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 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 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:

Saturday, 1 June 2013

May: The Results

May has been a game-changer. I haven't done anything drastically different to my usual trading but as I've mentioned recently, this past month I have finally reached a position where I can really step things up a notch and the screenshot at the bottom of the page bears the fruits of this. I'm not going to sit here all calm, collected, cool-headed and humble because that would belie what is actually going on inside - I'm ECSTATIC! Three years ago, I was more used to screenshots like this, so you'll have to excuse me if you don't want to see a self-congratulatory post because I am most definitely going to enjoy this moment! For all I know, it may be the last month I ever have like this! In all seriousness though, I will allow myself to spend a little of my winnings and bask in the glory of my best ever month by some considerable distance but as it's the middle of (what has so far been a brilliantly entertaining) Roland-Garros, I'll be continuing trading as hungry as ever and with feet planted firmly on the ground.

But I have made a couple of decisions. Firstly, I am returning to daily posts, just as I did when I started Centre Court Trading over 2 years ago, detailing my daily trading life. I'm hoping this will re-ignite my own interest in blogging, which has gone a bit stale this year. It should also show a nice contrast between where I was when I started and where I am now - provided it doesn't affect my trading like it did back then! I'll see how it goes but expect to see a few more posts cropping up in the next few days.

The second and most important decision I've made, is to return to professional trading again (though this time, with me actually trading in a professional manner!). To all intents and purposes, I am now living off my trading profit anyway, so it's hardly a big change. It's more of a mental adjustment really; going from trading being one of my sources of income, to the main source and one that I am heavily reliant upon. I feel that I'm ready to do this now and the experience I had from the last time (which was almost exclusively bad) should ensure that I am well equipped to deal with things better. It will be interesting to see how it does affect my mindset and my trading. Right, back to the ladders but before I go, here are the links to my French Open preview and interview on Betting Expert, which you may not have seen yet:

French Open Preview

Betting Expert Interview

Elina Svitolina: