Tuesday, 16 December 2014


This is what I've been saying inside my head for the past few days. Outwardly, it's a different story. I've shown nothing but pure joy and happiness. Which is exactly how I feel, for the most part. But there is definitely a side of me (a side that I'm keeping under wraps to everyone apart from you honoured readers of this blog), that has gone all Clay Davis.

"What Goose?" "The one that lays them golden eggs!" (Trader Clay Davis)

The reason? I'm going to be a father. My hands are getting clammy as I type the words out. FATHER! ME! It doesn't seem real but it's true. I wrote a few months ago about proposing to my girlfriend and how my future would be highly likely to turn me into a family man but I guess I wasn't expecting it to happen so soon! I am delighted of course. I've mentioned before how I had been having paternal feelings in recent times and I do want kids. But this now makes what I am doing in terms of ending my trading career, an even bigger decision. Whilst trading has given me enough money to provide for a family for years to come, it won't last forever. I knew that before and am already investing my winnings in projects away from trading, as well as working towards a new career. But knowing that I have an extra mouth to feed, an extra life that is dependent on me, means that I can no longer make financial decisions (or any decision) based purely on what I want.

I want to finish trading. I'd already made my mind up on that. But it was a decision made purely because I want a change, for my own personal satisfaction. In financial terms, I now have to consider whether that is the right move for my family. With some talk that the global economy might be set for a second potential crash, trading might well be the best option for me. This is something I'm going to have to think over for a while. There is the option of trading part-time, bringing in two wages but I get the feeling that is easier said than done. Does it leave enough time to actually see my child as he/she grows up? My priorities have suddenly changed instantaneously, over-night. I can say bye-bye to my 6 months of backpacking around the Americas, for starters! I'll be at home changing nappies (SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTT!!!!) and cleaning up vomit instead of climbing Machu Pichu and drinking Pisco Sours!

Funny though, when I was told that I was going to be a Dad, one of the first things that ran through my mind was "I have to make sure my child grows up to support Nottingham Forest!". I don't know if that's something other fans of sports teams think but it was right there at the forefront of my mind literally minutes after my girlfriend told me she was pregnant. Boy or girl, there is no way I will accept them supporting any other side. Pity we are making such a hash of getting back into the Premier League - I was practically in nappies the last time Forest were there (OK that's not even remotely close to being true but it sure feels like it!). Even when we were top of the league and unbeaten a couple of months ago, I said that we had been fortunate in several games, had a relatively easy start and were just riding on the wave of optimism of one of our greatest ever players becoming the manager - I knew it wouldn't last. If we were in amongst the Chelseas and Manchester Citys, it would certainly help to stop my kid latching onto them as impressionable, young, glory-hunters do. Anyway, I digress. Where was I. Ah yes, fatherhood. Probably means I'll have to grow up and stop posting pictures like this one now..........

 Bouchard to the left, SIR!!

So it looks like I might well be on the ladders for a while longer - maybe even indefinitely. In a recent post I said "You never know just what life has in store for you" - how prophetic. 2015 is now set to be an even more tumultuous year for me.  Another thing I've also started to think is, would I want my son/daughter to one day learn about sports trading? When you think about it, there is a generation of  Betfair traders now who will have kids that will one day be old enough to trade. If they were successful traders, teaching them the skills to be a good trader could be very useful. Not only so they have the tools to make money independently at any time but also the life skills that can be learnt, such as money management, patience, planning, discipline, research, maths, buying and selling etc. But then there is the worry that they might fall into the same traps that many traders do and end up in trouble. And as I've written about a lot over the past few months, it's not the most fulfilling, varied or exciting way of making money in the world - not to mention the stress!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I've got 18 years till I have to worry about that! In all honesty, even if betting exchanges were still around in 18 years, I seriously doubt I would still be involved. But a couple more years could bring in the kind of money that can pay school, university, mortgage, medical fees and keep a family comfortable for a long time. Yet there is also that added pressure of making money with other people in mind and if there is one thing that you don't need as a trader, it's pressure. It might actually now be more imperative that I stop trading and find a stable career, with a guaranteed income. Would that be the more responsible thing to do? Or would the really responsible thing be to try and maintain the status-quo? I've got a lot of thinking to do because there's going to be a mini Sultan crawling around by this time next year - I can barely get my head around it! Happy Christmas everyone!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

The End of the Road

And so the tennis season finally comes to a close with a new world record crowd for an official tennis match (27,432)  in Lille for an exciting Davis Cup Final. This in some respects made up for the previous week in London. My sincerest apologies to anyone who bought an ATP World Tour Finals ticket off the back of my recommendation! What the hell was all that about?! A disaster of a tournament with a host of completely one-sided matches, meant semi finals day was the only one truly worth buying a ticket for. And if you got a ticket for the final, well, I feel sorry for you! The men were roundly criticised but not even close to what we'd have seen if the WTA Finals (which were fantastic entertainment) had been that bad. I can guarantee you Twitter would have been in meltdown from all the negative comments and sexism. But as Alex MacPherson tweeted:

 "If nothing else, this tournament will be useful to wave in the faces of anyone who starts whinging about equal pay."

 I'll be back in January ready to begin my final 6 months of sports trading. It's been an incredible year for me - the year when I feel as though I finally reached the level that I was trying to attain. When I began learning to trade, I always wanted it to become my sole source of income but I never wanted riches; just an amount equal to what I was earning in my "normal" job. But that goal changed when I started to have greater belief in what I could achieve. Seeing the amounts that certain other well-known traders were making, made me think that I was being too modest aiming for a standard wage. As I improved, I could see the potential was there for me to scale up to far bigger amounts than I'd previously imagined and over the last 18 months, I have been hitting those amounts - and in 2015, I aim to go even higher.

Whether I hit the super premium charge or not doesn't particularly bother me. The sadistic part of me would love nothing more than to stop trading a penny before the charge kicks in, so Betfair don't get their grubby mitts on any more than 20%. In fact, as I write this it is suddenly dawning on me - that would be the perfect way to bow out from trading! So my aim for 2015 is this: to stop trading just before the super premium charge is about to be taken. OK, it's kind of cutting off my nose to spite my face but the fact is, it's probably going to be a close call as to whether I hit the charge before I go away travelling anyway. But I actually exceeded my projections for 2014, so who knows. There is a possibility I might finish trading as soon as May or April.

 Jovana Jaksic

That's the thing about trading. You can plan all you like but you never know what the markets have in store for you and you never know just what life has in store for you. If you'd told me last January that I would be getting married at the end of the year, I would have laughed in your face - I didn't even have a girlfriend back then! But in December, that is exactly what will be happening. So whilst I will be aiming to go full steam ahead with my trading till July, I have a lot more on my plate in 2015 than I did in 2014; 6 months of backpacking to organise, a move to a new house with my new wife and most importantly (and scarily!) a new career to plan for! So I will have very little time to spare and maybe that will mean I can't trade as much as in previous years, but that's just how I like it. When I go back a couple of years and think about how my life was utterly consumed by trading and trading alone and how that almost sent me insane, this kind of all-consuming life is far superior; busy for the right reasons. It's what I have worked so hard for and what I'll continue to work hard to maintain in 2015.

Some traders have asked me why I would want to give up the life I have as a trader and the income stream it generates. The answer is simple - there are more important things in life than money and those things motivate me far more than the green stuff. I guess that's much easier to say when you have it already. However, when the main focus of your day is trying your hardest to stay focused, then surely something is not right. I need to make that change for my own personal fulfillment.  I can also see now that even trading part-time would be a struggle. When I finish for the day in whatever new career I've chosen, why would I want to then spend my precious free time staring at a screen, trying to stay focused, when I could be enjoying time with my wife and getting on with the life I'd worked so hard to build? Which is exactly what I'm going to do for the next few weeks.

Enjoy the Christmas period, don't forget to check in on the International Premier Tennis League which starts in a few days and I'll leave you with my favourite moment from the 2014 tennis season; Victoria Azarenka making a complete tit of herself as she sings Happy Birthday to "best friend" Gael Monfils. The best thing about it is not the hilariously bad singing but the desperation which seeps from her every pore as she literally begs the crowd to join in. A cringeworthy and transparent attempt to try and gain some of the popularity she lacks compared to other top players. Enjoy!

Monday, 10 November 2014

New Tennis Trading Videos

Yesterday was my second Sultan Skype Session and I took the liberty of once again recording the end of the most successful trade of the day. Not as big as last week's profit but still an excellent ROI for anyone who followed my actions in the market and a good day's profit overall.

