Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It's that time of year again when we are supposed to reflect on things spiritual and to review how well we measured up to those rash promises mumbled in a drunken haze nearly 12 months ago.

You might have noticed that my postings have been dropping off a bit of late. This is nothing to do with a lack of trading, more to do with a complete lack of anything interesting to write about!

Hopefully the creative juices will start flowing again in 2013 but for now  I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Until 2013.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Value laying in the Correct Score market

I have written previously about the opportunities presented by the Any Unquoted score in the Correct Score market. Just this week there have been two matches that I have noticed, and traded, both of which featured very low AU prices at kick off. One was in South America a night or two ago, but tonight there was a price on offer which really just had to be taken on.

In 16 Bundesliga matches prior to tonight Bayern Munich had scored 4 or more goals twice at home and once away from home. No opponent has so far been able to knock four or more past the Bavarians. Their opponents, Borussia Moenchengladbach (and I'm not going to type that bloody lot out every time! - let them be 'BMG'!), had played the same number of games and had conceded 4 or more twice, both times away from home. They had recorded 1 AU scoreline in their favour so far this season.

So in 32 games involving these two sides so far an AU score had been recorded on 6 occasions. Put another way it occurred 18.75% of the total. Yet I was able to take AU on at odds of 2.98 to lay pre kick off. The implied percentage of those odds is c33%. For those of you as inept at the maths of betting / trading as I am that is to say the market saw the possibility of four or more goals at approximately twice that suggested by the trend from 32 games.

In my mind's eye the odds on offer at kick off were roughly what I would have expected to see with Bayern a goal to the good after say fifteen minutes. To be honest my original intention was to have stayed in the trade for about twenty minutes before backing AU with the same stake as my original £50 lay and await the onslaught of goals for a free bet on that score. BMG, however, had other ideas and took the lead after about that period of time, whilst I was still in the trade. (As an aside, I noticed that 0-1 had been taken at prices north of 50 just before the penalty was awarded - it was 9.6 at half time so some made a good few quid there I'd think). The nice thing about AU is that it is normally very low only if there is a massive favourite. If the underdog scores first the market doesn't react in anywhere near the same fashion as it would had the favourites scored first. So I decided to tough it out and stick with the trade.

All credit to BMG - they held on at 0-1 until some way into the second half and ended up taking a very well earned point home with them. I ended up taking the liability out of  the lay as the price headed into the 8's and just let it run all the way home from there.

These opportunities happen several times in a season and I for one actively seek them out. Sure it's a bit of a liability laying at odds of between 3 and 5 but in my opinion it's always worth looking beyond the obvious ' team A is gonna spank team B' kind of assumption - which is what effectively happened with this market. Give it a go with modest stakes and you'll see what I mean.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Champions League opportunities

Eddie over at A Football Trader's Path has an interesting analysis of tonight's Group E fixtures which is worth a read. It's a subject which caused a bit of debate the other night in the Trading Football chatroom where numerous voices were shouting 'fix' very loudly.

The prices for the Shaktar v Juventus game do look suspiciously like a suspiciously obvious fix such that you might find in a late season Serie B or Serie C game in Italy. But, as Eddie says, there are reasons other than the obvious 'fix' why prices should be as they are. So let's take a theoretical 'what if' look at the competition as a whole from the context of Group E, and see if there's a low liability angle we might be able to exploit.

The Champions League is set up in such a way that there are very definite benefits to finishing first in the qualifying group stage. If we work on the basic assumption that any team in this competition would rather not play the likes of Barca, Real, Bayern and Man U in a knock out tie I think we would be on safe ground! Ordinarily I'd include the mighty Blues in that list but as we know they can't join that exclusive group this year, and with all the managerial shenanigans etc probably would not be as feared as the others anyway.

So, hopefully we can all agree that both Juve and Shaktar would a) like to qualify for the next stage and b) would both prefer to top the group. Shaktar don't need to worry about the former, they are through (and probably liking the thought of drawing the gooners in round two :-) ). I doubt at this stage that either side are looking too far beyond the second round, but if I were the Shaktar boss I think I'd rather face Chelsea again than Juventus as it stands at the moment. So with this particular match I see no advantage to Shaktar in sitting  back and taking a 0-0! Both teams have to try to win in my view, and on that basis the value I see in the Group E dynamic is a lay of Juve to qualify (1.32 at the time of writing).

Turning to the other game, I'll start by saying that having considered the appointment of Benitez since my last post / rant about it I now have concluded that I have just two questions:

1) Why on earth did Abramovich want to offer the job to Benitez?
2) Even more perplexing, why on earth did Benitez want to accept it?

But be that as it may it is clear that the Blues are far from firing on all cylinders, and that a hostile reaction from the faithful at the Bridge tonight is all but a given. They should walk this game, but with recent events I'm afraid (as a Chelsea supporter) that I find myself wondering if 1.13 is far too low a price. I'm not going to lay them, although I might regret that decision, but will rather be looking for the Blues to go ahead against the Danes preferably quite early in the evening and for Shaktar to get a goal against the Italians.

Two other games catch my eye this evening as being potential Scatter Gun opportunities - namely the matches between Celtic and Moscow and Lillte v Sevilla.

Good luck if you're trading the CL tonight!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Job Security

I've been a Chelsea fan since watching them draw 2-2 with the once mighty Leeds United in the 1970 FA Cup final with my late Uncle Arthur. From the heady heights of Dave Webb's winner in the replay at Maine Road I have stuck with them. From the days of Peter 'The Cat' Bonneti, 'Chopper' Ron, Peter Osgood, Alan Hudson et al through the doldrum years to the start of the resurgent Chelsea just prior to Roman Abramovic it has been, in the words of the song, a long and winding road. The club has known great success since Roman arrived with his money, league titles, FA and League Cups. The first London Club to bring home the big one as well. And, to cap it all, an operating profit in the last financial year. On the surface, all was well..........

However I'm finding it really hard to take what's been going on there of late, and worry for the future. The mishandling of the Terry situation, the completely pointless Clattergate nonsense and now the sacking of the man who won us the Champions League. It's too much for the sanity of a man of my advancing years.

So, I go onto Betfair this evening and see the opportunity to lay the fat waiter in the Next Chelsea Manager market at 1.03. Remembering reading a blog post (sorry, can't remember who penned it) about letting these markets 'come to you' I duly laid him for £250. A small liability, I acknowledge. But honestly, surely that was just an over hyped Redknapp-eque bit of nonsense, wasn't it? The weekend's beer and baccy money in the bank, you'd think. No way even Roman would appoint the man who caused us so much grief (somehow, not sure how!) as Liverpool manager, was there? Safe, sensible trade.

So now, we have yet another 'interim' manager. And it's f******g Benitez.

The mind boggles.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Growing the bank

When I started my blogging journey my principle aim was to improve my discipline in trading. My chosen vehicle was compounding (hence the url of this blog, even though the blog's name has changed). The idea was that by consistently making small, regular profits that my bank would grow steadily.

I no longer aim to win a certain amount, neither a sum of money nor a percentage of bank but I still think that process put me broadly on the right road. The reason for veering away from the compounding idea was basically that it isn't a sustainable long term strategy for growth - put simply the numbers  grow too large too quickly in the medium to long term and too slowly for an impatient bloke like me in the short term!

That said, it is a basic truth that a trader's bank is his / her main business asset and therefore needs some kind of plan to underpin it. It has been written often that one should not use money to gamble with that one can't afford to lose, and I think that is eminently sensible advice. But it's naive in the extreme to think that losses aren't going to come your way, no matter how good your analysis and your ability to seek out value trades, so some sort of bank management is needed. I trade principally for the fun and the challenge, and my main financial aim, believe it or not, is not to have to top my bank up!

The subject of growing / managing banks has come up recently in two of the blogs that I read every time they are updated. Sultan has expressed his desire to grow his bank over the forthcoming tennis season to five figures, the better to enable him to cope with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as he tries to put himself in the position to trade professionally. I wish him well with that aim, although I wonder if that amount of bank is really needed to trade professionally.

In reply to a question from Bet19 and others, Cassini advises that people should aim to grow their bank and leave it alone  - neither needing to draw down from it or to top it up. A sort of 'retirement fund' if you like. I do wonder, as an aside, whether he genuinely has not withdrawn anything from his account - if it were me paying a 50% ish tax on my winnings I'm fooked if I'd leave 250 large in Betfair's coffers with no consideration in my direction at all!

Bet19 adopts a two bank approach. He has a 'short term' bank and a 'medium / long term' bank. I did something similar for a while a few years ago, but I'm sure Bet19's approach is more disciplined than mine! I had a day to day account, from which I'd siphon any winnings over a certain size into what I had somewhat optimistically christened my 'SpecToAcc' account (seriously, that was how the relevant spreadsheet area was named!). Lets just say there was considerably more speculation than accumulation going on there so the idea was swiftly ditched!

The point I'm labouring somewhat to make is that as with many things in life bank management is horses for courses to use an appropriate idiom. If you wish to live day to day, supplement your salary or build a nest egg for the future you need to have identified your goal, and to have worked out a method that works for your trading style, preferred sport(s) and time available. And stick to it!

Friday, 9 November 2012

A word of caution....

... from someone who should know better.

I made a painful mistake in a game during the 2010 World Cup. Trying to get matched on a particular price for U2.5 goals I allowed a £100 stake to go in-play with the 'Keep In Play' facility checked. The match started, I got distracted, and it got forgotton. About 15 minutes in there was a goal, and some lucky layer was able to gobble up my stake as it sat there waiting for the market to reform. Needless to say by the time I had realised what had happened there'd been another goal, so I really was upside down on the trade! A third goal in quick order killed me off completely.

They say it's not the mark of a foolish man to make a mistake. However, it IS the mark of a foolish man to make the same mistake again.

So s**t for brains left an unmatched half time lay of Leverkusen in the market with 'Keep In Play' checked yesterday evening. They scored after about 3 minutes and 1-0 it stayed. As it happens my intended trade would have failed had the bet been matched in any case, but that's not the point!

So, my advice is to use 'Keep In Play' with caution, and the second a market turns in-play cancel the 'Keep'!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Betfair calls the race to the White House

I have been following the USA Presidential Election for some weeks now, both on the TV, web and other media and have been reading Cassini's thoughts on the odds on offer. I didn't get involved with any trading during the run up, but managed to scalp a nice green by laying the incumbent at 1.09 at around midnight UK time last night, and hedging at 1.15 or so. Managed to do that a couple of times.

What I found most interesting about the whole thing is how the Betfair market, and Cassini to be fair to him, called this result some weeks ago. At the same time the catchphrases of the campaign seemed to be 'too close to call' and / or ' a close run thing'.

The convincing result for Obama, ultimately, is more a reflection of the US electoral system than the national split of opinion - hence the massive interest and focus on the key 'swing' states - chief of which was Ohio. This system has worked well for some time now but it would seem to be even less fair on the individual voter than our own much maligned 'first past the post' system spread across over 600 constituencies. A few hundred votes one way or the other in a key state decide the fate of whatever number of Electoral College seats that state has to offer. We might think it harsh that a Tory voter in Camberwell & Peckham effectively has no real voice in a General Election and neither does a Labour voter in Bromley and Chislehurst, but that effect is magnified enormously under the American system.

In my opinion Romney fought a good campaign bearing in mind the difficulties he faced. To gain the nomination he first had to court the more or less entirely un-electable preferences of the Tea Party and then to perform a balancing act of appeasing them and trying to appeal to the broader electorate. The fact that he managed to poll just under half of the total vote is testament to a great political skill and considerable public appeal.

I don't care for his religious views, but wouldn't vilify him for them either. There isn't a religious bone in my body, but I feel a sense of respect for someone who holds and defends a set of principles and standards out of a strong sense of conviction. We could do with some conviction in this country, where, for example, a sitting MP (drawing a rather nice salary from the public purse - care of you and I in other words) feels it's quite acceptable to disappear to the outback to take part in some vacuous 'reality' TV show whilst parliament is in session!

On balance I suspect that the Americans have returned the right man for the job. But anyone who thinks Obama's second term will become a great reforming presidency needs, in my opinion, to take a reality check. The Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives and the Democrats a  majority in the Senate. The American political model features a much more visible and real division of power than we have in the UK with the President being the Executive and Congress the Legislature. There are bound to be clashes and the President might well find himself hamstrung, despite Romney's calls for Americans to unite in an hour of need. The first challenge for the President Elect will come when America falls over the so-called Fiscal Cliff on 1st January 2013. Challenging times ahead for Mr Obama  - good luck to him.

I think I'll take more notice of the political markets on Betfair going forward. This one was quite easy to nick a few quid from and my suspicion is that it is a more realistic guide to what is likely to happen than opinion polls.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The importance of research

Matt, otherwise known by the rather mystifying moniker of 'IronyPirate', has an interesting blog going and it's well worth a read. I don't know where he got the name of his blog from, but I'm sure he consulted his lawyers before choosing it ;-)

Matt likes spreadsheets and trawling through data looking for reasoning to aid him in his decision making, an exercise which I must confess that, despite knowing that I should, I don't generally do. My research is normally restricted to a quick look at the H2H on the Betfair site and a glance at to give at least a crumb of comfort to my decision making. Advertisements for life assurance products and similar carry a warning along the lines of 'past performance is no guarantee of future performance' and football data needs to be treated with similar caution in my opinion. But as a guide it has to be better than nothing!

If your data mining produces a sure fire way of avoiding 0-0's, Matt, I'd bottle it if were you, and put me down for the first crate, please! As that's unlikely to happen I'll certainly keep a weather eye on your research and watch your strategies develop with interest.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Options, options, options

A great post by Eddie at A Football Trader's Path about a little trade that I did the other night. As he is much more of an analytical sort of bloke than me he back tested laying 2 goal leads across a couple of leagues with some interesting results. Take a look here.

Essentially all I did was to lay Cottbus in the Match Odds market when they were 0-2 in the second half of a Bundesliga 2 match against Bochum. The home team had started as marginal favourites in a classic Scatter Gun profiled match. In that particular instance I simply removed my liability in the market at 1-2 and let the trade run to be rewarded by a last gasp equaliser. I laid to £50 stakes in that game, but thought some people might be interested in exploring the different potential ways in which that trade might have been played.

To make the maths a bit easier let's assume I'd laid to £100 stakes. I laid at 1.06 and the price I took just after Bochum's first goal was 1.23.

A) Let it run. This is really quite simple - a £6 loss if it Cottbus won, £100 if they didn't. You pays your money and takes your choice!

B) Remove liability. This is also simple. My liability on a £100 lay at 1.06 would have been £6. To leave a scratch on a Cottbus win would have required a back stake of £26.08. That would have left £73.91 on the draw or Bochum or no profit or loss if Cottbus had held on. A free bet, if you like.

C) Hedge and recycle. Bochum's first goal came in the 73rd minute, so allowing for a little bit of injury time there was about 20 minutes of the match left. By hedging after the goal it would have been possible to have guaranteed a win whatever happened. Hedging at 1.23 would have given a green all over of £13.82 whatever the result. A doubling of my original exposure, so not too shaky. However, if I'd let then re-entered the market at, say, 1.10 for £100 I would have been ideally poised in this particular game... a very small profit on the Cottbus win (£3.82), and a much larger profit (£113.82) on any other result. But, importantly, I'd have had no downside at all - a win / win situation.

D) Back Cottbus. If I had felt that Cottbus were able to hold out for the win the other option would have been simply to back them for the same stake that I'd laid for originally. That would have left me with a scratch trade on Bochum or the draw and a whole £17 on Cottbus. Probably not the best value trade in the world, but of course there is nothing stopping me from mixing options C) an D) here to have the best of both worlds.

As always with Correct Score trading the timing of goals has a big impact on what you can, and choose to, do. In this particular trade the timing of the first goal was perfect ... soon enough to get a decent price movement yet with long enough left for anything to happen. The great thing about this sort of trade is that the liability won't hurt you too much, yet the upside is relatively large. If Bochum had left it until the 85th minute to get their first goal I reckon the price on Cottbus would have moved sufficiently to have allowed a scratch trade should I have wished to take it.

Talking about low liability lays, most traders in the chatroom tonight (including this one) had the Getafe v Betis game down as a low scoring hum drum affair, re-inforced by the fact that it was 0-0 at half time with half a dozen shots, few of which troubled wither goalie. I suggested a dutch of 1-1 2-0 0-2 which we greened up on at 1-1.

The screenshot below shows the outcome. Oh to have laid U5.5 at half time for a grand at 1.01 / 2!!!! Or to have backed AU at 50 odd for a tenner! Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but not always the trader's best friend!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Well, what would / could I have done?

In my previous post I mentioned that Brazillian games often result in either a 0-0 half time score, or a goalfest in the first half. The game I posted about proved to be the former, but Simon, quite reasonably, asks what I would (and by extension, could) I have done had it been the latter.

Before I go on I should just say that to an extent that Brazillian game the other night was a bit of an 'accident' in the sense that I went to pick Gun jr up from work and he wasn't quite ready.... so a five minute trip took closer to 25 mins. Ordinarily when I do this trade I remove the stake from 0-0 when I can leave a small profit on that score whilst at the same time reducing my exposure on the whole trade by a quarter. In other words I don't usually let it run until half time, but it was so close when I got back that I took the chance and, on this occasion, it paid nicely.

The obvious problem with backing the 0-0, 0-1, 1-0 and 1-1 scores is that a goal wipes out two of the four. As with all Correct Score trading the timing of goal(s) plays an important part in your decision making. A very early first goal presents the biggest problem, as the odds on the two remaining scores drift, sometimes massively if the favourite scores first. You need to decide quickly whether to a) let it run b) take a 50% plus hit or c) cover some other scores.

Let it run - a second goal to the leader kills the trade completely leaving you with the choice of chasing other scores or taking the loss on the chin and moving on. The trade will still win if the score stays as it is, or if there is an equaliser and it then stays at 1-1. You might decide to set a 'stop loss' figure, hedging the current score and 1-1 when you can recover, say, 75% of your original stake.

Take a 50% (plus) hit - this is possibly the smart thing to do - bank protection is a crucial part of your success as a trader in my opinion. Assuming you've used £10 stakes on each you'd probably be able to get out for a loss of around £12 - £13 after an early goal by hedging the current score and 1-1. An alternative is to just take what you can out of the current score and leave 1-1 alone as the price will start falling, and the score can still be a winning score for the trade. Of course occasionally a match with a very early goal sees no further goals - and to avoid the frustration of that happening you could lay Over 1.5 goals at very low odds to cover the rest of your original stake. So there are options with this method.

Cover some other scores -  of the original 17 possible scores only thirteen are left after a goal. They can't all be covered and it is easy to find yourself chasing what is already a potentially losing position. Having said that there are some other options to consider. At the risk of actually increasing your overall liabilities you could take advantage of market over reaction to an early goal by laying some of the scores that raced in after an early goal. Possible candidates are 2-0, 2-1 ( or 0-2 1-2) plus 2-2 and Any Unquoted all of which would be significantly lower than their starting price after an early goal. The main problem with this approach is further goals - you might find yourself in a lot of hot water if the goalfest ensues.

Whichever route, or a combination of routes you take you can always do some scalping to reduce your exposure (wealth warning!) - but in my view the key is the do something - decide quickly.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

1.01 on Under 2.5 goals over turned in Brazil....

Gun junior needed picking up late this evening so I decided to trade the match in the Campeonata between Parana and ABC. I did one of my favourite trades for Brazillian games, putting £10 each on 0- 0 1-0 0-1 and 1-1. Past experience suggests Brazillian games are often goalless at half time or goalfests by half time. This match fell into the former camp, and I removed my stake on 0-0 at half time leaving nice profits on the other three backed scores and a £30 red on the rest. I drip laid U2.5 from about 1.2 down to 1.1 and then did the same on the U1.5 from 1.15 down, both being more than covered by the green I'd got on 0-0.

I noticed that U2.5 traded at 1.01, but decided to leave it alone as I was only just in profit and had sort of resigned myself to having spent 90 minutes on the game to earn about a tenner! The screenshot below tells the story of the last ten minutes....

The only thing wrong with the whole game was that 1-2 was reached via 0-2 rather than 1-1! Had that happened I really would have hit the jackpot. As it was I managed over £300 green from an initial exposure of £40.....when's Gun junior's next late night shift at his work?

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Care for another cucumber sandwich, Vicar?

Whilst not wishing to condone racism, sexism, homophobia or any other 'ism' or 'ia' in any way, am I the only one who thinks our national game is suffering from excessive levels of politcally correct bunkum at the moment?

Whatever the truth in the 'Clattergate' case I've got to say it looks suspiciously like sour grapes on the part of the team I've supported since I was about nine. The catalogue of errors in the officiating on Sunday leaves a lot to be desired, and it could have a massive impact on the outcome of the Premiership this season. I'm reasonably confident that all bar ardent United fans will be thinking along the lines of 'they always get the rub of the green' - it certainly seems that way to me. Obviously we will never know now, but the on-going investigations by both the footballing authorities and the police (who must have something better to do?) will rumble around football for ages. I'm not sure how much, if any, good will come of it.

The level that most of us get to play football at is obviously a long way downscale of the likes of Chelsea and United, yet 'industrial' language, hard tackling and personal banter are all part of the fabric of the game. It can, and does, go too far. But I think we need to reign in a bit or we'll end up with a practically silent, non-physical game where players are frightened to say 'boo' to a ghost or to tackle anyone.

Please, let's not let football get like the parish tea party!

An eventful evening's trading tonight, the highlight of which was doubling up on a previous lay of Reading (at 3-0) after they scored a fourth against the Gooners. Not normally one to cheer Arsenal goals, the fourth one, on the stroke of full time made me a handsome green this evening - proving that sometimes getting in deeper is the way to get out greener.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Odds on laying in the long term markets...

I haven't in the past got involved in any of the long term markets featuring league winners or relegation candidates this early in the season. I dabbled rather successfully in the closing stages of the Premiership last season when a judicious lay of United at 1.42 was helped enormously when Everton held them to a 4-4 draw, despite looking like a losing trade as that particular game got under way. We all know what happened after that, and it's fair to say that the Premiership doesn't usually go quite that close to the wire at the top end.

Bet19 produces an interesting and well written blog. For this season he has invested a £500 bank on the long term markets surrounding the Premiership, aiming to double his investment over the course of the season. He charts his progress periodically, giving his thoughts and reasons for his actions and ponderings. A recent post caused me to question his intention of taking a loss on a particular lay he'd made after only 7 games, but what it also did was cause me to have a bit of a poke around some of these markets.

Regular readers will know that I like trading French football, so my first port of call was the Winners market for Ligue 1. The screengrab below shows the situation after just 8 games.

Marseilles currently top Ligue 1 with 19 points, PSG are second with 16 followed by Lyons with 15. And PSG can be laid for 1.39. When I laid United at 1.42 the season was 30 odd matches old. Yet here I can lay PSG for a lower price after 8 matches!

I moved on to Serie A. Juve and Napoli neck and neck after 7 matches, Juve 1.6 to lay. Anderlecht odds on in the Jupiler league market, currently lying third and a few points off the pace.

These are the standouts, and I must admit to having nowhere near the depth of knowledge about any of these clubs or leagues that I have of the Premiership. But surely these prices are immensely layable, not necessarily as a straight bet but as a longer term trade.

I haven't placed any lay bets as yet as at the moment I don't feel I understand sufficiently the dynamics of these markets, and some of the lesser leagues suffer from poor liquidity, but my interest has been aroused and I shall be looking at them again over the coming weeks. My experience of English football suggests that Christmas is really the earliest that one can take a truly objective view of league tables, and I wonder whether that is the case with some of these other leagues.

It would be interesting to hear from readers who have greater experience of these markets - I wonder if any of them also think these prices are too low too early?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A funny old night in the Champions League

Up and down, you might say, but fortunately not out!

It all started swimmingly enough with a lay of AC Milan in Match Odds when they were 0-2 to Zenit, followed by a tasty little LTD (something I rarely do, these days) at 2-2 for a healthy profit as AC scored a third toward the end of the game.

The evening games were something of a mixed bag. The City game caught me out, as I left it alone in the first half whilst listening on the radio. It sounded as if there could have been about 6 goals before the break, in fact some wag in chat said 'Hart 0 Dortmund 0 ' at half-time. Convinced there would be goals in the second half I laid U3.5 goals for too much money at too high a price. The (rather lucky for City) 1-1 scoreline featured goals that came just too late to make anything of that particular piece of inspired trading.

Better things came of the Porto v PSG tie where a back of 0-0, 1-0, 0-1 and 1-1 paid dividends when Porto nicked a late goal, just after I'd hedged most of my 0-0 profit. The Gooners flattered to deceive as usual, and I couldn't resist a back of 0-0 pre-match. I drip laid my way out of that £2 at a time, putting the same £2 on Any Unquoted as the price rose for a scratch on all bar that score. Shame the fourth goal didn't materialise as I chose to leave it there rather than doing the smart thing which would have been to hedge at 2-1 and then drip it back in again to at least leave some green all over the market.

As usual these days I seemed completely capable of totally avoiding both games that had the best trading opportunites for the old Scatter Gun - namely the Shalke and 'Boro games although I know a few made good greens on both of them. The only other little light in the corner came from laying Real at 0-2 and greening immediately Ajax pulled one back. Good job I did as RM duly came out 1-4 winners.

So, all in all, an evening of missed opportunities really! I finished up about £20 down so no disasters and it was enjoyable trying to pull it all together.

I'm intending to have a much better night in the Europa League tomorrow night. I'm not going to lose a single trade there. I can say this with absolute confidence, because after last week's heavy losses with this competition I've perfected a new trading strategy especially for this terribly unpredictable league. It's called the 'Leave it alone' trade. And that's what I shall do. Promise.

Monday, 1 October 2012

How much did Tiger cost people last night, I wonder?

In about 6 or 7 scintillating hours of golf, which resulted in the USA snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the Winner's market in the Ryder Cup was an interesting spectacle. The USA went as low as 1.08 - before a any of the twelve singles matches had been closed out! Ridiculous. The Tie, a rare, almost impossibly rare, event traded as low as 1.17. At 13-13 the market resembled what I am more used to looking at before the start of a very close football match, with all three outcomes priced around the three mark. Close to £20,000,000 had been matched in just that market.

When Kaymer sank that put on the 18th green to retain the Ryder Cup a Tie was very much the most likely result. The final pair, Woods and Molinari, were on the fairway and Woods was 1 up.. so unless he lost the hole the Americans would tie the contest.

I'm sure I'm not alone in being stunned when he missed a putt you'd normally put your house on him making, and then in a display of great sportsmanship (I think...) he conceded both the hole, and, effectively, the Tie. Interviewed afterwards he said:

"To be honest I didn't really pay that much attention…after that all went down, my putt was useless. It was inconsequential. So I hit it too quick and gave him his putt and it was already over,"

The 'inconsequential' putt did have some consequences for some of Britain's biggest bookies, however...

Ladbrokes admitted Tiger's actions cost them £650,000 while Coral took a hit for £400,000. Sky Bet were another company that lost big.
"No one bets on a tie. It cost us just over £650,000 last night on Tiger's miss. Tiger is not a bookie's friend this morning," a Ladbrokes spokesperson told the Daily Mail. 
I'm sure not too many people reading this will be crying in their beer for the bookies, but I'd be very surprised if there aren't a good number of people who'd backed the Tie into nearly single figures nursing severe intentions of causing Tiger irreparable personal injury this morning.

In Tiger's defence the event was, indeed, already over and done with. The Europeans were celebrating and it's not hard to imagine how deflated he must have felt, probably emotionally drained and in need of a pint. That's how I feel trudging off the 18th having lost on the 17th, and I for one will forgive him for not concentrating on the putt in the way he would if were a putt to win the Masters.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

When I said the Tie would come in .....

...what I meant was to about 6 to eight maybe. I certainly did not expect it to trade as low as 1.17 and for Tiger to slide a seven footer past and concede the hole so Europe won the cup, rather than 'merely' retaining it!

And what a pleasure it was to be in the TradingFootball chatroom with half a dozen guys scalping the highly volatile markets from about eight o'clock tonight. At one point I laid the Yanks at 1.08 for a grand. Unfortunately I hedged at 1.18. Instead of hanging in and getting out at 2. Or 5. Or 20. Or, best of all, 1000. My old habit of failing to stick with winning trades comes to the fore again.

I'm not going to dwell on it - it's obviously a personality defect of some sort and I made a nice amount as it was.

The hero of the Europe team, even though he's a bloody Gooner, was Ian Poulter. Why he can't turn it on as well on his own account as he does as a team member is something that probably perplexes him as much as it does me. Well done Poults and the rest of the guys.... will they win BBC Sports Personality Team event I wonder? There isn't a market for it at the moment, but if there were I'd back them!

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Ryder Cup is too close to call.....

.... so you might wonder why the Tie is available at 14! With so many pairs matches and the singles on the final day it is highly unlikely that it will be a tie...the last tie was in 1989. But I've sat on the edge of my seat watching or listening to the Ryder Cup many times now, watching the scores ebb and flow, and I reckon that  the Tie price will trade lower than 14 at some point over the weekend.

The only reason I can come up with to explain how the USA are 1.7 favourites is home advantage. Without wishing to offend anyone, the American crowds tend to be more..... vocal in their partisanship than the more reserved European galleries. I hope the Yanks can contain their whooping and hollering a little bit this year - and that their team and WAGs show a little more consideration than they did at Brookline a few years ago when they 'invaded' the 17th green when Olazabal  had yet to hole out.

It's golf, chaps, not the rumble in the jungle!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Fast starts can be a blessing, or a plague...

Anyone interested in trading the in-play soccer markets could do a lot worse than take a look at  a post by The Sultan. I'm not going to repeat any of it here, you can read it for yourself, but the gist of the post is that our preconceptions sometimes colour our judgement when it comes to trading certain leagues in certain countries. Regular readers will know that I favour French football for my particular strategy - yet if you asked most traders who don't operate in these markets I'd offer odds on that they'd say something along the lines of 'boring, few goals, lots of 0-0's'. Hmm - have a look, guys!

Another point that comes across from Sultan's musings is that a fast (or, by implication, a slow) start to a football match does not necessarily mean the game will continue in that vein. By way of illustration consider two games this week that I got involved with - one a pleasure the other little short of a nightmare!

Both matches took place  in what I will refer to as the League Cup. This competition is a bit of a strange one in that it seems to be approached by some managers with little serious intent, by others as a 'blooding ground' for rising young talent and by yet others as the only realistic chance of silverware this season. It is, therefore, potentially both a trader's paradise and nemesis. Checking the teamsheets is no sure fire way of judging a match as lots of players are going to be relatively unknown... in short it's a bit of a lottery.

On Tuesday Chelsea took on Wolves at the Bridge. They were, unsurprisingly, heavy odds on favourites and  fielded a strong team. My experience of Chelsea is that they are usually slow starters and I was therefore happy to take them on with a lay in the Half  Time market where they were priced at 1.65. This is a trade I quite often do with strong favourites who are odds on in that market, the intention being to trade out at about the fifteen to twenty minute mark for a decent profit. A goal to the favourites is the obvious danger, one to the underdogs is a 'Brucie Bonus'! For those unfamiliar with the half time market it works in exactly the same way as the full time market, except, of course, that the effect of time decay is more marked as there is less time and usually very little 'injury' time. Of course, the Blues came swiftly out of the blocks and were two nil up in the blink of an eye leaving me with a large red right at the start of the evening. The addition of a third (after I'd laid Any Unquoted - believing it would all settle down for a few minutes :-( ) killed the trade stone dead. I was in a fairly uncomfortable position with a hefty three figure loss staring me in the face. I laid the AU again for an unseemly amount of money and sat and waited to be steamrollered. Fortunately it somehow stayed 3-0 until half time at which point I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and took a small red overall and gracefully withdrew.

On Wednesday evening there was an interesting match in prospect between QPR and Reading, both strong contenders for relegation from the Premiership this year. It's hard to imagine either manager relishing a potentially long League Cup campaign distracting his side from what will possibly (probably?) be a season long fight for survival, yet I would think that both would see the psychological importance of a morale boosting win against a team in a similar position. My trading decision revolved around two possible outcomes - no goals - or loads of goals. I sided with the the latter, placing £10 on 1-1, £5 on 2-2 and £2 on 3-3.

At 1-1 after 16 minutes I was sitting reasonably pretty. With large chunks of money on 2-2 and 3-3 I felt able to lay Over 2.5 at 1.11, a trade I stayed with until half time. Sure enough the game settled down, and at one point I wondered if 1-1 would likely be the full time result. I drip laid 1-1 from the start of the second half, and waited with a growing sense of anticipation as QPR took a 2-1 lead, Reading equalised (green out of 2-2!) and then took a 2-3 lead. At this point with a handsome green figure on the 2.5 market and a three figure sum on all scores bar 3-3, which had a boatload more, I took the decision to leave the trade as it was - a QPR equaliser would have been a definite 'cake icer'. Unfortunately it wasn't to be.

Should I have traded out of 3-3 at 2-3? With the benefit of 20:20 hindsight, absolutely! But I think sometimes when you've already landed a nice profit it pays to be a little bit greedy and hold out for the jackpot.

Two different fast start outcomes there - and between them they embody, to me anyway, the challenge and thrill of  in-play soccer trading. But I wouldn't like one every night... a nice, easy, straightforward 1-1 in France or Argentina normally suits me just fine!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Coulda, woulda, shoulda

In my post about low liability laying I wrote that a seemingly suicidal looking trade that I often do is to lay a team who are two goals to the good and heavily odds on. A seemingly fairly non-descript Serie B match between Varese and Bari was 0-0 at half time so I set a second half scatter gun up. Me being me I was trying to be a bit greedy with the odds on 2-0 and hadn't been matched when Varese went 1-0 up. At that point 2-0 was a wipeout but as we were only talking a few quid I let it go. The screenshot below sort of tells the story of a frenetic last 10 minutes or so.

I made a handsome 3 figure green on the game as I had taken 2-2 at 55 for a couple of quid at half time. But, for reasons that I can't explain, I failed to lay Varese in the 83rd minute at 2-0. Didn't even look at the price but if I were a betting man I'd say sub 1.1.

It just goes to show how a seemingly invincible lead can be extremely fragile, and how at the sort of odds we'd have been talking about so few of these lays need to come in for the technique to pay overall.

P.S. I really must find a decent online Thesaurus or dig around in the depths of my memory banks to English 'O' Level days. It seems I've used the word 'seemingly' three times in as many paragraphs. Any alternatives please feel free to suggest them!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

An apology...

Eddie over at A Football Trader's Path took me to task over what he calls a 'throwaway statement' - his concerns being summed up thus:

Hmm, is that last part really true, I said to myself. Do more games that are 3-0 at half-time end-up with the winning team still on three goals? Well, this immediately stuck in my brain, and I just had to check out the veracity, or otherwise, of this casually lobbed-in sentence. 

Of course he then proceeds to do what I obviously hadn't done, i.e. a little bit of digging into the stats. He only looked at the Premier League but it is apparent that my statement was a little..... debateable at best! He makes reference deeper into his post about this being more of a 'hunch' on my part rather than an established fact. He's right in the sense that I hadn't taken the trouble to research the figures as he had, but the statement was made in the light of my using this little method of laying Any Unquoted when a team is three goals up for the past two seasons and being ahead despite the odd loss.

I'm not about to go digging into the stats in other leagues, people so motivated can do that for themselves, but I feel an apology is due.

I should not have written what I wrote presented as a fact without backing it up, whether or no I supplied the 'evidence' in the post. Had I phrased it slightly differently I could have got my point across without implying that the trade  I was suggesting was almost a sure fire winner. In my comment on Eddie's post I did qualify my approach to that particular trade.

Hopefully anyone reading the post and thinking of putting any of it into practice would be intelligent enough to assess the situation for themselves, including any research they deem necessary.

The post that Eddie took me to task over stemmed from a discussion about morality in trading. And whilst I have no qualms about winning money from other Betfair players (whatever their state of mind!) I would hate to think that someone lost a tidy sum from entering a trade s/he'd read about on here based on an unsubstantiated statement. So, going forward, I'll endeavour to be a little less lackadaisical is my approach to writing about the motivation behind certain trades that I do.

The key points about deciding to enter any trade, to me, are those I mentioned before...

1) Is it a valid trade?
2) Can I afford the loss if it goes wrong?
3) Can I live with the result?

This is true whether the trade under consideration is one of your own making, from a 'system' you are following or from an idea gleaned from some lunatic you don't know personally writing on the interweb!

P.S. No sooner had I published this post (written in part yesterday evening before heading out to a party!) that I noticed that Eddie has posted again on this subject. As usual, his points are well worth reading!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

I'd rather a Layer be!

IronyPirate (IP henceforth!) asks a few questions in his comment on my post about the morality of trading, with regard to value backing / laying and their respective relationships with punting over trading. They were largely rhetorical questions, but I've never let that stop me from having an opinion!

Like IP I've found that as I've matured as a trader when looking for in-play opportunities I'd rather a layer be.

When I first discovered Betfair it took me a long time to get my head around what laying something actually meant. The clues were there, even in the generic description of how Betfair and similar sites operate - i.e. they are Betting Exchanges. As a backer I offer to exchange my stake for your liability as a layer, and vice versa.

In my early days, trying to chase the price of a few nags up and down a ladder the lay was simply the thing I had to do in order to 'green up' my position. And something strange happened a lot and I doubt I'm alone in this....If I'd backed a horse and the odds started to drift I'd stick with the trade. If I'd laid a horse and it started to steam I'd get out with the speed of a scalded cat. How daft is that? Once I'd started to notice this phenomenon I also noticed that almost without exception the drifting horse I'd backed carried on drifting, whilst the steaming nag that I'd laid came back to or went out beyond my entry price.

I was letting backs run and cutting lays short because my basic mindset was that of someone whose only exposure to betting in any way, shape or form had been by making a choice and backing it. The idea of losing money because my 'selection' won was anathema to me. It went against the grain and against all my instincts. Strangely, I accepted that losing back bets was part and parcel of the choice made.

The Eureka moment came when I read (and I really wish I could remember where I read it!) that it is much easier to pick one from, say, ten, to lose than it was to pick one from ten to win! I then started to lay outcomes. The inevitable happened - you know, a long winning streak followed by an increase in stakes followed by the one winner which wiped out all previous gains and more. Ouch!

Being by nature a chap with a positive outlook on things I started to look more closely at what I was doing. And now you'll often find me entering what, on the face of it, look like suicidal lays. Man U 3-0 against West Brom, 44 minutes gone. Lay Any Unquoted. A team (preferably the Gooners!) 2-0 up at half time. Lay them. A game with a strong home favourite against mediocre opposition and at odds on... lay them.

The nice thing about trading rather than selecting an outcome and running with it is that you don't have to stick with the trade. Many more games that are 3-0 at half time end at that score or 3-1, 3-2 etc than go over four goals. Very often a team 2-0 up will concede a goal, giving the opportunity to cover your liability and let the trade run or to hedge completely. A home favourite might well go on and win the match, but there's a decent profit to be had at half time if it is still 0-0 or of course should the dogs nick a goal! By and large all these situations offer lays at odds on... so even if you left them alone you'd need less than a 50% strike rate to come out on top...

The key point is that in the CS example at 3-0 by laying AU you have 3-0, 3-1, 3-2 and 3-3 working for you and only a fourth goal to the leaders going against you. In the lay the favourites example the thing working on your side mainly is time decay...the odds will drift as time goes by. A goal to the dog is  a 'Brucie Bonus' in this situation. And many, many 2 goal leads (or higher!) evaporate - even those where you might be laying at 1.01 ... ask those who backed the Gooners at 0-4 against Newcastle a couple of years ago!

Which brings me to another point IP raised - the question of to what degree such actions are punting rather than trading. A tricky one to answer really. I suppose for me it's more a question of your intent after you've entered the position. I normally do something to minimise my exposure as time goes by if I can in the AU lay. I know this gives away profit and possibly value, but my records vindicate this course of action. So to me that's more of a trade than a punt because I have an exit planned. If I've laid at odds of less that 1.2 my instinct usually is to leave it more often than not so I guess that makes it a bit more of a punt.

One thing you can be assured of though... if I've laid something at low odds for a few hundred quid and it's come in, I'm not going to lose any sleep over the mental state of the backer!

Been suffering a bit recently....

.. had a nasty attack of Blogger's Cramp. I'm finding it difficult, at the moment, to come up with anything to write about that is new, different and potentially of interest to anyone.

Elsewhere in blogland there are some interesting debates going on... about multi-monitor trading set ups, tipping services that might not present the reasoning behind their tips in a meaningful manner, and to top it off a debate about how 'moral' sports trading is!

This last one got me thinking. If you haven't a clue what I'm talking about, head over to Sultan's place and have a read for yourself.

'Speedwave' seems to have a bit of an issue with the possibility of wiping someone's bank out by taking their money in one fell swoop. He goes even further, painting the at once quite alarming and somewhat comical picture of some poor sap who'd put his life savings on a 1.05 shot hanging himself! Hmm.. makes me wonder if Speedwave has suffered a big loss backing a short odds 'certainty'. 1.01 he has!

Is there a moral issue here? Not in my book. The person who wants to back something at 1.05 for £1,000 essentially wants the £50 I'm willing to lay it for. Conversely, I want his grand! If 'fair exchange is no robbery' essentially the questions would be backers and layers need to ask themselves are as follows...

1) Am I entering a valid trade?
2) Can I afford to lose the sum of money that I'm investing if it goes wrong?
3) Can I live with the outcome, whichever way it goes?

If the answer to all three is 'yes' - then do it - if not, then don't! It's your decision, your bank and your judgement.  No-one else's!

Years ago I was returning home on the last train after a night on the sauce in London. The carriage compartments in those days each had a chain to be pulled in the event of an emergency to stop the train. Underneath the chain  was a notice warning of a £50 fine for improper use.

Maybe not quite in the same class as Shakespeare, Milton or Wilfred Owen, but some wannabee Bard had scrawled underneath the warning the following:

If to £50 you have a claim,
Be a lad, and pull the chain!
If £50 you do not own,
Leave the f*****g thing alone!
Much the same with a short odds trade, I'd say!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Opportunities where you might not have looked...

The Scatter Gun trade continues to provide me with the vast majority of my soccer trading profits, although it has to be said the Premier League has been disappointing thus far with lots of wins to nil. Wins to nil are, of course, of limited value using this strategy as the lynchpin of the whole trade is the 1-1 scoreline.

To avoid creating a mind numbingly boring post of screen shots of the various leagues that I trade I have posted just two. I was surprised by the frequency of SG scores in the two leagues pictured below. Intuitively, and from experience of trading them, I'd certainly not have had the 1-1 and 2-1 frequency in either as high as they actually are!


Even if your detailed knowledge of these two leagues is, like mine, sketchy at best you can see from the percentages that both these leagues present massive opportunities for this trade. When you take into account the number of 2-2, 3-1 1-3 etc it is clear that profits are there for the taking even if the end result isn't one of the standard scorelines.

Ligue 2 in France, Serie B in Italy, Segunda in Spain, our own Championship and League 2 and the leagues in Argentina and Brazil (if you've the lifestyle and stamina to trade in the early hours!) have consistently been happy hunting grounds for me.

The Latin American leagues also seem to throw up many more situations where  the underdog takes the lead than happens in Europe- ideal for the SG - and I'm in the process of looking at that in more detail to maybe throw up another trading angle involving laying an odds on favourites.

If you would like to have a look at the figures for other leagues get over to choose the league you are interested in and select 'Trends'. It's a mine of information and completely, utterly, free of charge.

Speaking of free of charge, the ever optimistic Cassini says he's waiting for referral commissions as his blog has to date driven more people to my blog than any other source bar google. Whether he is waiting for that to come out of my pocket or direct from Blogger isn't really clear...but I will propose to him the I regard my trading profits as being essentially 'free' money I currently donate 10% of my winnings to a local charity that I support. If he's happy for me to continue to do that I'll put the referral commission in a pot and pay him in a lump sum once I start paying SPC (minus the amount he owes me for the masses of page views generated for Green All Over from here, of course!) As I believe Cassini to be, like me, a half centarian (at least) I wouldn't advise that he incorporates any referral commission in his net worth spreadsheets just yet. If at all. :-)

Monday, 27 August 2012

A milestone reached, and missed

After an unusually busy period at work, with many late nights and early mornings means that I haven't posted or checked my blog 'dashboard' for a while. In that period of time my pageview stats have tipped the 100,000 mark.

On delving a bit deeper into the stats I was surprised to see that the country with the third highest page views is the USA. This surprises me because I am under the impression that in-play betting / trading is not possible Stateside. Perhaps they know something that I don't? The only other non European nation in the top ten page view stats, surprisingly to me, is New Zealand. Wherever you are in the world, thanks for looking at my little corner of the net, and I hope you continue to do so.

Moving on to referring sites, top of the tree, no surprises here, is Google. Cassini's Green All Over is top of the blogs for referring, by some margin but A Football Trader's Path, Centre Court Trading and my old muckers over at are all worthy of a mention in dispatches. There are many sports trading blogs out, and a lot of the 'challenge' style seem to come in a blast of newly found enthusiasm only to splutter and die. The three mentioned, along with most of the rest of my blog roll are very definitely worth reading if you are serious about sports trading, and the authors have all helped me find and refine my trading over time. Perosnally I wish Lamb would blog again, I can't believe he's completely hung his trading mouse up now he's back with his limbs embracing the greasy pole!

Anyone reading this who trades  as a hobby should consider blogging. It's fun, therapeutic and interesting - give it a go! It might even help your discipline!

I still find it amazing that so many people have found their way here. This exercise started out as little more than a means to try to help with  the thorny issue of discipline, and I little imagined back in 2010 that I'd still be around writing the occasional missive two years later.

In that time I think it's fair to say that I have learnt a lot from other bloggers and commentators, even if I still struggle with certain aspects of, if you like to put it this way, the 'intellectual' side of trading. As you know I'm no mathematician and certainly the idea of compiling and updating football statistics holds little or no appeal to me. Fortunately the world wide web is full of people who thrive on this kind of thing and most of whom are prepared to share the fruits of their labour for free.

One thing I do now do, religiously, is to keep detailed records of my trading. This is probably the single most important step forward that I have taken since starting blogging. I always 'felt' that I knew what worked for me and what didn't, but being able to see it in black and white (or, perhaps more pertinently, in red and green!) has enabled me to focus on the good areas and either improve or discard the bad areas.

Discipline, however, remains my Achilles heel. Only yesterday I three away a three figure sum in the belief (and that's all it was - that old 'gut feeling' that so many have castigated me for!) that the Gooners couldn't possibly go two consecutive Premier League games with no goals for or against. I was doing that kind of thing in 2010 so it is more than a bit disappointing to note that I still, occasionally, tread the same slippery slope despite receiving many warnings and lessons along the way.

It seems, therefore, that I am destined to continue blogging, as the original raison d'etre of the blog still persists. So, you're stuck with me. I missed this landmark by a few hundred page views. I will try not to miss the next one - 250,000 - but I suspect that's more than a few months away!

Monday, 20 August 2012

All that effort designing a new page....

..and on the second really big afternoon of the new season for soccer trading it all goes up the swanny! Football matches were left high and dry from just before 4pm until about 5 pm by a massive server failure.

Many people were left with big trading exposures on the City game, and probably other games as well. I'm sure some turned out well, and others lost. But the whole point of BF, for me anyway, is that it is supposed to allow the trader to adjust positions in play. I really can't understand how such a company continually gets away with this kind of user experience. Well, I can. They have no real competition. The forum is full, on these occasions, with people threatening to take their banks over to the 'Purple Place' but few do so.

For the past few weeks I've been having to change from the wonderful new BF footie page to the old one. Cookies don't seem to work! I don't want or need them to change it! I never trade from BF anyway, so all I ask is that the entire In Play coupon for that particular day is available for me to scroll down. I don't want to have to look at 2 or 3 different pages thank you BF! My little voice won't change that but I do find it irksome that they spend all that time, money and effort fixing something that wasn't really broken and yet still suffer a massive server failure and have no Plan B.

I suppose the best we can hope for is that one of the big sports books buys BetDaq and puts some money into marketing it so that it can become a proper exchange alternative for us all. Then that might galvanise BF into correcting their mistakes.

Speaking of mistakes, X-Factor springs to mind. I have no time for it personally, but Mrs Gun loves it for some reason. I know some people make a lot of money trading such things but I've a word of caution for you if you do this time round...

On my way through the living room last evening, coming back from a smoke break, I saw one of the Spice Girls on the judges panel. She was telling contestants that they couldn't sing. The mind boggles.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Well, it would have been a winner!

Unfortunately Mrs Gun had me busy doing something as the 3pm games kicked off. Nothing exciting, you understand, just something I'd rather not have been doing.

As a result I managed to miss East Stirling's three minute penalty against Rangers, and therefore missed the opportunity to green my bet off at 1.2 ish.

Such is life, but I've told her the beer's are on her next week as I now can't afford to buy any myself.

The trader who can't resist a little punt every now and again!

I've been experimenting with a bit of kit that's new to me this evening, with some modest success. I'm talking about the Draw Inflation tool available at Trading Football. Essentially this piece of software highlights potential imbalances in some of the markets pre-match, and, used correctly enables the trader to have green positions on one or two outcomes before a ball is kicked.

I used it to get some free profit on the draw and a Nancy win earlier today, and it worked as advertised, enabling me to back three Lille winning scores for what was effectively a free trade. Spurred by  that initial success I've just been looking at it again and noticed the price on Rangers at home to lowly East Stirling tomorrow afternoon.

I'm no massive fan of Scottish football, and certainly no expert on it. I've not really followed the shenanigans surrounding this once great and proud club, and from my state of ignorance feel sorry for its legion of long standing supporters. I wouldn't wish this turn of events on any football club, even United!

However the still stirring punter in me cannot be brought to leave a lay price of 1.07 pre-match standing on the shelf. It has to be taken, and at present my BF account balance is £14 lighter than it was a couple of minutes ago. I don't expect Rangers to draw the match, and certainly don't think they'll lose it. But I am absolutely convinced that I'll be able to turn a wee profit from that price - and if I'm wrong I'll have to  forego three pints next week!

The DI tool is exclusive to Trading Football members - check it out via the link on my blog - yes, I'll get a modest commission if you become a paying member, but nothing's for nothing!

Friday, 17 August 2012

The season is upon us, at last

The domestic English football season got under way tonight with a 1-0 home win for Cardiff City, pinched in the dying embers of the game. For me the close season has provided poor cards, carrying poor liquidity, but has nonetheless been profitable over all. I have come to really enjoy trading Scandanavian and particularly Icelandic football, but am glad to be returning to trading 'normality'.

I think the new season offers another close run thing with the Premiership, and although it pains me as a Chelsea man to say it, think the two Manchester clubs will slog it out to the end. Of more interest in many ways is the Championship - that has all the hallmarks of a very close race, particularly at the 'business end' of the season.

Turning briefly to the European leagues I think the two that are of most interest to my style of trading are Ligues 1 & 2 and Serie A as my preferred trade relies a bit more on low scoring games than high scoring ones. I will doubtless do lots of trades in those three leagues, and indeed started with the Lille match this evening, which ended a useful and profitable 1-1.

I reviewed the blogs on my regular reading list today for the first time in a while, and was drawn to the discussions between SoccerDude and Cassini. Before anyone points it out I know that 'regular reading list' and 'for the first time in a while' are at odds with each other, but I've been busy at work! Both write humourous and informative blogs and it strikes me that in many ways they epitomise two different approaches to trading football.

Eddie prefers trading the in-play markets, and by trading I mean that he takes and adjusts positions in play, actively managing his exposure and the outcome.

Cassini prefers to arrive at what he considers a value bet, place it and then leave it to its fate, relying on getting the value right and, presumably, a good strike rate to make his money.

My preference is undoubtedly the former, and I'll share the reasons for those interested. Trading football is a hobby for me, that happens to make a modest amount of money. I have no real desire to spend hours building rating systems or researching statistics to come up with  a stand alone bet; but more than that I haven't the confidence to place and go. You could argue that if I did the former I'd probably gain the latter, but I'm not convinced. I (and long term readers) know that I'd end up 'chasing' and getting frustrated and that it would soon cease being fun. It might even get expensive!

I'm much much more comfortable trading one single market most of the time - the Correct Score market. It's one that I know and understand. Yes, I get caught out - who doesn't? But it's happening a lot less frequently now, so I suppose in a way I have spent hours coming up with a rating system, albeit one that's largely in my head, and place my trades accordingly.

The one thing that I have noticed this close season is that I do considerably better when I concentrate on one match, and working it well, than when I am trying to manage four or five live situations. Which leads me to a bit of a dilema. I much prefer trading mutliple games - it's a hobby, remember? It's supposed to be fun! But I'm more effective when I trade just the one or maybe two markets at a time. So I suppose I need to prioritise - fun or money?


Decision made!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Crazy low liability trading this evening....

After a fairly dismal start to the evening with a 0-1 win for the masters of the 1-1 otherwise known as Djurgardens the blue touchpaper was lit in what proved to be two electrifying games. I use the word electrifying in a trading sense - I was watching neither.

Someone spotted that the Kaiserslautern  v Union Berlin match was 0-0 at half time, so I decided to enter a second half SG trade, backing 0-2, 1-1, 2-0, 1-2, 2-1 and 2-2. I invested £6 on 1-1 and a whole two quid on each of the other scorelines.

I've traded the lower reaches of German football for some years now, and it's fair to say that Union are one of those teams that in the past have cost me dearly. I don't know about other traders but I seem to have 'bogey' sides dotted around the globe! I keep promising myself, for example, never to trade Liverpool, Sporting Lisbon or PSV ever again and generally look suspiciously at any matches involving several other sides, Valerenga and Godoy Cruz to name two that spring to mind. Oh, and Spurs now I think about it!

Tonight, however, I was able to back 0-2 to Union at 43 at half time - fancied they most certainly were not. I was therefore more than pleasantly surprised that they took, indeed, a 0-2 lead after about 54 minutes. I must admit to being a bit greedy there, and didn't get all my hedging bet matched before Kaiser got one back, but Union went a long way to paying their debt to me. The game went 2-2, 3-2 and finally 3-3 on the stroke of 90 minutes and by trading the scores I'd set at half time, followed by a judicious low liability lay of 3-2 I was able to turn that £16 into a tidy three figure profit. My only regret, and I don't why I didn't, is that I didn''t lay Union at 0-2 - something I nearly always do with a second half two goal lead to the underdogs.

Whilst all that was happening I was aware that Canada were 1-0 against the strongly fancied USA in the ladies Olympic competition. I had opened the market to look at laying that score and was in the process of so doing when the yanks equalised. I then laid the current score of 1-1 and watched with amazement as the game went 2-1, 2-2, 3-2 and finally 3-3 with me laying all those scorelines at ever decreasing odds.

Speaking of the Olympics I've got to say that my initial cynicism about and indifference to the whole event has, I'm glad to say, been completely and utterly turned upside down. I can't believe how good the whole thing has been, and obviously Team GB's success has had a large part to play in this.

I have watched sports I'd normally never watch, and found them interesting. In part I'm sure this is due to the excellent job the BBC have done. When people moan about the salaries of the 'stars' and bureaucrats of the BBC,  and about the licence fee, I think they should spend a few hours watching a big sporting occasion  and thanking their lucky stars that a) there are no awful adverts b) there are generally speaking knowledgeable 'pundits' and c) something very 'British' and proper about the way the whole thing is done. Give me Gary Lineker, Hazel Irvine, Peter Allis et al any day over the best that ITV can throw at it - and I won't even start to compare Sky's blingy coverage.

Rant over. Looking forward to the 18th!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Common sense v lack of knowledge

I know very little about cycling - or more particularly about competitive cycling. The Tour de France is a puzzle to me in the sense that it seems like a lot of ground to cover to find yourself separated by a relatively small amount of time from your competitors at the end of the three weeks or whatever it is.

Today's Olympic road race around some very scenic parts of South West London and Surrey however was easy enough to grasp. The first man past the post would win gold. The first man from around 150 cyclists. Over a 250 km course with some very twisty bits around Box Hill (nine times! - one circuit of which, I'm sure, would have put old gun in a six foot box!).

I work most Saturdays and, for some reason, trading on Betfair is not permitted in the showroom. But when I nipped out for a well earned B&H, at about 11 o'clock I think, I fired up the Bf app on my phone and saw Cavendish available to lay at 1.92. This reminded me of an article I'd read in the paper during the week which suggested that the layout of the Olympic course didn't really suit his style and that there might be several banana skins laying in wait for him. The closest priced rider when I looked was in the mid teens. Obviously there was still a long way to go, but from Cassini's blog I see that he was trading as low as the 1.4's at about 3 pm, and was some 9 minutes behind the leading pack of riders.

None of this made much sense to me. If the prices being offered, and taken, truly represented value at the time that implies that at about 11 o'clock he had better than a 50% chance of winning, and that at three ish, nine minutes adrift and in a big pack of riders, that he had a 70% ish chance of winning. With the distance still to be covered, the opportunity for crashing, never mind 140 other riders all presumably wanting to win the gold medal (and some of them, presumably, capable of so doing) - were these %'s accurate? As it transpires, obviously not!

I didn't lay Cavendish for three main reasons. Firstly, as I stated in opening this post I know nothing of the sport. Secondly because of  the hype surrounding the race, and 'expert' analysis suggesting an early British gold medal. But largely I ignored because in combining reasons one and two and in looking at the market I honestly thought he only really had to manage not to fall off his bike to win!

The annoying thing is that it just didn't 'look' or 'feel' right to this cycling ignoramus. Another example of where 'gut feel' would have paid handsomely.

As an aside I referred above to 'expert' analysis. A cynical ex colleague of mine once offered an amusing definition of 'expert' - namely a situation where 'ex' is the unknown factor and a 'spurt' is a drip under pressure. If the cap fits, eh?

Makes you proud to be British

I must confess that I have not exactly been gripped by Olympic fever. I have serious doubts about various aspects of the games; the ticketing system; the 'brand' police; the 'Olympic Lanes' and whether or not it would be a financial white elephant.

From a sports trading viewpoint I think it's fair to say that I will avoid all bar the football and maybe the tennis on the basis that my knowledge of most sports represented would leave room to spare if I wrote it all on the back of a postage stamp.

But.... what a spectacle the Opening Ceremony was, at least once all the Mary Poppins bit was over and done with! The entire gun household was la la la-ing to Hey Jude at the end, marvelling at how the cauldron all came together and I suppose thankful that nothing untoward took place. Even the Queen's parachute jump seemed to go off seamlessly!

Let's hope the Olympic oaths taken are upheld by the competitors and that we have a games unspoilt by politics and / or doping etc. If the competition follows a similar vein to the opening ceremony I think it will be great watching. I'll leave the trading of it to those with the required knowledge though!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Here we go again, sort of

I don't know about you but this close season seems to have really dragged. At the ripe old age of half a century I suppose I shouldn't really be wishing time away, but I am fed up with poor cards and poorer liquidity, Euro 2012 aside.

The good new is that Ligue 2 kicks off tonight and long term readers will know that I consider this to be an excellent Scatter Gun league and that the doom mongers who decry French football for its lack of goals are misguided.

A quick scan down the list of fixtures shows a set of very evenly matched sides, and although only five of the games go in play I believe there's money to be made using the SG in all these games - even if you use a 'set and forget' trade.

Good luck if you trade all or any of them..

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Who'da thought it?

What a great afternoon's trading. The final round of a Major golf championship usually offers all sorts of in-play opportunities and today was no exception.

I said in my last post that 2.50 ish was my anticipated trade out of my lay of Adam Scott, but as he went to about 2.14 after the first hole it seemed silly not to reduce my liability there and then. Sure enough, he rallied and went on to play superb golf for the rest of the afternoon until, for some inexplicable reason, he imploded on the 16th. I engaged in several minor trades, the lowlight of which was an inspired back of Snedeker just before he decided not to win! Needless to say that I spotted the golf that the Big Easy was playing when he was backable at 40 something and left it alone :-(.

I laid Scott at 1.2 and again at 1.07 - not sure why really - just seemed like a good idea and I had only about a £50 liability on him and nice greens across the rest of the field.

I honestly didn't expect to be coming out of both those lays with a decent profit, and having done so laid Ernie when Scott's ball found that tuft of grass at the side of the 16th. I was able to square that one away for a modest profit and then sat on my mouse to prevent any trades for the sake of it.

So I ended up taking a substantial three figure profit from the tournament, and was pleased that Els won - I've always admired his golf.

But I've got to say my heart truly went out to Adam Scott - he was a great competitor and I really can't imagine how he must be feeling right now. If, perchance, he reads this he might take some comfort from the fact that someone made a decent amount of money from his misery.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Sometimes the eyes give the game away...

... watching Paul Lawrie marching down the 18th at the end of his third round today, berating himself for a day of missed opportunities  I thought to myself 'there's a beaten man'. Sure enough in that fantastically atmospheric amphitheatre he contrived to three put from about as many feet to hammer the final nail into his Open coffin.

In a similar way, Tiger exhibited his emotions when in the last few holes his chosen strategy of taking irons off the Lancashire tees left him with just too much to do with his approach shots, especially when his putting is patently not what it once was.

So it seems my back bet on Lawrie is effectively toast, whilst my lay of Tiger is very much alive and kicking. Various other trades, some successful, some not, mean that I can now contemplate a final Sunday in which the prospect of a bit of wind and a GMac charge suggest that Scott might well be a bit light at 1.79 - 1.81.

Laying at odds on on the final day of a major will never really threaten you with the poor house these days, so I'm prepared to invest all my green from the first three days and a couple of hundred more to lay Scott for £350 - liability of £280  at 1.80 - minus my cumulative green of £70 ish. If he starts well and hits 1.4 I'll take the loss and move on, otherwise my initial would be exit point is 2.5 or better to round the week off nicely.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Will the 'summer' weather yet play a part?

A quite sublime chip from a greenside bunker puts Woods in a great position at the end of the second day's play at Lytham St Annes. He is 4 shots off the lead and in a clear third place. Yet he is joint favourite, at the time of writing, at  4.4. The other joint favourite is Adam Scott. The leader, Snedeker, is at 6, with a one shot advantage over the Aussie.

In my opinion Tiger is one of those characters who causes a massive over reaction in the markets, and, for that reason is a lay for me at that price. Snedeker was playing quite controlled, resolute golf from what I could see and whilst I don't necessarily see him holding on to win I think a four shot cushion over the prowling Tiger will enable the latter's price to swing in and out from its current value.

There is talk in some quarters of a windy, possibly wet, day on Sunday in Lancashire. I hope there is some of both, not in extreme, but enough to 'put the cat amongst the pigeons'. The cat I have in mind is Paul Lawrie - currently at 32 (although I must admit to having had a sneaky tenner on him at 80!) and playing probably the best golf he's played in quite some time. Blustery, squally conditions are right up his street, and Tiger will hate them!

Saturday's tee times and pairings have yet to be confirmed but it looks to me as if Woods will be paired with Olesun and Lawrie with Matt Kuchar - should be an interesting day tomorrow but unfortunately I'm working. Good luck if you trade it.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Growing the bank

Betfree247 made an interesting comment to my last post, prompting me to think a bit more about what building a bank actually entails and how to go about doing it. I started trading primarily to see if I could generate a full time income from it and 'retire' from the rat race. Some four years on I can safely say that, yes, you can generate a full time income from it.

You can. I can't.

I simply don't have the right mindset to do it ~ and it's no good trying to pretend otherwise. Although my trades are generally speaking profitable I still, with monotonous regularity, get in too deep, let a loser run, panic out of a winner for fear of it becoming a loser etc etc etc. Sometimes, having committed one of those crimes I chase to recover. The reason I carry on is because I enjoy it and because I'm NOT dependent on it to help with my domestic finances, at all.

Having said that, who couldn't use a few hundred quid a month, tax free? So what's the best way of doing this and what do you need to to do to achieve it?

Other bloggers have written about the dangers of setting short term targets. The theory being that if you have a target of say, £20 per night, and the first trade loses £10 that you then enter another trade for the wrong reasons. The converse is that if the first trade makes £50 you then enter another trade for different, but still wrong, reasons. In both cases the smart thing to have done would have been to take the plug off your pc and sit with the missus watching Eastenders, tomorrow being another day. It would seem you can't win if you approach it in this way. I'm not 100% convinced by this argument, but as time has gone by I am concluding that there's a lot to be said for it.

So if you aren't trading to a financial or percentile target, how else can you make long term gains? The only other way, surely, is to only enter the right trades and to have in your mind one of two outcomes... 1) that the trade will either win or it won't and you'll live with the result or 2) that at the outset you set pre-determined exit points so that you make or lose an acceptable amount. If your immediate reaction is that 2) is similar to setting short term targets I'd have some sympathy with that viewpoint, but if you stop and think about it they are totally different in terms of mental approach. Both approaches, to be successful, depend on you making enough on the winners to outweigh the loss on the losers. That sounds like stating the obvious, but it leads nicely to my next point...

The other point that I would make is that to succeed long term, like it or not, you need to put  effort into choosing your trades. Spraying money around across lots of different sports and markets without some clear strategy is a no hoper in my opinion. I know that IF I just restricted my trading to my favourite trade I would make money in the long run. I've honed and tweaked it just about as much as I believe I can now, although to be honest it hasn't changed in essence that much. My problem is, always has been and probably now always will be, a lack of discipline. I don't seem to be able to stick to the straight and narrow.

As Betfree247 concludes in his comment: 'Trying to work out the right theory for yourself really is the key to this I believe, we need to find out what we're comfortable with and try to implement that. It's definitely not a one size fits all scenario.' 

I couldn't agree more!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Eighth Wonder of the World

Albert Einstein, when he wasn't working on his theory of relativity and other matters of scientific import, thus described the phenomenon of compound interest. Those with long memories or the ability to delve deep into this blog will remember or discover that it was with an exploration of compound interest that I started writing in my little corner of the interweb.

I mention it again after reading Cassini's piece on compounding and the wisdom of having, or of not having, daily targets. I haven't read the article in Ian Erskine's newsletter that Cassini quoted but it got me thinking. In a nutshell someone wrote that increasing your bank by 2-3% per day should be achievable. A quick spreadsheet reveals that if that statement refers to a compounded bank that by day 365 at 3% per day your bank would be just shy of £5,000,000 from a start balance of £100! The daily target for that day would be a modest £141,211.80. Clearly, as Cassini says, this is not viable and if it were that easy probably both he, I and every other trader would be out of work on a beach somewhere laying 1.1 shots for a hundred grand!

If, however, the author was referring to a 2-3% increase in bank size in a non compounded sense then that is completely different. A bank of £1000 returning £20 - £30 per day is entirely realistic - in fact you could even argue that you are under utilising that bank. Trading in that way for 25 days per month grows the bank by a handsome £500 - £750 per month. Slightly better than sticking that grand in the Nationwide!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Farewell, Euro 2012

And what a great tournament it was, on the whole. The final itself, whilst not a classic, was a highly entertaining affair, enlivened by the relatively early Spanish goal. I had a feeling goals would be coming in the game after the quiet semi between the Iberian nations, and opted for a trade based around 1-1,2-2 and 3-3 staked 3:2:1. However, on looking at the correct score odds before kick off I just couldn't resist a semi-punt on Any Unquoted - available at a quite incredible 21!

I could have left a free trade on the above draw scores after the first Spanish goal by laying the AU off, but for some reason let it run. Needless to say I did green at 2-0 - genuinely not even really considering the possibility of a 4-0 result and convincing myself that laying the trade off at 4.4 represented great value. Ho hum, as they say, our old friend 20/20 hindsight comes to the fore again! Never mind, the trade rounded off a most profitable tournament for me, the only real downside being a completely stupid / idiotic / crazy bit of trading during an Argentinian match which completely wiped out the considerable profit I'd made on the first two group games with all those lovely 1-1, 1-2 2-1 games. It seems I'm destined never to learn!

The two goals that took Spain into the Any Unquoted territory were both scored by Chelsea players. I'm extremely pleased that these two have started pre-season training already. I've a good feeling about the prospects for my team in the forthcoming season, and am wondering to what extent my opinion that they offer good value at 6.4 in the Winner's market is down to good old fashioned bias! One trade (or, probably more accurately, punt) I will be entering, if I can find the damned thing, is to put a few quid on Torres to be the leading scorer in the Premiership - anyone know where that market is? I can't find it!

Finally for today I'd like to wish Lambretta all the very best in his forthcoming return to the gravy train. If you aren't familiar with his blog I'd strongly recommend it as an interesting and worthwhile read. I don't know if he will continue to trade in his spare time or indeed if he will continue to blog. Personally I hope he does both, but whatever he does he has my best wishes.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The wheels on the bus...

...they stand dead still.

Why, why, why, did England not take the game to a decidedly average Italian team tonight? A few years ago no-one would have had a high expectation against the Italians. The current Italian side cannot hold a candle to the days of Dino Zoff, Paolo di Rossi etc but still England contrived to play a defensive minded holding game with a totally unfit and ineffectual 'talisman' in the form of Rooney yet again failing to deliver on the big stage for his country.

Luckily for me, I had backed 0-0 1-0 and 0-1 so trading wise I did ok.

But I've got to say I am dismayed at our lack of attacking spirit. And why Hodgson put Jordan Henderson on in Scott Parker's place I really, really can't understand. Surely the way to win the game, at that stage, was to do so in 'normal' time? Parker might well have been out on his feet but surely getting Rooney off and putting Defoe on would have least given the Italians pause for thought? Or, if you must take Parker off, why not chance your arm with Oxlade-Chamberlain instead of Henderson?

With England's form in penalty shoot outs I was amazed to be able to lay that outcome at 2.74 at about half time extra time. I would happily have traded that win for another night in my local against the Germans on Thursday. The trade in that case would have been simple. Lump on Any Unquoted.

When does the Prem season start again so I can get back to trading properly??

Monday, 18 June 2012

A nice way to spend an English summer's night..

...sitting in my mate's den, known affectionately as 'The Pit Stop' supping a long cold drink scalping the US Open on a dodgy mobile connection. What a pity it was being played in San Francisco - not that there's anything wrong with the city or the golf course - it's just that it was so bloody late! We gave up at about 2.40 am I think, both of us having worked up nice greens over the preceding two to three hours.

I love golf, even though I'm useless at it. My companion last night, however, plays off an 8 handicap and moreover is knowledgeable about the swings and the courses which is where a better degree of knowledge can help your trading.

Jim Furyk never ceases to amaze me - he has the most ungainly swing of any pro I've ever seen and even makes my efforts look polished. However, as the Sky HD slo-mo shows, he invariably gets clubhead to ball at precisely the right angle and at the right time to enable him to grind out a result, especially on courses where accuracy carries a higher premium than distance.

After the last pair had played three holes, Westy had his ball high up in a cypress tree and GMac had dropped a shot. I remember glancing at Els, and noticed that 'Big Easy' was available to back at (if memory serves) 44 or thereabouts. A certain young Webb Simpson was also in the high thirties / early forties. Furyk was available to lay at 2.04 which I duly did. I really don't know why his price had dropped that low. He had a one stroke lead and there were fully 14 holes to go... daft not to lay him really!

Three things struck me during those three hours or so.

Firstly how behind the action Sky's coverage was - undoubtedly not helped by the advertising breaks. We were able to stab reasonable guesses as to what was happening on the course by the price movements on our phones.

Secondly, how much better it is to watch golf on the BBC! Their coverage really does knock Sky's into a cocked hat in my opinion - especially with Mr Alliss's dulcet tones and the complete lack of advert breaks.

Thirdly, and most noticeably, how very scalpable the markets are. Els got an eagle on a par three and his price tumbled from the mid twenties into 9's. A good drive at the next hole saw it come into the sixes before easing back out again as his challenge started then faltered. GMac's odds were up and down like the proverbial clappers as he fought the course. Furyk traded between the 2.04 that I took and just under 3 on just about every hole for some time. Other opportunities came and went, but, providing you are sensible, have reasonably up to date information and use realistic stakes it's surprisingly easy to scalp the golf winners's market.

Give it a go - it's great fun.