Sunday, 28 June 2015

Keeping Score, Scaling and Fairy Tales

Tennis Trading's very polite Martin had this to say about my previous post:

Thanks for your interest! Yes, the two pounds per day are not really a good salary. I have to say, that i trade in my spare time and you can't consider it work. For me is like a game of chess or poker, to compete with other guys and watch (over long term), which one is the "smartest". The result only includes the last three weeks, so it would be a bit better, but it doesn't make the cow fat :-)
Beside I am still at an early stage. I could scale the stakes without any problems by factor 10. Well, 20 pounds per day still would not be that great (50 would look better and with just taking 30 days and factor 10 we would be there). On the other hand, I made mistakes, which were costly. To improve, I need more experience and growing trust.
I don't know if a fairy tale like the one of Sultan is possible, but I hope so. He struggled over a year and suddenly it worked for him. I will continue the blog as long as it make sense. If I see that I am not born for trading, I will stop. If I am one day really good, it's not fun any more to speak about neither. Readers will not believe, ask for inside tips or are just jealous. In this stage of a blog, it doesn't make that much sense any more. You see, there are different reasons to stop blogging. At the moment it helps me to summarize my thoughts and days.
I wish you all the best.
I can totally identify with Martin's view of trading as more of a challenge than of 'making the cow fat". I wrote almost six and a half years ago (good heavens, where does the time go?) that:
I was thinking in the shower this morning, (yes, once a week, whether I need one or not), Betfair really is the ultimate video game. I've never been one for games, (friends at work spend hours playing Call of Duty - why? What's the point?), but in many ways the exchanges are one big online game. It's me versus an unknown opponent. My opinion versus yours, except in this game the points are real money.
To Martin's comment that he could scale without any problems, I would say that scalability is not that easy on Betfair. From £2 to £20 pounds probably not an issue in liquid sports, and possibly true of £20 to £200 also, but £200 to £2,000 and beyond, I don't think Martin will find it that easy.

A word on Martin's "On the other hand, I made mistakes, which were costly". For a start, not all mistakes are costly or even result in losses - some prove to be quite fortuitous. It's human nature when you have a win to put it down to your skill and talent, (or if you are American, to the one true god) but when it results in a loss, we say it was a mistake, (and if you are me, immediately look to put the blame on someone else).

Eliminating all mistakes, even if such a thing were possible, isn't the same as eliminating all losses and paradoxically many times, the correct decision results in a loss. You can't look back on the short-term and say with any accuracy what was a mistake, and what was the right call; it's only after a large sample size that you know if your decisions are 'correct' or not. If your balance has increased, you possibly have an edge.

As for the Sultan's story (rather aptly described by Martin in his comment as a 'Fairy Tale'), it's been well covered on this blog previously. A search for 'The Sultan' will lead to several posts about him, including this one from January or there is another one from Hejik from January 2014 which is possibly even better than mine. 

G commented:
Cassini- perhaps you could enlighten Martin to the real story behind the Sultan's fairytale and how things suddenly 'worked' for him....
The Sultan's Centre Court Trading blog is still out there, although not updated in close to four months. Anyone can read for themselves his fairy tale rise from being unemployed with his limited funds 'drying up' in February 2011 to being "comfortable for years to come - barring a disaster" in 2014. Barring a lottery win or a large inheritance, life doesn't usually work that way. The Sultan certainly had some big wins in that time, but as he himself revealed, things "suddenly worked" for him while he was working for a syndicate with access to court-sider data. With that kind of an edge, it's easier to win than lose. What was interesting was why The Sultan wasn't retained for long - we never heard the details about that.

From what I have heard about the Trading Academy, save your money and read "Trading In The Zone" by Mark Douglas. Typical comments on the Academy include:
I would like everyone to know that the price of the trading academy for one year is £500 which is very expensive for an ebook and a few emails a month. 
I hope that people don't commit the same error as I did and become a member because I regret wasting £500 which could have be used for other purposes.
Does it make sense for someone to sell their edge for £500 before they are 'comfortable' in life? Once an edge is shared, it is no longer an edge, or at least it's a much diluted one. £500 is a lot of money for many people and if the product doesn't live up to expectations, there should be some kind of a money back guarantee.

For me, it's a red flag when someone who hasn't achieved any success themselves offers to sell you something. The obvious question to ask is why is the seller not using his own advice to achieve success? The claim to be "comfortable for many years to come" is clearly untrue, but the Sultan knows that sales are not going to be helped if the truth about his situation is known. "I have no money to speak of, live in a flat, am unemployed and really need your £500" is probably not a recommended sales strategy. Most people are smart enough to recognise that more successful people (e.g. Ian Erskine) are the ones with knowledge worth paying for. It's also no coincidence that the likes of Ian tend to be the more positive of people.

I see Big Pairs has written his latest blog post, and starts by mentioning time as I did yesterday:
Time, or rather lack of time, is rapidly becoming the biggest barrier to progress in my quest to become a full time sports and forex trader. Last week was busy, so busy that I didn't trade at all on three days. Next week I will only be able to look at the markets on Wednesday evening, Friday and Saturday. The week after that I will be in the US with work and will only manage to trade on the Saturday, if family duty permits. The good news is that I'm nicely ahead of my plan and therefore a couple of slow weeks isn't really a problem. Considering the lack of time last week wasn't too bad, with an overall profit of just over £300 to show for my efforts. However, as you'll see from the chart progress has slowed up significantly of late and that's going to be a challenge at some point. I could spend a few more minutes moaning about the unfulfilling job thieving my time and all that, but you've heard it before so I will move straight onto the results.
I really would encourage Big Pairs to stick with the day job and trade part-time. As other full-time sports traders have found to their cost, the rules of the game can change overnight. That £250,000 lifetime finishing line could easily become £50,000. Premium Charge is a killer. In-play trading will be reviewed again at some point, and could be banned. A full-time job may seem unfulfilling now but careers progress. Look at the hidden benefits (paid holiday, National Insurance contributions, pension contributions) and see the big picture. There are plenty of "full-time traders" who are actually unemployable and don't have a choice. If you do have a choice, make the right one! Even if you have an edge for now, it is extremely unlikely to last for long.

1 comment:

Tennis Trader said...

Very nice comment, Cassini!

About scaling up, I am with you. I know that there is a limit, because of liquidity issues. If you can make 200 Euros a day, that would be enough ;-). With this amount you would be on the way to a full time trader. To be honest, I liked your last part of the post. A year ago (when I was blogging under the name Brulati) I had this target. Right now I feel a lot more comfortable to see it as a side income and a hobby. My income with a normal job is higher, riskfree and you have paid holidays/weekends, pension funds and insurance. I am with you, if you have the possibility for a "real job" is better to go this way. Beside trading is quite a lonely occupation.

About Sultan... I don't know, what is the secret for his success. I don't think that he has a connection to courtsiders. How you know, I was a student of his academy. The strategy guide is no rocket science, but is written quite well. Of course he doesn't sell his edge for 500 pounds. Like I mentioned in my blog, the strategy only makes 10% of the success. His document doesn't give you a real edge. In my opinion the only edge he has is his knowledge of tennis. After 3-4 years he knows the patterns of the players and markets. When I was at the academy, the teaching was quite bad. He always mentioned that I didn't pick value. Perhaps he was right, but is not enough to coach like this. It needs a lot of experience and tennis knowledge to pick the right matches and moments. You can discuss if is fair to sell an "almost useless product" for 500 pounds. In the end only practice brings success, but he always told this. So I really don't blame him.

That's why I mentioned that's like a game for me. When you play Tetris every day, you will become better and better. Sultan always told that he doesn't sell a holy grail or a golden lay machine. In summary I can say that hard work is the only real edge on the tennis ladders. Beside courtsiding of course...