In the interest of balance, I've also included a quick clip below of the Nishikori-Murray match, which ended a loss, albeit a very small one. The interesting thing about this trade was that a couple of the traders in the session actually made a good profit from it. That's because they decided to bail out earlier (some might say "bottled it"!!) for a win, whereas I decided to hang in there and go for a much bigger green. It didn't come off this time but if it had, you'd have been looking at a profit to match the one from my previous Sultan Skype Session. In the end, the extra risk I took meant I had to settle for a relatively small red as I tried to scratch the trade but overall, my "lucky" streak on these Skype Sessions continues, as they have produced some of my best days trading in recent weeks.

Unfortunately, that is likely to be the last session I do this year and possibly till February, though I may decide to do a session or two during the Australian Open if I feel I can sufficiently stay wide awake to be focused for a full session! Usually I'm fine by the time this slam starts as I've gotten used to the time difference for 2 weeks prior. However, I like to go to bed as early as possible and sometimes finish early if I've got good profit, something I can't do if I'm holding a full session. So I'm as yet unsure about doing any sessions during the Australian swing.

As the tennis draws into its final 2 weeks, my thoughts start to turn towards a welcome break, holidays, reflections of 2014 and plans for 2015. As it is almost certain to be my final year of tennis trading (final 6 months of tennis trading in fact) I have decided to make sure I continue blogging as much as I can. There will be updates on how I'm doing personally in my quest to hit the super premium charge. I also hope to have updates on my weekly Sultan Skype Sessions.

Federation Cup Final

ATP World Tour Finals

The great news about this season, is that it is the first one where there will actually be some tennis to trade in early December. So buying a guide in the off-season is no longer a pointless exercise, as you will be able to practice on the inaugural International Premier Tennis League up till December 13th before the new season begins on January 1st. There's still the rest of the ATP Finals this week, next weekend's Davis Cup Final (which promises some cracking best of 5 set matches involving Federer and Wawrinka against the French talent of Tsonga, Monfils, Simon or Gasquet) plus a full week of Challenger Tour events including the annual Challenger Tour Finals. I've kept my eye on the Challenger events lately and the liquidity for these lower tier tournaments has been excellent since the WTA and ATP main tours wound down. They are definitely worth a look now, something which I've not been able to say in the past, so effectively, we are getting an extra couple of weeks with a full programme of tennis to trade. So still plenty for us traders to get our teeth into.

Enjoy the ATP World Tour Finals this week and make sure you get down to watch it live if you can. Next year is almost certain to be the last year it's held in London and it might be the best chance you ever get to see the event if you live in the UK.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Nishikori Night-time Knockout Nets Nice Nuggets (Video)

10 minutes - I thought that was pretty quick for coming up with that title! I'm probably more impressed with that than I am with what it actually refers to! Friday was my first official Sultan Skype Session and what a way to get things started. A marathon session of almost 11 hours, starting with a great win on the Berdych-Anderson match and ending with the result of the day, an enormous profit on the final match as Kei Nishikori came through against David Ferrer in Paris after a 2 and three quarter hour thriller. Every trader managed to tough it out for the full session and I'm sure they are all very glad they did because not only was the Nishikori win the highlight, it was one of my biggest ever wins. I managed to do a quick screen-recording of the end of the session, which you can see below. There were also a couple of losses during the day but these were engulfed by the moolah from the final match, which ended at close to midnight. All-in-all, a very satisfactory first session, which covered most bases and one I thoroughly enjoyed - a big thank you to all who participated.

After that, I'll be taking a well earned rest for a week, as the tennis world takes a break till next weekend before rounding off a fine season with the ATP World Tour Finals from London. I've yet to decide on when my next Skype Session will be. Keep an eye on the blog for details if interested but be warned: the first session sold out within 2 days of me advertising it. So you may need to be quick off the mark, especially as this could be my last session of the year.  I'm currently toying with Sunday 9th November, as this will enable me to cover the first two ATP Finals matches and also day 2 of the Federation Cup Final between Germany and the Czech Republic. The only problem is, that's a Sunday and it's highly likely to displease the (soon-to-be) wife! I'll let you know how that conversation goes but I'm hoping the promise that this will be the final week of tennis trading for 2014 and following it will be several weeks of fun-in-the-sun holidaying action (paid for by me, most likely) will allow me to get away with visiting the (soon-to-be) in-laws and spend one final Sunday on the ladders. It won't be the final Sunday on the ladders of course, because the final of the ATP World Tour Finals is the following Sunday. Plus the Davis Cup Final the Sunday after. But she doesn't need to know that..............

Commentary by Robbie Koenig!

Seeing as it's a relatively short post (for me) today, I thought I'd add in a couple of interesting things I picked up on Twitter. Firstly, it seems as though traders of women's tennis are going to be in for a treat in a couple of years time. The WTA is putting together an in-house television deal that would ensure all WTA-level singles matches could be broadcast by 2017. The WTA's current distribution partner, Perform, produced about 700 in 2014, or roughly a third of all matches. That means we are likely to be able to watch over 2000 WTA matches in 2 years time! On paper, that sounds like it can only be a good thing for traders. Having access to a live stream is always an advantage, though it won't make any difference to me as I'll be long finished as a trader by then. It's welcome news for anyone looking to get into tennis trading though. The only issue might be that liquidity becomes a little sparser as the money is spread over a wider selection of in-play matches, though this would only be an issue in earlier rounds and only if Betfair put all the televised matches in-play.

Finally, a quick congratulations to @hotdog6969, better known as Jimmy Soixante Neuf, for this week acheiving what all of us tennis nerds dream of; a shout-out from legendary commentator Robbie Koenig live on air! Not just for being the first to answer the quick-quiz question correctly but also for having one of the best Twitter handles and completing the tri-fector (as Koenig himself would say) by being singled out as one of the world's biggest tennis geeks. As the man himself said (actually I think it was co-commentator Nick Lester but still) "No one watches more tennis than Jimmy Soixante Neuf". And they are right. Jimmy was the first person to give me the link to access the old TennisMatchStat website (orig.matchstat.com), which is infinitely better than the "new and improved" version - a slow, cluttered and inferior tennis stat site. For that, I salute him, as I was very upset for about an hour!

For those who don't watch tennis, getting this sort of recognition from Robbie Koenig is the equivalent of, I don't know, Gary Lineker reading out your Tweet on Match of the Day whilst Alan Hansen compliments you on your footballing knowledge. Only better, because Koenig is far more entertaining than Lineker and far more likeable than Hansen. I recently had the following message re-tweeted by Robbie during a live match and that was enough to make my day!

 "Lost all interest in this Simon match now, utterly consumed by Dan Bilzerian.com.....thanks

For those who don't know, Dan Bilzerian is an American poker player who Mr.Koenig mentioned when comparing his beard to that of Feliciano Lopez. He then went on to provide viewers with his website address and let's just say, my eyes were opened wide.............very wide! On the one hand, this man's life is one big cocaine and strippers phase and part of me envies that. But on the other hand, Bilzerian comes across (particularly in interviews) like a complete frat-boy tosser, sticking photos of his money, disturbing obsession with guns and his name written on women's butt cheeks, up on Instagram. The comments from other blokes on his photos, most of whom idolise him, are hilarious. My biggest question is, where on earth do these girls come from? Are they paid to just hang around? Do they have jobs? What must their parents think? Decide for yourself!


Sunday, 26 October 2014

Complete Lack of Focus

One of the things I've written about lots of times on the blog is that my biggest trading issue is a struggle to remain 100% focused. I don't think most people actually believe me when I say this. If I'm doing so well, how can my focus be that bad? It appears contradictory but I can tell you with absolute certainty that I would be doing even better if I could control my often appalling lack of focus! If I told you about some of the things I've done purely because of my complete inability to focus on the match I'm trading, I'm sure you would be shocked. I've done some unforgivably slack things when I've had thousands of pounds on the line, purely because I've been so desperate for mental stimulation that doesn't involve flashing numbers and yellow balls. These include preparing dinner, chatting on Twitter, reading online articles, buying stuff on Ebay, replying to emails, getting dressed for a night out, watching TV and many other things when I should be watching the ladders.

This isn't something I've always struggled with. Back in the early years of this blog, I had no problem whatsoever keeping focused. Just look at the number of posts I made in the first 2 years. I was totally immersed in trading. When I wasn't trading I was blogging about trading, when I wasn't blogging, I was reading other blogs, when I wasn't reading blogs, I was reading trading books, when I wasn't reading books, I was reading my own trading notes and when I wasn't reading notes, I was on Betfair trying to come up with new strategies. There was always something for me to do and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge because I was always learning something new. When I went to bed at night, I often dreamed about trading and when I woke in the morning, I was always raring to get into the action and was excited about when the first match was starting.

