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.