Sunday, September 30, 2007

The dreaded man cold

Result since last update: £802.6

I don't know. Send a man on a hot holiday, bring him back to the UK, throw in some dark mornings, early sunsets and a chill in the air and what happens..... he catches a cold of course. Or a man cold as my darling new wife keeps telling everyone! So yes, I've been snot gobbling a bit for most of the last week. No real trading, not much work and just a few forrays online for the essentials really.

On the plus side in between all the nose blowing I've been able to catch up with some more reading, have a think about how to change the blog and may have even come up with a new challenge. The good news too is that it was a pretty quite week on the trading front anyway. Next week heats up again with four ODIs and a test match on television. Unfortunately we've hit that time of the year where the cricket trader's life goes from comfortable get ups for 11am starts to crawling out of bed in the dark cold for some pre dawn eye rubbing in an effort to focus on the tv. Yes, it's sub continent time! Well, on the glass half full side of things I guess it's at least better than pulling the all night shifts for the Australia / New Zealand based action.

So I have made some profit since the last update. That was on the Twenty20 final. Bit late to go through it all now but it was an interesting match to trade. I kept a pretty level book through most of it, spent a fair amount on tie insurance to ensure an equal win whatever, enjoyed watching the match and thought it was a fitting end to what was a fantastic tournament. A belated well done to India, all the players and the organisers.

Also had a look in on the first ODI betwen India and Australia yesterday. Didn't make the best job of it but was on Australia when rain interfered and the match was eventually abandoned. That probably cost me several hundred but my red on India was bigger than my green on Australia and although the Aussies were around 1.3 I don't mind being forcefully bailed out of that situation. Was so tempted to go heavily into the No completed match market. Did at first but took some profit on it before throwing it away. Dangerous game which the guys at the ground are always going to win. Ended up making £3.63 on it. Yay!

Anyway, not doing today's Twenty20 club championships. Off on a relative run to show wedding pictures etc. Will be back to daily blog updates from now on though and there should be some lay out changes over the next week or so too. I will try and answer all the remaining questions in the comments tonight and am also aware I've still got some emails to answer. Apologies it's taking so long but I seem to be getting more and more and it's getting difficult to keep up to date.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Twenty20 semi finals

Yesterday's Result: £480.6

Got to dash but thought I'd just do a quick update for yesterday rather than fall behind on the blog again.

Both the matches served up some more great cricketing action and we have and all Asian final - India v Pakistan - which promises to be a cracker. Pakistan should have pipped it last time they met but the match ended in a tie and now India are the marginal faves for the game.

Of yesterday's two matches I won on Pakistan's victory over New Zealand but lost on India's win over Australia. Also dropped a few quid on the Surrey v Lancashire championship decider. The loss in the Aussie game has certainly left me something to look at. In the last 15 or so Twenty20 games I've done I've lost on two - both of which involved Australia. Funnily enough my early positions were lays of them, my belief through much of the matches was they would lose, or at least their price was too short, but although they did eventually lose I ultimately did too.

Strange. And I'm spotting reasons for this. One is the market's belief in Australia spooks me. Even pushes me to take losses when I hit stops despite the fact I think the price is verging on ridiculous at times. This was more true in their loss to Pakistan than yesterday's to India but was still apparent yesterday.

The other is something I intend to do a more detailed blog about and was the main cause for yesterday's loss. Basically I got too impatient. I had a nice all green book, weighted in favour of India and tried to get on them too soon. The price swung back very quickly and I ended up with an all red book which I then managed to make a little worse. I should have waited a little longer. I know this, have read theoretical explanations of how and why to do it but still got it wrong. Hands up. My mistake. And one I have to learn from. Sure the volatility in the match didn't help the situation but basically I threw away a nice profit on getting one trade wrong which swung dramatically against me in the space of less than a minute. Two hours of good trading blown in less than 60 seconds by jumping the gun and making a mistake I'm aware of but still fell for. This is a topic that interests me and before too long, when the cricket is over, I'll do a more detailed blog entry on it explaining more about what I mean and the importance of getting it right. Maybe having to write about it will make me think twice before making the mistake again!

