Saturday, 17 December 2016

Comments, Scaling, Premium Charge Monopoly Abuse

One comment on the latest post, from Robbo the trader who writes:

"Clearly there is a problem somewhere because there are never any comments on Peter's blog. It would be great if it could move to a moderated format like Cassini has done."
I've never commented on Peter's blog but plenty of my comments have never appeared on cassini's either, maybe it must be my internet connection?
In this case, it certainly could be due to a less than satisfactory connection, as the only comments I don't publish are those along the lines of the ones below...
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...comments which I feel don't add a lot to the conversation. 

I checked the comments awaiting moderation and unless Robbo the trader posted as "Anonymous", there is nothing there since January 2014 when I switched to the moderated comment format to avoid the rubbish above. 

If Robbo has the details on what posts he commented on, I can check, but to the best of my knowledge I have never declined one of his comments. Perhaps he was being a little tongue-in-cheek.

Occasionally there are comments which are not intended for public viewing, and this request is respected, and the occasional comment selling something or requesting a link swap is ignored because I'm simply not interested.

Although I monitor my hit count, that's because I love my numbers rather than because it matters. It makes no difference to me if I get one hit or comment or a thousand hits and comments. I get emails offering help on "increasing sales" but I have nothing to sell. I don't care, which is why I write what I want to write. 

Writing this blog is purely a hobby - consider yourselves lucky I didn't choose to blog about my 30,000+ collection of pre-1940 postcards!

Back to Peter's blog mentioned in the opening paragraph, and Betfair Pro Trader James had a recent post on the topic of Scaling which rather soundly schooled the former on what scaling actually means. The post opens with this:
Whilst it is gratifying that Mr Webb reads my every word, he doesn't seem able to understand the concept of scaling. His latest blog article shows a limited linear approach to scaling. i.e. if you have more money then you increase your bet size. But this is not scaling, this is just correct money management.

If you follow Kelly criterion to the letter, a successful trader always chases winnings and never chases losses. As a bankroll increases so too must trade size in relation to edge. If there is a run of losses and the bankroll decreases then so too must trade size. That is all that the befuddled Webb is saying, which has nothing to do with scalability.
Click on the link above for the full post which is well worth a read, and Peter's original and confused post is linked to in James' post.  At the risk of being a spoiler, one further paragraph is this one:
In my latest book, Betfair Trading Techniques, I put forward the analogy of a shopkeeper running a 9 to 5 business. The only way the shopkeeper can scale up income in his hands-on business is to work harder or work longer. This is analagous to the manual trader trading more markets per day or trying to turnover more money in each market thus risking market capacity problems.
In a way, it sums up quite neatly why my own trading has declined in importance over the years. Although 2016 isn't over yet, trading profits are likely to be around 3% of net income. Looking back at 2009, and they were closer to 17%. 

The Super Premium Charge has obviously had a big impact, as well as the more welcome increases in my day job salary and in investment income in the intervening years. 

As James points out, for a manual trader like myself, it's hard to scale up. I have fewer hours available than used to be the case, and moving into more markets isn't an option because I can only trade one at a time. Hence the increased use of less time consuming 'bet and forget' systems, but even those take time each day.

On the topic of Premium Charges, evidence is mounting that Betfair are offering certain people special deals:
If you, like me, feel this is an abuse of a de facto monopoly's position, add your voice to the consultation. My personal rate is 50%, so 8.5% would make a huge difference, though I'll probably keep the day job, but there are other aspects of the charge that are open to question. Was it right to introduce the charges, i.e. move the goalposts, after some people had already made profits, for example. I wrote this back in 2011 when Betfair moved the 'finishing line' to £250,000:
The ‘finishing line’ of £250,000 may sound like a lot of money, but as Mr. Mark Iverson discusses in this post, when you think of it as total income generated over a number of years, it certainly isn’t.

The latest figures available show that the median gross income for men in the UK is £538.20 a week (£28,000 a year rounded). Regional differences mean that the top median is in London at £36,000 while the lowest is in Northern Ireland at £24,000.
After deductions, this works out at £21,402, and to reach £250k would take 11.68 years. Betfair was launched a little over 11 years ago – in early June 2000. Coincidence? Well, yes, probably, but the point is that a Betfair customer making an average income on Betfair would be hitting the £250k mark in the next few months.
As a part-timer, the changes are annoying, but given that anything I make is a bonus, it’s not life changing. I am unlikely to match my current averages, but life is about adjusting to changes, and in the whole scheme of things, it doesn't, or shouldn't, rate too highly on ones list of priorities.
It’s the full-timers on median income or thereabouts who will feel the most pain. After netting 95% of gross winnings before the Premium Charge, and 80% of gross winnings since, some now face the prospect of netting just 40% very soon. Assuming that full-timers are pretty much already maxing out their potential, to face a halving of income may well be the death knell for some.
Not surprisingly, many traders have subsequently left Betfair. The inability to scale (see James Butler for details, not Peter Webb!) meant a significant reduction in income and if it is your sole or a major source of income, you need to move on.

CMA Gov is the Competition & Markets Authority. Write to them at Gambling@cma.gsi.gov.uk and let them know your thoughts on the Premium Charges, how they were introduced, how they are implemented, how they are anything but opaque, how they favour certain (new) customers over others (longer-term), and perhaps why they were introduced - your experience of court-siders perhaps, the evidence that former Betfair management were behind court-siding syndicates. What commission rates are those former employee accounts charged at?

Speak now or forever hold your peace. 

3 comments:

Lee Von Dangerous said...

Hi there,
I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong but the screen shot of Commission being charged at 8.5% is from an individual market and has nothing to do with PC. As you're aware PC is calculated on weekly profit not individual markets and is never presented in this way.


Lee Von Dangerous said...

Sorry I should correct myself, PC is charged on lifetime profits but calculated weekly.

pegguy Wort said...

Doesn't betfair charge different amounts of commission in some countries?