Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Punter Vs. The Trader

This is an area that has interested me deeply for as long as I can remember. When I refer to "the punter" I mean a person who simply places outright bets and the profit/loss is determined by the actual outcome of the selections backed. Typically a good punter shall seek value either by pricing up the event in question and backing any selection the holds value or indeed by some sort of systematic function which identifies value over the long-term for you. Over time I've become much better at this and I'm sure this is my preferred type of gambling. I have numerous systems I employ and I also like pricing events up myself to try and find value. My results have been mixed in different areas but over the long-run I've profited greatly from this method.

In contrast "the trader" is someone who trades on the odds being offered and tries to guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome of the given event. I've found this very difficult in the past and continue to do so. For there's lots and lots of different ways to approach trading, I'm led to believe a popular one is "scalping" which is simply profiting from the smallest change (one tick or maybe two) in the odds.

The confusion I seem to come across is the grey area between the punter and the trader, they both obviously involve gambling but I believe they are very different in nature. The punter as an opinion on an outcome and goes with it if he believes it's value whereas an opinion held by a trader on the outcome of an event isn't much use, it's simple a matter of having a knowledge of odd movements whether that be in-play or not. There also comes a time where one might be trading but decides to "let the bet run". I've down this numerous times, and it more often than not often doesn't end successfully. I'm sure some people do balance trading and punting successfully but I've found it very difficult, my nature is very much that of a punter therefore I find it difficult to be a true trader. I've tried to separate the two up by operating my Betfair account as trading only and placing all my other bets with bookmakers. As you can see by my Betfair £100 challenge, it hasn't really been going that well. Trading does appeal to me, it avoids the often psychologically testing up and downs of outright betting. In theory at least trading should ensure a much more steady profits (if you know what your doing). For whatever reason I've never been able to get the hang of it, and my trading usually turns into some sort of pseudo-punting where I go with the mindset to trade but I end up abandoning it and going for an outright punt instead.

I do continue to improve my trading but I've reduced the amounts I trade with significantly, for me at the moment it's just a little bit of a game on the side. My main gambling venture is with my outright bets and if somehow I can improve my trading that would be a bonus.

As the famous saying goes trading can sometimes be a bit like picking pennies up in front of an oncoming steamroller, I unfortunately know this saying to be all too true.

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Chocolate Eggs Are On Me

A very, very good week for me this week. Weekly update a bit later than normal but here it is. My profit this week totalled an impressive £555.68, in the process more than halving my cumulative loss for the year that now stands at just over £500. It also ensures I fly into profit for the month of April with just less than a week remaining. My horse racing bets really picked up this week, my selective system where I stake a £100 a selection had a few winning ones which makes all the difference to the overall profit. Even my Handicap Hurdle system that had been going on rather slowly managed to find an 11/1 winner yesterday. So overall everything is looking a lot brighter than it did after last week. Feel like I've been resurrected from the gambling wilderness (there's my topical simile out of the way).

I should really be revising furiously with my final exams on the horizon. But someone decided to stage the World Championship Snooker at the same time, managed to catch quite a bit of that. No betting interest as of yet but if I do I usually always side with players who have been there and done it before. Amazing how the pressure can tell on certain players which is why you usually see the same sort of players reaching the later stages every year. Football season is coming to a close fast, small profit with my Premier League selections this weekend although I still maintain the belief it's rather difficult to profit from the league with it being so worldwide (I'll probably do a topic on that one day). For the time being though I'm very happy with the week's performance, it is actually the second highest of the year. The highest being the first week of the year, where I arecall myself proclaiming that a near £700 profit a week being just average (I probably look a bit silly if I read that back now). Shall have a mid weekly update sometime later in the week and I shall conclude with a joint weekly/end of month update next Sunday.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Winning Habits

I'm not usually one for all this positive thinking and following x number of steps and you will fundamentally change sort of stuff. I like being grumpy sometimes and that probably isn't going to change.

