Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Thank you

Would like to say thank you for all the email / forum responses in regards to my last post. Although I may of come across as hopelessly stalemated, I have had some correspondence with a few really helpful guys. It's to be expected really, needing to sift through a number of time wasters before meeting someone useful. Do not think it's particularly appropriate to mention all names but you all know who you are, so thank you once again to all who have offered support.

It seems the consensus in regards to my botting needs is to learn how to program the bot myself rather than rely on anyone else. Problem with this route is it will takes much longer before seeing any results, but in regards to the longterm it gives me many more options and the flexibility to adapt. Having spoken to a couple of guys on the forums VBA doesn't seem all that daunting, although ultimately C# appears to be the language to pursue. I suppose if and when I feel I am being limited by Excel & VBA that would be the time to look at switching to C#. As a start though I'm looking at the Excel integration route. One plus with this route is being able to use the vendor API subscription, as I can see the limitations with the free API restricting the possibilities somewhat.

Also think I am developing a serious case of roboguilt, that is for every waking moment I'm not otherwise occupied, I should be working on this damn bot! Any cures for roboguilt, you know the email address! 

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Botting Help

A quick post seeking some advice. As you may have picked up from previous posts I'm looking to get involved in the Betfair botting world. However regrettably out of the six potential programmers I have been in contact with, none have come through for me. It seems going quiet rather than replying and saying you can/can't do something is in fashion at the moment - and this is from email addresses I have already had some correspondence with (not enough to give anything important away mind).

Anyway, I am asking anyone who is reading this, if you have VBA or Excel programming skills and are actually serious, or if you know of anyone with these skills, please get in contact with me either by commenting here or emailing me directly on ambergambler007(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk. It will be a spreadsheet based bot triggered either via Gruss or Bet Angel - as long as it can perform the required functions.

I'm pretty confident one of my trading styles is mechanical enough be be botted, and potentially one or two others. I just need to get this ball rolling and would really appreciate any advice whatsoever at the moment.

Hopefully get some progress on this soon!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

First full(ish) day for a while

Horse Racing
Unit stake: £2
Session P&L: £3.06
Average market P&L: £0.18

It's hasn't taken long at all to get used to trading again. I'm feeling confident and motivated after today's result. Before today my cautious plan was to trade with min stakes for about 5 sessions or so (until I felt comfortable with the markets and software), but it seems that has happened already. My plan after reaching that point was to pick up where I left off in February - building up my bank with the 10%-of-bank-max-unit-stake-per-trade-rule - if that last sentence actually makes sense! Considering my staking I am very happy with the return, but moreover being able to maintain my discipline easily for the entire session. I had an hours break between 15:00-16:00, and I think that helped me finish stronger (although I probably should of timed it better considering the quality of racing).

I'm still lovin' The Toy and although I keep postponing this review, it will come when I feel I've used it thoroughly enough. Fact is this software is so customisable that I'm still finding new ways to view the markets depending on how I set it up. I'm also trading with one screen at the moment as I've decided to upgrade the two analogue to two digital monitors. Am just waiting for them to arrive (having already relocated one of the analogue displays), should be next week pending stock. It has been interesting trading with one screen, forcing me to be more efficient with the available space. I do feel that with two though it will be better. Once they're installed I'm planning on setting at least one portrait (perhaps both), so the juggling fun begins all over again.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Geekstoy Children in Need Plugathon

Well as some of you will know already, there are some great things going on at the Geek's Toy HQ. And believe it or not this isn't an appraisal of the software's performance, but a gesture from the Geek and others for the Children in Need cause.

Having some sort of following here I thought I should at least contribute to this great cause in my own little way. If you have a blog or site  you can also help, check this post here for details.

Make sure you get involved now before it's too late, the deadline is Midnight UTC Sunday 21st November. Not only will you be helping a great cause but there are some seriously great prizes up for grabs:

- £250 form The Geek himself

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Good to be back

Well it certainly has been a while, looking back the last full day of trading before this month was 16th February!

As mentioned in my last post I have now resumed trading UK horse racing markets, and the past week or so I've gotten involved in quite a few markets, mainly getting back into the swing of things. I must say it hasn't taken too long to pick up where I left off, and it seems what I had learnt has been well cemented. The only issue was concentration levels and stamina so to speak, understandably I can't expect to be in the same condition I was before straight away. In terms of motivation, which was my main issue, I'm feeling as motivated as ever to do this again.

I have also been in contact with a few people in regards to making a bot. This is an ongoing process and will take a while before it's ready, I hope to have this up and running within the next few months if it materialises. It will based on a systematic bookmaking approach that I will be testing initially with Gruss via Excel. If testing goes well I'll look into getting it coded properly and perhaps run off a remote server.

API Software
As some of you will already know my main manual trading application before I stopped was The Toy, and although it lacked a few features I found useful with Bet Angel I managed to match my performance, perhaps even exceed it slightly upto when I stopped. I still felt with the advanced charting and overview The Toy would of been even better, and these were planned for a future release. I'm happy to say that after being involved in some testing of the latest Alpha & Beta versions, they are as promising as ever. My next post will be a review so make sure you're back for that one. Unbelievably the Toy is still free!

As mentioned above I also subscribed to Gruss, and have found it to be quite decent so far. The main reason being for the Excel features, however I traded a few markets manually and it responds very well. For £6 a month this really is a bargain considering how solid the software is and all the potential options you get with Excel integration.

Happy trading everyone, be back soon with more.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Next chapter..

Well the time for research is almost done. My house move is complete, and the Broadband & TV services are being installed within the next couple of days. With it all up and running I can finally set up shop for trading again.  Have been fortunate enough to secure a late two week holiday starting next week. Great news as I really could do with a break, and it was looking less likely to happen until yesterday.  It will certainly be nice to start this new chapter well refreshed.

I have a feeling this blog will be quite important once I get going again, particularly in regards to keeping myself motivated.

Monday, 14 June 2010

to bet or not to bet?

Overall I'm happy to say that my betting exercise has gone relatively well, and it is much clearer which aspects will be repeated while others left out next season.

With the MLB performing so poorly I have decided to withdraw placing wagers and paper trade the rest of the season. It really is like no other sport I've gotten involved in with the results almost being completely random, a bookmaker's dream I'm sure. All the major football seasons are of course over, with the World Cup in full flow, there are only a few scattered leagues that I know little about - so the betting there has also finished. And of course with the NBA currently playing out the final, that season is pretty much over too. The playoffs were in comparison to the regular season a definite no-no for me next time - being much harder to predict particualrly with my style of spread betting. The next venture in the betting world will be with the NFL which I am looking forward to, but of course doesn't start until September. With that in mind the spread betting will need to be put on hold until the events I'm interested in start again.

I would also like to add my biggest respect to any punters who make a living from this. In many respects the thought and analysis that goes into a well executed and profitable betting system rivals that of trading. Some would probably even argue it requires a more organised and disciplined approach, particularly when comparing it to some intuitive trading styles. The margins for profits are tight, add to that a little variance and your clear astute can become rather clouded. At least with trading you can point the finger at your own performance whilst reflecting over a negative P&L!

Trading places 
In my absence from trading I have had time to reflect and formulate some new ideas which I feel warrant a trial. Whilst blogging my progress I have found the emails and comments helpful, and some even inspirational in regards to pushing myself further if I was to ever give trading another go. Looking over my records I wasn't actually doing too badly, and my biggest problem on my last visit to these markets was mainly motivational. This time round I aim to trade one/two full days a week, leaving me with most of my time to focus elsewhere. I am still finishing some analysis but it is looking good so far and I will be implementing some of these ideas soon. This time it will be a more systematic approach, and I will of course be blogging my progress here as usual. At the moment it is looking like starting towards the end of July - perhaps a bit sooner if I finish early. Gives me just about enough time to recover form England's glorious World Cup victory!!  Not?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Week 11

Spread Betting - NBA/MLB/Football

Stakes & Banks
NBA 1 or 2% * 171.63%
Football 0.5 or 1% * 101.54%
MLB 1% * 75.51%

A bit of a sucker punch on Week 11. The main reason being the NBA had a terrible run of 6 consecutive losses, the worst run I've had all season, with the progressive staking system on these bets it made quite an impressive dent. Add to this the worst week I've had on the baseball, the relatively small profit gained on the football hardly made a difference to the total. The losses on the NBA are not a big concern as I know it's a decent system that has made me a nice total overall, however my doubts over the baseball continue to grow, I will be reviewing this after next week when I have some time to look a few details over.

Week 10

Spread Betting - NBA/MLB/Football

Stakes & Banks
NBA 1 or 2% * 200.81%
Football 0.5 or 1% * 94.96%
MLB 1% * 87.12%

Falling a bit behind with the updates. do not seem to be spending half the time I used to behind a PC, which is probably a good thing. Anyway here are the updates for the past couple of weeks.
Week 10 brings another good result for the NBA breaking yet another milestone in reaching a 200% bank. This has pretty much secured the NBA for next season, and I will need to consider carefully about how large a bank ro commit next season. Until then I will stick to the current staking system until the season ends. Nothing done again with the football, pretty much breaking even although I do feel with a slight adjustemnt to my selection process I could make this pay better. Finally, we have a profitable week for the MLB, have not really changed anything although the bank is still down sitting at 87.12%. I'm the least confident with the MLB although it has had it's best week to date.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Week 9

Spread Betting - NBA/MLB/Football

Stakes & Banks
NBA 1 or 2% * 190.20%
Football 0.5 or 1% * 95.39%
MLB 1% * 82.58%
Better week but still relatively poor. The main culprit continues to be the MLB with the bank dropping further to 82.58%. With a 1% profit target per bet you can see just how poor a start to the season it has been for the MLB. The football has almost redeemed itself having a much better week, bank now sitting at 95.39%. Not long before the footy season is over, and I'm being extra selective with my picks, due to the 'little to play for factor'. We hear it all the time players saying that they are professionals and that they put the same effort into every game, but realistically many players will be grateful to get out of the season injury free, not just so that they can waterski in Hawaii, but also many will have their minds on making it the World Cup fully fit - that to me is not 100% committed. NBA as usual going well, the bets are reducing due to the fewer matches in the play offs. Some great matches too which I like to catch whenever possible. 
Speaking of which really looking forward to the Barca Vs Milan 2nd leg tonight, can the special one finish the job, not long until kick off now.. 

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Week 8

Spread Betting - NBA/MLB/Football

Stakes & Banks
NBA 1 or 2% * 180.02%
Football 0.5 or 1% * 87.49%
MLB 0.5 or 1% * 88.79%

Regrettalbly week 8 did not make a great impression although I am happy to have moved back into profitable territory, albeit a very small one.

As soon as the playoffs started I was ready and the NBA has picked up where it left off, bank now sitting at 180.02%. More last minute draws have undone a healthy looking week for the football, and once again I'm left with little to shout about, bank is now 87.49%. I have added three new Scandinavian leagues this week, and my staking on these new additions is even more cautious (if that's even possible!) with 0.25% & 0.5% bets. These leagues were added as a test due to them running throughout the summer, giving me an option when all other major leagues stop. Another tough week for the MLB, bank now sitting at 88.79%. It is still finding it's feet and unless we have an anomaly of a season the winners should start to come - we've only had 2 weeks from a 7 months season, so plenty of time to go yet.

Weak Number Sleven

Spread Betting - NBA/NCAA/MLB/Football

Stakes & Banks
NBA 1 or 2% * 173.32%
NCAA BB 0.5 or 1% * 94.40%
Football 0.5 or 1% * 91.33%
MLB 0.5 or 1% * 93.99%

First off apologies for the lack of regular updates recently, I was halfway through week 8 before I found time to update the blog so I thought I'd wait a few more days and do weeks 7 and 8 together.

Onto week 7 and I must admit it's a week I'd rather forget. I stopped betting on the NBA about halfway through the week (until the playoffs began), as the risk of star players being rested and other unexpected tactics, which are too common at this time of the season. I almost felt like I was resting my star player, and I was right to be concerned as the other sports continued to struggle, without the NBA to bail them out this time. I had a bet on the College basketball final which lost and concluded my NCAA BB bank at 94.40%. The draws in the football have been making things very difficult, that has meant another poor week for the footy, with the bank now sitting at 91.33%. To make things even tougher the MLB has had a rough start to the season, with the bank sitting at 93.99% at the end of it's first week. Week 7 has quite rightfully claimed it's place in history as my largest losing week.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Week 6

Spread Betting - NBA/NCAA/Football

Stakes & Banks
NBA 1 or 2% * 167.04%
NCAA BB 0.5 or 1% * 95.66%
Football 0.5 or 1% * 102.25%

Another decent week comes to an end, must admit I did fall prey of bigger picture blidness for a few moments when my last couple of NBA bets lost. If they had also come in I would of been looking at my best week since starting. After I had reminded myself how silly my mindset was I felt much better. I have a longterm P&L bank growth graph which I look at whenever I feel bad about one particular result, it always reminds me of how insignificant it is, as that result is hardly visible causing a mere blip if I looks really hard.

It was a good week overall for the Basketball with even the NCAA giving me some profits in its finale. After a nightmare start about 4 weeks ago the NCAA bank is now sitting at 95.66%, not a bad effort. With just the final to go, I'm happy to have turned it round from 87.71% a couple of weeks ago. Don't think I'll be continuing with this unless I find a different edge somewhere else and am glad to have clawed back most of my losses in the end. The third week of the football has turned over a slight profit, once again the draw as predicted, is making it hard to get paid as often as I would of liked, although I'm confident it will maintain profitable until the season ends.

I'm quite looking forward to the MLB which has just started, so many games to choose from and my stats are showing a clear edge here so I'm hopeful this could even rival my NBA success. I'll be starting on the standard 1% bets though until I hit 150%, there's no hurry with months of the season to get stuck into, and I intend to build the test bank slowly but surely.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Marchish Review

Ok so the first full month of this spread betting exercise has now ended, with just over 5 weeks to review as I will also include the last week of February. Looking over the results I also managed to mix up some of the dates between week 4 & 5 due to the time differences in the US & UK, however all the totals match depending on how you add it up. I've changed my records to UK time only now to prevent this from happening again. Here is the total of all 5 weeks and the break down of each one:

All new systems started off on the 0.5-1% of bank staking and once they have built the bank to 150% an increase to the 1-2% of bank is made. So far the NBA is the only one to have made it through, but to be fair it has been running for 5 weeks whereas the football has been for 2 and the NCAA for 3. April will be an important month to get a better idea of how good the football picks are, the second week predictably didn't go well and almost wiped out all of the profits from the previous week. I need more results to come to any conclusions and will keep it running until the season ends. The NCAA BB has been poor, as you can see from the red bar it has had a terrible start and only had a marginally profitable week in week 5.  Not long to go before this one is finished so I will see it out, unlikely to continue with it in the future if it continues to return so little. The NBA has been consistently profitable even on a weekly basis, and it's profits continue to lead the way.

I'm also pretty sure I will be delving into the MLB which is starting soon, and the NFL when it restarts. The overall aim is to make better use of the bank and spread the liability whilst maintaining the quality of selections. This is already showing early on in Week 4 where the football profits covered for the heavy NCAA losses and in Week 5 where the NBA profits covered for the football. Ideally I'd like at least 3 sports running simultaneously, and with the NCAA on the way out I'm hoping the MLB will prove more fruitful. Once the football season finishes I can't see myself delving into the World Cup, as the stats just don't show any clear edge, at least I can't see one. I'll probably end up trading these matches prematch like I used to do, although I'm not quite sure what to expect as it will be my first World Cup I have got involved in betting wise. Will as ever keep looking out for other opportunities.

Apart from that the only other point to mention is that I have been almost exclusively using Pinnacle in March, roughly speaking over 95% of my bets have been with them. Have to say they have been very good and with 96 bets placed so far, I have not had any issues at all. Will need to look more seriously at spreading the bets out in April onwards, one good thing is the football bets can easily be placed with an exchange at the expense of the commission, so I'm likely to use the exchanges for that, and any other selections that can be used elsewhere. Betdaq offer only 2% commission on all football asian line handicaps which is pretty good to know, even if its just for hedging purposes. In regards to the US sports it will be Pinnacle or 5Dimes, Bet365 also give you good options on the lines so it's good to have them as a backup albeit at a poorer price. Will Hill and Ladbrokes have consistently been poor value so far so I'm unlikely to go with them. Ideally I need to find another competitive US bookmaker as it's looking like many of my bets will be on US sports in the next few months. As ever will keep an eye out, haven't really been looking that hard since discovering Pinnacle.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Week 4

Spread Betting - NBA/NCAA/Football

Stakes profit target of bank:
NBA 1 or 2%
NCAA BB 0.5 or 1%
Football 0.5 or 1%

Since last update:
NBA P&L: £23.48 * Current Bank: 153.25%
NCAA BB P&L: -£29.48 * Current Bank: 91.66%
Football P&L: £35.69 * Current Bank: 107.14%

I have now added Football picks to my ever increasing repertoire. This is for the major European leagues where I have decent enough stats to analyse. I have been looking at Football for a while and the draw has always made any edge quite small in the longterm. Placing some filters on price range has helped increase this enough to warrant giving it a go, and for only 5 days it has certainly proved worthwhile already. It's nice to see something new have such a positive start, but of course it is mainly one good weekend that could easily be wiped by an equally poor one. So staking is strict and the discipline to stick to the rules is as ever paramount.

The NCAA BB started off terribly and clawed back a couple of percent in the past few days, overall though it is still underperforming. Plenty of games to go though and I'm confident that it will eventually return an overall profit once the mean is met, or at least break even. 
And of course let's not forget the NBA, which has been my star performer and continues to go from strength to strength. Not the best of weeks but another profitable one is warmly welcomed and has helped push the total in the right direction.

Staking Plan
My staking plan has changed again as predicted. The previous one was causing too many permutations and although it did save me some large losses in the NCAA BB in comparison to a direct martingale approach, just straight bets would have produced similar results.

With some testing of the previous results, surprisingly a straight 3 stage martingale approach (3 bets) or a 3 stage semi-martingale approach (with the liability split equally for the last stage - 4 bets) seem to produce the highest profitability. A fourth stage opens up potential for losses that are unacceptable, so it has to be limted to 3 stages to be effective. At the moment this is the best staking system I can find in relation to my betting style. I think the 3 or 4 bets decision will probably be made when I get to that third stage, and will be based mainly on probabilities. I'll need more results to see which one of these is more profitable in the long term, although I can't see a huge variance as the first two stages are identical, I'm leaning more towards the straight 3 stages at the moment.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Manual Trading RIP

Right so as you've probably figured out by now, my time to manually trade the horses and football is pretty much non-existent, and regrettably it looks like this will remain so for the foreseeable future. It is of course disappointing, particularly having made such good progress towards the end of last year. However priorities change and when I started this venture from a dead end job with plenty of time to trade in the afternoons, my lifestyle has almost completely transformed with a good career path that is much more rewarding, satisfying and time consuming, not to mention the securities that comes with that.

There are a few invaluable lessons I have gained from my trading in regards to money management and discipline. Dealing with emotional reactions effectively is also a big plus having already had a couple of challenging scenarios with my basketball picks, where I could easily of overstaked or hedged when things were not looking good, but saw them through accepting losses where necessary. I don't think I would of stood a chance if I hadn't worked on my discipline so thoroughly during my trading experiences.

So with this in mind, I have decided to focus fully on my spread betting. This has proved to be a very convenient style, permitting me to place the bets and update my stats when it suits me, as opposed to needing to be available when markets are tradeable. Situations change so I would never say never on the trading front, and who knows if the US legislation does 'develop' as predicted by many, then the liquidity in US racing amongst other markets should spike, and would make trading very accessible for me oncemore (once BF sort out the off times!).

I have also expanded my spread betting again to include a few major European football leagues. It's been going well so far and I will post my final weekly and then monthly review analyzing my results for March. I think weekly posts are the best way forward with the spread betting, as it gives me adequate time to reflect on the immediate results whilst keeping all the spreadsheets up to date.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Staking Systems & Week 3

Spread Betting - NBA/NCAA
Stake: 1 or 2% of bank
Session P&L: £12.30
Current Bank %: 144.32%

It has been a bit of an up and down week. I had my best ever sequence of results followed by my worst ever sequence, with the net result being a slight profit. And as you have probably noticed I have started to apply the same statistical approach to the NCAA basketball, with mixed results so far, 3 wins and 3 loses.

I also spent some time looking at applying a more rewarding staking system, as upto now I have mainly been using a fixed profits approach with a slight Kelly criterion twist either at 1 or 2%. I have then explored higher risk/reward alternatives such as the pyramind and martingale systems. Although I'm still changing things and wll most probably switch it up again, I'm going to try a semi-martingale approach in addition to the methods I mentioned above. So 1, 2 or 3% will be the initial stake, if this loses I then split the losses between the next 2 bets which also have a profit target of the same percentage, again if one of these bets loses I will split it again into two further bets. For this to work I would need 2 out of 3 bets to win (66.7%) or ideally 3 out of 4 (75%). At the moment I am on a 70% average following my recent worst run of results, and for most of the time I was sitting on 80%+, so in theory I should clear my liability with this system. But to be even safer I have added a 1% reduction in profit after each loss, so for example on a 2% bet that loses, instead of going for the full 2% on each of the following 2 bets, I will go for 2%*0.99 plus half the liability of the previous stake. This effectively reduces the rate at which the stake increases and prevents it from increasing indefinitely, as this reduction eventually causes a biting point where the liability increase and profit decrease cancel eachother out, effectively causing a level stake system. This occurs at approximately double the initial stake, so effectively what I am doing is implementing a stake system that goes from level stakes of 2% to 4% through a sequence of a few semi martingale recovery stages. Worst comes to worst I'll be level staking at 4%, and if that happens then my strike rate must be quite poor. Any staking system, even level stakes with such a poor strike rate would marginally profitable at best or unprofitable anyway. I would see reaching this stage as a sign to review the system.

I started this on the day I had my worst sequence of results, out of 8 bets 6 were losers, so this has now left me with 10 follow up bets (having won 2 follow up bets already). Worst timing ever I suppose but it has given me a good sequence to test if this really works. Before that I had 15 winners out of 16, so another run like that and all the liability loops will be easily covered. Sequences of 3, 4 or 5 winners in a row have been quite frequent throughout, so let's see how it goes. What I like the most is that the limiter of profit per bet prevents the martingale approach from escalating the stakes indefinitely and limits me to about double my initial stake at its highest. I've also introduced a 3% bet, but have not used it yet, it is for when I find an 80% probability bet in the spread, as you can imagine this is very rare, particularly at an average price of 1.9. However when going over my data I have seen it crop up once or twice so it is there for those rare occasions. With this in mind almost all my initial bets will be split between 1 or 2% initially, with a rare 3% if that opportunity arises.

Monday, 8 March 2010

NBA - Week 2

Spread Betting - NBA
Stake: 1 or 2% profit
Session P&L: £65.31
Current Bank %: 141.25%

My second week of the NBA spread betting exercise has gone well. A profit of £65.31 with my bank now standing at 141.25%. I've gotten much more comfortable with each bet as the winners have started rolling in knowing that each one is making it less and less likely for this to go tits up. The statistical analysis shows it will be profitable, over the past 7 NBA seasons, and this is also true for the NFL, but with only 24 bets placed so far since deciding to put money into it, I'm not counting my chickens yet! Ideally I want a large sample size near 1000 bets to analyse but we're talking 14 seasons or so for that, I'd be better off going for a PHD on the subject!

Some observations I have found interesting, not sure why this is and perhaps an experienced bettor could shed some light on this, but most days at about 8pm UK time I was placing my bets. Nothing wrong with that of course, however I found if I took 5 minutes to place them the price and sometimes lines would more often than not shorten in those few minutes. Of course this was a tad frustrating for me knowing that if I was a minute or so faster I would of gotten a better deal. This pattern continued most of last week and yesterday I decided to make some time at 7pm to get my bet on, no problems at that time. I then checked the prices again at about 8pm, and surely enough at 8.03pm Pinnacle's price on my selection shortened from 1.952 to 1.920. Coincidence? I think not, particularly as I've been noticing it all week. The only conclusion I can come to is that someone is lumping serious amounts of cash on the same selections, causing the bookie to manage the liability and shorten the price or adjust the line. A bookie as huge as Pinnacle though, to even cause a dent we must be talking the max stake, which online is indicated on my account as about £8k! With an average of 1.7 selections a day and a price of 1.89, you do the math, someone must be making an absolute mint if this is the case. If this is the cause it does give me more confidence in my relatively tiny stakes!

On the manual trading front, once again disappointingly I have not had time off in the afternoons at all. We are making some changes at work in the next couple of months which will eventually give me more afternoons off. Until then though the horse racing trading is on hold. Football and Tennis look much more likely due to the times they are on, so we'll see how it goes with that.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Spead betting update

Spread Betting - NBA
Stake: 1 or 2.5% profit of bank
Session P&L: £49.73
Current Bank %: 124.92%

No trading since my last post as I have been working this weekend. Good news is that my spread betting exercise is going well with another 5 winners out of 6 giving me a total profit of £99.66 in my first week. My stake has increased slightly as the bank has now grown 24.92% since starting which is encouraging.

It's been quite interesting dealing with different bookmakers, especially when comparing how they operate. I think Pinnacle already don't like me as for some strange coincidence all 11 winning bets have been with them. With such small stakes I don't think they'll even care at the moment, although I am keeping a separate P&L record for each bookie as if this does escalate to higher stakes, I'll know exactly where I stand with each. I have struggled to find better value in the spreads than with Pinnacle although I have spent 5-10 minutes each day comparing prices, so far they always seem to offer the best deal, particularly when buying points. Whenever someone else comes close I did use them instead as I want to spread the bets out as much as possible, and so far Bet365 have mostly been second best. Also Pinnacle's policy on withdrawals is unlike what we're used to in the UK. You get one free withdrawal a month and after that they charge you to withdraw your funds. A bit pointless when looking for value if you’re going to get your profits further reduced from transactional charges, so at the moment it's either one withdrawal a month with Pinnacle or taking the worse price with Bet365 and free withdrawals.

I suppose I could hedge with an exchange if I want to withdraw more from Pinnacle or reduce a specific P&L. It's nice to know I still have that option although at the cost of the commission, probably better to use Betdaq if possible to prevent increasing Betfair's P&L.

Of course it's early days yet having only just started the second week, although I think it's important to keep good records early on and be prepared for the worst. So far so good though, I'm happy with a £100 return with only 10-15 minutes work a day last week.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

US Spreads

Spread Betting - NBA
Stake: 1 or 2.5% profit of bank
Session P&L: £49.93
Current Bank %: 112.48%

As ever it's been a busy old week, have been working for six days on the trot and am enjoying a well earnt day off.

Although due to work commitments I have had no time to trade the racing markets, I have been quite busy most evenings looking at many US markets and entertaining a statistical betting system that's been kicking about in the back of my mind for a while. I decided to test this with small stakes for the time being as all the maths and data I have reviewed suggest it will be profitable. I am basing my picks on the spreads offered in the current NBA season, and am quite strict as to what spreads I accept, buying points if necessary. It doesn't take too long to calculate my picks and they can vary from night to night, for instance sometimes I don't find any and last night I found three.

After a bit of thought I've decide to make a staking system based on percentage profit of bank, which also includes two bet types, one for strong selections (2.5% profit per bet) and one for other good selections (1% proft per bet). This well automate the increase in stake per bet if things go well and will also protect the bank from any potential losing runs.

So I then went shopping and have opened about eight new accounts with leading bookmakers, mainly based in the US where the juice on these spreads is more varied. Placed my first bet on Sunday and have now placed eight so far, winning six and losing two, giving me a 12.48% increase to my bank. I'm quite happy with that as my first two bets were losers, but I stuck to it knowing that the stats made sense and have had a warmly welcomed winning streak since.

What I like most about this is the little effort involved as opposed to trading price movements or swings in-play. It takes me about 10 minutes a day to check the fixtures and make a decision on the picks, then another 5 minutes to browse over a few bookies and find the best deal to place my bets, and that's it job done. No need to sweat over how it's panning out or lay off some of the liability or hedge etc. It's a simple betting strategy based on stats, and that's why I like it. Another plus is that I can do this everyday, working or not, as at the moment the first game starts around midnight giving me ample time to get all my bets on during the day. I am also looking at expanding to the NFL when the new season is underway, although will need to do a bit more research before committing to that.  

As I did last night, if I haven't got work the next day I might stay up to catch a game or two, basketball is another sport I really enjoy watching, particualrly the NBA. I'm also entertaining the idea of trading the match odds with The Toy, as I'm noticing certain point leads are key in the fluctuation of odds (and the liquidity traded isn't too bad at all). Although I will need to keep monitoring this for a bit longer before I do get involved. A couple of factors are the reliability of the streaming and scoreboards. Also I'm not too sure if I really want to interfere with my enjoyment of the game, as this would involve sacrificing kicking back and having a beer or two!

Little time to progress with anything else this week although now I have this system set up and running I will have more time next week to work on other areas.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

A few more hours of 'fun'

Horse Racing
Unit stake: £5
Session P&L: £24.59
Average market P&L: £0.57

Just a quick update. Have basically picked up where I left off with QuantSports and traded for a few hours on Saturday and Monday - squeezing in 43 markets. I mainly used £5 stakes for both days as I'm still getting used to the new set up, and also I feel I needed the practice being less active in the markets recently. 

I'm pleased to say after a few more hours of trading with these charts, that they have continued to be beneficial. I think it is important to note to not rely heavily on any sole indicator, and to recognise them on their own individual merits, and weight them accordingly. What I mean by this is all previous indicators need to be used collectively with this tool rather than getting too absorbed in the pretty graphs! Quite a few swinging opportunities available today, which is the way I like it.  I typically wait for swings now rather than scalp, which I rarely do unless it is clearly what is required. I caught some really satisfying swings hedging some decent returns considering my staking.

What I am finding of increasing importance recently is awareness of the full market activity, I'm always glancing at the prices of the other runners to help justify my decisions. I really can't wait for The Toy's release of the overview and advanced charting, as this will literally be the cherry on top for me. What I have noticed since I've been using the QuantSports charting is I generally feel more decisive and as a result less drained, and more relaxed. Perhaps this also has something to do with me gaining some more experience, as ever it’s hard to tell. Either way though,  I'm happy with things moving in the right direction. Right best get back to my day job then..

Thursday, 11 February 2010


Today I found myself in the fortunate position to test out the new QuantSports software with Betfair's horse racing markets thanks to Toby's kind offer. This is a bridge between Betfair and NinjaTrader allowing the user to custom create charts with as many preset or custom made indicators desired. With this tool I could fine tune the degree of technical analysis charting displayed in real time on each runner. Now I'm pretty sure many sports traders would instantly reject the need for such a sophisticated charting option, and to be honest having read a lot about technical analysis in the last year, particularly around the time I started trading, I actually made the decision and proved over the next few months that such advanced analysis is not necessary to profit on Betfair.

Having said this though, I was really glad I gave it a go as how can somebody truly know if they haven't tried something for themselves? I haven't seen anything else like this commercially available for sports trading before, and as it has just been released, anyone taking this view must surely fall into that category. I wouldn't consider excel integration with charting directly comparable as QuantSports is truly realtime with user specified display settings varying from tick, time, range and even volume. Also the range of indicators are huge, and as you are able to create your own scripts or download other end user's efforts from the NinjaTrader forums, this gives you the possibility to specify exactly what you want displayed.

One point I'm sure we can all agree on is that the markets are in a constant state of change and assuming that the analysis required to profit last week, month or year will work equally well today is in essence false due to their changing state. We've all seen the hoardes of Betfair systems being sold all over the net which might have worked one day, but things change. So what will enhance our edge? Perhaps this might just be the ticket.

I was a bit gutted to only have a couple of hours in the afternoon and only one more in the evening to give this a go. For most of this time I was adjusting settings and generally getting accustomed to the NinjaTrader program, which to be fair was a bit fiddly but did exactly what was asked in the end. I loaded it up on my laptop so it didn't interfere with my main trading setup, fired up The Toy on my main PC and started clicking away.

Only having a couple of hours to trade I'm not going to write too much about it now as I would like to have some more hands on experience to integrate my trading with QuantSports, but what I will say is that it has impressed me to no end so far. Some of the indicators predicted swings and reversals seconds before they occurred, and I often found myself entering swings right at the top just before the big money came in. I have rarely been in that position so many times in one session before today. I think the main observation so far is that QuantSports has provided me with more confidence to enter aggressively without hesitation and a clearer idea as when to close. Although I would add closes were more effective whilst using different indicators, which I tested on the last couple of races.

I'll leave it at that for now as I do need more time to test further, but no doubt I will be writing more about this little gem as I explore it's features. Here are a few initial screenshots from today:

I have also been watching the tennis markets keenly since my decision to learn more about trading these markets. Mainly I've been watchng matches at work with the Betfair market open to see how certain points and incidents affect the prices. It has been very interesting so far and to boot I've witnessed some great tennis! I am currently arranging a Skype session with TraderShark soon which I am very much looking forward to.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Branching out

The little trading break I've had has got me thinking much about where I am headed. At the moment I have traded profitably on two sports, horse racing and football, both of which I was attracted to by the liquidity and opportunities to profit. More recently, particularly when the challenge to profit was not so apparent, I have become increasingly disinterested in trading horse racing. I'm not entirely sure why however my efforts to learn more about the sport, listen to commentaries, watch more races and even trade in running have not really made the impact I thought they might. When I started trading on my days off, it seemed like a challenging and exciting activity, recently this rarely seems to be the case, and my enthusiasm is just not what it used to be. As stated from the start of the blog  my preference was always racing due to opportunity, and the less trading time I found myself with, has eventually left me just trading racing and nothing else - not really what I had intended. I don't feel that the racing is particularly boring as such, but the exclusion of everything else to focus on it alone has made me feel bored due to the lack of diversity.

I think the solution to this is straightforward. I need to have a more varied schedule, which would mean to not only include football equally again, but leave time to experiment with other sports also. I will continue to trade the racing as part of the new schedule. Although I have never mentioned it before, tennis has always been a sport I much prefer watching, probably even more than football. I think now is a good time to explore these trading opportunities. Ultimately I'd like to have a diverse portfolio and be able to trade all the major events at different times of the year, for this to happen I need to start branching out and tennis will be the next sport I attempt to trade.

Reading around the forums and other bloggers it seems that there are quite a few tennis strategies being discussed which I have found interesting, particularly the mechanical and momentum orientated ones. I'm not such a big fan of the punting side based on price but if I find a strategy that looks profitable, I'm likely to give it a go initially just out of interest. My research has been limited so far but it is already apparent that TV pics are not fast enough anymore to scalp IR - a bit of a let down as this was the first tactic I was looking at (mainly as I could watch the match whilst I traded).

Anyway that's enough rambling for one post, if I do this right February and March should include racing, football and tennis. Let's see how it goes.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

February quite contrary

Horse Racing
Unit stake: £5-10
Session P&L: £10.84
Average market P&L: £0.84

Can finally put January behind me, it's been a frustrating month with such little opportunity, firstly by me needing to settle into a new job and simply not having the time to trade, followed by the effects of the extreme weather on the cards, and then finally the API failing on almost a daily basis. The latter point still looks like it has not been fully resolved yet by Betfair, but today I simply had to go for it as I found myself with a rare whole afternoon available. Had my backups all ready just in case I needed to close out suddenly, thankfully everything seemed to be running well. Today held another personal test as since 19th December I have only traded 2 days prerace, and it has been nagging me as to whether my progress' momentum would suffer. The change of software has also had its impact and although I felt uncomfortable at first I feel better for it now. I don't seem to have lost much in regards to reading the markets from the break, and if anything I felt more patient today then before. I did notice a few bad habits creeping in, in fact they almost all made a brief appearance at some point. Gladly I feel like I'm spotting and controlling them faster than before which can only be a good thing. I started with £5 stakes to ease my way in for the first 3 markets and used £10 for the remaining 10. Although no losing races a couple of the small greens above represent poorly traded races, I lost much of my green due to some poor decisions, but I suppose its all part of the game. Should also mention that there will be no January review for lack of activity.

Am hoping to have some time again tomorrow and will definitely be trading if that's the case. Hope today faired well for the rest of you.

Thursday, 28 January 2010


It shouldn't, but it still amazes me how our brains distort information when put in certain circumstances. I had an opportunity to review my IR footage mentioned in my last post, and am almost gobsmacked when seeing the risks I was taking. At the time I was not fully aware and felt slightly uncomfortable but couldn't quite put my finger on why until seeing the footage later. I was quite fortunate on a few occasions and it could of easily been a losing day, it was almost like watching a horror movie at times!

I'd like to think that some of the work I did over the past 6 months has improved my awareness and attitude towards risk somewhat, and it just goes to show that reviewing all trading, profitable or not is vitally important in giving it a fair assessment. What I have found most interesting is how the markets move IR, it's a whole different beast that's for sure, and that I knew already, but actually trading the runners and pushing money around really opened my eyes to how the book fluctuates and where the money is actually being matched.

What have I conluded from all of this?
I will be returning to prerace trading for the timebeing. Although I have no doubt that there are plenty of opportunites to profit IR, I am simply not experienced or skilled enough to have an edge longterm at the moment. I think my knowledge of racing has undoubtably grown in the past few months however it is far off what it needs to be to read these races effectively. I'm expecting it to continue growing as I watch more and more races, and hopefully one day I will give it another crack when I feel the time is right. Another reason for not persuing is that the fast pictures I was fortunate to have are a rarity, and even on the specific days they are available I could potentially be unavailable to trade, further reducing the opportunities. I was thining about the possibility of visiting one of the these trading rooms fitted with SIS pictures, although SIS is still not as fast as the picturs I was getting, perhaps something else to look at in the future. For now though I want to focus all of my efforts on prerace and see how far I can push it.

One thing I would like to point out for anyone having trouble closing trades prerace, try and trade some markets IR. After only a few it should become clearer why taking a prerace position IR is a complete gamble, it just doesn't make any sense once you see how these markets move! You would be far better off closing and using your stake on a planned IR strategy, at least that way it's not a complete gamble and has some tact to it. This experience has perhaps delivered the final blow to any IR closure notions I may still of had prerace, and in that respect I'm pleased to have gained another positive result from it.

Saturday, 23 January 2010


Horse Racing
Unit stake: £50
Session P&L: £90.25
Average market P&L: £6.02

With the racing being on TV I decided to try some in-running tactics today, and for the races not on TV I used Timeform radio which if anything was bang on the terrestial TV pictures. I would describe today as low risk tactics, if there is such a thing in-running. It involved watchng and reading the race before making any trades. I was using £50 stakes and actually felt quite comfortable with this, strange as the thought of using £50 pre-race seems more daunting to me. As soon as I hit £50 profit I felt really relaxed knowing that if I had a nightmare of a race and lost my whole stake I would at worst break even, as it happens I managed to keep profiting to end the day with my highest profit yet.

This has got me thinking about getting more serious about in-running tactics. To be honest I'm a bit confused as to what I will try next time I trade. Pre-race has been going well but the markets seem so competitive it takes so much effort and energy just to squeeze out a 10-20% increase to your bank with a 10% stake size. Today I manged a 90% increase with a 50% stake size and the effort involved was minimal - don't think I can remember having such a relaxed trading session. I'm also questioning whether I just was fortunate today and whether my in-running tactics have a longterm future? Perhaps I should just withdraw the winnings and carry on with my slow but steady gradual pre-race staking plan? Or perhaps I'm starting to see a lot of potential in-running which I had never explored before? I'm just a bit worried at how easy it seemed comparitively to pre-race, it remind me of the saying, if it looks to good to be true it probably is!

I think I enjoyed it more because I was actually watching races and got confident at making decisions whilst the race unfolded. Perhaps this is a style that just suits me, I will need to tread carefully though as two consecurive disasterous races will effectivly wipe out my profit, and that is definitely probable. Might have some time tomorrow to trade although its 50 50 at the moment. Whatever tactic I  decide to use next time, I think some time is needed to think it over, although another 90% increase to my bank would certainly be warmly welcomed....

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Good to be back

Horse Racing
Unit stake: £2.00
Session P&L: £3.13
Average market P&L: £0.15

It's great to be back! As anticipated my new job has kept me very busy. First day off I have had in a while and fortunately the weather is looking to have finally returned to normal. I decided to use minimum stakes as it has been a month since I had last traded and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Was quite pleased as I seem to have picked up where I had left off. I was more pleased though as it was the first time I used The Toy with no external advanced charting and I seemed to be able to read the markets as well as ever. Thanks to some useful posts on TT forum I changed my trading screen slighly and it did make a big difference. Once the overview comes out it will be in my eyes the best application available, and of course it's free! 

I did feel my ability to focus wasn't quite where it had been when I last traded, so I need to work on that a bit. I did have a break around 3pm when I noticed it wavering slightly, didn't quite get my rhythm back after that. Did of course make some errors and bad trades but I managed to scratch most of those markets in the end. Will not incude this result in my bank as it was just an exercise mainly to prove to myself I could still trade after such a long break, and it has given me the confidence to pick up the staking plan next time. Here is a screenshot of the new layout:

I have had to compromise with the number of ladders open to fit in the larger graphs. To be honest though I rarely trade out of the top 3 in the book, and use the 4th slot to switch between any other runner I'm interested in. I think this is where the overview will be most useful, giving me the ability to see all the runners and how certain runners movements are effecting others, partucularly on races where there are larger fields. I did also use a magnifier at times to blow up the betfair graphs if needed, although the more I traded the less I used it. I do use my own custom audio alerts which help me focus on the time before the off. I will be editing these regularly to help remind me of things I should be working on. Might even upload a few of these wav files somewhere for people to download at some point, if anyone's interested let me know either here or on a forum and I'll upload them.

Monday, 4 January 2010

December Review

Horse Racing

On the whole I have been pleased with December. I did have a few relapse moments which in hindsight frustrated me more than I should of allowed. I do have much more confidence in my ability to profit now than before, despite not trading as much as I would of liked in the latter half of the month (mainly due to other commitments). I feel my attitude towards risk has changed and I find some of the risks I used to take, even as recently as a few weeks ago unacceptable anymore. I've also decided to tighten up things slightly to protect my bank better by introducing a few new rules, will post more details about this during the month.

There is a slight blip in my equity curve due to my poor attempts to trade the Aussie Racing, however overall I'm happy to report the curve is looking good. You can see from the second graph that I'm almost averaging £1 a race now which is also pleasing, particularly considering my stake size.

The strike rate has also stayed high but I would expect it to start decreasing now, partially due to my increase in stakes, and more specifically as my new tighter rules will certainly reduce my strike rate and profitability, but with an overall reduced risk, which is what I aim implement in the next few weeks.



My lack of trading opportunities have regrettably transpired mostly onto my football scalping. The racing did always take preference and with reduced trading time I ended up only trading about a quarter of the football markets managed in November. A shame as I increased my stake size to help push things along but didn't anticipate how little time I would have for it in the end. However the equity curve is moving in the right direction which is encouraging. The low risk tactics here are what continue to interest me in these markets, however the last full day I traded these markets I did start to feel fed up with it. On reflection I think I just burned myself out a bit having traded 63 markets that weekend. I prefer to break it up into a few markets a day and will continue to do this fixtures permitting. I also included a second graph below showing how the footy profits were made, and as you can see it is all small scalps of 0.1-1% that add up. You can also see just how few go against me, this is the low risk element I was talking about earlier that I really like about this tactic.  In case you missed it in my last review thought I should also mention for anyone interested, the racing analysis graphs were made with MG's spreadsheet and the Football graphs with Both very quick and easy to use. 

I also have some other developments that will regrettably eat more into my trading time these next couple of months. The first is that I was offered a new full-time job which I would of been daft not to accept. This has meant leaving a company I was with for 4 years, but when you're struggling to find reasons to stay the choice becomes a lot easier. With my old role I was very comfortable and rarely tired from work leaving me with more time and energy to trade. I don't anticipate it being the same in my new role, particularly in the first few weeks. I also have a couple of other side projects I need to complete by February. I will of course be trading whenever possible but it seems likely to be reduced until things settle down again. Good news is this is all happening now when the racing isn't all that great, and I should be trading much more by the time we hit the more exciting March period.

Would of been ideal if I started trading a year earlier when work seemed like a dead end job and I had much more time, but I suppose that's just the way it is sometimes, like London buses they were originally all red, wait that's not quite right...  Here's to a prosperous 2010!
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Other software I have found useful so fa..

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