Thursday, August 31, 2006

How to waste a few hours trading

Daily Result: £0.88

I'm not going to say much about this except I'm actually more annoyed about it that recent heavier losses.

I had a few spare hours before going out for the evening so decided to trade the Leicestershire v Somerset Pro40 match. Despite believing Leicestershire would win I knew I wouldn't be able to see the end of the game so kept my green pretty level throughout.

Leicestershire batted first and, though they only made 173, the wicket was tricky and it was never going to be easy for Somerset. And so it proved as they started losing early wickets.

By then I was around £100 green the pair and, with about 10 mins to go before going out, decided to have one more back of Leicestershire intending exposure for a few seconds to make a few extra pounds to leave me over £100 green either result after commission. Derbyshire immediately hit a boundary so I waited for the price to settle. And suddenly my back of 1.2x was looking disasterous. Because as Derbyshire scored a few more runs the price was drifting crazily out to 1.5ish. One more wicket and the match was effectively over so I waited. But eventually just had to go out and traded out for a tiny green.

What was so annoying was people were openly laughing at the price on the Betfair cricket forum saying it must have started raining in the US Open and the tennis boys had arrived, looked at the game, not understood the pitch conditions and started laying Leicestershire, pushing them out to a crazy price because the required run rate was not high. And muggins here was the one who eventually had to lay at those stupid prices so I could go and meet a friend!!

I've no idea how the match panned out in the end except that Leicestershire won. I suspect their price didn't get much bigger than the 1.5x I had to lay it at though!

Anyway, whether it be down to greed and plain misfortune with the match circumstances the whole thing was a most annoying waste of a few hours! Luckily a few more than a few beers helped me chill and I rolled in around 2am. Got to love these new licensing laws!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Worst losing day

Daily Result: £602.04

Hmm. Not a great day. In fact my biggest losing day since starting the blog. I suppose the good news is I didn't break my recent
record loss for an event. The bad news is I just screwed up on more than one event! Apart from nicking a few quid trading short odds games in the US Open I managed two heavy losses, had a 3 figure green wiped out when a cricket match was abandoned due to rain - and managed to place a 1k bet not only on the wrong tennis player - but a player in a different match from the one I meant too!!

England v Pakistan 1st ODI
Well, given that it was abandoned and I didn't take out any insurance on the completed match market I won't say too much on this one. I didn't actually trade it that well and only had a small 3-figure green on a Pak win - the result I thought most likely when play was called off. Given the subsequent losses it's annoying but it's not the first time a match has been abandoned and it won't be the last.

US Open - Nalbandian v Berrer £372.18
Or Berrer the Bottler as he should be known. Truth is I only got involved in this match because the cricket was at that point delayed by the rain. So I had a flick, made a few quid here and there and came across this match. Now I've made the mistake of flicking to a new game and getting involved too early without having a proper appreciation of how the match was going before so I sat and watched this one for 5-6 games. Berrer was on fire, and when he broke Nalbandian in the 4th set to go 4-2 up I got involved.

Big mistake. I took 1.2x about him. To win the match he had to hold his serve twice. Of course, he immediately dropped his serve. And then called for the trainer. And then dropped his next serve. And then lost the set. Which all left me in a tricky situation. When he dropped his serve and the trainer appeared Berrer's price was around 2.5. Literally just rocketed out in a matter of seconds. It turned out the trainer was just for a bit of cramp so rather than tie in a big loss I decided to wait till the end of the set. Afterall, Berrer might break Nalbandian back. Or, failing that, if the remaining games went to serve he could win the match on the tie break.

Anyway, he lost the set by dropping his serve again (infact he only held 2 out of 6 service games after I placed my bet on him!) and, just before Nalbandian broke serve again in the final set, I was left backing him at roughly the same odds I'd backed Berrer at. Ouch.

Kendrick v Murray £258.04
Annoyed with this one. The Scottish Sulker's games have been great to trade this summer and I've made a fair bit on them. But I screwed this one up from what should have been a healthy all green position.

I actually got involved in this one as I wanted to bet 1k on Blake in his game at 1.03 and had the wrong screen open in the trading software I use and ended up backing Murray at 1.03 instead. Now that takes a special kind of stupidity!

I ended up bailing from the Murray trade at 1.13, and then laying him at 1.14 and 1.27 as Kendrick started destroying him in the second set. By the time he reached 1.6x towards the end of the set I had a potentially great all green position on the game. But I guess that's where I went wrong. Recently I've been letting my winning trades run longer as a trial and decided to do the same here. Crucially I also made another lay at around 1.6. Anyway, to cut a long story short Murray then took control back and wrapped the match up. But just to entice me not to trade out earlier he was making hard work of his own serve until a break of Kendrick left me facing another substantial loss. Not the best event I'll ever trade this one.

Anyway, as regular readers will know I look through my trading performances regularly and when I find leaks I try and
learn from them. Looking at recent results I've had some shocking tennis losses which has surprised me a little. Tennis has treated me well in the past but today, and the few matches I traded in early July, has left me with a loss on tennis trading for both July and August. Haven't had a losing month on it for a very long time, let alone two in row, which has led me to take another close look at my trading stats. Have found some things worth looking at so will probably do a separate entry on that later.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Northants v Sussex Pro 40 cricket

Daily Result: £164.08

Truth is I should have made a lot more on this game. Though considering it looked like it would be abandoned between innings as the floodlights wouldn't work I guess I should be happy with the profit. All helps pay for the big day anyway.

Before play had started rain had reduced the match to 36 overs a side. And the floodlight delay left Sussex a revised target of 144 from 34 overs. A simple enough target on paper but they failed and were all out while still well short of the total.

Although I was keeping an eye on it during the run chase, and did trade from time to time, I effectively just left my green pretty even both sides at the end of the first innings and just bumped up both sides when I saw an opportunity. Must have been a good match to trade for those concentrating fully on it as the prices were up and down like a proverbial yoyo.

It was in the Northants innings that I should have made more though. I actually fancied Sussex from the start and kept cracking out backs on them. Three times in quick succession I layed these back just before a wicket. So although I was building some green it could have been more. Poor timing and strategy on my part really.

Still, a profit is a profit, and I'll settle for the £160+. The England v Pakistan ODIs start tomorrow so hopefully I'll have a little more joy with them - though the weather forecast for the first doesn't look too promising.

It's the weather that's the issue over in New York too. Fancied doing some US Open Tennis tonight but the courts look like paddling pools so turning in for the night.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

England v Pakistan Twenty20

Daily Result: £39.91

So after all the controversy last time these two teams were on the pitch the focus finally turned back to the cricket. Despite all the unsavoury political manoeuvring since the Oval Test I'm pleased the tour has not been cancelled, Pakistan were welcomed onto the pitch today and we got a game of cricket going. Just a shame I wasted the opportunity to make some proper money towards the wedding really. Especially after recent successes on Twenty20 finals day.

I fancied Pakistan to win but as England were batting first I was keeping my green pretty level. And then it all went wrong in the space of a few balls. Basically I backed England at 2.0 after Bell was out. Honestly can't see the logic of Bell as an opener in a ODI, let alone a Twenty20 and had actually decided to back England on the fall of his wicket if conditions hadn't changed too much before he was out. So given the match conditions I was happy to take evens when he returned to the pavilion.

Of course, what I wasn't counting on was Kevin Pietersen going first ball, Strauss following a few balls later and, just to push home the point, the first ever maiden over in international Twenty20 cricket - which just happened to by a double wicket maiden!!

Anyway, what happened was when KP was out I tried to dump my England back but just couldn't. No takers. Even though I was deliberately creating underrounds. Then Strauss was out and I ended up dumping my England back of 2.0 at 3.5 within a couple of minutes. Which kind of put paid to any serious trading for the rest of the game as by then I was £627 red England and level Pakistan. Bugger.

Of course I continued watching the game and managing the position but it was looking all the way like a Pakistan win. Enjoyed Alfridi's knock. 28 off 10 from a strike rate of 280! Though as it was well over 300 at one point!! Broad made a good international debut. Suffered at the hands of Alfridi for one of his four overs but the rest returned good figures. Would have been amazing to see him take a hatrick in his first match but guess he'll have to settle for two wickets in two balls for now! Sure we'll be seeing plenty more of him in the future.

Anyway, messed around a little on the Pak price to make a small profit but after the disaster earlier was never going to make much on this match and mainly just sat there enjoying it and just keeping an eye on the postions.

The US Open tennis started yesterday. Had my first look into it today and made around £20 on it. Not traded tennis for a while so was just getting used to it again. There's a lot of cricket on at the moment but enjoy the tennis and will be having a dip into it time permitting over the next few weeks.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

C&G final cricket trading

Daily Result: £12.27

Ok then. Didn't really trade the game at all. Got back from the wedding at around about the time Lancashire starting their innings but was feeling more than a little delicate. And with the prices available it barely looked worth getting involved. Had a quick trade or two but decided to fill up with paracetamol, crash on the sofa and watch some mong tv instead which translated to a Columbo! Wish I had got involved now! Sure some small fortunes were won and lost on this one. By the time Columbo had wrapped up another murder it was virtually all over for Lancs too and they had been turned over from a price of 1.0x!!

Yesterday's wedding was fantastic. Everything seemed to run smoothly, met some great people and the bride and groom were on top of the world! We stayed over at the country hotel where the reception was so made the most of the celebrations. Picked up some nice ideas for our own big day too. Great stuff. Stopped off on the way home in High Wycombe of all places to pick up a necklace Emma had ordered from Canada for our own big day. It may be 357 days away but standing outside the shop while she popped in, and after having just been to a wedding, it made me start to feel just a little nervous!

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Wedding time!

No, not mine. That's still 358 days away! But one of Emma's friends is doing the deed today and we're off to somewhere in Berkshire for the ceremony and celebrations!

We're looking forward to it and will be picking up tips as we go. Obviously going to miss today's cricket and no doubt will miss most of tomorrow's C&G final too. But it's all very exciting. So far it's the last wedding we've been invited to before our own big day. Right, got to go and remind Emma to pack some tissues!!

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Women's cricket: England v India

Daily Result: £45.94

Watched it but never traded a women's game of cricket before. And while the liquidity was poor at best it looked like today's ODI between England and India was a cracking event for trading.

I only caught the second part of the England run chase but even from there I believe both sides went quite heavily odds on twice. I was only playing around with small stakes and wasn't really trading it properly at all, just taking a look inbetween phone calls etc, but I'm sure those that put in the time today would have made a healthy profit.

And with odds swings like I witnessed today I'll be joining them next time...

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Biggest cricket trading loss

Daily Result: £578.11

Isn't it funny how a big loss always seems to follow a big win? Happened a few times before although this time there are some clear reasons and, to be honest, although this beats my biggest previous loss by 31p, I'm not nearly as concerned about this one.

The reason for the more laid back approach to this loss is simple - I doubled my stakes. Which naturally means the loss itself would have been less than half what it was if I'd been playing at normal stakes. Which would still have been a hefty loss but still manageable.

So why the raise in stakes? Well, I've mentioned before several times that I intend to build my bank until I am trading in £1k blocks. And after a good month to date I decided to give it a go as a one off. I was interested to see if it's harder to get full amounts matched on an average market liquidity wise, and was pretty sure that Worcestershire would beat Yorkshire in today's Pro40 game, which they did, so decided to trade their odds on price.

So I can hear you asking what went wrong? Well, to be honest I'd reply what didn't? Had a bit of a shocker as it happens. Truth is that after just 10 overs of the game my participation and trading in it was virtually over as I was very close to my maximum allowable loss on any event. I did learn one rather obvious but important thing though in those ten overs. It's as blatantly plain to see as anything but I hadn't considered it. But the fact is this. If you have 1k in your account, and you trade in 1k blocks, if your first trade loses you can no longer trade in 1k blocks. Especially if you equalled out your red. Which means you're effectively trying to regain money you lost at a higher stake level from a lower stake. Not impossible of course but there's no doubt you're making things hard for yourself. So I decided that when I do eventually move up to trading 1k blocks I'll probably increase my daily starting balance from 1k to perhaps 1.5k. The maximum loss per event may need to be adjusted upwards a little too but not by much. I'm not quite ready for a move up yet, though will probably step up to £750 blocks next month if I get off to a good start.

Anyway, the match. Bizarre really. I fancied Worcestershire to win. I backed them to win. They won. What happened? Well, I backed them after an early wicket at 1.64. Worcs then went on a complete run frenzy of a few overs and I eventually cut my losses by laying at 2.18. As the boundaries continued to flow for Worcs I made a short term back of them, again at odds on, only for a wicket to fall immediately. At that point I was desperately trying to lay Worcs, but, even offering crazy prices creating huge underrounds, couldn't get the whole lot filled before another wicket fell. (Where's the bots when you need them eh?)

To cut a long story short within 7 overs of my backing Worcestershire at 1.64 there was thousands of pounds waiting to back them at 1.23 and I'd somehow managed to tie in over 500 red on each result!! Top trading I'm sure you'll agree. :-) I messed around a little more on the market but eventually just levelled the red out and left it rather than leaving a lk liability against Yorkshire and reducing my Worcs red by a £100 or so.

After this game I actually plotted a quick graph of rough price movements and put my trades onto it. It's like a visual nightmare. I really couldn't have got it much more wrong! It's an odd one. I got the result right, got an ok price (though certainly better value had been available) and screwed up. I don't think it was panic because the stakes were larger. More that the market was just running away from me rapidly and, true to form, I cut the loss. My belief that Worcestershire would win means I probably cut it too late and if anything that was the mistake. Equally, there are just going to be games where whatever you do turns out to be wrong. I've had them before and will have them again. Sometimes events pan out nicely for you. Sometimes they don't. Today they most definitley conspired against me! Just unfortunate that it all conincided with a test raise of stakes.

Still, I've learned a lesson from it all, am still well over £2.5k up on the month and, well, tomorrow is another day! Chin up, move on...

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Monday, August 21, 2006

4th test controversy and Betfair

Daily Result: £1053.12

Wow. What a 24 hours. Never seen anything quite like it. Controversial cricket, the game bought into disasterous disrepute, meltdown on Betfair, huge wins and losses - and the repurcussions of it all are still to be felt.

Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the cheating issue for later I believe where we're at now is correct. Pakistan failed to take the pitch for play. Not once but twice. They forfeited the game. They lose. Rules are rules. They're clear. And even the Pakistan Cricket Board isn't contesting the ICC ruling. Which means the Betfair payout (and the rest of the betting industry) is correct. Betfair's own rules state they pay out on the "official" result. The official result is an England win. Case closed.

As for Inzi being charged with bringing the game into disrepute. Spot on. I like Inzi. But surely noone can seriously contest that he hasn't damaged the reputation of cricket? Even the press in Pakistan, though outraged about the cheating allegations, is not supportive of the action Inzi took at the Oval. I mean come on - for the first time ever in the history of the game a test match has been forfeited. It was chaos. And very embarrassing for the game. Refusing to take to the pitch, despite an ultimatum to do so, was not the right way to deal with the situtaion. I expect him to receive a fine and either an 8 match ODI ban, or a 4 match test ban. It could be a very sad end to a fantastic career. Zidane all over again.

The ICC? Despite a farcical lack of communication at the crucial time yesterday they eventually woke up and did the right thing. You have to back your own. And they have. Billy Doctrove and Darrell Hair were the ICC officials on the pitch. They interpreted the laws of the game correctly. They gave Pakistan every chance to take to the pitch again. When Pakistan failed to show up for a second time they followed the laws of the game, interpreted it as a forfeit by Pakistan and awarded the match to England. For the ICC not to stand by this straight forward ruling would have been disasterous not only for its own authority but the future of the game. Imagine what kind of precedent it would have set if they hadn't have backed up the umpires.

So, to the issue of cheating and Darrell Hair. Well firstly, this Hair witchhunt is totally unwarranted until the facts are known. I accept he was the driving force in the ball tampering decision. But there were two umpires on the pitch. It is a joint decision. Sure, Hair has history with Pakistan. He also does with Sri Lanka. I find allegations of racism against him unsavoury. Rather, I think he's a strong willed guy that is willing to make tough decisions. Many wouldn't. But whether it's calling Murali for chucking (and let's face it, this led to a change in the laws of the game to accomodate arm bend), or accusing Pakistan of ball tampering, you have to give him credit for standing there and making the call. Hair is not stupid. He knows what kind of implications these decisions will have. And he is not taking them lightly. If he thinks the laws of the game are being broken we should applaud him for having the bottle to stand there, make the decision and take the inevitable flak.

Which leads to the crunch question. Was the ball tampered with? Well, I don't have clue. No idea. How can I? What I do know is that 26 Sky cameras failed to spot anything. And the Pakistani team are vociferous in their denials. However, in a short period of play (from memory 13 overs - without a six, which some claim caused any change in the ball condition), Hair obviously believes he noticed a marked change in the condition of the ball. He consulted Doctrove, Doctrove agreed, and the shit hit the proverbial fan.

Now we don't know what made Hair and Doctrove believe this. And I sincerely hope that in time evidence will be offered. Maybe Hair saw something that we don't know about it but will go in an official report to the ICC? I don't know. But for the sake of the game, and the umpires, I sincerely hope it wasn't just a belief that the ball had been tampered with. This in itself would be enough to take the action the umpires did. But accusing a team of cheating is not a pleasant business. Pakistan had every right to be outraged if innocent. Until we know the facts, hear the explanations and see the ball for ourselves, it's a little pointless to speculate further. Unfortunately I believe there will be no evidence, apart from the state of the ball - and all the arguments about how that could have happened, and this will rumble on. Either way, if neither umpire saw any tampering you have to say that, with the knowledge of what such a decision would entail, the umpires must have been pretty bloody sure something unusual had happened to the ball. Even if they reached the wrong conclusion about what it was.

So finally us punters. There's no doubt people have won and lost big on this. Huge. I've read of catastrophic £30k+ losses, bankrolls being wiped out and losers saying they're finished. I know these people don't want sympathy but they were unlucky that circumstances unravelled as they did.

At the same time I have to ask myself what the hell people are doing risking eveything on one result? It's not even as if England were that big a price. There's no such thing as buying money in betting. Bank of Federer? Bollocks. Murray made a withdrawal. 1.01's. Bullshit. £500k was matched on Clijsters at 1.01 in her match with Dubois last week before she retired hurt. Or what about when Australia were 1.01 in a recent ODI with South Africa before the Saffers had even batted? And then lost. Or 1000 shots (999/1) winning in reality tv markets after something unexpected happens? Regular readers will know I'm a great believer in small consistent profits. Put everything on the line and sooner or later, no matter how unlikely, you'll get turned over. It's unfortunate but true. And that's why when people think they're buying money they should stop to consider why people are opposing them. They're not always the mugs the money "buyers" think they are.

And as for me? Well, I dipped in and out of the test each day. Couldn't do it all so left myself all green at the end of each day. Was so tempted to lay the draw big at the start of the match but ended up in a terrible position trying to quickly trade in and out and got caught with a hefty draw back as England started to collapse.

By the time everything kicked off yesterday I was around £300-£500 green any result. When I realised Pakistan weren't coming out for the first time I had a small bet on England in the belief a forfeit would give the game to England. To be honest I didn't know. And so wish I had! It was speculative and the odds fell a little and then went right out again. But when Pakistan failed to turn up the second time I'd managed to check the laws and wanted to back England more. By then the price had collapsed and so I laid off at sub evens and for an all green book of between £800+ and £1k+ believing that was a better move than a sub evens back in a volatile situation. Unfortunately the market was then suspended denying us all what would have been an absolutely fantastic trading frenzy.

Of course, I'm happy with my £1k. It's another hefty contribution to the wedding funds. And I'll settle for it. But at the same time I realise that I could have made up to £30k on this match, though £10k is the more realisitc figure. I had my finger hovering over a much larger back of England when I made my speculative bet but just didn't do it. The point is I wasn't 100% sure of the rules at first. And, true to form, kept my risk to a minimum. No big liabilities. Small consistent wins. With so much uncertainty I simply decided to keep my green pretty level and, on suspension, had the decision taken away from me. Next time though I'll have my own copy of the
icc rules and regulations to hand! This little £2.50 beauty could be worth more than it's weight in gold next time controversy hits the game!!

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Friday, August 18, 2006

One year and counting

It's August 18th! And that's a pretty important date for me. Because in exactly one year I'll be sitting at the front of the church, all nervous and sweaty-palmed, hoping for someone rather special to arrive!

Anyway, to celebrate we're going to pop a bottle of bubbly or two this evening and have a cosy night in. A kind of wedding anniversary in reverse I guess.

I know most readers are interested in the sports betting side of things (and I'll do an update at the end of the 4th test which I've been dipping in to) but there's also a smaller group who couldn't give a toss about betting and just want to know about wedding stuff. So today seems as good a time as any to do a quick update.

So, we've now booked the church along with bell ringers and a choir. (£40 for a choir!!), a secluded country hotel for the reception, cars, and a photographer. Emma, my fiancee, has ordered her dress, two pairs of shoes (Nope, no idea either) various bits of jewellery, a make up and hair bod and is well down the route of sorting bridesmaid bits and bobs. The cake is sorted (someone talked themselves into making it for us and is no doubt now regretting it as they've never done a wedding cake before)and we're currently listening to cds of dodgy string quartets and harpists. Some kind of insurance would be a good idea and I guess at some point I should pick an outfit for myself.

Which kind of all means we've done just about eveything we need to at this stage bar a few small things like florists etc. We'll send out some save the date type cards soon and then there's not really much to do for a few months before sending out the invites and arranging the details of the day.

Anyway, today has got us both excited about it all again. Sure the time will fly between now and the big day. And hopefully I can continue to keep up the good results to help pay for it all!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lancashire v Middlesex Pro 40

Daily Result: £193.46

Had to have a smile today. It seems someone at
Betdaq noticed I opened a new account yesterday during some Betfair downtime and deposited £1k. Despite the fact I withdrew it again later without using it I got two calls today from some Betdaq bods asking if I wanted an introductory offer of 2% commission. Of course I do! So although the liquidity doesn't compare I'll still be having a sniff around the old Purple Place away from the blog on some other markets I like to play. Got me wondering anyway. They're obvioulsy monitoring new accounts over at Betdaq so if you fancy reducing your commission to 2% you know what to do. ;-)

Anyway, today's cricket action returned to Old Trafford which, of course, meant rain. Lots of it. But luckily not quite enough to wash out yet another Lancashire match. Though it did try it's best.

Middlesex won the toss and decided to bat and there was a massive plunge on their price. (3.2ish i think to 2.6 once the televised toss had been. Amazing that it was as high as 2.76 after the real toss but before it had been shown on tv!) They got off to a cracking start with 11 off the first over but the run rate slowly dried up and there was some good trading to be had. Towards the end of their innings I simply didn't think they had enough and was looking to make a sizeable back of Lancashire. But Middlesex accelerated very nicely and despite the runs starting to flow freely the Lancashire price was refusing to move much and I ended up leaving it. Had gone from wanting to back Lancashire to considering laying them in the space of 5 overs or so.

The rain arrived properly in the break between innings and did its best to stay. I'd more or less levelled off my green at £100 each side and was just hoping there would be a result. In the meantime I watched England teach Greece what this football game is all about!!

The rain finally relented and Messrs Duckworth and Lewis decided Lancashire needed 97 from 12 overs to win. Should have really been a walk in the park with 10 wickets in hand but Lancashire decided to commit cricket suicide and somehow managed to lose all 10 wickets for 84!

Still the markets were pretty inefficient and I just messed around in blocks of £100 making around £20 a time by asking for silly value and getting filled. Though I did manage to fuck up twice in ridiculous circumstances. Recently the
trading software I use has been down so I've been using Bet Angel instead. (I'll do a review of this once I used more of the features) I switched back to BetTrader Pro tonight as it's up and running again on a new dedicated server. But after a few beers watching England I'd forgotten the two apps have their back and lay sides the opposite way round and immediatley managed to lay Lancashire at 1.7x instead of backing them and had to bail. And then, just to show it was no accident, I did it again, this time on Middlesex!! Mug!! Must concentrate more. :-)

Anyway, luckily I was just playing with my profit so each mistake wasn't too costly and with the market yo-yoing all over the place it was possible to get that green back with some interest. Happy with the result in the end but have no doubt that those a little braver than me coined it in with the very large swings the market was seeing.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Betfair down time

Daily Result: £36.50

Let's be honest. Since the last upgrade Betfair hasn't exactly been providing a gold star service. Far from it in fact. Unless the ability to see other people's account details, a disappearing site, the inability to place bets and poorly-trained "helpdesk" staff unable to answer the simplest of questions with any authority are are all part of that service.

Betfair has changed a lot of lives. It's a fantastic site. A brilliant idea that revolutionised an industry. It's also still growing, profitable and the future looks, well, bright. Which leads to the inevitable question - Why the hell aren't these upgrades thoroughly tested in an appropriate environment before going live?

I'm not the most computer literate person. And I realise through what I read and discuss with those who are more technically savvy, that Betfair is a pretty amazing technical achievement. I accept things will go wrong. But fuck me, things have gone spectacularly wrong recently.

I've only really mentioned in passing the recent problems of being unable to log in via either the website or API. I accept these things will happen and try not to bang on about them despite the fact I've read some horror stories of people losing large sums of money because they have a position open, the site goes down, and they can't close out.

So why the post today? Well, it happened to me again and I've just about had enough for now! Betfair was suffering another unscheduled period of downtime when this afternoon's Derbyshire v Gloucestershire Pro40 Cricket match started. Unfortunate but I just got on with other stuff. I noticed it was up and running later so started to get involved. With hindsight this was a mistake and I should have just left it until the system was more stable.

To cut a long story short Gloucestershire, the big favourites pre match, won the toss, batted and got off to a flyer. They were short priced and the price was unlikely to be volatile so I upped my stakes to 1k. I placed a bet. And the site went down. I had no access through the website, the API or via telephone bets and stood to lose £1k if the market went against me. Betfair wipes its hands from these situations by pointing out their terms and conditions state they are not liable in these circumstances.

Anyway, the site was down for an uncomfortably long time. I had to rush over to Betdaq, decided to open a second account there, and deposited another 1k to enable me to deal with the situation. Luckily it seemed others had done the same thing and there was just about enough money around to get out if I needed to. As it was the market was pretty static and there was no need to trade. And eventually Betfair appeared again and I was able to log in and sort my position before leaving the game.

So everything turned out ok in the end. But sooner or later these technical problems will cost me and every other Betfair user. I was lucky this happened in the early stages of a game. If it had happened in a tiebreaker to decide a tennis match for example, with the volatility that entails, I'd have been screwed.

To be honest I have little sympathy with people who lose money on Betfair due to technical issues if they don't have contingency plans in place. I have access through the website and various API apps. I have a back up internet connection and the phone bet number to hand. Basically I'm doing all I can to ensure I don't get caught out. But even this isn't enough to protect me from large liabilities sometimes.

I realise this seems like a bit of a moan. And the truth is I'll continue to use Betfair. Of course I will. I'm not going to cut off my nose to spite my face. But this is the problem. Betfair has a virtual monopoly in the exchange industry and it's impossible not to feel sometimes that it more than knows it. I really do wonder how much better reliability and the "helpdesk" would be if there was more serious competition. Surely there would be more investment in these areas if commercially required?

Anyway, as ever Betfair has apologised. It is "extrememly disappointed" with the operational issues and has "identified and remedied" them. No refunds for those who lost money due to the unplanned downtime of course. While the apology is appreciated I'm sure most people would go with the old cliche that actions speak louder than words - Just keep the bloody site up in the first place!

I see there is another scheduled upgrade on August 21st at 10pm UK time. I know these scheduled downtimes are required and have no problem with them at all. Recent updates for example have laid the foundations to enable us to bet on the Ashes in running this winter following the granting of Betfair's Australian licence in February. All I ask is these upgrades are fully tested before they go live. This should help prevent the kind of problems we've seen since the last one, I'll be a happy bunny again and won't have to write long moaning blog entries!

Surely it's not too much to ask?

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Sussex v Essex Pro40

Daily Result: £69.09

I guess after the big wins on the Twenty20 cricket at the weekend I was always going to come back to earth with a bang. £70 is £70 though. A 7% return on my bank for the day. And for a part-time "hobby" I guess I should be pleased. Afterall, do that every day each month and that's £2.1k a month tax free. And, of course, it all helps build the funds for the big day which is just over a year away.

The truth is I should have won more on this one. At one point I could have taken well over £200 each result though as the game progressed I kept the majority on Essex. Screwed up twice near the end though after raising my stakes to £1k per trade. Ended up bailing from a back and a lay of Essex at 1.1ish as Sussex variously looked like they'd both fail and make the required run chase. Annoying when that happens. And as I fancied Essex to hang on I should have just left it rather than trying to nick a few more points via quick trades and costing myself a fair sum.

As for the game. Well, Essex batted first and set Sussex a pretty competitive 271 to win at 6.75 runs an over. Irani made up for his Twenty20 final failure with an impressive 100 though I'm still not convinced about bringing Gough in at number 3. Just seems to slow the run rate down. Bopara looked solid again. Been impressed with him and Broad recently. Good England prospects.

Sussex have made some impressive chases recently but they collapsed to 23-3 and with the exception of trying to nick a few ticks each way the game was over as a contest really.

After recent losses following big wins I'm happy to just pocket the £70 even though it should have been more. Small consistent wins is what it's all about for me. And that's another one logged. Let's hope there's more to come!

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Twenty20 cricket final trading

Daily Result: £1401.62

I don't like cricket - I Love it!! Especially this Twenty20 malarky. Today was just a fantastic day of cricket trading and was easily my most profitable day since starting the blog. I try not to get too emotional about trading results but it's fair to say I'm more than a little chuffed by today! Contributes a hefty chunk to the costs of the big day too.

Twenty20 finals day involves three matches from the same ground. Two semi finals and the final. I traded all three games and was pretty consistent results wise winning £432.72, £441.01 and £527.89. Each of those represented the biggest win I'd ever had on Twenty20 since doing the blog. Now I didn't eat three shredded wheat this morning, or anything crazy like that, so I'm not quite sure what the hell happened. But, whatever it was, long may it continue!!

Actually, I guess the truth is each game was just perfect to trade in it's own way. Good first innings knocks from the underdogs followed by a market that simply thought each score wasn't good enough to win. Think about the price scenario for that and it's easy to see why the games were great for trading.

Semi Final 1 - Essex v Leicestershire

This game followed the exact pattern outlined above. Leicestershire, the underdogs, won the toss and had a knock. OK, they made a slow start but their total of 174 leaving Essex 8.7 an over to win, on a ground where 160 is a par first innings score, was good going. So what the hell Essex were doing quite such hot favourites I don't know. Especially as Leicestershire were going to open with Broad, who, as well as being the most exciting of the current crop of potential future England bowlers, also has the most economical Twenty20 figures in the country. In the end Broad bowled well but it was Snape who made the real difference and Leicestershire won by 23 runs.

Semi Final 2 - Surrey v Notts

If the odds were wrong in the Essex game they were just plain crazy in the Surrey v Notts game. Sure, Surrey were always going to start big faves. But at some point the facts have to take over from opinions and colour the market accordingly! To cut a long story short Notts, the underdogs, won the toss and batted. They made made 176, again above par, leaving Surrey needing 8.85 runs an over. Now don't get me wrong. Surry have a good batting line up. But there is no way on this earth they should have been 1.7!! I laid them, along with half the Betfair cricket forum it seems, and set myself a bail out point so I could still keep green both sides incase they made good progress.

The Surrey innings was a disaster. Sidebottom put in an awesome early bowling spell and Surrey collapsed to 10/3 off 3 overs, progressing to 16/4. Of course, the odds had swung hugely. I already had a £500 liability on Surrey. The obvious move was to lump the rest of my trading balance on Notts but I was happy with my position, know how quickly Twenty20 can change, and just continued with caution.

Ramprakash and Mahmood provided some embarrassing comedy moments as the Surrey pair seemed incapable of taking a simple run without confusion. So it was no surprise when, having already been let off following two dropped catches in two balls, Ramprakash was run out in ridiculous fashion. Chris Read, triumphantly returning to county cricket after his test call up, also raised a smile. After twice missing a stumping in the same ball Read suffered the extra insult of realising he'd also had a tooth knocked out somewhere along the line. No doubt Geraint Jones is starting to believe there is a god afterall!

Anyway, Surrey battled on in between losing wickets. They were awarded 6 penalty runs because Notts didn't get through their overs quickly enough - a bit harsh seeing as Read was missing a tooth and happily dribbling blood - but it made no difference. Surrey didn't even last 20 overs finishing 133 all out from 19.1.

Was interesting to see that some others made considerably more than me on this match. One well known Betfair forumite made a £15k lay of Surrey at around 1.7 when I did. Made a hefty £12,375 in about 15 minutes! Nice work if you can get it!!. And a timely reminder that though I'm pleased with what I'm making on the blog there are others who are far more serious about trading than I am and no doubt know far more than I do.

The Final - Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire (£527.89)

The market worked a little differently in this one. The teams were around evens the pair beofre the toss with Leicestershire shortening when they won it and chose to bat. Have to say I was impressed with their innings. I was running an over by over comparison with their earlier match against Essex. They seem to play to a very clear plan and the innings were remarkably similar in terms of how many runs were scored and when. Though they were generally slightly ahead of their innings against Essex throughout. Anyway, I'd got some 2.1 Leicestershire and just followed the price down trading as I went. At the half way stage I was £235 green Leics and £100 green Notts.

Notts actually made a pretty good effort at the chase and there was plenty of trading opportunity as they fell from 2.5 to 1.5. I was keeping my green pretty level and then got a little lucky. I saw Broad was coming back on so layed Notts at 1.64. Broad dismissed Hussey and within 5 balls people were jumping over each other to lay Notts at 3+. Job done!

Did the same thing when I saw Cummins coming back on though this time laid Leicestershire. He'd been very expensive early on and continued to be going for 6 4 . 4 2 etc etc. As the rain began to fall it was getting harder for Leicestershire to bowl and field. Notts were still in the game so I levelled out at over £500 green the pair and just sat back to enjoy the rest of the game. And a fantastic finish it was too - right down to the no ball controversy on the last ball!

Anyway, after the last big win I had I followed it up with a big loss. Going to be careful on the next market I trade, forget about the sums involved today and just go back tot he basics and aim for small consistent wins again.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pro 40 cricket trading loss

Daily Result: £403.24

Kent! Why is it always Kent?! After beating Leicestershire today the Spitfires are now the biggest cause of my losses on the blog. (see 1, 2)They take the dubious title from Mr Thomas Bjorkman, whose also helped me rack up reds on more than one occasion.

Of course, any losses are always my fault. I'm the one contolling the software and making the trades so there's no point in pretending otherwise. Though today I'd like to think the Gods of Amateur Umpiring and Ensuring Everything Doesn't Crash at Crucial Moments did at least help to conspire against me! (Has anyone else been caught out by these API problems since the upgrade?)

As for the size of the loss. Well, it's a big loss after a big win. It's under the maximum size loss I allow myself but still bigger than usual £250 I usually try to limit myself to. Ultimately it is that size it is because by the time I'd belatedly realised my postion was becoming unrecoverable I thought the price being offered was poor value and wouldn't have saved me a significant amount. Which left me with the classic trader's dilemna of whether to bail. Regular readers know I usually do. This time, with a combination of what I thought was a poor price, and a belief that the game's momentum would at least turn in my favour at some point - and with it the market - I let it run longer.

Unfortunately I completely misread the match and the price slipped away. And, just to add insult to injury, I added another £40 red laying at 1.0x near the end when Leicestershire started keeping up with an improbable 8.5 runs an over rate for a few overs.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Biggest trading win

Daily Result: £710.06

So I'm pretty pleased with the result in the 3rd test between England and Pakistan. Though I've had far bigger win and losses away from the blog in the past the £663.78 I won on the game today represents the biggest win I've had since I started the blog using a set budget. And it's a pretty sizeable contribution to the big day too!

Regular readers will know I only ever start each event with 1k in my Betfair account and usually trade in blocks of £500. And while an outright punter may well have made around 3-4 times their stake with an outright England back I'm more than happy with a 66.3% return on my capital. I guess you pay your money and take your chances. At stages during the game the outright punter must have felt they'd done their £1k. But at no point during the game did I feel I would lose a penny. The price for the less risky approach is less profit. But I'll always settle for smaller wins if I can keep them consistent.

One other figure of note is I traded £30,989.22 on the game making a 1.87% return on that. Now while that may seem rock bottom low to those that just punt for me it's high. In June, for example, including all wins and losses and bets submitted and cancelled at the same price, I made around 0.32% of total turnover. In general, if I can make 1% on an event I'm pleased. So ultimately, not only am I happy with the end result - but also with the way I traded the game. That said a Pakistan rather than England win would have seen a larger profit so there's plenty of room for improvement!

The test match itself was pretty interesting and I dipped in and out of it regularly over the 5 days. There were some shocking umpiring decisions early doors which should have led to a result far earlier but I guess that would have made the draw harder to lay on the 4th day so everything worked out fine in the end.

The last day itself was always going to be a cracker with all 3 results possible. The draw had plummeted from an overnight high of around 2.64 to to 2.4ish before a ball was bowled. The first surprise of the day was then Monty opening the bowling - though it turned out to just be to facilitate a change of ends.

Within 5 overs the draw price was 1.9!! I suspected it would fall sharply but with no wickets down and the odd boundary coming it had to be too low. OK run rates don't work the same in tests as in one dayers but with a required rate of 3.61 it was worth keeping an eye on. And even as they were seeing off the new ball Pakistan were more or less up with the rate. And after catching up with it they were actually ahead by the end of the 19th over.

The problem for Pakistan was, of course, wickets, and a couple of quite unbelievable suicidal run outs didn't help. In the end they simply collapsed and it was another result for draw layers.

Dipped in and out of a bit of the tennis after the test but was feeling tired so just levelled out and left it in the end picking up another £45 or so. Actually the first tennis trading I've done for a while so started with some reduced stakes of £250 just to get back into the swing of it. Now we have some proper televised matches I'll be returning to tennis trading more over the coming weeks and am looking forward to it after a break.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Quick catch up

Been a busy few days and not got round to much trading. Have a running position on the 3rd England v Pakistan test match and tomorrow should be a storming final day so hopefully will have some nice green to show for that tomorrow. There's been some truly appalling umpiring during the game but fingers crossed this won't have too great a bearing on tomorrow. I'm red the draw and green the results for anyone following the game. So quick runs or wickets is what I'm hoping to see tomorrow!

Away from trading quite a bit is going on. Won't bore you with it all but there is some good news. Emma, my finacee, has quit her job as is moving on to pastures new which is great stuff and all very exciting. Not sure how it'll impact on our honeymoon plans as her old job would let her take a several month sabbatical but we can deal with that later.

At the weekend we also went back to our wedding reception venue to see it all set up for someone else's wedding. Hadn't be there since February and it was amazing. Everything looked fantastic and the gardens were in full flower and looked brilliant. Got us both very excited about everything again. Can't wait for the big day.

Anyway, been out a bit too much to do the evening tennis recently but should be back to it soon. Have kept Saturday clear for the Twenty20 cricket action which, fingers crossed, should be three games of top trading. After the Test finishes tomorrow there's a couple of televised Pro40 games too so the trading side of things will be taking off again. Hope I've not forgotten how to make a profit!

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pro40 cricket trading

Daily Result: £217.4

A good start to the new month. Much like last month but this time I'm hoping for a little more consistency and no maximum losses! Had an awful few days once I was around £400 up in July.

Anyway, traded the Warwickshire v Middlesex Pro40 game this evening. Got off to a good start backing Warwickshire at 1.95 on early toss news and laid it as low as 1.85 before the off. Was expecting a good knock from them but it was a slow batting start with the ball beating the outside edge. As the market began to expect wickets the price drifted nicely but Warks consolidated nicely. Bit of a bizarre decision with just 3 wickets down and around 10 overs to go not to bring on some of their big hitters (Dot ball merchant Ambrose managed to get me shouting "HIT IT" at the tv) but in the end 228 on that pitch was a decent knock. Especially as Nick Knight was given out LBW on 95 in a shocking decision with the ball pitching a very long way outside leg stump. Bowler Jamie Dalrymple's face said it all really - he was embarrassed!

Didn't fancy Middlesex to make the chase but kept my green pretty even. Streak was the difference in the end taking 3 for 13 in 6 overs at the start of the Middlesex innings. Great figures. And justice was done later on when Dalrymple was dismissed LBW to a decision on a par to the one he got Knight out with. Shocking umpiring.

Anyway, can't do tomorrow's match, and there's nothing on Thursday, so will be taking a look at the second test between England and Pakistan on Friday. The break in the decent televised tennis finishes very soon too so shall be back to that. Which means I should be updating the blog a little more frequently from now on again.

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