However when it comes to betting it is obviously best to have a certain mindset. Humans unlike computers cannot programmed and therefore comes the difficult of learning to apply yourself in a certain way to achieve a positive outcomes. This is what the book I've just finished reading on is about, it's called The Winning Investment Habits of Warrren Buffet and George Soros by Mark Tier. Whilst obviously aimed at budding investors interested in the stock market it can easily be applied to the gambling world just as easily, or at least I read it with that slant and the majority can be directly related to gambling both in an outright bets sense and trading. The book outlines "23 winning investments habits" and throughout the book compares a master investor (winning punters) to losing investors (mug punters). Whilst I'm not going to list all 23 habits I've combined some of the habits together and here's my summary of three winning habits that I found to be the ones which are most important to being a successful punter.

Habit#1 - Preservation of capital and patience, the book states that the cornerstone of a successful investor is capital preservation, this is not to say that the investor won't invest a lot but rather that he'll look to ensure that big losses are avoided. In betting terms that simple means having a sensible staking and not over-betting just for the sake of it. The second part which can be related back to capital preservation is patience. I admit I often struggle with this, if there's a big race meeting or a big football match on television my immediate thought is let's see if I can find a bet for a little interest here. That is a big no no you should stick to your strategy at all costs. Might be difficult sometimes but if your not sure about a bet it's much better to have no bet than regret it later on, sometimes the best bets you ever have are the ones you don't have. (if that makes sense).

Habit#2 - Have a strategy! may sound simple but I do wonder how many people actually have a strategy or system when it comes to placing their bets. I'm a very systematic person in general therefore I find following systems not to difficult. You can be constantly updating and tracking your strategies and systems to see which ones and working and which ones are not. This can be looked at in a wider sense for trading, you need to know all about your entry times and what triggers you to exit a trade or let one ride and so forth.

Habit#3 - Only invest in what you understand, or as I would put it some sort of specialisation is needed. I imagine the most successful punters out there and the ones who specialise in a certain areas. Whether it simple be just one sport like horse racing or tennis, or maybe even just one league or division e.g. English Premier League football or IPL cricket. The phrase jack of all trades master of none comes to mind. By specialising in one area you'll have greater knowledge that will grow and grow over time and you should become an expert in identifying price anomalies and inventing successful trading strategies.

Right that's about it, hope somebody found that at least a little bit useful. If you want to read further I wouldn't put anybody off buying the book, it is a good read and I went through it in less than week (that's rather quick for me in terms of time taken to read a book).I'm not usually a fan of pop music and the boy band stuff but I can just about stand this song and it preaches habit#1.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Week 15

On intial impressions of the week I thought I'd done okay I recall a few decent priced winners and even my two football bets came in for a change. But after updating my weekly records I come to the conclusion that I incurred a loss of £174.04 this week, which actually means I'm back operating at a loss for the month April (of course not helped by the "incident" last week).

Just proves the worth of keeping records really, had I not kept any I'd probably have left the week feeling like I made a profit when I clearly haven't. Overall my horse racing system seem to be going reasonable, there's only one system that is causing me a little bit of concern at present and I'm considering reducing stakes on that one if it doesn't improve.

Been reading a book all this week on investment, it is aimed at the stock market investor but it provides good advice that can be applied to the world of gambling which is of course remarkably similiar to that of the stock market especially if you look at Betfair. On the subject of Betfair a good profit for the week there in my recovery stage still though. Reading the book as helped me get a little more focused and learnt me a few good mental habits to get into. I'll post up more about the aforementioned book in my midweekly post. But to summarise a losing week I'm not overally concerned. I've learnt to accept losses and move onwards and upwards, something a certain Mr Wenger doesn't seem to be able do.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The decline of the high-street bookmaker

I very rarely visit high-street bookmakers but it's very clear to see the decline (or change as the bookmakers might put it) within their shops. I never visited a pre-smoking ban bookmakers but it conjures images of smoke filled rooms with old men betting on horses. Nowadays the set-up is very much different, the main attraction in the bookmakers these days (judging by the queues) seem to be these fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) that run all sorts of virtual games often based on traditional casino game. As everyone should know (although I doubt everybody does know) that you can't win at casino games such as roulette even if we we assume the game is run perfectly fair. Over the long-run you can't win at roulette you'd have to re-write the laws of probability for that to happen! The casino has an edge, albeit only a small one it will guarantee the house always wins or in this case the machine always wins. That's why it's such a sad sight to see not particularly wealthy people metaphorically chucking their hard-earned cash down the drain by playing on these machines. I have bear witness to people on these machines, even one of my friends seems to enjoy the unhealthy habit of having a "quick go" on these machines. I can't say for sure that they are fixed but often I find that the win strike rate seems a lot higher when you first go on a machine, maybe as a way of encouraging the gambler to continue? Also rather sneakily the machine doesn't dispense coins you have to instead withdraw a slip if you want to collect any funds thus sometimes encouraging a person to play on rather than go through the fuss of going to the counter to collect a minimal amount.

