Thursday, 26 December 2013

Betfair, Betdaq, Geeks Toy at the Ready............

.......tennis is BACK!! Yes, it's Boxing Day but no rest for the top male tennis stars as they begin final preparations for the 2014 season with the Mubadala Exhibition Tournament in Abu Dhabi. Andy Murray returns after a long lay-off and he's joined by Djokovic, Nadal, Ferrer, Wawrinka and Tsonga. It will certainly have strong liquidity and is an event I have always traded (though I will probably give most of the Mubadala matches a miss this year and spend more time with family). With the ATP and WTA tours due to begin on the 30th, this is an excellent tournament to ease your way back into the markets before the serious business of the run-in to the Australian Open on January 13th begins. I've not traded at all for 6 weeks and so am itching to get going on what promises to be an exciting season for me personally. If you've not yet read my preview of the new season, you can read it here on Betting Expert.com.
 



V. Diatchenko

Sunday, 1 December 2013

2013 Season Review

So it's that time of year when I look back on how things have gone for my trading. When you consider how I ended the year, which was beyond my expectations, it's easy to forget how I started it. I was not far away from quitting trading completely back in February. I remember being very frustrated at the fact I could not afford to compound my profit and would not be able to do so for the foreseeable future. This twinned with the fact that the trading syndicate I'd traded for a few months earlier, had turned my head towards bigger possibilities, meant that I felt as though I should have been making much more than I was. This affected my mindset when trading, to the point where treading water was no longer good enough and I became impatient and started making mistakes. I had discussions with a couple of people about potentially investing in me but they fell through and that was almost the final straw for me.  I spent the longest time away from the blog that I'd had since I started it. I was ready to give up trading.

Instead, I re-grouped, got my head straight and ploughed on, more determined than ever. With my mind back in the right place, I produced my best ever month of profit in April and shortly afterwards, I was contacted by an individual who really changed everything for me. I've thanked him before on the blog but I'm going to thank him again because without his faith in me, I would never have been able to reach the kind of figures I have been hitting since May. This person's investment in me, enabled tennis trading to become my main source of income and to finally allow me to compound and go it alone successfully. Without that help, I would still be treading water.

Let me just be clear to anyone out there who may have the wrong impression though; the increased size of my bank was not the sole reason my profit increased. I did not change a single thing about my trading when the investment arrived. The extra cash did not mean I made more trades or got involved in more games or used a higher percentage of my bank to trade with. The only thing that changed was the amount of profit I got from doing the exact same things. A bigger bank doesn't make you a better trader. It just means you win more when you win and lose more when you lose!

Vitalia D.

So what is 2014 likely to bring? Well the most obvious thing will be Ladbrokes Exchange. I have already started trading more on Betdaq since Lads became part of their network. In fact, I traded every match from the ATP World Tour Finals on Betdaq. Liquidity was decent enough, though most of the money was clearly seeded by Ladbrokes because large chunks would routinely disappear from the market as the points were being played. Not a big issue for my style of trading in most matches but nonetheless, the depth of liquidity on offer has a long way to go to match Betfair. But that's to be expected and I think things will improve as the year goes on. I'll definitely be putting more of my money into the market and felt a warm glow of satisfaction at the end of the tournament when I was able to say that Betfair got NONE of the commission from my profit!

My goals have shifted dramatically over the past 6 months. I'm now not going to be satisfied with earning a regular, average wage each month. So I want to hit the £250k mark as quickly as possible and then leave Betfair for good. There is no way that anyone is getting 50% of my hard earned cash, even if that means never trading again. Hopefully, Lads Exchange will have changed the landscape by then and all those years of losing actually won't seem so bad after all, as I will never have paid back that much in premium charges!

With Sultan Tennis Trading Academy now in full swing, things really couldn't be any different to how they were at the start of 2013, with it's doom and gloom. In retrospect, things were never that bad for me. I was  heading in the right direction but just began to feel  a bit weary and fed up of the daily grind of trading. That's why the academy is so important to me because I don't want to end up in that state of mind again and it helps to preoccupy me when my own trading becomes monotonous. It also takes away some of the solitude of trading and adds greater purpose to my work life.

My review of the 2013 tennis season / 2014 preview, is now available to read on Betting Expert.com.

That's it from me till after Christmas now, so hope you enjoy the festive period and remember to be cautious at this time of year: don't drink and trade!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

My Day Court-Siding at ATP World Tour Finals

This week, I decided it was about time I watched my first ever live tennis match and booked myself tickets for the full day of Thursday's ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in that there London. When I bought the tickets on Monday, I had a guess that I'd get a Federer match that day (schedule isn't decided till the day before) and got it right, so was extremely happy as this was the man I wanted to see. The fact that it was against Richard Gasquet (who is my favourite player along with the irrepressible Gael Monfils), made it even more special. And with Djokovic playing Del Potro in the evening plus the greatest ever doubles partnership, the Bryan brothers as an appetiser, I couldn't have picked a better day for my first ever live tennis session.

Of course, I naturally wanted to see if I could do a bit of trading whilst there and see if I could grab a bit of free money! It never fails to amaze me the amount of money that traders leave up well after the point has been decided, some of it totalling enormous individual chunks that I can only think must be controlled by a bot that needs further programming work. Either that or someone with more money than sense or a drunk Russian oligarch. Either way, if you can court-side, there is a lot of money to be made from clueless / slow punters. So I attempted to nab me a piece of the pie.

The problem is, the authorities are wise to court-siding these days and officials at ATP events are taught what to look for. Namely, someone who is busy fiddling around with their phone instead of actually watching the game (though the two Chinese girls sat next to me chatting throughout the match would be top of the list if that was the only criteria!), or with their hands in their pockets looking disinterested whilst everyone else is applauding. So I imagine suspicion would be easily aroused. The difference at the O2 Arena to most events though, is that the crowd is in darkness whilst only the court is lit up - so it's very hard for any stewards to see anyone acting suspiciously unless they are close to them. And when you have an enormous 15,000+ people, that's almost a needle and haystack situation.

I decided to get straight in there and test things out in the opener; a doubles match involving Dodig and Melo v Fyrstenburg and Matkowski. The immediate problem is that you have to use the original Betfair interface to trade with - something I haven't done for years as I use AGT Pro's ladders. So fiddling around trying to quickly place bets on Betfair's slow site without one-click bet placement is a bit of a nightmare, especially when you are trying to be discreet.  Then you've also got the fact that in the dark, your mobile phone shines bright like a beacon - although in my whole day there, I didn't see a steward or anyone official looking anywhere near where I was sitting. It's such a vast arena, I think it would be perfect for court-siding but for one tiny little problem..............reception is poor. Well, at least it was on my phone but I saw tweets from people on my Twitter timeline who were in the arena, so it can't be that bad!

Anyway, I gave it a shot but connection wasn't happening. But it is fairly obvious to note that:

a) You have a couple of seconds longer than TV audiences to place your bet
b) There are people scalping with fast pics who would be your competition, so you still need to have fast reactions, know the markets and know what you are doing
c) There are still  people stupid enough to leave their money in the market, even allowing for the few seconds disadvantage they have.


Eugenie Bouchard

I gave up and decided to watch the greatest tennis player of all time without distraction. The 6-3 6-4 scoreline  suggests he made light work of Gasquet but the Frenchman failed to take about 10 break points and at times showed sublime skills which outshone Federer. If I ever had any doubts about which of the two has the best backhand, seeing them live leaves the answer unquestionably Gasquet. Just a pity Fed beats him in every other department! The whole match felt a tad surreal to me though. Having watched these two on dozens and dozens of occasions over the past 4 years, to have them right in front of me was, well, weird! It also made me realise how much tennis I watch in comparison to the average person. I was always one of the first people (sometimes THE first!) to start applauding after a point, I guess because I could read when it was going out/in quicker than most. I also tended to know when a ball was out of play, whilst others in the crowd were eagerly awaiting Hawkeye. I remember I never used to call them right when I first began trading!

The one game which slightly disappointed was Del Potro v Djokovic. Not because the players didn't make you gasp with their speed, agility and accuracy but because it lacked variety. Unlike the Federer game or the doubles match between the Bryans and Rojer/Qureshi (which was the game of the day and if you ever go, make sure you do the full session and don't ignore the doubles matches), it was all a bit predictable and one-paced. Fortunately though, the crowd provided some entertainment, as sat literally 2 seats directly behind me, was the most vocal person in the whole 17,000 crowd! This "wag" thought it would be hilarious to shout "DJOKOOOOOOOOO!!!" randomly during quiet moments at the top of his gruff European voice, which wore thin after the 15th time. But the great thing he did do was allow me to shout "OLEEEEEEEEEE!" in response to his "BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA-DA-BAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!" - so fulfilling a dream of mine! Actually the real dream is to be the one trumpeting ""BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA-DA-BAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!" but you either need to be hammered or French to do this without feeling a complete tit (especially if no one responds with "OLEEEEE!!"

