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: