Monday, 28 January 2013

Getting ahead of the game

Relax, this is not going to be a post in which I try to sell you the latest gizmo to help you become a trading miracle, despite what the title suggests. Instead I will be looking at the differences and difficulties in picking your trades at the right times, in order to catch the price wave you desire rather than hit a wall.

This season has been my biggest learning curve yet as I have taken on a new challenge in trading the long term markets. So far it has been a fairly positive experience as I am currently in profit, but this has not been without some trials and tribulations. On occasions I think I have reacted to the form of teams and made a move, rather than anticipating a change in form, which is the crucial element. This has mainly resulted in a red screen and it is something which I will need to expel from my game if I am to make good profits. To put this into simpler terms, it is the equivalent of a football match which sees a goal scored in the first 5 minutes, and backing over 2.5 goals after the goal has been scored. With a pre-match price around evens for the over 2.5, an early goal would see the price plummet to around 1.4, and in my opinion backing it at this stage would be rather stupid (though I have been known to do such a thing in a less disciplined era!) Backing at this stage and this price would represent little value and more often than not would lead to losses, particularly if you are looking to trade the bet rather than punt outright. In my opinion there are only two reasons for making such a bet: either because you are reacting to the electric start to the match and think there will be more goals, or because you were waiting for a bigger price on the overs before getting involved, and were frustrated at the early goal, yet buoyed that your pre-match prediction looks to be taking place. This is a classic case of reaction over anticipation, which will commonly lead to unsuccessful trading in the long run.

With the outright markets, the trend remains the same but it is even more crucial to make your trades at the right times because of liquidity problems. It is tempting at times to back with the form book, for instance when a team is on a losing streak and playing diabolical football it sometimes seems incomprehensible that they may ever regain form, but of course they normally do. It is unusual that a team goes through a whole season without a win, losing every match along the way, and similarly so that a team will win every game. Even Arsenal's 'Invincibles' were 2nd in the league at the halfway point in 03/04, having drawn 6 of 19 matches. The reason for this post is that I was considering my potential next moves earlier in the week, and the two which came to my head were Norwich to be relegated and Liverpool top 4 both as back-to-lays. When looking at the form table however, it soon became evident why these two were in my mind, as Liverpool sit 4th from the last 6 matches, and Norwich bottom. Norwich are now 7.4 for relegation, after being around 12.5 before their slump in form. Liverpool are 8 for the top 4 now, after being matched as high as 13 just a few weeks ago. There is little point in taking these prices now as the movement has already happened. There are exceptions to this of course, and either of these teams might continue in the same form, but mostly taking trades in this manner will lead to disaster. Looking at the form table a more realistic option might be backing Southampton for relegation at a generous 3.5, particularly as they are only four points from the drop zone.

I have battled with anticipation and reaction throughout the season, as can be demonstrated clearly by these two images: 

Backed at a low price of 4.7, not far from their lowest matched price this season, after a run of poor form. Layed at 12 for a loss.

Backed for top 6 at 1.733 after a run of poor form at the start of the season, layed at 1.4 for a profit after they picked up the pace.

The two images above really reflect the difference in my trades, and I am looking to expel the need to go with the trends after they have happened, however tempting it might be. QPR's home performance to Liverpool a few weeks ago showed a depleted, awful side who look destined for relegation. The next match they won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. At the end of the day, football is a crazy old sport and to be profitable you have to attempt to predict what's coming. Easy huh? Have a good week.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Ally Pally

My week has been dominated by the snooker as I had predicted, and it has been a firecracker so far. Comebacks from the big name players such as Robertson, Trump and Selby was the theme from the last 16,   and the top 5 in the world all made it to the quarter finals to make it a thrilling tournament in store. I had a little interest on the winners market by dutching the four favourites, so I was pleased to see them all come through (just about). I've layed off a bit of my liability now but the odds are all still fairly long because no big name has left the tournament yet. I also had a £5 bet on Murphy to win on the fixed odds market (to qualify for a free bet elsewhere) which I have partially layed off, hence the large liability on him:

Over in the football world, the biggest move of the week has been QPR's relegation odds. They did well to secure a point against Spurs, although I watched the match and must say they were abysmal on the attack, but their transfer activity, or at least the rumours surrounding them, have seen their odds jump from 1.55 to 1.65 for relegation without touching a ball. I topped up at 1.57 when I heard about Remy, and now M'Vila is rumoured although apparently he isn't too keen. 'Arry the wheeler dealer trying to work his magic once more. At the other end of the table, United and City got through their weekend unscathed, proving once again that this season is going to be all about them. United remain at 1.38 for the title, and I have now decided to get involved in laying United. They have a tough month or two to come, despite their big lead, as they will be focused on their huge matches with Real Madrid in February. 

Apart from that though I'm off to Ally Pally myself tomorrow, hopefully for a top day of snooker. Have a good day people, I leave you with a blatant lie from Old 'Arry: 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Betfair Masters 2013

The Masters starts this week and regular users of this blog will know that I enjoy a good snooker tournament from time to time. This one I am particularly excited about though, as I have tickets to one of the quarter finals which will be my first time going to watch any form of snooker. Some may say they couldn't think of anything worse, but what do they know?

In terms of betting, the favourite going into Friday is snooker's new darling Judd Trump at 5.3 (9/2) with Betfair. It is an interesting price up for Trump, who crashed out in the first round at the last ranking event (UK Championships) to world number 50 Mark Joyce, although he did win the International Championship back in November. Since Ronnie O'Sullivan's recent sabbatical, Trump appears to have taken the mantle of snooker's exciting bad boy, or 'full time playboy' as his Twitter bio used to read. A key feature of the O'Sullivan reign was unpredictability on the table, yet he was frequently a lowed priced favourite for each tournament, mainly because of his name. This was the case even as he began to slip down the rankings in recent seasons, and I can't help but feel this is already beginning to happen to Trump. He is, of course, the world number 2, but at these prices I do not think I would like to back him, especially with his unpredictability as a relative rookie to the game. 

The second favourite some way behind him is world number 1 and UK Championship 2012 winner Mark Selby at 7.8 (7/1). This seems a somewhat reserved price for the world leader and this is presumably down to his lackluster win at the UK Championship. He managed to dig deep and claw back wins rather than sweep away all in his path with slick snooker, but this should still not be underestimated as a good ranking title. Having been out with a neck injury before this it is certainly an admirable achievement to recover and reclaim his number 1 spot, and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a big improvement in his play at The Masters. The 7.8 therefore looks like quite a decent price.

Due to the talent which has come through in recent years, snooker has become a bit like Formula 1 in that it is difficult for one player to dominate all the events. So far this season there has been 5 world ranking events, and 5 different winners (Ricky Walden, Barry Hawkins, John Higgins, Judd Trump and Mark Selby). Additionally, no one has won the 'triple crown' (The UK Championship, the Masters, and the World Championship) since 2002/3. Despite the fact that The Masters is not a ranking event, it is still seen as extremely prestigious in the Snooker circuit, and I am sure the £175,000 winners prize helps too. This is shown by the recent winners of the tournament, as Ding Junhui is the only to have won it since 2004 other than O'Sullivan/Selby/Robertson/Higgins.

This leaves the tournament rather open with any of the 'big players' looking to take the title, and the betting markets mark up Robertson and Higgins (both 8.4 or 15/2) as completing the top 4 favourites. There appears little to choose between these 4, and dutching them would give you odds of 1.8 (4/5), with the option of trading your position on Betfair throughout the tournament. If you fancied adding in world number 4 and UK Championship runner up Shaun Murphy at 12 for a less ambitious punt, you would get odds of 1.5 (1/2). Due to the way the draw has fallen, Robertson, Higgins, Selby and Trump could theoretically be the 4 semi-finalists in the tournament, so dutching could be an interesting option to take. Naturally I expect there to be a shock along the way, but the point is none of these 4 will be knocking each other out in the early rounds. 

Essentially this competition, like most of snooker's tournaments, is up for grabs. If you are someone who enjoys a more risky and money chasing bet, then I would suggest last year's runner-up Shaun Murphy to win at 12 (11/1). As number 4 in the world and also runner-up in the UK Championships, playing some superb snooker along the way, I think he is fairly overpriced this time out. Otherwise though, sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2012 Review

In keeping with the tradition on this blog (and by that I mean I have done it once), this post will feature a round up of my progress over the last year. I will admit that I have skim read a lot of my posts from the last 12 months as I needed a bit of reminding about what I was up to this time last year! 2012 was a good year for me on the whole however, as I completed my first full season of trading in good profit, and that has continued into this season.

The first few months of last year I was attempting to continue where I had left off in 2011, by trading each week and looking to take a profit close to the target I had set myself. I was mainly focused on developing my own systems, and I took to making spreadsheets and detailing the trades I made in order to see which was proving the most profitable for me. This was a good move as it is something I still stick to today, and not just when trading, in order to keep my dealings as organised as possible. These months didn't really feature a heavy amount of trading however, not compared to 2011 anyway, mainly due to a lack of funds and a lack of time, as my university year was coming to an end. All the while however, I was keeping an eye on the outright markets and plotting my strategy for the following season. May came and I finished the season in a good amount of profit, something I was extremely pleased with given that it was my first year attempting to do so properly.

The summer months were brilliant for sport. The Euros, Wimbledon and then of course the Olympics all over a few months. I continued trading on a smaller scale over these months, taking a profit from the Euros but not really dabbling in the other sports. This is something which I feel I have really kicked from my game in 2012: gambling on unfamiliar sports. On the whole, I have only traded football and snooker, two sports which I feel comfortable with. Betting needlessly on other sports had cost me a fair amount of money in the past, so I am pleased this appears to now be behind me. I did even have a lucky dabble in the manager markets but this was a one off and not something which I could really repeat. July was a momentous month as it saw the year anniversary of the blog, and a proud moment for me as I had wondered whether blogging would be a fad which I would just forget about after a while.

The new season arrived in August and I embarked on my new strategy, one which I hope I will be able to continue for many years. I won't go into detail here on how it is going because I did so in my last post, so please refer to that if you are interested. On the blogging side of things, the blog has evolved to cover things other than my own personal journey by looking at the markets, the teams and players, as well as bets from various bookmakers. This has been a conscious effort as when I read blogs I am more interested in general betting chat than the personal experiences of individuals. This is not to say that personal experiences are boring however, I think the best blogs I read are ones which integrate personal experiences with context from the betting world too.

One thing which has not had too much of a mention this year is matched betting. I have exacerbated the free bets on offer to me, with the exception of the odd reload free bet, so I have moved on to teaching/advising friends and family on how to match bet. This has provided me with a decent sized regular income (at least by my student standards), which has allowed me to generate capital for my trading and live less like a student this year. I have many more 'customers' lined up as well, so this should continue for some time into the new year.

In terms of the blog, it continues to grow and I have almost reached 15,000 hits after four consecutive months of over 1000 views (the first time this has ever happened). December 2012 was my best ever in terms of pageviews with 1418, so long may this upward trend continue!

My plans for 2013 are simple: to keep calm and pass Berbatov the ball. Oh wait, no, wrong one. My actual plan is just to continue as normal, keeping things simple and tidy with no need for drastic changes. I have learned a great deal over the last year, but I am still eager to learn more. I will continue to follow the markets, tweaking my trades here and there and if I finish with a profit this season I will be a very pleased man. I will graduate from university in June (hopefully) and I would very much like to go into marketing for a bookmaker or exchange. I applied for the Sky Bet marketing graduate scheme a couple of months ago but I was rejected, presumably because I have nothing which relates to marketing on my CV! If anyone reading works in such a department (at any firm), some work experience in the summer would be much appreciated! Otherwise, the marketing department of every bookmaker can expect a request for experience at some stage this year!

So that was my year, and my plans for this year also. I would like to thank everyone who has been reading over 2012, it is very much appreciated. I hope you will all continue to follow my journey in 2013. Happy New Year.