Thursday, 30 July 2009

July - Month To Forget?

An end to my betting week and month now, as I have a 5 day break from the laptop. My July P&L suggests that I have had a poor month – a losing month actually, although the loss is insignificant. But I end the month feeling positive, having spent much of the period introducing myself to the roller-coaster ride known as horse racing, and also having spent more time analysing my results and strategies than in any previous month.

After trialling horse racing lays during the month, I’m of the opinion that it is possible to make a worthwhile profit. My performance so far has been inconsistent and haphazard, drifting from stake-raising invincibility, to ‘oh-sod-it’ random lays, and back to calm, considered and researched picks. What is clear is that racing offers many more betting opportunities than any other sport on a daily basis, and seems to have fairer odds available than soccer or tennis, simply because of the liquidity.

A bad month for Soccer. I think the issue has been the sparsity of opportunities. I am not the most patient of people, and often get sucked into transactions simply because there is nothing else available. So I’ll only return to soccer a couple of weeks into the domestic season, when there are enough matches to allow for selective trading.

My tennis month was dominated by a £200 hit taken on a low key ATP match between Kevin Kim and Denis Istomen. There were plenty of rumours about match-fixing beforehand, but there were also injury issues. Simple lesson learnt – if it looks dodgy, avoid.

So a three sport emphasis on Tennis, Soccer and Horse Racing from August onwards, and a change in attitude. My biggest issue since reverting to small stakes in March has been inconsistency. Keeping discipline for 6 days a week, and then having a gung-ho attitude on the seventh, is an easy way to utter frustration. So August will be all about maintaining focus.

I have often commented on the subject of targets, and I remain against putting unnecessary hurdles in the way of my trading. But I need an objective, or boredom will set in, and with it inconsistency. So I’ve retrieved from my memory bank a piece of corny management-speak –

‘what does success look like?’

Success at present would be around a thousand pounds per month, which looks ambitious on the basis that I’ve failed to reach that sum in the past four months. Yet broken down, this only requires a £35.00 profit per day, based on betting on 28 days each month. With a disciplined approach, I should have no problem achieving this. And that’s the issue. Not just for me, but for the majority of traders and gamblers. Read the numerous blogs around, and it’s probably the most common theme – discipline. If I can combine the control I had in place as a full-time gambler with the extra knowledge and experience I’ve gained over recent months, I have every chance of success. I don’t need a monetary target, I simply have to maintain focus and discipline and I believe the profit will follow. So my tough target – a whole month with no chasing, no ‘oh-sod-its’, no increased risk bets, and consistent staking. August – bring it on!

So time to head back on the festival trail. Sonisphere at Knebworth? No, much more sedate – the four day Cambridge Folk Festival. I’ve been for the last couple of years and it’s one of the highlights of my year. The ‘folk’ title shouldn’t be taken too literally, there’s a wide range of music, with headliners The Zutons, Los Lobos and the mighty Lucinda Williams. Who knows, it might even stop raining at some point.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Veered Off Course

With tonight’s blog, I mean.

I’ve made little progress since Monday’s blowout. I had made some headway with horse racing lays until probability caught up with me this evening. I’ve been doubtful that my racing successes could continue at the rate I’ve seen over the last three weeks, and an evening with three winners laid (Zaplamation, Excelling & Indy Driver) knocked back any over-confidence I may have had. So I’ll have to accept a losing week, and with my month sitting at +£30, I’ll be happy to have a few days break from next Thursday and start afresh in August.

Hopefully, some of you may have noticed my regularly updated music video selection on the blog. While perusing You-Tube for another video to upload, I stumbled across a couple of gems which I thought were worthy of promotion to my main blog post.

My first experiences of music came in the form of this album, Glen Campbell’s 1968 ‘Wichita Lineman’, and his 1967 ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’. Both albums were played regularly in the house when I was a toddler. This particular album cover amused me, it seemed so familiar 40 years on, and I can still hum each tune on the track listing. My parents were big fans, and saw Glen Campbell perform at the ‘Batley Variety Club’ and ‘Wakefield Theatre Club’ in the early seventies.

So to the video. After seven seconds I was ready to jump in the river – a cover version, by a sixties country singer, of a modern rock anthem. This had the makings of a car-crash moment, particularly as I have an aversion to covers and ‘karaoke music’. But, miraculously, he pulls it off.

The second video is a recording of a song that became Campbell’s best known hit, the Jim Webb penned ‘Wichita Lineman’. I will admit to being a huge fan of REM, and finally seeing them at T in the Park in 2008 was a massive moment in my musical life, particularly as they were a support act for U2 at Milton Keynes Bowl in 1985, and I missed the whole of their set because it pissed it down whilst I had a toilet/food break, and I stayed under cover well away from the stage.

I’ll try to stick to the subject matter in my next post.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


This week’s bans handed down to the four players involved in betting against their own team, Accrington Stanley, in May 2008 are a far cry from those incurred by those involved in Britain’s highest profile match-fixing case.

Like many, I believe the bans ( maximum one year ) and fines ( maximum £5,000 ) to be way too lenient for the offences commited. All four players had placed four-figure bets on Bury to win, pretty hefty sums for players on limited income.

Attitudes have obviously changed dramatically over forty-five years, in life generally and certainly within the FA. But it’s still worth a comparison to the events leading to the headlines of April 1964.

Peter Swan (pictured), David ‘Bronco’ Layne and Tony Kay were top players for First Division Sheffield Wednesday. Swan was an England international, and Layne had scored 58 goals in 81 games for Wednesday in the two year period up to the scandal breaking.

Layne was approached in December 1962 by a former teammate, Jimmy Gauld, to discuss how money could be made from betting on matches. Layne thought an upcoming match at Ipswich was a likely possibility, and had conversations with Swan and Kay on how they could ensure an Ipswich win. The three players all bet against their own team, betting £50 each at odds of 2-1( a new Mini cost around £550 in 1962, the players earned around £50 per week ). Ipswich won 2-0. Eighteen months later, Gauld shopped the three Wednesday players to the Sunday People for a £7k payment.

Swan, Layne and Kay were charged with bribery, corruption and defrauding bookmakers, and received jail sentences, as did Gauld and four other lower-league players. Upon release from prison, each player was banned for life by the FA. The life bans were lifted in 1972, but the players were by then in the latter years of their careers.

Swan probably suffered most from the scandal, having been England manager Alf Ramsey’s first choice centre-half prior to his ban, and having won 19 caps. His position was taken by Jack Charlton, who went on to win a World Cup winners medal in 1966.

In 1964, a bet of one week’s wage was punished with a life ban by the FA. In 2009, comparatively larger bets were punished with bans of a year or under.

The correct punishment is probably somewhere in-between.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Back on the, er, horse

A wary start to my evening’s session after yesterday’s disaster. I still managed to lay a winner in my first race of the evening. Doh. So the remainder of my racing lays simply recovered losses, and I ended up £5.48 in profit.

I fared a little better with the tennis. It would have been a good evening after a couple of nice wins in the European events (Garcia-Lopez, Klaffner and a lump on Vinci against a local no-hoper), but I was let down again in Indianapolis, bailing out of backs of Levine and Lu as fortunes turned, with an all-red on each occasion.

I achieved my first goal of the week – I’ve brought July back into the black (or green), and the month currently stands at +£8.95! So the rest of the week will simply be spent attempting to recover the remainder of last night’s loss. I’ve then only got three days in the following week before my festival season kicks in again, so it’s fair to say that July will be a month to forget, profit wise.

I did identify July as a quiet month, and if I come out of it simply having learnt some good lessons from my horse-laying efforts, and in the black, I’ll be satisfied. I just have to avoid any more calamities…..



I’m currently contemplating my worst day’s P&L since I withdrew my four figure bank in early March. I have an ability to look on the positive side of adversity, so here are the plus points I’ve managed to squeeze from a bad evening :

· I lost half of my bank in a day, without going on tilt. That takes discipline!
· I carry a small bank!
· I carry a small bank because I’ve been funnelling off my previous profits to top up my meagre (in comparison to what I’ve become used to) earnings. With hindsight, a good decision.

So, tonight’s events. After a decent weekend, with more Horse Racing success, at the start of my session this evening I decided to concentrate on the racing again rather than the day’s tennis. My first race lay came in the 5.30 from Ayr, and I immediately picked out a winner. Slightly deflated, I decided to lay the favourite in the next, riskier but my best chance to regain a loss without throwing money at the problem. The favourite won. Unfortunately, the following race involved a 1.3 odds-on favourite. I decided to lay, with the pained expression of a prisoner walking behind a hangman to the gallows. Diamond Laura, the horse in question, duly strolled home by 5 lengths, and in three steps a large chunk of last week’s profit was washed down the river.

I managed to maintain an even perspective, calmed by a check of my P&L which showed that my horse racing experiment remained profitable overall, and I managed to regain a little with modest wins on the following seven races. I then took a break for tea.

I came back and decided to have a look at the tennis from Indianapolis. Having read Scott Ferguson’s earlier blog post, I noticed Kevin Kim had taken the first set against Denis Istomin. My experiences tell me to avoid potentially dodgy matches, but swayed by my earlier calamities, I decided to throw £200 on Kim at 1.12. He broke Istomin twice to lead 3-0 second set, but the odds didn’t move to tempt a green up. Error number one was to not cancel out at that point – in a normal situation, two breaks of serve should cause the odds to collapse. That didn’t happen. I will admit to then compounding my error at this point by switching to read a report on the Test Match. I returned to my screens shortly afterwards, and Istomin was at 1.36! The odds never really recovered enough to make me red up, so I pressed my ‘hope’ button and just watched the match unfold. Whilst the forums were no doubt going crazy, I assumed Kim must have been injured early in the second set. If not, this was seriously dodgy. I watched with bemusement as nearly £1.5 million was matched, as conspiracy theorists and easy-money grabbers were sent into mass panic. It’s slightly bizarre to watch an odds screen and a scoreboard work completely out of step. The market knew Istomin was going to win, even when the scoreboard suggested otherwise. Istomin won. I lost.

I hope Istomin came in to the game with an injury doubt. I hope Kim was genuinely injured during the game. But there have been too many recent stirrings of this type. Maybe I’ll have to stick to the horses!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Oh So Close

Like most who watched today’s events at Turnberry, I’m feeling a little deflated. We were a ten foot putt from sporting history, but it wasn’t to be. To make things worse, if you had to choose from the following contenders at mid afternoon, who would you least like to win?

· The 59 year old legend of the game, attempting to take a major championship 26 years after his eighth and final win.
· The 21 year old Brit, fifth last year as an amateur and trying to win on his first entry as a professional.
· The top British star, part of four winning Ryder Cup teams and ranked number 2 in the tournament’s host nation.
· The American PGA star ranked 33 in the world.
· The Aussie playing on the American tour and ranked 58 in the world.
· The South African star with two major championship wins and two Order of Merit wins on the European Tour.

Yeah, me too.

I can’t even add a particularly positive note on the betting front. With a satisfactory day behind me, I had no appetite for a bet on the play-off, despite a solid belief that Watson had blown his chance, so just stuck fifteen quid on it, winning a tenner! Pathetic, it should have been a £100 bet.

Mum of the Day
A good day for the 29 year old Austrian, Sybille Bammer, who won her second WTA tour title in Prague. As a point of interest, Bammer is the only mother on the WTA tour. And all her success has come after the birth of her daughter in 2001. Up to that point she had only played on the secondary ITF tour.

Presumably, there’s a house-husband somewhere in Linz who can have a bumper supermarket shop tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

'Oldie' Time

A stunning three days for Tom Watson at Turnberry. Watson will be 60 years of age in September, and first won the British Open at Carnoustie twenty four years ago. To lead the tournament during the first day was an achievement, to remain at the top of the leader board for two further days marks him as an exceptional sportsman. I hope he goes on to win, so he can move up that final notch to be put alongside Nicklaus, Palmer and Player on the historical top table of golf.

It occurred to me that I could do with a couple of names from the past returning to assist current teams I’m following.

Gordon Strachan.
As Leeds start their third attempt to escape the third tier of English football, it seems likely that star player Fabian Delph may be plucked away to the Premiership. A handy replacement would be the fiery Scot, able to lead the side from the front as he did with the promotion-winning and subsequently league-winning side of ’90 to’92. A fantastic playmaker, he was also a superb crosser of the ball ( I may also have to resurrect Lee Chapman to get on the end of those crosses ).

Geoffrey Boycott.
Ravi Bopara’s performances to date in the Ashes series are worrying. It’s fine to batter a second-rate and disinterested West Indian attack around, but he doesn’t currently look like a long-term England number three. I may have an answer. Moving Alastair Cook down to three would allow Boycott to return as a solid base alongside the in-form skipper Strauss. This would give a right hander/left hander opening partnership, backed up by a left handed number three and right handed number four. Boycott is also one of the few that can influence Kevin Pieterson, so he would be a useful guy to have in the dressing room.

Tommy Smith.
I would just like someone to kick Didier Drogba and Robinho very hard. A return for the Liverpool legend of the sixties and seventies seems like a good option.

Friday, 17 July 2009

A Head Scratching Moment

Little for me to get too excited about on the tennis front upon my return from Scotland, so I decided to concentrate this week on my horse racing experiment. I’m not really a P&L flasher, but in this case I think I need to put my thoughts into context.

My strategy remains as per my post from a couple of weeks ago (here). Result - £182 profit in 4 evenings, generally starting around 6.30pm. I’d put that at about £16 per hour. Perplexing – I spent a long period losing money to the bookies whilst learning the nuances of tennis and soccer betting, the two sports I have always been interested in. Yet a fortnight into my racing experiment and I’ve made profits I’d be happy with from evening soccer betting during the winter. It’s way too early to know whether I’m just on a good run, but I’ll certainly be continuing with the strategy, particularly on evenings when soccer and tennis opportunities are sparse. I managed to go through the evening card unscathed on both Wednesday and Thursday – easy! I’m sure a fall is just around the corner.

My tennis result is not as bad as my Betfair P&L suggests – I had a £50 Bet365 bonus to use, so took a £44 hit on Betfair as an offset.

I did get sucked into a couple of soccer bets – there were a few mismatches in the European Champions League and Europa League qualifiers.

I’m not going to get too downbeat about a loss on a Rugby League game tonight – St Helens surprisingly going down at home to Wakefield. Whilst I’ve chastised myself in the past over bets on ‘secondary sports’ which have cost me money, my record over the past couple of months with occasional sundry punts is pretty good. You can’t win ‘em all. I did look for an opportunity to offset my potential loss as the game came to a climax, but the odds were swinging around wildly and, with no TV pictures, I hadn’t a clue what was going on. I now know that Saints missed a last kick penalty chance to tie ( I’d got zero on the tie ). Doh.

Interesting times ahead – I know it’s not effective to switch between tennis, soccer and racing during an evening session. My P&L in the coming days will determine where I concentrate my efforts.

I had a near calamity yesterday evening – my laptop expired shortly after racing had finished. As I rely on the machine for both work and leisure, an early morning trip to PC World was necessary. Fortunately, a quick clean and re-installation of the battery did the trick, I’m told it was probably a simple static electricity problem. It did make me seek out the Betfair Mobile installation for the I-phone. I’m fairly impressed. It’s a little unwieldy to use with multiple web pages open, but it’s certainly an extra tool to use – I can’t always resist a punt on tennis during working hours, and as a route to green up (or red up) it may be handy.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

'T' Time

The end of my betting week, as Mrs B and I head northwards towards Kinross, Perthshire in the morning for the 3 day ‘T in the Park’ festival. So I’m away from Betfair until Tuesday evening.

As quiet a week as I can remember, with little evening sport, and the low-level ATP event in Newport, Rhode Island suffering from weather conditions more familiar to Newport, Gwent.

It’s a good job I have so much expertise in the field of Horse Racing to allow me to make a modest profit. Umm. I have managed to blow my weekend gains over four evenings. I’m happy to accept that I’m at a learning stage with racing and will keep trying, hopefully it won’t do too much damage to my overall objectives. More annoying is a weekly loss on soccer – I’m not going to bother with any more soccer until the proper stuff kicks in during August, as my P&L suggests I’m wasting my time.

So a similar position as I take a break to that I had at this stage in June. At mid month I’ll have made nothing. Let’s hope the second half of the month is also similar to June.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Mathieu Montcourt

I thought that this story was a little tucked away and may have been missed by many, but sadly it was announced yesterday that Mathieu Montcourt, the Frenchman ranked 119 by the ATP, died on Monday at the age of 24. It’s always sad to see a death at that premature age, and whilst he may never have gone on to Grand Slam greatness, he was slowly rising up the rankings (and was 72 places higher than the British Number 2! ). I know little of his tennis abilities, but he was certainly a name that anyone trading tennis will have come across. There’s more on the story here, with some worthy words from his fellow players.

Monday, 6 July 2009

A Day For Champions - The Sequel

I enjoyed yesterday’s Wimbledon final. I thought both players deserved all the praise they have received. Federer now has the trophy cabinet to back up what we all suspected – there’s never been a better all-round tennis player.

Oddity of the day – in my post after the French Open (here), I noted that two other men dominant in their own sports, Tiger Woods and Phil Taylor, had won tournaments on the same day as Federer. So who won yesterday’s AT&T National ? Las Vegas Desert Classic? Yep, you got it.

I read a few Tennis blogs earlier. I have no problem with a little nationalistic support, but thought some of the American comments were incredibly bitter. So what if Federer has a crap dress sense. So what if his well-meaning comments about Roddick in the on court post-match interview were a little clumsy. He’s a better player than Roddick, and he won. Get over it. And yet there were no negative comments whatsoever about Serena taking the piss out of Safina in her press conference. At least when the Aussies have a whinge, they do it with a little humour and self-depreciation. (Sorry to any more reasonable Americans out there, I’ve nothing against your nation as a whole!).

I’m extremely pleased with a £21 profit today. Why? Because I managed to post a moderately positive day despite a £19 loss laying this evening’s horse racing. I needed a reality check after two winning days at my new-found betting, er, ‘strategy’. My horse racing experiment isn’t dead in the water yet, but the concentration and time spent cross-checking websites over the weekend obviously made a difference. Tonight’s betting was looser and rushed in comparison, with one eye on soccer and tennis scoreboards. So if I’m to add racing to my betting armoury, I’ll have to look for periods when I can concentrate solely on the racecards.

Finally, I’ve just read an excellent, if lengthy, blog post from Mind Games, which has some good advice for novice Betfair users. Whilst his blog generally deals with pre-race trading, his latest post is useful for anyone new to this game. I recognise plenty of his experiences.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different.

So it’s Saturday. I’m tired after a tough working week - it's too hot out there! I’m home in early afternoon after a morning in Birmingham with Mrs B. This offers a good opportunity to have a decent session on Betfair. But there’s sod all to bet on. At Wimbledon, Serena has the first set in the bag, possibly a lay position? However, Venus looks subdued, so I keep away. I have a small flutter on the Lions in Johannesburg. And then, it comes to me….

My previous attempts at horse racing have been, frankly, flippant. I’ve had a mindset that it’s a game for those with an edge, whether it be solid knowledge and experience, or information ‘from the horse’s mouth’. Today I decided to give it a serious shot. Laying suits my style, as I expect to win more than I lose, and understand that each loss will be a kick in the solar plexus. So I spent a little time opening helpful websites (, etc ) and read a few relevant blogs. And away I went…

Simply, I looked for a horse to lose. No complicated rules, just staked to win between £2 and £6, depending how confident I was feeling in my choice. The result, 24 wins, 2 losses, 1 traded out for a small loss after I spotted new information about my selection. I also backed two horses. The first was Sea The Stars – everything I’ve read suggests he’s a superstar. More on my second back in a moment.

My two losses came in consecutive races. Up to this point I was feeling invincible. With hindsight, I’m glad that I had a setback, or I’m sure I’d have thought I had an Elliott Short-style money generating scheme. I was disappointed, but just held my instinct to throw in a big recovery lay, and I made a good (if lucky) decision – try to recover my loss with a back, therefore limiting my losses in the likely event it was unsuccessful. It won! (‘Fingers’ in the 8.00 at Bellewstown).

So an £85.00 result. Even without my fortunate moment, a £55 day is certainly more than I expected. So what now? Was it just beginner’s luck? Maybe I should just trial a few more sessions during July, whilst it’s quiet on the soccer front.

It’s certainly a rollercoaster ride –plenty of my selections came close to winning. I monitored the races on the Betfair screen, and have one solid piece of advice – don’t bet in running unless you’ve got extremely fast pictures. The speed that odds swing is phenomenal.

Sunday’s racing – more lays? I haven’t a clue, I’ll see how I feel in the morning. Unless Mrs B has other plans for the day…

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Don't believe the truth.

Does the British press believe that tennis is a sport played for just two weeks in June each year on grass? Twice during the Wimbledon fortnight, I have become irritated by the bandwagon-jumping stories emanating from ‘Fleet Street’ (actually somewhere in Kensington, I think).

Firstly, the death of British tennis, brought upon by a bad first two days of Wimbledon for the Brits (excluding our superstar). In the last year, our top four women have cumulatively risen 123 places on the WTA rankings. Our men have remained around their 2008 marks. So why are the commentators so intent on gloom-mongering? With the exception of Keothavong’s defeat to Patricia Mayr, our player’s defeats have come against higher-ranked opponents. No surprise then.

The last couple of days have heralded the end of women’s tennis. Supposedly, only two players can play anymore, the rest are crap. Not like the days when we had Graf, Navratilova, Evert….
But just a moment. When Navratilova was at the top of her game, was the world number 41 as good as Sabine Lisicki? Doubt it. Graf and Navratilova were further ahead of the competition than Venus and Serena are today. The press guys obviously didn’t bother watching the French Open. Oh, that’s played in May.

I accept the women’s game is not at a high point, and world number one Safina hardly helped my argument today. But Sharapova’s shoulder injury, combined with the retirement of Henin and Clijsters, leaves us short of three major names at the top of the game. If Federer and Nadal retire imminently, would the men’s game look so strong? Oh well, if Murray wins tomorrow, tennis will no doubt be hailed as our national sport.

A Tasty Thought

Popped into McDonalds on the way home. I decided to forsake my usual Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and choose something from their ‘Tastes of the World’ menu. I plumped for their South African-inspired offering , the ‘Schalk Burger’.

Tasted quite nice, a hint of Springbok in with the beef, until I got a mouthful of eyeball…..