's match, someone was playing around with stakes over 500k Euros. Besides him there were also courtsiders and regular traders who added their money to the market. This high liquidity continued till the end of 2011. Although after the US Open the markets looked dry, I was able to get matched. I don't care for horse racing or football markets, but tennis was the sport that improved quite rapidly over at Betdaq.

Protip: if there isn't any money in the market that doesn't mean you won't get matched - offer your money at a good price and some bot/bots will instantly take your offer.

For example, lets take a look at the last tournament in St.Petersburg. Matches started at a reasonable time 12:00 (GMT +2), Bet365 offered video feed with bad quality, but Betdaq didn't put the "TV" at the end of market name (markets with TV usually have high liquidity). I'm no expert but the tournament was crap, but i had no problem trading those markets. Yes, it was hard to get matched at the exact odds as Betfair, but the markets were tradeable.

Probably people don't know what to do when they see an empty ladder, because in Betfair you have everything in front of you. Be a market maker (lower commission) not a market taker and you'll be fine.

I hope that this somehow explained how i saw the liquidity in Betdaq last year."

If Robin Hood is right, then it won't really matter if there are gaps in the market, as long as someone (or something!) is taking our bet. It's worth a try, possibly during the Australian Open, where I would expect liquidity to be better than it has been this week. And to be honest, I'm done trying to convince others to move over and am just going to do what I can to try and make money for myself.

It does seem like a bit of a gamble though. First of all, you'd better know your stuff if you are going to start putting up prices. Anyone who doesn't know about value and how to price up a market is doomed. Also, there is no guarantee that you will definitely be matched, so what if you are left hanging when trying to trade out of the market? Often on Betfair, we are relying on a bunch of people who are panicking, being greedy or simply clueless about trading in order to get us our green or to help us cut our losses short. Without those people, is our money going to be taken at the odds we want? Are we just gonna get picked off by a bot or a court-sider if we stay in the market a fraction too soon? I don't think it's just a case of people not knowing what to do with a gappy / quiet market, I think that they are scared of what might happen if they do get involved, especially when they are small fish with a small bank.

Plus Robin Hood says 'offer your money at good odds and some bots will instantly take your money' - good odds for who? You or them?! I presume he means good odds for you because otherwise, you aren't trading with value but if the odds you are offering are not great value, why would they be taken by a bot? I'm a bit confused by that but maybe Robin Hood can explain some more.

Thanks to Robin Hood for the great comment.

OFF-COURT BEAUTY: World number 67, Argentina's Gisela Dulko

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Let's Get a Few Things Straight

I feel I need to clarify a few things about the shambles that was 'Betdaq Day', which some people seem to find very hard to grasp.

1. Some are saying that it was 'silly' or 'too optimistic' to expect Betdaq to have good liquidity on a night that was early in the week, didn't include a 'major' tennis tournament and a programme scheduled to run through the early hours of the morning GMT.

a) Betfair had MILLIONS of pounds being traded THE DAY BEFORE 'Betdaq Day', on a Monday, in the exact same tournaments (one of which was a Premier WTA event, one of the biggest of the year). This wasn't on just one game, it was spread over tens of games, with the televised ones with the bigger names attracting hundreds of thousands of matched bets. This happened EVERY DAY in January. I'm not sure where this myth has come from that everyone goes to bed and doesn't trade during the Australian swing, it's absolute bullshit! There may be less people trading than if the games were on during the daylight hours GMT but the way some people are commenting, you'd think it was a ghost town! I've traded on matches between 12 and 7am GMT every day since January 2nd and never had a problem getting matched. Matches at 4am have had enough liquidity to get thousands matched, if you so wish.

I'm currently watching Cirstea v Kerber (in Hobart, the smallest event of the week) and there is already £100K matched and only 5 mins have been played. £20K was matched in the time I wrote that last sentence and there are 2 other men's matches in-play at the same time. So please, let's drop all this crap about late night low liquidity. **Almost exactly £1 million was traded on the following match from Hobart, Gajdosova v Barthel and that didn't finish till after 4am GMT. Li v Kvitova started after 4am and has traded OVER £1 million halfway through set 2**

b) The whole idea behind 'Betdaq Day', was that as many people as possible who were trading those millions on the Monday, should switch for the one night to Betdaq, during Betfair down-time. How difficult is that to do? Answer: it isn't! But for whatever reason, people didn't. If they HAD, then obviously, the markets would have had the same millions being matched as on Betfair. That's not even up for debate, it's a FACT. Is that so hard to understand? It didn't even require everyone to switch. If just half of those people who traded on Betfair on Monday had put their money up on Betdaq the next day, we'd have seen a good night's liquidity.

