I read an interesting article earlier over on The Sultan's blog, where he wrote about different people's approaches to trading sports professionally. I think it is an intriguing topic and I'd just like to add my thoughts. The post can be found here incidentally: http://centrecourttrading.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/sacrificing-social-life.html
In short, Sultan was describing how he has had to make sacrifices in his life in order to work as a professional trader, and that without these sacrifices one cannot hope to be successful in their work. I largely agree with what he was saying and I find it strange that anyone would be deluded enough to think anything different from this. I have read posts or comments by some people who seem to fail to realise that if you decide to trade professionally, then this is actually a JOB, no longer a pastime. Undeniably, the make up of this particular job is vastly different from the 'typical' work environment, but the fundamental basics should still remain the same. Sultan refers to one guy who claimed he was going to trade on his phone whilst at a party. Erm, sorry, what? How many people do you know who go to a party and do work? And if these parties do exist, then these people really need new friends. Whilst trading may be a different type of job from something in an office, or a job at Tesco, or a binman, it doesn't mean that it deserves any less respect, and if you want to succeed at it that is how it needs to be. The higher up the professional scale you get the more sacrifices are needed, I doubt bank managers and top editors have much time for partying, for example. Another thing is that betting on a mobile is dangerous. I lose more bets than I win when I bet on my phone, mainly because the correct mindset is not there, while it is too easy to just stick something on and become distracted.
'Picard007' commented on the post saying: 'I must admit that I had this imagination of, if I invest 10 hours a day for 3 months I will be in profit soon. My hard work will pay off. It was a complete shock, that it did not and actually cost me a lot of money.' This slightly naive thinking (though who hasn't been the subject naivety over time?), is a belief which I feel contradicts my thoughts on trading professionally. If someone truly wants to go into trading, then they need to WANT to, and success will only happen over time, you cannot force it. It isn't a regular job, and it takes dedication to reach the level of The Sultan, for instance. It is easy to read his blog or other P+L blogs and think that it looks easy and fun, but the truth is that that is unrealistic. I spend a lot of time observing the markets and researching stats, whilst watching a lot of games and reading betting articles, but I am still far from the point needed to go professional and turn a consistent profit big enough to sustain any form of a lifestyle. There is a difference of course. I do it because I enjoy it with no real ambition to ever go full-time. But I think the fundamentals are the same, mainly because I aim to make money. Another point is that one cannot expect to learn all he needs to learn in 3 months, it simply isn't enough time to gain enough experience, just like anything else. One of the biggest things which has helped me improve over time is making mistakes, and I think that they are crucial to becoming successful in the long run. Everyone makes mistakes over time, and as long as you learn from them they can be as rewarding as any profit achieved. I look back over my mistakes over the past year or two and laugh, but I know that these were necessary to my education, and rarely have I made the same mistake again.
Another key point which was touched upon in Picard's comment was, profit aside, the benefits which trading brings to a person, most of all: discipline. I agree with Sultan and Picard who both agreed that discipline was a key aspect of their life which had been improved thanks to trading, and I feel the same way. My control of money is a lot stricter these days, both in and out of Betfair, and I value the odd pound or two a lot more also. My maths and statistical skills have improved, though both are still at a basic level, and I always find myself surprised at how often people talk of 'the odds' or bets, at which point I normally burst in with my superior knowledge (ahem) of the markets.
Each trader is different and I appreciate that. Personally, I trade part time to supplement my student income, and I choose trading over a part time job because I get pleasure from it, not necessarily because the profits are greater. It also suits me to trade whenever I feel like it, something which would not happen if I was to take the big step up to professionalism. I cannot see myself ever going professional as I don't think it is the life for me necessarily, but I am looking to go into the betting industry in some way and I think the knowledge I have accrued over time would give me an advantage in the marketing sector, for instance. (Incidentally, if anyone is reading and would like to give a newly graduated guy a job around June-time, that would be very handy ; ) ) Joking aside, whatever sector I enter I can see myself trading on the side in the future, just because I enjoy it.
Last word from me now. If you are going to trade then the most crucial thing is the 'Big P' - not profit, but passion. If you have enough passion then the other P will come.