Friday, 27 February 2009

My Set Up

Inspired by numerous other blogs, I am happy to release to the world the secrets of my high-tech betting setup.

Yes, it may look like a laptop sat on a cabinet in my lounge, but it has a number of special features.

Note the space available for my tea mug. I am looking to upgrade to a quad mug-stand, which will allow me to drink multiple cupfuls during a session. Note also the memory stick attached to the laptop. This has a nice blue light on it which counteracts the green complexion I sometimes take on after a 1.01 punt starts to go awry.

I also have a lead at the back which plugs into a socket in the wall and gives me 'broadband', a service which gives me streaming pictures of sports events between the hours of 10.00am and 5.00pm, and 11.00pm till bedtime. Sadly, at peak times, the bloke they pay to wind up our telephone exchange gets a little tired and I can watch a little white circle spinning round a screen in lieu of the live sport.

Finally, just off shot to the right I have a nice widescreen TV capable of showing various sporting events from around the globe. Sadly, many of these clash with 'Coronation Street', '10 Years Younger' or 'Loose Women', and unfortunately a legal agreement I entered into 13 years ago stops me from controlling what is shown on the TV.

This arrangement allows me to back or lay sums of money in the knowledge that I am at a disadvantage to those who have fast systems and technology in place. So hopefully my knowledge of sport and ability to count will be just enough to allow me to make a profit.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

There's Always Somebody Worse Off Than Yourself

Apologies for mixing housebuilding and betting, but this rather puts yesterday's horse racing loss of £23.79 into context. I have had a number of conversations recently with former colleagues and associates, and everyone seems to shrug their shoulders and accept that we're all going to have to earn a living elsewhere for quite a while. My former company will shortly employ half the number of staff it did in January 2008.

An uneventful but profitable evening. As I noted in a previous post, when I'm ahead of a weekly target, I seem to be able to pick off a series of small wins. I just need consistency over a long period, something that's evaded me to date.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A New Horse Racing Tipster?

This is hopefully a unique P&L. The terms 'horse racing' and 'Rob The Builder' are not designed to go together. So let me explain......

A long day of tennis betting today, particularly as this is my only 'full-time' day this week until Saturday.

A 9.00am start in Dubai, and I had wins on all the early games, with the exception of the TV match - Simon versus the 469 ranked wild card Mohammed Ghareeb. Not a great bet - £105 at 1.04! - but I should have had every confidence it could only end one way. But doubts set in whilst following the match live, and I traded out for a £30 loss before watching the inevitable Simon recovery. I'm sure I would have kept faith if I'd simply been following a scorecard, but the commentary team's gushing plaudits for the underdog and criticism of Simon's game did for me!

The early afternoon games ( Hernych, Gasquet, Clement ) were a slog to follow, all being too tight to call for most of their respective durations. So boredom set in. I should have gone for a walk to the village shop. Instead, enthused by reading a few blogs in the last couple of weeks, I decided I wanted to watch the live feed racing on Betfair. I then found I had to have a bet on a race to watch. I quickly hatched a plan....

Rob's easy way to make money on horses. Lay a horse in a race with lots of other horses, it's bound to lose. Which horse? Well, lay odds around 6 or 7 so that I didn't have too much outlay for my target win of £2.00. This seemed to be the horse second or third on the Betfair list. Being a professional, I quickly checked that my lay hadn't been tipped by Sporting Life! Away I went :

First Race. Discovered the live feed is about 15 seconds behind. My odds changed favourably so I bailed out by backing my nag at a point when it had probably already been tailed off.

Second Race. A win, my selection was never in the race, this seems like easy money.

Third Race. I'm getting good at this now. Made £1.00 before the race even began. Rob The Trader, here we come. And the horse went on to win! ( Stagecoach Amber ).

Fourth Race. Whooah, how did that happen. Lay on Sir Tantallus Hawk. Watched the odds in running, went right out to 30, I'm dead good at this. Seconds later, odds tumble away to a clear screen. I can watch the drama unfold 15 seconds later on the 'live' feed!

Fifth / Sixth Races. My lays won again ( Saratoga Sunshine, Matcho Pierji ). Fortunately, I'd escaped with 48p and £2.00 gains respectively.

Seventh Race. Losing faith, so bailed out for a £1.15 gain as soon as the in-running odds favoured me.

Eighth Race. Can't believe how fast these odds change. Again I see the odds well in my favour, my lay must to be well back. And then the odds tumble away again...... ( Southerness ).

So for my first horse racing day ever, 8 selections and 4 odds against winners. Sadly I was laying. Maybe there's a tipster role for me out there. Umm.

Fortunately, I'm working during horse racing hours for the next three days. Maybe I'll look at the Greyhounds next week...

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Week-End Reflection.

The reasons for commencing this blog were :

i. To allow me to analyse my betting.

ii. To put down my various thoughts on matters of betting and sport.

So time to analyse, having had a losing week at the end of the blog's first week. This may be a positive, as I tend to disregard losses and just look forward, whereas the blog ensures I can't do that. This hopefully should give more discipline to my betting.

The reasons for the week's loss stem back to a dramatic change of momentum during a women's tennis match on Tuesday (Scheepers/Hradecka). These things happen. My weakness was in chasing a quick recovery during the rest of Tuesday, resulting in a large loss at the end of that day. The remainder of the week was then simply a recovery situation.

It is so much easier to bet effectively when you are ahead of a target, as you can calmly pick off opportunities. Whenever I'm behind, I struggle. I over-bet, constantly looking for opportunities, and increase my risk.

Today, my first bet of the day was a loss on cricket. I know that I should avoid cricket, my lifetime P&L would I'm sure look horrific. It is more a sport for layers and traders than backers. So why bet? Simply because I was behind on the week and was chasing a recovery.

So how do I move forward? I'm still unsure that a rigid target is helpful, as it can cause the chasing mentality I've described above. But I continue to aim towards earning a full-time living, so need some method of controlling my progress.

In the short term, I'm amending my weekly target to take into account my three days of part time work and also my starting bank balance, but that still averages £700/week over the month. In time, I may need to look at laying rather than just backing, and also having more of a trader's mentality.

And more importantly, I'll try to remain calm and consistent. Wish me luck.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

My Man Of The Day

Had a slightly stiff back today ( that'll be my new part-time job then ). So for today's session, I sat on the sofa with laptop in lap, and watched Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports News whilst betting.

It really is a top show. The format is simple, presenter and four pundits, with reporters at various grounds. The BBC do a similar gig with Ray Stubbs in the chair, but it's as dull as dishwater.

Sky have Jeff Stelling in the hot seat, and the man's a star. He has the ability to create a feeling of intense excitement throughout the whole 2 hours of Saturday's footy, and a sharp sense of humour. He clearly has fans other than myself, having recently been taken on by Channel 4 to host 'Countdown'. Whilst I normally dislike the distraction of TV during a session (unless actually watching a match), found it an entertaining and useful watch.

A steady but low earning day. I think I'm a bit lacking in confidence after Tuesday's calamities, so am tending to wait for 'certainties', and there's never too many of those about. Did actually get into credit on the week for a short time until a small bet on North Carolina in the NCAAB went wrong in the last few seconds of the match, with no liquidity to repair the situation. So I'll have to rely on Sunday to take me into the black this week.

Don't want to seem too obsessed with my Tuesday debacle, but interested to see that Flavia Pennetta is blogging on the WTA website from Bogota. Here's a couple of excerpts from her Tuesday blog -

'It was a difficult day for me on the court today. I didn't play a good match at all. I just didn't feel in the match, and I wasn't pushing the ball hard enough. It wasn't a good feeling. Maybe the high altitude had something to do with it'
'I have to look at the positives though. I'm still in the doubles, and Gisela and I played very well yesterday, so I think we can fight for the title'

'It's about 7pm now... I'm going to take a shower and am going to the player party really soon, which should be really cool.'

Glad to see that someone had a good end to the day.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Tipping. And Camille Pin...

Two more days of 'part-time' betting, and didn't quite get back to zero on the week, but have given myself a fighting chance for the weekend.

I am coming round to the opinion that I, and an awful lot of supposed experts, really can't tip sports results. The nature of sport is that it is often unpredictable.

Throughout most of the last couple of years I have tended to combine some modest pre-match bets with placing larger amounts in-play. I often spend a considerable amount of time reviewing form and looking for expert opinion. But analysis of my recent results suggest I should abandon my pre-match attempts and just concentrate on making profit from my minute-by-minute judgement of what is happening on the screen in front of me.

When I had a 'proper job', I regularly used to pop in to Tamworth Services at lunchtime to grab a sandwich and have a quick free peek through the sports pages of the Racing Post in the newsagents. I would then have fun in the evening watching most of the expert tips crash and burn. The problem seems to be that tipsters are obsessed by value, and are drawn to contests where, frankly, anything could happen. Most of my recent pre-match successes have been on "the bleedin' obvious" - this week on Chelsea, Bordeaux, Rangers ( v Forfar ) etc. But as soon as I look for value........

And so on to Camille Pin, currently ranked 104 on the WTA Tour rankings and, according to French 'Hello' magazine, she also likes scuba diving. Umm.

Last summer, I had a nice day out at the DFS Classic WTA tournament at Edgbaston. They have a show court, plus four further grass courts placed alongside each other. You can find a nice spot to sit on the grass and watch a few games, just moving along a few yards every so often to check on an adjacent match. I watched our heroine, Miss Pin, play an awful game against Anastasia Rodionova where both players took it in turn to look like park players. Pin seemed to have a game reminiscent of the Evert, Goolagong days when ladies patted the ball to each other politely. Rodionova was simply rubbish. Pin won. I then watched a decent game between Marta Domachowska and Margit Ruutel, with the then 64th ranked Domachowska winning.

The next day I rubbed my hands on contemplating a Domachowska/Pin contest, with odds slightly favouring the Polish player. I had the ultimate advantage of a courtside form guide. I lumped on Domachowska. Pin won 6-4, 6-2.

I know nothing.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

I Can Take Advice

After yesterday's calamities, got a worthwhile comment from Scott Ferguson ( ) re the dangers of women's tennis. So just to prove that I listen ( and also to practice inserting my first blog picture ) here's a screenshot taken on my first bet of the day.

I also had a win from Masa Zec Peskiric, she's always been one of my favourite players..... ( see yesterday's post ). Had an enjoyable short stint betting tonight, won every bet, and partially recovered the week's calamities. If only I'd been working on Tuesday......


A word I have used to describe my past betting history, and hoped that I had moved beyond. Sadly, the last two days have seen a reversion to old bad habits, particularly my tendency to increase my risk following earlier losses.

Women's tennis can be a frustrating sport to bet on, due firstly to the lack of service dominance generally found in the men's game, and also the fragile mental state of some of the competitors. Momentum, and therefore odds, tend to swing rapidly. I am well aware of this, but can still be sucked into bets that hindsight tells me I should have avoided.

Monday showed an impressive profit, but my overall gain hid a number of wild betting patterns to offset positions turning against me, plus a slice of pure luck when, with an imminent dental appointment I chose to have a large punt on Marion Bartoli (5-0 up, 1st set) and then close down my laptop. On my return I found that a Bartoli win came via a third set tie break, and I later discovered that Sugiyama had reached 6-3 in the tie break and blown 3 match points. Lucky boy then.

So I was more careful and relaxed today? Er, no, I carried on with a cavalier approach gained from a healthy weekly profit until everything came tumbling down around me. Firstly, the match in Memphis between Chantelle Scheepers and Lucy Hradecka swung wildly throughout, and I thought I had recovered my position when Hradecka led in the final set tie-break, but I was blown away by 5 successive Scheepers points which won the match and swallowed all of my weeks winnings.

Two further calamities have subsequently put me in the red on the week, and both can be analysed as errors. Firstly, I was sucked into the attractive odds on the 17 year old 'wonderkid' Grigor Dimitrov to serve out for the win against Gilles Simon. The result of his failure to do so ( Simon is a Top 10 player so I should have known better ) was a rapid swing in odds leaving me battered again. Then I tried the opposite approach, placing an odds on bet on the experienced Flavia Pennetta to win a final set tie-break against the lowly ranked Masa Zec Peskiric ( who frankly I'd never heard of ). Of course, the result went against me. If it wasn't for my earlier loss, I wouldn't have bet on either of these matches, as both were too tight to call.

Fortunately, I think, my next three days will be restricted to a couple of hours betting in the evening, as I have acquired some part time work off the back of my current business venture. So I will simply attempt to get back to zero on the week by Friday evening, probably by concentrating on the footy. Then I'll hope for a productive weekend to try to make a modest weekly gain. And also hope that a little break from the laptop will get rid of my current frustration.

Monday, 16 February 2009


Most of the blogs I come across are written by those who describe themselves as Betfair/Betdaq traders. There seems to be a fine line between 'trading' and 'educated gambling'. I certainly fall into the latter camp. From what I read, the effective and profitable traders are using specialist software to look for mathematical sequences and anomalies. Whilst a decent knowledge of sport is required, an analytical mind and objective calm seem to be the essential tools needed.

The process of trading seems quite dull and requiring of intense concentration. Like city trading, it seems likely that young minds would be most effective. A twenty-something is more likely than I to have the patience to create the numerous charts and analysis required, and also be able to keep concentration for long periods of trading. Whilst I have no idea how Adam Heathcote ( makes such huge amounts consistently, his profile ( twenty-something graduate ) seems to me to be just right for succesful trading.

My own Betfair methods owe more to a love of sport and a belief that I'm smart. That's probably why my P&Ls don't look like Adam's. Yes, I do use trading techniques, and often look to get an all-green position or reduce risk by monitoring changes in odds.

But it matters to me that I think Feyenoord may not win another game this season. It matters that I think that Alisa Kleybanova should cut down her pie intake if she wants to get into the world's top twenty. Like most sports punters, I have plenty of opinions. That's why pure trading isn't for me. I like to back what I think is going to happen. And I'm just going to have to find a way of making a profit that allows me to keep having an opinion.

Blogger Clock

Who sets the blogger clock? It seems to be based on the Alaska timezone. Wonder what's to blog about in Anchorage? Just a thought.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

2009 so far

Time to bring my intro up to date.

I've just completed week 6 of the year on a 'phew' moment, having backed the Benfica / Pacos Ferriera match under 4.5 goals at 1.02 at a 0-0 half time! Managed to escape with a £1 loss from an original £105 stake, despite the 3-2 result.

So how has my £700/week target gone so far? P&L of +£4,200? Er, no. P&L of +£784 actually. Am I disappointed? No, not really. I have generally achieved a consistent method of making profit, and feel I've moved past my haphazard early methods to a betting style I'm comfortable with.

I've gone badly astray twice in the period -
  • The Australian Open was a disaster for me. I've never been good with the Grand Slams, too many opportunities. I turn into a kiddy in a sweet shop and forget the techniques I've been successful with. Combine this with betting in-play at a time when I should be safely under a duvet, and the result is horrible. Memorable failures - Dudi Sela, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Robin Soderling, Phillip Kohlschreiber.

  • Australia v South Africa. First One Day International. I picked the worst possible moment to have an 'oh f--- it' moment, throwing a huge chunk of my stake pot on Australia to win shortly after Neil McKenzie was dismissed, leaving SA to get 50 in 5 overs with 7 wickets down. As Cricinfo said at that time - 'It's all down to Albie now'. And I then watched as Albie Morkel smashed the Aussie attack around from the moment I pressed the 'Confirm' button, with the market swinging round so quickly I had little chance to recover any of my stake.

A quick check reveals that my P&L can be broken down as - Main Wallet +£2,063, Aussie Wallet -£990, Bet365 -£289. If I disregard the above balls-ups ( as all gambling optimists do ) I made circa £2000 over 6 weeks.

Not exactly £700/week, but heading in the right direction. I have been involved in a business venture which has taken up quite a bit of my time, so I'm generally happy with my progress.

Plenty of tennis in the week ahead, so looking forward in positive mood.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

How I Got To Here (Part 2)

I suppose that during my 'fun gambling' period I had in my head a theory that with a £5000 bank I could make £100 a day if I was to bet seriously. At the point last summer when I decided to give Betfair betting/trading a go, I still believed this to be the case.

Due to my dwindling finances, I had to settle on running a circa £2000 Betfair stake pot, plus a couple of hundred in Bet365 ( the bookies' liquidity is sometimes helpful ). I accepted that I would make mistakes in my early efforts, but should improve with experience. I also figured that with my 3 years as a fun punter behind me, I should at least be able to avoid complete beginners' cock-ups.

I'm pretty controlled with my personal finances, so was able to quickly review income / outgoings and determine that we could live off £700 / week plus my wife's part time income. I would remove money from my account on a weekly basis, maintaining the £2k pot. Any shortfall would have to come from savings or any other income I could generate. No pressure then......

A simple review of my 2008 betting career would be as follows :
  • Went from trainee to junior gambler status.
  • Made plenty of mistakes, just different ones to those I made before!
  • Confirmed that I am happiest working with Soccer and Tennis, and should avoid getting sucked into punting on sports I know nothing about.
  • Have learnt a valuable lesson about the psychology of betting, and how my own emotions work in stressful situations.

The result of this 6 month period was that, in overall P&L terms, I made bugger all, and saw my savings diminish as a result. However, I had enough positive days and learning experiences to come into 2009 with a belief that my initial ideas are still valid.

This blog is part of my attempt to learn from my mistakes and successes, and make 2009 the year I become one of the supposed 10% who make a profit on Betfair.

Friday, 13 February 2009

First Post

For my first post thought I'd give a short history of how I got here ( to this blog, not to this earth).

I have been internet betting for probably four years or so, initially with William Hill and then Bet365, losing moderate amounts of money in exchange for the thrill of competing with the bookies. I switched to Betfair around a year ago, coincidentally around the time I resigned my job in the housebuilding industry with the intention of having a short break after 25 years in the same career.

So a 6 month break followed by a new challenge with a house builder, eh. Bugger. My 6 months took me to June 2008, and the only jobs available in housebuilding were those in clearance of closed office buildings. At least I never had to make any of my staff redundant, a job my successor has had to do regularly in the last year.

So with my savings dwindling, I needed an income boost and decided that, contrary to what my Betfair P&L was telling me at that point, I could make an income on Betfair. All I needed to do was cut out my mistakes.......

I'll bring my story up to date in my next post.