All in all, a terrific day out and I urge you all to attend if you can because it won't be around in London forever and when it goes, it won't be back for a very long time. The O2 is a brilliant venue, it's well organised, lots of great places to eat and drink (though £5 for a hotdog is extortion where I come from!), the court when it's lit up, with the crowd in darkness, has to be one of the best spectacles in sport (it looks so sharp and crisp and creates a unique atmosphere that TV doesn't do justice). I was in the cheap seats up at the top and even there, the view is not compromised and feels like you are on top of the players. I took some photos for the blog but as you can also see, the camera on my phone is as bad as the internet connectivity!




 Federer - Gasquet

Djokovic - Del Potro

Trust me, you feel much closer than these woeful pics show. I never see the point in taking photos at sporting events. We've all seen it on TV. "Here's a shot of Roger Federer playing tennis". Yeah, I already know what he looks like. Unless his shorts have fallen down or he's attacking a line judge, I'm really not fussed. Anyway, these prove I was there at least!

As anyone who has watched live tennis will tell you, you appreciate the speed and strength of the players a lot more in the flesh. The courts don't seem so slow either. I also found it a more enjoyable experience, as I  wasn't constantly thinking about entry and exit points! In fact, I lost track of the scores on many occasions as I was too engrossed in the players and the environment. There's also a couple of practice courts in the O2 where you can watch players warming up just a couple of metres away. Here you get a great feel for the size and skill of the players. Watching Radek Stepanek and Leander Paes doing net volley drills is genuinely one of the most impressive things I've ever seen! So get yourself down there in 2014 and make sure you have a good mobile phone - there's fun to be had and money to be made.............


Friday, 1 November 2013

October: The Last Ever Results & Cheers Peter Webb

That's right, I've made the decision that this month's P&L will be my last ever on the blog. There are 4 reasons for this:

1. I don't want my profit (or losses!) to affect the members of my academy. I know that when I was learning, often when I looked at other blogger's profit, it made me feel inadequate. This often lead to me losing faith in what I was trying, because I wasn't making much (or losing) and that meant switching strategies and becoming more and more frustrated. Yes, they can be an inspiration to some and a guide as to what is possible to achieve but everyone is different. I try to instil in my members that profit targets are a bad idea and they should not even be thinking about making profit at this stage, so to have my own profits staring at them, is possibly a little hypocritical.

2. I don't think it's that interesting any more! I've shown over a period of almost 2 years what is possible to attain. My bank is still growing and my stakes along with it, so I hope to achieve even more in future but there comes a  point where it becomes a little vulgar to keep shouting about your profit and I think I'm not far away from that point (some no doubt think I went past it a while ago!). I have always felt it's not a problem for me on this blog because I started by showing all my losing days back in 2011. So I feel justified in showing a winning period as it's well balanced. There is a reason behind it, it's not just me shouting about profit for the sake of it - there is a journey on this blog, from consistent loss to consistent profit. But it's been 2 seasons of winning months now and there's not much interest to be gained from here on in.


3. I'm at the point now where I want my profit to remain private. Trading is now my primary income and therefore, when you read my P&L you are basically reading my salary. I would rather keep that info to myself from now on.

4. October is the last full month of tennis, so is a nice end point.

I think October's results are a fitting end to my trading journey on the blog. After 4 or 5 weeks where I was really just treading water and struggling to hit the heights of June and July, I finally hit that good spell of variance that I knew was around the corner and the waiting paid off. This illustrates perfectly what I've said in the recent past about trading not being one straight upwards line on a graph. Much of the time, it's a mental battle to try and stay patient and disciplined in the face of a dearth of opportunities or bad variance. But when a run like I've had in late September-October does come along, it makes it all worthwhile.

Elena Vesnina:


So I know what you are thinking: where does Mr. Webb come into this? Well it was a recent post of his which talked about how he tended to "accelerate into" a good start to the day, that got me thinking a little more about whether I was maximising my profit enough. I've usually tended to try and remain steady and not accelerate or decelerate depending on how my day was going. I have often thought about pushing that bit harder once I have some profit on board but it's often ended up the opposite - being slightly more cautious instead. But Peter's post did force me into trying something a little different and as I started October so well, I decided to put my  foot on the gas; really use that green to get involved more into final sets of matches, churn over more or let trades run to conclusion. The results below, speak for themselves.

I finally hit the magical £10,000 mark, making October my best ever month of profit by a considerable distance, almost doubling my previous best. And although I would've achieved my best month to date anyway, that blog post undoubtedly edged me up to and over 5 figures. So although it's well documented that Peter and I have had our disagreements, I do have to thank him for this information - cheers Peter! Though let's not forget it was mostly down to 4 years of blood, sweat and tears (all of that meant literally) by yours truly.........

The vast majority of my profit goes towards living expenses and a project I'm investing in for the future - hopefully another income stream. So I'm not compounding much right now but next year, I hope to start increasing the bank more. There's still a way to go before I have problems getting matched on most matches - my maximum liability during October was only £500. So I hope this is not yet the pinnacle for me. It just goes to show how much you can make with relatively little when you trade as opposed to straight betting. My largest ROI for a single match was approx. 700% (Azarenka v Jankovic at WTA Champs). I couldn't dream of making returns like that if I was just betting on faves or going with the money. October is traditionally "upset season" in tennis and this definitely played a part in making this such an outstanding month for me.

So that's it, not much more to say really except I hope you've enjoyed my journey from this daily P&L screenshot back in February 2011 to this:



My latest Betting Expert.com article on the ATP World Tour Finals can be read here.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Lady Champs & Lad Sex Change

The WTA Championships, (the traditional end of year tour finals) begin on Tuesday. I've written an article on this for Betting Expert which you can have a butchers at here. Where does that saying even come from "have a butchers"? Is it cockney rhyming slang? I dunno but I like it. Language and words can be very strange.....which brings me nicely onto the Lads Exchange.

I am just using this blog post as an excuse to write the juvenile yet undeniably funny title, despite the fact plenty of others have already done so! But while I'm here, I may as well chat about just what this sex change will actually mean. Will it finally cut off Betfair's bloated balls? Will the testosterone fly between these two heavyweights? Long term readers will know that I long ago campaigned for traders to move to Betdaq but became angered by Betdaq's lack of action. I feared that Ladbrokes were not going to do enough to turn them into a true competitor and the fact they've been so quiet since acquiring the purple place, has done nothing to make me think otherwise.

I'm hearing that liquidity on horse racing and football is getting worse this year on Betfair but I've not seen the same issues with tennis. Certainly, I've not had any problems getting matched and if anything, it looks as though liquidity in-play is better - though I don't have stats to back this up. The introduction of a serious competitor will almost certainly make liquidity worse in the short term, as it will be split between the two exchanges. But this is a very myopic view, in my opinion. Long term, competition can surely only be healthy in terms of the premium charge. If Betfair start to lose more customers, it could spell a long, terminal decline for them because they have very few (if any!) loyal customers as a fanbase and plenty who would relish their complete demise.

As a newcomer to betting, you are much more likely to start off with Ladbrokes than Betfair. People tend to move onto Betfair AFTER starting with the traditional bookmakers, most likely because they are curious about the exchange model or want to try out some bookie bonus bagging (which is how I first discovered them). If punters are now starting with Ladbrokes and immediately discovering the Lads Exchange, why would they then bother with the (un)Fair Lady? Especially once they discover that one has a tax on winners and the other doesn't! If the Lads sportsbook somehow feeds into the exchange, that immediately gives them a massive advantage over Betfair too.

Is it right for us to start getting excited finally, about a real exchange option? Well there will always be those who see the negative side; the split liquidity and the fact that Ladbrokes are still a bookmaker and that greed will inevitably result in them introducing a charge at some point too. But even if they did, the difference now is that we have a credible option at our fingertips. So if Ladbrokes do introduce a charge (and they'd be pretty stupid to create one at any time in the near future), I would imagine Betfair would be forced to react by cutting theirs - so hopefully, we'll get some sort of charge war! In fact, if Ladbrokes do start to take away Betfair's stranglehold, they will surely have no choice but to improve their dire customer service and reduce the charge anyway - though I doubt they would have anyone left to charge! It's possible even, that each exchange could end up specialising in one sport over another. Maybe Betfair will drop the premium charge entirely for tennis only? Who knows! But the important thing is, the monopoly would be over and what happens in the market would be back in the hands of us - the customer. They will be forced to compete to provide us with what we want and I don't see how anyone could possibly find negativity in that.

