Saturday, 29 September 2012

Football Cliches

Just a short post today. One of the things I hate most about football is that it's riddled with tiresome cliches. In my previous post, I wrote about how many of these cliches, beliefs and generalisations, were not based on statistical fact and many were actually downright wrong. Today, I stumbled across a brilliant website which is dedicated towards writing about football cliches. The first post I read (posted on the Betting Expert website but written by the same author), made me laugh more than just about any blog post I've ever read:

What the average TV pundit knows about the Euro 2012 teams

This website is superbly written and so spot-on with its insight, I couldn't resist adding it to my blogroll, despite the fact it is unrelated to trading. If you love football, I urge you to take a look. I will no longer curse at the glut of cliches I hear every single day relating to football and thanks to this site, will instead learn to laugh at them.

It is still quite depressing that the likes of Shearer and Hansen can get paid so much for doing so little. Hansen once admitted that he was a Premier League elitist (his words) i.e. he only likes and bothers watching the big clubs. Shearer once famously admitted he didn't know anything about his own club Newcastle United's newest big name signing (Hatem Ben Arfa, I think it was), despite the fact he was analysing the player on Match of the Day! The above post was made with pundits like these two in mind - experts who make no effort to do any research and just turn up and blurt out tired old cliches in an attempt to mask their lack of knowledge. Enjoy!

Anastasia Pivovarova:

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Torres Torture: A Year On

Long term readers might remember that this time last year, I made a disastrous current score lay during the Manchester Utd v Chelsea tie. A missed Rooney penalty (he kicked the ball onto his own foot!) and THAT Torres open-goal howler, compounded the misery. The aftermath was the real bank-buster though, as I completely lost the plot:

Torres Torture

So have the wounds healed a year on? Well, it wasn't my last atrocious football bet but I certainly haven't been involved in a match with the same devastating consequences. I can't really be trusted with soccerball, I have just never had the discipline. Until now. With the tennis season coming to a close soon, I have decided that I'm ready to go back and face my fears head on. I can laugh at what happened now but at the time, it almost resulted in me bombing out of trading. So I'm going to attempt to use my new skills honed through tennis trading, on the football markets. I'll be re-visiting some old techniques which I always felt could work in the hands of a sane person. Well, now I have officially re-gained my sanity which was lost during those football trading years, it's time to see if I can make some money.

I've always had a reasonable knowledge of football, though I suppose the vast majority of fans would say the same thing! The truth is that until you really start to watch it day in, day out, looking for patterns and statistical analysis, you probably don't truly know football as well you think you do. There are a lot of myths and completely untrue generalisations which are spoken widely amongst fans, which you will soon find dispelled.  I always remember being surprised at how ingrained some of my beliefs were, which were totally disproved within a few weeks of  watching football from all over the world. Much of it stems from listening to commentators, pundits and journalists who we just take for granted, know more than us. Yet a lot of what they feed us is based on their own prejudices. Some of them don't watch anywhere near as much football as traders do. In short, they've grown up with the same set of ingrained beliefs that we have.

For example, the idea that Italian football is full of nil-nils and low scoring games. Yet Serie A over the last decade, has never had a season where the average goals per game has totalled under 2.5. You can't say the same about the Premier League.

Another thing that you see written regularly across the Internet, is when a team goes 3-0 up or you get a 2-2 or 3-2 in the first half, people seem to think that the game will continue in this vein. This actually rarely happens, as the team in front tend to take their foot off the gas and the teams leaking goals tighten up defensively.

A very common theme is that when a match starts with a very fast pace, with end to end attacking, people will always say 'there will be loads of goals in this'. Anyone who watches games regularly will know that the first few minutes do not always dictate the way the rest of the match will go. Generally, things will calm down as the adrenaline wears off and players take a breather and the match will settle.

Another common misconseption is that a team that has a 0-0 draw will almost certainly not produce the same result in their next game (often prompting a lay of 0-0). Yet my own research showed that actually, the chances of this happening are quite big. It's amazing how many teams produce two or three nil-nils in quick succession.

In the UK, it is particularly bad regarding foreign football. The  rubbish spoken about other leagues and international teams is often laughable, yet these are stereotypes that the average football fan believes and will take into account when placing bets. My favourite has to be the one that crops up whenever a team at the top of the Premier League gets beaten by one near the bottom. You will always get an ex-footballer who says "That's what makes the Premier League the best in the world - you don't get this in other leagues". Which is of course, complete bollocks! Upsets don't happen any more frequently in England than they do elsewhere but this notion can prompt people to back top European teams like Milan and Bayern at silly prices against any team they've 'never heard of'. In fact, there are some leagues which are consistently more competitive across the board - the Bundesliga immediately springs to mind.

And internationally, there are STILL people who have the archaic view that teams from Africa can't defend and lack the strategic nouse of European teams. Whilst it may have been the case decades ago, it certainly isn't today with the stronger nations, especially as most of them are or have been managed by Europeans with players at top European clubs. The way that a whole continent is continually lumped together as being the same, borders on ridiculous.

My point is that there are a large proportion of people involved in the markets who believe they know more about football than they actually do. If you can use this to your advantage, you have a chance of making money. Next time you have a belief about something happening in a  match, try and think about where that belief stems from and if it's actually based on hard evidence - you might surprise yourself!

Maria Kirilenko:

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Luck Factor

An excellent post on High Class Equine recently and one that's close to my heart. I've mentioned many times on Centre Court Trading that I don't believe in luck, at least, not in the sense that people or things can be labelled as lucky or unlucky. One of the reasons I believe this is because of a book called 'The Luck Factor', written by Richard Wiseman. This book is the subject of the aforementioned blog post and it's not an exaggeration to say it changed my life. I was given it by a friend close to a decade ago and was shocked to see my own life so closely replicated in the real-life anecdotes.

The HCE post explains things in greater detail but basically, 'The Luck Factor' shows how people who thought they were either lucky or unlucky in life, were in fact, neither. The 'lucky' people were just more positive, open, friendly and pro-active, which in turn, presented them with greater opportunities to succeed in life - which they grabbed gratefully. The 'unlucky' people, believed they didn't have a great life because nothing seemed to go right for them and as such, had given up - a self fulfilling prophecy. 'Unlucky' people are just negative towards life, which in turn, means they shut themselves off from other people and opportunities - sometimes deliberately, sometimes subconsciously.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was one of those 'unlucky' people for much of my life. After reading 'The Luck Factor', I changed my entire outlook on life and as such, began to do better in all areas; from work, to love, to finance. Now all this may sound obvious to many of you (the  basic ethos is pretty simple) but it wasn't to me, so I can assure you, there will be plenty of people out there who will gain a lot from this book. Sometimes, the answers are staring you in the face but you can't see the wood for the trees. Even those subjects in the book who were classed as lucky, often just assumed they had great lives because they were born lucky. It never occurs to them that they got what they want from life because of their own personality.

This relates to trading in two ways; your strategy and your overall view of trading. Strategy-wise, luck does come into things to a certain extent. For example, if a player you have backed suddenly picks up an injury and retires, leaving you no chance to hedge your position, that is bad luck. It was completely out of your hands.  However, if you have a solid strategy which you always adhere to, these things should in theory, even themselves out over time - retirements will also give you some profit for doing nothing!

Bad runs are often labelled as 'bad luck' by a trader. When I hit  a long run of reds, I have learnt not to view it as bad luck, just a spell of undesirable variance. Looking at it negatively can get you frustrated and lead to poor discipline. I just view it as a natural occurrence and that probability will eventually even things out by giving me a good run of greens. If that doesn't happen, then I know I need to perhaps analyse my strategy or execution again.

The problem is that it can be tough to know whether you are experiencing bad variance or you have a bad strategy or you are just not a good enough trader yet. To become a top trader, you must be able to tell the difference between these things. Some people ditch the strategy before giving enough time for variance to even out. Some have a great strategy but can't make it profitable due to poor discipline or inexperience. Some think that bad variance is the cause of their poor recent run but it may be their own inadequacies that they can't see or won't admit to. Only being honest with yourself will determine which is which.

Luck in trading is only a short term thing. Anyone can start their trading career well, just by placing a random set of bets which all come off. But long term, I believe there is no luck in trading. Variation is all that exists and if you are still losing after a reasonable period of time, then  you aren't unlucky - your strategy is no good or you are not good enough at executing it yet.