2. 'Betdaq can never catch up with Betfair' - maybe not but again, people are missing the point. We don't NEED them to catch up, over-take or challenge Betfair for number 1. We just need more liquidity, even half of what Betfair has would do the trick. And if you think that can't be done, well you are wrong again. Back in July and August, there was actually MORE liquidity in several tennis matches on Betdaq! This proves that it can happen but for it to happen again and be sustained, it needs more people to be proactive and that specifically includes all the big players who make the markets and Betdaq themselves. If they aren't prepared to put their money up, then how can they expect all us small fish to follow suit?

3. And finally, let's just get one more thing straight; I am not a 'big player'. I don't pay the premium charge. I don't work for Betdaq (but if I did, you can be damn sure I'd be trying a lot harder than they appear to be to bring in new custom!). I write what I write about making the switch because I don't like the way Betfair operate these days and know that you will get a fairer deal on Betdaq, however big or small a player you are. I don't expect to make any sort of major difference to the markets whatsoever by what I post on this little blog. I expected people to be savvy enough to have made the switch to Betdaq on Tuesday regardless of anything I wrote. Well, I was wrong.

But that doesn't mean if you called what happened correctly, that you should be feeling smug. You are in the same position you were before - getting shafted or on the way to getting shafted, for up to 60% of your winnings. And if you aren't bothered enough about that happening to have even considered moving to Betdaq, then it probably means you don't believe you will ever be successful on Betfair. And if that's the case, then I can guarantee, you never will be.

Off-Court Beauty: World number 50, Russia's Elena Vesnina:

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Apparently, I'm Loaded

Yesterday's post about 'Betdaq Day' (or lack of), has created more responses than any post I've ever made on Centre Court Trading. By far the strangest of the lot was from NICK:

Sultan, I put some money pre-match and had £11 matched. I then looked in play and where was the money? Nowhere to be seen. Did you and the likes of tradeshark put any money in there? I didn't see much evidence that you did. Needless to say after 15 minutes of waiting just like everyone else I gave up and went to bed. And where were Betdaq pushing this? Nowhere! Nice idea but wrong time wrong place in this instance. There will be other opportunities but we might be waiting for some time yet.

Well, I don't really see what me or Trade Shark (the only two people who actually made any real effort to get the word out about trying out Betdaq) did, has anything to do with anything. 'Evidence'? What was Nick expecting to spot in the mammoth 15 minutes he spent somehow keeping tabs on all 7 match markets at once? Who does Nick think we are, Russian Mafia-affiliated market-makers? Asian syndicates with cash to burn? Cassini? I didn't realise I was expected to suddenly provide all of Betdaq's liquidity!

And what does Nick want, a pat on the back for offering up £11? Well done mate, you've put us all to shame! He couldn't even be bothered to wait more than a quarter of an hour before giving up (most money came in towards the end of the matches at low odds, so Nick is wrong when he says everyone gave up as early as he did) and never offered anything in-play, where it really matters. Anyone can stick up a few quid pre-match - there were thousands waiting to be matched before some of those games started.

I waited a damn sight longer than Nick monitoring the markets, so how would he know what I or Trade Shark or anyone else did? I don't place bets pre-match and I'm not going to offer anything unless I find an opportunity, am I? As it goes, I did actually put some cash up AND I got matched AND I made profit. I stayed watching the markets for over 3 hours (watched the Cibulkova-Wozniacki game)- so I waited longer AND (though it was only £50) put up more money in-play AND made a much bigger effort to alert people to Betdaq than Nick. That is unless he has a secret blog I don't know about where he's been shouting about moving to Betdaq all week.

Really not sure what Nick is getting at with this post. We all want the same thing here, it's just that some of us go around in a positive manner trying to be proactive and others start moaning at the slightest hint of things not going their way or before they've even tried properly. At least Nick had a (brief) look at Betdaq, which I'm sure is more than can be said for most traders. Will be discussing a much more positive comment tomorrow.

Off-Court Beauty: Canada's little-known world number 313, Heidi El Tabakh:

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


I'm absolutely disgusted at the lack of interest shown by tennis traders in the matches on Betdaq today. I never expected a mass migration or for hundreds of thousands to be matched in-play but what I see before me as I write is worse than I could ever have imagined - it's truly pathetic.