Anyway, seemed to bang that out in about 10 minutes. Hope it makes sense. Must go but will be back tomorrow for the Twenty20 final. Reckon it might just be worth tuning into. :-)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Twenty 20 world cup update

Result since last update: £4,839.15

First of all sorry about the lack of updates for the last six days. Truth is I've just been too busy during the days - and knackered at the end of them - to update the blog properly. With three Twenty20 matches a day and the meltdown in the banking sector I've been trading like a man possessed - while trying to fit normal work in too.

Anyway, today is a rest day so I thought I should do a catch up and also apologise for the backlog of emails I've started working my way through again too. There seems little point in going through each Twenty20 match I've traded so thought I'd just post a screen shot of results.

Quick look at that says what I've been up to really. Traded most of the Twenty20 games for at least part of the them since the last update - 13 of them anyway - and made a Match Odds profit on 12. Bit lucky really. Had a few escapes but am still looking at the loss on the Australia v Pakistan game as it's one that I called right during the early stages of the game before getting spooked towards the end and making several mistakes before settling for an all red book. The £70 loss on the New Zealand v India innings runs came from backing a price instead of laying it. (It was early and I was tired!) I immediately closed it for a loss. The other loss was from taking tie insurance on an all green book in the South Africa v England match.

Talking of ties I was also involved in the Northamptonshire v Essex Pro40 match that ended in a tie just two days after my last post about a cricket tie. Only looked in for a few overs and had around £20 each side on it before leaving it for a Twenty20 game. Didn't follow it after that and heard after it was a tie so had a quick look at the market. After the confusion concerning the previous cricket tie it's good to see there was greater clarity on the rules. As the screenshot below shows Northamptonshire, who couldn't lose, were 1.01 - as they should have been. Though I suspect the lack of confusion was because it was cricket regulars punting on a domestic game rather than the masses of people attracted to the international that was on at the same time. Either way there wasn't one thread on the Betfair cricket forum moaning about how it had been settled incorrectly. Refreshing as I'm sure we'll see them again the next time an international is tied.

Anyway, that's it for now. Hope you've all been enjoying the Twenty20 World Cup as much as I have. It's had it all. Wicket maidens, world record scores, a bowling hatrick, a 12 ball 50, 58 from 16 balls and, of course, six sixes in one over. Fantastic stuff. I'll be trading the two semi-finals on Saturday and the final on Monday so will catch up again then if not before.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Betfair cricket tie rule: Beyond belief

Yesterday's Result: £170.44

Let's be clear from the start. I'm not saying the Betfair cricket tie rule is beyond belief. But rather that people's knowledge, or lack of it, is. Look at this...

No need to rub your eyes. Yes, that really is the first ever Betfair market I've seen where people are trying to back 1.01 on both results of a two runner event at the same time. There's £307 trying to back "Yes" the tie at 1.01 in last night's India v Pakistan match. And £997 trying to back "No" the tie at 1.01. The mind boggles.... and one suspects more than a few people have done their proverbials.

Making the screenshot even more ridiculous is the fact that there is more money trying to back "No" than "Yes" when the market was quite rightly settled as "Yes"!! So how has this happened? Well it's perfectly simple. People are betting large sums of money an events without having a scooby about the rules.

These are no doubt the same people who then clog the Betfair cricket forum up after market settlement with endless moaning threads calling Betfair "jokers", talking about "a sad day for Betfair" and threatening legal action. Quite why people feel the need to draw attention to their own stupidity in this way I have no idea. But a read through all the threads this morning should raise a smile through even the heaviest hangover! It may seem harsh but it isn't. It's perfectly simple. If you are stupid enough to bet large sums of money without having the faintest of ideas about how your bets will be settled you deserve to lose every penny. Look on it as an expensive education. And learn from it.

The same happened on the match market. With Pakistan needing one run to win off the last ball there were thousands of pounds trying to lay them at 1.04. Some people were getting matched at 1.08! What??! At this stage Pakistan cannot lose the game. It's already a tie. They either win or tie. The price should be 1.01. I always say there's no such thing as free money but this has got to come pretty close. Get that 1.08 and you have a shot at 8% profit in the space of one ball. If Pakistan score a run you collect. If they don't you get your stake back. What's more you could get the same price when Pakistan needed 1 run off two balls!!

Of course, it's this Match Odds market that causes the biggest fallout as several million has been matched on it. People stand to win or lose a lot of money. They want the market settled "their" way. So enough incredulity. What are the rules that these markets were settled on? Again it's perfectly simple. And there in black and white next to the market...

"If the official result is a Tied Match in any Test, County or Limited Overs Match then all bets on the Match Odds markets will be void."

But wait I hear people say. The official result wasn't a tie! Well, even if the official result isn't a tie (and it is) this rule comes into play...

"In the event of a match being decided by a bowl-off or toss of the coin all bets will be void, except for those on markets that have been unconditionally determined."

Now I really think that is very clear. The market was settled correctly. It takes less than 2 minutes to read the cricket rules. Surely time well spent for those regularly investing thousands into cricket markets?

Even for those too lazy to bother reading the rules the answers were there infront of them. The issue had been discussed on a match thread the day before. I know as I took part in the discussion and explained how it worked. Ok, that was hidden in a match thread. But there is also a separate dedicated thread on the issue in the cricket forum with clarification from Betfair itself on the issue! And if that isn't enough then feck me - why is there a tie market if the match can't end in a tie?!!

As it is the game went to a bowl off, similar to a penalty shoot out in football, to determine the winner. And I think an analogy with football is the best way of looking at the situation. In football a match can finish in a draw, is settled as draw, and then a team wins on the penalty shootout. Well, in cricket a match can end in a tie, be settled as a tie, and then have a team win on a bowl out.

Anyway, overlooking the carnage and meltdowns what it all means is yet again we had another cracking day of cricket. In amongst it we had a world record Twenty20 score of 260 from Sri Lanka - that unfortunately I was unable to watch - a tie and bowl off! Unfortunately the tie cost me money as I hadn't taken insurance this time. But these things balance out. The tie has also saved me money in the past. As for my profit for the day, well that came from the Australia v England game. My early opposition of Australia cost me a larger win but still happy to make the profit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Into profit for the month

Yesterday's Result: £946.91

Well a good result financially so glass half full. But still don't feel I'm completely back on trading form so glass half empty. Got to be pleased with the green for the day. Traded 3 games on and off and made a profit on each. But in one in particular I just didn't get it very right. Lucky to have made a reasonable loss on it really. Still, certainly improving on a couple of days ago and am hoping a few more games will see me back to old ways.

Certainly don't want to come across as too down about it all as it's obviously a good sum to make but I'm just aware the figure flatters a little. I'm very keen to get to the point where I feel that I'm back in top trading form as it were and I'm just aware I'm not there yet. On the other hand Twenty20 can be pretty volatile and isn't the easiest type of event to ease yourself back into trading with. So it's probably no surprise that my biggest win of the day was on the Gloucestershire v Worcestershire Pro40 match. Picked up around £663 on that, £45 on the Zimbabwe v England game and around £240 on Bangladesh win over the West Indies.

Not going to go into each game. Probably not the most interesting thing to do and I'm trying to get some work finished before today's last two matches. Suffice to say from a spectator point of view I'm enjoying the Twenty20 World Cup immensely. Today we had some more awesome displays of batting, bowling and fielding. A world record 50 off 20 balls. The world's first international T20 wicket maiden. Even Pietersen's 79 off 39 was worth watching!

Anyway, have been unable to do this morning's Sri Lanka match. Just trying to catch up with everything and get all my work out the way before enjoying what could be two crackers this afternoon - Australia v England and India v Pakistan. Doesn't get much better than that! Good luck if you dip your toes in and be quick on the mouse! :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Old mistakes and a big new one!

Result since last update: £576.70

Well I guess given the result that it might not be entirely surprising to hear I haven't been trading all that well over the last couple of days. And I haven't. Still rusty to be honest and I've found myself anticipating too slowly in volatile markets.

I realised this on September 11 doing the openening Twenty20 World Cup match and was lucky to escape with a small win before a largeish loss in the Surrey v Somerset PRO40. Again I was too slow in that game. But I also made a mistake I have been guilty of in the past of trying to pick the winner and take the appropriate position too early. That can be costly and was in the PRO40, especially when coupled with the fact I was really too tired to be doing the game. Ended that day about £580 down, had a look through stuff, realised the pretty obvious mistakes and settled down on the 12th with a fresh head.

To be fair it worked. I was sharper in the markets and made the losses back in the New Zealand v Kenya and Pakistan v Scotland matches so that I was showing a small profit since the last update. Also managed a bit of green on the spreads though I don't include those results on the blog.

Disaster struck in the Australia v Zimbabwe match. My mistake was comical really and I lost most of yesterday's profit on the game. Before the start I'd had a fair size position on Australia. I figured if it goes wrong I'll get out and lose up to 15% of my day's profit. If it went right I'd get out with a small green. Either way it would be in plenty of time to get to the pub to watch the England match.

Great plan. But it fell down when I realised the match started an hour earlier than I thought it did! Thankfully someone bought my attention to the fact that Australia were 19/3 while I was obliviously catching up on paperwork. Of course by then my book was a total mess and I was unable to recover. Part of the problem with recovering was I didn't have much money to play with as I was near my max loss limit for a cricket match.

So I was a plank and it rightly cost me. Can't say I missed out on a big win as it was never my intention to do the whole match. But my lack of preparation - and confusion over BST / GMT certainly cost me a loss and wiped out most of the day's profit. Totally my own fault. And caused me to miss the start of the football. Still, at least I got to see Zimbabwe's historic victory!

Despite the early losses I'm actually enjoying the World Cup so far. Fireworks in the opening match and already a one ball victory in the mother of upsets. The organisers have obviously paid attention to crticism from the ODI World Cup final earlier in the year. Cheaper / free tickets are getting the crowds in, it's not often you see a team 0/3 and 1/4 and I love the fact that people in the front rows are being handed out hard hats! Brilliant!!

Anyway, got my sensible head on today, know when each match starts (!) and hope to make some inroads towards turning this month's red into a green.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A winning start

Yesterday's Result: £54.58

Great to get off to a winning start again on the trading front. Would have taken a loss but always nice to start a new month off with a win. A green's a green and it all adds up. :-)

Made the money on the Pro40 game between Middlesex and Derbyshire. As discussed yesterday I didn't really get too involved in it too heavily. Just dipped my toes in to get used to the trading software again and get my mind back in trading mode. Didn't catch the whole match but had a look in a few times. Was just trying to get back in the habit of predicting the market movements and evaluating the odds as they stood. Got some calls wrong and some right. But it was a useful reintroduction and I plan to carry on a similar vein for a while, starting with today's Twenty20 World Cup opener between hosts South Africa and the West Indies.

Realised yesterday that in the hectic lead up to the wedding I forgot to book my Betfair Points holidays for while I was away. So dumb. Especially as I kept reminding myself I had to do it. Just had so many other things to do I forgot to actually log in and do it. A costly mistake. In the space of a month I've lost nearly 50% of my Betfair points - even taking into account some new points from Big Brother markets that were settled while I was on honeymoon. Not much I can do about it except learn the lesson.

Anyway, this Twenty20 starts shortly. Might not be for the purists but bloody good fun all the same. Just hope I can avoid getting my fingers burned while I'm getting up and running again. Caution is the watchword for now. And I suspect there will be some pretty one sided games early doors anyway. But no doubt an upset or two too. Best of luck if you have dabble anyway.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Feet on the ground

So while I was away I had lots of opportunity to reflect on the last 18 months or so. My trading, the blog and my results. It felt good to dwell on it all. Afterall, I turned £1k into nearly £35k through what I considered pretty risk averse trading strategies. I exceeded my expectations. And as a result I not only paid for my wedding and honeymoon but now have a useful lump of cash at my disposal. Of course that is going to feel good.

However, gnawing away at the back of mind though was the thought that I'm now at my most vulnerable. I achieved what I set out to do. The target is gone. And with it perhaps the discipline that enabled me to succeed. While keeping the blog, as the monthly results started to add up, I was always painfully aware that I musn't let the success go to my head. Musn't let anything slip. I kept telling myself that I hadn't cracked it. That I was still learning the trading game. Still making mistakes. And still coming across new situations. I was forever telling myself to stay focussed, stick to my trading guidelines and never take anything for granted. If I need a reminder why it's so important to keep all this in mind it's sat there in black and white. My biggest loss since starting the blog was just a few trading days before I got married.

Anyway, the point is this. As I was mulling all this over I was rereading a book about the life of legendary Wall Street speculator Jesse Livermore. A guy who won and lost hundreds of millions of dollars before his suicide in 1940. Suddenly I came across a passage which just seemed to perfectly encapsulate the thoughts I was having.

Livermore was talking about a time he had just gone broke in 1908 after losing millions of dollars getting on the wrong side of the price of cotton. Reflecting on his catastrophic losses he was philosophical saying:

"I sometimes think that no price is too high for a speculator to pay to learn that which will keep him from getting the swelled head.

"A great many smashes by brilliant men can be traced directly to the swelled head - an expensive disease everywhere to everybody, but particularly in Wall Street to a speculator."

Well, change Wall Street to Betting Exchanges and it's brilliant. As relevant today as it was then and perfectly summing up my fears. A timely reminder from a legendary trader to keep a level head as I prepare to enter the markets again.

So that's exactly what I aim to do. Keep my feet on the ground. And my head clear and focussed. To that end I'll be dipping into the markets rather than plunging straight back in. Get used to them again before I commit too much money. The Twenty20 World Cup isn't perhaps the best event to do this with but hopefully within a few days I'll start to get back into the swing of it. Time permitting I may even start with this afternoon's Pro40 match between Middlesex and Derbyshire. Be nice to start with a win again. But, as ever, I'll always be willing to take a loss.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Back Again

Well I'm no Marshall Mathers so there's no need to guess - I am back again :-)

Landed in the UK last night after a fantastic 3 weeks in Sri Lanka. My second trip to the country and, impossible as it seemed, even more enjoyable than the first. It's a truly remarkable country and we had a fantastic honeymoon there. Ignored the package deals and just travelled the island ourselves, taking in some sites inbetween lots of chilling. Needed a bloody good rest and got one! Left my mobile in the UK, let my business run itself and just relaxed. Now I'm back I feel refreshed. Batteries charged and looking forward to getting back into the swing of things.

We left the day after the wedding. I know everyone's wedding day is special but WOW. That was something. Biggest high of my life. And, believe me, that makes it a big buzz ;-) . As well as all the emotion it was fantastic to be surrounded by so many friends and family having a good time. Was nice to take a quiet moment to myself during the day and reflect on it all - the blog, the trading and how it was all paid for. Biggest party I've ever thrown and Emma and I had the most amazing of days. Very special. All the preparation, planning and hard work was worth it. Quite simply the best day of my life. Just can't wait now to see the pics and the video from the Big Brother type booth we had for guests now we're back. :-)

Spent some time thinking about the blog while away and took the opportunity to catch up on some reading. Will obvioulsy be changing the focus of the blog away from the wedding soon and am also planning to include a lot more discussion on trading topics going forward as well as the usual daily updates. Figure that will make it more interesting and might get some decent discussion going.

I've said it in a comment elsewhere but I'd like to thank everyone again for all the emails and kind comments that were left while we were away. There's a lot of emails to get through but I'll try and answer them all over the next couple of days.

Anyway, I have a roast dinner to go and eat. (I kid you not I've been dreaming about roast potatoes) so I'll leave it at that for now. Obviously didn't trade today's Pro40 match, rugby or tennis what with settling back in and catching up with everything. Might do tomorrow's Pro40 but my main short term focus is naturally going to be the Twenty20 World Cup. More about my trading intentions going forward tomorrow though.