Wednesday, 28 November 2012

QPR, Andy Roddick, James Arthur & Alan Sugar!

I've got really itchy fingers from not trading or blogging for 2 weeks so thought I'd do a catch-up today, with a few things which may be of interest.

Firstly, I've decided to have a go at trading a long term football market. With QPR sacking Mark Hughes and installing Harry Redknapp, I believe there may be some value in laying them in the relegation market. A quick look at their fixture list last weekend, gave me cause to think that 1.8ish was worth a speculative lay:

Sunderland Away
Aston Villa Home
Wigan Away
Fulham Home
Newcastle Away
West Brom Home
Liverpool Home

That brings us up to 2013. A rather winnable looking set of matches in my opinion. Certainly, there is no one to fear and no fixture that a team like QPR would not fancy taking 3 points from. Newcastle away looks the toughest fixture but with all their injuries, I think they will be lucky to finish top half this season. A rejuvenated side under 'Arry should certainly be capable of getting something. Liverpool don't strike fear into anyone anymore and West Brom are dead certainties to drop off after their brilliant start - the congested Christmas period should be a test for their squad and a great time to play them.

I was pleased to see a reasonable start last night with a 0-0 at Sunderland. Having watched the game I'll tell you this much; QPR are better than Sunderland. I also layed the Mackems, so was doubley pleased. Unfortunately, Villa's win over Reading means the gap to safety is even wider but I'm not worried. Redknapp can't possibly do worse than Hughes, so the only way is up. Taarabt was the best player on the pitch last night and he's a classic 'Arry flair player who he will undoubtedly get the most out of. Sean Wright-Phillips who came on as sub and has been a forgotten man, also fits into that category.

Esteban Granero is a real talent in midfield. I watched him loads when he was at Getafe and Real Madrid and wondered what on earth he was doing at Loftus Road. He's way too good for QPR and again, he'll thrive under Redknapp. Cisse is a proper striker and will get goals, I've no doubt at all. I will probably be mocked for this but I think Rob Green might just turn his career back around! He came on as sub for injured Julio Cesar last night and made a great point blank save. This could well be 'fate' for the forgotten England goalkeeping number 6 and this chance under a new manager, could be just what he needs to resurrect his ailing career.

Overall, QPR knocked the ball about far better than Sunderalnd and should be able to catch them with a good run, which looks do-able with the above fixtures. After that, Redknapp can work his magic and bring in some January transfers. QPR have the money and the manager to get out of trouble and a few gems amongst the playing staff who just need some good man-management. Most importantly, there are enough weak teams above them to make the great escape possible. Reading look dead certs for relegation. Southampton, Villa and Wigan are almost certainties to be scrapping for safety. I also wouldn't rule out West Ham dropping sharply in the second half of the season and Newcastle continuing to struggle. Add in Sunderland and Norwich (who I think will be strong candidates to go) and there's plenty of hope for QPR.

Elsewhere, I came across a few entertaining videos posted on the Running Forehand tennis blog. There are clips on that link of some fun and games during exhibition matches, the best of which show Andy Roddick doing impressions of Djokovic and McEnroe and Djokovic doing an impression of Gustavo Kuerten.  This is particularly funny (in fact, I could genuinely write LOL because that's exactly what I did - but I won't) because his opponent at the time was Gustavo Kuerten! There are also clips involving Gael Monfils and Marcos Baghdatis clowning around. What they show is that, as I wrote about in this post, there are still some characters in the game, it's just that they are limited to show-boating and entertaining the crowd in exhibitions because the tour is so professional and competitive now.

It's X-Factor semi finals week and as usual, I'm looking to make some money on what has become a lucrative market for me (I picked the winner last year well in advance). I've had money on James Arthur for several weeks now and his price continues to crash to the point where he is now favourite for the first time - joint with Jahmene Douglas on Betfair. I took him at 5.2 and he's now 2.5ish. I'm slightly nervous this week, as I had intended to green up here but am going to let it run. After his bottom-two face-off with previous fave Ella Henderson, it was obvious James would get the rebound vote. Also, it is obvious that no one is going to beat him in a judges vote situation. However, that scenario no longer exists and elimination can only be decided by public vote from now on - and let's face it, anyone stupid enough to waste money voting on this shit cannot be trusted!

