Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Cheerio 2008

Since Last Post P/L: £641.21
Monthly P/L: £1,053.89

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With all the pre-tournament anticipation and media build-up it's very easy to get carried away during the first few matches of the PDC Darts World Championships, and that's exactly what I did. I should've known better as by the end of Day 2 I'd traded in 6 matches and dug myself a loss of just over £250. Needless to say my confidence wasn't very high and a different approach was needed. Yep, it was time to cut back on my stake sizes and to just concentrate on making a profit in each market. It sounds easy to say but in reality it's much more difficult to practice, so I had to remind myself that my strategy was sound and that it had produced good results in 2007. That's the problem with Darts - there are not an awful lot of televised events, and when there are the format is often different to the one before. Not ideal conditions when you're trying to perfect entry and exit points!
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Anyway, the following 28 events were a grind but I stuck to my guns and ended with a profit in 22 of them. The temptation once I'd started winning was to up the ante, but I resisted the itchy feelings and thanks to this discipline am now able to post a profit of over a grand for December. Here are my final results for 2008:
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Darts
Jenkins v Smith : £42.86
Painter v Clark : £86.72
Priestley v French : £4.01

Bates v McBrearty : £55.42
Tabern v Beaton : £120.19
Van Gerwen v Young : £146.77
Walsh V Cavern : £40.74
Dudbridge v Fulwell : £17.21
Mardle v Fatum : £24.04
Manley v Sulijovic : £25.35
Mason v MaGowan : £27.38
Kantele v Ilagan : £57.58
Lewis v Stewart : £13.51
Lloyd V Klaasen : £6.03
Baxter v Kantele : £30.40
Osborne v losper : £20.07
Sulijovic v Dudbridge : £63.57
Taylor v Van Gerwen : £6.46
Mardle v Thornton : £38.71
Davis V Bates : £151.70
Baxter v Ovens : £11.97
Klaasen v Van Der Rassel : £91.12
Van Barneveld v Newton : £18.07
King v Walsh : £90.32
Priestley v MaGowan : £35.10
Osborne v Van Der Voort : £5.42
Wade v Eccles : £82.26
Taylor v Painter : £36.99
Bates V Dudbridge : £29.53
Nicholson v Priestley : £76.33
Smith v King : £67.65
Mardle v Stompe : £75.09
Hamilton v Klaasen : £117.40
Van Barneveld v Baxter : £22.52
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From reading that lot it may seem that Christmas was cancelled in our house but I promise you that wasn't the case, as in total there's only about 24 hours work there. After the stress of Caden's operation we were determined to enjoy every minute of the holidays and that's what we did. Seeing his face on Christmas morning was magical and it really made us realise how lucky we are. No trading experience could ever beat that feeling.
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So that's it then, the end of 2008 and if I'm honest I won't miss it! But from a trading viewpoint how have things gone?
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My hope at the beginning of the year was to achieve a profit after commission of £15,000, but unfortunately I fell short. With the final figure ending on £11,938.86 I'm a little disappointed, but after all that's gone on I can't be too hard on myself. Afterall, I'm still only trading part-time and it does mean that I've been able to generate over £20,000 from my original bank of £250 during the course of the last 29 months. That's not a bad effort. However, the most satisfying bit of all this is that I haven't spent the lot! As some of you may be aware, I've always been keen to re-invest as much of my winnings as possible to enable me to play with bigger stakes as I move forward. This has continued throughout the year and my trading bank now stands at £18,216 - a healthy increase on the £8,346 that I started with last January. In case any of you are concerned that I may blow that lot in one go I'll make it clear that I only use a portion of it at any one time. My current maximum exposure is just over 13% which equates to a stake of £2,459. These trades only happen on sports where I feel I have my biggest edge e.g. Cricket, and when the odds fall between a certain price range e.g. 1.01 to 1.50. Managing my risk is vital if I'm to continue making money.
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So what does 2009 hold in store? Nobody knows, but I do have a few wishes and resolutions that I'd like to see come true from both a personal and trading perspective. First the serious one:
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1. That all my friends and family stay healthy. It's true what they say - without your health money means absolutely nothing. I'd really like a normal, uneventful year.