Looking even further onwards, success for Ladbrokes might even spark interest from another big bookie - how about William Hill buying up WBX to become WHX? Or Paddy Power acquiring Smarkets and finally getting rid of that awful name to become the Power-Ex? With markets starting to open up slowly in the USA, maybe this will tempt these players into the market? OK, I'm dreaming but it wasn't that long ago that people would've baulked at my suggestion that a bookie should buy up Betdaq - well it's been done! I still dream of  a day where no one uses a bookie and everyone bets against fellow punters. Let's face it, the only reason they don't right now is because the average punter doesn't understand how exchanges work or doesn't have a grasp of the technology required (i.e. can't work the interwebs).

One of my mates has been punting for many years longer than I have but because he doesn't even know how to get an email address, let alone understand Betfair, he doesn't realise the opportunities that exist on an exchange. If these people could somehow be reached and educated, you'd see a new wave of exchange punters emerge. In the future, when every home will have free broadband and the current young generations are well versed in the technology, why would anyone bother using a bookie? Just let me dream for now. It would be a beautiful, utopian, premium charge-less, paradise..............

Sabine Lisicki:


Monday, 7 October 2013

The Difficulties of Learning to Trade Tennis

It dawned on me this week just how difficult it really is to become proficient at tennis trading.You certainly have to be very dedicated and willing to give up some social life in order to become a successful tennis trader. I worked out that during my first year, I racked up over 2,000 hours of tennis trading - and I LOST money! But in retrospect, I realise that what I lost financially, I gained in experience. All those hours weren't in vain because, unknown to me at the time, I was absorbing the market movements and player knowledge. I wasn't really studying it with any real plan. I never recorded any info on players or the market prices (though I should have). But all the while, it was sinking into my subconscious and after around 12 months of trading, it suddenly dawned on me; I could read the markets. I could read the players. I could price up matches. I could spot value.

It was another 6-12 months before I was able to put all that together into a cohesive plan that started to make money consistently - so two years and approximately 5,000 hours. I'm now at roughly 10,000 hours. There is no substitute for time on the ladders though. You can teach a trader good methods but you can't give them that "gut instinct" and feel for the matches or the markets - that has to be experienced and learnt first hand.  That said, if I'd had someone with my experience pushing me in the right direction, I reckon I'd have cut out several thousand hours of going up blind alleys and making horrendous mistakes.

There has to be some element of intuition involved and you can't get that without many hours of hard slog. So the less pressure and the more enjoyment you can get out of those hours, the better. The very first thing I say to all my members is "Be patient and don't set any profit targets; only aim to learn, enjoy and protect the bank". Those who take that on board might have a chance of making it. Those who don't could be adding hundreds or thousands of hours to their journey and if you are doing this part time, that really is an epic journey.

For most of the traders I've taken on in the academy, it's not simply been a case of saying "Here's my strategies - copy them and you'll be a winner!". All strategies are just a framework. The entry and exit points are finely tuned rules, all with a purpose behind them. But without knowledge of the markets, value, money management and trading psychology, no strategy will make you consistently profitable over a long period. This is where mentoring, I believe, can be the crucial factor in whether a trader goes on to be successful. I already know that some of my members, if they had just bought the strategies alone and not had access to my advice and guidance, would have quit by now and moved onto other strategies. Many of them would be struggling to get their head around the ideas involved. That's not because they are some amazing, ingenious techniques that require a brain the size of the moon to implement. It's because most traders aren't familiar with the way that successful pros think about the markets. It's a completely different way to how your average bettor / trader thinks and it can take some getting used to.

A lot of people who enquire about my tennis academy, are backing short priced faves and wondering why they keep getting lots of wins (which they think suggests they have an edge) but one or two losses wipes them out. They think it's a psychological issue but when I suggest that it's more likely to be their strategy / approach to trading, they don't want to hear that! But if you can learn how to apply that correct mindset and approach to trading, then you are in a position where the markets are your oyster and you can discover your own strategies. Even those who do understand the correct way to approach trading, don't always apply that approach when they trade. Now that IS a psychological issue, rather than a lack of knowledge and again, it can take an outside influence to shift those thought patterns in the right direction.

For most of my academy members, what I've found they really need is to understand how they should be approaching trading as a whole. Even if they cannot make my strategies work, I hope that they will at least come away from the academy understanding the correct way to approach the markets and think like a pro. I wish I'd had someone gently (and at times, very strongly!) pushing me along the right pathway instead of my incorrect mentality leading me up all those endless blind alleys.

Eugenie Bouchard:

Monday, 30 September 2013

September: The Results

It's been a real slog since the start of the US Open. After my horrible downswing during the first week of Flushing Meadows (where I made a lot of mistakes), I found myself in a rut of bad variance. For a good three weeks, opportunities dried up and when they did arrive, they more often than not, didn't work out. So another slightly disappointing month in comparison with how I did over the beginning of summer but I'm still pleased as this was a tough month.

Any month with profit is pleasing to me. But I think it's something many traders find difficult to grasp - that not every month will be the same. The general theme I find (and I'm seeing it with some academy members), is that aspiring traders expect that the pros all make similar amounts of profit every month and it never deviates much. Consistency doesn't necessarily mean consistent over a 30 day spell and it certainly doesn't mean consistent over a weekly or daily period. In my case, I have been quite fortunate in that I've found a way to trade that is fairly consistent over a relatively short time period but that isn't intentional - it's just the way it's panned out. My only aim each month is to protect the bank and execute the strategy properly, not to make a certain amount.

My months tend to pan out quite similarly, possibly because I trade a lot of games (I average around 125 markets per month). What most people won't realise, is that within that month, I will have ups and downs. It's never a straight profit line on the graph from start to finish. I will usually have at least one week where I don't make any money at all - even be in the red. This month was unusually tough, in that I went about 3 weeks where I was basically breaking even. Only in the final week did variance swing positively for me. My aim during a difficult week, is always to break even. My records show that when I have a tough week where the wins aren't coming, I will usually end up around break-even point - as long as I hold it together mentally and don't start chasing. But that doesn't mean I don't have losing streaks of matches. Those streaks are the true test of any trader and I've already seen academy members who are close to giving up at the first sign of a downturn.

Unfortunately, downswings are part and parcel of any pro trader's life. There will not be a single pro who doesn't go through downswings and if they don't, it's because they've found a holy golden egg laying grail! In fact, I consider myself lucky in that I have not had a losing month in a long time because I know many pros do have them and I've heard that some even go a whole YEAR without making profit. But the key is, they know in the long run that the system they have works and will eventually produce an upswing which cancels out any losses. My biggest downswings don't tend to last longer than a week and I'll usually have a big upswing not long after because I am confident in what I'm doing, have got my numbers worked out and stick at it. It doesn't make a downswing any less frustrating though! I can fully understand why anyone who didn't have my experience or faith in my way of trading, would feel like giving up during a bad spell of variance but trading is TOUGH. I think too many people think it's easy and that's why when they are faced with the reality, they change strategy for something they think will be easier. It's a classic newbie error, one I made countless times.

So yes, I'm proud of how far I've come and grateful that I seem to always have profitable months - for now. But if people knew what I had to cope with DURING each month, I reckon they would think very differently about just what it takes to achieve that green figure on such a consistent basis. I certainly don't plan to make a certain amount or even expect a certain amount each month. I just deal with it one trade at a time and at the end of the month, if I'm out on top, it's a bonus. If one month I end up in the red, so be it. As long as it's not a massive loss, I'm fine with it because in the long run, I will have enough saved from winning months to cover it and I will expect a spell of good variance is not far around the corner. If it isn't, then I know it's time to start worrying and perhaps look to change something. Till then, I'll enjoy P&Ls such as this, as they are far more than I ever achieved in a "normal" job.

Monica Puig:




(If you are wondering about the football results, I am not actually trading soccer this season. The losses incurred on Betfair are a result of some arbing I've been doing with the premium charge in mind, so no actual losses overall)




Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sultan Tennis Trading Guide

****IMPORTANT: PLEASE READ**** 

 

Thank you for purchasing the Sultan Tennis Trading Guide. The guide is only viewable on a private blog. This is because it is much quicker and easier for me to update the guide on Blogger than it is on a PDF ebook. In order for you to view this blog, I will need to personally invite you to access it. I will do this by sending you an email via Blogger to the same email address that is on your Paypal statement. Please read all the instructions sent by Blogger carefully and SAVE THE URL. Please don't forget this because if you don't save it, you will not be able to access the guide again without contacting me. You should then be able to log in at any time to view the guide. Please email me via the Contact Form on Centre Court Trading if you have any problems accessing it.

After you paid for the guide, I will have received an email from Paypal confirming this. It is usually sent to me within a few minutes but can sometimes be a few hours before I receive it on my phone. This means that it is not always possible for me to invite you to the blog immediately because I have to do it manually. I ask you to please be patient if that is the case. The vast majority of the time, I am able to invite customers within a couple of hours. I have always invited customers within 24 hours. If you do not receive an invite within 24 hours of purchase, please check your spam folder, as sometimes the invite gets sent there. If you still do not receive an invite, please contact me again just to make sure there have been no problems with the order.

Thank you for your patience and I hope you enjoy the guide.

Sultan




Sunday, 1 September 2013

US Open: The Disasterous Results

Today you are about to find out that even the most experienced trader can still mess up. I've always been honest on this blog about how I'm faring and as the first day of the month has traditionally become my monthly P&L day, I shall continue onwards but head bowed low for the first time in a long time. The bad news: the first week of the US Open has been my worst EVER  week of trading, profit wise. I've spurned literally thousands of pounds in just a few days. The good news: I'm still in profit!

Until a week ago, August was actually my most successful month ever as a trader. I will whisper it quietly, but I was actually in sight of my first 5 figure monthly total. But maybe that was the problem: the whispers became too loud! With an entire week of Grand Slam tennis to end the month, I started to focus on hitting that £10,000 mark. This is an old habit that I thought had died a couple of years ago, fixating on specific financial targets. But somehow, it returned and I couldn't let go. I got over-excited and over-confident. The first week of Wimbledon was my most profitable week of trading (and still is!) and I knew that if I replicated that for the US Open, I would possibly hit a figure that I could only have dreamed of a year ago. I had it in my mind that if I could make a 5 figure sum in one month, that I had truly "arrived" and could consider myself a successful, accomplished, professional trader. It was the icing on the cake, so to speak. For me, it would have been the final, ultimate triumph of my journey from consistent loser to consistent winner - and I desperately wanted to get it. TOO desperately, as it turned out. Things plodded along for the first 2 days and I was breaking even pretty much but then a few trades which were executed perfectly in line with my strategy, didn't come off and I started to worry; only a few days left and it was looking like I wouldn't hit my target.

So I forced a bet, to try and get things rolling. It went horribly wrong and I lost my entire stake. I also lost my head. Although that turned out to my largest loss, it still didn't make a huge dent in my month's tally. But I didn't focus on the good work from the previous 20+ days. I was only focusing on that 10k mark. Next came a series  of losses that equates to my worst ever sequence: 22 losses in a row (not including 4 greens which were all under £10). And they were pretty much all big losses. The question I always ask in this situation is: how much of it was down to variance and how much was me on tilt? This is a question that any trader must be able to answer honestly because if you can't, you will never be able to adjust and improve. These days, I know exactly each and every trade whether it was executed properly and what I should have made on each one compared to what I actually made. My honest assessment is that even if I hadn't gone on tilt and started chasing, I still would've had a lot of losses. It was just one of those weeks where very little went my way. There were an unusually high number of very one-sided matches where during an average week, I would have had at least a handful of them turn in my favour. This week, hardly any of them did. And that is bad variance in a nutshell. It's frustrating but has to be expected and planned for. It's why I have a large bank of money the majority of which just sits there, untouched. This month however, I didn't need that bank to cushion the blow as I'd already had a fantastic month of profit. But  as I sit here staring at that profit (less than half of my total for the previous 2 months), I can't help but feel gutted. Yet if you'd told me a year ago that I would be pissed off at making £2000 in one month, I would've laughed in your face! So I have to put things into perspective and move on.

What this last week has shown, is that you can never let your guard down in this game. I've always maintained that trading is a mental game above all else and is a constant battle to stay on the emotional tightrope. I'm fortunate in a way, that this period of variance did not happen at the start of August, which would have decimated my bank. But then again, would it have even happened at the start? I wasn't focused on making 10k on August 1st, not at all. I have spells of bad variance every month, so it's not like it was anything new. My bank is the size it is because I know that it should withstand a nasty spell like this. It was only because I saw that 5 figure sum on the horizon and a Grand Slam event to help chase it, that affected my mind and my trading. I worked out that if I had traded properly, without chasing, just the bad variance, I would've roughly saved 50% of my losses and that would've given me a monthly total similar to what I'd achieved last month. I would've had a few wins amongst those 22 losses too, as by entering the market at incorrect moments, I often ended up ruining the chance for me to later enter when I should have done, for profit. I also found myself getting more timid. You will see 2 good wins right at the end of the month on the P&L. The largest one looks pretty tidy but in fact, I was so timid that I only went in with half my usual stake: Hantuchova should actually have netted me almost £800 on that trade. The Kohlschreiber win should also have been almost double the amount.

So anyway, no real harm done and in retrospect, it does show just how far I've come. A year ago, I was happy to make £500 on the tennis. Now, 4 times that amount constitutes failure. Trading, eh?

Camila Giorgi:

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

US Open 2013 Preview

The final tennis Grand Slam event of the year gets underway next Monday. Here are my thoughts on Betting Expert:

The Sultan's US Open 2013 Preview

Caroline Wozniacki:




Thursday, 1 August 2013

July: The Results

I'm going to reveal something now that might surprise many of you. Back at the beginning of the year, I wrote about how I had traded for a betting syndicate in October 2012 and how I had a few offers from potential investors to do something along similar lines. There was much debate amongst the blogging world at the time, about the merits of what I was doing and not long after, there was even more talk about the negative side of entrusting someone else with your money, as the 'Betfair King' (aka Elliot Short), was found to be a fraudster. Very few people had a good thing to say about the pluses of such a deal but then, very few people will have experienced the pros of a successful mutual trading agreement. But I have. Twice.

Because of all the negativity, I decided to stay tight-lipped and not write about this subject any further but I can now reveal that the main reason that I am experiencing such great profit over the past few months, is because one person (who will remain un-named) decided to take a chance on me.  It wasn't a particularly large sum of money (in fact, it was the smallest amount that I'd initially discussed of all the offers I've had) but I always insisted that I didn't need a large amount; just something to kick-start me and enable me to reach a stage where I can compound on my own. I have now finally reached that stage. So my investor has made back all his money and several times that, in just a few short months. Had he not taken the plunge and trusted me, I would not be in the position that I'm now in and I am extremely grateful for that. So much so, that although I no longer require his investment, I want to reward him for giving me an opportunity where most others wouldn't (all the other potential investors I spoke to elected not to get involved and in fact, a couple of them disappeared without a word, mid-discussion, which I find extremely rude).

So I'll be continuing our partnership for a while longer yet and hopefully making both of us more money.  It's not gonna be for everyone but for every Elliot Short disaster (and let's face it, that was a one-off in terms of the sheer scale and incredulity), I'm sure there are plenty of smooth, success stories - you just don't get to hear about them. Which is why I wanted to write about it here on Centre Court Trading but also to put in writing my sincere thanks to my investor. It just goes to show you that there are good, trustworthy people out there and that taking calculated, well-researched risks can reward the brave.

July has broken my monthly profit record again, which shows that you don't need a Grand Slam to make money trading tennis (Wimbledon ended on July 6th but I made relatively little profit on those last few days). There were also no Masters 1000 or WTA Premier events all month, which proves what I've said for a long time: quality of sport has little or no effect on trading opportunities (as long as you know your stuff). The only difference is in the liquidity available, which has not been an issue for me personally.

We are now into the final third of the tennis season and that starts with the run up to the US Open. With matches taking place in the evening, European time, liquidity will be strong, as many part-time / casual traders are now able to give tennis a shot after their working day is over. I personally dislike this period as it plays havoc with my social life but it will at least mean I can experiment with some larger stakes and see if I can take my profit up to another level. I will also be keeping a close eye on the football when it starts. After a couple of successful months trading soccer recently, I want to see if I can continue it this season. Or maybe I'm just becoming more and more greedy the more money I make! It's not a quality I admire but in this game I've come to realise that there is no point holding back and being content when you never know what's around the corner. The words "hay", "sun" and "shine" have never been more pertinent.

Petra Cetkovska:


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Talking Betting with.......The Sultan

Just in case you didn't see my interview with Andrew Brocker on the excellent Betting Expert.com published on May 13th, here it is again (with a small update included on one of the questions):

How did you start out betting/trading?

 

Unlike most people involved with trading, I had no background at all in gambling when I first discovered Betfair. I'd never played cards for money, I didn’t even have £1 on the Grand National each year and had only set foot inside a bookies once. I have a mate who loves a bet on the football and he coaxed me into having a tenner in Ladbrokes whilst he popped in. The bet lost (my first in almost 30 years on the planet!) and I vowed never to gamble again, so gutted was I!

A few years later, I found myself made redundant and in need of some cash. I'd just got a subscription to a sports channel and started having a few small punts on matches online, just to pass the time. At the same time, I discovered bookie bonus bagging and stumbled across Betfair. I made close to a grand just from matched betting and could see the potential in trading but as I was new to betting full-stop, I found it all a bit daunting. I am not a numbers man. I am much more of a word smith than a mathematician, a creative mind rather than a logical one. So I decided to stick to pure gambling and take advantage of the lay facility on Betfair. But I didn't really know what I was doing.

I became a 0-0 layer but ended up with huge losses. I gave LTD a go. Like everyone else, I bought The Football Cash Generator (£200 that set me back!) and thought I would soon be on the road to riches. That was doomed to failure too! I ended up in a massive hole because I made all the classic mistakes that new traders make: chasing losses, betting with money I shouldn’t have, not having any knowledge of value, not sticking to any strategy for long enough, not taking any notes........I was your classic Betfair loser.

But I could see the potential in trading, as opposed to gambling and I think it helped that I had never been a gambler because I didn't get a huge buzz from it and it wasn't ever something I wanted to pursue recreationally. I got into trading/betting to make money - that's it. If I could do it whilst watching something I loved since the age of 5, even better! I just needed to work out how to trade properly.


How long have you been betting on tennis for? Why did you start betting tennis in particular?

 

 

I've been trading tennis for 3 years. I decided to switch from football mostly because I was rubbish at it and was ready to give up! But I always felt like I was gambling, rather than proper trading. Football markets are so tight and efficient and lacking in dynamism, I couldn’t see where I could find an edge. Tennis was really a last resort after a couple of painful years staying up till 4am chasing losses on Copa Libertadores and MLS soccer. I could have told you anything you wished to know about the Bundesliga 2 or Japanese J-League but I had barely watched any tennis for years and couldn't tell you the names of more than 5 or 6 players.
However, I used to love playing and watching as a kid. As I hate horse racing, golf and US sports, it was really my only option left if I wanted to make it as a trader! I found that the dynamic nature of the tennis markets suited me much more than the slow, predictable football markets, so it was a great fit. Tennis markets are exciting, unpredictable, vibrant roller-coasters.

Above all, the sport hasn’t been ruined by money in the way football has. I'd almost gotten to the point where I hated football, I’d seen so much of it. Now, I struggle to sit through an entire match; the cheating, gamesmanship, uneven distribution of wealth and dull cliches have rendered it less entertaining to me. These days, I get most kicks from mocking football; @footballcliches and @usasoccerguy give me greater pleasure than the actual matches.

Tennis on the other hand, was still relatively new and I think I relished the chance to learn about and eventually love, a new sport. Also, it runs for 10 and a half months a year and unlike football (where you are scratching around for decent competitive matches to trade in the summer) the tournaments remain high quality right the way through and every week sees between 1 and 5 tournaments to trade - perfect for if you are considering going full time as it is rarely quiet.

When did you realise this was something you were good at?

 

A year ago. I already knew I had the knowledge of the tennis markets and the sport to become a successful trader but I didn't have the perfect mindset or a strategy that I was 100'% happy with. Then, February 2012, it all finally clicked into place and I started making good profit. I haven't had a losing month since.
Six months earlier, I began a complete overhaul of my tennis strategy. I had struggled for 18 months and just wasn't getting anywhere. Ironically, it was the introduction of the super premium charge that forced me into action and eventual success. The tennis markets changed (albeit only for a few months) as the big players left, leaving us smaller fry fighting over scraps - I was finding it much harder to get matched.

Truth be told, I had never felt comfortable with what I was doing anyway but this now was the last straw and it sparked a new injection of work ethic within me because I knew if I didn't change, it was all over. I learnt about value, read blogs more deeply, downloaded more trading literature, took more detailed notes and began looking at entirely new angles that I had previously ignored. In particular, I worked on psychology more, thinking up plans to combat my terrible mindset issues. It was that 6 months of hard graft which eventually resulted in a full year of profitability for the first time in 2012. I've a long way to go before I consider myself truly successful but I am confident in my ability to consistently make money now.

How would you describe yourself as a bettor/trader?

 

Emotional! I realised a year or so ago that I am never going to be one of these stone-cold, stoic, robots that are supposedly the holy grail of what a trader should be. I don’t actually subscribe to that belief.
We cannot deny our emotions, only suppress them. I am always going to be pissed off when I lose a trade because that's just the way I am - a perfectionist. The difference between me as a successful trader and me as a losing trader, is that I don't let my emotions rule my decision making any more. I no longer become overwhelmed by anger or fear or greed. Those emotions are still there (mostly just anger these days!) but they don’t affect my trading.

I still get pissed off when a player sends a simple smash into the net or I miss a huge market move by one point and if you are in the same room as me, you will know exactly what has happened! Emotions are not a bad thing in trading, you need to have them to some extent to keep you alert. Besides, I find letting out frustration much more beneficial than suppressing it inside. That's just storing up negative emotion and it has to come out some time - best to do it immediately rather than store up a volcano-load that can do serious damage when it blows!

A book by Curtis Faith 'Trading from Your Gut', was a key factor in defining my own style. It showed that you don't have to be a 'system' trader (more reliant on stats, trigger points and strict systems) to be successful. In fact, you need to have elements of a 'discretionary' trader, who tends to be more reliant on gut feeling and instinct. On the sliding scale, I am definitely much, much closer to the pure 'discretionary' trader. I don't have any databases or mathematical models and my strategy is fairly flexible and allows for game reading and instinct to take precedence.

On the technical side of things, I am a value trader. I look for prices in-play predominantly, that I believe are out of line with what they should be. It's my opinion that very few tennis matches hold real value pre-match. But the beauty of in-play trading, is that people's emotions come into play a lot more and too much emotion can cloud your judgement and cause people to make rash decisions. I aim to take advantage of those over-reactions.

What was your most disappointing loss and your greatest win?

 

My greatest win is probably my lay of Reading this season, when they were 4-0 up against Arsenal in the League Cup. Arsenal scored literally seconds after I placed the lay, so going in at half time 4-1 down, I knew I had a serious chance of getting a huge payout. I fully intended to green up at 4-2 but the second goal didn’t come till about 20 mins to go, so I was forced into staying in the trade because I was barely in profit. They equalised in the dying seconds and I can tell you, I went mental in a way I haven't done for years!
I have so many disappointing losses its hard to keep track, so I will go with a moment instead! I often hark back on my blog, to a time I call 'The Dark Ages', which was when I first started blogging. I began with the usual verve and optimism, thought I'd be the envy of the trading world once I started raking in the cash for all to see.

The reality soon became a nightmare as within 2 months, I'd almost blown my bank of thousands but worse than that, I was a complete wreck. I'd become anxious every time I entered the market, couldn’t bear to be in the same room as the laptop to watch matches unfold (invariably, against me) and my anger levels were so high that I would see red on a daily basis, completely losing all sense of rationality and slapping down stupid bets to chase losses. I couldn't sleep at night and my heart was beating out of my chest for 8+ hours a day. It was truly horrible and I'm afraid that is the ugly side of turning 'pro' - I wasn't anywhere near ready to do so and paid the consequence.

Those 'Dark Ages' eventually lead to better bank management and an upturn in fortune but I'll never forget how awful I felt -I can't even if I tried, as it's all documented on the blog! But I think without that period, I wouldn’t have built up the following I have on the blog (readers seemed to appreciate my honesty) and wouldn't have the understanding I now have about the pitfalls of trading being your only source of income.

Have particular tournaments been more successful for you than others?

 

Not really. I treat every one the same; from Wimbledon to a tiny event in Colombia with no one inside the top 50 in the draw. It really makes no difference to my style of trading - value is value, no matter who is playing or where it is. I've had dreadful Grand Slams in the past and made more money in 250's, so it really just depends on what you are dealt on any given week and how you deal with it.

I don't choose what I trade based on what tournament it is, I choose based on the match up and whether I feel it will produce opportunities in-play.

If there were 3 things that are key to successful tennis betting/trading, what would they be?

 

Specifically focusing on tennis, the first would be knowing the markets. They can be extremely volatile and this scares a lot of traders. If you fear the market, you are always going to struggle. But you only get to that point where you are fearless, when you have studied them for long enough. It's not like football, where you know that the same pattern will occur every single time - a slow erosion in the price as time ticks on. With tennis, it is going to jump around and flip between players and at times, it will happen very quickly and in huge momentum shifts. You have to learn to be comfortable with that and that's something most traders never get to grips with. Yet that is not to be feared because that is where the money lies in tennis trading.

Secondly, you need to know your players. You can look at stats till you are blue in the face but they will never give you a complete picture. Watching matches and getting a feel for each individual player is vital. The more you know, the better. Limiting yourself to just the top 10 will only get you so far - I'm pretty clued up on almost everyone inside the top 200, men and women. Get to know who plays well on which surface and in which tournaments, who tends to be more consistent in a match, who tends to be more streaky, who tends to give away their serve after breaking, who will fight harder when they are behind, who often starts slowly etc. Look for little personal habits that often signal whether a player is struggling or just not up for the fight and those signs that a player is confident. You get to know from the way a player walks around the court, the way they show frustration, the way they strike the ball, facial expressions, how they are likely to perform and those are things that the market doesn't necessarily pick up on.

Thirdly, I would say have patience. This goes for any sport you trade but having spent a fair bit of time on Twitter over the past year, it has confirmed what I already had an inkling about - that the average tennis trader has little or no patience. Everyone seems to need to be 'on' someone at the start of a match. Many traders seem to be involved in a game from start to finish, dipping in and out and changing position constantly. OK, maybe that is their suitable style of trading and if so, they should stick with that but I'm convinced that too many people are desperate to be involved so that they don’t miss out, when I would say that waiting and being patient is far more likely to reap rewards.

I don’t think this is a trading issue though, it's a personal / societal issue. We all want everything NOW in this consumer age. Everyone is busy and has little time to fit what we want to do into the day and as a consequence, very few people have any patience. Yet it's a quality that is VITAL in trading; the ability to wait and only enter the market when there is real value plus the ability to think long term and slowly build a bank. I didn’t have it until very recently and if I had, it would've saved me years of learning and no small amount of money. I always say to myself now "There is always another match just around the corner" and it helps to keep me patient because there really is always another match on within a matter of hours. With tennis in particular, there is no need to always be getting involved so early because there are loads of matches on almost every day and plenty of momentum shifts in many of them.

In general what stats are important in assessing the form of a player?

 

This is where my views will no doubt cause some controversy but I don't really take into account any in-depth stats. That's partly because most stats analysis bores me to tears and so I refuse to do any but also because I think there is no substitute for actually watching matches, even when you aren't involved in the market. When I first started trading, I looked at stats far more than I do now but soon realised that they are just as likely to go out of the window once the match starts, than be any use. I'm sure many traders will disagree with me and use them religiously to determine their every move in the market (those will be the pure 'system' traders I mentioned earlier) but I don’t and I do alright! If you want to really assess a player's form, watch them play - you can pick up far more in body language and style of play, than from numbers after the fact.

Match stats can give you an indication of how well they played but they don’t always tell the full story. If a player converts only 2 of 10 break points (BPs), it looks like they struggle on big points but what if those BPs were in just 2 games? They still broke in both games they had BPs. Stats won’t normally show you that. Certain stats can be manipulated to suit what a trader is looking for and I think that's something we all have done at some point. Some wins can look better than they actually were, on paper. If I've not seen a player actually play recently, I can usually gauge by who they've beaten and the scoreline, just how good their form is (though this is only something I've acquired through thousands of hours of watching tennis). Going any further and looking at serving percentages and net points won and BPs saved has little influence on my style of trading but it might be a winning formula for someone else.

I believe that everyone should stick to their strong points when developing trading style and mine has always been reading players, not analysing stats.

Are there any players you are more wary of than others? Which players do you think are the most dependable?

 

I've heard of traders having 'blacklists' and players they won’t go near but it doesn't matter to me who is playing. Again, it's about knowing your players. If you know who the erratic, unpredictable ones are and get a feel for when they are on a good day or bad day (or good spell within a game or a bad one) then you have no one to fear, in the same way you would no longer fear the market if you understand how it is likely to move. There are two broad categories of player: solid, reliable, consistent players who will fight hard in every match, no matter what is happening and erratic, unreliable, streaky players, who are just as likely to produce breath-taking tennis as they are to shank every single shot into the tramlines or the net. Most players will fall somewhere between the two extremes. Once you know who falls where, you get to eventually know how to read them on any given day.

Fernando Verdasco is always the male player I use as an example of your erratic player; one of the few players good enough to challenge Nadal on clay at his best, yet just as likely to get knocked out in round 1 by an unknown qualifier. He not only varies wildly from match to match but from point to point; he can break an opponent in spectacular style but then fail to hold serve straight afterwards with the most pitiful service game you've ever seen. You just have to know how to play him and adjust your position to take his individuality into account. Youhzny, Fognini, Wawrinka, Dolgopolov, Monfils, Mayer, Gulbis........all players in the Verdasco category. With the women, Goerges, Ivanovic, Kvitova, Cirstea, Stosur, Petrova, Barthel, Li Na spring to mind. I used to hate Verdasco because I never knew which version would turn up. These days, I can read him like a book and he has become one of my fave players to trade. Same with Sam Stosur.

On the other side of the coin, your dependable players would include Ferrer, Tipsarevic (when he doesn't retire!), Robredo, Simon, Nadal, Monaco, Del Potro, Berlocq, Nishikori, Seppi. With the women, Radwanska, Errani, Wozniacki, Bartoli, Pennetta, Medina-Garrigues, Kirilenko. All these players have off days and bad streaks of form but they will 9 times out of 10, put up a fight - you have to beat them because they rarely beat themselves. But being more dependable doesn't mean they are a better bet. You have to take into account the match up because that is what tennis is all about - match ups.

It also doesn’t mean they won't hit poor form. 2 years ago, Shahar Peer was one of the most reliable players on the WTA. These days, she can barely string two decent points together. Tipsarevic has been one of the most consistent performers over the last 2 years but this year, I am very wary of him as his form has really dipped. The fight is still there but it doesn’t mean anything if you lack confidence. On the flip side, Gasquet has become extremely reliable in recent months and I would no longer have him in the Verdasco category. So you can't just simply box players into 'dependable' and 'undependable' indefinitely. Things can change rapidly in tennis and you have to be aware of that.

How do you see tennis betting/trader in the future? And what are your personal ambitions?

 

It's my opinion that the tennis markets are pretty mature now, so don’t foresee them changing much unless the game itself changes. That could happen; courts now are much slower across the board than a few years ago and return games are stronger because of this. It definitely seems that players struggle to hold serve as easily as they did. That could also be down to ball and racquet technology as well as improvements in fitness. Within the industry, I hope to see more tennis liquidity on Betdaq in-play. It happened once (back in 2011 following the super premium charge) so it's not impossible but I fear it may take more than the Ladbrokes take-over to really get things moving.

Personal ambitions: I've never sought to be rich from trading, only to either make a comfortable wage or to find opportunities to become involved in, something within the trading industry. With the hard work I've put in and experience I now have, I think it would be a shame to just quit and leave the trading scene entirely (as I've considered recently) but I'm less certain about exactly what I should do. I don't think I'd want to be reliant on my own trading forever, so I'd like to get my fingers into other pies.

Having my own blog has opened up a few interesting opportunities for me but only one truly excited me; when I was asked to trade on behalf of a syndicate. I would love to have that kind of opportunity again (it was pulled after a month, despite me making a good profit) but until that happens, I will continue to slog away on the ladders every week and see where it gets me.

I will also continue to blog. Posts have dried up this year but I may well be taking 'Centre Court Trading' in another direction (maybe even back to an old direction of daily posts). I've loved having a blog these last 2 years and don't want to retire it but I think I need a fresh angle or a new challenge to kick-start it and my trading as a whole. I'm still at a cross-roads right now and need to make decisions about exactly where to go with everything but I definitely am not ready to walk away from trading just yet.

UPDATE: Since the interview, I've decided that I want to 'make hay whilst the sun shines', and my trading has kicked on another level, to the point where my goal is now to reach the Super Premium Charge level as quickly as possible, rather than be happy with just a regular monthly amount to live off.

If you were going to give one key bit of advice for anyone wanting to start out on betting/trading tennis, what would it be?

 

I answered this earlier - be patient! That's the biggest advice I would give for ANY trader. Don’t expect to make any money at all for months if not years (in fact, you should expect to LOSE money at first) because it will take years to learn your craft.

But if I could give another tennis-specific bit of advice other than the above, it would be that the tennis markets have changed from 2 or 3 years ago, when I first started. Techniques that were popular then, will not necessarily work now. Backing the server is not a great strategy any more. There was a time where everyone was doing this and it made it virtually impossible to get a reasonable number of ticks to make it worthwhile. The downside makes the risk-reward ratio very poor value. 15-40 is simply unworkable now - you will not get a big enough move on break point any more to make it worthwhile. Most of the market movement will have taken place earlier in the game. Scalping has always been a minefield but I doubt any serious long term traders use this technique anymore, unless they are court-siding or have fast pics. And if you don't, you are at such a massive disadvantage to these guys, that you are pretty much doomed anyway.

Learning about value is the best chance of finding an edge. The tennis markets are much more efficient now, so it's harder to profit unless you can spot value.

Urszula Radwanska:

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Best Ever Betfair Forum Thread

I haven't posted on or even looked at the Betfair forum for a number of years now but was very active on there around 5 years ago (before Betfair updated and ruined it). I recently found out that there is a search facility for old threads on there, something you couldn't do in the old days on the forum. Instead, you had to use a separate website to find old threads and that has been defunct for ages. Anyway, I was surprised to discover that threads from way back during the forum's hey-day, were still available via this search engine. So I took the liberty of dragging up one of the greatest in-play football threads of all time and lo and behold, it is still being bumped to the top of the forum 5 years after it was posted. This is the title, highly recommended you have a search for it:

Haiti v Suriname AND ITS LIIIIVE ON BETFAIR TV
 
What I love about this thread is that, unlike most "classic" Betfair threads, there is no arguing or childish name calling - the word "mug" barely even gets a mention. It is purely a thread which comments on and enjoys the hilarity of a most unusual football match. I am a prominent poster on the thread and can remember the match well, as it was full of many strange goings-on. It was a world cup qualifying game between two minor Caribbean nations. Haiti started as big favourites and dominated the entire match but just could not get the ball in the back of the net. It was comical defending but even more comical misses from the first minute to the last. Haiti spurned literally dozens of opportunities that your Grandma would've tucked away. As is the way in football, Suriname had two chances and scored them both! With just a minute or two remaining, Haiti finally scored and then equalised with an injury time penalty, which suitably for the game, was saved, rebounded out off the post and the follow-up smashed against the cross-bar before being netted at the third attempt!

The video stream of the match added to the banality, as it looked like a very poor, amateur, hand-held camera job. Overall, it gives a great flavour of what the Betfair forum was like on the late night football matches, which used to have a much greater sense of fun and camaraderie than the daytime ones, which often degenerated into slanging matches and were full of bravado. Maybe it was that most of the immature forumites had gone to bed or maybe it was because there was a sense of kinship amongst us die-hards still trading (chasing) into the small hours but whatever the reason, it brought out a better atmosphere and one I enjoyed being part of. Well, I needed something to take away some of the sting from all the losses I was accumulating!

At 17 pages, it's a long read but well worth persevering with as even if you weren't there at the time, it's still amusing and should bring a smile to the dial of anyone who ever spent time on the forum. I'm sure you'll be able to see yourself in many of the comments and it's interesting to see the mentality of people involved, from a betting perspective. There is a link to the game towards the end of the thread, so you can see (sort of!) the highlights, including a mini pitch invasion and hilariously OTT local commentary. Enjoy!

Agnieszka Radwanska:


Sunday, 30 June 2013

June: The Results

We are at the halfway stage of Wimbledon and so far, not only has it been my best ever week of trading, it has turned June into my best ever month of trading.

I hope none of you loyal readers of this blog stuck any money on Nadal because I did give you forewarning that he would not win Wimbledon and that he would be put under a lot of pressure by underdogs (if you read my Wimbledon preview on Betting Expert) - so you've only got yourself to blame if you did! I will admit that I did not expect Steve Darcis to be the man to knock out Nadal, as I never saw him as having a big enough game to out-hit Rafa. But if Darcis did, it just goes to show how much of a problem Nadal is going to have on any surface other than clay. His knees just cannot handle the pounding they will take on harder courts. I was amazed to see Nadal's price at 1.5 when he was TWO SETS behind and did not hesitate to lay it. It turned out to be my biggest ever win on a tennis match and has made up a large chunk of my Wimbledon profit.

I have to admit that I've had a fair amount of luck this Wimbledon so far. The now legendary day 3 (or Wipeout Wednesday as it's been nicknamed), really was a spectacular day for me. Seven withdrawals (4 before the match even began), and 7 huge upsets (Jankovic, Hewitt, Ivanovic, Sharapova, Federer, Tsonga, Wozniacki) made it the most exciting day's trading I've ever known, both from a gambling and a tennis-lover's perspective. Not only was I on the right side of the two biggest upsets, with Federer and Sharapova being ousted, I also managed to be on Gulbis when Tsonga retired and Cetkovska when Wozniacki took a tumble and injured herself. I like to see it as reward for daring to lay the favourite but I doubt I'll have a day like that for quite some time. Who is to blame for all the slips and upsets? No one! People  should just accept that it was an unusual week, almost certainly a statistical anomaly that we may never see again at Wimbledon. If the underdogs had slipped and exited the tournament, no one would be talking about the state of the grass, that's for sure.

Just before Wimbledon started, I was very surprised to find several bookies offering money back on outright winner bets if Andy Murray wins Wimbledon. I jumped at the offer to back Djokovic, which I felt at the time was as good as a free bet, as I expect either him or Murray to win. With Nadal, Tsonga and Federer all out early, I'm sure a few bookies are going to be sweating come the end of this week. Nothing has really changed though as far as I'm concerned. Murray and Djokovic were faves to make the final and both still are. Same with Serena Williams despite the loss of Azarenka and Sharapova. The great thing about all of this is that week 2 will see many more even contests with these big guns knocked out, than you would normally get in the second week of a slam and so better prices to trade with.

As you can see, I've not done too badly on the old soccerball either, for the second month in a row. The Confederations Cup turned out to be a fantastic spectacle and a great tournament to trade if you were looking for goals. The Italy 4 Japan 3 match was the best international I've seen in many a year and a big chunk of my profit came from this and also laying under 9.5 goals in the Spain v Tahiti game. Spain just hit their 10th and final goal with a minute or two to spare but it was a fairly low risk bet (around 1.5 to lay pre-match), so I was never sweating, though definitely very excited! I figured that after a dire Nigerian side still managed to put 6 past the admirable Tahitians (who played the game as it should be played), the Spaniards would have little trouble hitting double figures.

Aside from a little bit of bragging, I do have a reason for notifying you of these larger wins. Someone recently asked me how I coped with over-confidence, as I "never having losing days". I replied with a wry smile, that I often have losing days. The truth is, I actually have more losing trades per month than winning ones. I'm sure that will surprise a lot of people but I tallied up all my matches traded during June and it reads as thus:

WINS                   57
LOSSES                74
BREAK EVEN         22

Any wins or losses under £10, I counted as break-even, as they are a negligible amount that could easily have been a win or a loss. So that shows you that trading isn't about picking loads of winners. It's about maximising your wins and minimising your losses.

I just want to end by making sure any new readers understand that "Sultan Tennis: The Ultimate Guide to Tennis Trading" does not exist, as it was an April Fool's joke! I still get emails asking for a copy and I feel a bit bad having to turn them down! You never know though, this may well change one day...............watch this space!

Mandy Minella:


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Wimbledon 2013

I'm back very briefly to tell you about my latest article for Betting Expert, which is up today on their blog. You can read it on the following link:

The Sultan's Wimbledon 2013 Preview

Hope you all have a great time trading Wimbledon, I'll be back mid-tournament with an update on how things are going for me.

Daniela Hantuchova:

Monday, 10 June 2013

Grass Court Shenanigans

Aaaahhh, lawn tennis. The smell of freshly cut grass, the polite applause of the middle class, the excuse for an afternoon supping of alcoholic beverages........yep, Wimbledon is just round the corner. I'd be lying if  I said it was my favourite time of year for tennis trading, as my style of trading relies more on breaks of serve and changes in momentum, which don't occur as much on this quick surface. But it has its benefits. Matches tend to be shorter on average (certainly than on clay), so I tend to be able to wrap up trades much sooner. Today was a case in point. After the first 3 hours, I'd already traded 4 matches, with minimal time in the market. The games just whizzed by due to the shorter rallies and greater dominance of serve. Plus, the markets tend to over-react much more to breaks of serve on grass, which is exactly where I come in to take advantage. In fact, looking back over last year's June profit, it's clear that the change to grass didn't affect my profit much at all.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there is a clay WTA event on this week but Nurnburg has been washed out all day, so I had no choice but to trade Queen's Club, Halle and Birmingham grass events.It was actually a very enjoyable day (it's nice to have that change of pace and scenery) and I particularly liked watching Grigor Dimtrov almost throw away his match against Dudi Sela in London, right in front of his watching girlfriend. For those who don't know, her name is Maria Sharapova. She's OK at hitting the ball over the net too, I've heard. The funniest bit was watching the teenage hormones flying around amongst the watching ball girls, one of whom was actually crying as Dimtrov was two points from defeat. Apparently, he's a bit of a 'dream-boat' but I wouldn't know about that, being all masculine and shit. It does make you wonder how much of an influence having strong support in the crowd actually has on player performance. Would Dimtrov have gotten out of that game had Sugarpova not been a few feet away? Could be a trading system in there somewhere..............

I was considering watching some live tennis this week. There is a Challenger Tour (next level down from ATP) event taking place in my home town of Nottingham this week, which always attracts a strong field with several top 100 players in the draw. One of the most well known names is Donald Young. The American has been touted as the next big thing in US tennis for a number of years, after a fantastic junior career. It seemed, after a great 2011 where he reached a high of 39 in the world, that he was finally living up to the promise. That was until 2012, where he went on what I believe was the 4th longest losing run in the history of the ATP World Tour - 17 defeats in a row (16 first round losses in a row stretching from February to August). This year, his ranking has dropped so low (currently 157)  that he has to play Challenger Tour events and tomorrow, that means a first round match against local Nottingham-born 19 year old, Joshua Ward-Hibbert - ranked 856 in the world. It would be a new low for Young to lose this match and I'd quite like to be there to witness it!

Young's story just goes to show you how quickly lack of confidence can destroy a sportsperson, just as it can a trader. I saw some of those losses during 2012 and he actually started most of them looking like the talented player he is but as soon as he was pulled back or missed a few shots, he completely lost all confidence. If you don't have confidence in your strategy and self-belief in your ability to stay mentally strong during a bad period, you can spiral out of control much faster than Donald Young's career, that's for sure.

Dominica Cibulkova:

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Nadal Wins French Open!

OK, technically he hasn't won it yet but I think we all know that his semi final victory over Djokovic yesterday was the real final. The Serb pushed him all the way, just as I expected but in the end my Outright Winner bet was cruelly destroyed after an epic 4 and a bit hour battle. In fact, both matches ended up frustratingly for me, as Tsonga barely put up a fight in his straight sets defeat to Ferrer. Thankfully, with the Nadal match having so many twists and turns (Nadal was broken twice when serving for the match and Djokovic was ahead in the final set despite looking dead and buried both physically and mentally) I was able to recoup much of those losses. Over the  course of those 4+ hours, I entered the market on just 3 occasions, though have to admit, even I was shocked at Djokovic's resilience and fully expected to be taking a hit on this match - so cheers Novak!

I won't be trading either final as I expect Nadal and Williams to win pretty easily, so that's all from me for this week. I'll be posting again next week for the start of the month-long grass court season, as the tour comes to England for Queen's Club, Birmingham, Eastbourne and Wimbledon.

I'll be waving a sad goodbye to the clay court season, as this last  couple of months has been my best ever as a trader and I only wish tennis was played on the red-dirt all year round! That said, the switch to a faster surface didn't make a huge difference last year to my profitability. I tend to stick even more to WTA during this grass swing, as whilst men's games can become serving stale-mates with few changes in momentum, the ladies still tend to throw up plenty of breaks if you pick the right match-ups. I definitely do make small changes to my strategy for matches on quicker surfaces but value is still value and opportunities will still be available. I find that I just have a to be a little more patient in finding them, which doesn't really suit my personality but I've learnt to deal with that over the years.

Actually, a swift look at the calendar shows there is actually a new WTA clay event in Nurnburg starting today - bonza! In fact, looking at the weekend in-play tennis list shows a total of over 50 qualifying matches taking place on Saturday alone, for next week's tournaments. This is a fairly recent addition to Betfair's weekend tennis roster, which rarely used to put these weekend qualifiers in-play. It now means that tennis is tradeable pretty much every day right through the day for over 10 months of the year - though you'll be hard pushed to get matched on most of these weekend games, as all the money will be on the big finals. I'm currently watching a match between two German women, Ozga and Witthoeft (ranked 439 and 213), attempting to qualify for the main draw in Nurnberg. It's live on video and £60,000 has been matched as it comes to a close. Doesn't seem much compared to the £43 million traded on Djokovic-Nadal but considering the participants and the time (Saturday morning CET) and that it lasted less than half the duration, I'd say it shows you just how popular tennis is as an in-play sport. It certainly is still thriving on Betfair.

To finish on, I found an excellent article by Ben Rothenberg on Slate.com about sports gamblers (and traders!) who target tennis players for abuse on Twitter. Here's the link:


“No Wonder Everyone Thinks You Are Garbage”

 

I have seen a couple of remarks made against players during my time on Twitter but nothing really nasty. It obviously does go on and it's not surprising but in the case of Rebecca Marino (who was an excellent young player) it should really make everyone think about what they are saying to others on Twitter, professional sportsperson or otherwise. And if you are reading this and have ever slated a player after you've done your bank - don't be a moron all your life. Unless it was a Janko Tipsarevic fixed special. Then I say, "fill yer boots".

Ana Ivanovic:

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Daily Blogging Begins!

So, this is weird! I'm sat at my keyboard about to start regular, hopefully daily blogging for the first time in over 2 years. When I started the blog, it was intended to be a daily log of what I'd done on the ladders and I managed that for the first 2 months. That was easy because I was so bad at trading, I had a lot to write about! So I'm not sure how this is going to go but I will try to get as many posts as I can done each week.

It's week 2 of Roland Garros and as with the second week of any Grand Slam, it's one of the quietest weeks of the year for us regular tennis traders. There simply aren't that many matches to trade and for someone like me, who relies on a good quantity of matches to make my money, it's often a frustrating week. Actually, it's not so much the number of games that is the issue but more that many of them are complete mis-matches. You will almost always have at least 3 of the big 4 men's players still in the competition going into week 2, so that means a fair few matches will have odds sub 1.2. This doesn't often leave you with many options for trading the match, other than the obvious lay. The same thing seems to be occurring on the ladies side in recent tournaments, with Serena, Sharapova and Azarenka. It's why when I watch any major tournament now, I am always routing for the top players to get knocked out so we can have more even match-ups.

I think people who don't trade tennis would assume these big tournament quarter and semi final matches are the ones where I'm going to be involved more than any other but in reality it's probably the complete opposite.Yesterday's men's quarter final matches I barely watched at all and didn't enter the market once, as Nadal and Djokovic breezed past Haas and Wawrinka. And today, I only traded Sharapova v Azarenka as Williams hammered Errani in the second women's semi. What this does mean, is that we'll get a great semi final tie between Djokovic and Nadal and potential for a decent women's final. But I will always be much busier during a standard week, where on a Friday (usually quarter final day) I'll have 2-5 tournaments to choose from and 4 matches in each one to trade. That's a massive difference to tomorrow, where the second Friday of Roland Garros will only have 2 matches for me to trade. Of course, quality is more important than quantity but having 8-20 quarter finals to select from means I'll always find at least a couple worth trading; no guarantee of that when there's just two.

This does make it seem like I spend a lot of time in the market, trading game after game and I've had comments about my P&Ls expressing just that. The truth will probably surprise a lot of people. I actually spend very little time placing any trades. The Sharapova v Azarenka game lasted over 2 and a half hours today. I watched most of it but only entered the market on 3 occasions. That is pretty standard for me. If there had been another game I could have switched to during the final set, I would've done. So although my monthly P&L (see previous post) might look as though I've got about 3 games on the go at once, I'm actually rarely involved in more than one at a time and if I am, it's normally because I'm just letting a trade run to conclusion of the match and don't need to be keeping a close eye on it. The vast majority of my time is spent waiting and doing nothing. For the 2 and a half hours of Shazza-Aza, I spent approximately 20 minutes where I was seriously involved in the market and highly focused on what was happening. That's over two hours where I was either just watching and waiting or keeping an eye on things from a distance aka, eating a cream cake with a cuppa whilst lying with the sun on my back!

I'm not sure whether this technically comes under the Pareto Principle which has been discussed on other blogs recently but 20 minutes of focused, intense trading out of 150 is just 13% of my time which produced 100% of my profit for the day. So not far from Pareto's 80-20 rule. Roll-on the men's semi finals, which promise to be absolute crackers and both should produce some trading opportunities for me.

Sorana Cirstea: