Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Advice Line

Would you take advice from someone who, unless a clear profit of £105 is achieved by tomorrow evening, will have ended April with a monthly P&L shown in brackets? No, thought not.

So rather than offer advice, I will point you in the direction of a couple of recent posts from those with more experience and days in front of the computer than I - Leon The Fixer and Cassini. Worthwhile reading.

Analysis of my month gives me the following list to take forward into, hopefully, a better May.

i. My main profit stream has been limited by the tennis circuit moving to Europe, where playing hours coincide with my working hours. Answer - shrug shoulders, take what I can from the evening matches, remember that I earn money whilst working.

ii. The football silly season. Note for 2010 - stop pre-game footy betting at the end of March. Come back in mid September. I will limit my betting until then to Scandinavian soccer ( different stage of season ).

iii. Analysis of my P&L identifies an unsurprising red figure for the combined total of the following sports - Horse Racing, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Snooker. Analysis of a longer term P&L would certainly add darts and cricket to this list. Answer - read my own previous posts! I know I should stick to my specialised areas, but just get tempted, particularly as now I'm only playing for fun.

iv. I'll get more satisfaction from a steady small profit than regular ups and downs. Keep this thought in mind whenever I open Betfair.

Sorry, must rush, got £105 to win urgently.... ( kidding, honest ).

Monday, 27 April 2009


A follow up post to my comments regarding Leeds' chances come the annual play-off lottery. I'm sure you can guess the amount of ribbing I have taken since the debacle at the end of the Ridsdale era at Elland Road.

So it was nice of a work colleague to point out that Jermaine Beckford's transfer fee when signed from Wealdstone ( £45,000 ) equated to 8 days wages for Seth Johnson during his 4 year, 50 game Leeds career. Spot the value.
I hold no grudges to Johnson, who suffered unfortunate injury woes during his Leeds career, and his refusal to tear up his own contract when Leeds were in the financial mire was probably due to a realisation that his career was heading towards an end due to injury.

But Johnson's is just one name of many that Leeds fans hear with a shudder. If anyone has a great book inside them, but is struggling to find a subject matter, may I suggest that the Leeds United story, from Peter Ridsdale's 'Living The Dream' period through to Ken Bates' under-the-table re-purchase of the club, awaits it's definitive history.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

One Down, One To Go

Like many people, my footballing allegiances come from, firstly, the place of my birth, and latterly, my recent residence. The fortunes of both teams has meant I have rarely announced these allegiances over the past couple of years. But with something to celebrate today, I can confess ( it is Sunday ) to being a supporter of both Burton Albion and Leeds United.

Today belongs to Burton. They came into their final match with the worst form in the division ( check out Cassini's preview ), and as many feared, they went down to yet another defeat at Torquay, despite taking an early lead. However, as often happens at this time of year, a result elsewhere ( Cambridge ) meant the outcome became irrelevant. The last 10 minutes of the game was less than eventful, with both sides happy to hold the result.

So league football next season in a nice shiny new stadium worthy of Division 2. Sadly, the major element of the club's recent success - one Nigel Clough - has moved on, and the dip in form can be attributed directly to his departure. At least there are now 3 months to forget the recent form and prepare for the next challenge. Dagenham & Redbridge, here we come.

As for Leeds, all fingers are crossed that the division's best player, Jermaine Beckford, can stay fit and card-free for 4 more games. He really is the key to success or failure.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Knowing When To Stop

I was having a frustrating day by 6.00 this evening, and I'm sure it was my disgruntled attitude which caused me to lay Man Utd at half time, in a push for quick profit. Fortunately, I wasn't too greedy with the seemingly good value 6.0, but the speed of the turnaround still did enough damage to throw away half of my week's profit.

It's a sign of my progress ( mental rather than financial ) that I chose to close down Betfair rather than chase a recovery.

Spent a couple of hours perusing various blog sites, and found the above which I thought I'd share - light relief after a crap session.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Common Sense v Rules Of The Game

Came across an interesting moment whilst watching the Tommy Robredo v IgorAndreev match in Barcelona.

In the final set, Robredo served out to go 3-2 up, and both players walked back to their chairs and sat down to towel off. Andreev obviously had a ‘hang on a minute’ moment whilst thinking through the game just played, and after 30 seconds or so pointed out to the umpire that he’d only lost three points in the game. After much discussion and shaking of heads, an official ( presumably a scorer ) was called and both players were sent back out to a reset score of 40-15. Whilst the umpire had called game, those involved came up with the sensible answer. Robredo looked suitably aggrieved, and had a squeaky moment at 40-40, but won the game and the match progressed to a satisfactory conclusion.

It struck me how different an outcome was achieved than in the now infamous Watford / Reading clash in September, where referee Stuart Attwell managed to award a goal to Reading when the ball went five yards wide following a corner, on the advice of his linesman.

Mistakes happen, but in English football the authorities allow no-one any discretion to correct such errors. As the Football League’s CEO stated in the aftermath of the unsurprising rumpus that followed the game – ‘ the referee’s decision is final and binding’.

I have no problem with a binding decision once play has finished, and would hate to see a regular stream of replayed matches following errors, but what about during play? It transpires that the official’s match assessor had instant video evidence of the error. Nearly everyone in the ground apart from the three officials knew it wasn’t a goal. The Watford players spent 5 minutes arguing before the game restarted. Yet, no-one was able to pass information onto the referee to allow him to correct his decision.

Who’s at fault? The football authorities. It is obvious to anyone who regularly watches premiership football that with a couple of exceptions ( Howard Webb being one ), players and managers have little respect for referees or their bosses. Technology is available to help officials, but it isn’t used for fear that referees will be seen to have made mistakes.

Until common sense comes back into fashion, thus it will remain.

Born to Win

It’s 1987, and in Basel, Switzerland Mr & Mrs Federer’s youngest child is about to pick up a tennis racquet for the first time at the age of 7.

But as this document ( found hidden deep in the 1987 archives of the Spanish secret police ) shows, in the Balearic Islands, Uncle Toni had hatched a plan to create a sporting colossus in his own image. The upper arm development is clearly being worked upon using ‘baby press-ups’, and within weeks the child would be moved off the mattress to crawl around on red clay.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Tangerine Alert

Spotted at the gym....
On the left is a young lady ( sorry I didn't catch her name ) presenting on Sky Sports News this morning. On the right, the Ford Focus ST, finished in Electric Orange.
Not sure what made me link the two.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

A High Profile Return

Today’s action at Molineux gives me a rare opportunity to mix Soccer and Housebuilding.

Wolves’ home win against QPR confirmed their promotion back to the Premier League after 5 seasons, and eighteen months after the club was purchased by Steve Morgan OBE from Sir Jack Hayward for the sum of £10.00. The nominal sum came with a condition that £30 million would be invested in the club.

The Liverpool born Morgan is the founder of one of Britain’s largest housebuilders, Redrow, which he started at the age of 21 with a £5,000 loan from his father. He spent 26 years building the company into a FTSE 250 company, before stepping down in 2000.

He was again in the media spotlight shortly after he left Redrow, when his divorce settlement with his first wife, Pamela, put her on the UK ‘Rich List’ with a sum changing hands of circa £100 million.

During 2004, he made a highly public bid to purchase Liverpool F.C. for £73 million. However, the ongoing bad blood between himself and the then Chairman of Liverpool, David Moores, ensured that Moores preferred to sell to the Tom Hicks / George Gillett partnership. Presumably, many fans of the club would now wish that Morgan had succeeded in his bid.

He re-appeared to purchase Wolves in 2007, and in recent times has controlled his development company, Bridgemere Group, plus holding ownership of the upmarket Cheshire hotel, Carden Park.

2009 has brought a return to the spotlight for Morgan. In addition to Wolves success, he has taken the opportunities brought about by falling share prices in the housebuilding sector to take back control of Redrow in a boardroom coup, becoming Executive Chairman as of 1st July. From a football perspective, the only ‘fly in the ointment’ may be rumours that Morgan would like to return the PLC Redrow to private ownership, and that the newly increased value of Wolves could be used to raise finance for a full takeover of Redrow.

Whatever the outcome, Mr Morgan is back in the big-time.

Friday, 17 April 2009


After two short and generally uneventful stints of betting today, I was left with a paltry overall £6 profit, and the scowl of a 5 year old made to share his toys with his little sister. The cause of this upset - a loss. Not significant (£47), but frustrating because :-

i. Why the hell was I placing a bet on Rugby Union?
ii. If the odds look too good to be true, they probably are.
iii. I hadn't set myself for the session - no concentration, no escape route etc.
iv. Once again, my tennis profits were simply being used to subsidise losses elsewhere.

What interested me was that my overwhelming sense was hurt from 'the loss'. Whilst I should have been chastising myself over the reasons for the loss, and then falling quickly back into a sensible pattern of betting, for the whole mid-morning session I was aware of how my mentality had moved into that dangerous 'increased risk' zone. Fortunately, work commitments meant I had to shut down the laptop. An easier evening session recovered my day's position, and the 6 hour gap had moved my psychological state back into calmer waters.

From reading numerous blogs, it is clear that most of us struggle with loss situations. The very successful and/or very experienced deal better with the situation, unsurprisingly.

My own problem may stem from the fact that most of my trades are odds-on. I expect to win. If your style is to back horses from say 5/1 and upwards, you will lose on a daily basis, and hope that the winners that you find come regularly enough to offset these losses. So presumably, you will only feel the pain of losing after a long winless stint. My own losses are less frequent, but each one hurts. This may not be a bad thing.

Harry Findlay, our highest-profile pro gamber, has made a name from huge odds-on bets. And an excerpt from one of Harry's press interviews caught my eye -

"There are three things people have to understand ( about short prices) : a) you can get on; b) you get value; c) you get confidence. And no matter what you do in life, confidence is the number one. Say one fellow bets 20-1 shots. After 20 losers, he backs a winner, and he's level. Another fellow's betting evens. After 10 winners and 10 losers, he's level. They've both got the same money, but he's been right 10 times. Who's going to have more confidence? But nobody talks about confidence, the mental instabilities involved in gambling. And that's what it's all about. It's all about how you perform under pressure, how you perform when it all goes wrong."

On reflection, the confidence I gain from winning regularly works for me. Yes, I'll struggle with the losses, but as long as I maintain an element of discipline, I have strategies and skills that will keep me moving forward. It's not for everyone, but finding a trading style that suits your personality is key.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A Sport In Disrepute?

I became disillusioned with one particular sport, Boxing, many years ago when a profileration of governing bodies - WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, WBU et al - meant that becoming 'world champion' possibly meant that a boxer was one of the top fifteen or so in the world at a particular weight, and that he may even be able to fight another top-ranked fighter, if it suited their promoters.

I am having similar feelings regarding Formula One. As I write, we await the verdict of an FIA International Court of Appeal panel in Paris as to whether three teams, including the current high-flyers Brawn, have contravened the sport's latest set of rules. According to many more educated in these matters than I, the outcome of the world title may be settled by this ruling. Formula One seems to have an unfortunate habit of determining winners and losers in steward's rooms and appeal panels rather than on the track. As a spectator, this must take away from the drama on the track, once you start the believe that the guy crossing the line first is simply the 'provisional' winner, pending appeals.

The sport seems to be overrun with self-interested parties. The triangle of governing body / commercial rights owner / team owners have developed a sport of annual rule changes, serial rule-breakers and serial litigation. The season started with a bizarre late (and fundamental) rule change, instigated by Bernie Ecclestone, passed through as law without proper debate, and then 'put on hold' once the teams held up their hands in horror. This was the equivalent of Rupert Murdoch deciding in mid-August that Champions League games would be an hour long, to suit TV schedules, Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter nodding it through as law, and then on the day of the first games, Manchester United and Barcelona saying they wouldn't play unless we reverted back to 90 minutes.

I'm not really that bothered whether the current Brawn 'rear diffuser' is legal. But until we can have a spell of action based exclusively on the track rather than the courtroom, I won't be that interested. I have noticed that over the last couple of years, I've tended to watch only the start and first-corner action, and then just check occasionally on the positions and the final result. This gave me an idea which may resolve the issues above. If the contest was limited to one lap, the rest of the two hour duration could be spent with the various potential podium-finish driver combinations squirting champagne around and having their photos taken. Then, once the actual top three positions for the race were resolved by an appeal court judge, photos and video of the winners would be available to publish around the world.

Finally, to push the soccer / formula one comparison, I note that in last night's game at Stamford Bridge, both Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole played for Chelsea. I believe that both players were born in England, yet play for an English club. This is clearly against the rules of the Champion's League. I believe an appeal may be in order...

Monday, 13 April 2009

More Tennis Trivia

This is Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, winner of four grand slam singles titles and the only Spanish woman inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Originally known as Arantxa Sanchez, early in her career she decided to add her mother's maiden name. Subsequent Spanish female tennis players have maintained this tradition.

If I was a tennis commentator, I would be a little pissed off with Aranxta, particularly if I'd been given this morning's doubles match on the main court at Barcelona -

Nunia Llagostera Vives & Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez v Lourdes Dominguez Lino & Arantxa Parra Santonja.

I was actually originally known as Rob The.

Now I'm off to find my lawnmower somewhere in the back of the garage.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

A Statistical Query

There are approximately 6.8 billion people living on earth. In Europe and North America combined, there are around 1.07 billion people.

Throughout history, people from many ethnic groups have moved around the world, either looking for work and an improved lifestyle, or fleeing oppression. This has resulted in many multi-cultural societies, particularly in the developed world.

Sport is played throughout the world. Certain sports, including tennis and golf, have higher take-up costs than, say, soccer. Therefore, the players at the top of these sports tend to come from the world's wealthier countries and communities. Despite this, the WTA Rankings top 100 includes women from 37 countries.

So if, hypothetically, there were to be a WTA tour final in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA between protagonists from Odense, Denmark and Montreal, Canada, what are the statistical odds of the following match-up :

Wozniak v Wozniacki. ?

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Betting A-Z

F is for Frustration.

If I look back over my past couple of years of sports betting, I suppose this remains my most frequently felt emotion. I would guess I'm not alone with this thought.

Today was one of my better days. The stats - an 11% increase on bank, a 90% success rate on bets, with a largest loss of £5.00. The day was relaxed, I felt in control throughout, and was able to pick off in-play opportunities at regular intervals to top up the winnings from my footy selections. I recognise this pattern, most of my successful days follow a similar routine. Easy money!

My frustration comes from an inability to string together these 'good days' consistently. I have spent a considerable amount of time analysing my shortcomings, and have put in place rules and processes aimed at cutting out errors, but long-term regular profit remains the unfulfilled aim. Maybe the final piece of the jigsaw is to recognise that consistent profit requires a consistent state of mind. If your decision-making process differs depending on how successful your day has been, then presumably your results will also differ. The tough part is to be able to clear from your thoughts what has gone before, whilst also learning from your mistakes.

So an addition to my list of rules - Accept that some days you lose. Remain confident that on most days you'll win. And treat losing and winning days the same.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Not The Best, But In The Top One...

Had a night away from the laptop yesterday, and took Mrs Builder to the cinema in Burton to see 'The Damned United'.

I clearly remember Brian Clough's short spell at Leeds United, being an 8 year old soccer-mad kid and Leeds fan living in the city. I also remember the hostility awarded to Clough by the people of the city, fans or otherwise.

The film sensibly avoids being a film about football. It concentrates on the relationships between Clough and three others - his friend and number two Peter Taylor, his rival Don Revie, and his Derby Chairman Sam Longson. Whilst the film's biggest weakness is the shallowness of the secondary characters - Johnny Giles is played by an actor who thinks he's playing Vinny Jones - it has two main strengths. Firstly, Taylor, Revie and Longson ( Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney and Jim Broadbent ) are excellent in their roles.

And secondly ( and the reason you should see this movie ), Michael Sheen as Brian Clough makes the film. Forget about the football, Sheen plays Clough superbly. I believe the book from which the film is adapted is a bit of a hatchet job, but Sheen makes him a likeable if complicated man, and you come away from the film with admiration for Clough and similar admiration for Sheen.

And watching in a Burton cinema, you also get a sharp intake of breath when, during an argument with Taylor, Clough barks 'without me, you'd still be at Burton Albion'!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Wanted - Greek Footy Insider

Whilst browsing the Monday football fixtures late last night, I came across a standout set of odds. For the second time this month, the odds didn't stack up to either the recent or whole-season form. In both cases, the home team was Ilisiakos, a team in the bottom three of the Greek second division, and a team with more losses than wins at home. Their opponents in both cases were in mid table with decent recent form. I'm not an odds valuer, but I'd normally expect to see around 2.2 : 3.2 : 3.2 in both games. Actually, Ilisiakos were trading at 1.16 and 1.20 respectively.

In both cases, I laid Ilisiakos ( I'm always the optimist ). In the first game, the home team were two up in 16 minutes. £10 down the drain. Last night, I laid again. Early this morning, I managed to trade out at 1.30 for a £3.00 profit. Once again, the home team scored early, then went 3-0 up before the away side scored twice in the last three minutes for a 3-2 finish.

I'd love to know what I'm missing here. It doesn't look like a 'Weymouth situation'. Maybe they're local rivals and the home teams always win, maybe you have to travel to the ground in a dodgy light plane and are in no fit state to play upon arrival. Obviously plenty of people did know to drive the odds. Any answers?

A zero day for me. I always keep an eye on the teen wild card entries in the secondary tennis tournaments. Today's newcomer at the WTA Ponte Vedra Beach event was an 'Evert Academy' pupil only days past her 14th birthday - Madison Keys. Recent youngsters have failed to match experienced pro's on their baptisms, so I backed Kudryavtseva, despite her frankly crap season to date. Typically, Miss Keys overturned my thought process. Bah. The rest of the evening was then a recovery exercise, with objective achieved near the end of the 7.45 soccer kickoffs, at which point I called it a day.

If Madison Keys wins a Grand Slam, I told you first. Cheques to be sent to Rob's House, Lichfield.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Amongst Friends

Feeling fine tonight, in the knowledge that many of us are together in a club of Grand National losers. My own loss was a 'housewife's punt' of £16.00 - I know less about racing than the average housewife, and none of my three horses troubled the finish line. I've been out all day ( shopping in Birmingham ) and watched the race in Selfridges technology department. Oddly enough, no-one there won either.

Had a think about my '£2k challenge' and have decided to abandon it after one month. After a loss of £22 on Friday evening due to a defeat for the Irish champions, Bohemians, and with just a couple of footy bets placed today to offset my National punt, I was left with two scenarios coming into Sunday :

A. I am £141 behind target. I need to recover this sum over the next week or so, in addition to my daily target amount.

B. I have made £291 in a month, whilst enjoying a hobby.

I think the difference in emphasis illustrates the problem with targets in the environment we operate in. A couple of bad days suddenly put the target sums under pressure. The obvious way to pull back the shortfall is to increase stakes or risk. This is also the best way to lose money. You are psychologically at your weakest following a loss. In scenario A, the likelyhood is that you will chase to recover your position. In scenario B, you have a better opportunity to shrug your shoulders, switch off the laptop and start again the next day.

I'm still not sure how I'd operate in my old 'full-time' situation - if you need to pay bills and a mortgage from your income, how do you give yourself the best chance of meeting your required level of income? But as a hobby, the most enjoyable and sensible way of operating is to place bets as opportunities present themselves.

So my ambition remains the same - build back up to a £2k bank which I can then use cautiously to make a steady profit. But I now have no target date for achieving this milestone. And therefore no unnecessary pressure.

I'll link to a post which gives a thoughtful and sensible view on this same matter - Cassini's

Oh, and the piccy is of Selfridges, Birmingham, for anyone not aware of 'blob architecture'.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


I'll start with the positives of this evening. I bet in a calm and consistent manner, I thought through the 'what if' scenarios of each trade, and I didn't over-bet or chase.

Sadly, one error cost me dear, resulting in a (£96) day and putting me £78 behind my target total after 27 days of my £2k challenge.

The error - 'money-buying', a past failing that I have learnt to be very cautious about entertaining. But a 1.01 at 88minutes on 'under 3.5 goals' in a meaningless friendly between Norway and Finland ( at 1-1 ) looked an easy way to start my evening. So on went £158 to win £1.50!

I use Bet365 as my match-time guide. I glanced at the 1-1 score at 91 minutes 10 seconds. No problems. I switched to browse my Betfair screen, and what seemed moments later I glanced back - 92 minutes 50 seconds, 2-2! To rub it in, Norway scored again to win 3-2. At least I was spared that horrible stomach-tightening wait when one goal is scored, and you're left to scramble for whatever recovery you can make. It was a quick, painless death!

Interesting analysis of the £315 profit gained so far in my challenge - £313 is from tennis! I generally become frustrated when reviewing my P&L's. There has never been any consistency to my results which would guide me to change my sport focus or strategies. I can go for weeks finding tennis impossible to profit from, and then other times when I pick off trades effortlessly.

Write a hundred times as punishment - 'No more 1.01's'