September 2009 Summary

Another £40+ result today, which, when combined with a similar result yesterday, has added a little bit of respectability to what has been a very difficult month for me.

Listed below are the totals for each market/sport I got involved in throughout the month:

Greyhounds... £79.98
Horses... £286.03
Soccer... £5.83
Tennis... £0.01 :-)
Cricket... -£16.86

The most disappointing aspect of those figures is the very poor return from the greyhounds. When on form, I'd be looking at that being some 5 times greater. Most of the damage was done in the first half of the month where I couldn't get to grips with these markets at all. Of course, it doesn't help inadvertently leaving a lay in the market then forgetting about it, only for it to be matched and the dog going on to win.

I am however, very please with the horse place markets in which I'm starting to find some consistency. Long may that continue.

I had high hopes for getting involved in the football markets this month, but the mindset issues I had earlier in the month saw me reluctant to get involved. As that aspect of my trading improved I found myself not getting involved in the matches that I had targeted as I couldn't find a stable feed that would allow me to trade the match while watching it.

Live video streaming is ropey at the best of times as my broadband connection barely scrapes past 1.4Mbps. Matters aren't helped if my daughter is around as she'll be grabbing as much as she can as she tweets, blogs and chats with her mates.

The sooner I get the spare bedroom converted to a dedicated trading room the better as I'll be able to get tv pictures as well as have a second telephone/broadband line installed. I don't know when that will happen though as there's a lot of work to do to get that room the way I want it.

As you can see, I had a rather unsuccessful attempt at tennis and cricket resulting in a scratched trade and a £16 loss respectively. No big deal.

So, an overall profit of £355 which, given where I was only two weeks ago, I'm delighted with. Now that my problems are behind me, I'm looking to push on in October and get back to where I had got used to being.

One of things I've been trying to do all summer is build my Betfair account up to £2000. This is to allow me get involved in more markets simultaneously as well as increase stakes. Unfortunately my performances of late meant that this has taken longer than expected. Now that I'm there, I can start taken money out once again. The first for some time.

So, starting from today, at the end of each calendar month I will take out whatever whole number of hundreds my account is over £2K by. This means I can 'pay' myself £100 today. Woohoo! I think it important to do this. It is after all the whole reason for trading in the first place.

Mind Games

I've made no secret of the fact that mentally, I've been struggling for a while. Full of frustrations and doubt which I firmly believe have affected my trading. As we all know, having the correct mindset is so vital in this game. All the more remarkable then that during this troubled time, I have still managed to make a profit.

I'm please to say, I feel that I am in a much better place now and much of that, I think, can be attributed to the fact that I haven't been doing as much trading as normal. I've had numerous distractions and chores that needed my attention over the past couple of weeks or so which meant I couldn't trade even if I wanted to.

Possibly a case of reaching past saturation point as far as trading is concerned was making my mental state take a negative path.

It simply serves as yet another lesson in the importance of getting one's life balance right. Something I've struggled with for a long time.

Now that the major tasks like tax returns are out of the way, I was able to settle down to a full days trading today - with one very important difference. I took regular breaks when I felt tired or I had lost focus, even if it meant missing a race or two. As a result, I only did 18 greyhound races and 17 horses races yet I had the best day I've had for a while.

So £43 added to the pot. Not a huge amount, but certainly a heck of a lot better than of late. Here's hoping for a bit of consistency now.

Nothing To Do With Trading

A Taxing Week

No, not my trading, which has gone reasonably well considering I haven't really done that much this week. I was referring to the onerous task of doing my business accounts and filling in my tax return.

I'm my own worst enemy though. When I first set myself up as a self-employed IT Consultant (read Jack of all trades, master of none) I religiously did my accounts every day. It slowly changed to the end of the week, becoming the end of the month and then every quarter when my VAT return was due.

After cutting my business back to look after my kids, I de-registered for VAT at which point my accounts slipped to an annual chore that I find all to easy to put off. There's always something more interesting to do. It's all done now with only the form to be sent off and I can sit back and relax for another year.

This time always brings up the question of gambling profits from a Tax point of view. Yes, I know that they are exempt from Income Tax, but even then, there's a question mark.

Over the years, I've raise this issue with three different accountants/tax consultants. I've had three different answers...

1. You don't need to declare gambling profits on your tax return, but make sure you keep a record of those profits.
2. You should declare gambling profits on your tax return, though they are not liable for Income Tax, and keep accurate records as proof.
3. As number 2 but with the following caveate. If it can be shown that you are a professional gambler, then the Inland Revenue will take the position that that is your employment and tax that income.

I don't earn enough to be particularly worried about it, though getting three different answers from 'experts' in their field doesn't lend itself to making me sure of my position. If so called professionals accountants don't know, how can the Inland Revenue expect the average Joe to be fully appraised?

The third of those responses is also rather intriguing. At what point does one go from being a successful amateur to a fully fledged professional? Is it based on earnings or the number of hours spent in that pursuit? Does the regularity of those earning have a baring on one's professional status?

Me? I spend a lot of hours trading, but I wouldn't class it as my profession.

What of the person who spends all year researching just the one bet and wins £50K? Is his 'professional' status any different from the person who 'earns' the same amount of money by researching one successful bet a day? I've no idea and as I've never had the intention of making this my career, I guess I'll never be in a position to find out.

If any professional traders are reading this, I'd be interested to hear an explanation of the tax situation from someone it affects.

A New Toy

Not much happened in the way of trading today, or yesterday now, as I type this. Too many distractions thanks to my eldest child arriving mid-afternoon bringing with him a tenfold increase in noise levels.

This, coupled with very slow bet submission during the horse racing made it an easy decision to quit without actually have done much.

Fortunately, the microphone headset that I had ordered from eBay earlier in the week arrived this morning so I had fun signing up for Skype and pestering various people as I tried it out.

One of the reasons I purchased this new toy was to enable me to use the voice chatting/broadcasting facilities available within the chat room. Something I've never tried, but tests today went well.

All I need to do now is figure out what to use it for.

The Early Bird Catches The Worm

Regular readers might remember that I used to get involved in the over 1.5 goals football markets by using what I call a drip-feed bet.

In essence, I'd decide how much stake I was prepared to use and I'd submit that amount in bite-sized chunks as the game progressed up to when the first goal was scored. The idea being that I'd get ever increasing odds as I did so, making it more profitable when trading out.

Over the past 5 days or so, I've been looking at doing the same in the over 2.5 goals market. Unfortunately for me, every single game I was interested in saw a very early goal being scored before I'd even submitted my initial bet. So I never got anything out of the games.

Perhaps there is something in that old saying after all.

As far as my pre-race trading is concerned, both the greyhounds and the horse place markets continue to be frustrating in that I am losing more or less as much as I'm winning. It has very much been a case of spending long hours treading water. I'm not losing much, but not winning much either. Just too many careless mistakes happening at the moment. I'll keep plugging away though and hope things come good sooner rather than later.

Betfair nearly did me this evening when the suspended a dog race some 30 secs before the scheduled off time in the 8:40 greyhound race at Belle Vue. That was bad enough, but Belle Vue were running a bit late and the hare wasn't let loose until some 3 mins later. So clearly someone at BF towers had a twitchy finger.

Their premature suspension left me with a partially matched lay still in the market and a liability of £80+ so a few skipped heart beats as I listened to the commentary. Fortunately, for once, the dog got beat and I won £27 which was great as it put me in profit for the day.

About time I had a bit of luck.

Football Trials

As I mentioned earlier, I'm trying to get more involved in football trading and one of the best resources, if you haven't come across it already, is the blog run by Ads and Bingo aka, The Nugget Crew.

Not only do they offer a 'trade of the day' well in advance of the match itself, but the frequently hold chat sessions in the RacingTraders room on the Paltalk network. It's a pity they use this chat network since, as a Linux user, I have to access it via a website which is wholly based on Flash. As a result, it is unstable and frequently bombs me out, crashes Firefox taking other sites with it. Sorry, I digress...

Their advice is excellent, though I haven't made any money yet. That's more to do with me exiting the markets way too early coupled with lack of experience on how the football markets behave. The difference between the slow, reasoned approach of the correct score markets for example and the quick fire, in-out nature of the pre-race dog markets will take a while getting used to. Just listening to these guys describe their trading and assessment of how a match is progressing is a huge help.

They are ultimately planning to go to a subscription based model, so nip over to their site quickly to get a flavour of what they do.

While I'm on the subject of other helpful sites, if you're into tennis then TradeShark does a similar thing on his blog, i.e. gives recommended matches and strategies to trade.

I personally haven't had the time to get involved in the tennis, but I'd recommend you pay his site a visit.

All Part Of The Game

Since my last post, I've been keeping my head down and concentrating on my trading, which is the reason I've not been blogging or in the chat room.

Everything has been going swimmingly, though I did make a silly mistake this evening by putting a lay in a dog market, then allowing myself to be distracted as I worked out what I was going to do in the Barcelona match tonight. As a result, I completely forgot about it and only realised after the event when checking my P&L. Needless to say, the dog won and I lost £85.

All part of the game and I'm confident I'll get it back soon enough.

That mishap aside, I've been trading quite well. Slow and steady rather than anything spectacular both in the greyhounds and the horses. I've even been dipping my toes back into the murky waters that are the soccer markets. I'll be looking at those more and more as the weeks go by.

Now, onto more serious matters...

Various people have offered advice over recent weeks regarding my trading. In particular, Steve has pointed out some potentially destructive traits I have that may be, albeit subconsciously, limiting my trading.

This tendency to have a negative outlook is not limited to my trading results and is a personality trait I fight against every day. However, regarding my trading, I take on board what Steve has been saying regarding the blog. His comments have had me thinking about how and what I use this blog for.

Originally, I set it up to help me maintain my discipline. There is something cathartic about detailing one's ups and downs in a public place for all to see. I'd recommend anyone who is starting out on their trading journey to do the same. It DOES help.

Now though, it may well be that the blog has outgrown its usefulness in that regard. As a result, I'm going to change tact with my blogging. Out goes a daily spewing of my trials and tribulations and in comes.... well I haven't decided. At the moment, I may just do a weekly summary as far as my performance is concerned interspersed with any posting that takes my fancy.

If there's anything you, as a reader, would like to see or talk about, then feel free to post a comment.

The Losses Continue

Still trading like an absolute beginner with another loss today, albeit small at £11 spread over the greyhounds and horse place markets.

I'm not really sure what's going on at the moment. It certainly seems that everything I touch goes south. That in itself is probably making things worse by effecting my entry and exit points. I know I'm certainly coming out too early for a 1-2 tick loss only for the market to return to where I was. The confidence simply isn't there at the moment.

Just a case of having to weather the storm just now and hopefully I start to pull things together once again, ideally sooner rather than later.

Cop Out Of The Highest Order

I'm just catching up with some sports news and I see that Uefa overturns Eduardo diving ban. Well there's a surprise!

I did say in an earlier post that the authorities are unlikely to do much. Once again they have bottled it and taken the easy way out rather than take the draconian measures necessary to stamp this sort of behaviour out once and for all.

Shame on them.

Why Do I Do It?

As posted yesterday, I had a good evening on the dogs, netting £47 profit. Today was the reverse.

An hour into the greyhound card this morning and I was £25 down after only eight races. I stopped for an early lunch, hoping that things would improve upon my return. They only got worse and by the time the morning card was finished, I was just over £30 in the red.

The horse place markets looked like being much better when I had a near £8 profit in the first race. Unfortunately it was nothing more than a flash in the pan and I lost four out of the next five races and found myself over £10 down on the nags and £41 down on the day.

It seemed that nothing I touched was going right today so I decided to quit. No point in risking further loss.

Instead, I set about assembling my daughter's new bedroom furniture that arrived at lunchtime. It's taken me some five hours to screw all that together. That's her bedroom finished and I can now set about the spare room with a view to converting it into an office and dedicated trading room. The work never stops.

Back again tomorrow for another laugh.

Monday Night Delights

During last winter, i.e. before the evening horse meetings started, I noted that Monday evening greyhound meetings seemed to be particularly profitable. Once the summer racing schedules started, this was no longer true.

Having spent all day with a client, I was thinking of trading the MK Dons v Norwich match on my return. However, when the greyhound markets showed signs of their 'winter' Monday evening behaviour, I just stuck with them. It got a bit more difficult once the football started, but I cannot complain with a profit of over £47 for this evening's efforts.

There were persistent and pretty predictable moves on tonight, with a fair amount of money. Indeed, in the 7:32 at Nottingham someone stuck some £4500 at odds of 3.90 on 'Clover Luck'. Very unusual to see that type of money coming in on a BAGS race.

Anyway, I jumped in front of it with £36 and now wish I'd used more as 5 seconds later I hedged out at odds of 3.00. If only trading was always that easy.

After spending much of last week building up a nice profit each day only to throw it away towards the close of play, this evening's result comes as a welcome change. Whether that continues this week, I'll have to wait and see but it's certainly good to have Monday evenings back again.

Mental Barriers

My on-going inability to move up a gear is something of a mystery to me. One would think, having started with £10 and built that up to nearly £8K (albeit taking 18 months to do so), that I'd be able to push on. Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to do so.

Something is holding me back and I do not know what, or even how to identify it.

While I am delighted to have seen my initial investment increase by some 80,000%, it has been a tough road involving long hours parked in front of my computer. Make no mistake, that £8K has made a big difference. I wouldn't have been able to replace my car without it. However, I find it worrying that I am unable to increase my average daily takings given the hours I put in.

I am far to erratic at the moment and my confidence levels are such that I dare not look to increase my returns simply by 'scaling up'. Having made the money I have made, I now maintain a fund of £2K in my Betfair account, but I use only a fraction of that on each trade. I can afford to increase my stakes which should see an immediate increase in profits, yet I cannot seem to get past that mental barrier that would allow me to use larger sums.

Granted, the place and the greyhound markets don't lend themselves to huge sums, but I should be able to increase my stake in the former at least. I'm never going to be a trader that uses the ridiculous sums that the Webbs and Heathcotes of this world seem to use, but I'd like to get over this mental block I'm having that prevents me using anything higher than what I'm using just now.

Much of this lack of confidence stems from the way I trade. I sit and watch numbers bounce up and down. There's no form study and little market analysis. After 18 months, I'm not sure I could give you an accurate description of what I do and how I do it. "Badly and inconsistently" some would say and with some accuracy. It certainly isn't scientific, or the least bit structured.

Despite the fact that I have scientific training; have two engineering qualifications from university; I'm a self-taught Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and designed communication antennas for eight years before becoming a self-employed IT consultant for the last 15 or so, I don't analyse what I've done or what I'm doing. I don't record my trades or take notes.

My scientific brain switched off a long time ago for reasons I won't go into and trying to teach myself new tricks becomes more and more difficult as the days, weeks and years pass by.

I need to do something that will enable me to step up a gear, but I'm at a loss as to what. One thing is for certain. Sitting for eight or more hours a day in front of a computer in order to earn £14.68 (my daily average since I started) is not sustainable. Either I increase that tenfold, or there's little point carrying on.

What A Crap Day!

I've documented here quite a few times recently that my greyhound trading is erratic to say the least just now. None more so than today.

By lunchtime, I was down £25 and moved to the horse markets where I started to recover as I switched between the two disciplines. However, given my start to the day, it was all about damage limitation - and I failed miserably.

Far too many careless mistakes, wrong entry points, slow reactions and panic induced early exits meant it was hard work this afternoon and a losing battle.

A particularly disturbing trend in recent weeks is the development of a tendency to lose big come 4.30pm. I seem to have a spell when I lose race after race. I haven't identified what the cause might be. It might simply be fatigue setting in having been trading since 11am. It may be that my daughter has returned home from school, and that is a causing a distraction. Who knows?

Having said that, I cannot use her as an excuse today as she was home and away again by 1:45pm, leaving me an afternoon free for trading. Yet, come the 4.35pm I lost over £10, despite assessing the market correctly (don't ask) at which point I switched off having increased my losses to £30.

As I write this, I've just finished a short stint in the evening with further stupid losses adding to the total which stands at £40!

I'd had a nice trade in the 7:40 at Wolverhampton and was checking my P&L when I noticed my greyhound losses had jumped from £27 to £42. I'd laid 'Egmont Torres' in the 7:26 and promptly forgotten about it. Of course, the damn thing won costing me £15 in the process. Do these things ever work in one's favour?

So, crap trading coupled with sheer carelessness has cost me dear and one of the poorest days I've had for a while. A crap end to a crap week.

Another Glorious Failure

Despite putting in an excellent performance against the Dutch last night, us Scots have yet again failed to qualify for a major tournament.

To be honest, qualification was a forlorn hope with the damage being done earlier in the campaign away to Macedonia and at home to Norway. Two games that should have been won.

No doubt, the cries for the manager's head will continue. I understand that and, to be honest, wouldn't lose any sleep over his departure. He has after all, failed in his remit. However, the problem doesn't solely lie with the managerial staff.

The fact of the matter is, Scotland no longer have the top quality players we once had. I'm old enough to remember when virtually every top flight English club had a backbone made north of the border. Now, with a few exceptions like Darren fletcher who was excellent last night, most of the team is pick from players plying their trade at lesser clubs. Even second tier clubs.

How can we possibly compete on a consistent level when our players are not playing at the highest level?

Sadly, I see no change to that in the foreseeable future.

Missed Opportunities

For the second full trading day running I managed to build up a decent profit only to throw it away again. It was a day full of stupid mistakes and missed opportunities where I spotted many decent moves but failed to get on them.

This was particularly true in the morning greyhound markets where virtually every race at Newcastle saw a major gamble taking place on a dog. The image to the left, taken from the 13:27, was typical of the moves taking place.

Unfortunately for me, every time I placed a bet, the market swept past me before I was matched. Although I tried jumping ahead again, I was invariably overtaken once more. I've learned in the past not to keep chasing a price - once bitten twice shy as the saying goes. As a result, I came away with much smaller profits than I could/should have done.

That said, the morning greyhounds were still a reasonable hunting ground for me today, which cannot be said for the place markets. To cut a long story short, I struggled with them all afternoon. Having said that, my downfall was primarily due to a 5 minute spell where I lost over £12 on one race, nipped over to the dogs and promptly lost £9, taking with it most of the profit I had built up.

It can be frustrating continually shooting oneself in the foot. Looking on the bright side, at least when I do so, I'm only standing still rather than losing big time. That would me much more destructive.

What A Dummy!

My progress in the horse place markets continues, much to my delight, though I am not immune to the occasional cock-up.

As mentioned in my last update, much of the weekend was taken up with DIY chores so trading was limited. However, I did manage to squeeze £46 out of the place markets on Saturday afternoon, but lost £11 on the dogs, which continue to be a bit of a rollercoaster.

I managed to pick up another £11 across both disciplines on Sunday, in between sawing, sanding and painting.

With it being international weekend, I didn't bother with any soccer matches, preferring to keep my powder dry until today.

Under normal circumstances, I don't trade on a Monday as I am usually off on a site visit to my main client. However, a local holiday intervened and I found myself settling down for some trading. I was a little apprehensive to be honest as I've read numerous times on various blogs that the Monday horse markets are difficult.

So, as you can imagine, I was delighted to be £30 up after only five races. This progress continued until the 4:40 when, with over £50 on the board, I embarked on a four race losing streak culminating in a £35 loss in the 5:10, virtually wiping out my profit for the day.

Talk about easy come easy go!

I'd laid the favourite quite heavily expecting it to go out a tick or two, but it came in and didn't look like drifting. In the end, with seconds to go, I had to take the hit. After a issuing a few expletives in the chat room I forgot about it. I'll get it back soon enough.

Besides, I still wound up with a profit for the day, albeit not quite as good as I was thinking it was going to be.

In any case, ignoring this minor hiccup, I traded very well today, from which I can take comfort. My place market trading has earned £180 this month, without a losing day to be seen. That's got to be a good sign.

Reasonable Start To September

Apologies for the lack of updates this week. I picked up a heavy cold when I was away last weekend and have had difficulty shaking it off. When I haven't been trading, I've been sleeping.

My greyhound trading has continued to be somewhat erratic in the first few days of the month. I've had daily returns of £11.34, -£11.58, -£8.69 and £18.89 which is rather disappointing. Perhaps that has been influenced by the thumping headache I've had.

Having said that, my illness doesn't seem to have affected my horse place trading where I've managed returns of £22.11, £23.73, £34.74 and £42.62 over the same period.

I find that I'm really enjoying the place markets again, as I once did when I started this lark. Posting regular profits helps mind you. I do wish though that I could get both the dogs and horses working in tandem rather than, too often, one propping the other up.

Back in June - July, when I was trying to get to grips with the horse win markets, I found myself being continually frustrated by the market reversals causing me to panic and exit for a 1-2 tick loss, only for the price to go back out in my favour. I'd repeatedly go in only for the same thing to happen. Of course, all those 1-2 tick losses add up.

I seemed incapable of holding my position that little while longer allowing the market to move into profit. Yet, bizarrely, I have no problems doing so in the place markets. If the market moves against me, I'm happy to wait for it to return. Why is that?

If I could figure that out, the win markets may not hold such fear for me. Have I just answered my own question?

I don't know when the next post will be. I've got a weekend of DIY ahead of me, so trading opportunities will be limited. Have a good one if you're getting involved.