Friday, 31 December 2010

Minor Celeb Spot ( Midlands Area )

Guess who I came across in Birmingham earlier today? Yep, you cracked it – only the previously mentioned Central TV weathergirl Emma Jesson!

I nearly commented upon how I felt she and Ken Barlow made a lovely couple. But didn’t.

Little new to say on the Betfair front. On the basis that New Year’s Eve involves a trip down the M6 and M1, followed by a couple of hours stood in the cold in the hope of seeing the Thames-side fire works, then my current P&L will become December’s final figure. I can’t be bothered to count the total number of transactions, but the final profit comes in at £476.99. I’ll put together a post summarising ‘where I’m at’ betting-wise after the holiday, but the overall feeling is positive.

May I wish a happy new year to all, and good luck in 2011.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Quiz Answers

Current king of the sports betting blogs, Cassini, is also smart enough to land the spoils from my quiz.

Q1. The Brown’s superb response was as follows :






















Q2. Bored of those multiple choice questions where one of the possible answers offered is patently rubbish? Well, this is the opposite. Yes, the answer is Ken Barlow. Or, more accurately, 78 year old actor William Roache. To paraphrase someone wittier than I – what attracts Emma to the millionaire Mr Roache?

Q3. The club founded in a district within the Isle of Dogs, East London, that subsequently moved south of the Thames to Bermondsey, was Millwall F.C.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Bored?

For those struggling to fill their ‘twixtmas’ days whilst wading through a sea of turkey and chocolates, I offer you my ‘Nameless Bank Holiday’ 3 part quiz. Answers in my next post.

1. The following letter of complaint was sent to American Football giants the Cleveland Browns back in simpler times in 1974. Just guess how the Browns responded. ( Thanks to the Frank Turner twitter feed for spotting this ).























2. Here’s Central TV weathergirl Emma Jesson. I’ve been following her progress closely for ten years or so. Which of the following is she currently dating ?






























Jonathan Trott?











Marcus Bent?











Ken Barlow?


3. There is a metal plaque embedded in the pavement outside my new apartment block denoting the place where a football league club was founded in 1885 by workers from J.T. Morton, a food processing plant and cannery. They moved to their more famous (infamous?) home in 1910, and on to their current stadium in 1993. To get from their place of origin to the current home requires a trip one station along a tube line, and a short walk, or a slightly longer walk and a precarious swim for the more adventurous. Name the club.

Good Luck.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Bye Bye Hotel Room

The Basildon Travelodge is history, and I now have what is known as a ‘London crashpad’. Whilst it would be nice to see myself as being the occupier of both a ‘London home’ and a ‘Country home’, finances ensure that I am much more aware of being the owner of two whacking financial commitments each month. Whilst the income from my current contract covers my costs, the next stage will hopefully be to sell up in Lichfield and make a permanent move to the South-East. I’ve no guarantee of ongoing work, but my feeling is that there are more long-term opportunities in the South than the Midlands. My big pain at the moment is that I’m committed to some Saturday work in the Midlands for the next few months, so I’m trecking up and down the motorway on Friday and Sunday evenings. Mrs B has coined a nice positive phrase for it – ‘investing in the future’ – better than my idea – ‘flogging my nuts off'.

The flat has been an internet-free zone so far, and as I’m only looking to stay in this particular location for a 6 month period, I’m not looking to have a fixed phone line. So I’ve obtained a Mobile Broadband dongle, with low expectations based on various web reviews. If it turns out to be hopeless, weekday internet use may be limited to the free WiFi at McDonalds and CafĂ© Brera.

In turn, my Betfair usage is at it’s lowest level since I opened an account. My actual December stats to date are as follows :

Markets entered : 52
P&L : +£202.56

Anyone reading the blog regularly will have worked out that this has therefore been a fairly decent spell, taking into account my relative inactivity. Certainly, I have been pretty relaxed and patient during my limited time in front of the Betfair screen, and that does seem to be my recipe for profit. None of my sessions have been particularly long, and history suggests that over a longer day I become frustrated and my judgement wains. So maybe this lack of Betfair time may have it’s benefits in terms of profitability.

One side effect of London living is the tendency to come across minor celebrities ( this NEVER happens in my home village near Lichfield ). December’s roll-call to date – James May, Rav Wilding and Big Brother’s Chantelle Houghton and Victor.

I’ll hopefully be back soon with more minor celeb spots and minor exchange winnings.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Like Buses

Yep, three weeks without a post and then two come along at once.

Having spent three and a half hours in the car due to the snow today, and achieved little work wise, I now have a long evening on my hands, back in the Basildon Travelodge, so a good opportunity to get in a November review. I’ll try to remember to put anything I achieve ( or, er, cock-up ) tonight into December’s sum up.

Firstly, the sanitised version, in the style of Robert Maxwell.

A final P&L of +£490.71. I had wagers on four sports, and all were profitable. Tennis was straightforward – one bet, +£2.21! Football finished at +£301.89, Greyhounds at +£154.05 and Horse Racing at £32.56. With considerably less time spent in front of the laptop, a good month. My profit per hour rate was certainly as good as any month this year.

Er, now the slightly amended and ‘audited’ version.

Well, same as above except that on one weekday mid-month I happened to be sat in my car awaiting a delivery. Slightly bored, I opened iBetmate on my iPhone. Checking my bank balance, in a moment of brain fade I decided that it would be nice to get a nice rounded up bank balance by making a quick £23. Having spent the last couple of months nudging away at £4 and £5 wins, then with hindsight ( both immediate and long term ) it seems pretty stupid to go for £23 in one go on a horse lay. It doesn’t seem any cleverer to stick this liability on an outsider in a handicap. But, hey, I’d be damn unlucky to hit a 21/1 shot, particularly one with shocking form……

You guessed the rest? So amend two figures above. Horse Racing came in at (£431.44), and total P&L at a small but worthy +£26.71.

It’s hard to understand how the thought process can be so inconsistent. I generally only use the iPhone to monitor bets I’ve put in place with the aid of a multi page laptop screen. But, hey ho, I’m not the greatest learner in the world ( ask my teachers at Royds School, Leeds ’77 – ’82 ), and I do seem to be prone to these occasional meltdowns.

Sadly, I’m not the only one. Crotig has been battling away for a couple of years with small stakes, struggling with discipline. But his blog has shown a definite improvement of the last few months, to the extent that he had built up a £1k bank. However, his most recent post reports a major blow-up. My advice would be to review his recent P&L’s. There’s enough green there to show that he can be profitable. Just avoid the brain-fade. Easy, really. Umm.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Pondering

A record three and a half weeks since my last blogging effort, consistent with what I suggested in the final paragraph of my previous post - work taking over potential Betfair time.

I'm currently sat in a McDonald's in Basildon, Essex. If things go to plan, then East London and Essex may be my new place of work ( and home ) in the long term. For the moment, home is a Travelodge, but I'm hoping to find a rental pad shortly. Logically, with potentially lucrative income available ( albeit with longish hours ), then any Betfair time I have should be used as a relaxing hobby rather than income generator. I would, however, note that my most profitable punting spells in the past were made at a time when I had a good income - the combination of no pressure to win and a healthy sized bank worked well for me at that time.

I'll do a November review shortly, but I have a small green at the moment after a limited month, and would have had a decent month but for one brain-fade.

Obviously, the blog seems to have taken a back seat. I started writing at a time when Betfair dominated my days, betting full-time. Whilst I returned to work a month or so afterwards, I've generally had something to write about on a regular basis. With sport ( and Betfair ) taking up less of my thoughts, the blog has suffered. I'm finding that I still have plenty of ideas to write about, but most are off the subject area. Regular readers will have noticed my tendency to wander from the 'designated' subject, and it's been noticeable that I get little feedback when I do stray. This suggests that the 'betting blog' community is really only interested in reading about sport and gambling. So what should I do? :-

i. Carry on the blog and say 'sod it', I'll write about whatever I want.
ii. Keep the blog for occasional posts when I do find something worth saying in the betting/sports field.
iii. Start a new blog, hoping to find a new audience for a more random 'popular culture' themed blog.
iv. Go back to Lichfield and get that Betfair screen working for me.

I'll have a think about it in the next few days. ( I'm not seriously considering iv. )

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

October - Cut And Paste

You don’t have to go too far back through this blog to find a month with a profile approximating to the following :

Start badly
Become frustrated
Chase
Lose focus
Lose money
Reset head mid-month
Recover steadily
End up close to where I started.

A regularly occurring theme, and October was no different, albeit that I remained £150 or so in the red come Halloween. The month’s main frustration was that I allowed a couple of chases to wreck the P&L of a potentially profitable system, and in the process made Greyhound Racing this month’s big loser ( see September ! ). The horse racing bets have been moderately successful, whilst analysis of my football bets in the month shows that I would have been considerably better off if I had placed my original selections and let them ride, rather than trade during play. The word ‘tentative’ has been regularly used in this blog, and years of football betting have knocked a little bravery out of my mindset.

I’m glad I’m not reliant on football betting for my income. It seems a tough sport to prevail in, with pretty efficient markets. The guys at Trading Football Markets seem to have it sorted, but their type of trading looks like extremely hard work to me, and not how I wish to spend my evenings after a day at work – too much concentration required. Maybe that’s the point – as a recreational trader I firstly want to enjoy my pastime, and if a profit arrives, great. As a full time career, the effort and concentration just have to be put in, and if that means time-consuming multiple trades and constant monitoring, so be it.

Any impulse I may have had to get back into tennis trading has been put aside by the recent dodgy betting patterns in the East European tournaments. As numerous blogs have pointed out, if the ATP remain as toothless as it currently seems to be in situations where warnings have been received in advance, there is little incentive for anyone to bet outside of the grand slams and ATP1000 tournaments. Maybe some guys will see it as an opportunity, but I still have the bruises from last year’s Kim/Istomin game. More importantly, the sport’s reputation will go the way of cycling and track & field unless something is done quickly.

Things are looking interesting on the work front, so Betfair action is likely to be low key in the coming month. I’m currently sitting at (£7.57) for November, so that’s my first target!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Standing Still

Last week’s ATP tournament winners were the Serbian Victor Troicki ( in a piss-poor line up in Moscow ) and Federer in Sweden. Whilst reviewing the results, I was aware of the lack of ‘breakthrough’ players who have made their mark this season. Only a few years ago, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic charged up the rankings to dispel the theory that Federer would be simply wiping up trophies for a decade. But recent times have shown little movement in the hierarchy. So I went on a mission to find ‘the next big thing’ from within the ATP rankings.

Starting with the top 50, a couple of the big movers in 2010 are injury related – David Nalbandian from 64 to 31 ( up 33 places ), and Mardy Fish ( up 37 places to 18 ). It’s also been a good year for Berdych, Baghdatis and Melzer. The former, along with Robin Soderling, can now be seen as a serious grand-slam threat. The Cypriot and Austrian have been on the circuit for a long time, and may be viewed as dangers to the top players rather than potential champions ( although I’d have said that about Francesca Schiavone a year ago ).

There are a few experienced pro’s who have moved up the rankings without being likely to make too much further progress – Llodra (32), Lu (34), Chela (41) and Niemenen (44) – and a couple who’ve been in the ‘promising’ camp for a couple of years and are now putting it together more consistently – Ernests Gulbis ( up 66 places to 24 ) and John Isner ( up 19 to 15 ). Both have an important 12 months ahead of them - if they are to be the breakthrough players, now is the time.

It’s in the lower reaches of the 50 that the most interesting candidates appear. Three players have really pushed on this year, and all are in the 21 to 23 age group, so should have potential for further improvement. Could the next big thing be one of the following -Andrey Golubev of Kazahkstan ( up 97 to 36 ), Thiemo de Bakker of Holland (up 47 to 49 ), or the Ukranian Alexandr Dolgopolov ( up 82 to 49 )? All are worth keeping an eye on. Outside of the above names, it’s pretty static.

It’s no more satisfying to trawl through numbers 50 to 100 in the rankings. There are few who seem likely to make a quick jump towards the top twenty. There are a couple of experienced pro’s who could ‘do an Ivanisovic’ and have an impact in a major if things fell their way – Fernando Gonzalez ( 61) and Ivo Karlovic (71). The rest are mainly journeymen, clay-court specialists or underachievers. It may be worth keeping an eye on the 22 year-old Lucas Lacko (75), and 23 year-olds Daniel Brands and Leonardo Mayer shouldn’t have their careers written off yet. But there is little to excite.

Below that, there are a couple of former junior champions who’ve failed so far to make waves at senior level. The 19 year-old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov must have a decent chance of making a breakthrough soon, whilst 21 year-old American Donald Young looks to have had plenty of chances and may have to be placed in the box marked ‘no thanks’. There may be someone lurking in the lower reaches of the rankings who will explode into the stratosphere – it’s happened before. But a quick view of places 101-200 throws up only a couple of names worth mentioning – Richard Berankis of Lithuania is a 20 year-old on an upward curve and Bollettieri Academy graduate Kei Nishikori of Japan has already made an impact, despite injury problems. There are a few names that have yet to come to my attention, so maybe I have a surprise in store in the coming months.

But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Rare Occurance

So to the latest in what is becoming a series of increasingly occasional blog updates.

Whilst I still have a regularly used laptop, more time seems to be spent on work matters of late rather than Betfair. I noticed last night whilst watching the Inter/Tottenham game, with laptop on lap, that I had seven windows open. Betfair, BBC Sport and five work-related sheets. Not the environment for concentrated betting. I was happy to end the evening with a £25 gain thanks to a lay of Spurs, although Mrs B’s input had ensured that I only viewed the first half, giving way to an hour of Lord Sugar’s latest motley crew of high-ego, low-common sense ‘high flyers’. The ‘Apprentice’ intro suggests that these contestants are some of Britain’s best young business talents. Not likely. The producers have simply found a batch of cocky sods who they know will make twats of themselves on national TV without any awareness of their own failings. It’s all about the ratings.

Anyway, back to Betfair business. My October so far has a similar feel to September ( disappointing ) rather than August (progressive ). This may also have influenced my reduced hours. There has always been a straight correlation between my enthusiasm for spending time on Betfair and my P&L position. I suppose this is better than the opposing correlation ( the road to ruin ). The £1,000 bank I felt comfortable with is being eroded by six weeks of small losses, and a cheeky withdrawal to cover some unforeseen expenses. So the benefits ( monetary and psychological ) of August’s successes have begun to slowly unravel.

I ditched my greyhound system, not because of it was proven to lose, but rather that it opened me up to the temptation to chase losses. Two moments of mental failure have cost me all of the profit made, and as I spent most of the first half of this year feeling utterly frustrated, any system which risks putting me back in that frame of mind is not worth continuing. The horse racing ‘system’ has developed into a way of spotting certain signals in the market, and looks like it is worth continuing with. Beyond that, my Betfair time is spent with the evening football.

My aims – well, just protect that bank. Small gains can soon add up to a worthwhile sum, without too much effort. Just as easily, those small profits can disappear in one frustrated chase. Nothing I haven’t written before, and probably will write again.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Keeping It Green

I'm sure all you guys out there are happy to see a little green.

Enjoy.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

September - Stumbled

Back in the red after August’s successes, although my outgoing feeling is that I’ve been tripped up by events, rather than regressed in concentration or mood.

Two issues dominated my betting month. Firstly, my inability to find time to spend in front of the Betfair screen ( mentioned previously here ). Secondly, the first major month of the football season was tough. From reading a few blogs, I think I’m not alone in finding results going against me. As Talkbet pointed out here, September may be too early for the season’s form to settle down. I hope so.

With regard to the English Championship, before yesterday I was beginning to believe that it may have been early June before results settled down. It looked like a pinsticker league to me. QPR are in hot form, and I like the look of Burnley and Cardiff. The rest looked fairly evenly matched. Having sat through my own team’s embarrassing collapse at home to Preston during midweek, I had decided that the Championship was a no-go area for the coming weeks at least. Looking at yesterday’s results there seems to be more sense of form lines developing, but I still think it’s a league to be wary of.

Most successful sport of the month? Greyhound racing!! Whilst looking for ways to inflate my P&L within the limited evening hours available to me, I’ve been testing a couple of simple systems ( one horse racing, one greyhounds ) which rely on information from websites, cross referenced to the odds available approaching post-time. Nothing too clever, and staking to win a fiver or so each time. Both are currently profitable, but it’s way too early to determine their likely medium-term success. Both systems are odds-on based so could easily be wrecked by the inevitable losing run. And like all systems, they have little likelihood of long-term success ( IMO ) simply because the market corrects itself.

Any optimism I have moving forwards is based upon a belief that I can start to pick up steady profit from football. Unfortunately, this probably means plenty of evenings with the hard slog of trading correct score and result positions. Not my preferred punting method, but probably the safest way of accumulating profit. If I can eke out further profit from the racing and greyhounds, great. But my expectations are low. And Tennis? Off my radar at present as the tournaments head to the far east. With results like Nadal’s failure against Garcia-Lopez yesterday, that may not be a negative outcome for my P&L.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Top Man

I’ve never really taken to Jonathan Trott.

When Kevin Pieterson qualified as an English player, there was a sense of anticipation – a star to add to the Test lineup – as there had been a decade or so earlier with Graham Hick. But Trott, Cape Town born, slid into the Test side off the back of some decent county performances without creating a dent in public awareness. He’s subsequently become an effective part of the England line-up – stubborn, level-headed and tidy with an ability to compile big scores. Not too exciting then. Off the field, we’ve never really had much opportunity to find out if he had a personality.

But Mr Trott has risen hugely in my estimation. I know exactly how I’d have felt yesterday morning if I was an England player. And I’m sure it would have involved a wish to throttle someone from the Pakistan set-up. So top marks to Trott for having a whack at Wahab Riaz, and for showing an element of passion and aggression that we’ll need in spades this winter in Australia. Whilst I’m not condoning ‘Joey Barton’ style fisticuffs in most sporting situations, in this case I’m with Trott.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Missing in Action

Best laid plans........

So August was excellent, as my P&L headed upward and a calm (and profitable) betting routine took hold. The onset of the footy season could only improve matters. Well, theoretically.

The day after posting my last blog, I came across a couple of decent work opportunities. One of these involves Saturday work, but at an income level I can't afford to refuse. The major negative is that Mrs B, whilst happy to see additional income into her purse, is less than chuffed to see me then spend Sunday in front of the Betfair screen. So after last weekend's 'false start' on the footy betting, this weekend saw not one bet placed. I have no problem with limiting my trades to weekday evenings with a little weekend top-up, but I'm irritated that after months of struggling, the rhythm and routine I found last month has ground to a halt.

Whilst I dislike target setting, to see your P&L increase at a fairly steady rate on a daily basis is comforting. With my available hours limited, I think my preferred mindset moving forward should be to protect my bank balance, and let the P&L look after itself, for the moment.

An interesting post from Stephen Maher regarding whether successful Betfair trading is a good career choice. Most full-time traders have dropped out of their previous career, generally because they were unhappy in their role, and I'm sure appreciate the flexibility of their lifestyle, and not having to answer to anyone but themselves. I find self-employment has similar benefits. Stephen's issue is that he's never had a career. Personally, I would go back to college, finish my course and find work if at all possible. Even if that job isn't the 'big money, stress' type. In life, I think you need as many 'strings to your bow' as possible. Unforseen things happen, and a decent back-up plan is worth having. Five years ago, if I'd have been asked how I saw my coming years, I'd have been miles off in my prediction. Stephen has learnt the skills to be profitable on the exchanges and at the bookies. That's a useful tool to have. But I'd rather have it as one of a portfolio of skills in my pocket.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Poor Start

Having built up Saturday in my head as the notional start of a season of profitable footy, I was quickly brought down to earth with a bump. I suppose I should be grateful that I wasn’t involved in the games at Everton, Burnley or Barcelona, but I still managed to pick out a batch of games which didn’t go to plan. My major difficulty was that my strategies tend to involve scratching out early if things start to go against me, particularly on a Saturday when there is so much happening. And time after time, the first goal went the wrong way. Man City, Newcastle, Copenhagen, Moenchengladbach. All offset. The killer was my error of the day being punished – I left a position on the Newcastle / Blackpool game where I had a £50 risk if Blackpool scored a second goal, and I could have easily covered this for little outlay with five minutes to go. I didn’t, they scored.

The remainder of Saturday didn’t improve. I’d expect to have a few results go my way to counteract the losses, but nothing. I should have been profitable on the Fulham/Wolves game, having tipped up Wolves in my last post, but I didn’t back my judgement with cash. They scored first of course! As the evening wore on I realised I’d forgotten how difficult I’ve found Saturdays in recent seasons. The accumulation of negative moments leaves me open to chasing, particularly in the evening. Fortunately, a spell of decent results over the last few weeks has helped my attitude, so the laptop was turned off at the point where I felt vulnerable to the chase ( and left off on Sunday ). I will take forward the need to be a little more selective on Saturdays, and hope it was just one of those days.

Yesterday I watched the first episode of Alan Davies’ Teenage Revolution ( ‘taped’ from during the week ). I had read a review in the papers before watching the programme, and the reviewer thought the programme was boring – just Davies’ ramblings on his teenage years. However the reviewer was probably born sometime in the seventies. I was born on 2nd March 1966, Davies on 6th March 1966. So for me it was fascinating viewing. So many of his reminiscences matched my own memories. His first bedroom wall poster, as was mine, was Debbie Harry. Paul Weller was my idol, and his. Whilst there were plenty of differences ( his public school was hated, I quite enjoyed my comprehensive ), many of the experiences rang a bell. I particularly related to his description of the skill required to flick through albums in a record shop at high speed, and the fear of the skinhead gang from the rough side of town.

So that’s my Thursday evening viewing sorted for the next three weeks.

There’s a decent amount of European football on tonight, so I’ll hope to put my September P&L back onto an even keel.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Risky Business

A quiet start to September for my Betfair exploits, caused by a two day trip to London, followed by my final music festival of the year over the past weekend. At least UEFA had the grace to put the international games on Friday evening, which gave me a weekend free of I-phone checking . My P&L for the month is currently showing a small green, and tonight’s sparse football fixture list means it will stay that way until tomorrow evening at the earliest. My involvement in the US Open tennis hasn’t really taken off. I’ve no Sky Sports at the moment, and I haven’t had the enthusiasm to get involved.

So the festival summer is over. Boo, hiss. A summer that began with on the Isle of Wight in early June with a fair performance from Doves, and ended with an entertaining set from the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain on a chilly September evening in a park in Moseley, Birmingham. Glastonbury was the highlight ( helped by a magnificent five days of warm sunshine ), and no festival disappointed.

Think you like to take risks? Spare a thought for Leeds/Reading Festival organiser Melvyn Benn, who booked both Pete Doherty’s Libertines and Axl Rose’s Guns N’ Roses for his main stages. This seems a little like taking Ledley King and Jonathan Woodgate as your central defensive pairing to a World Cup final with no back-up. In the end, Doherty was a success, Rose a slightly embarrassing failure, and Benn a relieved man. I’ll soon be working out next year’s festival itinerary. Although Mrs B has given me a nudge to suggest that annual holidays do not have to consist of six weekends sat in a field eating takeaway food. Umm.

So I’ve no excuses now for not buckling down to the footy season ahead. I’m looking ahead to the coming weekend. As I noted previously, I expect the season to settle down now. So time to profit ( hopefully ). I like the look of Bolton and Wolves in the Premier League, and think there may be value in following them through the coming months. The remainder of my bets will rely heavily on Soccerway.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Sense Of Achievement

On the last day of July, I lost £168.29 on Betfair. It’s happened before, it will no doubt happen again ( although hopefully not as clumsily ). But, not for the first time, it put me in a position of holding a two figure Betfair bank. As documented previously, I chose to deposit £1,000 of my hard-earned income. As February was the last time I made a noteworthy profit, this may not have seemed my most sensible option. Particularly as my blog will testify to the frustrating time I have incurred over the intervening months.

Maybe it’s that period of failure that makes today feel better. Who gets the most satisfaction from a victory – Chelsea or Barnet? Following last night's Betfair session, I was able to withdraw £250. This follows a couple of previous withdrawals totalling £750. And I have a Betfair account balance of £1010.56. So all objectives achieved – fully refund my initial deposit, average over £50/day over the days I opened the Betfair screen, and create a decent bank balance to take forward. Tick.

The skill is of course to maintain this level, and not get frustrated when the inevitable losing run comes. But the confidence gained from a month of success, rather than a few days, reduces the likelihood of meltdown. It’s way too early to believe I’ve turned a corner, but hopefully I’ve stopped my slow slide down the hill. I’ve still been frustrated ( I think it’s an unavoidable side effect of gambling ), but my frustrations have been in not taking potential opportunities, rather than placing losing bets, and they are fairly easy to exorcise if you have a nice green P&L to check regularly.

I notice that John O’Dwyer has had a rare bad week on the exchange. I started following John’s blog at the start of the year, when his published P&Ls looked very similar to my own. The subsequent months have seen wildly different progress – John’s profit increasing exponentially as he has shown an ability to profit from a wide range of sports, whilst I’ve struggled to put profitable days together and have lost confidence in most of my previously successful strategies. I was struck by how his worst spell of the year has coincided with my best performance. At least he can console himself with a trip to the US Open. My September highlight will be a trip to the Moseley Folk Festival!

A good point to have a few day’s break from the Betfair screen. I’ll be back after the bank holiday.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

End of the Phoney War.

This is my new donate button. If I maintain August’s success, I’ll soon be posting tips which people will be flocking to follow. This obviously requires a batch of new readers who are uninterested in reading my previous 213 posts of woe and indiscipline, but here’s hoping.

The turnaround is due in the main to the old ‘D’ word*, added to my favourite ‘C’ word*, but I’ll save the regular mental analysis for a month-end post. Having ‘abandoned’ horse racing in a previous post, I’m actually in profit on the month on racing – a lesson in taking on selective opportunities, rather than getting into a groove of daily laying sessions. My tennis betting remains limited, if mildly profitable, with the WTA almost abandoned – not deliberately, I’m just not seeing value opportunities pre-match, and my days of following the women’s game in-play are gone.

I’m following my view from previous years that August is a month for watching football rather than betting ( apart from the Scandinavian stuff ), and getting my fingers burnt with my largest bet of the season so far only confirmed my opinion - a lay of ‘Any Unquoted’ in the correct score market in the Newcastle / Villa game! I scratched at 2-0 and took a hefty all-red at 3-0. Bah. I can’t see there being three 6-0’s each week once we get into the season, although the early games have already thrown Wigan and West Ham to the bottom of the PL, and I fear they may remain there throughout the season.

I’m away this weekend at the Leeds Festival, so for me September will bring a start to taking football seriously. Another couple of batches of games in the remainder of August should hopefully help to ease out the early season anomalies, and there are already plenty of clues for the season ahead. With my mates ‘D’ and ‘C’ in tow, I’ll be joining plenty of others looking to find that illusive edge in the footy markets. Good look to all.

*Discipline, Concentration.

Friday, 13 August 2010

But Seriously.......

I came across a blog post from the unoriginally named but consistently successful Betfair Trader, from which I take this excerpt, which rings a few bells with me at the moment.

It's one thing winning but holding onto those profits to let them mount to a decent profit is another kettle of fish. I've seen plenty of part time traders’ blogs who have a much better strike and ROI than me but soon get bored at winning small amounts and either start taking unnecessary risks to up the win rate or just get bored because they really don't need the money with a full time job. You'll see a lot of full time gamblers/traders make it work simply because they have to either thru losing a job or wanting to get out of their crappy job it's that single mindedness that will get you a long way in this business.

Like most things in life if you want something badly enough you'll do your best to achieve it, that's not to say you won't be able to make a few quid trading a few hours here and there but it's a damn site harder when all it is to you is a hobby and becomes a very dull one if you manage to make any profit from it. For a lot of people the fun is in the chase and you may find that fun disappears once you get close to cracking it so you'll end up subconsciously sabotaging yourself to get that fun back into it.

I can particularly relate to the last sentence. Just check how many times the word ‘frustration’ appears in my blog over the last six months. Also consider how my profits have disappeared over the same period.

The main relevance to my own trading is that my ‘Festival Summer’ (Glastonbury, IOW etc ) has had the side effect of reducing my work income. Welcome to the world of self employment - don’t work, don’t get paid. So having taken a quick look at my actual and potential income for June/July/August, it struck me that Betfair trading profit was now, if not essential, certainly advantageous. So August started with a £1k deposit, earlier than I suggested here, and a determination to get back into the mindset I had during my ‘full-time’ stint in 2008/9. The last six months have shown me the implications of treating Betfair as a hobby to take lightly. The only way to make profits, however sizeable, is to follow the rules you set yourself consistently, regardless of the result of the previous trade or the previous day’s trades.

Things have gone well so far. I’ve only had one losing day ( of £10 ) in the month, and there has been a definite reduction in my sense of frustration and the related overstaked bets. I’m aiming at making around £50 a day, and I’m probably limiting my potential profits by doing so. But the current aim is steady income over a period of time, not maximising profit. If I can turn a twelve day spell of success into a sixty day spell, I can consider freeing up my staking. For the moment, simply having any spell of success will help my confidence after the roller coaster of frustration and piss-poor decision making that has been my 2010 on Betfair. And ‘single mindedness’ has a big part to play in my success or failure.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Anatomy Of A Loss

I easily recognised the sentiments of this post from Handy Andy, regarding the post-loss mindset. Whilst everyone feels the temptation to go on-tilt to make a quick recovery, and hopefully learns strategies to overcome it, the analogy to ‘oxygen-deficient’ decision making is a good one. Post-loss, my brain comes up with all types of, er, brilliant strategies for recovery, but after a short while subsides back to normal thinking. The skill is to avoid betting at all until it does. A task that I often fail.

I’m occasionally prone to the obvious huge bet which recovers in full your previous loss ( or whacks a big chunk of your bank ). But more frequently, I can convince myself that I’m not chasing, but am just using a different strategy. In this period of weakness, often the typical stakes rise and the odds increase. So my risk profile is considerably higher than during a period of steady trading. I read a slightly flippant post from Curly a while ago that suggested that ‘Discipline’ was simply a code word for sensible staking. But regardless of staking, taking on bets without research or based on an out-of-date opinion is as dangerous to your bank as overstaking.

On Tuesday, three bets on the morning Japanese football matches gave me a potential £60ish profit. Unfortunately, leaders Kashima went behind to Niigata, and I redded out that trade(a lay of Niigata). Therefore the £60 became £0. My frustration probably came from the subsequent Kashima recovery to lead 2-1 before eventually drawing.

My mindset as I began an evening session seemed ok. But when my first small bet lost it brought up those frustrations from the morning. There was nothing wrong with my next bet, £60 on Taiwan’s Kai-Chen Chang to beat American Christina McHale in Stanford at odds of 1.87. As Chang won the first set, I had a potential £30 profit. This is WTA, and any profit is good profit. I should have greened up, but instead I ‘needed’ the £50 profit to offset my earlier frustrations. McHale won the second set 6-0. I could have still have traded out for a £15ish loss. But I made the decision to let my bet run. Bad decision making. £60 gone. Yet without the influence of the Kashima trade, there’s no doubt I would have snapped up the £30 profit.

Oxygen-deficient trading.

All traders should be aware of a couple of great little tools which can be used to avoid chasing. The first is a small button on the side or front of a laptop or PC, generally marked with a circle crossed through with a vertical line. It’s called the ‘on/off’ button. Secondly, in the kitchen can be found a utensil with a similar ‘on/off’ switch, plus an engaging red light. It’s known as a kettle. Both of these tools can seriously improve your trading during times of stress.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Taking It Easy

Reduced betting ( and blogging ) of late. It’s been a decent summer weatherwise, and my time is better spent in the sun ( or pub ) than in front of a laptop at a time when my profits have dried up. I don’t recall a particular slowdown in betting activity over the last couple of years, but I don’t recall the summers being great.

The last couple of weeks’ punting activity has resulted in my usual routine – lose, studiously recover, lose concentration, cock up, studiously recover again, end up back at square one. I can look back on the past few days in particular with a fair amount of comfort, despite the lack of forward movement.

Tennis has been tough – however good your trading technique, starting with the wrong selection leaves you on the back foot . My selections, both winners and losers, seem to be consistently losing the first set. So lots of scratching and small all-reds, and the sort of results that have so often put me in a mindset of frustration, and led to horrible losses. Yet if focus can be maintained, it’s surprising how quickly a series of small losses can be recovered. Additionally, I’ve found a couple of Scandinavian league games going against me, and have managed to escape with little damage. I’m convinced that my declining performance is all about concentration and frustration, so it does me little harm to have to deal with results going against me, and coming out of choppy waters without going on tilt can be taken as a positive at the moment.

It’s going to be a while before my tennis bets will be at any more than loose change level, and I think I’m going to keep my stakes low for the rest of the summer on all sports. A by-product of the hot summer is that I’m pretty knackered on most evenings, and even if my mindset is good, I don’t think I’ve got the sharpness to be risking substantial sums. I may redeposit in September once the footy kicks in seriously, although I’d rather try to build up a bank steadily again from my current lowly levels. However, this requires me to make profit, something that’s eluded me for a while.

I noticed this useful trading tip on Slipperytoad’s blog. I’m sure Cassini has posted it before, but it arrived at a moment when I was contemplating my overall aims in front of the Betfair screen, and it all makes good sense.

Slipping into my ‘random thoughts’ mode, I’ve been following the Tour de France coverage on ITV4, and it’s been good stuff. I think the camerawork makes it, plenty of helicopter shots of some amazing ( and scary ) bends along mountain tops. The commentary team are excellent, and the daily highlights show is nicely packaged. I do hope that Schleck can somehow beat Contador come the ride into Paris, although the current 1.22 on Betfair for a Contador win suggest that those in the know feel that the defending champion will prevail. I also enjoyed watching plenty of last weekend’s Open Championship. Mrs B has suggested that these new finds are less to do with my sporting interests, and that I simply like slouching on the sofa watching TV.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Conspiracy Theories

Following Richard Bloomfield's quarter final victory over Ryan Harrison today, I understand that doubts have been raised by the CIA as to Bloomfield's nationality, based on information supplied during Abu Hamza's recent extradition hearing. It is alleged that Bloomfield may actually be a sleeper Soviet agent by the name of Sergei Federov. Bloomfield had ingeniously embedded himself into the ATP Challenger tour with a cunning plan of losing in first round matches on Mondays, giving him 5 days each week to infiltrate the Tennis establishment before travelling on to the next tournament.

The same source has also suggested that England's pre-World Cup trip to Austria was not actually for altitude acclimatisation purposes, but rather an aborted attempt to swap six players of doubtful nationality or talent - Bent, Huddlestone, Parker, Dawson, Walcott and, er, Mariner - for two dual-nationality Brazilians found playing for CSKA Moscow.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

'English Man Wins Tennis Match' Shock

My earlier post may have suggested that Richard Bloomfield's two career ATP main draw wins may not have been completely due to his own brilliant performances.

So I'm happy to publicise a victory tonight in Newport, Rhode Island, for our new tennis hero over the number two seed, 56-ranked Colombian Santiago Giraldo. In straight sets! 6-3, 7-6. In the quarter final, he now faces the 18 year-old Bollettieri Academy pupil Ryan Harrison, ranked 262, not an impossible task.

So best wishes to Bloomfield - we have to grab these rare opportunities to celebrate. Andy Murray's successes have rather hidden just what a disastrous state British men's tennis is in at the moment.

Lightning Strikes Twice?

1.28.

It’s quite possible that this sum means nothing to Richard Bloomfield, the 552-ranked British number 12 tennis player. But, for the twenty-seven year-old’s first ATP match of the season, these were his odds as he commenced play yesterday in Newport, Rhode Island. Maybe it was his recent stunning victory in Spain against world number 1468 Adbullah Magdas of Kuwait that swayed the odds? The Betfair forum thought otherwise.

His opponent was the 160-ranked Belgian Christophe Rochus, and the forum backed it’s opinion that the game was dodgy with plenty of cash, lots of it on a 2-0 scoreline to Bloomfield. Bloomfield won 7-6, 6-3. In the Twitter age, it’s likely that info got out that Rochus was in no form or fitness to win a match. But, frankly, it should be an embarrassment to the ATP that a middle ranked player is allowed on court if he’s incapable of beating a player ranked 552. It just leaves the sport wide open to accusations of match fixing.

So it must have been a unique situation for the lowly Bloomfield? Er, no. At Wimbledon in 2006, the markets went into meltdown before his first round match against Carlos Berlocq, the considerably higher-ranked Argentinian. Win and 3-0 set markets had absurdly large sums placed. Bloomfield won 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

Unfortunately for Bloomfield, it’s hard to make a career on expectations of your opponents throwing in the towel before the game starts. His other ATP wins are best described as ‘infrequent’. On a brighter note, he’s always got the chance of being drawn against Daniel Koellerer or Denis Istomin.

I was interested in the 1.28. In a couple of ‘dodgy’ matches last year, starting odds settled around the 1.20 mark. So 1.2 – 1.3 is obviously the mathematical zone where punters will take on the price, even in the knowledge that the result may well be predetermined. The price is also held up by any counter-belief that the rumours could simply be conspiracies to skew the market. In most of these games, the price tends to remain constant as the match goes in play, regardless of the scoreline, until there is clear evidence that the rumour-mill is wrong, at which point all hell breaks out in the market. I blogged last year on the Kim v Istomin match in Indianapolis. I lost heavily that night, as plenty of others did.

I followed my own advice last night, and stayed well away.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Dumping The Horses

It’s time for a rethink on my Betfair antics, as my P&L deteriorates on a monthly basis. My June betting was limited, but too many times I was ‘unlucky’. This is betting’s most dangerous word. It tends to hide the fact that you have put yourself in situations where you are left at the mercy of a single kick of the ball, or a couple of points in a tennis match. My World Cup P&L is in the red, simply because of the last kick of a game – Slovakia’s penalty against Holland. But I had plenty of opportunity to reduce my risk, so it’s a mistake, not unlucky. Similarly, my Wimbledon P&L is also in the red, because a player went from match point on serve, with a break in the final set, to lose 9-7. But, delving deeper, I backed a mid-ranking female player to serve out in a pressure situation – big mistake.

So I’ve packed in my horse racing lays.

Er, haven’t I just illustrated football and tennis losses? Yes, but a bit of analysis shows the following :

•My overall profitability has reduced since I started regularly betting on horse racing.
•I’ve made sod all on horse racing, and have struggled to find the expected improvement as I’ve gained experience in the markets.
•I’m much more susceptible to chasing losses with racing – there’s always another ‘opportunity’ available to recover ( or make things worse ).

The major reason for the change is that I’m simply less effective than I was a year ago. I seem to be much more impatient, looking for immediate opportunities, when historically I’ve been able to succeed when letting opportunities arise. It’s noticeable that given the option of trading a couple of football games, I’ll take on the alternative of a batch of evening races. The racing offers more ‘potential’ profit, and the results are immediate. Yet my P&L says that the football is more profitable. I’ve been romanced by a couple of months, where my racing profits have been excellent, into a belief that I can make that profit regularly. But P&Ls don’t lie ( unless you’re a Photoshop expert ), and a return to profits needs a return to the methodology and attitude I had when making them.

The cock-ups illustrated above come from an attitude of frustration and almost panic, needing to make profit at every opportunity. It just doesn’t work for me. And it’s surfaced more in the last six months. So the coming weeks will be about trying to find the mindset I’ve had on the past. As I’ve commented previously, I also need to spend some time researching tennis form. Until recently, I followed all results on a daily basis, and I need that base of knowledge to make tennis profits.

I’ll take this opportunity to start the ‘second half’ of 2010. Let’s put the first half down as ‘disappointing, better expected in the second period’. Although I think England were in the same position last weekend.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Got The Blues

No, not a football hangover, but the ‘post-Glastonbury Blues’.

The high point of my summer gone, no England world cup triumph to look forward to, and a return to work today, with tired eyes and body yet to fully recover.

On a more positive slant, the festival was excellent, helped by perfect weather. Glastonbury rarely disappoints. There is always something new to see or hear, and the organisers avoid many of those things which can jar at other festivals – long queues, heavy handed security, cross-stage noise. We even managed to travel to and from the festival without any traffic hold-ups.

I watched the England – Slovenia game on the big screens on Wednesday, but decided to miss the Germany game. It was screened in two fields on the far edges of the festival site, and getting a decent position would have probably involved missing most of the afternoon’s music. My view was that if England won, there would be a further game to watch, and if they lost, I’d regret missing the music. Good call.

There are plenty of more informed views than my own, so I’ll keep my comments simple –

i. For England to have won the World Cup we required our best player to be in scorching form. He wasn’t.

ii. The team will kick themselves about that dismal performance against Algeria, particularly as the draw unfolds – a Ghana / Uruguay route to a semi doesn’t look too daunting.

iii. If our players look carefully, they’ll spot plenty of other Premier League-based players who’ve had a poor time in South Africa, and not many who’ve been successful. Are we paying the price for having such a competitive league?

iv. Daftest comment so far. The FIFA spokesperson who suggested that, after the Lampard ‘goal’ and Tevez offside, the authorities may have to look at removing pitch-side screens. Missing the point?


For any music types out there, here’s a list of the bands that I managed to see over the festival weekend.

The Magic Numbers
Lissie
Frank Turner
Mumford & Sons
Carl Barat
Biffy Clyro
The National
Laura Marling
The Lightning Seeds
The Hold Steady
Slash
Teddy Thompson
Ray Davies
Richard Thompson
Ash

It’s only upon writing this list that it’s occurred to me that I currently have a very ‘white’ musical taste. I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘musical racist’, but at a festival showing a huge range of music from around the world, I seem to have a ‘Caucasian bias’. I’m sure the ‘guitar bias’ is more relevant.

I’ll try to have a look at Betfair at some point today. I quite like the look of Paraguay and Kim Clijsters, but the odds may be prohibitive.

I’ll finish with another YouTube clip – a band whose festival performance did nothing to diminish their standing as my favourite current band – The Hold Steady.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Between Festivals

This World Cup lark, it’s just a re-occurring headache every four years. I’m watching my seventh England finals effort, and most seem to start depressingly. Maybe it seems worse this time because four years ago, almost uniquely, we breezed through the first stage. The final game against Slovenia coincides with the opening day of Glastonbury, so I’ll probably find myself listening to the Five Live commentary on the car radio whilst stuck in a thirty mile traffic jam.

I watched the USA game on the big screen at the Isle of Wight Festival, and the Algeria game on the sofa at home. The experience was worse tonight. Maybe the England performance was inferior, but having the banter of a few thousand fans to listen to is certainly more uplifting than the commentary of Andy Townsend and Clive Tyldesley. Additionally, on Saturday the crowd quickly moved away back to the Festival stages, whilst tonight I was stuck between the pointless ITV post-match analysis, or eviction night on Big Brother. Gloom.

My World Cup winning run came to a grinding halt last night with a trade on France (Draw No Bet), although I recovered a chunk of my loss back today with a lay of Any Unquoted in the Germany/Serbia correct score market. I may try a similar bet on the Holland/Japan game tomorrow.

To lift the mood, I’ve found one of the highlights from last weekend. Pink isn’t the sort of act I’d normally be drawn to, but the programme write-up promised an exciting spectacle, and she didn’t disappoint, climaxing with this display. The 1970 Isle of Wight festival may have been legendary, but I’m sure no-one on that bill matched this for theatrics.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Missed The Boat?

I made a belated entry into the World Cup markets after a few days away, and so far it's been straightforward and profitable. Six trades, six wins, with my profits restricted only by my tendency to green up too early. I'm left with a feeling that the first round of matches may have been the easy pickings, and that things may be a little less predictable from now on. I feel there may still be profit in my view that people are betting based on reputation ( often four years out of date ), but as the competition progresses, current form will become the dominant factor.

Obviously, 'unders' has been the place to be during the initial batch of games. I think a few fingers may get burnt in the coming days if people believe that this 'easy money' outcome will continue. It should be worthwhile spending some time looking at the possible permutations in each group, there are still a few games where a 'don't lose' strategy will be employed by the coach.

I haven't spotted much of interest today. I've laid 0-0 in the Argentina game, despite the fact I'm working during the match. So a simple strategy - I'll check the score at 70 minutes and take an all-red on iBetMate if it's still 0-0. I've also had a few quid on Taylor Dent and Rick De Voest in the Wimbledon qualifiers.

Best thing about the World Cup so far? That John Motson has been relegated to reporter. Like Rod Stewart and Carlisle United, his best days were in the Seventies. Subsequently, I've become increasingly irritated by his need to find a 'story' in each game which he will constantly reference throughout the match. I'd be perfectly happy for Motty and his sheepskin overcoat to be permanently sent to join Ted Lowe and John Barrett in the home for retired commentators.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Status Update.

Rob The Builder

Come on England!

Monday, 7 June 2010

St George.........and another R.I.P.

It’s that time again, seen every couple of years, when the cross of St George appears from bedroom windows and car roofs. Unfortunately, I have a bit of a problem with this. I tend to cringe. I’m sure the residents of most countries around the world can happily express their patriotism with a flag, but our English emblem has been hijacked too often. Driving around over the last few days, I’m simply reminded of a number of council estates, notably Castle Vale in Birmingham, where the flag represents a no-go area for ethnic minorities. I’m reminded of Nick Griffin and his band of racist twats. And I’m reminded of the flag being draped over pissed-up knobs throwing chairs around in various European city centres whilst following our national team. So I’ll be supporting my team just like the rest of us, but there’ll be no emblem in sight. Pity really.



I was quite surprised by how much I was saddened by the death of Stuart Cable earlier today. Maybe the death of a fellow forty-something struck a cord. But mainly, I have good memories of his time in Stereophonics. The band’s image has not fared well in recent times, dulled by a series of pretty average albums, but there was a time, at the end of the last century and the start of the current one, when they were one of the best bands in the world. Off the back of their initial two superb albums, they headlined the Reading festival in 2000 and Glastonbury in 2002. Cable was sacked from the band in 2003 – it may be coincidence that they have never hit those heights since. He also had a spell as a DJ on my local rock station – Kerrang Radio – and had a great radio voice and personality. He will be missed, particularly in Wales. I’ll add a couple of you-tube videos which (IMO) show Stereophonics at the height of their powers.


Saturday, 5 June 2010

Talent Spotting

A lovely summer’s day, particularly when spent in the pleasant surroundings of the Edgbaston Priory Club. I popped over with Mrs B to watch the first round of qualifying for the Aegon Classic, and had a great day out. The weather makes a hell of a difference, and free admission also improves the mood.

We watched some fairly competitive games in the morning and early afternoon, before having a stroll across Edgbaston to Birmingham’s best ( and priciest ) fish and chip shop. On our return, we had a look at a few of the higher-ranked players practising, and arrived back at the courts in time to see Britain’s great hope, Laura Robson, play a tight three-setter against a decent Russian opponent, Nina Bratchikova. Robson lost the first set but came back to win. She hasn’t played much this year ( I presume she’s concentrating on GCSE’s ) but looked fairly solid for a sixteen year-old, with a good first serve to get her out of trouble when necessary. The other top junior, Heather Watson, has a wild card into the main draw so, with the draw as a whole looking stronger than the last couple of years, I’m hoping for another good day when we return on Tuesday.

There was a blatant courtsider in attendance ( East European, mid-size laptop, dongle ) presumably checking out his seating position for Monday. He was, however, also obvious to the WTA supervisor, who had a sharp word in his ear. He'll need to be a little cleverer than he was today.

I obviously like to check out all the players on show and pass on my inside knowledge to my loyal blog readers. From today’s play, the outstanding talent on show was clearly Heidi El Tabakh, the 23 year-old Egyptian-born Canadian. I’ve no idea if she’s any good at tennis………

Friday, 4 June 2010

May - A bit rubbish, really

Well, performed a little like Theo Walcott in May – lots of promise, a couple of charging runs forward, but a crap final delivery leading to ultimate disappointment.

Despite the entertaining Cassini’s claims, I finished with another red month, despite only having five losing days in the period. I think I’m heading backwards at the moment. I’m more prone to loss-chasing than I ever have been, unsurprisingly leading to my worst results for a couple of years. My losses have been limited only by the restricted sums kept in my Betfair bank. And one simple reason – I don’t follow my own rules and advice. Therefore, June looks a great month for a break – I’m spending a couple of days at the women’s tennis at Edgbaston, and will also be attending the Isle of Wight and Glastonbury festivals. So I’ll limit my June betting to the World Cup and Wimbledon, and use the remaining time to clear my head of recent frustrations, and try to regain the mindset I’ve had in profitable times.

It Was Bound To Happen (1)

I’ve commented regularly about the flaky mentality of the players at the top of women’s tennis. I was pleased to see the returning Belgians, who I hoped might show a little more consistency. The rest are just not trustworthy. On the next (lower) level of players, Stosur, Schiavone, Shvedova and Peer have been much more consistent and mentally tougher, if unlikely to win any major tournament – there would be always be one or two of the big names in form on each occasion. Until this week. The 26 year-old Sam Stosur and 29 year-old Francesca Schiavone are two tough and solid pro’s. They haven’t the talent of a Wozniaki or Dementieva. But I’ve certainly placed more money on them in the past, in the knowledge that at least the towel wouldn’t be thrown in, or the game end in floods of tears.

I’d expect Stosur to win. The only pity is she probably won’t make it to Edgbaston next week if the result goes her way.

It Was Bound To Happen (2)

Returning readers may have spotted my less than favourable comments on Mr Rafael Benitez. I remain surprised at how much support he retained to the end from Liverpool fans. He made a great start with a team mainly put together by Gerard Houllier, and bought Xavi Alonso, Pepe Reina and Fernando Torres. That’s the positives. But there were too many negatives – headscratching tactics, poor purchases ( too many to list, but consider Josemi, N’gog, Voronin ) and a tendency to get involved in spats with opposing managers and the press. He lost his regular number two, Pako Ayesteran, in early 2008 and it’s been downhill ever since. Coincidence?

Liverpool look to be in trouble. Would the top managers suggested for the role ( O’Neill, Hodgson ) work for a club owned by Gillett and Hicks, with little money available to overhaul a poor squad? If Gerrard and Torres were to go, they would be left with a team unlikely to even challenge for a Europa League spot.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Indignant

I see that the king of the blogging sceptics, Cassini, has suggested that my regular repeated waffles on the subjects of inconsistency, discipline and carelessness may be a front, and that I should be put on a pedestal alongside those heroes, Adam Heathcote and Psycoff, on the ‘winners’ platform. I maintain that my only association with the above named is that I too have the talent for drinking plenty of liquid during betting sessions. He even suggests that my lack of P&L evidence is not recoverable, due to the simplicity of P&L forgery.

As a humble builder, I have neither the software or computing ability to carry out such mischief. Therefore, the occasional P&L’s I produce are simply to illustrate the issues within my post. As you can see from the above, I had yet another frustrating day yesterday, only saved by my great skill in the field of clay court tennis. Cassini and his cohorts, ‘Anonymous 1’ and ‘Anonymous 2’, do a great disservice to our completely honest blogging community.

My status as a winner can only be confirmed from my stellar performance in Stephen Maher’s just completed ‘Gamblers Anonymous’ fantasy football league, finishing second in a fifteen player league. To be fair, I had the tandem talents of Stephen Gerrard and Fernando Torres in my team for most of the year, and it would be extremely difficult to create a poor team with those two giants in it. Umm.

No betting today, as I’m in Birmingham this evening to see Natalie Merchant at the Symphony Hall. In celebration, here’s a bit of classic archive from the days when Jonathan Ross was an up-and-coming talent at the BBC.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Dusting Off Cobwebs

My last post seems but a distant memory. It’s been a while. I can only blame work, although the warm weather may also be relevant. Any blog-obsessed nutters out there would have noted that most of my posts are made around midnight. That’s been well after my bedtime for the last couple of weeks.

The time I have spent on the laptop has been fairly normal. My recurring themes go on – start the month with aimless bets and carelessness, make things worse with frustrated chasing, have a head-clearing break, come back with a disciplined and structured recovery mission. End month back at square one. I’m currently in the red for May, but a couple more decent days should put me back where I started from.

I’ve dabbled a little with the French Open with no success. My previous tennis profits were founded upon a base of knowledge gained from closely following tournaments throughout the year. Without that, it feels like stepping out into heavy traffic. Worse still, I still have opinions on players that are probably nine months out of date. I’ve been limited to placing bets for each day’s play on the evening beforehand, and then monitoring with my I-phone, with iBetmate used to close out bets. It’s a little cumbersome, but I’m aware of the limitations when I place the bets. More limiting is my lack of confidence. I’ve scratched a number of winning selections during play (Rochus, Beck, Zeballos) and haven’t improved my mood by taking all-greens on the winners (Melzer, Giraldo, Lacko), whilst leaving open first set winners who went on to lose (Querrey, Kvitova). Bah.

Maybe this is the main issue I have to resolve – is this a hobby to make money from, or an interest in punting that I hope to keep self-funding? The stats say that my tennis bets have simply reduced my monthly P&L by £100, and I’d be better off leaving the sport alone. Yet it’s my number one sport to follow, and I enjoy the challenge of finding winners. Certainly the market has moved against my style of tennis betting in the last couple of years. A favourite who I’d have backed at 1.15 three years ago is generally priced around 1.09 now, and I’ve moved to looking at higher risk opportunities above 1.4. Logically, I should be laying at 1.09, but it’s a big shift in mindset. Ever the optimist, I’ll compromise by writing off the clay court season, and try to put some time into researching form for the grass court and American hard court seasons ahead.

In the meantime I'll console myself that I've developed a fairly unique betting blog. Many blogs come and go when the task of winning is found to be harder than planned. Other blogs are written by the habitually successful. I've developed a fairly longstanding blog, yet have made bugger all for many months! The stubbornness of the Yorkshireman I suppose.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The 2010 'RTB' Awards

Following the huge success (umm) of my 2009 end of season thoughts, it's rapidly come around again to that time to choose my 2010 players of the domestic season. Same rules apply - those who've impacted on my impression of the season, and those who've exceeded expectations.

Wayne Rooney

Simply the outstanding player of the season ( domestic, not world, there was some lightweight Argentinian who also had a decent time ). I've little more to add to the plaudits already passed out, but still a worthy if unimaginative inclusion. Ronaldo was history, and 'Our Wayne' filled the void. Here's hoping he has something left in the tank for June.

Bobby Zamora

The season's most improved player. Around January, I started to think that I was seeing something that everyone else had missed, but by the season's end Fulham's journey to the Europa Cup final ensured that everyone who follows football could see the impact Zamora has had. Unfortunately, he had a sad end to the season with an achilles injury which stopped him performing effectively in Hamburg, and scuppered a probable training squad call-up from Fabio Capello. A talented goalscorer in his Brighton days, he never managed to put his whole game together regularly at West Ham or Tottenham, but it came together spectacularly this term. A target man with a superb first touch, a strong teamwork ethic and calmness in front of goal. What are you waiting for, Mr Wenger?

Graham Dorrans

Last year, I noted how Burnley's Chris Eagles had stood head and shoulders above his Championship opponents whenever I had seen him. I expected him to make a fair impact in the Premier League. He didn't. This year's 'head & shoulders' award goes to Dorrans, an attacking midfielder whose 13 goals pushed West Brom towards automatic promotion back to the Premier League. An unsung £250k purchase from Livingston, Dorrans ended his second season in England as a Scottish international, for whom West Ham ( if not their then manager, Zola ) were prepared to offer £4 million. I'll suggest that you keep an eye on Dorrans, although I'll not go as far as tipping success.


Andy Carroll

Maybe it's my age, but I occasionally reminisce about a time when footballers were real people, rather than astronomically paid automatons whose whole existence is controlled by dieticians, fitness coaches, media trainers, agents and business managers. Step forward, Andy Carroll, local hero. Old fashioned nightclub punch-ups - Carroll's your man. Teammates stepping out of line in training? Give 'em a whack! And despite his tendency to aim for the front rather than back page of the local rag, Carroll managed to score nineteen goals for his hometown club in Newcastle's promotion charge to the Premier League. Playing for a team where the number nine shirt will always be associated with Shearer, Milburn and MacDonald, Carroll's style is probably closer to another Newcastle front man, Duncan Ferguson. At 21, Carroll is a potential big improver - his style of player is often more effective at 30 than 20. He will have to make another big leap next season to be a success at the top level.


Frank Lampard

It was Chelsea's season. But it wasn't always straightforward. The major teams rely upon a solid core of top class players around which play revolves. As Liverpool found, when that core isn't in place, everything goes awry. Yet Chelsea found their previously indestructible skipper having a shocker of a season, and their goalkeeper regularly looked like his form and confidence had deserted him. Keeping it all together was Lampard. He scored twenty seven goals, including twenty two in the league, from midfield, performing consistently whilst the remaining midfield positions were chopped and changed due to injuries. I've always been on the red side of the 'Lampard/Gerrard' debate, but it was Frank's season.

Joe Hart

Chelsea won the title scoring 103 goals. Hull City and Portsmouth were relegated after scoring 34 each. Doesn't sound illogical. Yet Birmingham City scored 38 goals and finished in 9th place. They did this with a tight and well-drilled team, two excellent central defenders and the finest loan signing of the season, Joe Hart.

Hart was consistently outstanding, and leaves Manchester City with a difficult decision for 2010/11. Sam Allardyce had a big moan about the omission for Paul Robinson from the World Cup squad, but in my view Hart and James are the country's outstanding keepers, and Robert Green is Capello's current number one and has yet to let his country down. So who does Sam think Robinson should have replaced?

And the bozo award goes to :

Clarke Carlisle.

I noted Clarke's appearance on Channel 4's 'Countdown' here. Sadly, from that moment Burnley's season fell apart, as did Clarke's form for a short spell, including conceding two penalties in one game. He was dropped by Burnley manager Brian Laws shortly afterwards. In addition, his intellectual antics didn't go down too well with the Burnley fans when he had a dig at them on his personal blog after crowd trouble at the game versus Blackburn. Advice - stick to playing football, and stay quiet.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Dodgy



Missed opportunity, or best avoided? I've never had much success with the Italian second division, but every year the end-of-season games throw up odds which suggest results are determined beforehand. So how should you react? Pile in with the crowd or lay the low odds in the hope that there is a rumour-led odds shift? In my case, keep away. But I'm still left with the feeling there was free money on offer.

Isn't it time for UEFA to start handing out a few big points deductions for this sort of thing? It seems to be accepted - 'Oh, it's the Italian way'. I've commented before on similar oddities in the Greek second division.
It's just not cricket.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Ups and Downs

So Leeds scraped into second place in League One, contrary to my prediction. It wasn’t an additional Leeds success that made the difference, but Millwall’s defeat at Tranmere in the penultimate round of games. So despite a loss at Charlton, Leeds were left with their fate in their own hands on Saturday. They still nearly blew it. I watched Sky Sports ‘Soccer Saturday’ throughout a tense afternoon, with no internet diversions to relieve my worries ( see below ). Jeff Stelling gave a great example of the footy fan’s Saturday life, going through the tortures of Hartlepool’s last-day battle for survival, as their fate was left in the hands of others ( Exeter and Gillingham ). Meanwhile, Leeds managed to concede a goal and have Max Gradel sent off before Jonny Howson and then the fan’s regular pantomime hero / villain, Jermaine Beckford, managed to bring home the necessary victory. Things went ok in the end for Jeff and for me, so a happy ending.

I will admit to never attending a League One game. The second relegation suffered by a team I had only recently watched in a European Cup semi-final was a step too far for me. I’ve preferred the occasional less stressful visit to Conference games at Burton. I didn’t attend one game this season, probably only the second time that has happened since my first visit to Elland Road in 1974. But I should be able to find a few Championship games worth a visit next season.

Down at the Pirelli stadium, Burton saw its first ever major incident of crowd trouble. I regularly struggle to understand the mentality of fans. Grimsby came into the final game of the season with their league survival dependent on others. Their travelling support must have known that they were probably about to be relegated. Their actions were indefensible. I hope they ( and Luton ) start next year’s Conference season on -20 points. I’m fed up with huge points deductions for financial failings and a slap on the wrist for crowd violence.

I pay a monthly sum way in excess of the market rate for internet access to AOL. I do this because, whilst hearing plenty of horror stories about others’ problems, my own line has been trouble free for many years. Last week, my speed dropped drastically, and I was forced to contact AOL to resolve the problem. This developed into a four hour three-way conversation between Lichfield ( me ), somewhere in India ( AOL ), and somewhere else in India ( Belkin ). Result – I’ve totally lost connection, and AOL and Belkin both assure me that the problem is the other’s. The whole experience was one of the most depressing I’ve encountered – I’m not tolerant of any situation where I feel helpless. I’ve today spent £80 on a new modem to resolve the issue. I shouldn’t have to, but if it works I will have avoided the stress of more helpline hell.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Worried?

Is the financial world pressing on your shoulders? Has the turmoil of the last two and a half years left you worried about the future? Does every viewing of Newsnight leave you fearful that everything may cave in around you?

Give a quick thought to Angelos Basinas. He’s just spent the last fifteen months playing at Portsmouth. Tempted by Tony Adams to give the Premier League a try, within hours of signing Adams had been dismissed. Within a couple of months the team’s owner, Alexandre Geydemak, had sold up to the first of three subsequent owners. You know the rest.

At least it will soon be all over for Angelos for another season. He can go home for a relaxing summer break. To Greece.

I can’t confirm reports that Basinas has sheltered his irregular Portsmouth salary payments from potential financial meltdown at home, by holding an account with the Kaupthing Bank in Iceland.

Monday, 3 May 2010

April - Quiet

Back home from London, in need of a quiet evening. The weekend didn’t quite go to plan. With crap weather forecast, the thought of two whole days tramping around Camden venues in the rain didn’t appeal to Mrs B, so I came up with an alternative itinerary involving Sunday at Camden Market and around Brick Lane, and Saturday evening at the Half Moon in Putney to see the ‘semi-legendary’ John Otway, self-styled ‘Rock n’ Roll’s Greatest Failure’. A good show in front of a packed house of Otway fans, with highlight’s including the 57 year old Otway stage-diving off a step ladder.

So a delayed April review, and a short one, on the basis there’s not much new to say. I finished at (£16) for the month, having been in profit around £250 at one point. I succeeded in spending less time on Betfair, with a reduction in the feelings of frustration that have plagued my year. But obviously a red month meant a failure in my aim to increase my betting bank. I think I needed a break from the intensity and pressure that had built up through a difficult couple of months, and I’m left with a fairly positive state of mind at the end of the month, so some success, if not in monetary terms.

I only had four losing days in the month ( three being substantial ), two involved chasing with stakes way too high, and the other a worthy punt that didn’t come off. I ended in profit on all sports apart from horse racing. I’m going to stick with racing for a little while longer, as the losses were chases rather than fair bets. But racing remains the sport most likely to cause me to chase, simply because there’s always an opportunity to recover almost immediately after the loss. I finished last month’s review with a point about mental strength, and I suppose that’s the overriding issue above all my other tweaks and adjustments. I can grumble about a small bank, but there’s a straightforward answer. And frustration is part of betting, not an excuse for blowing away my profits. Patience and discipline remain my foe. I’ve read a few blog posts about the journey through betting, which ultimately leads to success. They suggest that you can tick off each stage of the process, and move forward to the next. My own progress has been a lumpier journey, but maybe I’m just more determined and more optimistic than those that fail once they can no longer move forward a level.

There is an alternative answer – I’m destined never to make consistent profit. So maybe it’s no bad thing that I keep a small bank.

I’d like to finish on a positive note, but my first short session of the month on Betfair ended in a loss. An avoidable one - I’m too tired to bet today, so I’ve closed Betfair and will hopefully return tomorrow with a good mindset. At least I offer an alternative to those bloggers piling in the cash at the moment.