Monday, 30 March 2009

Bet Angel sponsor Southwell card

Tomorrow Bet Angel are again sponsoring the whole of one meeting; this time at Southwell, and like leonthefixer said in his blog, it's great to see something being given back to the sport. 



For some reason the responsiveness on Saturday's are not to the same standard as weekdays from Betfair. I started off really well, reaching a profit-high after only 5 races which I was really happy with. Anyway the responsiveness slowed down whilst trading the 15:00 race - I've been so used to having great responsiveness, that it got to me. I spent the rest of the day hovering below my profit-high, finishing the day on a modest total. I also had slightly loss of focus, much less than normal, mostly because it's a Saturday, and my mind generally wanders to looking forward to going out that night, to what are the football scores! Anyway poor excuse, I'd be a better trader if I was able to stay calm through any scenario. The responsiveness did improve, but by then I had a headache over the whole shebang!

Saturday's P&L

Friday, 27 March 2009

My Journey - Part 2

So continuing, when I got back from the Betfair Academy I had a look up on Bet Angel and Peter Webb to find this course that was mentioned - booked it for October '06. After the course I was inspired and made a conscious decision to give trading a go full-time after I'd finished University, especially after seeing someone P&L's for a day trading, where they made about £400 for a day's work. So yeah I finished my degree, the project of predicting horse racing obviously didn't work, otherwise I'd be a rich man sitting doing hardly anything, letting the computer do all the hard work!

Once I finished my degree, I went on a second Bet Angel course, this time it was to learn the In's and outs of the software. By this time, I had still done next to no trading on horse racing whatsoever - maybe about 5 trades on 2 horse races in total. This was in June '07. After this, I felt I had to earn some money to keep myself afloat, so I began doing gardening for my Dad, he's semi-retired and had started his own Gardening business. About a month after the second course I went on, I remember going to Kempton races one evening, I'd never been to the races before - it was after that heavy period of rainfall, where quite a few courses just could not run any races. I bumped into Peter there and had a great chat with the maestro himself. Meanwhile I was thinking to myself, why haven't I started trading yet! I think the real reason was because if I was going to have a go at it, I wanted to give 100% and not one evening here, and one afternoon there.

From there it took me 2 months before I got everything in place - my office, with Sky, and more importantly my determination to make it work.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Frustration!

Well yesterday was frustrating! - I started off the day really well, but then realised that my mobile broadband was not working properly. I was trying to get it to work as it always used to but couldn't. It was really starting to get to me because when your so used to something working, and it doesn't, especially when you pay good money and nowadays we rely and expect technology to have a good reliability, it can change your mood! It changed my mood and concentration levels because in the back of my mind I knew that it's so riskier trading without a backup connection (mostly in the last 2 minutes before the race is due off - because anything over 2 minutes, you have plenty of time to call up Betfair and exit the trade that way), because if my Internet went down half way through a trade with 30 seconds to go I'd be farked!; well, not if your one-way trade won; but then those sorts of things don't happen frequently enough for it to be averaged out. So anyway, as soon as I knew the mobile broadband was buggered I frantically tried to fix it whilst trying to trade at the same time. The fixing wasn't working and my trading reflected my fowl mood - terrible! So anyway I traded about 8 races and lost just under £200, which I knew was a one-off because of the problem. At about 4pm half way through the trading day I decided to forget it and fix it later, meanwhile to get away from my frustration head to the shops for a bit of instant gratification and go to the shops!.. Going back to what Peter said in his blog, I am starting to become more wary of my instant gratification personality - in certain areas - and slowly making amends. A good old habit I have is stuffing myself with chocolate when I 'need' it, for example after a bad couples of traded races - but now I'm only letting myself have 2 squares of Dairy Milk a day; it will teach me to defer my need for gratification and probably most likely help balance my sugar levels throughout the day.

