Monday, 31 August 2009

August - Successes....and Failures.

My primary aim for the month was to maintain focus and discipline. As a secondary point, I suggested that, in the event I was successful in achieving the above, my bank should allow me to make around £35 per day. I also noted a three-prong attack on tennis, soccer and horse racing.

I ended the month with a profit of £916, from 22 available days of betting ( I managed to have at least one bet on each of these 22 days ). This equates to £41 per day, so success on that particular point. I tried to avoid turning the month into a £35/day target chase, although I will admit to being particularly cautious this evening with my U.S. Open session – didn’t want to wreck my P&L at the death!

My other major success was in one particular element of discipline – dealing with losses. Only once did I go well above my staking levels following a loss, and that on a selection I intended to hit heavily anyway, and I just pushed a little further due to an earlier loss.

Maintaining focus was less successful, due to an appalling start to the month with my tennis betting. Whilst I recovered my poise during the Cincinnati tournament in the latter half of the month, by mid-month I’d reached a point where I was placing bets with the expectation of losing. I backed away from a number of opportunities during this spell, and any sense of a consistent strategy went to the wall. I’m happy to say that I ended the month with a profit on tennis, something I doubted I would achieve two weeks ago. Although, if I had in mind around £1k per month overall profit, I would have expected £400-£500 to come from tennis. Fail.

I had little expectation from soccer in the month, and achieved little. My intention is to put more emphasis on soccer from September onwards, having kept away from the season openers. The exception to this has been in the Australian wallet matches. I’ve found it easier to select bets on morning matches, whether soccer or rugby league. I think that I tend to get a little edgy during evening betting sessions, but on a morning I’ve had time to assess my overall position, and seem to be more confident. My routine has been to check out the matches the evening before, make a mental note of what I think may happen, and then keep an eye on the in-play score using Betfair Mobile. It’s been a successful source of profit during August.

I’m still scratching my head a little about my horse racing results. I’m simply picking horses I think will lose. There’s no great detail to my strategy, just use what I can find from the Racing Post website and various blogs I have bookmarked. I wouldn’t like to rely on this strategy to pay my mortgage, but I’m very pleased with a £284 profit. A major concern is that the majority of my racing profit has come from evening meetings. To continue with racing bets through the winter will mean either forfeiting soccer opportunities at weekends, or attempting to cover both, and this on the limited weekend days I have available for betting. It may be that racing becomes my summer sport to replace soccer, leaving me to concentrate in the main on two sports during any given period.

A goal of consistent staking seems a step away. Maybe I should be looking more for a consistent thought process. My confidence levels vary throughout a month, and my staking levels differ accordingly. As long as I have some semblance of a staking plan, I’m happy to have a little flexibility in the actual numbers. I’m not a record keeper, so I’ll continue to rely on my usual mix of control and gut-feel.

I have to be concerned that a large proportion of profit came from weekday daytime bets. Whilst I’m fine with the technique outlined above, it can’t be relied upon for regular profit – if a particular position materialises at a point I’m free to check and use Betfair Mobile, great, but that’s luck of the draw. Any strategy I have should be based around the hours I’m likely to be online ( weekday evenings, some weekend days ).

So nothing particularly new for September and beyond – keep concentrating, take the losses, and try to pick more winners ( or losers if betting on the horses ). The fact that a chunk of my winnings have been removed from my Betfair account to top up my work earnings gives me an incentive to continue in this manner – I need to win! ( Ok, I don’t, but it pays for some of life’s non-essentials ). I’ve got a healthier bank than at the start of the month, so a similar percentage on turnover should allow me to make a nice monthly sum. It would be helpful if a higher proportion of that sum came from football and tennis, but as long as it’s green, it’s good.

It's Getting Tiresome, Arsene.

Just back from the Leeds Festival, and I’m currently attempting to find any value in the US Open first round matches – not an easy task, and also put together a blog post to summarise my August efforts.

But I felt the need for a quick post, having listened to the sports news during the drive home.

Mr Wenger is a bad loser. I have no problem with this, many of our greatest sportsmen are. But few talk quite as much drivel as Arsene after a defeat. His latest gem is that ‘persistent fouling’ ( as carried out by opponents ) is more of a threat to football than blatant diving ( as carried out by his own team ). The particular game in question had nine yellow cards, six of which went to Wenger’s Arsenal. Presumably, he will as usual only have seen the fouls committed by Manchester Utd rather than those committed by his own team. To top this, Emmanuel Eboue was booked for diving, only days after Eduardo’s pathetic cheating.

Wouldn’t Mr Wenger’s time be better spent teaching his players to uphold the spirit and laws of the game, rather than spouting his regular ‘the world’s against us’ diatribe? Whilst I, like many, enjoy watching Arsenal’s free flowing football, surely he cannot still hold the na├»ve view that it’s unfair for opponents to make the game physical to counteract his team. More likely, it’s just another poor attempt to influence referees. Boring.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

The End Of Summer

Well, my summer anyway. Anyone who follows this blog will be aware that I am a regular festival-goer, and tomorrow brings the last major event of my year – the Leeds Festival. I have a particular affinity with this event, particularly as I originate from the locality. It always has a mix of music to suit my taste, and I have the advantage of a nice comfortable bed each evening rather than a crappy tent ( my in-laws are fifteen or so miles away from the site ).

I watched Villa earlier, ending their European season before Autumn commences. Many have questioned the merits of the Europa League, and O’Neill’s team selection for tonight’s game suggested that the league games either side of tonight’s game were his priority. What struck me was that the crowd seemed to have the same opinion. The Holte End had plenty of spaces, and the home fans were shown up by the Rapid Vienna contingent, who kept up a banging support throughout.

I might just get back home in time for a short session on Betfair on Monday evening, particularly as it is the opening day of the US Open, so I’ll save the August round-up for my next post. To summarise – it’s been better than July!

Now, where’s that cheesecloth shirt…

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Frustration (Part 37)

Maybe I’ve just got to get used to the fact that sports betting is frustrating, and as long as you’re in profit at the end of a week, it’s worth the effort. The source of my current frustration – a turnaround in my Tennis fortunes, brought about by a concerted effort to be decisive and remain confident in my selections. Great. And with typical timing, concurrently a crap run with the footy. Therefore ensuring that I plod ahead steadily, rather than storming into Manchester City-style riches.

I had a good week following the Cincinatti tournament – it helps when all the top guys are playing, and everyone’s giving a committed and genuine performance. I was away at the weekend when the big four went head-to-head, but I’d probably have kept my money in my pocket anyway. I backed this up with bets on Razzano and Wickmayer yesterday evening in New Haven, and Verdasco tonight in the same event ( er, New Haven, not the women's singles ).

I’ve been keeping my soccer bets limited to small stakes until the season settles down, and things were going ok until I developed a skill for laying winners over the weekend – a series of small bets just to test out my tipping skills, but when the majority go pear-shaped, it can quickly make a dent in your P&L.

Yesterday evening, I decided it was time to be decisive and confident with soccer betting – a lay of Villa as Fernando Torres scored to bring the score at Anfield back to 1-2. One Stephen Gerard cock-up later, and Ashley Young was able to ruin my night from the penalty spot. A rare odds-against bet for me, so I shouldn’t really expect to win. But I do!

My most profitable sport to date this month? Horse Racing! I'll leave any detailed analysis of my betting fortunes for my month-end roundup, but there will probably be a sense of frustration engrained into that post.

Friday, 21 August 2009


What has become known as the Harlequins ‘Bloodgate’ incident has rather crept up on me, but having spent a little time looking at the details of the story, it strikes me as one of the worst examples of cheating in sport I’ve ever come across, and in a sport renowned for its high standards of behaviour.

To summarise, during April’s Rugby Union Heineken Cup tie between Leinster and Harlequins, Leinster led 6-5 with five minutes to go. Harlequins had no experienced kicker on the field, having substituted their fly-half and had his replacement leave the field injured. Then wing Tom Williams appeared to have obtained a cut mouth, allowing a substitution under the ‘blood injury’ rule. Kicker Nick Evans replaced him, but failed with a dropkick attempt and Leinster held out to win.

It was later identified that Williams had been passed a fake blood capsule by physio Steph Brennan, on the instruction of Director of Rugby Dean Richards. Williams feigned injury, and was then led away by Brennan. Harlequins compounded the incident by having Williams mouth cut by medical staff after the game to avoid a check by officials. Further cover-ups followed, including an attempt to leave Williams adrift as a scapegoat during his disciplinary hearing.

Cheating happens in sport, but often incidents are ‘spur of the moment’ ( Maradona’s hand of god, even Mike Tyson’s ear-munching ). This was premeditated, and it seems that Harlequins have used the tactic four times before!

