Friday, 30 April 2010

More Random Thoughts

Chalk and Cheese

What an enjoyable experience viewing the Fulham / Hamburg game turned out to be. There’ll be plenty of plaudits heading Roy Hodgson’s way, all deserved. I was particularly struck by the huge gulf between how the game was played, by both teams, in comparison to the previous night’s Inter / Barca game. No ‘hands to face’ cheating, no theatrics, just twenty two players playing football to win. Even a bunch of Germans ( Sir Alex must have been pleased ). Superb. I’m not sure where the ref found three minutes to add on at the end, it seems to be the default digit given to avoid getting a roasting from either manager after the match.


Mourinho polarises opinion. I’ve generally been in the ‘pro’ camp, but also appreciate Barca’s flair, so began the match with an open mind. Yet I spent 70 minutes willing Inter home to victory. I applauded the time wasting, I cheered each clearance from Lucia and Samuel. Why? I dislike the gamesmanship, I enjoy seeing attacking football, so shouldn’t I have been supporting the Catalans? Simply, I detest one particular element of the European game – feigning injury. Sergio Busquets took a soft palm against the underside of his jaw. His reaction caused a red card. He wasn’t shot between the eyes with a starting pistol, yet his actions suggested he had been. It’s sad that the higher up the hierarchy of European football you delve, the worse the play-acting becomes. If any team, whether it be Barca, Inter, Real Madrid or United, wish to be seen as the iconic team of world football, wouldn’t it be great if their standards of behaviour were as high as their levels of talent? Maybe it’s just the first sign I’m getting old – harking back to times past.

Red and Average

I’ve had a few digs at Liverpool before, so I’ve little to add following tonight’s game. A two-man team with only 0.5 playing is always unlikely to succeed. I only wish the two Europa league semi-finals had been played consecutively, to allow the viewer fair comparison between the two English teams. I’m guessing that Fulham would have won on the counts of team spirit, organisation, heart and determination to win. A new broom at Anfield come summer time, me thinks.


Gambling’s a dangerous pastime sometimes. It doesn’t surprise me that it wrecks lives. I’m pretty level-headed, relaxed and averagely educated. I’ve been betting for a number of years. Yet the stress of losing still occasionally plays with my head. However much I strain to avoid chasing a loss, it’s often not until the next day that my ‘unlucky’ bets can be seen as flawed by a calm head, even if I had convinced myself at the time that I wasn’t chasing. A great example yesterday, as I blew away my horse racing profit for the month in one supposedly ‘researched’ lay. I ended up placing a 16.0 lay ( Sweet Clementine ), right at the top of my price range. The error? Yes the odds were too risky, but I’ll live with that. My major indiscretion was to abandon a simple rule I’ve had for months. That’s the manipulation that goes on in your head – ‘oh, I can ignore that rule just this one time’. Then, whack, kick in the nuts. A week of disciplined progress in tatters.

The rule? Don’t lay Jim Crowley at Kempton.


I’ve avoided spending more than token time following the election coverage, I’m way past the age where I can be swayed by soundbites. But one thought occurred to me that’s not been mentioned regarding Mr Brown’s celebrated faux pas yesterday. Senior politicians spend so much time in London, I think that all the party leaders are a million miles away in ideology from people living in towns like Burnley and Rochdale ( sorry Mully ). As someone living close to an urban metropolis in Birmingham, I would suggest that anyone local to me having a dig at Eastern Europeans probably is a bigot. Without their influx, our local economy would grind to a halt. London’s no doubt the same. But Mr Brown clearly has no idea of what living in many northern towns is like. When skilled manufacturing jobs have been bulldozed over many years, then there is a real fear from ordinary people that immigrants will take away job opportunities from local people. It’s not bigotry, but genuine concern.

Oh, before anyone takes my comment the wrong way, I’ll admit to being pro-european, and idealogically well to the left of any of our major parties. A festival hippy, I suppose.

Which brings me to music. It’s the Camden Crawl this weekend, so I’ll be heading south tomorrow evening for two nights. Hopefully, I’ll sneak a spare hour on Betfair at some point tomorrow to ensure that I end the month in profit – it’s tight at the moment.

Enjoy your extended weekend.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Free Gift

As I've noted many times before, it's tough to make a profit at this game. So it's nice when you're offered a free gift.

A minute before post time in the 5.20 at Bath, the Racing Post 'live reporter' box offered up this comment from trainer Ron Hodges on his Kyllachy Storm, favourite for the race at 5/1.

Only a small lay for me ( I'm in 'discipline mode' ), but an easy improvement to the day's P&L.

So thank you to Mr Hodges.

Down To The Wire

Two games to go in League 1, and Leeds remain in second place, on the verge of automatic promotion back to the Championship. Two wins required, and with a decent home record I’d expect a final day win at Elland Road against Bristol Rovers, who are nicely unpressured in mid-table. However, next Saturday involves a visit to fellow promotion-seekers Charlton, and with a mixed away record I fear that the second win may be beyond Leeds.

Four teams can still realistically take second place ( Huddersfield would require a bizarre set of results ) – Leeds, Millwall, Swindon and Charlton. In addition to the Charlton/Leeds clash, there remains a final day contest between Millwall and Swindon to keep things interesting. It may be the result of that game that will eventually determine Leeds’ fate.

I've had a little dabble at guessing the remaining results, and resulting placings. This gives me Millwall taking second place by a mere 1 goal difference, and Leeds heading for the play-offs. Maybe it’s just a supporter’s pessimism, but I’d then be backing the form team ( Huddersfield ) to come through the play offs, having won five of their last six games. But May really is silly reason, so don’t discount anything. And keep your bets small.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Spot The Difference

Jose Antonio Reyes
Kelly Jones

David Ngog

Monday, 19 April 2010

Greville Starkey

An item I missed in the sports press, but spotted due to my subscription to the Lichfield Blog, was the recent death of Greville Starkey at the age of 70. Starkey was Lichfield-born, one of the top flat racing jockeys of his time and, as the Telegraph obituary notes here, one of those sportsmen who will be remembered as much for one high-profile failure as a lifetime of success. I’m sure there are a few examples – Terry Fenwick springs to mind ( for his dismal attempt to stop Diego Maradona in the ’86 World Cup quarter-final ).

I had a short-lived interest in racing in the seventies, brought about by visits with my grandparents to meetings at York, Ripon and Thirsk, and remember the Starkey / Guy Harwood partnership as a main player in racing in a time of Eddery, Piggott, Carson, Hern, O’Brien etc.

To win 1,989 races and be remembered for one that didn’t is a sad memorial.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


Just back from watching Robyn Hitchcock at the Birmingham Academy. He’s been around for years, but he still has an enthusiasm for the job and, as usual, an entertaining night was had by all. I can never go straight to bed after driving, so I thought I’d post an update of my less-than-exhilarating recent Betfair performances.

I started internet betting simply because of the challenge of picking winners and beating the bookies. I only became serious about winning money when I was put in a position where I needed an income. And I’ve always found it tough. Yes, I make profits more often than losses, but it’s rarely easy. The last week has been a slog, but necessarily so. Having had a poor March, I needed to build up my bank with minimum risk. And that has meant bypassing loads of potential opportunities, and placing small sums on the supposedly ‘safe’ wagers I’ve taken on to win £2’s, £3’s and £5’s. It really is like betting in handcuffs. It’s dull as hell, and needs plenty of discipline. It’s hard to maintain any great enthusiasm with these sort of amounts, but as I’m not prepared to deposit cash into Betfair, it’s the way forward for me for the coming weeks. But I’ve regularly had to check myself from sticking the lot on a punt just to relieve the frustration. I’m currently a huge £212 up on the month, but as that’s nearly doubled my bank balance I suppose I should see it as a success, even if it doesn’t feel like one! It wasn’t that long ago that I would think nothing of placing a 4 figure liability, but my betting has to be self funding, so if I’m to get back to that level I’ll have to earn the profit.

On a positive note, there have been enough weird football results in the last couple of weeks to make me think that my limited bets may have saved me from a major blow out. I lost £16 laying Tottenham against Chelsea, but apart from that have remained unscathed. I noted from today’s forum that £132 was matched at odds of 500.00 and over on a Wigan win. Ouch.

Finally, the Leeds United steamroller which ran out of gas in mid March is now limping towards the finish line in Division 1. Pressure continues to be such an important factor in sport. Both Swindon and Millwall were unstoppable during their rise to overtake Leeds in the table, but having reached the summit, both have now found winning much more difficult. So with three games remaining, Leeds simply have to win each match to gain automatic promotion. Simply? I doubt it. This will go down to the final game. Pity I’ve no nails left to bite.

Sunday, 11 April 2010


Oh, to be able to have relaxing days at home, with just a laptop and the IPL for company as you use your skills to make a couple of hundred quid each day from Betfair.

Ok, as I’ve previously pointed out, it’s not quite that simple in practise ( I’ve tried it ). But generally, when your main income generator is trading on Betfair, during the time you spend in front of the screen, you’re in a decent mental and physical state to take on the market, so have every opportunity.

Those in this fortunate situation should spare a thought for the majority, whose attempts to profit are often made after long days working. A well-tuned brain can overcome adversity, keep wins and losses in perspective, and maintain concentration and objectives. When tiredness is added to the mix, the lessened mental ability brings to the fore those enemies of profit – frustration, momentary lapses in concentration, despondency, overconfidence. I’ve noticed that when work has been more intense, my ability to make profit declines. In response to my dismal results in March, I’ve tried to spend a little less time on Betfair, and have shorter spells in front of the screen. I’m hardly pulling up trees in April, but my time has felt more like a hobby than a chore. So that’s a result. And my eyes look better for it.

Two successive weekends away have put an enforced reduction on my Betfair time ( and my blogging time ). I certainly now feel refreshed and ready for my next task – to rebuild a bank without getting frustrated. Any regular readers will have spotted that once I get down below a couple of hundred quid, I tend to lose interest and often throw away money. But I also detest depositing money into my Betfair account – betting is low down my priorities of how to spend my hard earned cash. So I’m hoping to spend the remainder of April just nudging forward towards creating a bank within my comfort zone.

My main excuse for a lack of blogs is slightly odd – for some reason I generally bet whilst stood up, yet write blog posts slumped on the sofa. No, I haven’t a clue why, just habit. And with a sciatic nerve playing up a little when I sit for any length of time, I’ve had no wish to write. So a secondary task for April – train myself to blog whilst stood up!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

March - Magic

Magic, as in ‘how to make money disappear without a trace’.

Probably my worst month since starting the blog. There are many similaries with my feelings at the end of January, and much of that post (here) still applies. Unfortunately, whilst January was a small green month, March was a whacking red, wiping out February’s profit to leave me with a small deficit for the year. Three months to make nowt!

I think my mindset is currently best compared to climbing a steep hill. You spend your early attempts at the bottom of the hill, climbing a little and rolling back to your starting point. With more experience, you climb further up the hill, but still roll back a little, meaning that progress is slow. As time goes on, you reach higher up the hill, and get acclimatised to the thinner air near the peak. But the section approaching the peak is tough, and having climbed most of the hill, it’s frustrating when you can’t quite reach the top. So you take risks, and end up rolling all the way down to the bottom.

I generally review my performance by sport, but this month tells me little about my strategies or strengths. My only profitable sports were basketball ( 1 bet ) and tennis ( where I was extremely cautious ). My losses were on football and racing. The racing losses were mainly incurred on one Saturday when I lost the plot and went chasing, with horrible results. I really should be past this stage, I’ve learnt that chasing doesn’t work, but just occasionally a grumpy mood coincides with early losses, and then it’s meltdown. It’s what I now call a ‘DLF Maximum Fuck Up’. My saving grace is that I only maintain a bank of a few hundred quid nowadays, so I avoid financial carnage, if not mental carnage. Football was disappointing, just too many strange results, and I became tentative as the month went on, leading to too many all-reds being taken ( what I now call a ‘Citi Moment Of Panic’ ). I took Rangers’ recent 4-1 thumping at St Johnstone as my sign that ‘silly season’ is now with us, so forget the form book and just look for what each team has to play for.

My only progress came in the last few days of March, when I took a day’s break before making my second cash deposit of the month. I came back with low expectations, kept my bets small and tried to avoid setting any sort of profit target, just playing the opportunities as they arise. I made £119 back over the last four days of the month, without spending hours in front of a screen. I’ve tended to think of a £30 day as a failure, and have been aiming at bigger wins. Yet I’d be ecstatic if I made £900 in a month at the moment. I need to bridge this inconsistency during April.

I’ll attempt to spend a little less time in front of the laptop in April, particularly if the temperature improves. I need to get back to enjoying betting, it’s my hobby. Scratching around for positives, I can say that the month has only confirmed everything I’ve learnt over the last few years. However, inability to follow your own rules is a quick way to the poor house. All March has proved is that success or failure is all in the mind, and I’ve got to be mentally tougher.

On a positive note to end, my fantasy football team is doing ok, off the back of some cracking points scored by my two star players. Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas……..