Sunday, 31 January 2010

January - Waste Of Time?

At the end of a month where many hours were spent in front of a laptop screen, I end with a P&L of +£79. I’d hate to work out my hourly rate, it’s probably not much over a quid per hour. But at least I’ll have learnt some worthwhile lessons? Er, no, not really.

My gains in the month generally came from my strengths – knowledge of sport, identification of value, research. My losses from my old shortcomings – inconsistent staking, chasing losses and lack of concentration. I’ll add a new shortcoming – lack of respect for my bank money. As a few bloggers have found, the problem with having a longish period without making progress is that it can lead to frustration – the ‘what’s the point?’ mentality – and when you’re controlling a bank only equal to a couple of day’s wages, it’s easy to just throw in a couple of bets using big chunks of that bank simply to relieve that frustration. Oh, and they often lose!

If I delve deeper, I can find a few positives to carry in to February. My losses were restricted to three short spells, and two of those were simply reckless. Whilst I will have to admit to chasing losses on both occasions, my mindset was less about loss recovery and, as I mentioned above, more of frustration at my carelessness. So most days of the month have been profitable and I have generally kept my concentration levels up. The obvious learning outcome – a long period of consistency can quickly be undone by a short period of brain-fade.

I was profitable with all sports except racing and snooker. I was particularly pleased with my tennis results, having deliberately avoided the overnight matches which made up the bulk of the month’s opportunities. I ended last season with a pretty negative attitude towards tennis betting, so I’m pleased with my start to the new year. My most profitable sport was football, a decent turnaround as I was in the red as at the 11th of the month. And snooker is definitely blacklisted – four bets, three losses.

The big hole in my P&L was horse racing. My initial impression was that racing was simply the sport that happened to be available for me to take my frustrations out upon. It was certainly where I targeted my loss-chasing and inconsistent staking. But having done a little analysis, I find that if I had laid to a fixed stake, I would still be in the red. Only by about half of my actual loss, but still a noteworthy sum. In addition to the inconsistent staking, it is likely that I am simply having too many bets. Many bloggers with considerably more expertise in the horse racing sphere than I seem to limit their trades to where they feel fully confident in the selection. I will look to reduce my quantity of bets, and hopefully I may see an improvement in hit rate.

There’s no doubt that much of what I’ve said in previous month-end posts still applies. I continue to be inconsistent, and I continue to perform at my best only when recovering from losing P&L positions. I know that future profits are simply reliant on consistency and concentration. Doesn’t sound that difficult, does it? Maybe I’m just a slow learner!

Friday, 29 January 2010

No Bet?

Two superb contests in store at the Australian Open this weekend. Whilst having a quick look at the odds it struck me that I, like many others, spend too much time analysing form and prices, trying to find an angle where it doesn’t exist. I’m sure the profitable punter is adept at realising that ‘no bet’ is often a sensible solution. If your convictions are not strong, move on. For me, ‘on the fence’ would be a fair description of my feelings towards the two finals. I’d like to see a Murray / Henin win, but that means opposing two of the most successful champions of all time.

Roger Federer is 1.65, to Murray’s 2.50. The major factor is probably Federer’s grand slam history, but for each argument in his favour, you can call an opposing claim. Federer has won slams – Murray probably wants the slam more. Murray has a good recent head-to-head record – Federer therefore has a revenge motive. Federer had the easier semi – Murray has had an extra day’s rest. I could go on….

The Serena / Justine odds currently sit at 1.92 / 2.06. That probably says it all. The outcome is all about Serena, who’s level of play and temperament fluctuates wildly. In her press conference she noted that a win would put her level with Billie-Jean King in slam titles. A good reason for 100% commitment then. She then followed up with ‘but I don’t really care about that’. No clues on offer there. She’s generally up for slam finals, but would you put your money on it?

Henin is much more predictable - talent/good temperament/graft - but hanging over her is the effort of reaching a final so soon after returning to the sport. Her form has been patchy through the week, but she’s mentally tougher than anyone. Whilst the men’s match will probably be a tight, high quality contest, the women’s match could be 6-1, 6-1. I just don’t know to which player.