Anyway, today was good as I got back on track. I'm now coming up to the 50% completion of my challenge, way ahead to schedule. At the time when I set the target it felt like a reasonable challenge, but I guess now it seems silly! I can't really go and change the title of the blog now, but my personal target has now become £250k (before the premium charge - 200k with it). I'll follow on with the 'how I got here' post tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

My journey to being a horse racing trader - Part 1

My journey into trading on horse racing markets started at Exeter University where I studied Computer Science. I never really enjoyed the subject as much as I think you should of an area that you intend on studying for three years. But anyway, I was in my second year and one of my friends said he's got a way of making some free money, so like anyone, he had my instant attention! As most of you probably know already, it involves signing up to numerous online bookmakers, inlcuding Betfair, to profit from the free bets they offer by backing all outcomes of an event proportionately so that you end up profitting a high percentage of the free bet's offered (most of which only offerered after your first bet of similar value). So anyway, I went along with this and made a few hundred pounds; only downside being that all my details were with nearly every single bookmaker in the country! But being a student that didn't really matter. So that's when I signed up to Betfair; I had no idea that trading on horse racing even existed.

So now that I had used up all of the bookmaker's, I felt disappointed that it had to end there, and began googling more ways of making money. This is when I found a service (which has now been taken down), where they offered 'trading' tips for in-play football and in-play horse racing. It was a subscription paid service that I was willing to pay. It was my first real insight into trading, yet I still didn't fully understand it. I also signed up to a horse racing tipster called "1st for Racing", which actually went really well when I joined - but eventually it went downhill and lost nearly all of the profit I had made.

At the end of my second year I had to choose a project for my final year dissertation. It was over the summer where I somehow came across that Betfair offered historical data on horse racing, so I thought, how about I try and use this data to predict the racing. I was interested in football, and thought, how about football then? - but realised that it had been done several times by student's from previous projects, so reverted back to horse racing.

After doing some research, I wanted to get some bonus points under my belt and found that Betfair did an 'Academy' which was designed to teach people how to explain and demonstrate Betfair. I went there with about a £1,000 in my account (most of which came from the horse racing tipster) and didn't really have a clue, evening though I had been using Betfair. I remember one of the question's asked to everyone was, 'what do the numbers beneath the odds represent?' - I honestly had no idea, and everyone in the room already knew! Anyway, that's where I met Scott Ferguson (his blog), who was the field education manager at Betfair at the time. During the day, the group was recommended to Peter Webb's academy if we were interested in some of the stuff that we had been discussing, so I scribbled the Bet Angel name down!

To be continued..

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Ireland

After a personally jaw dropping experience for me trading during Cheltenham I took a planned trip to Dublin for St. Patrick's day and had an awesome time out there; it really is a great place to be on the day! It was my brother's 27th birthday, front left of the photo, it was his idea to dress up as Men in Black - it was a fun idea, catching some good and bad attention, but overall good!


This was taken just outside our hotel before we left, the hotel was a great location right next to a couple of clubs and a 10 minute walk to the centre of Dublin.


It was very weird coming back to trading, the 5 day break was the longest break I've had since August last year. I don't know whether it was just the time I had off, or whether it's because of post-Cheltenham, but the markets felt different, a sense of more traders and some occasional big stakes being used. Anyway I managed to adapt and pull out a good result - I didn't feel refreshed at all, it felt like I had been working 10 days straight, mostly because the time out in Ireland was a complete binge; a 12 hour drinking session on the 17th! (I made an allowance for my 2-drink a night rule!).

Thursday, 12 March 2009

2nd & 3rd Days

What an unbelievable two days. I've really been in-the-zone, and when it matters - on the big festival. I have kind of 'clicked' with these highly liquid meetings now and hooked up a siphon to the money in the markets into my account. Obviously its by far not easily done - I've only got this far through the last year and a half of determination to improve my trading skills; through passion.

It's been really inspiring watching all these top-quality horses all compete to cross the finish line the quickest. I love the high frame rate, slow video captures of the horses on Channel 4, when you see the effort these horses put in, with all there muscles working in tandem. It's also great to realise that these horses clearly have feelings; personalities - from some of the names that owners give to their horses, and the expressions of what the horses are 'like' by the horse carers. It just shows the awesome connected communication there is without speech between living beings and animals. It's quite sad when you see these horses crashing and falling into fences. Anyway, I'm changing the subject slightly!

I wish Cheltenham races were on every day! I will definitely plan ahead and work out now when all the big meetings are so I can remember not to plan or book any time off. I don't really want to post the results up because some of the sums I have made just seem so unrealistic, even to some experienced traders. I remember when I was starting out, or 6 months into my trading, if I saw results like the last two days, I'd just have been like - "What the hell?" and just discard it and imagine I never saw it. I'm actually looking forward to posting a tough / losing day when I have one next; I will explain it in detail.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

1st day of the festival

Well, what a day! I thrashed my best day; I've got a few screenshots from today's record breaking day. When I traded my first festival/highly liquid races, I used to hate them, but as time when on I learnt to trade them better - part of the reason why I've been so excited about trading the big meetings now. My best came on the Champion hurdle; the focus race of the day. I managed to catch Binocular's price coming in and out again when he was caught sweating.


As usual the races surrounding the Cheltenham races were suffocated slightly until the last few minutes - it's funny to see - you can see that bigger stakes are attempted to be brought into the market because some people are in 'high stakes mode' from trading the Cheltenham races, at least that's the way it seems. I can't wait until tomorrow, but I should calm down before I start. The lost just over £100 today on 2 races, most of which came from on the race after the Champion hurdle; I was so elated from making such a great amount, I lost focus.

Just watching the Liverpool v Real Madrid game; Real must feel so hard done by, in my view both goals shouldn't have happened - the first was a foul and the second was not a hand ball! Hope you've all been enjoying Cheltenham, either as a spectator or with a view to profit from.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Cheltenham Festival

Well Cheltenham's coming up, starting tomorrow, and I am excited like everyone else that surrounds the horse racing world. I don't know why I am excited; last year I found it really hard, I was frustrated at trying to figure out what to do - but by the end of it I was wanting more because I felt I was close to really making the most out of the highly liquid markets and reasonably limited price movements. If you find it hard going - try changing your style. So for example, in the highly liquid races, when you see a gap in the prices, for example 2.94 - 2.98 - 2.96 is missing, if you figure out which side of the book is going to fill up, (either back or lay side) then get in there first so your at the front of the queue and get matched the quickest, then place your other trade on the other side. Or dutching/bookmaking, I tried that on the Cheltenham races last year and it works much better because of the limited price movement. There are plenty of method's you can use - most of the time you just need balls of steel.

I'm cruising along okay with regards to the challenge, I've managed to make ~£5,000 from Wednesday so I'm now a third of the way to my target. At this pace I should be finished mid-August, but I haven't really taken any holiday off yet. I've worked 50 days this year so far. I'm considering new separate challenges for myself - such as seriously cutting back on the chocolates and deserts I eat (I eat a lot of them!) - as well as going alcohol free except occassions. I've become more aware of how the alcohol affects me for a few days afterwards - and I reckon giving up will help me stay much more mentally balanced. I've noticed this because I've currently set myself only a maximum of 2 drinks in one night when I'm out, and the change has been noticeable. Achieving a pure form of concentration while trading - imagine that; that's pretty much what I'm aiming for.
I've also found a great habit - instead of reading sitting still at home, I now read while I sit on the bike at the gym - how about that for productivity! It actually helps me concentrate better on the reading the fact that I'm cycling at the same time for some reason.

Good luck trading on the festival; hopefully we'll all be saying one of my favourite sayings - "Come on all the horses!"


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Traits

I've been doing some work on personal development lately, and the poll I introduced about a month ago is a great way to figure out what area you need to work on the most. If it's discipline, which was the case for 39% of people, then ask yourself what can I do to improve my self-discipline? If your into a bad habit of letting a race go in-play before trading and hedging out of your position then a good way to break the habit would be to progressively train yourself to stop doing it by challenging yourself to go one day where you have to exit your trade and hedge at least 30 seconds before the race-off time - and if you don't, then commit yourself to doing something you'd rather not do, like cleaning the bathroom. I use external accountability to bring in good habits; I recognised that my vocal communication was poor, probably made worse by sitting by myself half the day so I have written my friend a cheque for £500 to say I will do an hour's reading a day, if I don't do it, he gets to cash the cheque - I know I'd much rather do an hour's reading than give away £500 like that! Anyway, the point is to find ways to improve areas where you think you're holding yourself back from trading more successfully. What kind of discipline issues are they (aimed at the 100 people who tick discipline in the poll)?

My trait that holds me back the most is focus, luckily the other traits I naturally have a good grasp of, so I am going to start improving my focus by practicing reading for 20 minutes without distraction and complete in-the-zone reading - which I'm terrible at right now. I'll gradually increase this until I can transfer the ability to trading to focus in one hour chunks with just a few minutes break.

I was surprised to see that intuition was ranked lowly in terms of a trait holding people back. I associate intuition with a 'feeling' of the market, as in you understand how a market is moving. You could analogise this in many different ways - one comparison is judging whether a person you've never met before is a friendly person or not. An intuitive person would be able to say to a higher degree of certainty whether a stranger is friendly or not, without having to speak to that person; where as someone who isn't intuitive would have to speak to that person and get to know him before making a decision. So the more quickly you can decide how a market is likely to move without getting involved in it, the less likely you'll throw away money from making poor judgements on price movement. Peter has briefly just discussed this on his blog; I think it's such an important factor if you strive to become a good trader.

Greed is a funny one, it's important to keep it under control otherwise you'll just lose your money from poor decision making. Everyone has experienced greed while trading, it's one thing I have learnt to control much better. I never used to go a day without being slightly frustrated that greed held me back from performing better in the markets, but now it's much less frequent. Don't let greed affect your decision-making.

For those of you who have ticked acceptance, the last month I have become more accepting of trades that go wrong. You have to be aware of not accepting, like anything, to overcome it. I then put an A4 page on my wall next to me with "Acceptance" written on to remind me - I'm much better at accepting now than I used to be.

Patience is a good one, sometimes is better to sit and do nothing in a market and wait for the good opportunities. The better you get, the more opportunities there seem to be as you learn to understand how different markets move.

If your not decisiveness enough, then being responsive doesn't matter if you can make decisions effectively! A good game to play to improve your decisiveness and responsiveness is Big Brain Academy on the Wii.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Best Day!

Today was my best day ever, there was plenty of money in the markets today with reasonable movements and decent priced horses which made it an ideal environment to trade on. I managed to make £2,038.89. My best ever day prior to today was back on September 25th last year where I made £2024.23; so not really a massive jump, but I was still really happy with the result! Although it didn't come too easy, with six races left I was £1,700 up, thinking, yes I have my best day in sight, then the next two races saw me lose £300 - I was very annoyed, but gave myself the challenge of hitting the £2k mark with 4 races left, amazing I manged it! It's funny because in the first race I lost about £75 thinking I've got a tough day ahead of me. Anyway, I've slowed down the posting slightly from every day to every other day or so, I've been pretty busy lately with everything - but it's great!

On Friday last week my friend Frasier started filming me about being a horse racing trader for a short on Current TV on Sky. It will be about 8 minutes long and should capture typical emotions I go through, some trading and some views from myself and friends of what I do. It should be good; it will be finished when I hit my target, with a bottle of champagne and a party!

P.s. I'll update the pie chart with my progress just as soon as I figure out why Excel is putting out the wrong percentage.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

February

February has been a great month for me, I traded on 385 races, 3 more races than January and averaged £55.02 a race; exactly the same (to the nearest penny) average per race than January. I worked 19 full working days, with a couple partially traded days; 5 full days less than last month - that just shows how many meetings were abandoned last month. I've been very busy over the last week, I went on a presentation skills day event; I thought I'd face my fears and try and overcome the nerves I get. I learnt some good skills and techniques which I can use, not that I have any presentations lined up! I thought my last ever presentation I'd have to do was at University, I never thought I'd be paying to do one! Anyway, back to last month's performance. I must have kept up my concentration fairly well throughout the days I worked - as the density of races increased compared to last month, I still managed to maintain the same average per race.

I am really looking forward to the big meetings coming up through the year, starting with Cheltenham in March. I never used to like them, but that was a year ago and I have gained a lot of valuable experience since then. I remember the last Cheltenham as being manic, with 4 days of racing condensed into 3 days, they were long and hard days I remember. Maybe a random snow shower this year will do the same?

I still haven't got round to replying to comments and emails - I am doing all these later, so if you left a comment, even 2 weeks ago, check back later tonight for responses.