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.


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.