But the more successful I became, the more this changed. It was almost a direct correlation: the more profit I made, the more unfocused I became. Successful traders will always tell you that they are constantly learning but you will never learn as much as you did in those formative years when you struggled to make money.  Also, the motivation naturally drops. Trading becomes monotonous and more boring, as you essentially just repeat the same things over and over once you have found what works. This makes it much harder to enjoy what you are doing, especially when your personality is one that thrives on variety, new challenges and less routine.

Vitalia Diatchenko

Watching Serena Williams over recent years and this year in particular, I've come to the conclusion that she struggles to find focus in a very similar way. Those who don't watch her regularly might be surprised by that. Looking purely at the stats, she has a phenomenal record which suggests the last thing she has a problem with is focus or concentration but having watched her week in, week out, first round to final for a number of years now, I can tell you that Williams is extremely vulnerable in the early rounds of tournaments and regularly struggles to find her game in the early stages of matches. Just look at the WTA Finals this week. She should have been knocked out in the round robin phase after being bageled by Simona Halep and ironically, only reached the semi final because Halep took a set off Ana Ivanovic in what was a dead rubber for the Romanian (a naive move on her part because it came back to bite her in the final when Serena got revenge). Once in the final, there was never any doubt that the experienced and vengeful Williams was going to be at her best and I backed the world number one to win the tournament as soon as Halep won that set against Ivanovic, sealing her qualification (and I haven't placed a straight bet in years, that's how confident I was!).

I believe this is mostly a question of a lack of focus. I think she finds it harder to get fully motivated and revved up for some matches these days and you can see the frustration this gives her, manifest itself in some frankly frightening outbursts! Her body language often suggests a complete bemusement with why she can't seem to find her game and this is always followed by primeval roars once she eventually does, letting out all that frustration. I can tell you that I do exactly the same when I trade! There are days when no matter how hard I try, I just cannot find the discipline required to focus on the tennis. I will do any minor chore that requires doing (polishing, hoovering, washing-up) with much gusto, yet cannot muster the same enthusiasm for trading. I will literally start daydreaming or even nodding off during matches, yet as soon as I have something vaguely interesting to do (such as check my email, read through my Twitter timeline or help one of my Academy members) I'm wide awake!

This was in fact the principle reason that I began the Academy in the first place. I was struggling so much to find regular focus, that I needed something to give my days more variety and purpose. It has definitely worked, although it did bring up a new problem, which was that the Academy became TOO distracting! In the same way that being on Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and the Internet were such a distraction that I needed to ban them whilst trading, I would spend so much time helping out members that I was doing it mid-trade, as a consequence ruining many a session on the ladders. These days, I have managed to strike a better balance on when to trade and when to add some variety but it's still a daily battle. This is one of the reasons why I've decided to do the Sultan Skype Sessions. They will add at least one day a week of extra challenge and variety and I'm looking forward to getting started. The first paid session is scheduled for next week and you can read full details by clicking above.

Like Serena Williams, once I do have full focus, I always do well. When she's 100% dialed in, there's no player in the world who is going to beat her. Once I am fully concentrated I don't make errors and so I inevitably tend to have better results. But like the world number one, it is simply not possible to be 100% focused, 100% of the time. I understand this and so have action plans in place for when I am not quite there mentally. These range from not trading at all for the day, to taking time-outs to do something mentally stimulating, to 20 minute power-naps - a relatively new revelation in my trading routine! I also warm up for 20-30 mins before each session - a combination of stretching, music and clearing the mind so I'm mentally on it. So as you can see, there are still things I struggle with and still things I have to work very hard on to maintain my consistency and profitability. Lack of focus remains the biggest issue for me - though it's a much nicer issue to have than throwing down my entire bank on one angry chase bet!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Live Skype Test Sessions Results & Analysis

Last night saw my first foray into live Skype trading and I swiftly followed it up this morning and afternoon with a second and third test session. Unfortunately, I was unable to trade the first few WTA Championship matches  as planned originally, due to personal commitments, so I apologise once again to those traders I had to cancel who couldn't make the ATP sessions which I scheduled instead.

I would like to thank all those who took part and for the feedback you gave me, which has really helped me decide on what my next move will be. As you can see from the screenshots below, the ATP sessions turned out to be profitable and I'm sure everyone will be very happy with the results if they did as I did. Being test sessions, I did not want to use my usual stake sizes in case there were any technical (or mental!) issues. I did feel that there were too many people in the first session and I found it difficult to answer all questions and stay focused enough. I think this will work better with less people in the session and so invited only a very small number (less than 5) to the second and third free sessions. I also feel that this will allow a more personal service and will put less strain on my computer and avoid any future issues with slow-down.

 Kukushkin v Wawrinka (all-green on both players)

What you see in the screenshots is exactly what you'll see in one of my Sultan Skype Sessions, although I have hidden the full conversation in the Skype screen to protect trader's identities and also hidden where it shows the trades I did on Geeks Toy for obvious reasons!

After the first two sessions, I was still undecided on whether to go ahead with this new venture. Trading with lower stake sizes will potentially lose me money (as it did in both the first two sessions), so I must be able to do this with my usual stakes. The problem could be that trading with my usual liabilities might affect me mentally. I've never traded in front of other people before, so this is a new experience for me. I have to admit, I found each session very nerve-wracking, to an extent that I haven't felt for years. Having to think about other traders, multi-task and talk throughout the session, was not easy and potentially could have a detrimental effect on my trading. The first session was also very draining (lasted far longer than the others) and I was losing my voice towards the end!

 Andujar v Berdych (Andujar won, netting me the £475 you see on-screen)

The third session session felt far more comfortable than the other two, despite the fact I was using my usual stakes. A combination of less traders and a better idea of how everything was going to pan out, meant that I actually enjoyed this session far more. I did trade with my usual stakes here and the big worry was that this would affect me mentally but I think the fact it was a small group and I had less to concentrate on other than my own trading, made it no issue. Even though it ended up a loss, it was a very small one (I would class it as a scratch trade for the kind of liabilities I use) and it was a good experience for me to show traders how to manage things when trades don't work out. 

Bouchard v Ivanovic (a relatively small loss)

 I've decided to go ahead with the paid service very soon. From a personal standpoint, I think this will add a bit more focus to my trading for one day a week and also give me some much desired interaction with other traders. So it should be really beneficial to me, as well as giving some added variety to my week. Once more, I would like to thank everyone who took part in these sessions, your feedback was much appreciated.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

First Live Skype Session Next Week

Interest in the live Skype sessions has been overwhelming! So much so that I've decided to bring forward the date for the free test sessions. They will now take place during the WTA Championships which begin on Friday 17th October. This does mean that there will be a lot of disappointed people as I cannot fit everyone who has shown an interest into a session.

I should stress that only the first session is guaranteed to be free. If all goes well, there are no teething problems and I am comfortable and have fun in the session, I will not be offering any further free sessions. If there were any problems or I feel that I need to run through another session to get the service as good quality as I would want it, then I will offer more free sessions in order to fine tune things.

When the paid service begins, priority will be given to Academy members and people who have bought the guide. Further details will be on the blog as soon as they are finalised. Please note that the Academy is now closed to new members. I am full for the whole of 2015 and will not be offering any new spaces.

Jarmila Gajdosova

If you have emailed me to ask to go into the draw for the free sessions, please check your email inbox next week, as I will be making the draw as soon as I know the order of play for next Friday's matches. If you don't hear from me, it means you did not win a free spot but please keep checking right up to the start time of each match because if someone drops out, I will draw a new name to take their place (and yes, I am actually doing a draw, World Cup stylee, with balls and velvet and glass bowls and everything!)

I'm really excited about this now. It will be the first time I've ever traded in front of anyone else, so it will be a daunting experience. But if all goes well, I will be looking to start the Sultan Skype Sessions properly during the ATP World Tour Finals and also to cover the Davis Cup Final and possibly some of the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (for any days I'm not away on holiday) which I wrote about in my last post. There's even a chance I may start as early as the Paris Masters 1000 and WTA Tournament of Champions. So keep a close eye on the blog for details.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

International Premier Tennis League

I'd totally forgotten about the brand new event that is soon to take place in the tennis world - the International Premier Tennis League. Loosely based on cricket's Indian Premier League with its Indian-based franchises, the IPTL begins its first ever season during the tennis off-season in December. A couple of weeks ago, Roger Federer changed his mind about competing in the IPTL and as you would expect, this has made everyone sit up and take notice. All of a sudden, the IPTL is looking a lot sexier. Although for this inaugural tournament, it might have more of an exhibition feel than any serious event such as cricket's IPL. Hard to say at this stage but I think it will be more competitive than many fans think. If you were part of an 8 player team, playing in front of real home support, with the eyes of the sporting world on you for 4 weeks, being paid the huge sums that you are, wouldn't you want to win? Certainly, you would not want to embarrass yourself or let your team members or the sport down and this is a great chance to showcase tennis to an emerging market.

The fact that it is being played during the traditional tennis down-time (a period which has recently been extended due to the demands of players) means it will be unlikely to ever reach the same prestige as a normal tour event. In fact, you would be well within your rights to ask why on earth players who were complaining about the season being too long and tiring, are doing extending that season by an extra 4 weeks! As always, money is the answer - there's some serious dollars on offer for those who are competing. As some of these top players end up playing exhibition matches in December anyway, asking them to play a few extra sets probably won't make much difference. The format is set up so that no player will play more than one set of tennis a day (although the men's singles players might have to play a deciding set), so it shouldn't be too taxing, although they will be playing most days for a 4 week period.

The 4 franchises are all based in Asia and this is primarily because the ATP and WTA see this continent as the burgeoning one for tennis. With China just beginning to really jump onto the tennis bandwagon (3 new WTA tournaments started this year alone in China and Hong Kong), the WTA Tour Championships being hosted in Singapore for the first of 4 years and a huge untapped market in India in-particular, Asia is going to be the next big market to explode into life.  Because of this, I can definitely see the IPTL growing into something far more serious, though I doubt this short-form version of tennis will change to the full version - not during the off-season anyway. If it does take off though, who knows what will happen and where it might be shifted to in the schedules. Tennis is a business at the end of the day and just like cricket's IPL, if the demand is there, that's where the players, TV companies and sponsors will gravitate to.

 Eugenie Bouchard - first draft for IPTL (obviously)

It's certainly a hugely exciting prospect and the biggest innovation in the sport for a long, long time. Purists will no doubt hate it (just as they do with 20/20 cricket) but I think it promises to be a lot of fun. When you watch as much tennis as I do, anything fresh is welcomed with open arms. I'm pretty sure Betfair will produce markets for this, with a total of 24 "matches" over 4 weeks, there's plenty of action to trade. We could well be at a stage where there is almost a full year of tennis to trade - making tennis surely THE sport for any trader to get into. It will be fascinating to see how the markets react to this new form of tennis. As it's a one set shoot-out, including innovations such as  "power-play" points (where the next point counts double), a shot clock between points (pity Nadal has withdrawn because that would have been very interesting!) and tie-break deciders at 5-5, there will be some big swings in price in most matches.

Also, the "outright" markets will be intriguing. It is a team event with 5 sets played in total for each "match" (one each for men's singles, women's singles, doubles, mixed doubles and retired/legends singles), so the outright match market as well as league markets should throw up a lot of betting potential. So from a trader's perspective, this is excellent news. Well, it would be for some traders but not for me - I'll be taking a well earned holiday during December! But definitely keeping a close eye on proceedings, as the whole tennis world will be. This could be the start of something very special indeed...........

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Live Skype Trading Sessions

The trading documentaries I've recently been watching have really got me thinking about the possibilities of doing some live, one to one or group trading. When I began the Academy, I decided against this kind of training as I was worried about the impact it would have on my own personal trading. The added pressure to perform, negative affect on concentration plus the added work required to set it up and run it smoothly, meant that it wasn't really worth the risk as far as I was concerned. But as 2014 has been such a great year for me, I'm now in a position where I can take a bit more time off when I want to, rather than seriously trade every match that I can. I think it could be a fascinating new challenge and something to really get my teeth into for my final year of trading. So for the first time, I'm going to be offering the chance to see me trade live via Skype.

I'm going to be testing during the ATP World Tour Finals in London which run from November 9th - 16th. If all goes well during this week, I will then decide to go live in 2015 (wow, is it mid-decade already?!), most likely with one session per week. I've decided that as it is only a test period and I can't guarantee everything will run 100% perfectly, I am offering traders a FREE place in one of these sessions if you buy the Sultan Tennis Trading Guide. I will only be able to accept a small number of traders into these sessions and anyone who is currently an Academy member or who has already bought the guide, is also able to take up this offer. This is probably the same way I will operate in 2015 - by offering spaces to those who have my Trading Guide first. It will make it much easier for everyone in the session, if all traders have knowledge of  my own style of trading beforehand.

Sloane Stephens

I have not yet decided which matches during the Tour Finals I am going to be setting up for live trading. I won't know until the order of play is decided and last year, they often were not confirmed until the day before (I bought a ticket last year but didn't know who I was watching till the day before I attended). So if you are interested, let me know and I will put your name into a random draw for places (I figure that's the fairest way). I will contact anyone whose name is drawn and if they are not available for that session, I will then go to the next person drawn, till all spaces are filled. The draw will take place on November 8th and I will contact traders as soon as I know the order of play for each day. I will probably have to limit each person to one free session, depending on how much interest I get.

I hope to set it up so you can hear me talking through my thought processes as I trade (same as in the videos in my Trading Guide, which I've received great feedback about and really were the catalyst for me to set this up) and also so you can ask me questions via Skype. If all goes well, my plan is to do 6 months of Live Trading from January next year, with at least one session per week, before I bow out from trading altogether. As this is all completely new to me (plus, I'm not well versed on Skype) I'm not sure whether this is something I will take to and I only get into new ventures if I enjoy them. So nothing is 100% set in stone yet but certainly, I will be doing some sessions during the ATP Tour Finals. Just message me via the Contact Form if interested.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Million Dollar Traders

The second episode of "Traders: Millions by the Minute" aired last night on BBC 2. Another interesting show allowing us to look at a few ordinary, every-day financial traders from a variety of backgrounds, who trade from home with varying degrees of success - from a millionaire through to a guy who was trading with zero profit for SEVEN years! Do not watch this show expecting to get any valuable hints and tips about trading, it really isn't about that (though some important messages do shine through). I personally found it interesting because, as a professional trader working alone from home, I rarely get the opportunity to see other people in my position doing our job. For those of you who aspire to be traders, I think you'll find it quite motivational, seeing how other ordinary people go about their business.

As I've said before on this blog, there are two types of trader; the negative ones who will tell you all day long that it can't be done and you shouldn't bother (the failed traders) and the positive ones, who understand the odds are stacked against them but know that with hard work, anything is possible. Two quotes from the show stuck out for me. The first was from the self-made trading millionaire who said "Most traders who do give up, probably don't give it as much (hard work) as those that don't (give up)" - which is what I've maintained for a long time. The biggest difference between the successes and the failures, is that one wants it more than the other and will not give up until he gets it.

Another great quote was from the sister of the trader who had been trading for seven years with no profit to show for it (throwing away a decent career elsewhere to continue, although he was much happier as a trader). She said "Either you're absolutely crazy or it's admirable". And I think that can be applied to most traders. The millionaire trader had lost many thousands before he turned it around to earn six figures. If you've followed this blog from the early days, you'll know I nearly sent myself round the twist before I got anywhere. This tends to be how it works! It's admirable that successful traders have pushed on through tough times to earn their rewards but at the same time, for many of us, there have been moments where we've done crazy things or continued when the sane option would  have been to give up. It's a fine line.

Iveta Melzer

 I also came across another show I missed on the BBC from 2012 "Million Dollar Traders". I'm surprised I missed this first time around (or maybe I didn't and just can't remember because I was going through my cocaine and strippers phase?) but I certainly enjoyed watching this 3 part series on YouTube over the weekend. This programme is purely about training complete novices on how to trade the financial markets. It's an insight into what professional trading day to day is like and how it can affect people psychologically. It's interesting to see how different personalities react to the ups and downs and also shows that it doesn't matter what their background is, you never how someone will react to the pressure.

Someone recently wrote to me and said he had previously been trading financial markets and wanted to learn about sports trading. He said that he felt the sports markets would be more difficult because financial markets are moved by people and sports markets aren't.  I assume he meant that sports market prices are moved by the players (what happens in the match). This of course, is completely wrong. Both financials and sports markets are all about information and how people react emotionally to that information. In the financials, the latest news indirectly affects the markets but it is traders who directly move the prices. In sport, the players indirectly affect the market but it is traders who directly move the prices. In my time running the Trading Academy, I've come to realise more and more that many traders don't actually understand this and that makes it impossible for them to succeed. These programmes might help give a greater understanding of this.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Millions by the Minute

I recently spoke with a professional gambler regarding my Tennis Trading Academy. He claimed to be very successful, earning hundreds of thousands a year from a simple football strategy he devised but wanted to diversify more and learn how to trade. What he couldn't understand, was the mentoring aspect that I was offering as part of my Academy. As a straight gambler, he didn't see what else needed to be learnt other than how to use the strategies. Of course, trading is not as simple and straightforward as straight betting. I've often said to myself that I wish I had a betting strategy instead of  a trading one because it would make life so much easier!

The difference between making money straight betting and trading (particularly in-play trading) is like night and day. I'm sure every trader who has read this blog at some point has wished the same. Imagine how great it would be if all you had to do was  a bit of research before placing a bet and then just walking away to go and do whatever you like for the rest of the day - job done. That's basically what this successful gambler says he does and what  a life that must be! When I was struggling and learning to trade, every single time I went through a bad period, I would start to devise some sort of straight betting strategy (which always failed miserably). Why? Because I knew it would make my life far less stressful than what I had to go through when attempting to trade in-play.

The hardest part of trading to conquer is the psychological element. Having to make split second decisions, react to fluctuating market prices and stay disciplined when your losing position deteriorates or when your winning position reverses before your very eyes, is what makes or breaks a trader. None of that comes into the equation with straight betting. You just bet and leave. I don't think there is a single trader out there who doesn't wish they could make the same money straight betting as they do trading.

The skills that need to be acquired to successfully trade in-play, do not come naturally to us humans, and that is the main issue. A member of my Academy sent me the following link to a great programme aired on the BBC this week "Traders: Millions by the Minute", which is an insight into people who trade financial markets in London, New York, Chicago and Amsterdam. Within the show, there is also a section showing complete novices being taught how to trade, something I can relate very well to! But for those who don't understand why trading requires a lot more in terms of skill-sets and  is far harder to learn that straight gambling, this programme will show exactly why.

 Caroline Wozniacki & Serena Williams

Putting all the many extra technical aspects that you need to learn aside (such as learning about market price movements) it all boils down to one thing - human emotions. That is what makes it so difficult to be successful at trading and that is why my mentor service is such an important part of my Academy. Following a set of entry and exit points might seem simple and therefore does not warrant a great deal of learning but when those entry and exit points involve  fear, greed, impatience, anxiety, over-confidence, stress and a variety of other emotions in a fast-paced, decision-making environment, plus the vital ingredient of money and it becomes obvious why so many fail to do what on paper might appear relatively simple.

Whilst it would be great to have a simple straight betting strategy to make big bucks, I will always maintain that trading is the way to go. Particularly with the tennis markets, in-play is where the liquidity is and in-play is where you'll find the ability to make thousands with just one relatively quick trade. The options for strategies are almost limitless, whereas with straight betting, things become far more restricted. On the one hand, that is part of the problem with trading; there are so many options available, that traders end up veering away from the planned route and end up like a deer in the headlights. But those extra options are also what enable a greater variety of techniques for making money - you just have to learn how to take the correct route and stay on it. Plus, I really wouldn't fancy stressing over the result of a match for 2+ hours, when I can be in and out of a trade in a few minutes and able to reduce my liabilities to far less scary amounts. So in theory, although it sounds as though betting would be better (and certainly easier to learn) I would take trading any day of the week.

The second episode of "Traders: Millions by the Minute" is aired on 22nd September, 9pm BBC 2.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

US Open 2014

The US Open comes to a close with the women's final today and the men's on Monday. It's been a tournament full of upsets on both sides, with perhaps the biggest being Novak Djokovic's loss to Kei Nishikori. It wasn't a huge upset in terms of ranking or gap in class. Nishikori was ranked 11 going into Flushing Meadows and will be a top ten player as of next week. He's also been more than a match for Nadal on clay this year (probably would have beaten him had he not been injured) and has beaten Federer and Wawrinka. But in trading terms, yesterday was a massive gubbing. He was 1.13 pre-match, a joke price if ever I saw one, though I won't pretend this wasn't still a huge surprise. That's because he'd come through two consecutive 5 set matches previously and in the intense heat and humidity of New York this week, not many gave him a chance against the iron-man of tennis who had played significantly less time on court. But Kei (not Kai!) gave me one of my biggest ever wins and best of the US Open, as I tweeted after the match:

In today's final between Wozniacki and Serena Williams, I really think we'll see a close match and do not see it as being as one-sided as the market seems to think. I really hope so anyway because a Wozniacki win is going to leave a lot of people rather embarrassed at the way they've been writing the Dane off (rather nastily in many cases) for years. She's been criticised heavily  for not having a big enough game or being aggressive enough, even when she was world number one. Very harsh in my opinion, as that's just not her style and it's very difficult to change your natural mentality and personality. She should be appreciated more for what she is - one of the finest athletes on the WTA, one of the most competitive players and mentally toughest on the women's OR the men's tour, probably THE best defensive female and with perhaps the most solid double-handed backhand in the women's game. Tennis isn't just about big serves and massive shot-making. That said, I never saw her winning a Grand Slam, so I will be proved wrong if she defeats the world number one today - and I hope I am!

As for the men's final, I don't think anyone saw that coming! Cilic v Nishikori won't whet the appetite of most casual viewers - it's the first time in almost 10 years that a Grand Slam final has none of the big 4 (Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and Murray) competing. The last time was the 2005 Australian Open between Hewitt and Safin. But this time, it's much more of  surprise because neither of these two finalists are ranked inside the top 10 - Hewitt and Safin had both already won Slams. However, I'm loving the fact we get to see something different for a change and I also think it will be great for trading. Cilic was outstanding in his semi final - he completely outplayed Federer, who must be feeling he could have lost his last great chance to win another Slam. He has not won one since Wimbledon 2012 and with Nadal injured, Murray knocked out by Djokovic and Djokovic upset by Nishikori, he surely won't get a better opportunity. Nishikori might just find that this is one match too many, as all that court time catches up with him but he is the better player at his very best and I'm hoping he does the job. No other player on tour seems to be as universally liked as Kei (not Kai!) and it will be a much celebrated victory (plus let's face it, Cilic is boring!).

Quick update on my Academy. All places have now been taken for the final year, so that's it I'm afraid - Sultan Tennis Trading Academy is officially closing its doors! Any Academy members who have yet to receive the newly updated guide, please email me via the contact form on the blog for further info.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Life Changing Week

It was a national holiday in the UK on Monday so I took my girlfriend out for a long romantic/dirty weekend. It was pretty much a spontaneous thing (not something I really planned to do as I've known her for a relatively short time) but it just felt like the right moment to propose  -  there was no tennis to trade on Sunday, so the time was perfect. No, just kidding. I mean, there was indeed nothing to trade on Sunday but that's not why I popped the question then! I won't bore you with the ins and outs of the proposal, just to let you know that she said yes and my life is about to change massively! What does this have to do with trading, you ask? Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it could have a big impact on my working life. In a year or two, there is a strong chance I will have children - that's an entire family to look after.

When I was single, I never had to worry about big responsibilities such as this. I could take my time, learn how to trade when I wanted to, earn enough to just get by and pay my bills. In more recent times it meant I could save up for and then go on big trips like the one next year and do pretty much what I wanted with my spare pennies. I now have other people to think about and my future becomes far more important. Of course, I had already decided that I was going to quit trading and move into a new career path but now that is perhaps something I need to think about a bit more. In terms of purely getting married, it doesn't really make any difference. It won't stop me making that career change. But in terms of financing a family - HUGE difference. There's also some unpredictability about it. Who knows exactly when those children could pop into my life - or how many! It wasn't something I'd ever given much thought because to be honest, I wasn't that bothered about having them. Not till recently. Gradually, I've started to  have more paternal feelings, that have really caught me by surprise because I'd never felt that before and didn't think I ever would.

 Alize Lim

Anyway, the gist of it is, if I'm gonna be a father, I need to think more carefully about what I'm going to do in future. I've written before about how other successful traders I know who have families, have their fingers in other pies besides their own individual trading. I am all geared up towards next year being my final year on the ladders, so whatever I get into, it won't be related to trading. But I suppose I've always got trading to fall back on, if my new career venture doesn't work out. Or maybe there's a way I can fit it around my new chosen career.

