Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Slow but steady progress

Daily Result: £28.31

I'd picked this morning's session from Dubai out for a trading session and a break from decorating so settled down to do the Kohlschreiber v Simon match. Unfortunately that prompted a series of phone calls that lasted the best part of two and half hours and I ended up levelling out for £2.57 green right near the start of the game and not getting in a look in for the rest of the session!

Not much I could do about that though so just got on with the painting (Reckon I'll be some sort of Karate Kid protege by the end of it all!) Funnily enough painting is boring so took some time out to look in on the Baghdatis v Nadal match too for a while and that's where the rest of today's small profit came from. Actually looked like quite a good match from the parts I saw. More importantly it helped keep the wedding funds ticking over.

Won't be able to do tomorrow's early session from Dubai and I expect the evening televised match will be Federer. And as I don't expect Bracciali to overturn the 1.02 on Federer - or come anywhere even close to it - I guess there won't be anything to trade. Will double check which match is on at 3pm UK time but doubt I'll be involved in the tennis tomorrow. Best of luck if you take a look.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Every profit counts

Daily Result: £9.26

So it's nothing to get excited about. And it sure as hell isn't going to pay for much at the wedding. But £10 is £10. Is better than a loss - and will at least pay for some of the postage on the invites that are going out shortly!

I had a quick look in on two tennis matches but barely got involved. Few small trades really and some of those I scratched. For what it's worth I had a look at Federer v Pless. Pless actually took a set but he was already a break up and on his way to making it 1-1 when I joined the match. Had a speculative lay of the Federer incase the impossible happened but ended up scratching it as he took control. The other game I dipped into was a WTA game between Oprandi and Mirza. Awful tennis. Awful match. Didn't spend too long looking at it.

I can't remember which trader it was but there's a passage in the Market Wizards book where one multi-millionaire trader argues that even each $10,000 ( ie, a very small profit) he makes is important. The reason he gives is basically that they add up surprisingly quickly. I like that idea. So will settle for my £10 today. But perhaps hope for more tomorrow. ;-)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Return to tennis trading

Daily Result: £34.33

Haven't traded tennis for a while so took the opportunity today to get back into it for some small stakes. With no cricket on for a while I should be having a look at quite a few matches over the coming week or so so warmed up with today's two ATP finals - from Rotterdam and Memphis.

First up was Ljubicic v Youzhny which the unseeded Russian won 6-2 6-4. Was only playing with small stakes and missed the start but managed to make around £25 during the games I was involved with. Was mainly just getting used to the markets again though and making sure I could still second guess where the prices would move to depending on the point outcome. Was a little rusty but just about there.

The second match was Roddick v Haas. Honestly thought this one would just be a case of trading the serve and leaving the tie breaks alone but Haas was on fire and I got caught as Roddick dropped his serve for the first time. But it was early in the game and not too difficult to trade back to an all green position. From there I just mainly watched the rest of the match, again trying to predict the price movement each time. Amazingly Haas won the tournament without ever facing a break point on his own serve - pretty amazing achievement. Anyway, it was good to get back into the swing of things and managed to make a small profit on the match too.

Tomorrow sees the start of the Dubai Tennis Championships which I'm planning to have a look in on inbetween normal work and DIY over the next week. Looking forward to it.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Rugby trading: 6 Nations

Daily Result: £118.55

So Emma is away on business now for a while so I thought I'd have a break from the DIY and do some trading today :-). Had a look in on the three Six Nations games though only really got involved properly with the first which was the Scotland v Italy match.

And what a start to the match it was too. Scotland were big favourites but within 7 minutes were 21-0 down and Italy were 1.4. Three gifted tries through interceptions are chargedowns. And each one converted. Murrayfield was silenced, was even booing when the third try was run in, and Italy were on their way to their first ever Six Nations victory away from home.

It was always going to be tough for Scotland to comeback from that and although they didn't manage to score the Italian defence was just too resiliant and the Azzurri ran out eventual 37-17 winners. All of which sets up a mouth watering clash between the two teams in the World Cup this year. The two teams meet in 7 months in what is anticpated to be the deciding match in Pool C. Scotland have some work to do!

The Ireland v England match was historic for all the right, and wrong, reasons. Firstly it was the first time an England team had played at Dublin's Croke Park. Given it was the scene of a massacre by English troops in 1921 the fact the game was played there, and the English national anthem was played before the match, was highly symbolic. The other historic reason was Ireland crushed England, winning by their biggest ever margin over the English. "Stuffed" in every department was the rather bleak assessment of England coach Brian Ashton.

In the final match of the day Wales threatened to do and Italy as they got off to a blistering start against the French. But the French mounted a powerful comeback and overturned an early 14-3 defecit to wrap win comfortbaly in the end 32-21. Which all leaves Wales in danger of picking up the wooden spoon.

Finally a quick apology to "Andy". Sorry, I just saw your comment on my last 6 Nations post and realised I hadn't answered it. I will reply later today if you are still interested.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Trading software: Free 500 minute trial

Note: This offer is still available and valid through June and July 2007

Fancy a 500 minute free trial on some one click trading software that works through the Betfair API? Well those nice people at BetTrader Pro have decided to offer all readers of this blog who haven't already signed up a free 500 minute trial on the their Racing Traders product.

I use the software myself so am happy to pass on the offer and give a quick run down of the functionality which includes:

* One click trading through the Betfair API
* Adjustable refresh rates up to several times a second
* Traditional and ladder interfaces
* A hedge button to go equal all green (or red!)
* Ability to drip feed bets, place stop losses, automatically follow a moving price and place a bet at a set time in the future

All the usual functionality you'd expect from overround calculators, live volume figures and graphs are also available, as is a tool to easily make your own book if that's your thing. It's pretty straightforward to use but there are several demo videos on the Racing Traders site to help you get your head around it if you're having troubles.

This 500 free minute offer is exclusive (Woohoo!) to all new users signing up through this blog. The usual free offer is 200 minutes. You will see this 200 offer advertised when you visit Racing Traders but you will receive the 500 free minutes if you sign up through a link on this blog. There's no set up fee and once you download the software and log in you will see you have 500 minutes until your free offer expires. Despite the name - Racing Traders - the software can be used to trade all sports. (Don't laugh but when I first tried it I asked first!!)

Obviously there's no such thing as a free lunch and I guess the guys at BetTrader Pro hope you'll find the software pays for itself, as I did, and that you'll continue to use it. There's no obligation to but if you choose to you can buy more minutes on a sliding scale. From £4.95 for 200 minutes to £29.95 for 2000 minutes. Regular users will probably prefer the £39.95 a month for unlimited use while heavier users who, like me, spend too much time trading :-), might find the £299.95 for unlimited 12 months use more appealing.

Anyway, I'm off to London for a friends's leaving work party so catch you tomorrow. Hope the free software trial is of interest.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Catch up

Firstly sorry for not updating the blog for a few days but it's all been a little hectic on the home front. Emma is going abroad on business from this weekend for a while, we're due to have new carpets fitted and it's all meant there's been a bit of a rush get all manner of DIY stuff done. From painting and decorating to tiling and seemingly a thousand other things.

Which all means I've barely had a chance to turn the computer on let alone trade. Though given my results for the last few days perhaps that's for the best! Can be useful to have a break after a big loss so a few days away was probably not a bad move.

Unfortunately it means I missed the New Zealand v Australia ODIs. And what a series it turned out to be. Weakened teams maybe but Australia appear to be in a touch of disarray. Having been beaten three in three by England they showed it wasn't a fluke and got beaten 3-0 by the Kiwis too!! :-) Including a staggering 10 wicket monstering!!! Which all means that for the first time since ODI rankings were introduced in 2002 Australia are no longer number 1. Amazing scenes, as some on Betfair might say. From the look of the games it seems there was plenty of price movement to trade too. I'm told 1.01 Australia got overturned in this morning's match!! Hope you all managed to take advantage.

Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be any real cricket now until the World Cup warm ups kick off early next month. There is some snooker, tennis and darts though which I intend to have a look in on. Really it's all going to be about getting ready for the World Cup though, doing some research and perhaps introducing some new money management rules for the competition. I've also got a new free trading software deal that a generous, kind-hearted supplier [ :-P ] has offered all the blog readers so I'll put the details of that up tomorrow.

In the meantime I'll try and get through all the emails I haven't replied to over the last few days. Sorry for the delay but I should catch up tomorrow.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Throwing money away

Daily Result: £296.14

Funny how things can make a turn for the worse so quickly. A great start to the month has turned into an ok one in just two days. But I've got to put my hands up regarding today's loss. Completely my fault. And far, far more annoying than several bigger losses I've had before. Possibly the most annoying since I started the blog. And it's all down to the fact that I simply made a totally basic error. Schoolboy stuff.

I lost the money on the Davis v Dott match in the Welsh Open. Had got into a small to moderate all red position earlyish in the match but nothing that couldn't be sorted. As Davis progressed to 3-1 I backed him, had him as a smallish winner and Dott obviously a larger red. The 5th frame was a messy tactical affair, suited Davis better than Dott, he was 30ish points ahead and the reds were all tied up on a cushion. I was watching expecting a 4-1 scoreline.

At which point the tv coverage stopped. It was neither on BBC2 Wales nor Eurosport - who were showing highlights rather than live snooker, before switching to some indoor hockey! I flapped around looking for an interactive service, or at least delayed internet pictures, but all I could find was the official scoreboard. Which had too long a delay on it to be of any use to me.

So I sat there watching the scoring. I knew Davis was a big favourite to win the frame from what I'd seen and the frame odds market so decided to wait and see if he did. If he did I'd get out and leave the match with a profit. If he lost it / looked like he'd lose I'd get out all red.

Trouble was it was just pretty hard to make head or tail of what was going on because of the scrappy frame. Both players got in but just got the odd red. Anyway, eventually Dott won the frame and I felt I had little choice but to get out and take the loss. It was basically impossible to continue.

Eurosport was back on at 6pm with the snooker so I tuned in for that figuring I could limit the damage event though the match had progressed by then but once again the channel started showing recorded highlights rather than the live match. So infuriating! So I just left the market and accepted the loss.

So basically by not double checking the state of tv coverage I dug myself into a hole, which I probably made worse by not getting out immediately I lost live pictures. A stupid mistake. One I don't recall making before. And certainly one I don't intend to make again! Honestly, sometimes you just think you'd be better off headbutting a wall!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A loss worth thinking about. What's your view?

Daily Result: £509.70

Well it finally had to happen. The good start to the month couldn't continue forever. It's just a shame the loss that finally arrived was so big. I've not had time to double check but I think it's only the third maximum-sized loss I allow myself on any single event since I started the blog.

Did the money on the ODI between India and Sri Lanka. Just had a nightmare from the first over which continued more or less throughout the game. Pretty easy to see where I lost perhaps £330 of the final figure and no real complaints. Sure there were some mistakes but nothing drastic. Just got on the wrong side of a market a couple of times that moved unexpectedly fast. It's always going to happen sooner or later. I'll look at how and why I got on the wrong side and try and learn from it. The real area of interest though is what happened, and my thought process, as I reached my max loss limit.

Regular readers will know I operate to a strict money management system - part of which is I'm not prepared to lose more than £500 on a single event. I do this to help maintain discipline and keep any big losses to manageable levels. Today I hit the £500 limit. In the past that's been it. I've simply closed out and shut down. The damage is done and I'm not prepared to make it any worse. And, to be fair, that's pretty much what I did today. So I followed my rules and I guess that's a positive from today.

But the truth is today it just killed me to do it. And the reason was the price I had to take to get out was just crazy. I just thought it was so wrong. So much so that I thought it a *huge* value bet the other way. ie, instead of having to lay India at 1.71 after the fall of the 4th wicket (to level off around £500 red the pair) in normal circumstances I'd have been trigger happy trying to back them at such a big price! The trouble was the 35/40 tick or so leap in their price at the fall of the wicket not only caught me off guard - because it was far larger than I expected - but it also took me to my maximum loss threshold.

So there was a dilemma. And a decision had to be made fast. Follow my rules, take what I think is appalling value and bail out for my maximum allowable loss. Or let the position run, even increase it, and trust my insitinct on the market. Take the value position. Well, a quick decision was needed and galling as it was I bailed. Basically if another wicket fell immediately I'd have faced a loss bigger than I was willing to accept. And what's the point in having rules if you're not going to keep them when the going gets tough? So I took the loss on the chin. Swore a bit, went to get a coffee and nibbled on a Valentine's chocolate!

Of course, when I got back a few minutes later the price was already in the 1.5x range. And within 10 minutes or so it was back to where it had been. Even though the scoring rate had slowed. Basically the market had hugely overreacted to the wicket and I'd been caught high and dry having to get out at what I considered a crazy price in order to stick to my own money management rules.

Which all raises an interesting question. It's a dangerous game to chase losses. And my bankroll rules are there to be followed. Not broken. But does there come a point when the value on offer to bail out is so poor you can justify breaking the rule? Especially if it's not a long shot that is unlikely to come in even if it is value. But an odds on shot that is value. And that is likely to come in. (in terms of probability)

I don't know. I've been busy since I bailed for the loss and haven't had the time to think it all through properly yet. I suspect it will be interesting to have a proper look at the issues and decision process in relation to the ideas expressed in Prospect Theory, as per the recent comment on the blog, (thanks again!). I just thought I should get today's blog entry up quickly as I have to go and get everything ready for Valentine's Night shortly. Either way I've been considering for a while that I may have a temporary trial at raising my stakes during the Cricket World Cup and need to have the issue, and answer, clear in mind before I do. Would hate to reach the same dilemma again without a clear plan of action.

So what do you think? Should I have bailed as I did or let it run because of the incredibly poor value price I had to take in order to get out in order to stick to my maximum loss? All views welcome. :-)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Going full time on Betfair

No, not me! But as I didn't get round to trading yesterday I thought I'd take the time today to answer a question I get asked all the time. It's also one that pops up on the Betfair forums constantly so I'm hoping it's of interest. Basically it's the "going full time on Betfair" question. I often get asked if I've considered it and it seems every week someone on Betfair says they've been profitable for x number of months so shall they go full time? And is it really possible to make a living from Betfair?

Firstly yes. Of course it's possible to make a living from Betfair. My own results show that even messing around with £1k can provide consistent if small profits. Those playing with larger sums could - and do - make a lot more. But it's not that I want to concentrate on today. Instead I'm going to look at the decision making process and consequences of going full time. Afterall, just because something is possible it doesn't mean it's the right thing to do! The subject is something I've covered before in answers to questions in the various comments left on the blog but I thought it would be interesting to pull it all together in one place. And explain what my considerations would be if I were to go full time.

Existing life / Society's perceptions / Impact on close family
Is what you have now really that bad? I mean do you really want become a full time gambler? Would it really be an improvement on the status quo? Just take a moment to consider how society views gamblers. No really. Just have a think about it. Maybe you remember the last time you laughed at the old git with nicotine stained fingers tossing away another losing slip in your local bookie? Or perhaps recall reading in a newspaper about a suicide caused by a failed gambler running up massive credit card debts in secret? OK. So that isn't you right? Fair enough. But rightly or wrongly these are the kind of images that help shape the general public's perception of gamblers. Mainstream society's view isn't a rosey one. Gamblers are losers. And this image will impact on you if you take the plunge.

Some examples. What will be the response if you try and get a mortgage and give your occupation as full time gambler? (I found it hard enough when I first started working for myself and didn't have two years of accounts!). Or maybe want some HP to buy a new car. What will your friends and family think? Or your wife / partner? Will they really be comfortable and happy if you jack in a job to gamble for a living? And what if you give up a job, don't make it and try to go back to standard employment. How are you going to explain that gap? Unless you lie can you think of any industry that will embrace a (failed) gambler more than someone who is equally competent but without the Walter Mitty belief that they can give up everything to make a living from betting on sports? You may as well tattoo the word Mug on your forehead before you get to the interview!

Ok. So it's all a bit doom and gloom. Deliberately so. But society's perception of gamblers is an important background consideration. Let's say you can get over that though. You'd rather make gambling your job than an enjoyable hobby. You have a supportive network of friends and family. Maybe you hate your job and want a change. Or don't have one to start with. You've made the decision to go full time. So what are the other issues you will face?

Discipline and stress
So we'll take it for granted that you've had the method and discipline to win constantly on Betfair and this has helped colour your decision to consider going full time. The question is can you maintain that discipline under conditions of increased stress? This is something I often ask myself when people query why I don't go full time. Sure I have a winning history on Betfair. And not one that just stretches back a few months. However, this winning history has been produced under circumstances where it doesn't really matter if I win or not. I'm lucky enough to work for myself from home, run my own gambling related business, and trading is my hobby. Make it my living and suddenly everything gets a little more stressful. The sums involved rise dramatically. Results suddenly count for more. I have to win. Because I have to pay the mortgage, find the money for a new bathroom, pay the bills. Some even have to pay for a wedding!

Now I'd like to think I would maintain my discipline. Not panic if I had a losing week. I've never really attached any real importance to results on a day by day basis preferring to take the longer term picture into account. But what if I lost two weeks in a row? And suddenly something big went wrong with the car. And a holiday still needed paying for. I wonder if I'd still have the discipline to stick to my money management rules. Or would I be tempted to chase in order to try and make the money I know I need? How would you react? Chase and get it wrong and you could wipe out. You wouldn't be the first or last. And then that's it. Game over. Thanks for playing. All your base are belong to us!

Of course, that's a doomsday scenario. The increased stress of having to win can be minimised through planning. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail and all that. Don't set daily targets. Look at the longer picture. A losing week shouldn't matter. Most importantly of all though if I ever went full time I'd want a considerable reserve of available funds incase things don't go to plan. This would take the pressure off me somewhat. Reduce the need for instant returns. And enable me to concentrate on the longer term big picture and hopefully maintain discipline as a result.

Betting / Trading can be boring
It's true. Gambling isn't always the glamorous life it's cracked up to be! I get bored with it sometimes and I only trade part-time. The danger, of course, is boredom can lead to lack of discipline.

Perhaps more importantly though is the lifestyle change going full time can make. Although I haven't gone full time the point I'm getting at is something I have had experience of. Give up your job to sit infront of your tv and computer at home all day and you suddenly realise quite how much you appreciated the social interaction you got at work! I went from being a tabloid reporter, to a senior position in a leading online music PR company in the dot com boom that promoted some of the planet's biggest stars - with the endless invites and parties it entailed - to sitting at home with my laptop. Alone. Just like that. Overnight. I'll tell you now it was a shock. Sure I could still go out. But it was hard to adapt and get used to the change. I missed the daily chit chat, the gossip, the banter. The Christmas parties!! To put it simply, sitting home alone was bloody dull in comparison. And I started putting on weight!

Sure, there are answers to all these issues. You could chat with other full timers. Make extra effort to get out and interact. Make sure you excercise (vastly underrated when it comes to keeping a fit, clear and disciplined mind when trading), The point though is these are the kind of issues I'd anticipate if I was to go full time. It makes sense to plan for them in advance. It's all part of being prepared, organized and disciplined.

The future of exchanges, online gambling, in running betting and taxation
Every great empire has come to an end. Every new gadget becomes obsolete. The betting industry is no different. Remember the 90s when spread betting firms were the future of betting?! Exchanges replaced them. But it doesn't mean they will remain as popular for ever. And as popularity declines, so will liquidity, and with it your profit. Of course, I don't see an immediate decline. Exchanges are just such a fantastic idea. But would you risk your future on them? Are you really confident that what you do now would be possible in ten years? When, if you'd stuck at your job, you'd have had several promotions and pay rises? Which decision now looks best in the long run?

Something to consider. Last year millions of Americans played poker online daily. How many do today? 1% of that? Central government can kill an industry overnight if it chooses. And in the process wipe out your livelihood. Sure, the UK government is making encouraging noises on the betting industry. But policies can change. It took Labour less than a decade to switch from a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament to embracing the nuclear deterrent. Now the question is not what to do with Trident but what to replace it with. Sure, in the UK at least, where the issue of government income from gaming revenue is settled, it's unlikely any turn around would cut off your livelihood. But when making life changing decision such as becoming a full time gambler such risks have to be considered.

There are two other issues that I think about when asked why I haven't gone full time. In running betting and taxation. I make my money as a trader from in running betting. I have a standard Sky set up and I use some trading software. Nothing out of the ordinary then. But it doesn't mean I don't worry about the future of in running betting. What if the Gambling Commission, or similar body, decided that because some people's pictures are delayed more than others they will level the field by banning in running betting? I'd be screwed! Now as unlikley as I think something like this happening is it doesn't mean it won't. And it doesn't mean I don't worry when UK newspapers run junk stories about people getting ripped off because shrewdies are beating the Betfair clock.

As for taxation on winnings - the subject is huge! And I don't intend to go through it all here. I've seen the Inland Revenue website, I have my accountant's advice and I follow it. But what's to say in a few years a distinction won't be made between say recreational and professional gamblers? With professional gamblers - however such a thing is defined - liable to pay income tax. Suddenly a large advantage of gambling for a living disappears. And you have to make a minimum of 30% - and more likely 40% more - just to keep your income level. And don't think you'll just glide under the radar either. If you disappear from view in the tax man's eyes you will get a letter asking what you are doing. Just check the relevant threads on the Betfair forums for proof!

Just because your profitable method works now...
...It doesn't mean it always will. I always give the same example for this. Because it's a good one. It involves a guy who was in the 0.7% of Betfair users who was making over £15k a year profit on exchange last time the figures were released. Relatively speaking he was a big winner. Betfair valued his business so much he had his own personal account manager. Life was good - until he lost the lot. And then ran up enormous debts maxing out credit cards in an effort to chase his losses. His mistake? Failing to adapt. His edge disappeared. He eventually realised. But couldn't replace it. So started betting blindly hoping for luck. He went from big winner to big loser to Gamblers Anonymous. All within a year or so.

Read The Story of Ster in his own words.

I read that page often. Because I know I've had edges in markets in the past that have been eroded. Fortunately I've so far managed to find replacements. But the time I don't is the time I'll stop winning anywhere near as consistently as I'm lucky enough to do so at present. Now I've no idea when that will be. If ever. But one thing I do know is it would make me think twice before giving everything up to become a full time gambler. I've seen my edges disappear in the past. I'd be negligent to think it won't happen again.

One more thought in this area. Going full time for me would mean a large increase in stakes. This wouldn't only have a psycological impact that would need addressing. But, of course, I'd want to actually check the methods I get away with using now would actually work with ten times the stake. It's obvious. But easy to overlook. And I can see now that some strategies wouldn't.

Loss of benefits
Pretty straightforward this one. If, like me, you're self employed, or a full timer on Betfair, you don't get benefits such as proper sick pay, holiday pay or maternity pay. Nothing. A serious illness could be financially devastating and again illustrates the importance of having a healthy sum of money behind you before you start. As well as obviously making it a no brainer to have some kind of insurance in place for if you do fall ill.

Well, reading through all that it's both longer than I thought it would be (sorry!) and all a little negative too. I don't mean to put people off. There's plenty of people out there who are full time making large sums of money from Betfair and they have my respect and good wishes. Besides which we're all adults and are perfectly capable of making our own decisions anyway.

But as the going full time on Betfair question is asked so frequently I hope it's of some use that I've outlined some of the considerations I have been through when mulling the question over. I'm lucky in that I'm in an unusual position that would make it relatively easy for me to make the step but still I have resisted it. Those who do take it will need to be prepared, organised and disciplined. They'll need to cope with changes in their lifestyle, be happy with being viewed somewhat as an outsider, and hope factors out of their control, such as legislation, don't interfere adversely.

Which all leads me to believe that yes it is possible to go full time on Betfair and make a good living. Of course it is. A killing even. But I'm not sure it's something I'd want to do. And if I were to it is something I would approach with a relatively short time frame in mind. Get in. Make my money, invest it wisely as I go along, and get out. Or at least be ready to get out quickly if circumstances change. I don't know. Maybe I don't crave the title of "full timer" as many on Betfair seem to. Maybe I just don't have the bottle. Or feel I have too much to lose by trying it. But it just always seems to me that if you're winning with a hobby you need a pretty good reason not to just increase your stakes overtime in relation to your bank and continue with multiple income streams. And this is probably the route I'll take.

That said, the very best of luck to any of you that decide to go for it....

Sunday, February 11, 2007

England win CB Series

Daily Result: £248.79

Well, I've got to be honest. I never thought I'd be writing those words. I mean, England win the CB Series!! But the fact is they did. And whatsmore they did it in style. Beating Australia 3 times in a row. With an injury ravaged team that didn't include Trescothick, Vaughn, Pietersen, Jones or Anderson. I don't know. Perhaps Aussie coach John Buchanan forgot the World Cup is fast approaching. Otherwise you'd think he may have had the decency to have encouraged his team to have "tested" us in the run up. ;-)

Joking aside though it was a magnificent result from England. Except for the person who layed them at 219/1 to win the tournament on Betfair I guess. Today's 2nd - and as it turned out - deciding game of the final, saw England bat first and make 246 on a pitch where the average 1st innings score for the last 10 matches is 284.

Not quite as a poor as it sounds at first as the innings was badly interrupted by rain which broke up the flow and saw England lose at least one wicket the ball after an interruption. Three run outs didn't help the cause, but Collingwood and Flintoff's record English 5th wicket partnership at the ground of 97 helped steady the ship. Indeed Collingwood made 70 to go with his two previous centuries. But the end of the innings slowed, there were no boundaries for the last 7.4 overs and your gut feeling was England would have been a little disappointed with 246.

That said, the record chase under lights on the ground is 260. The bowling conditions were good and although the market had Australia big favourites it was game on. Of course, early wickets were going to be crucial. And although Australia made it to 25 before losing one by the time they'd reached 63 they were 5 down. By then the rain had returned, we were looking at duckworth Lewis calculations and England were hoping they could bowl 20 overs in between the showers to get a result.

It was a close thing. The rain radar showed the heavy weather closing in but eventually England managed to get through just over 25 overs before the big downpour started. Australia were behind on the D/L and the game, final and series was England's! A fantastic result. Full of spirit. England went from taking 70 days on tour to beat Australia once to beating them 3 times in 10 days.

Elsewhere there were two other ODIs on during the Australia v England match. India v Sri Lanka and South Africa v Pakistan. I had a quick look into these during rain breaks and made a little on each. Pakistan showed once again they are a team of extremes. Having crushed South Africa in the last ODI they lost this one by 10 wickets. The second time they've lost to the Saffers by that margin in 10 days!

Finally, after yesterday's disaster in the rugby I had to look in on the Ireland v France match today. Went back to my tried and trusted method of basically laying the two teams to an overround through my reading of the match while building up a large green on the draw in the knowledge that every now and then it happens - or we get close and it can be layed off for a nice profit. Well we didn't get the draw but it was a cracking game, put yesterday's rubbish between Scotland and Wales in perspective and I made around £30. Settle for that.

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Friday / Saturday catch up

Result since last update: £24.05

Firstly apologies for not updating the blog for a couple of days but I've had some issues with starting new posts. Turns out I'm just a bit of a luddite when it comes computers and there was a simple fix. Guess I'll know for next time. Anyway, it's a bit of a shame as there was quite a bit to write about but as it's a little out of date now I'll just stick to a basic round up and do a proper entry for today's (Sunday's trading efforts) later.

So the £25 loss came from trading on Friday and Saturday. Made around £118 on the Friday doing England's victory of Australia in the CB Series ODI and the abandoned ODI between South Africa and Pakistan. Gave the money back on Saturday doing the dire Six Nations match between Scotland and Wales - more of which later.

First up though England and Australia. Another England win! Fantastic stuff from the boys though really Australia had us over a barrel twice and let us off on both occasions. Once when they were 170-1, before they lost their remaining 9 wickets for 82 runs, and once when old Glenn Mcgrath dropped a simple catch from Bell. A catch would have left England on 33/4 chasing 253. That said England again showed the fighting spirit that has been lacking for most the tour and Collingwood capped the match with some superb fielding and his second consecutive ODI century. And to think there were those questioning his place in the team just 3 matches ago! Picked up around £60 on the game. I only started towards the end of the first innings and towards the end of the match the markets were very volatile (as you'd expect considering England won with 3 balls to spare!) so I ended up more or less levelling out green, taking some insurance on the tie and just enjoying the end of the match without getting further involved. Must have been some big winners and losers towards the end but it wasn't for me. Boring and safe but I'll settle for my small profit.

My bad luck at having a 3-figure green wiped out because of the rain in Thursday's India v Sri Lanka ODI was equalled out very quickly when rain led to the abandonment of the ODI between South Africa and Pakistan on Friday. Had a bit of a mare on the match and was a small 3 figure red both results. Fortunately rain meant the match was abandoned with no result possible. Which this time wiped out my losses instead of my wins! And as a bonus I picked up £70 or so in the completed match market. Now that's what I call a lucky escape!

No such escape on Saturday though where I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar when I thought Wales had scored a try and lumped on accordingly. They hadn't. And to compound the hole I was in, although the Welsh proved spirited in defence, they were equally crap offensively in what was turned out to be a dire match to watch from what I saw of it. My own fault really. I used to trade the rugby a lot and have a set approach to it. Knowing I couldn't do the whole match though I tried to make a quick profit when I thought the try went in. It hadn't and that was more or less that. Dropped around £140. Definitely a lesson in there somewhere!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Raining on my parade

Daily Result: £13.33

Cricket is a fantastic sport to trade. Great to watch, plenty of market movement and lots of opportunity for profit if you read a game right. But it does have its drawbacks and today I ran into perhaps the biggest. In the form of the weather. Or, more precisely, rain. And floods of it at that!

The affected match was the 1st ODI between India and Sri Lanka. Which was stopped after 18.2 overs and finally called off several hours later with parts of the outfield resembling a mud bath. Which was just a little bit gutting, not only because it deprived me of an opportunity to trade the game but also because I'd already built up a nice all round green on the match. I'm guessing the 100,000 strong crowd, most of who waited until the end, weren't best pleased either!

Anyway, what was particularly galling was the fact that it's safe to say today's game was the quickest I'd ever managed to build a profitable position without the fall of wicket at the start of any cricket match. Ever! I didn't quite hit the best prices either side but it was possible to lay India at 1.6 and then Sri Lanka at 1.9 in the space of just 8 balls! I got in a short way inside those prices and was around £100 green both sides before the match had really started. From there I managed to add a little to it before the rain intervened but in the end it was all academic as the minimum amount of overs to consitute a result, and match, is 20 overs each. So we got nowhere near it, my bets were cancelled and my profit disappeared back to where it came from. :-(

So that was all a bit of a waste of time. On the plus side though I picked up a fiver or so on the completed match market but after a quick dip in and out decided to just leave it rather than have a liability and have to keep an eye on it all afternoon. Once it was definitely called off I had a quick look in on the Golovin v Bychkova tennis match for a few minutes but wasn't really into it and again made just a few quid. Just felt a bit tired and that's why I'm not doing tonight's Premier League darts too. Not in the right mood and don't want to blow the good start to the month I've had.

Anyway, the good news it there's two ODIs on tomorrow that I can do. And as I caught up on some work today I'll probably do both before heading out for beers and curry in the evening. :-)

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pakistan shine on bad day for cricket

Daily Result: £341.24

Well, I wouldn't put myself in the conspiracy theory camp. And I'm not normally overly cynical. So let's just say the timing of today's floodlight and complete stadium power failure in the ODI between South Africa and Pakistan - which didn't effect anywhere outside the ground - was unfortunate. Being just two balls before a result could be declared under a Duckworth Lewis ruling. And coming just after the fall of two key South African wickets. After there had been some very strange betting patterns during the game. Which saw hundreds of thousands of pounds holding up the Pakistan price to levels that mystified me and perplexed those far shrewder than I'll ever be. I mean, why be suspicious? It's not as if anything like this has ever happened before to stop there being a result in a sporting event. Is it?!

Either way it wasn't the best day for cricket. On the England front
Michael Vaughan's hamstring injury means he misses the CB Series final and is on his way home. More importantly for the wider game Darrell Hair, the umpire at the centre of the last year's 4th test controversy between England and Pakistan, has announced he's sueing the ICC and the Pakistan Cricket Board for racial discrimination. Continuing the cricket / bookmaker theme Indian police claim they have a recording of West Indies batsmen Marlon Samuels handing over sensitive team news and tactics to a bookmaker. And to top it all, I kid you not, it's come to my attention that the Zimbabwe Cricket Board has ordered 3 players to have their dreadlocks cut off or they will no longer be selected to play for their country! Reports that Aussie star Andrew Symonds is thinking of striking in a display of unilateral brotherly support are as yet unverified!!

Not the best of days the world of cricket will ever have them. But, pervesely, not a bad day for me on the trading front! Very pleased with the £340 odd I managed to make on the the interrupted ODI between South Africa and Pakistan. Pakistan are just one of those strange teams. They either seem to turn up or they don't. Are brilliant or village. And today, they turned up alright. As headline writers the world over have it - the floodlight failure failed to dim them!

It all started so badly for Pakistan with Akmal out in the first over. But from there on there was simply some breathtaking batting. Nazir got the ball rolling with 57 off 39 balls. Khan and Yousuf put on nearly 200 between them with a strike rate in the 90s to cement the innings while Afridi proved once again he can be pure box office by smashing a quickfire 77 from just 35 balls for a strike rate of 220! By the time the innings ended Pakistan had smashed the record for the highest innings at the ground and posted 351/4.

Which all meant the Saffers had to make the second highest chase in the history of one day cricket to win. Under lights. Which may help explain why I was more than a little puzzled about why the Pakistan price was 1.31!!!! Sure, South Africa have talented batsmen. They can chase and have proved it recently. But Pakistan 1.31? OK, the price did push out after a pretty decent start from South Africa. But even that decent start never saw the required run rate *ever* drop below the starting requirement of 7.04. And in the end Pakistan walked it winning by a massive 141 runs. I don't know. It was all a bit odd. But made for some good trading so I'll just mark it down as a stange game and be thankful for the profit. After all, it all counts!

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Cricket: England beat New Zealand

Daily Result: £310.85

So a good result, for both England and myself, in today's ODI against New Zealand. England progressed to the final where they now meet Australia, and I pocketed some more green for the wedding fund. But despite the profitable result I found the match a tough one to trade.

The problem I had with it was simply that for large parts of the match I just thought the odds on New Zealand were too short. Accordingly I took positions against New Zealand which kept building me red. It looked like I wasn't the only one a little perplexed by the prices.There was a big difference of opinion between the fixed odds and spread firms during the England innings - and their prices were even moving in opposite directions for a while! While the cricket trader from at least one High Street bookie was regularly offering a price on New Zealand that was 10 ticks higher than what was available on Betfair which was making for an arber's dream!

Anyway, each of the positions I took against New Zealand, especially in the second innings, were opened with quite short stops in place as they were already a short price and I didn't want to get in a position where I had a large red on them and needed a weighty lump on in order to finish green on them if they won.

I guess my instict was right but my timing was just wrong. As several times I hit my stops and had to get out, each time building a little more red into my New Zealand position. The red never got that large so everything was under control. But in another bad example of timing I didn't have a lay in place when a couple of crucial wickets fell and the odds finally shifted in England's favour. It didn't take me long to get on England and their price very quickly (less than 5 overs) went from 1.7x to sub 1.2. And it was being on the right side of that drop, coupled with some short-priced end of game positions, that gave me most of today's green.

Which was all a little annoying really as the profit could have been so much more if my timing instinct had been a little better today. But still, £300 is £300 and I can't really complain about that. It's a good contribution to the funds and I guess we could all make more if our timing was perfect.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

While the cat's away

Daily Result: £178.05

A profitable but disjointed day where I tended to have a quick look in on events rather than sit there doing the whole thing. Partly because I was feeling a little delicate from the night before and also because bizarre tv scheduling meant at least one event wasn't shown live that much. Emma is away on business too which meant I could get involved pretty much as and when I wanted rather than sticking to planned events.

I had meant to get up for the Australia v New Zealand ODI but a late night put paid to that. Tried doing it in the morning but it was pretty volatile for a while and I wasn't feeling at the top of my game. So I largely just watched it and gave the trading a wide birth. Had a look in on the South Africa v Pakistan ODI too but after the Saffers posted 392/6 first dig the result was never really in doubt and the odds reflected it. I'd got involved after most the first knock runs had been scored so there wasn't much opportunity to make any more than a smallish profit. But i did get to watch an awesome 6 over spell that went for 106 runs which made for great viewing. And at least it was a win rather than a loss. Doesn't matter how small they are they all add up.

I'd been looking forward to doing the snooker final from the Malta Cup in the afternoon but the Eurosport coverage was nothing short of a bad joke. The channel managed to show just a few frames live throughout the entire match. Instead preferring to screen pre-recorded frames and whatever the other crap they were showing was. There was a touch of irony to it all really. Every time I've tuned in over the last week I've had to suffer listening to Joe Johnson commentating. Every bloody match he says the same old crap about: "This is the best way to watch snooker. Live. Warts and all." Quite. So why not show the bloody final live?! It's a damn site more interesting than that drivel qualifier between Drago and Parrott we were treated to at the start of the week.

Settled down for the Superbowl in the evening and actually watched the whole event. And what a game it was to start with! There was a 92 yard opening return touchdown, a 50+ yard touchdown, 3 fumbles and 1 interception for four turn overs and a missed extra point - and that was just in the first quarter! Eventually the match settled down a little and the Colts took control and saw the game out to a comfortable if sloppy 29-17 victory.

So there you have it. The good start to the month continues and I guess the next event I'll be looking in on is the ODI between New Zealand and England on Tuesday morning. Which means hopefully I'll get around to doing that write up on laying the draw in test matches for Monday's entry.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Cricket: England beat Australia

Daily Result: £548.35

It's been a long time coming! 71 days and 10 matches to be precise. But when it finally came it was worth the wait. Sure, it doesn't make up for the disasterous Ashes series. From Harmison's first ball delivery to Flintoff at second slip. To the fact that Shane Warne's series batting average of 49 was bettered by only one English player - Kevin Pietersen. But boy did it finally feel good to get one over the Aussies. And in such a convincing style too.

Finally England had some spirit. Some fight. Some balls. So what if Joyce was dropped twice. He took advantage and posted a magnificent century that set the victory up. Loye finally got one in the head tyring his ludicrous sweep shot to the quicks but still had the bottle to continue before going to hospital. Doesn't matter that he was out next ball. It was indicative of the spirit England displayed on the day. Which was highlighted at its best by Nixon being warned for sledging! I was genuinely laughing out loud. The Aussies moaning about being sledged! Pot. Kettle. Black. As Michael Holding wryly observed: "There's too many one way streets in Australia." Nixon paid due attention to the warning - and was clearly seen on a good 10 second chirp the next ball. Spirit.

Sure the Aussies had injuries. Ponting was out. And Symonds had to retire injured. But it's too easy to forget that the England squad has been decimated by injury for the whole tour. So let's look at more positives from the match. On the whole England's bowling was improved. Plunkett's first ball inswinging yorker to Gilchrist was virtually unplayable. And we saw that when put under pressure it's the Aussies who sometimes crack. So much so that not only did England win - it was so convincing that they even picked up a bonus point. I actually enjoyed watching some of bigger picture Betfair punters nibbling at the England to win the CB Series outright market as the game unfolded!

As for the game itself I made around £485. With such big market swings there was plenty of opportunity to build healthy green postions. And for a long time I kept my greens pretty equal as for a while the volatility was extreme. (The price went from 1.7 Australia to 1.5X England on the fall of Hayden's wicket for example) Eventually though it became obvious England had it won. And the question turned to whether they'd pick up the vital bonus point. Which they did easily in the end.

Made the rest of the day's profit on the Twenty20 between South Africa and Pakistan and the snooker between Doherty and Ebdon. I missed the first 90 mins of the Twenty20 as I'd written down the start time as advertised by Sky which turned out to be wrong. So I only caught around 15 overs. Most of which was the Saffers chase. And as a stunning partnership between Smith and Bosman saw the Saffers price at 1.01 within 7 overs of their innings there wasn't really much I could trade. Enjoyable to watch though as the Saffer's won by 10 wickets racking up a world record Twenty20 international partnership in the process. Made around £45 on the game.

Only caught a couple of frames of the snooker. Was tired and had better things to do on a Friday evening than do the whole match. Got around £20 green either result and just left it. Job done for the day with another good result at the start of the month. Here's hoping it continues!

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pocketing a profit

Daily Result: £115.33

So after yesterday's disaster on the snooker betting I managed to keep my eye on who was actually at the table and playing the shorts this time and thankfully the result reflects it! I'm pleased with the £115. Good start to the month.

Made most the profit on the Hendry v Robertson match. The result was never really in doubt and I mainly just rode his price down as he cruised the game 5-0. The Doherty v Higginson game was a little harder. Fancied Doherty strongly but he lost the first two frames and for a long time I was a small all red before turning it round as he started and completed the come back. Made less than £10 on it.

Just watching the darts now. Made a few quid on the Manley v Lloyd game but just going to settle down and watch the Taylor game without getting involved. Been able to spend quite a bit of time trading today as Emma went out after work. Tired now though so going to go and relax with a beer. The central heating has finally been fixed so it's all cosy warm again!

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