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Then the rest:
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2. Is a £20,000 target after commission being greedy? Probably, but I won't beat myself up if I don't get there. The important thing is that I keep growing. I have a few exciting ideas up my sleeve that I'd like to see turned into reality so watch this space ;-)
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3. I start using my blog more like blog. As I now I sound like I've lost the plot let me explain. Everytime I write a post I feel the need to go into detail about everything and write a bloomin' novel! I need to calm down, post more often and just record my thoughts. I don't want to record drivel but there are other things I'd like to get off my chest apart from my profit and loss. Watch out for me going into a 'Dear Diary' mode though!
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4. This last wish is something which is out of my control. Please, please Betfair don't look to extract any further fees from your successful customers. Just in case you're wondering. I don't class myself in this bracket, but I understand the damage that would be caused if these big fish left. I've gone into these reasons before so I won't repeat myself - so please Betfair, just don't do it.
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Okay, I think I've said enough :-)
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May I wish you all a Happy New Year and may the coming 12 months live up to your expectations.

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Ciao for now.
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Monday, 15 December 2008

Miracles Do Happen

Since Last Post P/L: £412.68
Monthly P/L: £412.68
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The last few weeks have been hugely demanding and extremely stressful but I’m very happy to report that Caden has had his heart repair surgery and is now on the road to recovery. However, there’ve been many highs and lows and I wouldn’t wish an experience like this on my worst enemy.
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To begin with we were told the night before the operation that due to a lack of beds within intensive care, the operation would need to be postponed with there likely to be a 1-2 week delay. After travelling to Bristol you can imagine our despair – his condition was becoming more noticeable and we were now ready, we needed this to happen.
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Fortunately the surgeon could see our determination and agreed for us to stay at the hospital in the unlikely event that a slot became available. Luckily for us one did and the operation took place on the 20th November. For what seemed like the longest 5 hours we lulled around shopping centres and restaurants waiting for the phone call telling us everything was okay and when we were told that everything was over we all shared a huge sigh of relief. Apparently he had suffered 2 : 1 Heart Block when coming out of theatre but this was something they were able to treat quickly and in general things had gone well.
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It was at this point I thought the worst was over. What I hadn’t considered was the possibility of any setbacks.
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The first day after the operation went to plan but when he started to show signs of deterioration on the second day panic started to set in. It turned out that fluid had started to collect around his heart and lungs and that another operation would be needed to drain what was there. The risks weren’t as great but I still had to sign the consent form and whenever that happens there’s always an element of doubt. A stark reminder of this was the 6 month year old boy in the next bed. He’d been admitted for a similar heart operation but following complications during the procedure he’d suffered a lack of oxygen to the brain. Unfortunately there was no way back and he passed away whilst we were there.
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With these thoughts fresh in the memory it was practically impossible to remain completely calm but I shouldn’t have worried as he sailed through. Even though this complication did set him back he started to show signs of improvement pretty quickly afterwards and within a few days he was fully conscious and trying to become more mobile. He was discharged a week later but within 48 hours were back in hospital. His temperature was spiking for no apparent reason and with the risk of infection high on the radar the doctors wanted to be safe rather than sorry.
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That worry has now died down and since then he’s been gradually on the mend. As of today the progress he’s made completely astounds me. He’s nearly back to being normal and if any of you reading this want proof of a living miracle then you’re welcome to visit :-) The little guy’s been through so much we’re now going to make sure he has the best ever first Christmas!
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At this point of my post I’d love to be able lift the mood but unfortunately I can’t as I was deeply saddened this week to read of the passing of
Richard Wildman. Richard was a fellow blogger who fought a courageous battle against cancer throughout 2008 before finally succumbing on the 5th December. If medals were awarded for having a ‘positive outlook’ then Richard would have been at the front of queue as anyone who has read his posts would testify. At the age of 36 he leaves behind a wife and two children and my thoughts are with them at this desperately tough time.
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What I’ve mentioned above really does highlight how precious our time is in this life and this is something I need to make sure stays fresh in my mind. If in future I ever take Caden or any of my family for granted I need to stop, take stock and think about how much others who are less fortunate would love to swap places.
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For what it’s worth I’ve now also been able to start trading again. The Heineken Cup Rugby has been the main focus of my attention and here’s my full results for the month so far:
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American Football : £95.91
Horse Racing :
£25.55
Rugby Union : £368.55
Special Bets :
£8.26
Poker : £34.49
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The highlight of December always seems to be the PDC Darts World Championship and this year appears to be no exception. Things kickoff on Friday and even though Phil Taylor has had a phenomenal year I’m not sure if the tournament being hosted at Alexandra Palace suits him. The Circus Tavern was his territory but last year he looked a little lost in the new surroundings so it’s difficult for me to get too excited about his chances when his odds are hovering around the 1.60 mark. He’ll surely reach the latter stages but I’d be surprised if you aren’t able to get better odds at some point along the line.
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Either way, the 13 days of competition will determine how I finish the year – will I be a ‘star’ or a ‘turkey’?
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Thanks again to everyone who’s left supportive messages during the past few weeks – they meant a great deal.
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Merry Christmas to you all.
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Mark
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Sunday, 30 November 2008

End Of November Update

Since Last Post P/L: £5.07
Monthly P/L: £416.44
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A couple of casual poker games before making the trip to the hospital put a small dent in my total for November but I'm not unhappy. With everything else going on just making a profit is welcome :-)
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Monday, 17 November 2008

The Big One


Since Last Post P/L: £110.66
Monthly P/L: £421.51
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I'd been hoping for a quiet week but an 8 month old baby had other ideas! Caden decided last Tuesday to get himself another infection and this unfortunately hit him harder than before. His oxygen saturation levels weren't good so it was back to the hospital for a very stressful 3 nights and it was only after the Doctors declared that his temperature was back under control that we were allowed to come home on Friday evening. With his full heart repair operation scheduled for Wednesday the worry was that any deterioration in his condition would force it to be delayed and in extreme circumstances this could be for up to another 6 weeks. With his 'tet spells' becoming more regular this is something we clearly want to avoid so it's sods law that Nicola woke up with a cold on Saturday morning! She's now been banned from going anywhere near him :-)
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So this is it - the big one. As a natural control freak this feeling of uselessness isn't resting comfortably on my shoulders and with there little left for me to do, I'm now resigned to the events that lay ahead. The statistics are in our favour but I'm very nervous - I just want my little boy to be okay.
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With all of this going on I've only been able to to take a quick look at a few events over the weekend. There've been some topsy turvey results and if I hadn't taken a look at the NFL last night I'd have saved myself £80.
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American Football : £63.94
Horse Racing : £4.26
Rugby Union : £175.42
Soccer : £0.36
Poker : £5.44
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Nevermind, other things are way more important and all of my attention now turns to what looks to be a hugely challenging few weeks. Hopefully life will start to return to normal come the beginning of December and I'll be able to let out a huge sigh of relief.
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As I'm not likely to be around for a while, many thanks in advance for all the best wishes we may receive - they are a source of strength and we are hugely grateful.
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Sunday, 9 November 2008

Juggling Priorities

Since Last Post P/L: £310.85
Monthly P/L: £310.85

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Before now I've often been guilty of forgetting the contents of my previous post so with this in mind I'll get the bit about my head out of the way. The staples came out last Monday and if I do say so myself I was very brave (ha!) and all that remains is a chunky scar which should at least serve as a reminder on not to be such an idiot in future! Of course, despite this mental note I maintain that my mate was to blame :-)
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My trading involvement has been relatively quiet so it's given me a chance to catch up on some reading. 'Reminiscences of A Stock Operator' was one title missing from my collection and with it being regarded as one of the best I was starting to feel a bit like a fraud for not having given it a look previously. I haven't finished it yet so I won't give a full review but my initial impressions are that if you can get past the way the book is written (it was 80 years ago and wordings have changed) there are some hidden gems on how to look at the bigger picture. It seems that the big money is to be made in the big swings and this is not something I've given my full focus to before. I've often looked to just the short term and whether that's for 1 minute, 10 or 20 maybe I haven't fully considered the conditions of the markets I've been active in. Plenty of food for thought there.
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Where possible I've continued to try and lend Betdaq my business - it hasn't been easy but the graphic below will help illustrate that generating decent sized profits on some in-play markets is possible. I went on to lose a bit of this cash but that doesn't matter ;-)
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What about the rest? Well, the Stanford Superstars giving England a whooping did make me chuckle. Everyone at the ECB got what they deserved in my eyes, and I'm sure they're regretting the decision to get involved with the whole thing now. It was very embarrassing. People have made comparisons regarding the sums of money available to that in football but until now there's never been a situation where Chelsea have been pitched to play Arsenal for $20 million in a one off match. No, although I enjoyed the spectacle, the Stanford match represented greed and for that reason it left a sour taste in the mouth. Not sure my comments mean much though as it also netted me a profit!
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Anyway, here are my full results for the beginning of November:
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Cricket
Stanford Superstars v England : £169.86
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American Football
Green Bay @ Tennessee : £80.35
Dallas @ New York Giants : £48.33
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Horse Racing
Wolverhamption : £8.27
Plumpton : £9.47
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Soccer
Newcastle v Aston Villa : £9.58
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Rugby Union
Australia v New Zealand : £18.99
Scotland v New Zealand : £117.30
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Elsewhere, we've been given the date of the 19th November for Caden's full heart repair operation. This date has already been pushed back once so it's possible it could happen again but if everything goes to plan then the blog and my trading activity are likely to be put on hold come the end of the month. We're now at the stage where we just want to get the operation out of the way so that we can look forward to our first family Christmas.
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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Licking My Wounds


Since Last Post P/L: £336.08
Monthly P/L: £525.03
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The picture above is a current snapshot on the state of my head. Ouch! With hindsight, I'd say I was very very lucky. If I'd hit the radiator head on, then I'm sure the outcome would have been much worse and at least when the staples come out, my hair should cover any scarring.
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The bad news is I'm a 4/6 shot to go bald!
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On the trading front I've dabbled in the Stanford Super Series and enjoyed every minute. It's so nice to get back to trading a sport I can rely on. The Middlesex v Trinidad & Tobago game was a classic with both teams trading as exceptionally low favourites at different points of the match. Swings like this suit my style and as they offer so many opportunities there's a good chance I'll catch one of them. In this case that's what happened but the England v Trinidad & Tobago tussle was a different kettle of fish, and even though that one ended up going down to the wire my involvement had already ended with a loss.
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As I'm keen to finish the month on a decent score I'm going to call it quits for October and save my energy for the $20 million game on Saturday. I haven't got a clue who will win but as long I make a profit I don't really care.
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Here are my final results for October:
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Cricket
Middlesex v Trinidad & Tobago : £422.98
England v Trinidad & Tobago : £86.90
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Monday, 27 October 2008

Please...No More Drama


Since Last Post P/L: £42.75
Monthly P/L: £188.95
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On Saturday night myself and Nicola were invited by my best mate to a Cancer Aid Charity Dinner that was being held at the Millennium Stadium. Finding it hard to turn down a freebie and as it was for a good cause we jumped at the offer and got dressed up for the black tie event. Bob Champion was the guest speaker, and even though I wouldn't describe him as a natural comedian, his story about how he fought back to beat Cancer before riding Aldaniti to victory in the Grand National was inspiring.
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After several drinks everyone was enjoying themselves and it wasn't long before it was time for home. Our group was one of the last to leave and it was at this point the stupid behaviour started. My mate (the one who'd invited us) thought it would be apt given the surroundings to rugby tackle me as I walked down the corridor to the exit. Needless to say this wasn't a good idea and following a brief scuffle my head cracked into the side of the only radiator within 50 yards! I knew it was quite bad as people came rushing to help me, and with Nic crying in the background I guessed my head was in a bit a of a mess. Fast forward a couple of hours and I'm lying in the local A&E Department whilst a nurse puts 9 staples into my scalp to try and close the gash. We finally left at 6am and after inhaling enough gas & air to see most women through labour crashed off to sleep with a headache as soon as we got in.
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Yesterday was then meant to be a day of doing 'nothing much' in order to aid my recovery but after picking Caden up from his Nan's, he experienced another 'tet spell' that is to be expected from time to time with his heart condition. These spells aren't nice things; he has a screaming fit, he turns blue and whilst this is happening we're supposed to keep him calm and hold his knees into his chest to increase the flow of blood to his lungs. This is what we did but after a few minutes he seemed to be getting worse rather than better so it was time to call for an Ambulance. As you can imagine, the longest 6 minutes passed before the paramedics turned up and it was only then that he started to come around. To make sure he was going to be okay the decision was made to take him to the hospital and after a thorough examination I'm pleased to say we were on our way back home.
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Phew! I guess that when it rains, it pours :-)
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With all of this going on I haven't been able to take a look at the Stanford Super Series yet. From what I can gather the pitch is proving to be a rather difficult one, so if I'm up to it tonight I'll take a look and hopefully get my month back on track.
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Greyhound Racing : £2.36
Horse Racing : £2.56
Poker : £37.83
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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Just Ahead


Since Last Post P/L: £302.07
Monthly P/L: £231.70
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The experimenting has continued and it must be due to this and the fact that I've used Betdaq wherever possible, that I've managed to avoid the dreaded Betfair Premium tax. Over the last couple of weeks I've dipped my toes into practically everything with Test Match Cricket, Greyhound Racing and Poker all seeing some action but it was from following John's advice that I decided to give creating my own Bot a go by using BetBotPro.
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The early signs were good - for little effort I was making £30 to £40 a day but it wasn't long before a string of events shook me out of my comfort zone. I'd made some calculations and knew the probability of incurring lengthy losing streaks but even I didn't expect to lay 4 consecutive winners at average odds of 7.40 within the first few days of trialling a recovery staking system!
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It took quite a lot of stupidity for me to risk losing £800+ on the fifth selection - a dog running at Crayford! He made me sweat too as the bloody pooch led for 3 bends before eventually tailing off. William Hill Radio is a great service to catch commentary but I'm not sure if listening to the race helped on this occasion! I haven't given up on the idea of automating some of my betting but let's just say my enthusiasm has cooled for the time being :-)
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Here's a full round-up of my latest results:
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American Football : £22.58
Cricket: £134.99
Greyhound Racing : £137.55
Horse Racing : £77.45
Poker : £23.60
Rugby Union : £108.00
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The Stanford Super Series is the only serious stuff I intend to get involved with for the rest of the month and it'll be interesting to see if England choke under the pressure. Will the huge amount of money on offer make a difference? I have a feeling it will and if I'm right expect some very volatile in-play markets.
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Friday, 17 October 2008

Bet Angel For Betdaq


Excellent news - it's been released!
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A big pat on the back to the guys at Bet Angel for getting this software out in remarkable time considering the position they found themselves in at the beginning of last month. I've had a quick look and on the surface things are almost identical to the Betfair version, apart from the lack of market depth on the ladder interface and the refresh rates being slightly slower. For a first release though it looks very good and I'm sure over time added functionality will be made available. Even better news is that the download is completely free so all you non Bet Angel Professional users have the opportunity to see if this type of thing can help you turn a profit.
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I'm not sure how long this offer will last so make the most of it now by downloading it here.
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Good luck and I'll see you at the purple place.
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Thursday, 16 October 2008

Over The Moon


I haven't been as happy as I was yesterday for a very, very long time.
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The Doctors weren't keen on performing a cardiac catheter operation on Caden unless they really had to, so the decision was taken to try and get all the information they needed from a sedated chest echo scan. He's had these before during regular check-ups but they haven't been fully happy with the results so sending him off to sleep first seemed a good idea.
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And guess what? It worked! The pictures and measurements the Doctors were able to get look to have done the job and although the next big step is to go straight to the heart repair operation the fact he doesn't have to go under general anaesthetic twice is fantastic news due to the increased risk of his other condition.
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There's still a small chance that this plan could change when the results are passed over to the surgeons at Bristol's Children Hospital, but from the way the main man was talking yesterday the outlook looks good.
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You can imagine the sheer relief for Nic and I. We hadn't let ourselves get sucked up in the idea that he wouldn't have to have the operation just in case we were disappointed, but as soon as the penny dropped that we'd be going home you couldn't keep the smiles off our faces!
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I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone that left good will messages following my last post - it brings a lump to my throat that people care so much and just goes to show the goodness in human nature. You guys are the best!
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Many many thanks.
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Mark & Nic.
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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Quick Message


Thought I'd leave a short note to let those of you that read my blog regularly know that tomorrow sees my son (Caden) go into hospital for the first of his 2 heart operations. This isn't the full repair - just an exploratory mission to get a good feel for what lays ahead but I'm exceptionally anxious as he'll still need to go under general anesthetic and I don't think that mixes very well with his other condition (Long QT Syndrome).
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So I'm making my apologies now for the blog not being updated for a few days. Every bit of energy I have at the moment is concentrated on him getting better as soon as possible which I'm sure the majority of you will understand.
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All thoughts and prayers are extremely welcome and appreciated as we'd like as many people in our corner as possible.
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All the best as always,
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Mark
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Tuesday, 7 October 2008

In The Lab


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Since Last Post P/L: £70.37
Monthly P/L: £70.37

After all the recent events and with expected quiet periods around the corner, necessity has demanded that I start looking at additional ways of generating a profit. American Football & Horse Racing were likely candidates but my efforts so far have drawn a blank and it’s clear my strategies need to be reviewed. However, there is a glimmer of hope. Online poker is now so accessible that I’m beginning to think just maybe I can turnover a small consistent revenue stream from playing cash games.

This could be a silly idea but I’ve played the game on and off now for the last few years and I seem to be getting a little better. Maybe it’s time to make a serious effort and approach the game in the same way as my trading? With decisions needing to be made constantly I’m expecting my discipline to be severely tested but the early signs are promising and if I set aside a small starting bank then I won’t be risking the world if things go tits-up. A mate of mine recently appeared on the TV show 'How To Become A Poker Millionaire' and this got me thinking - now what did someone once tell me about big things being possible from small beginnings?

Here’s a list of my losses for the month so far :-) :

Poker : £12.24

Horse Racing : £3.55

American Football : £79.06

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Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Wind Of Change


Since Last Post P/L: £319.53
Monthly P/L: £867.85
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If you want to blog interactively, open this in another window.
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Unsettled Betfair customers will never have a better excuse to explore other options. The Premium Charge fiasco has rumbled on over the last week and now that the gate has been left open the question remains, "how many will walk through?" As many have said, the barriers preventing people from moving elsewhere are slowly coming down and I still can't believe that Betfair have remained silent on the issue. Heads seem firmly buried in the sand at Betfair Towers and short term thinking now seems to have clouded a once visionary company. With news circulating that Bet Angel are due to release API software for Betdaq within days, the time has come for us to join the exodus. Already websites are popping up to protest at the shoddy treatment and it should be of no surprise that the Betfair forum has gone into meltdown since the first debits were taken from qualifying accounts yesterday afternoon. The whole affair reminds me of what we often do in Wales when it comes to rugby - shoot ourselves in the foot.

So what have I been doing whilst this this has all been going on? Well, my strategy over recent days has been to do very little (apart from withdrawing another £2242 from my Betfair account) and to wait for the dust to settle. The incentive to trial systems on markets where I have little or no edge has gone, as the prospect of getting charged if I get 'lucky' doesn't appeal. However, fortunately for me, October and November are expected quiet months so I can afford to stand back and wait a while but once Betdaq becomes a real option, Betfair will become an expensive second option in my eyes. Bad feelings take a long time to dissolve.

Here's my final results for September:
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Cricket
Glamorgan v Worcestershire : £378.00
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American Football
San Francisco @ New Orleans : £3.52
Carolina @ Minnesota : £12.82
Arizona @ Washington : £21.46
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Golf
Ryder Cup 2008 - Winner : £7.71
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Horse Racing
Ascot : £20.00
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In case you haven't already read them, here are a few recent stories in the media regarding the ongoing situation:
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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Surely Not?


Following the highly controversial introduction of Betfair Arcade games, it was with an open mouth that I read the following post on the Betfair Forum this evening. Surely this can't be true!
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I am RG. I won on the Arcade without even realising that I was playing it for real. It is unbelievably easy to log-in to see what the fuss is about, select to play a Demo game and then navigate to a new game where you are playing for real. I honestly thought i was playing with imaginary money. I would never dream of playing in the Arcade with real money. Playing for a grand a spin I won about 14k and gave 9 back all in the space of 3 minutes. I am delighted that i got bored after that long.
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Obviously I have been very lucky and done well out of this but there are 2 points that are very worrying. Firstly and most importantly it should be far more difficult to "accidentally" play these games. Not being aware that you are playing may be a little stupid but if I could make that mistake then I am sure others could.
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Secondly is the nature of the games, I was able to turn over roughly 20k in 3 minutes. Even when I won it was ready to press the button to bet again in 5 seconds. These games are highly addictive and repetitive. In the past I would have expected more of Betfair but now I am not at all surprised. I have voiced my concerns to my account manager but don't expect anything to change. Betfair don't listen to their customers anymore because they honestly don't care although there are still a very many good people still working there.
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Elsewhere, it nice to see the Guardian are still covering the diabolical Betfair Premium Charge.
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Sunday, 21 September 2008

Out Of Sorts

Since Last Post P/L: £548.32
Monthly P/L: £548.32

With all this uncertainty surrounding the new Betfair Premium charge it should of no surprise to learn that my trading over the last few weeks has been erratic. Yep, I've made a profit but my actions have been undisciplined and my results far too inconsistent. It seems that whenever change occurs in my life the same pattern emerges as exactly the same thing happened when my son was born in March. Maybe it's not just Betfair that find managing change difficult after all?!?

As today signals the last day of Premium Charge freedom I should now be in a position of clarity but if I'm honest I still haven't figured out what my next actions are going to be. Of course, there are a list of options; increase my stakes, explore Betdaq, dabble with spread betting etc. but I'm keen not to rush in and get my fingers burned (act in haste and repent at leisure and all that).

I still feel victimised though so this hasn't stopped me from taking a few steps to show my disapproval:
  • I withdrew £2242 from my Betfair account earlier in the week. Not allowing Betfair to make a few pennies in interest has given me some satisfaction but I've left enough in there to act as a temporary float whilst I mull things over.
  • I've created a jpg image on the left hand side of my blog that illustrates I oppose the new Premium Charge. This may seem petty but I'm sure that Betfair think this issue will blow over so I'm keen to keep reminding people it exists. If you want a copy of the image to display on your own blog/website etc. then leave your email address in the comment section of this post and I'll send it over to you.
  • After receiving an invitation to attend the Betfair Academy programme I politely declined. Even though this is something that did interest me, how can I now promote a company that targets winners? The link to Betfair will remain on my link list but only to show the exchange still exists (please note - I don't get any type of commission from that link).
  • Created my own little Bollywood spoof movie about the charge. View it here. Just a little bit of light entertainment to accompany the many other spoof movies posted on the Betfair forum.

It's also interesting to learn that the people over at Bet Angel seem equally as disgruntled as me. This is the notice that currently appears when you log-in to use their software:

PREMIUM CHARGES - BET ANGEL CONFERENCE SESSION
We note that despite being lobbied by us and our customers, Betfair have not made any further statements about the new charges. Therefore we have to assume they will come into effect on Monday. If they make no further statements over the weekend we plan to initiate a web conference session with interested users on Monday evening 7PM UK time. During this session we will have an open discussion and lay out our thoughts and plans. The session will be hosted by Peter Webb. Please check back on Monday morning on this page for details of how to join the session.

I'll be joining the session to see what Peter and the team have to say but I'm not too hopeful. I'm guessing that it'll go along the lines that steps have been made to design alternative software but these things will take time etc. If this is the case then it looks as though the exodus to Betdaq may have to be put on hold for the time being.

So that's that, but as some of you may have noticed I haven't posted any results for September yet. I felt that talking about wins/losses was inappropriate given the circumstances so here's a small catch-up:

American Football: £48.94

Cricket: £251.24

Horse Racing: £17.41

Golf: £84.54

Motor Sport: £177.04

Rugby Union: £39.46

Special Bets: £62.39

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Monday, 15 September 2008

Big Questions


I could have written this post on Friday, but instead decided to wait a few more days to let the dust settle. I want this post to have some meaning so rushing in without fully thinking things through would have been wrong. Sleeping on my thoughts and letting the emotions die down a little seemed the sensible option.
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Okay, I think I'm ready...
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My initial reaction when Betfair announced the new premium charge was the same as many others that frequent the Betfair forum - utter disbelief! As a loyal customer since December 2001 I have championed the company's cause to anyone that would listen. This hasn't always been an easy task (especially to the non-gambling community) but despite this I've continued to enlighten those about the Betfair revolution as best I could. During this time I've also been happy to pay my way through commission charges. Afterall, Betfair have provided a fantastic service and without them there wouldn't have been the opportunity for people like me to 'trade' on sporting events. Granted, it's only within the last couple of years that these sums have become significant in value but even before this I was still making a regular contribution - a contribution that Betfair could rely on. This has left me baffled. Why would Betfair what to victimise their most loyal and supportive customers? What have I done to make them want to alienate me? Surely I'm a customer who (hopefully) inspires small time players that bigger things are possible and in turn this must benefit the exchange through more liquidity etc.? Shouldn't I be considered as a cost saving when it comes to marketing budgets?
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Apparently not, and despite my best efforts I can't answer any of these questions with a level of confidence in what the answers may be. If you look at the replies during their recent Q&A session you'll see explanations based on the cost incurred in attracting new users to the exchange etc. but is this my problem? Why am I being penalised for working harder than others and winning as a result? I'm not a Bot user and I don't syphon Betfair data - it just doesn't make sense! The business model adopted by Betfair over the last seven years has been hugely successful and whilst I appreciate investments have been needed to cope with the increase in business levels, surely the interest received on loyal clients' funds must have helped soften the blow? As a whole, the Q&A session they hosted was a complete joke which raised just as many questions as answers but don't take my word for it, judge for yourself by going the to the Forum Chat section of the Betfair Forum. If you haven't already done so, I'd also suggest you look at Betfair's last set of annual accounts. This isn't a company that's struggling, far from it - this is a company that's growing quickly. Now that it's hit a certain size it would seem that the initial ethos behind the original idea has been lost. Is it a coincidence that the Betfair Big Wigs have decided to launch these changes whilst Andrew 'Bert' Black is on a sabbatical?
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This leads me onto another point - change. As a rule of thumb not many people like it. Generally, people like routine and a feeling of stability, so introducing changes that would affect a gambler's 'income' was always going to be difficult. This bit I concede, but what I can't justify is the complete shambles Betfair have made in their attempt to communicate the concept. If any of you are familiar with the works of Kurt Lewin then you'll already know his thoughts on change needing to be a three step process - unfreeze, change, refreeze. The unfreeze stage here is crucial, as it tells the world about the 'need' and prepares those that will be affected. It helps break down defences and helps those involved see the bigger picture. Have Betfair missed this important part of the jigsaw? I think so. Emails and Q&A sessions will only work to a certain degree after the event, with confidence in the company already dented, how much damage will be irreversible?
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I haven't even touched on the complexities of the premum charge - I'll leave this to fellow blogger Cassini - but in short, this has become a PR disaster with Racing UK discussing the topic at length, the Daily Mail reporting of 'crisis meetings' and some 'sharp minds' using YouTube to illustrate their frustrations.
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I could go on but I won't. Hopefully you can see the points I'm trying to get across and even though this post was aimed at getting a reaction, most of all I want Betfair to listen. It's not too late, there must be a better way.
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Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Comparison

Following recent developments, I requested a Premium Charge report from Betfair to show what charges I would have incurred under the new scheme during the the last 60 weeks. Below are the horrific results!
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Number of Markets : 438

Over the last 60 weeks I have already paid:

Commission : £1,069.51

Under the new charges I would have paid:

Commission: £636.17
Premium Charge : £2,336.82

Total Charges : £2,972.99

Difference : £1903.48
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An unbelievable increase!
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Let me make this clear - I'm not a bot user and I don't incur data charges. My only crime is that I'm a winner from backing high and laying low. I'm using the exchange in the way it was designed (to replicate the financial markets) and yet I'm being victimised because I'm successful at it!
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No matter what Betfair say - I don't feel welcome.
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