This has all happened very quickly - a bit of a whirlwind! So I'm really just getting my thoughts in order by writing this blog post. But thoughts of the future, financial stability etc, have become a much bigger issue all of a sudden and I don't mind admitting it's a bit scary. The pressure that brings with it could have a detrimental effect on my trading, as it's even more important that I try to make the most of my final year. But then, it also gives me greater motivation to do the best that I can and perhaps that is just the challenge I need to keep me focused; something I have written about many times as being the most difficult aspect of trading now that I'm doing well. Anyway, I've gotta go, the fiance is moaning at me for spending too long on the internet............maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Last Ever US Open

It dawned on me today that next week's US Open will probably be the last one I ever trade! As I will be in some distressingly hot country, dressed in sandals and covered in mosquito bites this time next year,  the coming fortnight will be my first farewell to a Grand Slam event that I've worked on for the previous 4 years. I can't say I'm too excited about it though. One mistake many new traders make is putting greater emphasis on the Slams. They gear themselves up mentally more than with standard tournaments and that means putting greater pressure on themselves to make money purely because of the status of the event. This a major error! I learnt a while back that just because it's a Slam, doesn't suddenly make it easier to trade. I see this all the time in my Academy: people trading multiple games at once so they don't miss out on all the opportunities, over-staking, getting over-excited and sucked into the drama and action. You must treat it the same as any other week and that means detaching yourself emotionally.

 In a recent post I said that the challenge has gone from trading and I'm now on autopilot. I wanted to make sure there is no confusion about that because it doesn't mean that what I'm doing is easy. I still have many decisions to make every day, often split-second decisions and in order to do that, you have to be sharp and well prepared. But I've been through the process of making these same decisions hundreds of thousands of times already, so nothing new ever crops up which is going to stump me. As long as I put in the time to research thoroughly (which really doesn't take long at all these days) and make sure I don't become rusty, there's nothing particularly difficult that I need to do. Yes, the markets could change but my ability to find value won't as long as I keep at it. So yes, it's much easier to trade now than it was, say, 2 years ago or even one year ago. The challenges now are different but they aren't ones which mean the difference between a winning month and a losing one. More the difference between a missed opportunity and a taken one.

In essence what I'm saying is that trading has become easier but it's still not easy. It's still a mental battle, only whilst that used to mean battling to remain disciplined, follow my entry and exit points correctly and stop chasing, now those are not issues anymore. I do still have spells of bad variance to deal with and that will never change. During a downswing, the odd doubt has crept into my head in the past. I'm only human and I still make the odd mistake here and there. But the difference is that now, I have experience. I have a strategy and style of trading that suits me and is proven over years. I've been through downswings before and come out of them and gone on to have great runs, so I know I just need to sit tight and trust in my strategies and in my ability to find value.

Paula Ormaechea

Trusting my instinct is the key. I know that I can find opportunities if I just stay patient and trust my gut. The mental battle now is mostly on keeping my focus. The issue with me is that sometimes I'm not motivated enough or challenged enough to both find those opportunities and do the right things once I'm in the market. Also, knowing that I could lose a substantial amount before my trading bank starts to look a little vulnerable, means that it's easy to become complacent or over-confident - two things that are easily over-looked when working on the mental side of trading.

Burnout is a regular occurrence for me too and one that I had to learn to spot quickly and deal with before it ruins my trading. I used to work too hard, much harder than I do now, and it eventually always had a detrimental impact on my trading. It's a skill in itself just being able to know when to trade and when to stop, when to listen to your own body  and take it easy, when to spot the first signs of mental weakness.

That said, when you compare the difficulty of trading 3-4 years ago to now, it's night and day. Although I do more or less the exact same thing with a bank of 5 figures as I used to do with a bank of just 3, it does help to know that I have a large amount behind me and no money worries for the foreseeable future. That enables me to be a little more selective in the market but also a lot more aggressive i.e. I trade less but when I do get involved, I can go for the big wins more often. This is because it matters much less to me about taking some profit from a game. I don't "need" the money now, so I can risk a bit more in order to make more.

So you can see, if you put in the hard work at the beginning, it really can pay off further down the line. The problem for your average trader is that they can't see or don't want to see further down the line. They want success now and they want to do as little as possible to earn it. More on this in my next post!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Trading for Betfair = Chundersome

Much introspection has littered my blog posts recently.  I genuinely had no intention of ever lifting my finger to keyboard (doesn't have any of the romanticism of "pen to paper" does it?) again, back at the start of the year. I haven't missed blogging or the online trading community one little bit. It's been a restful hiatus for me and my trading has blossomed during that time but as long term readers will know, one of my passions is writing and it's what I did for a living before I was a trader. I miss it. For those less creative or who don't quite understand, sometimes you get these bursts of energy and inspiration which have to be released and this blog is my best outlet for that (140 characters on Twitter doesn't really cut it!). I've been feeling that need more and more this summer and it has finally spilled over, uncontainable no more!

Anyway, I digress. Today, I actually have come to a major decision. It's been building for a while now and you perhaps won't be surprised if you've read any of my recent blog posts but I've decided that I no longer want to be a professional tennis trader. As you'll know, I had planned a round the world trip next year which was to take place from July - December. Six months of backpacking and seeing parts of the world I'd never been to before. Afterwards, it was my intention to just pick up trading again when the tennis season began in January and carry on my usual work on the ladders. But I don't think I can.

I remember what it was like when I last travelled, which was not long before I started to learn to trade. I was gone for almost a whole year that time and settling back into normal life was extremely difficult. I'd already made up my mind that I didn't want to go back to my 9-5 career and needed a change of direction so that I could be my own boss and have greater freedom - namely so I could travel again! Little did I know at the time, that the gambling industry (something I knew next to nothing about and had never partaken in) would provide the job that would facilitate this freedom. But that's exactly what it is to me, a job. It's not a career. A damn good job if you can get it and one I really appreciate because of how hard I worked to get it. But a job nonetheless. And I need a career - one that I will truly enjoy, feel like I'm contributing to society in some way and with more human contact. I don't know what that career will be (obviously not totally ruling out political mediator just yet) but I hope to stumble across that when I'm in some foreign country next year, perhaps whilst strolling barefoot along a tropical beach!

I just feel as though I'm wasting my talents and am not being challenged mentally. The Academy has been a great help in aiding my focus and making my days more purposeful and varied but at the end of the day, I'm still sat alone at a PC talking to myself. It's not enough.

Camila Giorgi

I'm not quitting just yet. I want to hit that Super Premium Charge and my projections mean I might just reach that around the middle of 2015. The thought of giving away 50% of my profit to Betunfair turns my stomach and as much as I'd still be making a substantial sum each month, I feel as though I'd rather use my time to do something more worthwhile with my life. Returning to England with the travel-blues and then forcing myself to sit down and stare at a computer for 8 hours a day knowing that 4 of those hours are basically me lining some Betfair fat cat's pockets with cocaine and whore dollars, is chundersome (I made that word up - this is what happens when writers don't write for so long. Feel free to use it).

It feels good to have made this decision. It hasn't been that long that I've been making money on Betfair but that shows you just how quickly things can spiral when you compound your winnings, are good at saving and remain patient. Last year was a very profitable year but nothing greatly out of the ordinary. This year has exploded though and next year, I aim to hit heights that I'd only dreamed of. It might not happen but even if it doesn't, I'll be satisfied with my lot and excited about the new pathway I'm about to take in life.

I've been trading tennis since February 2010 and have been full time for the majority of that period. That's well over 10,000 hours on the ladders, one year of coaching and working with other traders and four years of blogging. I've had an amazing roller-coaster of a journey and I'm beginning to feel as though I'm ready for the final chapter and a change of scenery. One final year to go then and I feel rejuvenated just knowing that. It has given me a new injection of energy and a real challenge to aim for that super premium charge. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

My Year So Far (With New Bonus Graphs!)

I hate statistical analysis. It was one of the modules of my university course that I reluctantly had to do and it was by far my most hated one. I mostly recall trying to stay awake in lectures and taking the piss out of my tutor with a friend because he was so bloody boring - probably as you would expect from someone who was that into statistical analysis (that's a joke there, don't start crying stat fans!). Who knew it would end up the most useful part of my entire degree? So I had a good basic understanding of things like probability, variance, outliers and how to collate and interpret information well before I became a trader. It's something most traders don't pay enough attention to. It's something I didn't pay enough attention to, for too long.

Despite the knowledge I have, it is only fairly recently that I've actually bothered to store all my P&L data in graphs and charts. There's absolutely no way I would ever have bothered to do so using mathematical software but last year I discovered a fantastic website called "MyBetLog.com". This superb piece of kit is a must for all lazy gits such as myself, who can't (or can't be bothered to) use Excel. With just a few simple clicks, you can download your Betfair P&L onto your PC and then onto MyBetLog, where it is instantly turned into a variety of pie-charts, graphs and stats such as your average loss, average win and strike rate.

I've picked out the two most important/interesting graphs for you, which are my daily P&L and overall P&L (running from the start of the tennis season to July). As you can see, it's been a decent year for me so far.

December was my only losing month, though hardly counts as it was just 4 days of trading. The trend has been upwards ever since then, with April my best month and June my worst. If the trend continues, I could hit the super premium charge in roughly one year - a scary thought! As you can see, I have my fair share of losing days and my strike rate obviously shows that I'm very used to losing trades but it just goes to show that trading isn't about picking winners.

One thing I love about graphs is that they make everything seem a bit more real. When you are just looking at numbers, you don't quite get that same sense of exactly how well or how badly you are doing. Looking at these graphs (which I had updated a couple of weeks ago after 3 months of not bothering) they do put things a little into perspective for me. I think I'd taken for granted just how well I was doing and forgot to give myself a congratulatory pat on the back every so often. I've started to focus too much on the negative side of trading and not enough on the positive. Admittedly, the positive is mostly profit-related but nonetheless it's a very big positive that many people would kill for and I should remember that. But the negatives that I have written about in recent weeks are still very real. This is what I am weighing up at the moment. What's more important to me - the money and freedom or being more deeply fulfilled with a sense of purpose, challenge, enjoyment and community?

As I've said before, I feel I have a lot to offer the world in some capacity. I was thinking of becoming one of them political mediator whatsits. You know, the guys what sort out big arguments just by using their mouths. I reckon I'd be dead good at that, it's just talking sense really, innit? Take that Middle East war for example. I could get in there and sort that mess out no problem. You've got them Palestinians. Now, I know they're all pissed off cos their leader, Tony Pulis, is dead but it's really no need to start kicking off and firing rockets and shit. And the Isaralites, right, they're dropping bombs on UEFA refugee training camps and stuff - BANG out of order. I'd just go in there, to Africa or whatever, sit them down with a few pints and some pork scratchings and say "Lads, you know god doesn't even exist, right? Have you not heard of the The Big Bang Theory? No, I don't mean that pile-o-shite American sitcom that daft lasses find funny. Google it. So all this kerfuffle is a waste of time, dudes!". Out come the Ipads, job's a good 'un. I'm telling you, super premium charge in one year, Nobel Peace Prize in two.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Cocaine and Strippers

The two traders who I have most looked up to since I began learning how to trade, are Mark Iverson and Matt "Jolly Green Giant" Punt.com (I also have a great deal of respect for Tradeshark but his journey is not as well documented). Mark is a genuinely nice bloke who seems very down to earth and the few personal dealings I've had with him have left me in no doubt about that. His online story is the most compelling because it's one of the few that cover the entire process of going from that initial Betfair deposit to making a quarter of a million. Matt is the guy who pretty much all of us tennis traders aspire to be. He built up from scratch and is still going strong a decade later, both as a trader and retailer of quality tinned sweetcorn. He shares much of what he does online and it's a constant reminder of what is there to be achieved if you really want it. He's also proved a generous guy in the conversations I've had with him.

My goal was initially to just make as much money per month as I did in my old job (and I really didn't make much either as a writer or before that as a teacher). I felt that I didn't want to get greedy and would be more than happy to just make enough to live off per month. I didn't even really think it was possible for a normal guy like myself, to make huge sums from trading. But when I saw what these two were doing, I gradually began to change my thinking and started to believe that I could aim for that too. There came a point last year, when things started to really take off for me, that I was convinced that I could be up there alongside these most revered of traders.

I personally don't like to talk about exactly how much I'm making and I don't tell anyone, not even my friends. I was brought up to think it is distasteful to do so and I think you'll find the same with many British people. You'll notice Mark never puts monetary figures on his graphs and I stopped showing my P&L a while back. But it's interesting to see exactly what the potential is within the markets, to know what is possible to strive for. Both Mark and Matt have liabilities in the 5 figure range, which is pretty scary territory from where I'm sitting! I'm not there yet and I don't actually need to be. So it becomes a case of, do I want to be? I'm not sure I want the added stress or the added guilt (as I mention in a recent post). I can't truly consider myself in their league unless I do push on again to that level but then, do I really want to be considered in their league? Would I get satisfaction from that? I don't spend much time on Twitter, unlike the aforementioned, who clearly both love to chat away during their trading hours. I do too but personally find it too distracting and detrimental to my trading and eyesight! But I'd probably need to do more Twitter-based activity in order to gain that same status. I thought about tweeting this little beauty from earlier this week but I couldn't quite bring myself to. Felt too much like showing-off. Besides, it's not quite £29,000! But what the hell, it's my biggest ever win so why not!

Someone recently tweeted me joking that I needed to go through the cocaine and strippers phase. It made me laugh but I think there is a grain of truth in what he said (and I'm sure he was only half joking!). I deciphered the meaning behind the tweet as being that instead of all the worrying and introspection I've been going through of late, I should just forget it by enjoying my new found monetary gains and splashing out in opulent fashion on a few vices. Maybe he's right. Maybe I need to just spend, spend, spend for a short while, get it out my system instead of over-thinking and remaining a tight-wad. Not on cocaine and strippers though. Cocaine isn't for me and never seen the point in giving away money just to be teased. Ben and Jerry's and strippers is more up my alley, though don't for one minute think I would waste the delicious ice-cream by letting it melt onto anyone's body. A friend of mine wants us to go to Las Vegas - the perfect place to splurge on pointless crap. Weird thing about that is, he's a failed gambler who would spend all night there throwing his dollars at the house and I'm a successful gambler who wouldn't even stick a quarter in a one-armed bandit!

No, I'm just not the kind of guy who is going to gleefully waste hard-earned cash on trivial shit. I've never been into material possessions and money just doesn't get me wet, so to speak. I'd much rather stay in hostels and cheap backpacker hotels, making new friends and mixing with locals, than stay in some plush 5 star palace. I love driving but I genuinely don't care about cars and know next to nothing about make and models, so shiny motor-vehicles with massive horse-power are wasted on me. I prefer a cosy flat to a big house. I do love clubbing but I go for the music, to dance and for a friendly atmosphere, not expensive bottles of champagne at exclusive table service bars where you hang out just to be seen.

I just want security and freedom, two things I never had in either of my previous jobs, which is what drove me to look for alternatives such as trading. That's what drives me to make money. Now that I have that (for the time-being at least), I'm not sure I have the ambition to move into Matt and Mark territory. They both have families to look after, which is obviously a  huge motivational factor. I don't. I'm sure having that extra responsibility brings a greater focus and intensity to your trading and these guys have fingers in pies other than their own individual trading. I don't. So I need much more to keep me interested. Exactly what that is, I'm not sure yet.

Monday, 11 August 2014


Last year, I  had my first 4 figure win on a single match. I was ecstatic at the time. It felt as though I'd reached  an important milestone and that I was now on the edge of turning my trading into something major. As time continued onwards and into 2014, that feeling of ecstasy dissolved. After a few dozen 4 figure wins, although still satisfying and enough to raise a smile, it had become an expected result. As the months rolled on, the joy almost entirely seeped out of those wins and my goals had shifted - I wanted to achieve even bigger wins. I suppose that is only natural, although it's weird because I can still remember how my heart used to pound furiously 5 years ago when I was close to greening up for less than £2 (I started on the Betfair minimum stake)!

But then the guilt appeared. This is a very unusual sensation to feel about your work and one I never expected. I started to think about what I was doing and whether I really deserved to be making such sums of money. If I can make 4 figure sums, often in as little as just a few minutes, for basically gambling, for doing something that doesn't contribute to society in any way whatsoever, is that OK? I'm sure this is not something that crosses every trader's mind but it does for me and I find it hard to just ignore.

Of course, it would be unbalanced to say it was just me making big wins every trade. I have plenty of losses too. It's not as though I'm Wayne Rooney, earning literally thousands of pounds per hour even when he's sitting on his arse by some 5 star hotel's private swimming pool having a sneaky fag and a sangria in the off-season. Footballers and other highly paid sports stars do get it in the neck from people for earning such bloated wages, out of proportion most would agree, with their actual contribution to society. I think most of us are in agreement that those kind of wages are obscene but hardly immoral. You can also argue that if it weren't for us, the paying public and football consumer, he wouldn't be able to command those fees anyway. If Rooney scores a goal for Manchester United but there is no one there to see it, does it really mean anything?

 Heidi El Tabakh

People also tend to forget the hard work that Rooney has put in to get where he is. Just as I sometimes forget just how much graft I put in for years to get to where I am. I admit I did things the hard way and I didn't need to make it such a painful ride but nonetheless, very few successful traders reach the top without some sort of sacrifice. So why do I still feel guilty? Maybe it's because at least Rooney brings some joy to fans lives (not England fans but you get what I;m saying) and the entertainment he and his peers provide could be considered a valuable contribution to society, if we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. What does my trading do for anyone other than me? True, I've probably provided a good few mortgage downpayments, designer suits, snazzy watches or cocaine and whore evenings (depending on  how you want to look at it - I prefer the latter) for Betfair directors but other than that? Not a jot. Maybe that is what pains me a little. Or maybe I just feel bad because I think about what someone doing something meaningful, like a nurse (which is usually the first profession brought up in these kind of discussions) earns in the same amount of time it takes me to green up my totally self-centred tennis trade completed in less than the time it takes to change a bed-pan.

It just doesn't feel right sometimes. Maybe if Rooney could actually see the money he earns on a screen as it comes in like in the  link above, he would also feel guilty. Hell, perhaps he DOES feel guilty! Having that big all-green figure staring at you is something no other profession I can think of actually has. You can see your wages as you get them and so it magnifies the emotions involved. Rooney probably never even looks at his bank account. I certainly do and I feel good about it these days. I guess that's all that really matters. Isn't it?

Friday, 8 August 2014

First World Problems

Today, my internet went down, taking my trading software and Betfair with it. I immediately logged off, closed the laptop and headed out for a stroll and to collect that 2 for 1 offer on Ben and Jerry's Half Baked (that's the cookie dough and chocolate fudge brownie combo that I've become scarily addicted to).

Doesn't sound like much, does it. But going back less than a couple of years, I would have reacted far differently. Neck muscles would have pulled,  furniture dented, doors smashed, cakes thrown at walls (once), obscenities rained down and screams pierced the air. I couldn't handle anything that went against me and the valuable time required to get back those accumulated losses. It got me thinking about what else has changed about me since I began trading (and blogging). I'm definitely stronger. I care less about what others think. My self belief is higher. I probably have a harder exterior. I worry less (though it won't seem like that from my recent posts!). I look at the challenges and obstacles of life in a much calmer and resilient manner. Overall, I'm a more relaxed, confident individual.

I don't trade as much as I did in those early years. It was a 7 day a week obsession for me but I now try not to trade on weekends - though I do occasionally get suckered into a big final or a"sure thing" on a Sunday! I take more days off during the week too. I have two holidays planned for this year and one of them is during the tennis season - this is unheard of for me! I'm still acutely aware that I should make hay whilst the sun shines and so still treat it as an +8 hour a day job but I'm just a lot more relaxed about my time off now. It used to play on my mind and I'd worry about whether I was doing the right thing by socialising instead of trading but these days, it doesn't register. If I feel like going out, I go out. I could just as easily stay in and end up losing money, which only makes the whole situation even worse - a double whammy of cash down the plughole and a missed date with a fully-loaded chick (and yes, I have actually cancelled dates just to stay in and trade before!).

I'd say this year has been the first when I've been truly content with my trading life and the work-life balance. There's no coincidence that I also am more profitable and financially stable for the first time. Once those worries about how much you have to survive on for the foreseeable future dissipate, it makes it very easy to relax and just go with the flow. Then all of a sudden, lesser worries (such as which ISA should I put my savings into?,  am I talking to myself too much?, am I eating too much Ben and Jerry's? and what the hell is an ISA anyway?) start taking the place of the older, serious ones (like can I pay the rent this month?, have I dislocated my shoulder from punching the door too hard? and is this really worth me staying up till 5am after another 16 hour day hunched over a laptop sweating on some 17 year old Serbian girl as she pumps yet another forehand into the net costing me a month's worth of groceries in the process?). I believe the former worries are known as "First world problems" (with a hashtag stuck to the front of course). If those are the only worries you've got, then life must be pretty sweet. But I'm just not sure if I'm being totally fulfilled by the actual work anymore.

Katarzyna Piter

The challenge of cracking trading has gone and I never really figured how that would affect me. I guess you don't know until it happens but I didn't really think it would be an issue if the money was rolling in. I thought I wouldn't care as long as I was comfortable financially and able to facilitate an active social life. But now, I'm wondering if I need more than that.  My outlook is starting to change. Don't get me wrong, trading for a living is a wonderful opportunity and has changed my life in ways I never thought were possible. I thank my lucky stars every day that I can do what I do but I also know that there's more to life than money. I have realised that I'm not a money-driven person and I think you really need to be in order to be a pro trader because you aren't really getting any satisfaction from helping others, contributing to society or creating anything interesting. Whilst I was learning how to trade, all of this didn't bother me but now, it really is causing me to re-evaluate my work.

I know I have a lot to offer the world in some capacity but at the same time, I'd be stupid to throw away the incredible income stream I have fought so hard to generate. It's a real conundrum................just like wondering whether I should eat a full tub of Ben and Jerry's in one day (I should).

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The First Sign of Madness

They say that talking to oneself is the first sign of madness. If that's the case, I'm ready for the men in white coats and have been for quite a while. 5 years of solitary trading has turned me into a jabbering idiot - at least, that is how I'd appear if anyone spied through my keyhole. Most of the conversation (and we are talking full blown conversations, often with me taking the role of two people with opposing views) would be deathly dull stuff about whether I should lay some 16 year old Croatian prodigy who should still be in school (that really doesn't sound right, does it) rather than hitting the cover off a yellow ball in 100 degree heat in some Asian backwater. But increasingly, it is becoming more conversations about life in general.

Just the fact I'm having these conversations out loud with myself is enough to concern me (especially when I start to vary up the accents) but perhaps it's a sign I am in need of more human contact? I've always been the kind of person who is fine working alone and I enjoy my own company (I really am delightful companionship) but for the first time in a long time, I have started to crave some real-life interaction. I guess I was so deep within the trading bubble for so long, whilst I was learning and desperate to succeed, that I didn't even have time to miss other people. I was too intensely busy and highly motivated to have conversations about last night's episode of Breaking Bad, anyway. But now I have lost much of that intensity, due to the simple fact I'm doing quite well now. I'm almost on cruise-control in a sense. Auto-pilot has been activated and that has taken much of the hard focus out of my days.

Twitter would be the answer to this but I had to ban myself from using it so much because I just became too addicted. Whilst I'd love nothing more than  to shoot the breeze about tennis with extremely knowledgeable tennis folk such as @hotdog6969 @theoverrule @tennisratings @darkdyson @sportdw @seancalvert1 @duckdablackswan @forcederrors (and many others I've forgotten) I just find myself getting so engrossed that my concentration wanes and I make silly mistakes on the ladders. As I have no one to chat to around the water cooler at work, this has freed up areas of my mind to go wandering absently through the great wonders of life. This can be a dangerous thing, not only because it's very easy to lose focus whilst daydreaming and it only takes a split second for that to ruin a trade but also because it means you ponder over things and start to build up worries.

Ajla Tomljanovic

What seems like another life-time ago, I was a teacher. This is about as sociable a job as you can get. No two days are the same and I was guaranteed varied conversations with many people from all kinds of backgrounds. It's the complete opposite of trading, where I literally never chat to anyone face to face and the the days all meld into one. I know other tennis traders can and do chat on Twitter or in chatrooms whilst they trade, so maybe it's only me who struggles with this aspect. I've never found a way around this and so now, I just talk to myself. Although ironically, this is an excellent technique for keeping focus and being thorough with your analysis as you trade in-play. So it's not all bad!

But I think I am now reaching the stage where perhaps solo trading is actually starting to turn me a tad insane. I have started to wonder what it would be like to have a trading partner; someone to discuss trades with in private and perhaps work together as a team. Potentially it could make a whole world of difference, providing a bit of companionship, sharing the work-load and having a second opinion on tap. Could that even work? Would that person need to physically be in the same room for it to be of any use? Would that mean I couldn't trade in my pants whilst scratching my balls, blasting house music and eating whole tubs of Ben and Jerry's anymore? Probably. Ah well.