I’ll stick to enjoying the sport, with a fiver each on Murray and Henin just as a supportive punt.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Repeating Patterns

Guess who laid ‘Any other score’ on the Villa / Blackburn game last night? Not my best ever pre-match analysis, although I noted that Alan Shearer’s thoughts were similar to my own on the BBC coverage. I managed to escape with an all-red £13, so no great harm done.

The repeating patterns I refer to are the manner in which my success or failure on particular sports seems to work in circles. My post ten days ago commented on a bad spell on football leaving me with a loss on the month, whilst my most successful sport had been horse racing. Since then, the racing has been horrible and, despite the Villa game, the football’s gone ok. Total impact on the month – football in profit, racing in the red, and an overall monthly P&L sat at a paltry +£86!

The ‘Robin Hood’ technique I’ve mentioned previously is a good example of how I seem to operate. A real problem for me is that I tend to lose confidence in a particular sport after a couple of bad results, and make subtle changes to my betting techniques, whether in staking or type of bet. During one week, my emphasis is on football. The next, racing. The next, tennis. And because I’m not consistent for a long period, I don’t give myself the chance to prove whether a particular staking plan or type of bet will be successful in the long term. Whilst I have learnt huge amounts in the last couple of years, I think the wide range of opportunities opened up to me has actually got in the way of my potential profitability. If I can ever bring myself to knuckle down and make a serious effort to turn my knowledge into profit, ‘consistency’ needs to be put right up there with ‘discipline’ in my betting mantra.

My recent betting has been pretty low key, not helped by my own lack of foresight. I did a spot of arbing last week, resulting in a fiver gain, with the side effect of moving £500 from my Betfair account into Bet365, leaving me with £150 in my Betfair account. Unfortunately, I only had £150 in the old bank account I use for deposits and withdrawals, so I unintentionally limited myself to a £300 bank which I then proceeded to blow over the weekend, courtesy of a few racing lays going astray and a petulant back of Ronnie O’Sullivan with my last £75 on Sunday night. So I left myself with a couple of free days before I could fund my Betfair bank.

The major impact of this was that I missed the Australian Open first round. I had not intended to get heavily involved in an overnight market anyway, and have limited my subsequent bets to a few £20 punts and a little morning betting. I’m in profit, so I’ll continue to take it easy. I got involved in the Montanes / Robert game this morning, and whilst I was always with Montanes, and came out on top, I was certainly aware of those thoughts of flip/flopping which the game brings, and that have given me so much heartache over the years. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m not cut out for major in-play tennis trading – my odds-on lays generally storm straight to 1.01, and I’m instinctively an odds-on backer. But I’m good at finding winners, and if I can use in-play betting to compliment pre-match bets, I’m sure tennis will soon be back at the top of my agenda – it is my favourite sport. I’ve just got to avoid getting sucked into in-play shenanigans. There’s nothing more frustrating than ending up with a £200 loss on a bet that started with a £50 liability, and there’s no sport more likely to ensnare you than tennis.

I noted in a recent post about how I felt relaxed with my betting. I still do, despite the crap P&L. Tennis is the sport with most potential to increase my profits. But also the most potential to give me stress ( and losses ). I’ll keep the kid gloves on for the moment.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Slightly Embarrassing.

I've been unfortunate enough to witness Rafa Benitez' last two post-match interviews. I've felt a little sorry for the guy. He's come across as a chump, with no ideas, no answers and no confidence in his team's ability to turn things around.

He's had the bottle to give a commitment that has become a potential resignation letter - 'we will finish in the top four' - but his ability to motivate the large batch of substandard players he's purchased seems to be withering. He should also be slightly embarrassed by today's lineup, after denying that he runs a two man team. Er, what more proof do you need?

It does look like we're reaching a stage where it's simply a question of whether he goes now or at the end of the season. Although the other candidates for fourth spot aren't exactly motoring away into the distance.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Skin Deep

I've noticed that a few blog lists show photos alongside the latest blog post. Unfortunately, yesterday's post incorporated a not particularly attractive photo, which may therefore distress viewers of any blog which incorporates my own offering on their blog list.

As an apology, I update my blog with an alternative picture of a female tennis player.

This photo is of the 59 ranked Russian, Maria Kirilenko. She has a career high ranking of 18, and is a five-times winner on the WTA tour. If you wish to find out further details about her playing record, you've probably got problems with your eyesite.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Feeling Lucky?

This lady is Naomi Cavaday, ranked 204 by the WTA, which makes her Britain's number 5 woman player.

Obviously she's unlikely to make much impact in the latter stages of the upcoming Australian Open but, like a few hundred other lower ranking players, she was no doubt aiming to reach the first round proper of the competition by winning three qualifying matches. Everything started well, with a three set win over the world number 142, Alexandra Panova of Russia. So who's next? Number 160? 110? 95?

Er, no, number 16. Yep, Belgium's number 2 ( for the moment! ), last year's US Open semi-finalist, Yanina Wickmayer. WTF.

An unfortunate overflow from the Flemish anti-doping tribunal over-reaction involving Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse during October was that Yanina was serving a ban ( subsequently overturned ) at the point of entries for the Aussie Open. She was later given a wildcard into the qualifying tournament.

So, for Naomi, there's always Wimbledon. Oh well.

Monday, 11 January 2010

10,000 Up.

Many thanks to all who have brought me to 10,000 hits on the blog. I’m sure there are other blogs with hits many multiples higher than this one ( particularly those who make much more money than I do! ), but it’s certainly more than I expected when I started eleven months ago. It’s an average of around 62 hits per post, and as I never bother to publicise the blog, I’m happy with that – it certainly makes it worthwhile writing.

A shocking weekend on the betting front. I’ve never been able to make profits from my three main sports simultaneously, and this weekend it’s been football that’s kicked me in the nuts. I managed to develop a new skill – turning a win into a loss. I took two big all-reds on games where the final result would have given me a profit – a lay of Everton, and a back of Inter Milan. Both games had late goals – too late for me, and I’d bailed out well before the goals came to kick me in the teeth. So football goes into the red for the year, and as much as it pains me, recent P&L’s suggest my time is better spent on horse racing! Maybe I’ll just be a little bit more cautious with the football betting for a while, certainly until I’ve managed to raise my bank balance a little.

After a further couple of setbacks today, including two successive winning lays at Southwell and another all-red taken on a football result that finished up in my favour, I packed in for the a few hours to avoid my punting becoming reckless. I had a session reading a few blogs, and found a few pictures of interest on The quality on the site is a bit hit and miss, but I liked the few I’ve added below.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Top Gun?

Could this be the number one tennis player on the planet? And the least charismatic?

Nikolay Davydenko ended 2009 by defeating Nadal, Federer and finally Del Potro in the London end-of-season championship. He seems to have brought the same form into 2010. Today's match against Federer in Doha was won by the better all-round player, and it wasn't Roger. One of Federer's great strengths has been to create a barrier of invincibility against opponents he has continually beaten in the past. Davydenko had a 0-12 record against the world number one until London, but now seems to have the upper hand.

It certainly helps to you have can go through a set with a 100% first serve record. I captured this screenshot at the end of the first set. Add this to a dogged determination and great speed around the court, and you have a formidable package.

So tomorrow Davydenko will take on Nadal in the Doha final. Rafa's form has certainly improved, but I think the value is with the Russian at 2.24. I don't see him as a potential future multi-slam winner, but at this moment in time, he's right at the top of his game.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Quiet, and White

The picture was taken with my I-phone this morning from my bedroom window. Actually, we’ve suffered less than many parts of the country, with the main roads into Birmingham being clear this morning, although I chose to shorten my working day with a mid-morning journey into the city, and an early escape as the skies began to darken to avoid any freezing up of the roads.

I’ve had a quiet start to the betting year, and today continued in this vain, with much of the available sport falling during the period noted above. Yet the lack of bets has made little difference to my average P&L. A couple of thoughts spring to mind. Firstly, I seem to have found a way to take away the pressure I tend to put on myself, and am finding that opportunities are arising, rather than having to search for them. I’ve no particular aim at the moment except increasing my bank balance, and possibly I’m most effective when I don’t feel the need to make substantial profit. The confidence gained from the fact that I’ve been profitable for most of the last couple of months also helps. Secondly, I’m finally finding the best way to use Betfair Mobile. I’ve never recorded a separate P&L for I-phone bets, but I’m certain it would show a red result. Having Betfair open to you 24 hours a day seems a great opportunity, but it also leaves you open to lax bets. I’ve placed plenty of bets on the I-phone with considerably less research or information available to me than I would consider whilst using the laptop. I’ve now realised that it comes into it’s own for closing out bets placed pre-match. If you do your research, you can confidently place bets in the knowledge that you always have a back-up to green out ( or red out ).

I’ve returned to tennis betting with a little trepidation after the hellish end to last season. Things have started ok, but I’ve no intention have following matches into the early hours. The last two Australian Opens have ended up as big reds for me, so I’ll just pick around the edges of this Australasian season and make sure my body clock is in proper working order – better a decent hit rate from few bets than long sessions to feather someone else’s pocket. I’m not taking many risks, and seem to be taking all-greens at the earliest opportunity, but I’m £117 in profit in the year so far on the sport, and the words ‘profit’ and ‘tennis’ have rarely been mentioned together in recent months.

I’m currently in profit on football, tennis and racing. I had a losing punt on Pakistan to beat Australia in the 2nd Test, but I’ve made a couple of quid on darts. The BDO tournament did seem a little mickey-mouse at first after watching the PCD big guns at Alexandra Palace, but it does make good television – Stephen Maher beat me to the punch with a couple of posts here and here about an amazing performance by the Aussie Tony Fleet in the first round – embarrassingly bad, he’d have been laughed out of a pub playing like that. The standard seems to have picked up, and whilst there’s nowhere near the depth of quality in the BDO, Waites, O’Shea, Chisnall and Adams are decent players at any level. Hankey – he’d sink in the PDC, because he loses his rag too easily.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

December - More Promise Than Profit

Back in front of the laptop for the first time in 2010, having had a good break in London. We had an excellent view of the Thames firework display on New Year’s Eve, and I was then cajoled by Mrs B into watching the New Year’s Day Parade through the city ( a few worthwhile displays, but too many American marching bands – dull ). For the rest of the visit, I spent a little time looking cool around Camden Market and Spitalfields. Well, ok, I would have looked cool except that I tweaked my knee on New Year’s Eve, so instead I was just a bloke with a stupid hat and a limp.

I’m now heartily sick of frothy warm beverages, whether it be from half-decent cafes or the worst culprit of the chain coffee shops, Starbucks ( 40% liquid, 60% froth ). Anyone attempting to add even a bubble to my January hot drink order will be dealt with via a kick in the nether regions.

I’ll keep the December review brief ( it seems long ago ). The month started well, and I settled into a nice routine of short sessions in front of the laptop, concentrating on one sport at a time (racing or football). By mid-month, I was looking in a good position to achieve my best monthly P&L since I reduced my bank and started work again in March. The second half of the month was less successful, as I lost that routine and, as I regularly seem to do, threw in a couple of horror days to peg back my profits. Having had a red day after laying three successive winners at Plumpton, I managed to reach Christmas in decent shape and took a nice bank withdrawal to contribute to the costs of the festivities. My first day’s betting after the break was a disaster ( I posted my thoughts on the day at the time ). My heart is imprinted with the frustration of post-cash withdrawal days – the great punting god always seems to punish me for taking out money, as if to scald me for assuming I will continue to make a profit. And, of course, this always leaves me where I hate to be – with an inadequate bank. So, a modest P&L result for a month that promised much, and another hill to climb for the start of 2010 to bring my bank back into my comfort zone.

I’ve had a delayed start to my 2010 betting, but I’ve a 100% record so far, courtesy of a few FA Cup bets placed on the I-phone. Maybe it’s the start of a huge breakthrough. Umm.