January 2010 Summary

It's that time again when I have to run through how well, or not, I've done in the month. The end of January already. It seems to have flown past.

Much of my trading this month has been dominated by my on going broadband issues. As I mentioned back in December, I'd decided to trade full time using Bettrader Evolution. I found this a frustrating experience as Evo was simply not happy with my reduced broadband speed. I'm not familiar with the underlying code, but it seemed to suck up what limited bandwidth my poor connection had to offer causing delays and freezes. In the end, I returned to Binarysoft BDI which is not suffering these issues.

More Luck Required

I've started to satisfy the inner gambler in me by having another trixie today. This time I'm looking at Hull, Everton and Dundee Utd all to win. £10 total stake to win 60 odd quid. One loser and I'll get a tiny profit.

Funny enough, this is something that I had always intended to do when I first started trading, but never did, except very occasionally.

If you've taken the time to read my early postings (well done if you have), you'll be aware that I come from a soccer betting background and, after wiping my bank out gave up with the whole idea of making money from sports betting. When I turned to trading, one of the intentions was to fund my sports betting by trading. In essence, never again was I going to put money in a bookmaker's account. Trading was a way to finance that.

I don't know why I never got around to doing it on a regular basis, but there you are. I think I can afford £10 from my winnings to do this.

I did have the intention of trading out as these times take the lead, assuming they take the lead. However, for some reason I thought the Dundee Utd game was going in-play. No idea where I got that impression from so I'll just let it run. There's in-built insurance anyway in that any double alone covers the bet.

Trading wise, I'm not doing any of the horse or dog markets this afternoon as the Betfair API is really sluggish. More so than normal for a Saturday. I'll look to some footy instead today, though at this point, I haven't decided what.

UPDATE 17:00 - Let down by two teams who just couldn't hold on to a lead.

What A Difference A Few Bits Make

As usual, I struggled to make any headway today. Granted, I missed much of this morning's session due to other commitments and it certainly doesn't help building up some profit only to go on a seven race losing run that wipes virtually all of it out again. So much for the dogs this afternoon.

I quit around 4pm as I received a msg from BT that my broadband was now active. I didn't want to be caught by any funnies as the transition took place. Instead, I spent a little while setting up the new BT Home Hub router and left it running.

I came back for a look at greyhounds just before 9pm. Already, my speed had nearly doubled compared to the 0.5Mbps I've been getting for weeks though there's still some way to go before I match the neighbours. I'm not expecting great leaps and bounds immediately as, if as I suspect, my issues lie with the line, then those issues will remain. At least I'll get some movement on that front now. That's the theory.

Anyway, I spent less than an hour on the dogs and made £20. That's the best result I've had for a long time. Did the slight increase in speed help? Possibly. I'll just have to wait and see if that sort of result gets repeated in the coming days.

Crap Service

No, nothing to do with tennis, but the terrible service that British companies provide their customers. It must be wonderful to be so successful that you can ignore requests and inquiries regarding your services.

In the past week or so, I have sent emails to Betfair, Betdaq, Bet365, BetPodPro and a few non-trading related companies. Not one has had the courtesy to reply or even send an acknowledgement.

If I treated my clients like that, they would quite rightly tell me were to get off.

Gripe over.

Tomorrow at midnight, my broadband transfers to BT Broadband. Hopefully a resolution to my broadband go-slow is in sight and I can start afresh with my trading. It may or may not be coincidental that my Internet connection issues which began at the beginning of November has seen three months of terrible returns where I've only just managed to return a profit.

Indeed, I've struggled to get anywhere near three figures. Something I've only just managed this evening, though I better hold my tongue as there is still three days left of January.

Wish Me Luck

My trading is so appalling just now, that I've resorted to having a speculative punt. Taken from the tips available at SoccerLotto, I've stuck a tenner on Preston, Brighton and Northampton all to win covering the treble and three doubles. Fingers crossed.

I've done this over at Betdaq where I stuck some cash today in order to play around on the horse markets while Betfair was out of action again this afternoon.

Apart from a rather annoying glitch that I'd not seen before in the Betdaq Trader software, it was a useful test. I was only working to £2 stakes but I found the markets relatively easy to read. There was plenty of money around, at least for my purposes, with lots of gaps in the market to exploit. Given the size of the stakes I was using, I was quite happy coming away with 65p profit after commission over six races and not a loser in site.

I certainly saw enough to give it another go, though the issue with their software I was experiencing will not lead me to go there often unless I can get it resolved.

The Great Void Debate

With Betfair crashing all over the place this afternoon, the cries of outrage were inevitable, particularly from those who where stung thanks to a large liability that they couldn't get out of.

So, in the event of Betfair's systems crashing, should Betfair void all bets on open markets affected by the crash?

This is a difficult one where it is impossible to satisfy everyone. As a trader, I'd want the bets cancelled if it meant I was caught in a position I couldn't get out of. Conversely, as a punter, I'd be livid if I'd stuck £10 on a 1000.0 shot that was first past the finishing line and my bet was subsequently made void. I'd expect you would be too and I fully understand that.

Still, I tend to fall on the side of the 'void' camp. Better for everyone not to lose money than a lucky few gaining at the expense of others when the blame does not lie at their door.

The blame obviously must lie with Betfair in that they need to improve their redundancy and backup systems. They are custodians of their customers' money. They should be taking better care of it. That's not to say I do not appreciate the complexity of the computer systems required to process the amount of transactions that you and I are placing on their systems.

Part of the problem also lies in the inconsistent way Betfair treat 'issues' across various markets. For example, in the greyhounds, if there is a late withdrawal, the market is suspended and ALL bets are voided. Unlike the horses, there is no reduction factor, so if you have backed the eventual winner, tough!

This example is loosely analogous to what we saw today. Granted, a dog withdrawal is hardly the fault of Betfair and it affects significantly fewer Betfairians than a system wide crash. However, my point is that a complete voiding of a market can be, and is, done when circumstances dictate. All of us who get involved in the greyhound market know that such things can happen. It's written in the rules of the market.

So why can it not be applied across all markets when a major system crash occurs?

The fact of the matter is Betfair are highly unlikely to change how they do things just now. Consequently, it is incumbent upon each of us who use Betfair to protect ourselves by funding other exchanges and bookmakers so that we have the opportunity to bale out in an emergency.

What do you think?

Damn This Broadband

To paraphrase The Planet of The Apes, "Damn this broadband. Damn it all to hell!"

I've tried trading the horses this afternoon without getting anywhere. I was then hit by a reversal in the 2:40 at Ascot. 'Twist Magic' decided to shoot out and the bet submission delays meant I couldn't catch up with it until it had gone 9 ticks the wrong way costing £11 in the process.

I left it there and went for a break. Foolishly I cam back in time for the last at Ascot and much the same thing happened. Instead of ending up with a profit of £3 or so, I lost over £17. My horse trading is ropey enough without that happening.

I haven't bothered with any football today, though I had intended to do some this evening. Having lost £28+ already today, I don't think I'll bother.

The BT broadband I've just signed up with had better sort this nonsense out or I simply won't be able to afford to trade any more.

So Much For That Plan

After promising to utilise the Tennis Hedging Strategy in the Australian Open, I've had to abandon the idea for the simple reason that I cannot keep awake.

I looked at entering the men's competition at the start of the third round but I was nodding off by 1pm. Unfortunately, I do not have the luxury, or the flexibility for that matter, of being able to do a night shift. I'll just have to put the idea on hold yet again until such times as the tennis tournaments are held at more sociable hours.

Apologies to anyone who may have been looking forward to the results.

The Organ Grinder And The Monkey

This morning (or should I say yesterday morning given that it's now the early hours of Saturday morning) I took the plunge and signed up with BT and their phone and broadband package.

I'm not saving much over the monthly cost I currently pay for my telecomms with TalkTalk and Entanet but, given the results of all my broadband experiences recently, the fact that those neighbours with the best performance are all with BT combined with my local exchange not being unbundled, it seems to me that I'd be better off dealing with the organ grinder rather than the monkey.

BT's initial check of the line suggests a maximum of 3.5Mbps. Not likely, but if I get above 2.0 I'll be over the moon. I'm not expecting miracles when it goes live. If the fault I've been suffering from lies with the line, as I suspect, then I'll probably get much the same as I'm getting now. At least I'll be able to deal with someone who is in a position to troubleshoot it properly rather than just fobbing me off with complete crap.

It's all happening fairly quickly. No sooner had I returned home from the local shopping centre and I got confirmation that it will go live next Friday.

Perhaps the speed of change has even shocked my existing broadband provider as my router lost its WAN IP setting mid trade this afternoon seconds before the off. Fortunately, my closing trade was submitted successfully before the disconnection, but it was a nervous 20 mins before I found out if my £100 stake had been lost or not.

That disconnection slowed me down even further. It's now at 0.3Mbps! Hopefully BT's profiling mechanism won't be an issue when I move to BT. I'm not a great one for conspiracy theories, but it does make me wonder if BT are deliberately throttling the connections of customers who get their services from elsewhere.

With any luck, the end of this sorry saga is in sight and I can get back to concentrating on trading the way I want to trade without being hampered with poor broadband performance. Fingers crossed.

Back To BDI

Having briefly mentioned the issues I was having with Bettrader Evo due to my continuing broadband problems, I've decided to go back to BinarySoft BDI. Evo simply demands too much bandwidth from my limited connection resulting in freezes and bet submission/cancellation issues. In essence, I'm finding it virtually impossible to use in the horse and greyhound markets.

I shall continue to use it for football trading where speed isn't quite an issue. Binarysoft BDI is not suffering from these issues and, while I've enjoyed using multiple ladders, it will be a pleasure getting back to BDI's familiar interface.

As for my broadband, I'm still waiting on a MAC number from my existing supplier so that I can transfer to another ISP. Having received feedback from my neighbours regarding their broadband performance, I have decided to go to BT Broadband for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, my local exchange is not unbundled. In other words, ALL ISPs that provide broadband in this area do so using BT's equipment. In my view, I might as well talk to the organ grinder rather than the monkey, despite the poor reputation BT have for support.

Secondly, all my neighbours, bar one, are getting at least 2.4Mbps. The one that isn't is getting 1.6Mbps which is slightly more than I used to get before I started getting problems. Those that are getting well over 2Mbps are all with BT Broadband. That in itself tells me something.

I shall be relaying this info to my existing ISP later tonight, just as another way of telling them to shove it, while I demand that they get the finger out and send me a MAC code.

On a closing note, and changing the subject completely, if you don't visit my links page, you may have never seen Mark Iverson's blog. Mark as been out of sight out of mind as far as blogging is concerned. He's now back after a year away from blogland so it's worthwhile checking out this professional traders posts. Tell him Alistair sent you.

Going Backwards

I'm on a bit of a losing streak at the moment with another loss today, mainly due to the horses - and that was over only two races. A small win on the dogs counteracted by a small loss on the football. All very frustrating.

I carried on testing my 'Bambi' strategy in the football today. Bambi is structured so that and early goal, one in the first 20 minutes, will see a scratched trade or a small loss, assuming one immediately trades out after the goal that is. Unfortunately that was the case with both games I attempted today.

Losing a couple of pounds over two games is no big deal of course, though it does seem a waste of time getting involved. Early days for the strategy so it is inevitable that some tweaking might be required.

I still haven't got involved in the Australian Open as I had originally intended. I'm finding these late night/early morning starts virtually impossible to fit in. Even I have to sleep sometime. It wouldn't be so bad if matches started when they are scheduled, but of course that never happens. It's one of the reasons that trading tennis properly has never come high up on my list of things to do.


Another losing day for me, albeit the small amount of less than £3. This was mainly due to a complete lack of discipline where I decided to let a trade go in-play and to hell with the consequences. Not something I do very often, not deliberately anyway.

I came home from visiting a client, and as usual I was over keen to get stuck in with the trading despite not really being in the mood. I've recently been looking at another angle rather than just scalping the market and I tried something stupid that didn't work.

I stuck £20 on a horse that was trading at 42.0 and my request of 46.0 was matched easily enough. Then, someone must have chopped one of it's legs off in the parade ring as it shot out very quickly and I found myself looking at an all red figure of half my stake. So I decided to let it go in running, looking for 42.0.

It didn't get anywhere near that and I lost the £20.

When I'm in that frame of mind it is safer not to trade as I am apt to go on and make even more stupid decisions, so I stopped.

I returned after the afternoon racing was finished and set about recovering my losses via the dogs. I nearly managed it falling a few pounds short. I topped up a little more with another attempt at the football trading strategy I failed with on Saturday.

This time, I made sure I did my sums correctly and chose a more suitable match. The Newcastle v WBA game looked as if it had goals written all over it, yet the over 2.5 market was sitting at 2.20.

The strategy involves drip feeding bets into various markets, which is where the strategy name 'Bambi' comes from - "drip, drip drip little April showers"... OK, I'll get my coat.

In this instance, the early goals limited the return simply because not enough of the stake had been matched before the first goal. Still, a profit is always welcome, irrespective of its size. I'll give details of the strategy if it proves profitable long term.

So a slight loss today, which, if not for a momentary lapse of reason on my part, would have been a reasonable profit. No harm done though and some more lessons learned.

Bound To Happen Some Time

I had my first loss for the month today. Always disappointing when a nice winning streak comes to an end. An inevitable consequence of what we do.

I lost £20 trying something new in the football markets. Out of the possible contenders, I happened to pick the match with no goals - Aston Villa v West Ham. Even then, I lost half my liability simple because I got my sums wrong and didn't place as much insurance on the 0-0 as I should have.

A lesson to be learnt there which is always a good thing. Even so, the exit strategy, which is always my week point when it comes to football markets as the gambler in me tends to take over, worked well.

A losing start but I saw enough to try it again. Only time will tell if it is profitable long term.

Slow And Steady Progress

I cannot say that my trading has been anything other than slow this month. I'm still putting in long hours, but the pickings are fairly thin on the ground. Still, touch wood, I've yet to see a losing day which is always a good sign and I'm well up on my shocking returns for the past two months so it is not all doom and gloom.

A number of factors are contributing to the relatively insignificant sums of money I'm accumulating.

First off, as I am fully getting to grips with Bettrader Evolution as my main tool - I haven't used Binarysoft BDI for roughly a month now - I am limiting myself to £20 stakes in both the horses and greyhounds. I can hardly expect huge returns on those stakes.

Also, my broadband issues continue with my speed having settled down at less than 0.5Mbps. This, I am sure, is causing Evo problems. It simply doesn't seem to be able to handle a poor broadband connection. It reacts by freezing for 30-40 secs when closing a market with the intention of opening a new one. The same effect happens when switching between markets. Indeed, even if I have only one market open and in view, that market can freeze if I open a completely unrelated application and use that for even the slightest amount of time.

As you can imagine, this is frustrating, but more of a problem is the bet submission/cancellation delays coupled with a frequent non-acceptance of bets placed.

I don't recall getting these when I was beta testing earlier versions prior to my broadband problems, but so long as those problems exist and Evo reacts in the way that it does, it is severely hampering my trading. Indeed, it is causing me to take time out and look at other trading styles that do not rely on the quick fire and frenetic activity in the pre-race markets close to the off. Doing so is no bad thing of course, but it has an impact on the bottom line in the short term.

Looking ahead to the Australian Open and my proposal to resurrect the Tennis Hedging Strategy, I'm going to miss out the first round and look to get involved in the second. This is simply due to the number of games involved combined with the 11 hour time difference. I simply do not have the option of staying up all night to monitor markets. With this in mind, I'll be spending much of this weekend seeing if I can set up either Binarysoft or Evo so that I can set it and forget it.

I quite like the idea of earning while I'm asleep so here's hoping I can set it up without me having to spend too much time at my computer in the wee small hours of the day.

More Of The Same

Another frustrating day at the crease for me with small profits on the greyhounds and football but another small loss on the nags.

I suffered a bit from bet submission issues today with delays in money both appearing and clearing from the ladders. On one occasion I had to completely close down my browser and start again. I don't know if the issue lay with Bettrader Evolution, the Betfair systems after their recent maintenance, my on-going broadband slowdown or any combination of those.

Speaking of which, I spent some time today delivering a leaflet asking all my neighbours if they could do a broadband speed test in order to get a picture of the typical speeds we are all getting. The hope is that they are all seeing a lot more than me, which would provide further evidence that there's an issue with my line.

One of them popped by tonight to explain that he's been having problems for a while and recently had a BT engineer out who subsequently found problems with the cabling (it's 30-40 years hold having been put in when the estate was built), issues at the telegraph pole, the local distribution/junction box as well as at the exchange. All of which serves to support my claim that there's an issue with my line.

My ISP however has washed their hands of it and refuse to consider the possibility that there's a line issue. Consequently, I've washed my hands of them and requested a MAC number so that I can transfer to another, as yet to be decided, supplier.

Onto something else now...

Many moons ago, when I first started this lark, I put forward a tennis strategy that I never pursued because I was devoting my time to trading, at that time, the horse place markets. I've always intended to resurrect that idea and with the Australian Open starting on Monday, now seems as good a time as any.

Rather than explain it all in great detail again, you can read about it in these posts:

Tennis Hedging Strategy
Tennis Hedging Strategy Revisited

I'll publish my plans once the schedule/draw is made available at the weekend.

Scraping A Profit

Well, that's me seven trading days into the New Year and I've yet to have a losing one. Not for the want of trying I hasten to add.

Today was a perfect example. I built up a a reasonable profit on the greyhounds in the morning followed by some more on the first game in the African Nations tournament. I then spent the afternoon, losing on the horses, the second African Nations game and managed to whittle away all the profit on the dogs to boot!

I was looking at an overall loss of £15 when in a dog race later this evening, I placed a lay at 3.10 which was taken by a sudden dip and the market resettled at 2.6ish. I was looking at a £6 all red and, after listening to the WH Radio commentary about the dog, I just thought, 'sod it' and let it run. It was never in the running and I won £20 to put me in profit for the day.

Not the best bit of trading I've ever done, but what the hell.

I've been scraping a profit in much the same way all week. It's been hard work, especially as I've been sitting here freezing my man vegetables off waiting for the boiler to be fixed. Fortunately, it's all fixed now so I can get back to trading in my y-fronts...

And if that doesn't give you nightmares, nothing will.

A Steady Start

Despite the decimated horse racing card, I've managed to pick up three profitable days out of three on the greyhounds where the money has been pretty good. Even in the dogs though there has been a few meetings called off thanks to the weather so picking up any profit is welcome.

While I love the weather we're having, it is a pain from a trading point of view. Now, the extreme temperature may well claim another victim... ME! My boiler has decided to play silly buggers. I had to reset it last night and then an hour later it started making this bizarre booming noise. I kept it going throughout the night as I'm petrified of having a burst pipe in the attic - had one the last big freeze which flooded the house and repairs took nearly 10 months.

Anyway, I awoke to find the volume and frequency of the noise had increased and there was a puddle of water on the floor. I suspect the overflow pipe might be frozen up.

Fortunately, I signed up to a service contract with Scottish Gas just before Christmas. I wish my trading entry points were always so well timed. Unfortunately though, the weather is causing such problems that they can't get to me until Monday afternoon, despite putting me on the priority list due to having no heating or hot water.

Looks like I'll be spending much of this weekend visiting family.

Happy New Year

Firstly, let me wish you all a happy and very prosperous 2010 and thanks to those who have commented recently. I'll try and respond to those over the weekend.

I've had an excellent few days off - nearly a week in fact - including a great day on the slopes of Glenshee on New Year's day. The snow at the Scottish ski centres is among the best I've seen it for some time. Well worth a visit, assuming the roads aren't blocked of course.

With my daughter back at school, Christmas, New Year and my birthday all out of the way, it is, unfortunately, time to get back to the grind. I've already had a little nibble at the dogs yesterday, but with the weather decimating the horse racing card, there seems to be very small pickings at the moment.

As things are quiet just now, I've been having a good think about my trading recently. I've only had one decent month since last spring, with November and December being particularly poor.

One of the things that I have been aware of, and which I must address, is the frequency with which I will enter a horse trade, immediately bale out when it goes against me, only for it to return and go past my original position into what would have been profit. This has been a source of frustration for some time and, as I'm sure you are well aware, frustration can lead to bad decisions.

I'm not a great one for making New Year resolutions because, like most people, I don't keep them. but in this case it is a necessity. I must learn to have the courage of my convictions. So, with the horse racing at least, I resolve to hold my position for a significantly longer period than I do now and let the natural ebb and flow of the market do its thing.

I'll obviously start off with relatively small stakes - £20 or so should be enough. The money is not important in this exercise. It's all about getting the right mindset and the emotions under control. This is important as I find the on-going lack of progress in the horse racing markets spills over into other areas.

I have had a long term ultimate aim of making £5 per race. It's doesn't sound much does it? I've certainly never managed to get anywhere near that, though there has been the odd glimpse. Clearly, it will take muck larger stakes than £20 to achieve that target. For now though, the target must be to find that illusive courage.

Oh, I'm off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz....