Monday, 30 November 2009

November - Smile, It's My Monthly P&L Graph

I did note in my October review my certainty that I would be profitable in November. So, task achieved? Well, yes, but not without my customary early-month losses, followed by the now familiar hard-earned recovery.

Looking at my P&L, there are similarities with October, in that most of the month was spent in the red. But there were two major differences to the previous month –

i. There was no last-day disaster, meaning that I ended November with a modest profit of £325.
ii. I spent less time beating myself up about losses.

A number of the month’s reverses were simply down to the unpredictability of sport. I think this helped me to move on and avoid chasing.

I went into negative territory on the 4th of the month, courtesy of a couple of horse racing lays going astray, and reached a low point mid-month following a period struggling with a limited bank, topped off with a bet on Vincent Van der Voort to beat Anastasia Dobromyslova in the Grand Slam Darts – I can always find a shock result to kick me when I’m down.

So that brought about a hardening of attitude, helped by my blog commitment noted above. Fifteen successive winning days later, I can look back on the month in a positive light.

The star sport for the month was horse racing. My method is straightforward – lays, no magic system, just review the information available to me on a race-by-race basis. I’m sure these things go in cycles, but I have certainly had a hot streak over the last few weeks. I generally stayed away from tennis, making just a small profit, but had a tough time with football – I still can’t believe some of the results that went against me. My sundry sports bets were less successful than of late – losses on darts, basketball and cricket.

Once again, when I’ve been in a hole, I’ve had the focus and determine to dig myself out. It would be nice to transfer that focus towards making profits rather than just recovery missions. I could do with a cash injection as Christmas approaches.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Developing Bad Habits

There are a multitude of betting blogs out there at the moment, including plenty of ‘start-ups’, with guys ( this does seem to be one of the last great male-only clubs! ) learning the game using small stakes with the hope of developing towards a goal of full-time trading. A recurring theme is the thought that once the basics are learnt and mistakes made using smallish sums, profit will quickly begin to flow. This is probably why many blogs disappear after a short time. It simply isn’t as easy as that!

Let’s do the basic maths on the workings of Betfair – the exchange take their cut, the rest of the wagered sums are shared between winners and losers. If there were huge amounts of people making a regular and substantial profit, there would probably need to be a similarly huge amount prepared to lose consistently and regularly – I’m not sure there are that many mugs out there.

So there are probably plenty of people in a similar situation to myself. Two years or so into my Betfair adventure, I’ve learnt plenty. My betting methods bear little resemblance to those I used at the start of the journey. I often make worthwhile profits, but the aim of consistent profit remains an arm-length away. I’ve gone past the beginner stage, and I’m sure I’m going through the period where many give up – the basic skills are in place, but I’m still liable to error ( with associated losses ). Only the determined will survive this stage. There remain plenty of disheartening days, and I rely on my undiminished belief that I will eventually succeed to keep me plodding on.

My current irritation is a couple of bad habits I seem to have developed.

· Becoming tentative after a day has started well.
· Rounding up

A P&L from a successful Tuesday illustrates my first issue. Having made a decent sum from a spare couple of hours following the afternoon’s racing, I spent an evening session concentrating on soccer. It seemed to me to be a fairly successful and satisfactory session, but a view of the P&L at the end of the evening surprised me – a largest win of £2.83! I’m unlikely to make much contribution towards the cost of Christmas with too many more sessions like that.

Maybe I’ve got a touch of OCD, but I do like to close a day with a nice rounded up sum, whether it be daily profit or bank balance. But I’m also prone to careless bets, simply to reach a rounded total. There is little more frustrating than throwing away a day’s profit on a risky punt around 11.00pm with the aim of winning £2.50!

I’m in this for the long haul. I’m sure a few less determined will fall by the wayside. Those who succeed will learn from their mistakes. I remain hopeful I’ll be one of them.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Leaving It Late

Trying not to be too smug, but for purely statistical interest I'd just like to point out that Max Gradel's 89th minute winner at Elland Road tonight was the fifth time this season that Leeds have scored the winning goal beyond the 86th minute.

