Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Average Joe

A Happy New Year to all. I thought I'd share some of my 2017 resolutions with you, and they are:

1. Stop making lists
B. Be consistent
7. Learn to count
That wasn't original of course, I may be incredibly charismatic (read on), but my jokes aren't always my own, and that one comes to you courtesy of @shitjokes on Twitter. I thought it was funny.

I'm sure many bloggers will be doing an end of year review, and I'll join the crowd again.

Two years ago, I wrote:
One of the terms economists talk about is 'utility' and it's a fact that the more money you accrue, the less valuable each pound you win becomes. When you need to gross double what you end up with, and what you end up with is worth less than it used to be to you, it's hardly surprising that enthusiasm wanes. There is no viable option to Betfair, and none on the horizon. 
Last year I looked at the evidence for a waning interest and noted that I'd had the fewest blog posts since I started in 2008, just 162 with four of the last five months in single digits. This year, there were even fewer (135) but nevertheless, the hits keep coming, (average 437 per day over the last year) although the more content that is out there, the more casual hits there will be.
Another sign of waning enthusiasm is that in the first nine years of trading, I was idle for just 291 days. In 2015, the number of idle days was 63, almost exactly double the previous average, and in 2016 I was inactive on 99 days.

The year's most popular post was August's Building Castles In The Sky which highlighted the nonsense being written by Big Pairs, who claimed to be CEO of a "multi-billion dollar organization". Really? Most saw through the lies, but one or two were fooled. Challenging nonsense is something that's long overdue in sports betting. Sadly, not many bloggers to this. Most play it safe, posting sanitised and non-controversial articles from time to time hoping to attract a following of admirers, but occasionally someone like Big Pairs comes along whose exaggerations and totally unrealistic claims need to be challenged. The problem is that some vulnerable people believe what they read, in this example that it's possible to start with £1,000, have no proven edge, and yet be retired in "exactly 136 weeks". And it doesn't help the reputation of sports traders to turn a blind eye, or worse, throw your support behind the project as one former blogger did.

As James over at Betfair Pro Trader has been saying over the past few months, this betting / trading thing is anything but easy and it's getting more difficult by the day. James had a review of the past year which mentioned yours truly:
Cassini still shines amongst the sports trading websites. I think I'll start calling him the Teflon Don from now on as nothing will stick to him. Like myself, Cassini is never one to shy away from controversial statements but he never seems to get the flak that I get. Certainly, he doesn't get any offers of a chat from The Management for speaking out of line. Obviously, I am not as charismatic as Cassini. However, one characteristic we do share is that we never attract sycophants and fan boys. We don't need anyone to huddle around us when we are feeling a little sensitive.
What does James mean when he talks of "speaking out of line"? In my view, he's referring to the unwritten rule that we all (traders / bloggers), have to pretend that everybody wins all the time. It's acceptable to mention the occasional loss, but always with the qualifier that you "have learned from it".

It's acceptable to say "buy this software / attend this training class" and riches will come, but always qualify it with the line that if you should lose, it's your fault. Sometimes it's impossible to lose in a market, unless you are really dumb. It's not acceptable to point out that logically, not everybody can win.

What big fish need when they get hungry is smaller fish. The line "come on in - the water's lovely" is far more likely to attract new entrants, and more importantly their money, than a more honest "look, you can swim with us if you like, but I should warn you that it's dangerous, and the survival classes you attended missed out a few key details because I need to keep my edge".

Back in 2012, a comment on my Risky Business post was this one:
Very interesting article. This just shows what the average Joe is up against.

Thanks for your insight into your staking too. It's interesting that you say punting profits are more value when you factor in the hourly rate as it's for this reason I'm trying to turn my attentions more to these. It's obviously much harder but if I'm honest I am starting to resent the amount of my free time I spend betting inplay and I do fear each time another blog opens of a young person who aims to make a living from inplay trading. Their lives will consist of staring at a screen 24-7 and if I had to price it up, I'd say it's 1.01 that they don't make anything close to a living out of it.
Almost five years later, and my conversion from trading to punting is almost complete, and I remain in full agreement with the sentiment expressed.

Some readers might well be surprised to know that the comment was from none other than Peter Webb who apparently has no problem selling software and trading classes today to "young persons who are 1.01 wasting their time and money". If anything has changed in the last four years, I would have thought it would have resulted in that 1.01 shortening to 1.001, but as shortly after as 2013, Peter was coming up with quotes such as this logic defying one:
So in this particular match you should have struggled to lose money if you were trading.
I suspect a few people found it quite easy to lose money on that game, and indeed any game or event. It's kind of how an exchange works.

Peter's mathematical talents provided a couple of the more amusing highlights of 2016. In December he revealed to all that Martingale is not a good strategy to employ.
The most famous loss recovery process is the good old, double after every loss, ‘martingale‘ system. The problem with all these systems is that they ultimately fail.
What? They don't work? Who knew? Well hopefully everyone, and that article wasn't a revelation to a single reader, but possibly more amusing was Peter's claim in October that:
But despite this, I still got 14 out of 14 trades right and have delivered similar results on courses prior to and after this one. If I trade without doing this then I, obviously, do even better.
Not sure how bettering 14 out of 14 is possible, but there you have it. Perhaps the laws of Mathematics are about to be re-written? 2017 could be an interesting year.

For those excitedly looking forward to the annual Benford's Law update, make the most of this one, for it will be the last. My spreadsheet still tracks my Benford numbers, but since they are not very interesting, or at least not once the observation have been confirmed, and because they are no longer random (due to the move from trading to punting), this will be the last update on these. Cue deep sighs of relief from all around.
As my betting and trading of sports takes up less and less time this year, so will blogging, although I shall continue to shine in an attempt to repeat as James' Blog Of The Year winner

Back in the early days I'd post something most days, even if it was just a few lines, but for many years now, I've favoured quality over quantity rather than posting rubbish every day like a mad jew.

Good luck in 2017. We'll need it!  


James said...

New Year's resolution - Must hold tongue.

Okay, enough of that.

Mr Webb has often said on his website that he is not too hot at maths and academically he was a washout. His website is indeed a testament to those facts.

Of course, any mention of The Tangled One often gets a visit from the Fan Boys. Their usual refrain is "Your (sic) sad/pathetic to say this about a great trader." What proof have they other than The Tangled One says he is a great trader?

After I recommended to readers of my website that they use the WayBack Machine to see if a site has removed pages, I used it on my site to recover a certain page that I deleted, last month, out of kindness and the Christmas spirit. After receiving nothing in reciprocation, I shall pop it back. ;)

Joe 85 said...


I'm a recent follower coming from the School of Buchdahl. Very much enjoying your transparency and writing.

You write above '...conversely a placed bet becomes a non-qualifier as a parameter moves and it is no longer a qualifier. These things tend to balance out over time, so there's no point stressing over them.'

This issue vexes my decisions on market timing. Can I ask if you've written more extensively on the subject and if affirmative, for links to those posts.

You're right that they balance out over time so really it's a question of mentally dealing with an 'erroneous' selections. Seeing the price drift may confirm one backed the right horse but - particularly in those instances - do you ever feel compelled to trade the other way to exit completely?