Familiar sight in your local bookies?

I'll be honest I'm easily annoyed by things but this one is right up there with my biggest annoyances. The high-street bookmakers then have the nerve to offer simply shocking odds on most sports in-shop compared to much better prices available online. There is very little reason to visit a high-street bookmakers unless you can't get online for whatever reason. High-street bookmakers as a result have largely become a graveyard of mug punters and gambling addicts. Some I'm sure only do a football coupon for a "little bit of fun" but again they could get far superior odds online. I find it incredibly sad and depressing to be honest despite being very much part of the technology and internet generation I often prefer things to be material I actually like the idea of going into a shop and placing a bet over and counter and the receiving any winnings back in cash. The virtual world of numbers and figures sometimes detaches from the monetary values you are dealing with, which can in itself cause problems. To compound things I've noticed some of my online bookmaker accounts have become increasingly limited so maybe in the future I'll have to spend more time in high-street bookmakers. The limiting is understandably and quite laughable at the same time to be honest over the course of three years I've probably only won as much as a single one of these FOBTs takes in a week. Try and get more than £20 on a decent-priced selection and they say no although if your a losing punter I'm sure you'll have no problem getting a couple of grand on it if you want. Again business wise I understand this but praying on the vulnerable and weak whilst trying to eliminate the ones that might have an idea of how to turn a profit seems somewhat cowardly. Sooner or later I'm sure bookmakers will just be "virtual casinos" with row after row of FOBTs. If I offer you one piece of advise to anyone regarding gambling it would be to stay away from these machines and anything to do with "virtual games" and "casino" that bookmakers offer. It's hard enough betting on real-life things let alone on something that is mathematically impossible to profit from.

This blog post was inspired by own experiences as well as this article which further delves into the issue (well worth a read):

Monday, 11 April 2011

Bit of an idiot

Sorry this weekly update is late I was toot mad with myself last night so I couldn't bring myself to post. I'm sort of happy to say that this week was another profitable one to the tune of £70.78, but I know it could have been a lot better. Plenty of action this week with the Aintree Grand National meet, my main bets over the three days went well but it was silly sidebets like placepots and lucky15s that I shouldn't really have bothered with that set me back a little. Although that wasn't my biggest mistake of the week, oh no that came last night. I'd just won a massive £100 profit from playing with stakes of around £10 on the Standard/Genk football match (late turn round in my favour), after having a good week trading on football and collecting my profit on the Grand National ante-post my Betfair bank was upto £180. I was about to withdraw half (as my plan at the end of each week was to do) but instead for some reason I got involved with The Maters' golf which happened to be in its final round. No joke about it I backed Rory McIlroy who was the favourite at the time about one minute before his tee shot hit a branch and ended up somewhere "even the members haven't been" to quote the commentators. From then on it just went from bad to worse from around 5/2 favourite to about 20/1 within the space of a couple of shots, clever me decided I'll shove a little extra on the price will surely come in. I really should have got out at this point as it was obvious a major choke was on, but at the next hole a brilliant tee shot but then a quite remarkable series of missed putts that even I might have put in. The drift was on and before I knew it he was at the dreaded 1000 price and I'd done my bank rather foolish betting on something I know little about. Could say it was unlucky with my point of entry but it was silly over-staking after the high of winning a good football bet. I seem to never learn my lesson, I'm best at trading football and indifferent at horse-racing trading and anything else I should just avoid. Meanwhile I'm think fixed odds betting only works for me in horse-racing and not football at present. I'm still feeling slightly angry with myself and it's now a new day.