I think it's since we started hiring in the same referees who usually officiate for Manchester United home games.....

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Hobby? More Like Hard Work.

Six winning days since Monday, so surely I’m enjoying a nice easy pastime which keeps me out of the pub? Not exactly.

Bets this week included :

· Vincent Van der Voort to beat Anastasia Dobromyslova in the Grand Slam of Darts ( she’s only a girl! ).
· Phil Taylor to beat Van der Voort on the following evening.
· A lay of Hull with the score at 0-2 to West Ham in today’s Premiership game ( taken all red just before a Hull sending off at 3-2 ).
· A bet on the German 2nd division leaders Armenia Bielefield ( unbeaten in nine ) to avoid defeat at home to the strugglers 1860 Munich ( three successive defeats ).

You can guess the rest.

So how do you recover from chucking chunks of your bank down the drain? Simply by putting the hours in. I suppose I’ve been fortunate that there have been a couple of evening race meetings to supplement the sparse football fare on offer this week, and I’ve also stolen a few daytime hours for some horse racing lays – a benefit of self-employment. And now I feel knackered.

So please dear Lord ( I must be desperate, I’m an atheist ), can I have a nice easy Sunday with no further cock-ups to give me a profitable week that can be consigned to history and remembered only for the final P&L.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

World Gone Mad. Part 73

Let’s start with the simple statement – I feel sorry for Ireland, losing just one step away from the World Cup finals is hard to swallow, and any debatable refereeing decision only makes things worse.

However, today’s huge over-reaction leaves me shaking my head. Yes, it was a hand ball. But there are probably five decisions as bad as this each weekend in the football league. I listened to Liam Brady pleading for France to ‘do the right thing’ and have the game replayed. The FAI have now formally asked for a replay. Tosh.

Sadly, plenty of teams have felt cheated, and I can’t remember too many games being replayed. As Crystal Palace and Watford fans will know, recent times have seen goals given that never went near the line, and goals which were clearly fired into the net, yet disallowed. If every game with a dodgy decision was replayed, we’d have to abandon the June / July break and play for twelve months per year. I bet Terry Fenwick and Peter Reid are dusting off their old kits right now, ready for a rematch of the ‘Hand of God’ game – they might catch Maradona this time. Celtic must have a great case for being back in the Champions League, after Eduardo’s dive ( oh sorry, he was proved innocent. Ahem)

And Thierry Henry? Heard a couple of comments along the lines of ‘I used to respect him….. but now he’s just a cheat’. Sorry, but Henry could fall over in the penalty box as well as anyone during his Arsenal career. Last night, he handled a ball. It’s really a minor misdemeanour compared to the regular over-the-ball challenges and stray elbows that occur on a weekly basis, so why suddenly pillory Henry? Name me the player who would have owned up to the incident and asked the ref to disallow the goal? Thought so.

All last night has proved is that it’s tough to lose unluckily. We all have plenty of experience of that!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Go North!

Ok, I will then.

I'm away for the weekend in Durham, and it sounds like I'll have howling gails chasing me up the country this afternoon.

So no betting until Monday. I'm just leaving one open bet - a lay of Exeter at 7.0 away at Colchester. The home team have looked strong under Adie Boothroyd, and it's a long trip from Exeter.

Hope all have a profitable weekend.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Au Revoir....and Do svidaniya.

The end of the road for two of the ATP’s, er, characters – Fabrice Santoro and Marat Safin - who’s defeats in Paris bring retirement at the ages of 36 and 29 respectively.

Santoro could certainly be described as a journeyman, with a highest ranking of 17 over a twenty year career. But he has become better known as ‘The Magician’, due to his ability to cut ball-girls in half during changeovers in matches. Er, maybe I’ve got that wrong. The nickname came from Pete Sampras, and is more likely to be due to a playing style involving great variety and craft. In turn, this style was required to overcome his comparative lack of power, when opposed by bigger and heavier-hitting opponents. The Frenchman holds the record for grand slam appearances – 69 - and also won two grand slam doubles titles – at the 2003 and 2004 Australian Opens.

Trivia time – Santoro won his first Challenger title in Telford. Glamorous life, eh. And he remains one of the most famous people ever to be born on Tahiti.

Safin – where does one start. Massive talent, massive underachievement. He turned pro in 1997 and by 2000, at the age of twenty, he was world number one with seven ATP titles in the season, and became US Open champion by defeating Pete Sampras in the final at Flushing Meadow. After that, injuries and a baffling temperament saw him yo-yo up and down the rankings, but he never regained the heights of the 2000-2002 period, although a second grand slam was earned in Australia in 2005. Maybe Federer’s consistency and the emergence of Nadal hindered his progress, but his inconsistency was often head-scratching.

Personally, Safin became the first male name on my ‘avoid completely’ betting list. I also tended to keep away from Santoro – would he be overpowered, or bamboozle his opponent? But it’s sad to see the end of anyone on the ATP Tour who could be termed ‘charismatic’ – the sport is sadly lacking in such men.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Finding The Edge Again

I think yesterday was one of the most demoralising I’ve had on Betfair, not because the amount of money lost was significant, but simply because I kept to all the self-imposed rules I’ve put in place to overcome a sticky patch, yet was simply battered by results going against me. Fortunately, each day ends and things always seem brighter in the morning.

Having abandoned tennis for the year, I settled down to a Saturday afternoon session, looking at the day’s football and racing. Things went ok in the early afternoon, with some fairly predictable Premiership games helping me towards a decent day. Everything seemed to go awry from the moment I placed my biggest horse racing lay of the day ( Kelso 4.05 ), and had my only loser.

This has always been my moment of weakness, so time for a deep breath, accept the loss and move on. I’m actually worse than ever at achieving this – as my strike rate improves, I lose less often, but seem to take the losses badly. In this case, I took the loss calmly, abandoned the racing and concentrated on rebuilding my profits with the day’s soccer. But everything kept kicking me in the nuts – I laid three away sides with solid reasons for doing so (Lens, Waalwijk, Mouscron ), kept my nerve when they all went ahead early ( I’m regularly scratching bets that go on to win ), and watched as the bets sailed down the river. I then topped it off by laying second-bottom Guimaries against the unbeaten Portuguese table-toppers, Braga. Again, Guimaries scored. Again, I held my bet in the expectation of a Braga equaliser. Again, it never came. Bollocks.

So by yesterday evening, any belief in an edge I may have had also sailed down the river.

My mood improved today by spending a little time analysing my three-month results. My impression has been that horse racing and tennis have been crap, soccer adequate, and sundry opportunities successful. In fact, regardless of sport, my post-loss selections have been crap and everything else is perfectly acceptable. Cut out the chaser bets and disgruntled OFI selections, and I am capable of achieving decent profits on my three main sports. So that put me in a good state of mind to start a Sunday afternoon session, which passed by without calamities and pulled back a decent chunk of yesterday's losses.

My day was also brightened by watching ITV’s coverage of the FA Cup second round draw. Remember Tony Woodcock, the former Nottingham Forest, Koln and England striker from the late seventies and early eighties? He can be forgiven his perm of that period, a fashion statement shared with his peers Kevin Keegan and Bryan Robson. But his 2009 haircut – WTF!!

I’ll finish by using the excuse of Jay Z’s stellar performance on this week’s Jools Holland show to bring out my favourite corny joke. Sorry to any non-music fans for whom this may miss the spot completely.

‘What did the ice-cream seller say after falling out with his confectionary supplier?’

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Patriotism. For Losers?

Remember Andy Murray playing three games in three days with a damaged wrist recently in a forlorn attempt to keep GB in the Davis Cup World group?

Maybe that’s why he’s not world number one - not selfish enough.

Contrast his efforts with those of Serena Williams. As the USA take to court in the final of the Federation Cup against Italy, Serena has other priorities – flogging her book on the Jonathon Ross show.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Still Head-Scratching

Back in April I wrote a post here about some iffy odds in the Greek second division involving a team by the name of Iliasiakos. During the summer, the club was merged with Egaleo F.C of Athens to form a new club in the second division, (Egaleo were in the fourth division) named Egaleo A.O. Athens.

Well the new set-up hasn’t stopped the dodgy odds. I checked Monday’s in-play games last night, and in a rare in-play Greek second division match, Egalio were at home to Ilioupoli. I took screenshots of the league table and Betfair odds at the time, as once again they just don’t seem to add up. For a team who are bottom of the league, without a win, playing a team unbeaten in their last three games, 1.45 for a win is way off – that’s similar odds to those currently offered for Manchester United against CSKA Moscow tomorrow at Old Trafford!

Anyone who’s read my recent posts would realise I’m in no position to take punts that the odds were wrong, particularly as the previous games I mentioned seemed suspicious. But I’m still interested in finding anyone who knows what the hell is going on in this league.

Oh, the final score – 0-1 to Ilioupoli.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

October - Fell at The Last Fence

A tough month for me, following on from a dismal September. I began the month with a continuation of my previous problems – inconsistency, frustration and carelessness – and it took me a few days before I knuckled down to a serious attempt to recoup my losses. A solid effort over a couple of weeks brought me back level and I had scraped to around a £100 profit coming into the last day of the month. I was in an overall monthly profit position at the end of only five days – the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 29th and 30th - and was at my high point of the month around 3.00pm yesterday!

An old demon cut those profits away to give me ( sorry for nicking Cassini’s line ) ‘Red October’. Yep, the old one-two. Chasing a loss. A bet on Bayer Leverkusen at 2-0 away at Schalke was looking good when the lead was maintained for 40 minutes or so, but the failure to green up was the source of what followed. Schalke brought it back to 2-1 with six or seven minutes remaining, but my frustration at a mistake compelled me to hold out for an all-green position. Then ‘market suspended’, an equaliser, and half the day’s profit gone. Time to step back and take a deep breath? No, time for a big horse racing lay to recoup my loss! Now I can bleat about being unlucky, but picking out an 11-1 winner (Bended Knee, Newmarket 4.15 ) is always a risk, and if your staking is inconsistent you’re liable to get stuffed. I did. Anyone who’s been doing this game will know how easy it is to undo weeks of effort with minutes of lapsed discipline.

As at yesterday lunchtime, tennis was my only losing sport for the month, football and horse racing the most profitable. The Bended Knee lay blew away my horse racing profit, so I ended the month with two sports in the red. I had bets on eight other sports, and not for the first time, all were profitable. As I have noted before, these were opportunities that opened up for me, rather than bets I was searching for. There’s a lesson to take on board.

So November begins back where I’ve been a number of times – a limited bank to attempt to build up (again). However, I currently feel no urge to deposit any cash into the bank, just a determination to put in the time and effort to recover my losses from the last two months through sensible betting. I’ve had two spells in recent months where I’ve earned good profits from disciplined and controlled trading. I have to keep that mindset in place for the whole of November – there’s little point in continuing with the inconsistency I’ve been afflicted with for periods of the last two months – I can’t afford a hobby which costs me money.

The positive for the month – in October I invoiced out my highest charges since I began self-employment in March, so the lack of any Betfair profit had no material impact upon my finances. I will make a profit in November, it may be modest but I’m now fed up of throwing hard-earned profit away with childish tantrums. A silver lining – I’ve begun November with a 14% increase on bank so far today.

Whether I can maintain profitability month in, month out remains to be seen. History suggests not, keeping discipline for long periods has not been a strength. And lack of discipline is now all that stands between my success and failure. Time to get real, or get out.