Saturday 30 August 2008

Daily Targets

I have written before on here how it is my opinion that having daily targets is a bad idea. For one thing, value opportunities do not not come along with the same frequency. (Most sports have busy days and quiet days for example). Some days I do not find any value bets, and on other days I might find two in the space of two minutes. Quitting for the day upon reaching an arbitrary profit is senseless, and of course the other problem with setting a short term target is that you put pressure on yourself to meet that target, and thus try to find an opportunity that really is not value.

Having said that, I do suffer from a strong reluctance to record a negative profit on any single day, which is really just as bad. I record the results of every market by sport every day and I know I have taken bets at bad value simply to show a profit. I guess the solution is to just look at the bottom line every month, but it's a hard habit to break. I find it immensely annoying to have to record even the smallest of daily losses. My longest run of profitable days is 42, my longest run of losing days is 4 in April 2007.

So, this is the only target I have, as such. Other levels that I like to beat each day, but that I can honestly say do not factor into my decision making at all, are my 10 and 30 day moving averages, my one year moving average, my all-time average, and my current year average. I like to beat these because if I don't, it's no big deal but my charts take a dip and that is not pleasing to me. Obviously the 10 and 30 day averages are particularly volatile so the key ones for me are the 1 year moving average, and the all-time daily average.

I also enjoy beating the daily average income for full-time male employees (£71.15 per day) and females (£56.29). As I've said before, numbers are fun.

Thursday 28 August 2008

Marychain1 on Liverpool v Liege

A great post on the Betfair Forum today, following the Liverpool v Liege game (Liverpool won in extra-time after a goalless 90 minutes)

Enitled: "Thank you, you f*****s, cost me my bank"

"This is an absolute disgrace!!! How the f*** can that bunch of jokers not win against those amateurs??? What an absolute ******* joke!!!! I had my WHOLE BANK riding on them!!! How can they not even score one goal. I'm going f*****g mental here. If I was the chairman I'd be sacking the manager first thing in the morning after this, and half the players would be following him out the door. I was embarrassed watching it. If you ask me they have made the whole country a laughing stock drawing 0-0 with this shower of ****. They certainly wont be getting a warm welcome back in Liege if they can't even beat Liverpool."

Very entertaining, and caught a good number of people as well. Thanks for the laugh.

Saturday 23 August 2008

Football Favourite-Longshot Bias

Towards the end of the football 2007-08 season, I paper traded a laying system that I have been developing for 391 matches.

Although this was a limited sample, the selection criteria did show some interesting trends which indicated that in the matches I selected, there was a significant favourite-longshot bias. I'm not going to get too carried away, but I am going to continue monitoring these matches and will play with a small bank for added interest.

Statistically, the system had 277 winners from 391 selections (70.84%) and made a (pre-commission) profit of £47.44. There were two Longest Losing Sequences of 5, although since many matches take place at the same time, and in many cases the sequence is alphabetical, this may not be too relevant.

Early lay selections for today are Leeds United and Rushden and Diamonds.

Thursday 21 August 2008

10k Swimming

I can be such an idiot at times. Having traded like a demon in the Channel 5 Angels / Rays game tonight, I then invest, no - gamble, my profits on an Olympic event I know nothing about, just because we have a chance of yet another Gold Medal. Why do I do these stupid things? I must have learned enough lessons to write a small guide to what NOT to do on Betfair.

I did get a little luckier earlier when I really thought the price on a new 200m world record by Usain Bolt was too low, and backed "No World Record". Then my brain kicked in, and I figured it actually wasn't that unlikely and layed off to go Green-All-Over and lucky I did. A very impressive performance. That record and the 100m too will come down again if he stays healthy. Pretty cool runnings.

And I thought Jamaica was only good for the Bobsled...

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Approach v System

Someone on the Betfair Forum recently posted something sensible. Yes, yes, I know, it hardly seems possible, but occasionally someone actually posts something that is worth reading. Apologies for forgetting whoever it was, (I didn’t note your name down but I will post a link to this entry in the hope that you will claim credit for the idea), but anyway, his comment was that to be successful on Betfair, it is the ‘approach’ that is important and not any ‘system’.

I agree with this statement absolutely. In fact, it’s my approach that I have been fine-tuning since joining Betfair, although I didn’t consciously think of it that way before.

I’m not saying that I don’t believe that ‘systems’ never work (they do if they always represent value), but the poster was spot on when he said that success or failure lies with the overall approach. Having been a Betfair investor for over four years now, I have five golden rules (mostly learned the hard-way) as to what attributes an ‘approach’ needs to have.

1. Software – never invest when you are tired, emotional or when you are euphemistically tired AND emotional. (Drinking and smart decision making have never gone together very well. How many of us would be here today if that were the case?)

2. Hardware – have reliable computer equipment and internet connection and a back-up. There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to exit a position due to a technical glitch.

3. Discipline – never be in a hurry to invest. Wait for an opportunity that looks like value, but never bet just for the sake of it. Some days there may be nothing to bet on. That’s ok, tomorrow there may be a hundred. For this reason I do not advocate having short-term goals. They sound fine in theory, but they put pressure on one to invest when one shouldn’t and vice-versa, to stop investing when one should be making hay. Also, and this should go without saying, never bet more than you are comfortable losing. The fact that a bet is good value is no guarantee that it will win. Expect the worst, understand that the bet was a good bet even if it lost, and look at the long-term picture.

4. Specialise – concentrate on what you’re good at. I have a number of sports and markets that I just can’t get ahead on so I just stay away from them and focus on those markets that I do understand and that make me money.

5. Records – keep accurate records. It is a well known trait of gamblers to remember (and inflate) the wins and forget the losses (ask a gambler how he’s done over the past year and the answer is usually “won a few, lost a few, slightly ahead overall”) but to see exactly what works and what doesn’t, it is essential that you keep track of your results. Numbers don’t lie. I have a spreadsheet dating back to 1/1/06 (one of the few New Year’s resolutions that I have actually kept for more than a week) and it allows me to plot fancy charts and calculate moving averages to my heart’s content.

Update: The poster who deserves the credit for inspiring this post has been identified and goes by the Forum Name of JPG.

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Olympics, the US and John Cleese

So the Olympics doesn't open until Friday, but the games have begun (if you can call women's football a game). Just kidding ladies. When the last Olympics took place, I was a novice on Betfair, and aside from a teeny win on Water Polo one quiet Saturday, I don't recall getting involved very much. This year will probably be the same. Laying the USA men's basketball team at 1.36 could be good. Their NBA superstars often don't gel very well (as is the case in the Ryder Cup), and for other teams, they are the team to beat. Also other teams have a healthy starting line-up of NBA players themseves - Spain and Argentina to name but two.

Why is it that with the exception of basketball, the big sports in the US are games that hardly any other country plays? Reminds me of the old John Cleese joke (circa 1998), when asked by an American talk-show host what the difference were between the US and Britain:

"1. We speak English and you don't"

"2. In England, when we have a World Championship, we invite teams from other countries to take part"

"3. When WE meet our head of State, we only have to go down on ONE knee"

Tuesday 5 August 2008

August Baseball

As some of you may have noticed, I pretty much took July off, but I am now back and raring to go with the new football season and the NFL just around the corner, but I start today with a look at baseball.

With the All-Star game behind us, the baseball season really starts to become meaningful. Probably the surprise team of the season is the Tampa Bay Rays who without the Devil in their name are giving the Red Sox and the Yankees a good run this year in the American League East. I expect the Rays to fade as they are currently exceeding their expected win/loss ratio (based on runs scored and runs conceded) by a few games and these things usually level out over a season. In the AL West, the ridiculously named Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are currently proving to be the best team in baseball, while in the Central Division there’s a tight race between the Twins and the White Sox.

In the National League, I am expecting to see the addition of Manny Ramirez help the Dodgers to overtake the Diamondbacks in the West, whilst in the East there’s a tight race between three contenders – the Phillies, Marlins and Mets with the Marlins my tip to fade away. In the Central Division the Cubs should be too strong for the Brewers and may well end the season as the best team overall in the MLB.

From an investment viewpoint, the beauty of baseball is that on any day, any team can beat any other. One swing of the bat can score four runs, or at the other extreme, can result in a triple play.