Seems I can talk a good game but when it comes down to the heat of things I make elementary mistakes more in-line with a mug punter. I deliberately restricted my Betfair account so I couldn't make anymore deposits, I'm now over £800 down for the year on my Betfair account without it I would be much better of it seems. I was around £5k down on my Betfair account last year also. My bookmakers account continue to do well, so well that I'm restricted at a number of them. I don't know what else to say other then I'm a major idiot. What makes all that more concerning is that I've been reading an investor book, more about trading stocks but can easily be applied to Betfair. Two of the main "tips" are to specialise in one area i.e. only stick to what you know and secondly is that you should try and limit the loss to your capital at all times. I'm afraid I just totally disregarded these two things in my late night betting antics last night. The loss for the week on Betfair only reads -£40, but it might as well as read -£4,000. For it feels like £4,000 at present, after I worked so hard building the balance up from around £20 to a remarkable £180, but then straight back down to £3 with my idiotic actions. Think I need time away from trading to chill out, feel like taking time away from betting all together but I know my horse racing bets are good, If I'd been running them alone I'd be in profit this year no doubt. So to conclude a profitable week that feels like a massive losing one.

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Grand National

The Grand National is the one race of the year where even the most risk averse person may part with a few quid on a horse. Probably the same for many but my introduction to horse racing was through this race, remember picking out my horse from the paper pullout on Saturday morning purely on on the basis of "the nicest colour jockey kit or funny name". I remember doing this from about the age of 6 maybe 7 right up until I was able to place the bets myself. Quite ironic I find that probably the most difficult race to call of the year is the most punted on. Done a little ante-post trading on a few selections I liked, also got big greens (+£100) on outsides Cheif Dan George and Kilyglen. Get a profit of at least £20.13 regardless of outcome although like to pick out two and have £5 e/w bets, which will be basically free bets due to my ante-post trading

Grand National ante-post market

Not actually full decided on my bets for the race yet although Oscar Time will probably be one of my E/W selections as I fancy him out of the ones at the top of the market. Probably pick an interesting outside for my other E/W bet. Best of luck everyone and I hope all horses and jockeys manage to come home in one piece.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Bit more like it

Proud to say another successful week with me netting a profit of £281.98 in my attempt to claw back the loss for the year overall. Horse racing bets going well enough once again, can't really complain there. Football was a little hit and miss this week although my "trading" is going along a lot better at present.

Now that's what I call trading!

By no means my biggest weekly profit on Betfair but probably the happiest I've been with my trading plan so far. I've tried to avoid in-play trading for the time being and focus on trading before the matches. Involves putting a lot of bets up a few days before the games, after all the markets are all open and you can get matched at some good prices for trading. My policy of in-play trading now seems a bit foolish because it's much more high-risk in my view. At least when not in-play you can't get "caught out" by a goal being scored. It's a simple matter of putting bets in at what you think is a good price and at which you can trade for profit. As soon as bets are matched simply put in another bet to trade out for either one or two tick profit, or maybe accept a loss or go for more than two ticks depending on the situation. Good thing about trading is you don't have to predict the outcome of the game or race in question, we all like to think we know what's going to happen next but we can never be sure. Trading offers the advantage of being able to hedge your position depending on how the market is shaping. Does interest me quite a lot trading and it seems I'm at least doing the basic rights at present and getting market moves in my direction in most cases to secure a profit. £8.74 profit with a bank of only around £40 is pretty good going in my view. I've spread my entire bank over numerous markets each day and then it's a simple matter of monitoring and checking up on these bets and then trading out.

Friday, 1 April 2011

End of March Update

After many hours of work placing bets, studying form and recording results my P/L for the month of March came to ... -£12.60

More or less back even for the month then but considering I was over £700 down on the month at one point I think it is somewhat of an achievement I've managed to claw it back to such a small loss figure for the month. Another psychological boost is the fact that my cumulative loss for the year remains under the £1,000 mark at a quite creepily figure of £999.91, only nine pence of the £1k but a three figure loss doesn't look half as bad as a four figure loss it seems. I've updated my sidebar with all the results. All to do now is to plug on with the rest of the year really, there's three quarters of it left after all. Also I plan to try and do a mid weekly update on my blog from now on as well as my usually Sunday end of week update. The midweek posts will usually be on a subject that interest or annoys me somewhat, no doubt then that it will just be a lot of ranting from me really.

Overall a losing month, and a losing quarter for the year although I still feel reasonably confident about the future the spring/summer time as always historical been the best time for my horse racing bets, hopefully that will be the case once again.