Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Montyless Python

It's certainly been a while since I've posted and I'm sure if anyone is actually still reading this blog you were most likely assuming my disappearance as a cowardice retreat from the exchange markets. I know I always did when noticing similar disappearances, but now I'm thinking perhaps those prior assumptions could very well have been premature.

Although this blog was initially set up for my personal development, I feel it has since evolved to a brief online record of my progress, and going all quiet certainly does not reflect recent events. Each month is becoming increasingly more financially rewarding and I feel I have only recently started to rake in the real fruits of my labour. I'd like to think if there are any struggling hopefuls reading this out there, they may take some inspiration from my latest chapter.

So last post was 19th September 2011... and things were moving in the right direction for the next few months, however the limitations of that setup were becoming more apparent as I became really specific with my botting needs. I eventually made the decision about 6 months after that post to drop the Windows MFPro route and get my hands dirty with some real programming. It seemed the only logical solution as I was at a stage where the increased customisability was required, in addition to the warmly welcomed stability and all round efficiency of the bot. Through research I made a few good contacts offering valuable advice, with one chap in particular who has asked me not to identify him (and of course I will respect that), however this guidance back then was invaluable in giving me a kick start in the right direction. Understandably having to learn a whole new programming language felt daunting at first, this is not for anyone looking for quick returns, it took me a year to confidently make my own functional scripts, but I can say without a doubt it's definitely worth the effort if you're in this for the long haul.

The general operation is now run via the free API on a 24/7 Linux platform using Python scripts to trigger the betting strategies. My first script was a very simple generic tactic that my mysterious friend helped me shape. Looking back at it now it was never going to be a big earner but the main thing at that point was to get a bot functional in this new environment, and then push on from there. Once I learnt the language a bit better I gradually added more functionality until I was confident enough to write and run entirely new scripts to reflect my ideas. I am currently running four bots daily and am working on two new strategies.

I will have to leave it there for now and will post again soon about another big part of my process, statistical analysis. I'm a big believer in stats and run all my bots on a ROT basis. Nothing gets past the testing stage if the basic thresholds are not met. I'll talk about that in more detail next time, be sure to check back if you're interested.

Monday, 19 September 2011

The Phootie Brothers

I am happy to report things have finally been falling into place the last couple of weeks. The long wait for the football season was followed by a few weeks of continuous testing and updating of triggers. Initially I wasn't happy with some of the actual functionality of my bots compared to how I wanted them to be performing, so I had to go back to the drawing board and rewrite all my triggers. Having learnt a bit along the way, my latest attempts went much better and the processes were more efficient for it.

This was actually the first weekend I felt comfortable enough to allow my football bots to run completely on their own. It was a nice feeling checking the P&L at the end of the weekend to see everything working the way it was supposed to. Part of me just wants to ramp up stakes and just let rip but I know that's not what I need to do right now. Stakes started small and are increasing proportionately to the bank, I keep a % of bank liability per market to ensure that each market can only cost me a certain amount (if for instance my bot goes on strike or BF goes down etc.).

My results this weekend are from the two football bots I'm running right now, Phootie Alpha, which I mentioned before here, and Phootie Beta. Alpha is the main earner by far, as it has been running longer and has had more time to grow it's bank and increase it's staking. Phootie Beta is a different style bot scalping small gains and aims to be more of a consistent and slow earner. It started well and mimics my scalping techniques when I first started participating in these markets in 2009. I have only been running Beta for a week, so it's early days yet, and I'll need much more of my own data to be sure it will be profitable longterm. At this stage I'm more confident about Alpha but it's not anywhere near a certainty, I keep telling myself I will need at least 10,000 results before I can start making any conclusions on any of this.

My horse racing bot is still a work in progress. I haven't really gotten my teeth stuck into it yet, mainly as I could see early on my trigger writing skills needed considerable improvements. Now the Phootie bots are up an running it will most likely be my next project. I'm also quite optimistic about a Basketball strategy I've been testing last week on the Eurobasket competition. Once the NBA kicks back in that particular strategy should be ideally suited.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Phootie Alpha Live

Thought I might as well post a little update.

So my first football bot Phootie went live on the 7th May. After a few successful days testing on the 2.5 goals market,  I added the 3.5 market to the equation, and after a few more days the 1.5 & match odds markets were also included. The bot itself is relatively simple and basically seeks out value and bets accordingly in-play.

I actually felt a bit gutted as it went live just in time for all the major European football competitions to come to a close. My prior analysis indicated that Phootie's tactic would be suitable for these higher liquid competitions. Plus I always feel that the end of a season is not the best time for football betting in general, as you can't help but feel that many teams & players are not quite as keen as they would otherwise be. This makes it a bit trickier to determine true value (particularly for my simpleton bot!)

I decided to continue testing during the off season anyway, mainly to gather data as I have no data for this time of the year. It would if for nothing else give me a good indication of whether to pursue with this tactic at this time of the season in the future. Surely enough, I'm noticing a clear difference in results even with this minimal data.

I've included a graph below of just under 2000 markets Phootie decided to participate in. This is not a particularly adequate sample size, but I thought I would include it here to demonstrate the clear distinction I'm noticing. Also remember this is split unevenly between 4 differnt market types and is mostly for football during the off season, as this was when all 4 were mostly firing. It would have been better if I had started all 4 markets at the same time but I needed to test the waters for a few days as I was not sure at that time if my bot was actually going to work. The green line shows approximately when the major football competitions ended and the red my starting bank.

So even form the above data the off season is looking like a clear loser for Phootie, however I will continue with it anyway for the reasons already mentioned. My staking here is tiny and the profit or loss made is not really the main purpose. What is promising is even for that small window when the major football competitions were still running, profits were being made & the bot seemed to handle a couple of busy weekends flawlessly. I don't think I will be convinced to really go for it with Phootie though until I have a full season under my botting belt.

As mentioned previously on the blog, I do like to branch out and will continue to do so. I am now working on a horse racing bot however due to the increased sophistication required for that project, it will take some more time to get that one up and running. My programming skills are improving but the learning curve has somewhat steepened as this bot will be doing much more than Phootie. Tennis, Dogs and perhaps even Basketball also look likely to follow. I also think some different football tactics might be worth pursuing. Happy to report roboguilt has subsided and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into these projects over the next few months.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Beware Bfexplorer

As you can imagine I have contacted quite a few people over past few weeks in regards to getting a simple bot operational. The main purpose is to test the waters and hopefully build a positive relationship with a developer, which will eventually give me the ability to create and run more complex botting ideas.

I did not feel the need to share all of my poor experiences, as I would expect to deal with a few parties before eventually settling on one. Plus I'm not really one to dwell on negativity and ineptitude. However I have made an exception for one chap, Stefan of bfexplorer, whos persistant amateaurish behaviour has left me with little choice. This post is mainly to warn any prospective traders/botters to stay away from bfexplorer following my poor experiences. I apologise for anyone else who may be associated with this product, however as Stefan clearly associates himself as the representaion of bfexplorer my experience reflects the product as a whole and not just Stefan.

I would consider myself a realist as in I expect a fair standard of support from someone who is offering a service for £30 a month. Even without a subscription fee there are a few basic standards that you would expect anyone to adhere to, no matter what part of this planet they came from.

The first is that personal correspondence is in fact kept between corresponding parties unless both agree otherwise. Solely deciding to share private content to others is not only terribly amateurish and unprofessional but also very worrying if you were an actual paying customer with a valued history of correspondence. Could you imagine a few months down the line, after you had spent a decent amount of time & money developing a working bot and were corresponding with Stefan throughout, he then decides to share all your correspondence with everyone just because he feels like it. I can't imagine how any long term subscribers (if indeed there are any) must be feeling knowing that all correspondence with Stefan, in his view has no privacy boundaries whatsoever. This must be doubly concerning when discussions involve sensitive information such as specific botting strategies.

Another point to consider is that Stefan likes to twist reality to validate any points he is trying to make. Let's look at an example of this. He clearly states on his site that if you have an offer for the subscription fee, or if you have a blog and are willing to promote his product then send him an email. When someone does send him an email, for one reason or another this becomes an issue for Stefan. Strange behaviour as this is what he requests, particularly if they have a blog. At any point did my email ask for free access to his product? The answer is no. Of course, he is trying to make a point and decides that I was asking for free access and that me writing in with an offer is completely unacceptable. I had to write again after he ignored me initially to get this comical response:

'I am sorry man, but what you offer is not interested for me.'
'I did not give him free access to bfexplorer.'

I have corresponded over a few emails, and although after only a couple I felt using his product would carry some additional uncertainty, I could never imagine somebody in his position to have reacted in such a childish and unprofessional manner. The sad thing is his product does actually look decent enough to do the job, but his poor communication skills coupled with his attitude makes this risk unacceptable. I suspect maybe some will feel I might have a personal problem with Stefan, or perhaps my experience is just a one off. Sadly this is not true, there is some more recent evidence here, here and here - and I can only imagine how many others have discarded his product due to this poor form. Moreover, when I first asked around the trading community about his product, it didn't take long for me to get ample feedback, confirming that my initial suspicions were regrettably all true.

The bottom line is no matter how good the product is, it pales in comparison to others because Stefan is inadequate to fulfil basic standards of support. The only reason I felt the need to post about this is because of continued poor standards and attitude, and unfortunately for Stefan my views are shared by many others in the trading community.

I do hope this serves as an adequate account of why anyone considering using bfexplorer should definitely not do so. There are plenty of alternatives out there that perform similar functionality, are cheaper to run and offer great support. As a trading app £5 a month may seem reasonable at first, but then again The Toy is a far superior product, offers great support & banter in the forum, and of course it's completely free. For botting functionality Market Feeder Pro is the way forward. Functionality is on par, price is cheaper particularly on longer term packages, and the support is excellent both by email and in their forum.

So you have been warned, I hope this post serves the purpose on saving someone the sheer shenanigans of dealing with this imbicile and everything that he represents. 

Following on nicely from that, I am testing some strategies with MFPro at the moment, and so far have been very pleased with both the performance and support. Will be posting more about this on another post.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Almost March already

Wow how the time just flies by. I hope the start to 2011 has been good to you all. Not much to post about recently in regards to my bot progress, with me basically learning how to code some basic ideas. I've also been rather limited in time due to other commitments from late 2010 hanging over into this year. Some good news though, I will have some guaranteed reprieve from May onwards, from when I have decided to reduce my working hours, giving me much needed time to focus and finalise my bot, amougst other things.

I also forgot to mention on my previous post that I have resumed selective parts of my spread betting strategy I wrote a bit about previously. It has only been for the NBA and football, the two main earners during my trial period, and the profits have continued to come in. I don't really see much use in posting weekly P&Ls here in regards to that, as it is rather dull reading. However I will keep updating with any thoughts as the season unfolds.

Manual trading has been minimal and I mainly enter markets now just to test market conditions for the bot. I do see it as crucial, keeping in touch with the movements and always trying to understand why they are happeneng. My profitability has always been proportionate to my understanding and I aim to keep that as finely tuned in as possible. Even if all goes perfectly to plan and I manage to implement a fully automated and profitable bot at some point this year, I still see myself trading manually from time to time. Might even entertin the idea of competing against my own bot in a head to head using The Toy, certainly would be an interesting little experiement.
Completely free Betfair trading software..

Other software I have found useful so fa..

Soccer Mystic - Betfair trading software