Richards has resigned and been given a three year ban. Brennan received a two year, and Williams has had his ban reduced from one year to four months. I would hope that the Rugby clubs in this country would uphold high enough standards to ensure Richards never holds a top position again. He condoned a policy of holding fake blood capsules in his physio’s kit bag, presumably for every game if they had been used five times. Take away doping incidents, and this is as premeditated an incident of cheating as you’re likely to come across.

And my worst incident of cheating? Another sport hardly renowned for skulduggery – Ice Skating. Remember Tonya Harding and Nanci Kerrigan? During the run up to the 1994 Olympics. Kerrigan was a rival to Harding in the US trials, and presumably Harding feared for her place. Easy – hire in a thug to give Kerrigan a whack across the knees. A life ban followed. Not good, although I’d understand if someone tried the same with Joey Barton.

Anyway, the V Festival at Weston Park for me this weekend. Best wishes to all on the betting front.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A Winner. Just.

No, not the Juddmonte International, but yesterday’s 2.45 at Wolverhampton.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that a guy who part owns the building company I freelance for is also a part-owner of King of Connacht, a horse with Shropshire trainer Mark Wellings. A 25/1 winner at Bath in May, yesterday it went off 11/2 third favourite. The above photo will no doubt be on Jim’s wall for the while. The second horse was a 16/1 outsider, The Grey One, and the winning distance is best described as a ‘short nose’. Did I have a bet on it? No, I’ll no doubt wait until it’s a short price loser.

I’m showing a bit of consistency with my betting – consistent discipline, consistently crap tennis bets. It doesn’t help when I see results like tonight’s win for Igor Kunitsyn over world number 24 James Blake. When my money was on him last week, he couldn’t beat the world number 487. Overall I’m doing ok, with an August profit on all other sports I’ve participated in. Things will be great when my tennis form returns soon with a vengeance. Umm.

Whilst the natural learning curve means that I find less useful trading tips than I did a year ago, I did come across a worthwhile couple of lines regarding in-play betting –

‘Remember as long as your green is on the winner when the match ends – you win! Where the red or green was a minute earlier or 4 sets earlier makes no difference. We get settled at the end of the match. Not in play’.

I kept this in mind during tonight’s Wigan / Wolves game, and came out with a minimal green, having been all-red mid game. Often the most obvious statements are the most useful.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

I Should Feel Sorry, But.......

One of those 'I don't believe it' moments yesterday in the Bristol City / Crystal Palace match. Early in the game, Palace's on-loan striker, Freddie Sears, banged a shot into the goal and headed towards the corner flag to celebrate, whilst crestfallen City defenders dropped to their haunches. The ball had hit the back corner stanchion, and bounced back out onto the pitch. Bizarrely, the referee continued play, and apoplectic Palace players hurried towards the linesman. After a referee /linesman discussion, no goal. Ridiculous. The body language of every player ( and the crowd behind the goal ) said goal. How on earth can that happen? Surely, the ref can just ask the City goalkeeper?

My reaction? Desperate sorrow for Palace? No, a hearty laugh. Neil Warnock is such an arrogant tool, he is the one man in football who I would wish such unfairness on. And he managed to live up to his reputation, refusing to shake hands with the City players at the end of the game, and falling out with Bristol manager Gary Johnson, who he suggested should have let Palace score unoppossed to remedy the situation. The precarious nature of any manager's employment means that Johnson sensibly kept his head down. On the BBC highlights show last night, Warnock suggested that there is a conspiracy against Palace, and that this wouldn't have happened to any bigger team.

I've nothing against Palace, but the guy's a knob.

With regard to the 'goal', this is the second time this has happened in a couple of seasons in the Championship, and it ain't good enough. Sack Sepp Blatter, and get in someone who will allow technology (or sensible rules for officials) to correct these cock-ups.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Number 2 !!

Fantastic moment for Andy Murray tonight in Montreal, with a win over Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in the semi-final of the Rogers Cup which guaranteed a rise to number 2 in the ATP rankings, breaking four years of Federer/Nadal domination. The rankings began in 1973, and no Briton has reached these dizzy heights before.

The rankings require consistent performance and participation, and Murray’s cause has certainly been helped by Nadal’s recent injury. If Murray wishes to be seen as a top 2 player, he has a perfect opportunity in the upcoming US Open. In form, and on his favourite surface, the weight of expectation may be the most difficult opponent to overcome. As Serena Williams noted rather ungraciously recently, you’d rather have a bagful of Grand Slam titles than a number one ranking.

Premier League opening day thoughts :

· Never give a footballer an excuse. Everton were supposedly upset by City’s chasing of Joleon Lescott. Result – 1-6 home defeat.
· Dark horses – Fulham. A top manager, allied to a consistent line-up and a hard-working ethic. They’ll be nearer the top than bottom come May.
· I don’t believe that today taught us much we didn’t know, just confirmed a couple of strong theories – Pompey and Hull are in for a long hard season, and the promoted teams will be joining them near the bottom.
· Add Burnley to the list of teams who can’t deal with a Rory Delap throw-in.

Moan of the day – why do clubs allow the kit manufacturers to persist in moving away from a team’s traditional design just to suck in more cash from parents. West Ham now seem to be wearing a Torino strip. Hull City - aren’t they known as ‘The Tigers’? Since when were tigers gold with a black pinstripe? My favourite new strip – Aston Villa’s. Simple reasoning – it instantly looks like a Villa kit.

Friday, 14 August 2009

It's All About The Confidence

Every cloud has a silver lining. Tonight’s match between Federer and Tsonga was possibly my silver lining after the dark tennis cloud that has settled over me in the last month.

First, the match. A high quality if serve-dominated first set, with Tsonga taking the tie break. Federer moved from his pre-match 1.18 to circa 1.60. Federer whipped through the second set 6-1, and then broke Tsonga twice in the final set to take a 4-0 lead, at which point (unsurprisingly) 1.01 could be laid. Tsonga then stormed back, winning five successive games and having three match points at 5-6 0-40. Federer recovered to take the match to a tie break, which Tsonga took 7-3 for a miraculous victory.

So I made a good profit? No, a £12 loss. But it struck me how my current lack of confidence may have saved me from a serious clobbering. I remain a Federer fan, and have backed him heavily in the past. A month ago, I would probably have placed my initial bet on Federer, remained calm through the first set setback, and then greened-up at the latter part of the second set. But I may well have determined that Tsonga had blown it once broken early in the third, and piled in on Federer.

Instead, the tennis-shy Rob stuck £50 on Federer pre-match, and then went all red at the end of the first set, tired of my selections regularly sailing down the river. I then watched the coverage of the remainder of the game with no desire to risk further losses. Good choice.

I’m still doing reasonably well on my discipline this month, less well on profit generation. I’m feeling fairly comfortable with soccer, and horse racing is still a work in progress, so as long as I can stay ahead of zero I’m content. It’s actually been the ‘sundry’ backs that have offset my tennis calamities, with worthwhile profit from cricket and Aussie rugby league. Oddly, most of this money has been gained using Betfair Mobile whilst having the odd 10 minute break from work, rather than during a structured betting session. Maybe it’s sometimes easier to just look at one sporting event in isolation, and make a single decision based on the odds and information in front of you. During a three/four hour session, you can become influenced by the successes and failures of the session, with losses leading to inconsistent staking and frustration, and gains bringing overconfidence or tentative bank-protection.

Finally, I’ll use the news of the death, at the age of 94, of an American guitar legend – Les Paul – as an excuse to add a picture of the instrument which famously carries his name, the Gibson Les Paul Standard. It remains one of the greatest guitars ever made, and one of the most beautiful, so Paul’s legacy will remain for decades to come. I own a Fender Stratocaster, never practise enough to make any progress with my playing, but remain hopeful that my Betfair exploits may pay in the future for a Les Paul Standard, and maybe even guitar lessons.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Another 'Wacky' Tennis Publicity Shot.

No other sport would allow it's star participants to look so stupid, so regularly as Tennis.

I can neither confirm or deny the rumour that Elena Dementieva double-faulted the next point.

Plaudits to Kim Clijsters. Returning from a retirement break of over two years in Cincinatti, she's already taken out Bartoli, Schnyder and Kuznetsova this week. With so many of the top WTA players struggling for consistency, my suggestion in a post a number of months ago that Clijsters could regain the number one spot is not looking particularly far-fetched. And great to see a couple of players - Clijsters and Sam Stosur -who can be relied upon not to disintegrate into a nerve-strangled jelly when approaching the finish line. Recent WTA-watching has made me extremely cautious of placing any bets whatsoever - trader's dream, gambler's nightmare.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Tennis Nightmare

To take an excerpt from a recent post – ‘….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’.

This statement summarised my aims for upcoming months, and emphasised the need for discipline. It assumed that I was capable of using my knowledge of tennis and soccer to select appropriate bets, and that I needed consistency and concentration to ensure that I minimised losses and avoided greed. Throughout the last couple of years, all that has stood between me and a substantial regular profit has been indiscipline.

What I should have added was – ‘if I avoid placing bets on tennis players who immediately capitulate to disastrous defeats against low-ranking journeymen’. I’m having a horrible time with tennis at the moment. I was really looking forward to the American hardcourt season, and I can’t believe how badly it’s gone. I can be the most disciplined gambler alive, but I'll still lose if I keep picking the wrong bets.

Tonight’s selection was the Russian, Igor Kunitsyn, the favourite to beat the 487-ranked local wildcard in Montreal, 33 year-old Frederic Niemayer. My last post noted how I traded out too early. As Kunitsyn went 5-3 up in the first set, I decided to leave my bet open rather than greening up. It went to 5-5. Bah. At 5-5 40-0 to Niemayer, the Canadian collapsed with a knee injury, requiring courtside attendance from the trainer. So at 6-5, I remained relaxed. Only a couple of minutes later, Niemayer was steaming towards a 7-5, 6-1 win. It’s tough to minimise losses in those situations. I followed up by cancelling out my bet on Jeremy Chardy (the eventual winner) as events turned against him, my confidence shot.

So here’s a new angle – soccer wins subsidising tennis losses. The opposite has been much more common. Glad I’m such an expert on German 2nd division football. Ha.

Kim Clijsters is due to play her comeback match in Cincinatti shortly, after a two and a half year break. Marion Bartoli is logically cracking value at 1.65, particularly off the back of her win in Stanford, where she beat Jankovic, Stosur and Venus. But with my current run of form, I’ll choose to be in bed soon, bank safely tucked away.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Quiet Friday Night In

No, these pictures of The Zutons’ Abi Harding have nothing to do with my post tonight, but they were taken by me last weekend, and are probably more interesting that my day’s betting. I did take some of the lead singer, Dave McCabe, honest, but they haven’t, er, come out that well.

My first goal of the month has been achieved – back in the black (just), having picked off a series of small soccer bets over the last two evenings, and gained a little horse racing profit.

Tennis has been a frustrating hell. I think I’m being overcautious in my attempt to avoid loose bets. The nature of the sport is that odds often swing, and I’m trading out of positions too early, with all-reds in games where my original selection went on to win. How I managed to end up with a loss tonight, having initially backed the eventual winner Soriana Cirstea pre-match at 2.80ish…. Fundamentally, I can’t pick a bet at the moment, which is more irritating. If your starting position is regularly wrong, life’s a struggle. Hopefully my touch will come back soon.

I hope I can make some progress with horse racing. It really is an enjoyable and efficient sport to bet on, as the hundreds of pre-race traders out there will know. Races at steady 10/15 minute intervals, and a result and closure within minutes. It’s certainly easier on the nerves than following the WTA.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

False Start

I’ve blown my bank!!

Ok, just wanted a good first line. The facts are slightly duller, and highlight the pitfalls of self-employment. I removed most of my bank before I went to Cambridge last week, to cover some direct debits due over the weekend, with the intention of putting it back in yesterday. This assumed payment of a June invoice at the end of July. No payment received, no betting bank, and no bloody money in my bank account. I’m promised ‘tomorrow, definitely’.

The blown bank was therefore the princely sum of £55. Just the one bet last night, the safest tennis back I could find – world number fifteen Marin Cilic against 153-ranked Somdev Devvarman. That’ll be thirty pounds gone then. Tonight’s ‘interim’ strategy was to lay my full bank on the evening’s racing ( I’ve abandoned my ‘sensible’ strategy detailed in the last post pending having a bank to play with ). I survived three races, the fourth got me!

The most frustrating element – no bet on my ‘Nap of the week’ – Yanina Wickmayer to beat Jill Craybas tonight in Los Angeles. As I write, it’s 7-6, 4-0. Bah.

So, a false start to my August aims. Fingers crossed, I can start properly tomorrow evening. I’m concerned August may not be as productive as I first intended, based on the following :
· I’m on family duties in Yorkshire this weekend (2 days lost).
· I have both V and Leeds Festivals in the last two weekends of the month (6 days lost).
· I’m very wary of minor tennis tournaments at the moment. I’ll be happier when the big guns come out for Montreal and Cincinatti.

Like many, I’m looking forward to the football season. Just a note of caution, I’ve always found the opening couple of weeks throw up plenty of strange results. I’ll keep my transactions modest until the season settles down a little.