As for your overall view of trading, that is the same as your overall view of life. If you are positive and believe you can be successful and then go about being pro-active and working hard, even when the odds are against you (as they are in trading), then the probability of succeeding increases. Just as the best teams seem to get all the penalty decisions and 'lucky' late goals, it's more likely because they are the ones doing all the attacking, never giving up on the win. Blaming 'bad luck' will get you nowhere, there is no luck involved - it's just good maths.

Tamira Paszek:

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sacrificing Social Life

I remember last year, receiving a link to a new trading blog. It was written by a guy who did exactly the same as me - decided to go full-time, whilst he had redundancy pay to live off for a while. The very first post, I remember reading in complete shock. The author said that (on his very first day of full-time trading) he was going to a party that evening and was going to attempt to trade on his mobile whilst there! As soon as I read that, I knew that here was someone who was never going to succeed with that attitude.  If you are serious, professional and enthusiastic about trading, the last thing you do is put your social life ahead of your livelihood. And if you do choose to socialise, you certainly don't jeopardise your money by trading on a phone whilst presumably full of alcohol surrounded by nubile young ladies and other distractions (I'm guessing it was that kind of party!).

I don't think having a social life and learning to trade are mutually exclusive. But let's face it, if you work full-time, you have to trade in your spare time and that means evenings and weekends for most - so your social life is going to take a hammering. If you aren't prepared to do that, then things are going to move at a very slow pace. Just look how long it's taken me to get where I am - 2 and a half years of trading tennis FULL-TIME. And that's with plenty of over-time thrown in! I certainly don't consider myself out of the ordinary in that. I would be surprised if I wasn't a typical example of an average person who goes into trading.

I'm certainly not mathematically gifted, nor was I involved in the betting industry to any extent beforehand. I went in completely cold, other than knowledge of the game of tennis (though little about the players or the tour). On the other hand, I'm not stupid (despite the atrocious bank decimating bets I've placed at times!) and have been successful at everything I've turned my hand to down the years (though there is a theory that this can actually be detrimental to becoming a successful trader). Add in a couple of years of football betting and you have a long period of 'training' which some people wouldn't require to reach the same stage but I'm sure just as many would. And I'm still learning - and keen to learn more. If that's at the expense of social life, then so be it. I don't expect to reap the rewards till further down the line.

I still occasionally read comments on blogs and forums that make me shake my head in disbelief. Such as people coming home drunk and trading. Or getting frustrated because they have been trading for a couple of months but aren't making any money. Or coming back from a long break and thinking they can just carry on doing what they did unsuccessfully before, only this time, it'll be successful. Only those who work the hardest will succeed in this game. By that, I don't mean those who spend the most hours trading, I mean those who work the hardest away from the ladders too - reading, analysing notes, researching stats, watching matches etc. A lot of people trade everything going but expect to improve just through that. For most, it'll take a lot more because you need to analyse and change your flaws and I don't think many traders are prepared to do that. They'd rather be getting drunk at a party. That's fine but don't expect to become loaded with anything less than a strong work ethic.

I bring this up now as a follow up to the questions asked of me by 'Speedwave'. Some of his questions were based around the fact that trading shouldn't be at the detriment of what really matters in life. My point is that if you are looking to become a professional trader or have any aspirations of making a lot of money, then it HAS to be at the detriment of some things. It's how much of a detriment it becomes that is the key here; does it take over your life to the extent that you are trading from dusk till dawn, 7 days a week or does it mean sacrificing a few weekends, evenings or social occasions? I'll admit, it was the former for me for a long time. I feel I've got the balance right now. I trade when I feel up to it and no longer. But at the same time, I treat it as a business and schedule social life around my trading - unless it's something I REALLY fancy attending. I still like to get drunk every now and then, just like most others. I just make sure I'm not anywhere near a betting exchange from the moment I leave the house till the moment I stop feeling like I'm about the spew forth the contents of my intestines the next day!

Julia Goerges:

Friday, 14 September 2012

Green Envy

I have to hold my hands up and admit that I still get envious at people's greens. That's why I banned myself a long time ago from looking at other's P&L screenshots. Occasionally though, one catches me off-guard and slips through the net and this happened recently on Twitter. You may know of a guy called Matt who used to write the brilliant blog. He's a tennis specialist and been trading for far longer than me, with the blog retired long before I started Centre Court Trading. He slipped in a sneaky jpeg on a tweet and I was unexpectedly greeted with an all green scenario; £500 on player A, £26,000 on player B.

There are two ways you can look at this. Either it's something to aspire to, a sign of what is possible if you make it as a top trader, a motivational, inspirational screenshot. Or you can view it as I did; demoralising, bringing out the worst inadequacies and causing the questioning of everything involved with trading strategy. Which is weird because Matt's blog (along with Cassini and Mark Iverson's) has been one of my biggest influences and a huge factor in inspiring me to keep going. He never posted his P&L on there though and if I remember rightly, that was a policy of his blog. But I guess when you are going through a tough spell (as I am right now), these things tend to get to you more.

I'm not jealous but I am definitely envious. I also understand that he has far more experience than me and is at a level where he can make those enormous greens because he's worked hard to get there. But most importantly, I understand that it's all relative and anyone who makes those kind of greens, will also be making some rather hefty reds too. So I was very pleased when the following day, Matt offered up an all-red screenshot (-£12,000 on both players) to balance things out; a gesture which most traders wouldn't dream of doing. It puts a bit more realism into trading. There's enough bravado as it is in this game, so it was nice to see. It's very easy to worry about what others are doing and compare yourself to the next trader. It can make you question what you are doing wrong, even when you are doing the right things - especially when you are scratching around for £25 greens and you see someone making 1000 times that amount!

One thing you read a lot on the net, particularly I've noticed with tennis trading, is that matches are labelled a 'trader's dream' because they have a lot of swings and ups and downs. But as Matt himself said along with the all-red tweet, "one man's dream is another man's nightmare". These traders who brag about the profit they made from these matches, seem to assume that tennis trading is easy in a topsy-turvy match. If it was as simple as just laying every time the price goes one way and then repeating, we'd all be rich.

The fact is, you can't just blindly 'lay and leave' every time the price goes one way. Every strategy needs an exit point, a stop-loss. Unless you get very lucky, it's unlikely you'll get to ride every momentum swing to the exact point it stops and turns again. You may be on a roll but then have to exit at 0-40, then your player wins 5 points in a row, takes the game and continues the momentum - you didn't catch the whole swing. You might enter, see your trade go red, hang on for ages but hit your stop-loss just one point before the start of  a huge swing you were hoping for. Frustrating, but what would have happened if you'd stayed in and lost the next point? It's the little details between the huge momentum shifts that matter and how you react to the smaller spikes and dips.

There are so many different ways of executing strategy that no one can ever say a match was a 'trader's dream' and it riles me whenever I see comments like this - though admittedly, they are often by people with something to sell. They want it to seem like every match has low-risk lays which come off every time and run smoothly from one extreme on the graph to the other. That rarely happens. Don't be fooled into thinking that every trader is catching every swing. Just blindly 'laying and leaving' will mean you will inevitably get the odd match where do you catch every swing and when you do, it'll look so good and seem so easy that you can be fooled into thinking you've found the holy grail.

The truth is that variance will eventually catch up with you and you'll get a slew of reds where the match trained to 1.01. Even if it was low risk, they can mount up quite quickly. And even if they don't train all the way, you should often be looking to exit and protect your bank, rather than letting it ride. I guess that's the trade-off; do you let a trade run to conclusion and risk losing the whole liability but also leaving you a chance of making a profit, or do you red up and reduce your maximum loss but lose out on any potential swing into profit? It really depends on the individual. Do what works for you but never get drawn into thinking one way is right and yours is wrong. Be careful what you read - don't let that green envy get to you!

P.S. If Matt is reading this, did you get the full £26,000? And how much do you charge for lessons?!

Caroline Wozniacki:

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Muzzard and Me

It goes without saying that I'm very happy for Andy Murray today. It also goes without saying that there will STILL be a lot of very bitter haters. Just as I felt satisfied that my progress this year has shoved a few words back down people's throats, I'm sure the new US Open Champion will allow himself a wry smile in memory of all those fools who claimed he'd never win a slam. What I don't understand about those who said this, is how you can possibly be so certain that someone will never achieve something? He was amongst the best 4 players in the world, had beaten the other 3 on many occasions, was still in his early 20's and had already reached Grand Slam finals before. It was hardly a huge leap to go from that, to winning a final. I've always maintained he at least COULD win one, because I understood that he only needed to make a few improvements to get over the finish line. To say he would NEVER win one, so comprehensively, is like saying no one can ever improve at anything.

I like to think that the Muzzard and me have many similarities. Brush aside the fact that he is a multi-millionaire, Grand Slam winning, gold medal owning, national hero with a rather hot girlfriend and we have a fair bit in common. You see, when I was around Murray's age, in my early 20's, I was very much a negative individual. I was one of those people who would find cynicism in most things. I would be the one with the sarcastic jibe and the glass half-empty mentality. I'm not saying that Murray is necessarily the same (he must have some positivity to get where he has as a tennis player) but I do believe that he has a natural tendency to err on the negative and the cautious side of life. You can see it not only in his style of play (which is to counter-punch and draw mistakes from opponents, rather than dictate play and go for winners) but also in his emotional reactions. He berates himself, focuses on the bad things he does, holds various body parts when things aren't going well. A naturally positive person doesn't do those things to that extent. But that doesn't mean a person cannot change.

It took someone new who came into my life to tell me to my face (in a friendly way) that I was often quite negative; talking too much about the bad stuff that had happened to me and over-doing the sarcasm. I had no idea I was that bad, so it wasn't until she said this that I sat up and started analysing myself, wondering if I could be a better person and have a better life. She was my Ivan Lendl (though she looked rather prettier than an Easter Island head)! I'm pretty sure that his input has been the decisive factor in Murray's turn-around with his on-court demeanour. This year, he's been far more positive with body language and mentally, he is now on a par with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. It hasn't happened over-night because it's not an easy thing to do, to change the way your mind works. It's a gradual process that you have to work hard on every day but it's finally sunk in for him. And that positivity has seeped into his game too - now much more able to attack on the front-foot when required.

I not only became more positive in my outlook on life (which completely turned my life around in a few short years) but also did the same thing with my trading. It is a year to the very day, when I started to overhaul my tennis trading strategy (which had failed for so long). It was this post that signified my first day of trying out the techniques that I use today:

Growing Balls

Reading back on all my September 2011 posts feels great because it was a time of real excitement for me. I was working so hard back then but I could see light at the end of a very long tunnel - trading was starting to make sense. Like Murray, I was changing from a cautious style to a more aggressive one, taking on more risks. I also had to work on my mind because I used to berate myself even more than he did! But I knew, probably like he did, that I had to change. I think a lot of traders bomb out of the game because they are not willing to change what is failing; either through fear, stubbornness or a lack of work-ethic. They would do well to take a look at Andy Murray as a prime example of what can be achieved just through a shift in attitude and good old fashioned blood, sweat and tears. Congratulations, you miserable ol' Muzzard!

Gisela Dulko:

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Some Deep Questions About Trading

"Did it ever occur to you that trading is not going to make you happy long term? From what I see, you have a very good education - teacher, writer. I don't think you ''deserve'' to stay in the trading world. Taking money from others for our advantage, is not a good ethical thing to do. Sometimes you can make a trader lose his bank with a good single trade. Will that fit your educational standards? All I want to say is that we are affected in many ways: social life, family etc - those things are the real ''value'' for someone like you. To be honest, I take advantage reading your blog and learning from it, but I also think about you as a person. I don't know why, but I feel that sooner or later you will give up and get back to real values."

The above comment (slightly tidied up as author's first language is not English, though still high standard) was submitted by 'speedwave' to my blog following my last post. I thought to do it justice, I would need to answer it as an actual blog post. There are some really interesting questions there which I would like to delve into. 

Did it ever occur to you that trading is not going to make you happy long term?

The short answer is 'yes!'. Of course it has occurred to me many times that trading possibly won't make me happy.  In fact, it's made me rather unhappy for several years! That was until this year. Trading alone, is never going to make me happy. Love is what really motivates most of us to do what we do, in order to become fulfilled; love for a partner, love for family, love for our friends. But it is undeniable that, whilst money can't buy love, it can put you in a greater position to find/share/experience it, as long as you use it wisely.

I am not personally driven by material things. I don't buy anything based purely on what brand it is. I am not into flashy cars or jewellery or owning the latest gadgets or shelling out for the finest hotels or restaurants. These things do not motivate me. But trading is essentially, all about making money. To some extent, you need to be motivated by money in order to be successful at trading. For me, it is more about the freedom of choice that money can give you, not the material goods you can accrue with it. That potential freedom is what drives me as a trader.

The great thing for me personally about sports trading, is that I love sport. I would never be any good at financial trading because I have little interest in the subject. FOREX and Stock Exchanges and Futures just leave me glazed. But sport on the other hand, now I can get involved in that and truly enjoy myself. Now that I'm actually making money through trading, sport has become even more enjoyable! So trading is beginning to make me happier.

Is sports trading going to make me happy long term? I can't answer that. Who knows what the future may bring. But if it all goes to plan, I am certain that it can put me in a position where I am comfortable financially. And when I have that, I hope to have greater freedom than a 9-5 rat-race job with less opportunity to scale-up and take time off, could offer me. With that freedom will come greater opportunities to do things that REALLY make me happy - producing music, travelling, playing more sport and spending more time with those I love. There is no point thinking about the negative side too much. I would not have got to where I am without positive thinking. The moment you start focusing on the bad stuff, is the moment you start along the path of a loser.

From what I see you have a very good education - teacher, writer. I don't think you ''deserve'' to stay in the trading world.

By 'deserve' I think speedwave means that I deserve better than to waste my education being a trader. I do have a decent education although to be honest, both the writing and the teaching jobs I've done (just as with my DJ-ing) were not successful because of my degree. Having a degree gave me a quicker entry into becoming a teacher but if I hadn't been a hard-working, driven, self-motivated and positive individual, I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did. My freelance writing was built up entirely from scratch - no qualifications or training at all. DJ-ing and then club promoting, was something I worked hard to become good at; winning competitions, making contacts and behind all that, hundreds of hours of practice on my own in my bedroom, when I could've been out doing other things.

When opportunities came along, I grabbed them and took risks in all of those jobs. You could say it was down to luck but I don't believe in luck - you make your own 'luck' in life by putting yourself in the right position to grasp hold of opportunities when they arrive. You do that by being pro-active, positive, hard-working and open towards others. I could've done pretty much everything I've done without higher education.

It was my choice to go into trading. I was unhappy about being made redundant (twice) and always having that spectre of uncertainty about my job. I loved teaching but felt it had run its course anyway. I was exhausted with all the bureaucracy involved and the constant assessment and the awful management and the 9-5 grind. It was my choice not to go back into it. As with writing, I wanted to try trading so that my future would be better - more freedom. But I knew immediately with writing (and much later with trading), that it would take a long while before I got to a position where I had that freedom. Sure, there are professions that I would find more fulfilling but very few that could give me that financial and time-related freedom.

Taking money from others for our advantage is not a good ethical thing to do. Sometimes you can make a trader lose his bank with a good single trade. Will that fit your educational standards?

That's a bit hypocritical coming from a trader! If you seriously have these worries then you should quit trading right now! This is what we do, that's what trading is - taking money from others. It's dog eat dog, we are all fighting for the flow of money in the markets and some will win, some will lose. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, who doesn't understand this, is not trading properly. All my trades are based on what the market is doing and the market is just a collective term for all the bettors and traders. If you don't place trades based on what that collective is doing, then you are just gambling and guessing.

I've lost my bank on many occasions but I don't sit there and blame the people who took my money - it was my fault. We are all adults and have to accept responsibility for our actions. Trading isn't unethical. We all have the same access to the same trading tools and we are all watching the same sporting events. It's an equal opportunity for anyone (court-siders and insider-dealing aside!) to achieve. There is no clear advantage or disadvantage to anyone. And if you think there is, why even bother trading?

Being well educated doesn't make you more ethical than anyone else. Educational standards have nothing to do with this, it's not a question of morality. You cannot 'make' a trader lose his bank - HE loses his bank by being stupid enough to risk all that money. Rule number one of trading is 'never trade with money you can't afford to lose'.

All I want to say is that we are affected in many ways: social life, family etc - those things are the real ''value'' for someone like you. To be honest I take advantage reading your blog and learning from it, but I also think about you as a person. I don't know why, but I feel that sooner or later you will give up and get back to real values.

As I mentioned above, those values are the same for EVERYONE, no matter what your educational background is. I think speedwave means that I am trading at the expense of social life and family but to me, trading is no different to any other form of employment that can provide great financial reward.

If you were training or working towards being a doctor or lawyer or a sportsman or an actor, you have to put in the hours. No one became successful in any of those industries without some form of sacrifice. That might be giving up a varied social life because you have to swot up for medical exams or not having a serious relationship because you have to travel and compete all over the world as an athlete or not being able to spend any money and live in a nice place because you are an out of work actor waiting tables, trying to get your big break. At the heart of most success stories is a tale of sacrifice and often hardship. If you don't want something badly enough, there will always be someone who has greater determination than you who will beat you to it. Ask almost any successful long term trader and they will say the same.

I could give up trading and go and get an easy, dull 9-5 job with plenty of time for those "real values" but will that get me to where I want to be in 5 years time? If I stick at it and continue progressing, I could make a lot of money and who knows what other opportunities that may lead to - within trading or something entirely different. I've made a lot of sacrifices to attempt to become a profitable trader but I'm sure they are no different to many in that 1% (or whatever it is) who have made it as pro traders. But the aim is always for a better future (which would give me MORE time for those 'real values') and if I didn't have that as a goal which I believe I could achieve, I would have given up a long time ago. Some people are fine with the norm and just getting by, leading an average life but I'm not. I've always taken risks because that is what usually leads to great things (even though it can get you in hot water too!) and I'll continue to do so until I get where I want to be.

Thanks for the questions speedwave, I enjoyed answering them. I always welcome comments and questions, so if anyone has any more, feel free to leave some. They really help with material for the blog too!

Dominica Cibulkova:

Sunday, 2 September 2012

God Bless the US Open

Now, I'm not a man of faith (in fact, I'm as strong an atheist as you are ever likely to meet) but even so, I have been thanking the lord for the good ol' US of A and its most tremendous of tennis tournaments because it has hauled me out of a sticky August mud-hole. I have traded poorly for 3 weeks (as I mentioned in my previous post) but I think the fact there was no tennis to trade the day before Flushing Meadows began, enabled me to relax, simmer down and garner myself for the final Grand Slam of 2012.

The last 5 days have been some of the best trading I've ever done, completely turning my month around into something respectable. It helped that I made the brave (stupid?) decision to up my stakes by a couple of percent, without actually increasing my bank. It just seemed to bring back that extra sharpness and focus that had been lacking all month. I actually felt a little fear when entering the markets, for the first time in many months. This added pressure worked to keep me on my toes and make sure that I did everything thoroughly and professionally. Once the greens started to roll in (and fortunately, they came immediately) I was quickly relaxed, fearless and into my old rhythm. I have always maintained that if I am as focused as I can be and my body and mind are working close to optimum levels, I will continue to make money from trading. Nothing proved that more than these first few days in New York.

So now that I'm working with slightly larger stakes, how do I feel? First of all, I should state that I have traded using much higher stakes than these a couple of years ago and they were a much higher percentage of my bank too. So seeing larger liabilities does not pose an issue. After the initial feeling of anxiety at changing up a gear, I knew I would be fine as long as I didn't immediately hit a spell of bad variance. It was a risk I took because that could've easily happened and that may have resulted in a bad reaction. But it's done now and the risk paid off, so I will continue to trade with this larger percentage of the bank.

Hopefully, if profits increase over the next 2 months, I'll be able to start next season with a bigger bank and then increase stakes further but as I said in my last post, unforeseen circumstances have meant I will have to withdraw most, if not all profit made for the foreseeable future. That became even more true a couple of days ago, when my boiler cylinder decided to wake me up in the middle of the night - it was leaking and dripping water was cascading through the ceiling lights, soaking my living room! So that's more money I'll have to put aside - it never rains but it pours!

It's so frustrating because I'd love the opportunity to just blitz through the remaining 2 months of the tennis season and gather up a nice little nest-egg for a 2013 campaign which would promise to produce the kind of money which I could comfortably live off. Whilst this month's profits are the lowest I've recorded since January, the way I look at it, if I can make this during a bad month, I should be very confident going forward. I just have to keep reminding myself of how far I've come over the past year; from almost giving up to now being at the point where I can actually make regular profits. Patience is a virtue - much more so than any silly, out-dated religious doctrine.

Heidi El Tabakh: