Oh Woe Is Me!

"Not again", I hear you say. Well, this may very well be the last time you hear me say it, as I have come to the point where I have to seriously consider my life as a trader. At least as a horse trader.

Twice today I was caught by someone with a hell of a lot more money than I have, suddenly bringing the price in from around 12.0 down to 7.0 in less than 5 secs.

The first of these happened early this afternoon when my lay sitting at 9.2 was swept aside as the market went from 12.0 to 6.8 in a handful of seconds. I managed to get out at 7.6 for an all red screen of £10.53.

After a few more losing races, I eventually managed to get myself within touching distance of all square for the day when I was hit again. This time in the first at Wolverhampton.

I was trading 'Figaro Flyer' who was starting to drift so I stuck a lay in at 10.5. It didn't get matched so I stuck another in at 11.0. Before I could cancel the one at 10.5, the market reversed big time, taking both bets with it. Each attempt at an exit was only partially matched so I wound up backing at various odds all the way down to 7.6 resulting in a £27 loss.

The size of the loss itself isn't what concerns me. I have now spent, in total, some 18-20 months trying to get to grips with the pre-race horse markets and I'm getting nowhere. How can anyone successfully trade the markets when, completely randomly, or so it seems to me, someone can shift the market so dramatically as happened to me today?

Yes, of course it would have been great if I'd been on the other side of those, but the fact of the matter is, I felt the market was moving in the other direction. I clearly cannot read the signs - assuming such signals exist for dramatic reversals. And therein lies the problem. In all the months I've been trying the pre-race markets, I simply haven't learned to spot the indicators in anything like a reliable manner.

Now, I'm sure some will advise dropping my stakes and I understand the reasoning for that. I do not feel I am currently using big stakes. I was using today £50 today. Hardly a high roller. I don't want to spend another second playing around with £2 stakes only to earn the odd penny here, the odd penny there. I've done that in the place markets when I first started, in the dog markets and now three times in the pre-race win markets. I might as well look for full time employment than waste another two months or so doing that again.

Whether I use £50 or £5 doesn't matter. If I was honest, there's no hiding the truth. I simply struggle to understand what's happening in the markets.

There's a number of things that seem to always happen and stand out to me having gone through this process...

1. If I jump ahead of the market in order to ensure I get matched, the market immediately reverses.
2. If I immediately trade out for a loss, the market then bounces back in the direction I thought it would, past my entry point and into what would have been a profit.
3. If I don't trade out and wait for it to bounce, the bounce never comes and the market continues to move off in the wrong direction.
4. If I enter the market a few ticks off the pace, the market will frequently come towards me only for it to get within one tick of my position, drop it's trousers and flash its arse in my face, then head back off the way it came without my money ever being matched.
5. If I do get matched as in condition 4 above, it is only because the market is undergoing a major and dramatically quick reversal and taken my bet with it. Like today, I end up with a heavy loss.

I guess every new trader will nod their head in agreement with much of the above. It is easy to think that the markets, fate, the gods and everyone else for that matter, is against you when you first embark on this endeavour. The trouble is, I'm not a new trader. I've been trading for two and a half years, made a few thousand from a £10 standing start, but every attempt at moving forward with the horse markets ultimately fails. This past year has seen me stagnate as far as income from trading is concerned.

It is the completely random nature of the pre-race markets that I find impossible to come to terms with. I might as well toss a coin. My frustration is compounded by the fact that it isn't rocket science and I'm far from being unintelligent, but I cannot master this at all - and I hate failing at anything I try.

I need to do some real soul searching with this. If I am effectively forced to give this up, I'll be extremely disappointed. Working from home, pre-race horse racing is ideally suited to my circumstances. Also, the pre-race markets are attractive as, theoretically, one needs no knowledge of the sport to be able to trade. I do not think that is the case with most of the other tradeable sports on Betfair.

Whether I am forced to give up trading completely, or move on to other, unfamiliar markets, I do not know. What I do know is that I cannot continue the way I am going. It just isn't enjoyable anymore.

The problem is, with me being stuck in the house every afternoon, the lure of the pre-race horse markets continually draws me back.


Didd said...

Hi Alistair,

I'm sorry to hear about the problems your going through, I can relate to how hard markets can seem to be at times. I found that taking a break from the day to day grind of trading allowed me to return to trading with a fresher outlook than I had before. I don't know if taking a break from trading is the right option for you but it may be worth considering. I wish you health and success in whatever decisions you make next and will continue to follow your blog with interest.

Matt said...

Hi Ali,

2 thoughts you might want to nibble on..

1) What is it that's holding you back learning a new sport ? There's isn't a massive amount to learn in some of them, it surely can't be as demoralising as the above scenario, perhaps a fresh challenge will stimulate some good trading.

2) Perhaps it is your above idea that you don't need to know about about the sport (of horse racing) in order to trade it - that's holding you back. It would seem folly to not learn the sport like any other in order to make a living from it. Do the markets move differently for handicaps / non handicaps ? Who are the fancied runners.. course, trainer, jockey stats.. etc etc.

Just my 2p.

Hope you are well mate,


PhilipH said...

It's a real choker Ali, but that's gambling for you. Yes, I know you 'trade' but, in my book, it is still a gamble, especially when you are battling against players (traders) with the where-withal to manipulate the market to such a force as you describe.

I tried to place a couple of quid on a nag with W.Hill a few days ago. I took their price of 13-2 but immediately I was given the option to take 6-1, which I did, and immediately my bet was rejected with the offer of 11-2, and this to-ing and fro-ing went on until the price was 100-30, when I increased my stake and once again submitted my bet. It was accepted, not at 10/3 but at 7/2, which was OK. The horse finished 3rd.

Bookies prices are nowadays influenced by Exchange fluctuations to a large degree I think. Bookies use the Exchanges to hedge in large amounts I would think. All this weight of money flooding so rapidly onto the market will make trading more of a gamble than before, in my view (for what it's worth).

I can appreciate your frustration. You have certainly been successful in your trading up to recent weeks and these bad hits must wear you down a lot.

Take a break. It's getting to be a real headache - so leave it alone for a week or two. I know: it's easier said than done, but I think it's the best plan.


Alistair said...

Thanks for the feedback chaps. After taking the weekend off, I had another go this evening and promptly lost another £20.

I think it is time to take the hint, not to mention a break, and have a long hard think about what I'm doing and whether I continue doing it.