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 But regardless of staking, taking on bets without research or based on an out-of-date opinion is as dangerous to your bank as overstaking.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?


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.