The rumours for weeks now are that Chris Maloney is taking a huge share of the votes. I doubt this is true as if the voting has been leaked, surely there would be insiders piling in on him for victory, yet he's still third fave at around 6.8. I think it's clear that a number of voters are trying to somehow 'upset' Simon Cowell and the production team by voting for Maloney. Pathetic really, as Cowell makes money off the very calls they are making to supposedly piss him off! Whilst I think there are people who want to see the underdog triumph in the face of the harsh criticism he's faced, I think when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, people will vote for the ones they feel truly deserve to win based on talent alone (especially with Ella eliminated more than likely due to voter complacency). The latest poll on the Digital Spy X-Factor forum has James ahead as reader's favourite by a huge margin. Therefore, I'm biting my nails for another week and hoping the British public vote for the best artist which is clearly James Arthur.

Finally, I'm sure many of you will be watching the 'Trading Academy' show on the City Index website (and you may have even entered and failed to make the cut, like me!). It's a 6 week programme in the style of The Apprentice, only with candidates that are attempting to win £100,000 by coming top after a series of financial spread trading tasks. It's well worth a watch, if only to see how the traders (each with varying degrees of trading experience, though all still novices) cope with the pressures of the tournament, TV cameras and increasing banks of money to play with.
You won't learn anything about how to trade the financial markets but it's interesting seeing how the psychological side affects each trader and also how the two Alan Sugar characters (one of whom is way scarier than the real thing!), choose who is to be 'fired' each week. It's not always who you might expect and this tells you a lot about what it really takes to become a trader. Spread betting is the closest form of financial trading you will get to sports trading (because you can make money on prices going down as well as up), so it's a relevant watch especially if you are new to trading. It's the final next week so plenty of time to catch up till the end!

Serena Williams:

Friday, 16 November 2012

Tradeshark v The Sultan

OK, it's an overly-dramatic title to reel you in but nonetheless, what I have to write about does suggest a certain amount of sparring! I was disappointed to read in Tradeshark's latest post, the following:

"For the rest of the year I will be looking at the football and cricket. I read on another blog almost a criticism of tennis traders that switch to other sports at the end of the season. 6 weeks is a long time to take off and while some may be in a position to go travelling etc those of us with families don’t have that option. My wife works in a care home and the elderly and sick still need nursing just the same as at any other time of year. In fact my wife will be working Christmas day. I will be working considerably fewer hours but I aren’t one to sit around doing nothing."

I attempted to respond with the following comment:

Hi TS, I guess you are referring to me as the blogger who 'almost' criticised tennis traders! I did no such thing, here's what I wrote:

"A lot of tennis traders will switch to another sport during November-December but I have always planned my trading so that I don't have to do this. For me, taking a break for 5 or 6 weeks during the cold, heart of winter is ideal; just the right amount of time to re-charge the batteries, visit family over Christmas and go abroad travelling somewhere warm. I've proved this year that I don't need to trade anything else. I've adapted my life to the tennis calendar and adapted my trading so that it should (eventually) fill my requirements financially."

Where is the criticism here? I've simply stated what my plans are, how I've attempted to fit my life around the calendar and how it might differ from others. One of the reasons I got into trading was to give me more time to travel, as it's a passion of mine. So I've used the trading calendar to give me time to do this. It's in no way a slight on anyone else and I'm sorry you've come to that conclusion but it's not meant that way.

I don't focus on what anyone else is doing, I learnt a while back that you have to do what works for you. 6 weeks is a long time off but when you've worked with no holidays or bank hols and few weekends off for the entire year, it works out as no different to anyone else. I just choose to condense my time off into one longer period. Anyway, hope that settles things!

The comment has not been posted up so instead, I'll have my say here. I don't want any of Tradeshark's or my own readers to think that I've made any criticism which they might take personally. He labelled it as "almost a criticism" - well it either is or it isn't and as he's gone to the trouble of writing about it, it's obvious he thinks it's a criticism. It isn't. If you'd like to read the original post I made, to see the full context, here it is.

Just for the record, I work two jobs (trading and freelance writing) so the six weeks I take off after working 7 days a week, most weeks for 10 months of the year, is well deserved. Why would I criticise anyone for changing sports anyway? In many ways, I would like to be able to trade another sport successfully through the winter, as it would allow me more options on when to take my time off. I could trade football for 6 weeks but in all honesty, I can't be bothered. I still need to take a break, so I'd only be trading football for a 2 or 3 week period at most. I would rather trade my arse off in the tennis season and take all my time off during the winter lull instead. That allows me to really travel a country properly, rather than rush through in a week or two. This does mean I have to work very hard for those 10 months because I need enough to cover the travelling and usual expenses for November and December. So I'm not working any less or taking any more time off than anyone else in any normal job.

This does at least provide me with a topic to write about; long term goals. I think it's something many new traders don't think about but planning ahead is vital if you are considering doing this professionally. I've always said that I got into trading to have more options and free time. My future aim is that I won't have to work so solidly for 10 months and that will happen as my bank grows and my profit with it. In a normal job, you get paid for 4 weeks of statutory holiday (plus bank holidays) but traders don't and neither do freelancers - no work, no pay. This means I have to conjure up 12 months' pay within 10 months work. That's not easy but I have made sure that my trading strategy and style allows me to make a fairly consistent amount which I know will fill my requirements.

Nothing is guaranteed in this game but you must have a plan if you are reliant on the money. The first time around, when I failed miserably, I didn't have one. This time, I looked at everything; from projections of potential profits, to the effect of the premium charge, to pension schemes, to savings accounts, to mortgage and loan options, to living expenses forecasts, to fitting in holidays, to the effect the tennis calendar will have on my social life at different parts of the year to financing during the off-season. I've left no stone unturned. If you have a family then you will probably have a very different plan to someone who is single. Neither is right or wrong. I would never criticise anyone for the way they plan their trading.

The next paragraph of Tradeshark's post has a general dig at trading blogs, of which I'm sure this one is not exempt from. I'm fine with that, it's his opinion and he's entitled to it. Unlike him, I don't rely on my blog to sell anything, so it really isn't an issue what people think. If reader numbers go down I will continue to write cos I enjoy it. Anyway, nothing more for me to say for this year, I'm off travelling! I'm thinking North Africa this year; maybe Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia. Maybe even Libya! Happy Christmas and New Year to all, whatever you decide to do - trading or no trading!

Agnieszka Radwanska:

Monday, 12 November 2012

2012 Trading Season Review

So the tennis season comes to a close, with just the Davis Cup Final remaining. It's been an incredible season for me. January was my only losing month. I have averaged approximately 50% of my bank each month. I've achieved my biggest ever monthly profit from tennis trading. But perhaps most importantly, I have a strategy that is 100% set in stone; no nagging question marks, no underlying worries and no problems executing it.

At the start of the year, I was 4 or 5 months into fine-tuning a whole new strategy and a trading ethos which was the complete opposite of what I'd been doing for years. I was finding it hard to adapt and to trust the new ideas. I was still ill-disciplined, impatient and uncertain about many things but the one thing I was sure of, was that I was on the right path finally and it was just a matter of time before it all clicked. That moment came in February, where I made my first 4 figure profit. From then onwards, I was no longer the boom and bust trader of a year earlier and I was no longer frustratingly breaking-even as I had been over the previous 6 months. It was just a few small tweaks to the strategy, plus this excellent book, that made the difference and enabled me to become consistently profitable.

But that's not to say I haven't had my share of frustrations. The main one being that I have been unable to compound my profits or grow my bank. When I think about where I could be if I'd been able to do that, it makes me a little sick. Hopefully, things will change in 2013. My new set of goals for my 4th season of tennis trading, will mostly be aimed at growing the bank. The scope for scaling up to bigger stakes is still huge - I'm still just a tiny minnow in the ocean when it comes to liabilities. So I think that my overall goal for 2013 will be to grow the bank up to a 5 figure sum. Once I've achieved that, I can seriously start to think about trading professionally again, only this time, I'll actually know what I'm doing!

As for my trading itself, there will of course, always be things that I aim to improve. The key one still remains, even after all these years, my terrible impatience. The second one is keeping any over-confidence in check. And the third key issue I'll be working on, is my focus, which I can see becoming a bigger problem in 2013 because my trading is pretty repetitious now. I'm not trying to figure things out or test areas of strategy or work on my mindset, so there is less variety in what I do. Trading has become easier but with it, a tad monotonous. So keeping focus is going to be a real challenge. I'm hoping that an increase in stakes will bring with it a new set of challenges and perhaps new trading ideas, which will keep me interested. There is also still room for me to develop a more aggressive approach and I may look to do this. I've been playing it relatively safe and have not gone for the really big greens. If I hit a few of them, it will take my trading onto a whole other level.

I was going to trade some football over the next few weeks but to be honest, the win I got from Reading v Arsenal (have I mentioned I layed 1.03 at 4-0 yet?!), is as much as I could have hoped for in the whole off-season. As football managers like to say "I would've taken that before the start". Besides, my fall out of love with football continues. I'm sick to death of all the stuff that goes on around football - the racism, the pathetic behaviour of some fans, the vile chants, the farcical governing bodies, the diving, cheating and gamesmanship, the moaning, whinging, biased-beyond-all-reason supporters, the primadonna players and the endless debates over the same, nonsensical issues such as goal-line technology. When I trade a sport, I need to be enjoying it and I actually find myself getting angry with a lot of what I see and read. That's no way to prepare for a session on the ladders. I won't be back as a regular viewer or trader until some serious changes are made - ones I don't expect to see any time soon.

So it'll be quiet on the posting front from me. I've added a couple of new sections to the side-bars of the blog; a list of my most popular posts (automatically chosen by Blogger based on no. of hits) and 10 of my favourite other posts. Might be something of interest to tide you by till I return. I'm not even going to think about trading at all until the New Year, so that's it for 2012..............happy Christmas, traders!

Ana Ivanovic:

Thursday, 8 November 2012

100th Best in the World

Tennis is a strange sport in that often, people will talk about a player who is ranked between 50 and 100, for example, as if he or she is a nobody. They see Murray struggling against a guy ranked 60 places lower and criticism rains down as if it is inconceivable that he should even give up a set. They see Nadal losing to the number 100 and it's as if the apocalypse is upon us! Many will sneer at the Challenger Tour, even ex-players, who often seem to view it as an almost comical tour. Yet even players inside the top 50 will occasionally step down to that level to play the odd event. I see traders all the time, who are quick to knock a player purely because of ranking, despite the fact they are well inside the top 100. If you look at football or rugby, do you think the best 100 players would be treated in the same manner? No chance! They'd be regarded as part of an elite group of prime athletes.

I think people tend to forget that these are the greatest 100 players on the entire planet. They've fought hard over many years (since they were toddlers for the vast majority), through junior levels, Futures Tour events and then the Challenger Tour, playing in front of one man and his dog, often for just enough to cover their travel expenses - if that. It's very competitive and only the toughest and most talented survive. There are millions of recreational tennis players worldwide. The ITF has 144 member nations and although the number of pro players worldwide is unknown, we are talking about many thousands (when you take into account ATP World Tour, Challenger Tour, Futures Tour and those earning a living in national leagues such as the German Bundesliga and the French and Japanese leagues, which are lucrative enough that many players prefer to just play locally).

To make that leap up to ATP level is a massive achievement and so if you get anywhere near the top 100, you have done it against the odds. To be the 100th best player in the entire world, out of millions of others who dream of doing the same, is a feat which should really be marvelled at and held in high regard. Yet for some reason, it's not. I think it's mostly because the average person doesn't understand what it takes to become  a top sportsman or hasn't been through anything in their own life which means they can relate to the experience. Instead, they just see a number, (a completely arbitrary one, but 100 is nice and round, so it's easy to choose that as a marker) and judge everyone based on that, without thinking of the player's age, experience, past form and most importantly, what it takes to actually make it in the sport. We look at 'one hundred' and it sounds and feels like a lot, when in the context of the entire tennis world, it's just a tiny drop in the ocean.

I've found that since I got into trading, I have a better understanding of what it takes for players to reach the top. That's partly down to having a greater knowledge of tennis but also because of what I've been through as a trader. If someone was to say to me that I was the 100th best tennis trader in the world, I would be ecstatic! Why? Because I now know just how difficult it is to even get into the top 5, 10, 15, 20% of traders. That's my ultimate aim because if I can reach that elite percentage (whatever the figure is for long term winners) it will mean that I'm a successful trader. It's easy to laugh at someone and say "she's only ranked 132" or "he's not even in the top 50" but next time you do so, have a think about what that number really means. Then maybe, have a think about how close you would be to getting into any top 100 list. A ranking of 103(ish) will sneak you into the last available space of a Grand Slam tennis tournament main draw. I'm guessing the vast majority of us would not be anywhere near making the main draw of a Grand Slam Trading event, if one were to exist!

Maria Kirilenko:

Friday, 2 November 2012

October - The Results

It's been a decent October. I'm happy with the overall profit (a new personal record!), though slightly disappointed because a couple of bad days stopped this being my best ever profit from tennis trading alone. By 'bad', I mean avoidably bad. There was no excuse for some of the things I did over those one or two days. For some reason, I started to feel pressure of the likes I've not experienced for a long time. I was extremely irritable and beat myself up over little things which I would normally just brush off. The old anger started to rear its ugly head again, with a force that I'd not seen all year. I think that it is because it's almost the end of the season and I wanted to finish on a high note after 2 relatively disappointing months. Still, when a 'disappointing' month equates to  a profitable month, it shows just how far I've come with my trading over the last year.

I suppose the goalposts have shifted and with the way I trade these days, I expect to be hitting around 50% of my bank at least. That might seem like quite a high expectancy rate but all my research over the past year has shown that if I do the right things, I should be able to hit that amount. I've found that my trading is pretty constant in all areas. The number of games I trade and my win-loss ratio doesn't vary that much from month to month. All in all, I'm quite the steady-Eddie these days!

Despite this, I still have off-days and I still have trouble accepting them. The perfectionist within me is never going away! This month, I let myself down with one trade in particular, as I went for too much, over-staked and then refused to let go of my position - a relatively big loss (though still only a small fraction of my bank). There were a handful of other trades where the issue was not the amount I lost but the amount I won (or failed to win). I could've racked up a few hundred extra just from being less greedy. I'm not one for second-guessing (I used to do it a lot but these days, I tend to accept whatever decision I made in the moment) but this month, I know that I was too impatient. I've little doubt that this is because the season is almost over.

A lot of tennis traders will switch to another sport during November-December but I have always planned my trading so that I don't have to do this. For me, taking a break for 5 or 6 weeks during the cold, heart of winter is ideal; just the right amount of time to re-charge the batteries, visit family over Christmas and go abroad travelling somewhere warm. I've proved this year that I don't need to trade anything else. I've adapted my life to the tennis calendar and adapted my trading so that it should (eventually) fill my requirements financially.

So maybe I shouldn't feel so disappointed. Things are falling into place, I just need to remain patient. That's quite hard to do when you have 6 weeks of thumb-twiddling on the horizon. The timing couldn't be worse because I'm buzzing at the moment and raring to push my trading onto the next level. Ah well, there's always the football to dabble in and if it goes the way it did on Tuesday night, it could be quite lucrative. You'll notice that a large chunk of my P&L profit (2 screen-shots because I've used 2 accounts) is from football and all of it is from the one game.............yes, I layed Reading!

It goes down as probably my greatest ever bet, with only the £1000 I won backing 0-0 between Barcelona and Osasuna a few years ago, running it close. I wasn't even watching the match, just noticed the score on Betfair and was stunned to see Reading 4-0 up! I assumed Wenger had put the kids out to play but a quick check on the line up showed me that Arsenal were still quite strong - so I layed 1.03. Seconds later, it was 4-1. I was only hoping for a couple of Gunner goals after half-time to allow me to green up for a modest sum, so was ecstatic that the comeback had begun before half-time. However, at 4-2 I could only green up for £15, so it wasn't worth it and I stayed in. I'd given up when the clock went into the final minute of normal time and they got the 3rd very late - Reading were doing a grand job of wasting time and I still could only green up for £15. But who in their right mind would have backed Reading sub 1.10 knowing one more goal with 4 mins still to go, would destroy them?! Whoever you are, I thank you - my biggest profit of 2012 by a mile! If only I'd gone in bigger..............but then, I was about 10 seconds away from losing so I have no complaints!

Sorana Cirstea: