Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A Day in the Life

Haven't posted all week so thought I'd pick an interesting day to tell you about in full detail. It's one of the busiest weeks of the calendar with 5 tournaments on, so should be plenty of variety to get stuck into and give an insight into a fairly typical day on the ladders.


Got up and started to prepare for the day's work. Always begins with a good breakfast with some whole grain fibre for the mind and a cup of ginseng tea as a healthier (and much more successful) energy boost than caffeine.


Games don't start till 11am today, which gives me time to go out for a walk. I like to do this most days, as it not only gets me some fresh air and exercise to help loosen me up for trading but on busy days like today, it can often be the only chance I get to enjoy the beautiful weather.


Start preparing myself for trading. This sometimes involves a self-hypnosis session which can last anywhere between 15 mins and an hour but I decide I don't require one today. I usually have one when I'm not feeling so good, maybe a little tired or de-motivated or even anxious. Today however, I feel good and so get straight to deciding on my goals for the day. As always, they are never monetary. I always set myself something to achieve each day and this is usually based on my performance over recent days. I had noted that over the past few days, I had begun to jump into games too quickly. I'd also started to get a little pent up with frustration and had boiled over a few times. These were old traits coming back to haunt me and I wanted to work on nipping them in the bud today. So my goal was to do nothing at all during the first 2 games of every match I was watching, just to get me used to being more patient. I also wanted to try re-setting my emotional state before each match i.e. getting rid of any negative feelings and being totally neutral, not carrying over any baggage. I also wanted to make sure I was still continually talking through each game, which is something I'd also neglected recently.

Last but by no mean least, I get a glass of water and a banana at the ready for sustenance and hydration!


Lots to choose from kicking-off at 11 but decided I'd go with Baghdatis v Dimitrov first. No particular reason other than it was on Bet365 and I was a bit fed up with watching WTA this week. There have been a lot of awful matches, at least, most of the ones I've been involved with have been! I normally choose WTA over ATP but was interested in seeing this young Bulgarian again. Many of his shots are scarily similar to Roger Federer's, especially the drop-shot and the back-hand, which are identical. He even dressed like the great man today! But it was Baghdatis who started better, getting the only break of the first set. I missed the huge market movement and so there wasn't much I could do except lay Baggy and hope for a break-back. He was too low for my liking considering how poor his form has been. I remember at the start of the year, everyone fancied the new slim-line Baggy to make waves but he seems to have gone backwards. Maybe he should bring back the gut? He certainly lived up to that promise at the start of this match though and I couldn't see any way that Dimitrov would pull this one back. His return game was atrocious and Baghdatis was playing his very best tennis. I decided to cut my losses and red-out.


Move onto the WTA Barcelona, where Alex Dulgheru played local Spaniard Cabeza-Candella. Thought Alex was a bit short but I don't place any bets pre-match. Would've collected if I had done, as the local girl zoomed into an early break. I waited for Dulgheru to show signs of life and then got on her but she failed to carry the momentum for long. For some reason, she looked terrific on serve, being aggressive and winning points easily but as soon as she was receiving she'd go overly-cautious, moon-balling and dropping the ball in short and centre-court, which was easy for Cabeza to mop up. I had to work to keep my frustration in check, as she threw away break-points. These games can be a nightmare to trade, where break-points are easily made but then just as easily thrown away with some ludicrous play. I'd been having this problem all week with the WTA, so I got out and moved on, as I didn't trust either of them.


Over to Munich for a game I was really looking forward to watching - Youhzny v Petschner. Two flamboyant, technically brilliant players but capable of moments of complete madness. I like trading on them though as they are easy to read - when they are off, they go completely, ridiculously off but when they are on it, you sure know about it! Petschner was on fire for the first set, so was a no-brainer to go with him at the right point. He broke Youhzny and then held serve. I didn't trust him to continue in that vein though. Some of his play was extraordinary but he did indeed get broken on his next service game. Thankfully, I was out already.


Had a dabble on the Serbian Open, where Berrer faced Montanes. Michael Berrer is one of my fave players to back on serve, as when he is on form, he rarely ever gets broken. Once he'd broken Montanes, I was on the German for a pretty straight-forward trade. Was keeping an eye on the scoreboard showing the Estoril WTA, as there were several matches on at once but none of them took my fancy. Noticed that Baghdatis had somehow dropped set 2 (throwing away match point) and decided to get the stream back up. He was now clearly flagging, whilst Dimitrov was Federer-esque, a complete turn-around from set 1. It was an easy decision to get on Dimitrov and I managed to clear all my red. I only wish I'd stayed in for the whole set for a big win but didn't want to risk going back into the red, especially with the big swings that are prevalent in the final set - I very rarely trade it. Bit gutted I didn't stick with my initial lay of Baggy earlier in the day but I went with my gut at the time. Baghdatis had 3 break points to go a set and a break up and squandered them all. He was not the same after that but I'd already gotten out, thinking he was bound to convert one. He still had match point later on though, so if I'd stayed in, I was only one point away from losing my whole liability anyway. You can't predict these things and have to stick with your plan and play it safe. It's swings and roundabouts with these things and I don't let it affect me these days.


Had my eye on Radwanska v Larsson in Estoril, as I felt there'd be fluctuations aplenty. Nothing solid quite materialised though and without a stream, I wasn't confident in getting involved. Felt myself getting irritable after a slow start to the day and knew it was time for a lunch break.

During my break I keep a record of all my trades on paper as I go along. I always record what I actually made and what I SHOULD have made if I'd followed my strategy properly. This aids me to keep track of where I'm going wrong, so I can rectify it in future. It also spurs me on, as usually, if I have made a mistake, I can see what should have happened, which usually would have been profit. So I not only focus on the negative but also the positives.

I also do my stretch routines for my body and eyes, which really make a huge difference to my overall comfort levels. If I get time, I try to get any chores out the way and go for a run or lift some weights. In the past I've not taken proper breaks and it has affected my trading, so I always make sure I eat, exercise and clear the mind properly these days.


Back to Belgrade and the return of Fernando Gonzalez continues. He did remarkably well yesterday considering how long he's been out but I didn't expect him to prove much trouble for Feliciano Lopez, who has been playing well of late. I was wrong though and he put up a strong opposition in a serve dominated match. Was more like a hard-court game than clay and so was difficult for me to trade. I backed both on serve a couple of times and was successful. But I got greedy in this game and kept a back bet up on Lopez into set 2, something I don't normally do. He didn't forge ahead as I'd hoped and Gonzo looked dangerous so got out for minor losses. This game summed up why I don't normally choose ATP over WTA. Hardly any breaks and quite one-dimensional for the most part. Rewards for backing on serve were very small too.


Back to the ladies and the lovely Gisela Dulko v Lucie 'The Monster' Hradecka. Her nickname was inspired by one of the best quotes I've ever seen on the Betfair forum (which I now never frequent and don't miss one bit!), where someone wrote: 'Hradecka looks like a monster - let's hope she plays like one too'. It tickled me for some reason! Today, she did play like a monster. After 2 games of her usual horrible double-faulting and massive over-hitting, she got her serve together and I always fancied her to break back against the weakling that is the luscious Gisela. I just love watching the Argentine because she's one of the most graceful, feminine players on the tour, with her huge, languid back-swings, loopy forehands and placid demeanour. Job-done in fairly quick-time - cheers monster!


Noticed that Youhzny v Petschner had been rain-delayed and so brought the stream back for a peek. The German was back to playing like he was a genius again and I could sense that he was safe to back on serve following a break. Topped up my green from earlier with little fuss. Again, could have carried him to the set but those 3rd set swings can eat you alive if you make just one error!

Tsonga v Cuevas in Estoril looked a mouth-watering proposition. Cuevas has been brilliant all year on the slower surfaces and today was no exception. Tsonga just wasn't at the races and does struggle with his movement and serve-domination on the red-dirt. In form Cuevas v out of sorts Tsonga on clay = easy money. I could've carried this one on for longer into set 2, such was the Uruguayan's dominance but after doing just that with Lopez earlier and losing my profit, I decided to wrap things up on a good note.

I much prefer to get out as early as possible and move on to another game, rather that stay in and build up more profit. This works two ways. Firstly, I won't be frustrated at losing that green, which could potentially see me start chasing. Worse still, you can end up losing AND missing out on other games that were on but have now finished. Secondly, it gives me the variety I need with my trading. Sticking with one game for hours bores me. I'd much rather re-charge my batteries, have a quick break and move onto a new, fresh challenge. The more games I watch, the more info I have on players and this can make me money on future matches. I'm not one for researching stats as I find that once a game gets underway, they can often just go out the window anyway. I only care about current form - who they have been playing and HOW they've been playing. Stats don't always tell you that. So watching games is 90% of my research.


Had a watch of Razzano v Rybarikova but my dinner needed attending to just as it was getting underway. Besides, it had that commentator I hate on it, the one who is clearly dyslexic and can't get the letters in order or pronounce correctly anyone's name. I have to mute when he's on as he truly pisses me off. Time to end the day's trading and prepare for El Classico Champions league Semi Final - no betting of course!! Not before going over my goals though. I felt I achieved them all today. At times I was frustrated by the WTA muggery on the clay but I'm getting used to it now! Just need to be more picky with my entry points and more patient, which I was today. My only disappointment was perhaps being a little too cautious at some points, where I could've stayed in for a game or two more. But it's easy to say that in hind-sight. A goal I'd set myself for this week was to concentrate on containing losses rather than gaining profit, so I certainly achieved that today. Overall, a good day and I'm now considering upping my stakes a little. Am I ready for that added pressure? Something to ponder tonight...........

Friday, 22 April 2011

Tennis Strategy

If there is one thing that traders will argue over for all eternity, it's strategies. We all have different ideas and opinions of what will work and what won't. I think when it comes to strategy, you should never knock any particular idea. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong strategy, you have to choose one which works best for you. That means one which suits your personality as well as one you can make profit from. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find something that you are comfortable using. It's no use just copying what someone else has given you if you don't enjoy implementing it. Why? Because in the long run, you will always be looking for something better, easier, more profitable or less stressful. If you are doing that, it means you are not confident in what you are doing and if you don't have confidence in your strategy, as soon as you hit a rough patch, you are in big trouble. You'll start to question the system, you'll be less decisive and you'll implement it incorrectly. The easy thing to do when you hit a bad spell is to blame the strategy. The truth, in my experience, is that the strategy is rarely to blame - it's YOU, the person using the strategy, that is usually the problem.

In tennis, there really aren't that many basic strategies to pick from. It's not like football, where there are loads of different markets to trade on. In tennis, we are nearly all trading on Match Odds and there are only a limited number of things we can do. There is no real secrecy anymore about what you can do to make money. There isn't any hidden golden-egg laying goose, where you just turn up and repeat the same thing over and over on auto-pilot. At the end of the day, you need to find an edge and that edge is YOU. It's how you implement those basic strategies that determines your success; your mindset, your professionalism, you discipline, your risk management, your knowledge of the game and the market.

When people get into discussions about the best strategies, I often hear the line 'It can't work'. In my opinion, if you have all that I've mentioned above (discipline, mindset etc), there is absolutely no reason why almost any strategy can’t work. But often, a person who has failed to make a strategy work, usually because they lack those qualities, will then claim that it's not a good strategy. If you don’t have what it takes to make something work, it doesn’t mean that someone else won’t be able to. We all have to experiment and find what’s best for us and not worry about what everyone else is doing. It's easy to give up on a strategy because we aren't seeing instant results and it's easy to blame the strategy rather than look at our own inadequacies and try to change. God-knows I've done that myself on many occassions! The truth is that trading is tough. Like anything that has potentially big financial rewards, those who succeed are the ones who are prepared to work the hardest. That is unlikely to include anyone who continually moves from one strategy to another, giving up quickly and moaning that it doesn't work.

I have said on here before that my strategy will definitely be profitable in the right hands. Unfortunately, for most of the time I've used it, it has been in the wrong hands! But I stuck at it, persevered through the tough times and changed what I needed to to make it work. Many times I've attempted new strategies but I eventually realised that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Just a month ago, I was ready to completely switch to another strategy and ditch the old one. When I did, the results suddenly dried up and I realised that it wasn't the answer I was looking for. It didn't suit my personality either, I found it far more stressful when using real money than when I successfully paper-traded it. So I realised that I needed to change myself, introduced lower stakes and bank management and went back to the old one. I felt far more comfortable and realised that the system DID suit me after-all, I just needed to tweak a few things.

I prefer a strategy where I can play a lot of games and get lots of small to medium greens, rather than taking lots of small losses waiting for the occassional big win. I personally find it far more stressful waiting around for ages for a match to turn in my favour. Certainly as a full-timer, the pressure of waiting around doing nothing, waiting for that one big win in 3 or 4 or 5 games, is intense. I've tried it and wouldn't want to go through that every day in order to pay the bills. What happens if you miss that one big win after a load of losses? I deliberately worked on my strategy with going full-time always in my mind. I wanted to have something that I knew would allow me to get involved in as many games as possible and would give me a regular build up of greens, in order to help me not only from a financial stand-point but from a pyschological one. With that in mind, I decided to learn about all the basic strategies, so that I could implement whichever one was appropriate at the time.

There is always much discussion about risk-reward, stake sizes, liability size etc. The potential risk compared to the reward, can be quite large for some strategies. I found that a big issue mentally for a long time and didn't think I'd ever get my head around it. The key word though, is 'potential' risk. Your liability is only ever as big as you make it. You ALWAYS have the option to red up at any point and limit losses. It's not the system that is risky, it is your implementation of it that can put yourself in risky positions. I would say it's imperative that you pick a strategy which matches your personality. You may be someone who is very cautious and wants to expose as little of their bank as possible. You might be happy exposing large chunks of your bank because you are comfortable with using your red-out points. You might find the stress of that too much and just want to lay at less risky exposure. But then you might find that you have to accept more losses and have to wait for big wins, which can also be stressful. Maybe you prefer to be in the market for short periods or maybe you are more comfortable holding on to long term positions. Whatever it is you do though, I would advise just one thing; find something you are comfortable with and stick with it - look at yourself, don't blame the system!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

End of the Rollercoaster Ride

Something has clicked within me this week. It's as if everything suddenly came together all at once and I completely finally grasped exactly how to trade. When I start each day now, there are no real question marks or worries at the back of my mind. I know exactly what I'm going to do in any given situation. I am not paper-trading any new system in the hope it will produce better results. I'm not looking at what anyone else is doing. I'm not worried about making a mistake or having an off day. I don't panic when the market turns on me and I don't sit there like a deer in the headlights. I don't even consider chasing back a loss at any point, no matter how large it is. There is a strange, zen-like quality about my whole approach to trading these days. It all sounds a bit profound! But seriously, something has altered within me, something I can't quite put my finger on.

I guess it's just a new-found self-belief that has come about because I'm finally comfortable with what I'm doing. I look at the ladders each day and watch the never-ending sea of money floating around and I say to myself 'some of that is going to be mine today!'. I truly believe that and I haven't been wrong yet! It doesn't scare me anymore, the fact that I might miss out on some of it or see my own notes get swallowed up within it. Even when I've had good periods in the past (though they never lasted longer than a week), I didn't feel like this. I would usually either get over-excited and over-confident, rush ahead of myself, start day-dreaming about riches or I would start to get anxious and nervy, waiting for that 'tipping point' where the cards would collapse. Not any more. There is a calmness and patience about my trading that I've never experienced before. I feel as if there is nothing about the trading world that can phase me now. Whatever the day throws up, however bad it might get, I know that I am equipped to deal with it. I guess that's the biggest difference - I TRUST MYSELF. I've never been able to honestly say that before. I would really be interested to hear from any traders who have also experienced this feeling. I remember reading a blog entry by a trader months ago, where he wrote 'When I am trading, if you were watching me, you wouldn't know if I was winning or losing at any time.' I have always aspired to be that cool and confident and neutral when trading. I don't think I'll ever be quite that robotic, as I'm a passionate person who struggles to hide emotions. You'd certainly be able to tell whether I was winning or losing but the gap between the two has shortened considerably in recent weeks.

I know it's only been 3 weeks since I started producing consistent results. I'm not saying I'm 100% there as a successful, consistent trader. But I truly believe that the emotional rollercoaster is over. My trading this week has done much to prove this. I started shakily. The transition from the American clay (which is apparently crushed bath-salts!) to the softer European clay, was noticeably different. I'm sure that's why someone like Ryan Sweeting could win a tournament on US 'clay'. I doubt you'd see him getting far in a tournament like Casablanca alongside proper clay-courters like Starace and Andujar. There are far more breaks of serve, longer rallies and less aces, as seen in Monte Carlo this week. It took me a day or two to adjust my strategy and it cost me at first. But once I'd done so, I was producing my best ever week of trading on ATP - I have hardly missed the ladies at all! I could have easily been thrown off by the difference from the harder courts but the bad start didn't phase me and I got better and more confident as the week went on. I honestly think that I will never again dip into a nasty slump. I'm enjoying tennis trading once more and I'm looking forward to continually improving my consistency. Whether I will make enough to one day visit the Monte Carlo Country Club for the week - that's another matter entirely!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Signing Off

Today marks my final day of daily blogging. When I lowered my stakes and introduced bank management, my goal was to double my bank in one month - I have now achieved that in just 2 weeks. I'm hitting an average of around 50% ROI during that time, which has never been that high before. I'm now back to feeling almost 100%. I'm healthier, the anxiety is gone, I'm sleeping well, I have my focus and energy back and I look less like I've just spent the last month shut indoors smoking weed! I feel as though I now have the consistency that has always eluded me and the psychological demons are all but banished. So I really am running out of things to write about. It was all a lot easier when I was a complete head-fuck and my trading was a disaster! But now, I don't feel as though there is anything of great interest that I can add. I will either continue this consistency, which will be rather boring to read AND for me to write, or I will slide back into the Gambler's Cycle, which will only be more of what I've written in the past. I didn't start the blog to brag about my profit, I did it for my own enjoyment and also to have a record of where I was going wrong. I don't see the point continuing to post endless P&Ls now that I've achieved most of my goals.

I've gone through the full Gambler's Cycle, the whole gamut of emotions and every conceivable position that a trader could ever find themselves in, during this blog. I never intended it to be quite so dramatic but I hope that's made it an interesting read! I've always tried to be honest and have almost always posted up my losses (give or take a couple of days where they were just too bad to face!). But I always mentioned those losses, even if the P&L was missing and I've never missed out a single day. You could read the blog over from start to finish now and learn all about what it's like to be a trader and the mental aspect involved. So there isn't a lot more I could add, nor is there anything now that I feel I still need to learn from.

I now know what strategies I'm comfortable with. I'm primarily a momentum trader but I will also occasionally use scalping, swing trading and backing on serve. It's the same strategy I've used for many months but the difference now is that I'm confident with it. That's mostly thanks to a solid bank and risk management - the final piece of the jigsaw. But along the way in this blogging journey, I've also picked up fantastic techniques for a stronger trading mindset. I no longer get brutally angry and frustrated, I don't chase losses and I always try to approach trading each day in a positive mindset and with a clean slate and fresh goals. Sure, I still make mistakes and I still have mentally off days but I know how to handle them much better now. I'm a calmer, more patient person and I understand fully now what is required to trade professionally. Don't get me wrong, the demons are still there, fighting hard to get out but I am now more capable of spiking them back with a pitch-fork! The road is still going to be long and arduous though. I cannot afford to let things slip, get over-confident or lax at any point from now on. That was what got me into deep trouble in the first place! Maybe I won't become as successful as I would like but I know one thing for sure, I will definitely not be losing money.

If there is any final piece of advice I can give (not that I'm an expert but I certainly have experience) to aspiring traders, this is it. Treat your trading as a business - be professional. If you want to be successful, you've got to put the hours in and you've got to be prepared to lose a lot of money before you get good at it - look at it as 'training expenses'. If you want to go full time, never underestimate the difference from doing it part-time or as a hobby - it's a totally different ball game. The pressure is a thousand times more intense and you cannot really prepare yourself for that when you are part-time. Most importantly though, do not forget about the psychological aspect. It doesn't matter how good your strategy or knowledge of the markets or tennis is. If you don't have the correct trader's mindset, you will fail - 100% guaranteed. Don't neglect your mind! It needs to be worked on even more than that killer strategy you are looking for. Whatever edge you can find to make you better, you need to grab it. If you really want it, you shouldn't give up. The rewards are there for those who put the work in - nothing good ever came easy.

If you haven't already done so, why not read back through my whole blog? You might pick up some decent tips as to what NOT to do, if nothing else! I may post once or twice a week if I get the inclination or if anything interesting has happened with my trading but otherwise, this is it. Good luck to all you traders out there and thanks to everyone who has encouraged me and helped me out.

The Sultan

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Slowly Getting There

Right from the word go, today was a million times better than yesterday. I made a huge, concerted effort to start the day well and get my mindset 100% correct. I ate a good breakfast, did my stretch exercises for my eyes and body, had a short hypnotherapy session, took my ginseng and my fish oil and properly went through my daily goals. It worked a treat and I was on top form for the whole day. I still had issues with concentration and focus but I worked hard to over-come it today, unlike in recent days where I just couldn't seem to sum up the required energy. I kept well hydrated and active throughout the day and every trade I entered, I did so with correct procedure followed.

The only disappointment for me was the last two games, which ended as scratch trades but really both should have been +£15 wins. I got a little greedy and ended up losing my profit. It shows I still have some work to do to get back to the level which I expect of myself. Some of the old demons are still knocking around, fighting to get out! Fixating on the amount of money being won / lost, was a key one today. But I know that I have to keep grabbing at those small greens for now. I'm still only on small stakes and I have to keep reminding myself of that. Relatively speaking, these 'small' greens are actually quite a good size.

Tomorrow, I am setting myself a few different goals:

1. Try not to fixate on the money. I aim to do this by effectively snapping myself out of the thought process. As soon as I start to focus too much on the amount of green or red I have, I will literally click my fingers, which in doing so, should signify a switch in my thought process. I should be thinking about coming out at the right stage of the game, not determining exit points by how much profit I have.

2. Keep talking out-loud. I didn't do enough of this today. Sometimes I forget and just end up thinking through within my mind alone. But when I think out-loud, I plan ahead much better and it stops my mind wandering. It almost got me in trouble with the Kuznetsova game today. I lost focus during the game and when I returned to the screen, my entry point was glaring back at me! I didn't have time to think through the situation though and I over-staked in my rush to get a bet placed. It cost me because that was a game I should have profited from.

Overall, a great day and I feel as though I'm on my way towards my optimum performance levels - and it's been a long time since I can say that!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

All Good Things.......

Well, it was coming. I've been saying for days now that a big loss was imminent and today, it finally happened. I honestly don't know what I was thinking at the time. It was just one of those where I let the trade run and run and run; from green, to parity, to small red, to large red and eventually, I just gave up and let the whole bet run into oblivion. I felt fury that I hadn't experienced since the dark days of a few weeks ago. Miraculously though, I made the whole lot back with my next trade, though it was hardly a text-book moment and not something I will be repeating. Yet despite this second chance I was given to start over, I still continued to trade like a headless chicken, wrecklessly careering around the markets like it was Christmas Eve and I desperately had to splash the cash before it was too late. All 4 of my remaining trades took on far too much risk and as such, carried a huge weight of anxiety on my shoulders. They pretty much evened themselves out, as I had to cut two short and go red, whilst the other 2 went my way.

Overall, it was a horrible, stressful day's trading and I count myself lucky to come out with just a small loss. This ends my run of green days, which had gone into double figures but to be honest, I'm kind of glad. It was almost becoming a burden, as if I HAD to continue winning to keep it going as long as possible. This is never a good idea, as for me, daily monetary goals are only a hinderance. I aim to trade as though there are no days, that way, it doesn't matter how much you make within any particular 24 hours, it only matters that you are consistent in the long run, over a period of several weeks. This puts less pressure to find wins on each individual day. But I was starting to think about making sure I was in the green, even if by just a few pennies, to keep the run going. Ridiculous. I even entered the Wickmayer v Zheng game with the sole intention of trying to get £17 just so I would end the day in profit. But it's over now and hopefully, so is this slack, unfocused period I'm going through.

There is some positivity to come out of the day. Firstly, the loss was only small. Secondly, I finally had a run and feel much more refreshed. Thirdly, my Omega 3 Oil has arrived! So now there can be no more excuses. The oil shold kick-in in a few days and my concentration and focus should improve. Tomorrow, I will be making sure I never let another day like today happen. I have to admit that I did not fully go through the list of preparatory things that I'd made in yesterday's post. That will change. I need to start afresh and use today as a warning as to what can happen if you don't approach trading professionally.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Not 100%

Another profitable day but another day where I still wasn't trading at my best. I think it started so badly because those numbskulls at Betfair had the first game of the day down as 11.15am. So imagine my surprise when I logged on expecting the Dulgheru v Pivovarova game to kick the day off and a set had already been played in the Begu v Koryttseva game. I was pissed off and as such, got involved as quickly as I could to make up for the lost hour. This was foolish and cost me, as I staked incorrectly in my rush. This put me in a really foul mood and that feeling that a huge mistake was just around the corner, came to prominence. It very nearly happened in the Dulgheru game, where I took a price that was too low and clung on for dear life. I got away with it but this made me extra cautious during the Pous-Tio v Hercog match and I ended up red when I should have been green. I got my equilibrium back later but disaster almost struck in the Mirza v Riske game, as I missed my exit point. It didn't turn out too badly in the end but all-in-all, today's trading did not sit right with me. There were too many little mistakes and I was fortunate none of them turned into big mistakes.

I just can't seem to get my focus right. Even though the results are fantastic, I am a perfectionist and I know that I should be doing better. I can only put it down to a mixture of things. I've not been exercising much of late. I'm still awaiting delivery of my magic Omega Fish Oil. My eyes have been really irritable lately too. And I've not been keeping hydrated whilst working. In fact, I've generally gone a bit lax on the whole pre-trade preparation routine. I tried to kick-start it today and be more thorough and professional but it all went down the pan after that horrible start to the day. Tomorrow, I need to start setting firm goals again because the way things are going, I am going to suffer a big loss sooner rather than later. My goals for tomorrow are as follows:

1. Prepare properly beforehand. Have a glass of water at the ready. Do a short hypnotherapy session too.

2. Get out for a run at some point.

3. Go back to talking through the matches and trades. It always focuses me more.

4. FOLLOW THE STRATEGY 100%. Get back to basics, don't force things.

5. Keep ears open for the postman - that fish oil is on its way!

Hopefully I'll feel more myself tomorrow. Profit isn't everything when it comes to trading. At the end of the day, you have to be able to look honestly at your results and know that you did the right things at the right times, even if that meant doing something you didn't want to do. Tonight, I can't say I did that.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Football v Tennis

As you can see, I had a little dabble in the football markets this weekend. I shouldn't have done this really. I only had one tennis match to play and although I profited, I threw away most of the green I had. As Mother's Day commitments meant missing the men's final, my thoughts turned to football.

I gambled / traded the football for about 3 years before I switched to tennis. Football was always my number one sport and I've been a keen Nottingham Forest fan all my life. After years of failure with soccer, I became jaded with the entire game. I had watched so many matches that it became a chore for me to trade. The early enthusiasm I had for learning about different leagues and clubs across the world, was disappearing fast. This was partly because I was losing a lot of money! But also, I just got fed up with all the constant cliches that managers and players would come out with, the never-ending stream of boring sound-bites and the same ridiculous arguments that cropped up every few months but never got sorted.

For example, the use of technology. How on earth is football still the only sport that refuses to use it?! Then there's the constant over-analysis of everything, particularly referee's decisions. The moaning and berating of officials is beyond a joke. These people who always blame the ref for everything should be made to take charge of a game, then they will see how tough it is to make split second decisions without the aid of TV replays. Worst of all though, is the way the players have become so far removed from how they used to be. They are living on another planet from us average guys now, in their own little bubbles. They have such an inflated opinion of their own importance these days, it sickens me.

But it's the on-field stuff that makes watching a football match unbearable for me. Seeing the cheating and gamesmanship that goes on; leaving the leg trailing so it looks like they've been fouled, back-spinning the ball forward 5 metres from where the free-kick should be taken, standing in front of the free-kick taker so he can't take it quickly, waving imaginary yellow cards, making a diving motion at a player who they've just kicked to the ground, holding onto the ball after a goal has just been scored to stop the team gaining a massive 10 extra seconds to score again, blatantly obstructing a player by 'shielding' the ball out for a goal-kick, the general negativity and cynicism around the game with the 'park the bus' mentality (summed up by the Dutch, of all nations, kicking the crap out of Spain in the World Cup Final)..................the list is endless. And then, when the referee does actually have the balls to penalize the offence, all the pros and managers lambast him by saying 'If you give a foul for that there will be 10 red cards every game!' NO THERE WOULDN'T, YOU IDIOT! If they started giving yellow cards out consistently then you and all your moronic staff at the club will have to start playing by the rules and eventually, there will be an end to all the shirt-pulling and sneaky, spineless attempts to get one over on the ref. Football has become just 90 mins of trying to con your way to victory. Rant over!