Of the 7 games that kicked off at midnight, only one of them had any tradeable amounts of money at all being circulated. That was Mannarino v Anderson but even then, the gaps between prices were huge and it was barely worth getting involved. When a Premier WTA event match involving Caroline Wozniacki and a top 20 player who beat her in the same tournament last year (Cibulkova), has only a grand matched pre-off and almost zero liquidity during play, you realise just how monumental the chasm is. It's currently 5-5 in set 1 and only 2k has been matched. Betunfair would have seen hundreds of thousands matched on that game, just as the bigger games on last night had.

Where are all the big players? Some big amounts have come into the market at sub 1.2 near the end of the Anderson game but still only 11k has been matched overall as Mannarino serves for the match. They would normally be setting the market (and some of the games looked promising with the amounts available pre-match) but as soon as the matches were turned in-play, all the money disappeared. This was not the case back in July and August following the introduction of the super premium charge. Every televised game had decent liquidity and you could at least be certain you'd get matched most of the time. But if the big fish can't be bothered (and let's face it, they are the ones most affected and should be making the biggest effort to put prices up today) then we may as well all just pull down our pants, bend over and beg Betunfair to continue buggering us.

The whole opportunity has ended up as a joke and Betunfair must be pissing themselves. I feel like an idiot for even attempting to drum up interest. Why did I bother when Betdaq themselves don't appear to have done anything whatsoever to incentivise or even give people a nudge in their direction specifically during this down-time? Apathy will always be the biggest killer of change and I honestly feel that most people just don't care. If you at least tried and gave Betdaq a look today, give yourself a pat on the back. If you didn't even bother, then you should be ashamed and you now have no right to ever moan about the premium charge or any of Betunfairs many other misdemeanours ever again.

Our only hope now is that Ladbrokes get into bed with The Daq - cos that now appears the only way we'll ever be able to stop getting screwed by Betunfair.

Off-Court Beauty: just to cheer me up, here's Russia's world number 125 Anastasia Pivovarova:

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Tennis Traders Unite!

On Tuesday at 00.01 GMT, me and all my fellow tennis traders have a unique opportunity. We can change the face of tennis on the betting exchanges. I know that some of you will be sitting there thinking 'It won't happen' but I say that it is exactly that sort of negative attitude that has us in the position we are in today, whereby we are getting shafted for up to 60% of our hard-earned profit.

OK, I can understand that people have been reluctant to be the first to make the switch to Betdaq and put up prices to set markets - too much effort for not enough reward, right? Especially when you are just a small fish, with a small bank, who isn't likely to hit the PC for years.

But now, you've been given an ultimatum by Betfair - give up almost a whole day's tennis trading (8 hours at least and who is to say it won't go on for longer) or go elsewhere. They think you won't be going anywhere, which is exactly why they've chosen to do this 'essential maintenance' directly through the tennis schedule. Do you think they would plan this outage during a busy horse racing afternoon or a couple of Premier League matches? Hell no! No other sport is going to be affected quite as badly as tennis, which shows just how much disregard is being shown towards us.

However you look at it, this does have one massive advantage for all us tennis traders - a window of opportunity. As usual, Betdaq don't appear to have cottoned onto this opening (can't see any promotion at all on their site regarding tennis on Tuesday - they should have me on their marketing team!), so it's up to us to make a difference. But we can be the first sport to really tip the balance in Betdaq's favour. All we have to do is make a small effort and try out Betdaq for a few hours on Tuesday morning. If liquidity looks good (and it WILL look good if EVERYONE who would normally have traded on Betunfair that night, makes the move) then it's a case of keeping things as they are - stay on Betdaq.

It really is that simple. But it won't work unless everyone (big and small players) make the effort. Us tennis traders can be heroes this Tuesday January 11th - BETDAQ DAY. Don't sit there and do nothing, like a mug.

Off-court Beauty: world number 18 Dominica Cibulkova of Slovakia:

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Betdaq Day

1. Deposit money into moth-ridden Betdaq account

2. Download newly released Geeks Toy for Betdaq

3. Tuesday 10th January from 00.01 GMT, start trading on Betdaq as Betfair unavailable

4. Keep trading on Betdaq for 3% commission and no Premium Charge

5. Stop moaning about lack of liquidity on Betdaq!

It's so simple, even a mug punter can do it - and I know you aren't one of them, are you?!

No more 'Strong Is Beautiful' photos left (the final one is currently the background to the blog, the recently retired Elena Dementieva of Russia), so thought I'd start a new photo feature: Off-Court Beauties. You may have noticed, if you are as obsessed with female tennis players as I am, that most of our WTA stars look a lot more beautiful away from the tennis court.

Not surprising really; it's hard to look glamorous with your hair scraped back, no make-up, sweating profusely under a baseball cap! But many of the girls are unrecognisable off-court and so I thought it would be nice to show a few of their more flattering poses, starting today with Bulgarian world number 46, Tsvetana Pironkova:

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Betdaq - The Time Has Come

Roll up, roll up, all tennis traders! The time has come to spend at least one full day / night trading entirely on Betdaq. As you may be aware, Betunfair have chosen Tuesday January 10th from 00.00 - 10.00 GMT, to conduct 'essential planned site maintenance'. This basically means the entire day's tennis programme (all matches from Sydney, Hobart and Auckland) will be unavailable - nice work yet again from everyone's favourite betting emporium.

Still, it may just be a blessing in disguise. The Geek's Toy is now available for Betdaq and it's exactly the same as the Betunfair version, so there is no excuse left now folks - Tuesday January 10th simply HAS to be Betdaq Day for any sane-minded tennis trader. I would urge you all to simply keep your money over on the Purple Place on Wednesday 11th, which will then mean there is no need whatsoever for anyone to ever return to Old Blue. Imagine that! I mean, think about it. Why would anyone even consider moving their bank back over once everyone has already moved? This shouldn't just be Betdaq Day, it should be Betdaq YEAR! The chance to finally make the switch we've nearly all been wanting to make is now here, not only for Wednesday but FOREVER.

What's the betting half of all traders just lazily take the day off and the other half end up moving back to the lover who beats them - 1.01? It's up to you, fellow tennis traders - let's hand out a gubbing! Now is the time to make the switch or else keep your tongue sheethed forever about Betdaq's 'poor liquidity'. Don't be a mug. I'll see you on Tuesday and beyond, on Purple.

Here's world number 29, Russia's Nadia Petrova:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Rusty Ladders

My first few days of trading after over a month's break have been a bit of a struggle. There's no doubt I'm suffering from rustiness, which is not a great surprise after so long without a single trade. I've found myself reverting to old bad habits, which shows that I still have a lot of work to do in order to fully ingrain all those new techniques which I was learning towards the end of last season.

One of my New Year's trading resolutions was to be more patient and this has been the biggest issue, yet again. I've jumped into a few situations where it would've been more profitable to have kept my powder dry and wait for a better opportunity. Even though I've made mistakes, I feel as though I just need a few more days to get back in the swing of things, get used to my schedule and get used to implementing things correctly, and I will be fine.

Despite these issues, I have to say that I have never felt more in-tune with the markets. I have read almost every game superbly but unfortunately, the little devil on my left shoulder has shouted more fiercely than the angel on my right shoulder! As such, I've made some inexplicable decisions which have contradicted my gut-feeling. Like I say, it's just those last remnants of the old approach, clinging onto my subconscious. Only practice, practice and more practice, will eventually get me back doing the rights things. Overall though, I have to say it's good to be back on the ladders and I'm really looking forward to this season.

Here's world number 37, Israel's Shahar Pe'er:

Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I finished 2011 with my 'Low-lights' of the year but want to start 2012 positively, with a couple of highlights from my first year of blogging. I struggled badly over the summer and was forced to make drastic changes to my entire approach. It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. I finally found a style that suited my personality, fully grasped the concept of value and over-came my issues with focus, frustration and redding-up. These two posts were made just when trading finally began to click for me in all aspects:

'Right Brain Trading'

The Perfect 24 Hours

We should always be striving to improve as traders though, so my New Year trading resolutions are as follows:

1. Continue to trade only when I feel there is value
2. Trade without any monetary goals or time-limits
3. Continue not to look at my P&L until the end of each week
4. Move as much as possible over to Betdaq once the Geek's Toy purple is released
5. Take time off from trading more often, when required
6. Continue to work on keeping those frustration levels low
7. Eradicate my impatience

If I manage not to break those resolutions, 2012 might just be my year. Here's world number 68, Russia's Alisa Kleybanova (yes, that is actually her - amazing what make -up can do these days! She has this as her Twitter profile photo, so clearly agrees!):