Friday, 27 January 2012

Seeing Double

Tonight sees the final of Celebrity Big Brother, with Frankie Cocozza of X Factor fame currently heading the market as a 2.24 favourite.  In fairness, he seems to have shown a softer side in recent episodes by sticking up for Denise Welch but my interest here centres around Karissa and Kristina the Playboy Mansion twins.
Whooa..slow down!  Of course they're nice to look at, but I'm referring more to their chances of winning.  Since Channel 5 took over production of the show last year, something seems to have changed within the voting dynamics and at 12.5 their price seems high.  Yes, they're pompous and  'slightly' arrogant but Aaron went on to win the 'Joe Public' equivalent after displaying similar traits and even got booed on his exit from the house.  With viewing figures smaller than in previous years, does it take 'less' to get enough votes to win?  Call me a cynic but if I was their management and I wanted them to break into the UK market, I'd be doing all I could to make sure they weren't first out tonight.
So this morning I've shifted all of my 'green' onto them and....Michael Madsen.  At a price of 15's on Betfair this is another runner that seems priced too high.  He has an aura about him that shouts louder than the rest and if nostalgia plays any part in the final standings then I'm sure many 'Reservoir Dogs' fans will be picking up the phone to support him.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Time Please

Last week was a little more stressful than I'd have liked as Nic was admitted to hospital with a Kidney infection.  Three days later and after plenty of chasing around looking after the kids, I was given the nod that she was well enough to come home.  She's completely on the mend now but this did get me thinking about 'time' and how we go about spending it.
Have you ever thought about how long you spend doing things that you don't want to be doing?  Or alternatively, how much you actually spend doing the things you want?  In my 'old job' I'd spend 11 hours a day doing an activity that I no longer enjoyed and one that was rarely recognised - the daily routine was something like this...
6.15am - Wake up and get ready
7.15am - Leave for work
8.15am - Arrive at work
12.00pm - Lunch
1.00pm - Finish lunch
5.30pm - Finish work
6.15pm - Get home
Sound familiar?  Day in day out a lot of us choose to follow the same routine.  That's great if you enjoy what you do, but what if you don't? 11 hours a day, 55 hours a week, 2860 hours a year?  Okay, knock off a few for annual holiday entitlement but that's a large chunk of your life spent doing something you don't want to do.
Now I'm not saying, "follow me and become a sports gambler" but I am saying that it's good to think if there are other options if you're consistently feeling unfulfilled.  As Steve Jobs the late Apple CEO said in one of his most famous addresses, "You've got to find what you love.  Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.  Don't settle."
In my opinion, there's some very wise words being spoken there and to ensure that I'm managing my time effectively I've decided to track my working hours this year.  Every minute I spend gambling or researching I'm going to record to ensure I'm getting rewarded for the effort I'm putting in.
To give you an example, here's how January has panned out so far with regards to hours I've worked (click to enlarge):
So far, on average, I'm putting in just over 37 hours a week but the most striking thing for me is that I rarely have a 'day off'.  If Nic hadn't been in hospital would I have done nothing on the 16th and 17th?  I doubt it, as my mind gets restless very quickly and I'd have been itching to research new approaches, so with busier months to come it'll be interesting to keep an eye on things to make sure my life remains balanced.
On another note, I'm also half way through the book 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' by Robert Kiyosaki.  It's not to everyone's taste but if you've ever wondered how the Rich get rich and stay that way then it may inspire you to try and follow.  I'm already scratching my head wondering how I can adopt some of the lessons into my lifestyle.

Friday, 6 January 2012

One Year On (Part 3/3)

With the analysis on what went right and wrong in 2011 completed, I now have to set out a plan on how I can make more in 2012.

There seems to be 2 distinct options; improve my profitability on losing sports and maybe stretch into other fields, or concentrate on markets where my edge is clear and improve the expected return on each of those events.

I’ve tossed and turned over this, but despite being a little concerned that putting my eggs in one basket may not be a wise move, I’ve come to feel that my best chance of getting to the next level is to target my established markets.  The last 12 months have provided a great sounding board but now it’s time to get serious and up the ante.  Now that I have a very good idea of where my strengths lie it would be bizarre for me not to spend as much time as possible on maximising the returns they bring.  Diluting my attention to unknown or poor markets would seem a waste but I’m fully aware the challenge won’t be an easy one. Yes, my profits have increased by 70% this year but the year before I was only a part-time trader so it’s not a direct comparison.  To hit the same heights again I’m going to have to become much more aggressive but at the same time refrain from being stupid – a tricky balancing act which has caught me out before.

So where will I concentrate my forces?  Well, with cricket providing 82% of my profits I think it should be there!  However, the number of matches available to bet on is likely to remain in the 250-270 bracket so I can no longer rely on quantity over quality – I have to focus on improving the expected return on each match.   Is this possible – can I grow?  Yes, I think I can.  I was aware of being overly cautious at times last year and although I’ll continue to manage my risk closely, I’ll be conscious of the fact that I need to push the boundaries.  The worst thing for me to do would be to trundle to the super premium charge threshold of £250k and end up scratching my head thinking what to do next.

As Vinny Jones says, it pays to go, “Hard & Fast.”


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

One Year On (Part 2/3)

Part 1 of my 2011 review looked at the overall picture, but what sports made up my profits and has there been a shift since 2010?  Are there changes I need to make and do I need to focus on some sports more than others?

First, the winners…

Cricket (UP 112%)
Since 2007, cricket has been my cash cow and a stable source of income but 2011 was an even busier year, with me trading 271 matches!  This is up from 182 in 2010, so it’s no wonder that this sport has brought me better results, but the encouraging thing is that I’ve also become more efficient – each match was worth 44% more to me than the year before.  There’s no Cricket World Cup in 2012 but we do have the T20 equivalent later in the year so I expect a similar amount of activity over the next 12 months.

Rugby Union (UP 100%)
Another big winner which I can put down to 2 things – again, being more effective but also the Rugby World Cup.  This tournament allowed me to get involved regularly with decent volumes so it’s a shame that it won’t come along for another 4 years.   A small worry regarding rugby is that I’ve noticed that liquidity in domestic matches has been decreasing in-play.  I don’t know that for a fact, but that’s what it feels like.   The only explanation I can find for this is that the previous market makers have been put off since the new premium  charge rules were introduced in the summer.

NFL (UP 47%)
This is a pleasing one as I did put a lot of effort into getting to know this sport better before the start of the season.  With the same amount of matches each year it’s an easy one to compare, so I’m hoping that I can go onto bigger and better things year on year.

So, there’s the good news but unfortunately we do have a couple of losers…

Darts (DOWN 83%)
Ouch!  This hurt.  I still turned a profit over the year but unfortunately it appears that my edge here has been eroded.  Why?  Well, it’s quite simple – my edge was all based around putting up unmatched orders in play at prices I knew to be bad value.  Due to the volatility and speed of the sport a lot of these bets got taken and tadaaaaa…the profits mount up.  So what’s changed?  Some of you may have noticed that there are now fast picture players dominating these markets .  With darts if you’re 2 seconds behind someone else then it’s the equivalent of being a dart behind.  The orders I’m putting up are therefore out of date and I’ve been getting picked off.   After accepting the truth I decided to hang up my darting mouse during the PDC World Championships and felt sick as I watched the drama unfold.  It was just like finding out that your ex-girlfriend dumped you for someone else.

Betfair Premium Charges (UP 91%)
Despite my best efforts, I was unable to transfer a lot of my business to Betdaq, so have continued to use Betfair as my exchange of choice.  It bugs me,  but like a cornered mouse I have nowhere to go, but I’ll continue to look for a hole in the floorboard.

And the rest?  Well throughout the year I’ve also dabbled with the horse racing and soccer markets but without sufficient time to devote to them it’s been a futile exercise.  To try and plug this hole in my portfolio I  decided at the end of November to start following Cassini’s XX Draw selections.  It looks like I picked a bad time as Cassini won’t thank me for reminding him that we’re on a bad run – just 1 draw in the last 18 selections.  The problem is I can’t stop now as I just know things will turn around,  so I’m committed until the end of the season.  I have faith!

So there you have it – the good, the bad and the ugly.   Now, what next?  What’s the plan for 2012?  For that you’ll have to wait for my third and final post.


Monday, 2 January 2012

One Year On (Part 1/3)

The close of 2011 signals the end of my first year as a full time sports gambler.  Where has the time gone?  It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting down with my old employers for my leaving meal.  Time really does seem to have flown.

I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I'd only know if the move had been worth it after 12 months, so now that the numbers are in, have I wasted a year and if so what does the future hold?

Lets start with the bottom line.  In 2011 I made 70.28% more than in 2010.  Of course, betting has now become my sole focus but at least the extra time researching and analysing has paid off.  Don't get me wrong, I'm no millionaire, but considering my aim was to just survive and not make a fool of myself, I think I've done okay.

If you breakdown my performance into quarters this is how it compares to the previous year (click to enlarge):
You'll notice that the main difference was in the last half of the year where it normally gets quieter regarding the number of events I look at.  The Rugby World Cup in October helped but the main improvement was allowing myself more space when there were less contests to get involved with.  In the past I would panic that "I had to make money" so would often lack the patience needed and rush in. That wasn't the case this year and the outcome seems to back-up that I adopted the right approach.

When it comes to which sports have generated my profits there have been winners and losers, but I'll go into that in a little more detail in my next post.