Lamb answered a query from a reader asking about going 'pro' - and wrote a very good piece on that - to which I added my thoughts. It got me thinking more deeply about going 'pro' and what the motivation for doing so is, and what, in my opinion, would you need to do to 'make it'.
I'm reasonably lucky - I've got a well paid job that I thoroughly enjoy most of the time, so going pro is not on my horizon, but I'd be lying if I said it hadn't crossed my mind. So I'm writing this from a position of ignorance really - I'd be interested in full timer's thoughts or wannabe pro traders alike.
Let's look at money first - take a person making £30,000 p.a. in a job s/he dislikes or hates as the model. Ignoring things like company cars and pensions 30k netts down to £22,760 per annum after tax and NI or around £88 per day working 5 days a week. As 'gambling' and 'trading' income is currently tax free in the UK that's what that person would need to make to replace that income. Assuming 5% Betfair commission you need to make £93 bar a few coppers. At a modest rate of 3% per day you would need a £3k trading bank to achieve that. Getting involved with PC or super PC complicates things a bit - but for simplicity's sake let's ignore that for now.
On the face of it that doesn't look too complicated or difficult. I manage to make a decent amount in the evenings and on Sundays, not that much but a useful amount. But it doesn't matter to me one jot if I make it or not. It's a lot different when / if the mortgage is dependent on it! I trade for pleasure and if I make a profit - well and good. Which brings me to the bigger question as far as I'm concerned - mindset.
The key to this trading lark, whatever level you are at, is discipline. And that is the biggest single factor which would cause me to fall flat on my face as a full timer. It's not just in-play discipline to which I refer. To trade full time and successfully you need to work hard at it. Ploughing through coupons, stats, websites, spreadsheets etc to pick a trade or two in which you can have the confidence to commit the stakes needed to achieve the target. Having the discipline to record your activities in the same way that you would do your books in a traditional business. Having the discipline to stop when things are going well. Or when they are going horribly wrong. Having the discipline to study your sport to develop your knowledge - that is where any 'edge' is likely to come from.
Even if I could lick that one I would have another issue to confront - the solitary nature of sports trading. I work in a busy showroom - there are always other people around, staff, customers, visitors etc - and there is plenty of interaction with others. The sports trader, apart probably from chat rooms, usually works from a pc station in a study or spare bedroom etc on his / her own. I traded cars from home for several years - and it was this issue more than any other that caused me to give up the dream and go back 'home' to where I belong - among other people, bantering and joshing with colleagues, solving customers' issues and making sales.
I'm sure most of you, like me, are bombarded by post and emails with the latest (or more usually, recycled) systems, strategies, cons and wheezes all promising untold riches, the life of reilly and a ten hour 'working' week for a £40 investment. Some of you, again like me, will have
Anyone hoping that sports trading for a living means the same as retiring early in my opinion is heading for a fall. It's a job. Of work. And the harder and smarter that you work the more successful you will be. So I'll carry on with my SG's, 2 goal lead lays and other little tickles invented by me or others to give me some beer and curry money. And leave full time trading to full time traders. If you can make it I'd sincerely take my hat off to you, but I reckon most don't and won't.