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!