As you can see, it makes my blood boil to see what has happened with the beautiful game. I rarely even bother to watch it anymore, it has become so tedious and predictable. Nothing ever gets done to rectify what is so glaringly obviously wrong in the game. Wages are too high, there is too much money and it's not evenly spread around, the supporters are becoming more and more disenfranchised, there is less and less respect shown to the refs, players and managers think they are above the law and the whole mess is governed by self-serving imbeciles who generally know nothing about the game. So to re-discover a sport like tennis was a god-send. I had not paid much attention to it since I was a kid, just the odd match at Wimbledon every year. But I found myself watching more and more of it as TV coverage has increased in recent years and what a refreshing chnage it has been! I don't miss the football at all and in fact, I much prefer tennis as a sport to trade.

I always found soccer to be a bit too much like gambling. I always seemed to be sweating on a goal going in or worse still, a goal NOT going in. It shredded my nerves to peices a lot of the time because apart from red-cards, there is only one thing that changes the prices drastically in football and that one thing doesn't happen very often but can happen at any time. At least with tennis, you know points are coming and you know there will be lots of opportunities. You are never stuck biting your nails for long periods, so stress levels are much lower. Plus, you only have to rely on one player and Hawkeye keeps things fair. In football, there are 22 players that can mess up all your hard work in a split second of madness or a ref or linesman and with no TV to make it fair!

Anyway, I'm sure money can be made from it but it wasn't for me and I'm glad I'm out. There was a period where I would chase back my tennis losses on the football but I've stopped that this year. This weekend, I guess I felt over-confident after my success, so gave it a bash with the lack of tennis on offer. I really wish Betfair would offer a few Challenger Tour matches in-play during quieter periods. There are streams available from many of the Challenger tournaments and I reckon most traders would welcome the extra games. It just gives us more options, like they now have with football. It's incredible how internet coverage has boomed for soccer this season. Betfair have added leagues such as Mexico, Argentina, France and Indonesia to their live roster this season and it's now possible to watch a match at almost any time of day, every day of the week. I think they could do much more with the tennis.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Eight in a Row

I'm now enjoying one of my best ever spells as a trader. It's a pity I'm not getting the financial reward that I would like from it but I will not be upping stakes for a while yet. One swallow does not make a summer, and all that. Djokovic faltered a little in the first set, which enabled me to get involved at a better price than the stingy one offered pre-match. Nadal simply blew away Federer, who really does cut a forlorn figure against Nadal these days. I almost feel a little sorry for him!

So to the Miami finals. I have a real fancy for Azarenka. She is in 100% top form, having just beaten the world number 2 and 3 in consecutive games. Her confidence is sky-high and I think she has the game to beat Sharapova. There are two big question marks over Maria. One, her serve. She still gives away cheap double faults too often. Vika was attacking every single second serve that Clijsters gave her and won the point emphatically nearly every time. Two, her ankle. Sharapova might even be fave without the ankle doubts. She claims it did hurt during the semi final and that is the last thing she needs against Vika, who is great at pulling opponents from side to side. Sharapova's movement cross-court is not great and I think Vika will take advantage, as she did against Clijsters, who is a much better athlete than Sharapova. That said, if Maria is serving well and gets into her stride early, she could blast Vika off the court. Tough call but the ankle could be the deciding factor here and I'm going with Azarenka. As for the men, I won't even attempt to analyse this one as it's about as 50-50 as you will ever get! I'm just going to sit back and enjoy what should be an awesome spectacle.

The tour moves into the clay season next week, which will be an interesting period. Last year, my strategy for the red-dirt was different to the hard courts. I'm not so sure about how much I will be adjusting things this year. Some of these clay courts are basically just a thin layer of grit covering a concrete base, so the difference in speed from a slow hard court (such as Miami) is often not that great. The amount of 'top-dressing' varies from tournament to tournament but there is a definite difference with most of the courts and I am certainly more wary of backing anyone on serve. Scalping is often more effective, as a greater number of points tend to be won against the serve, particularly with the men. You also get more breaks of serve and whilst this is not good for long-term swing trading, it is better for short-term swing trading.

However you look at it, some adjustments will need to be made by most traders, even if it's just changing how you view certain players and match-ups. I played a lot of matches during the Latin American Golden Swing this year, and I actually did really well in those games without doing a great deal differently. I played mostly ATP games and because the serve is less effective on clay, it enabled me to get more breaks of serve a lot more easily. Hopefully, this will continue in Europe. The season will also bring an end to late night sessions and 4am finishes, which is a welcome relief. I might actually regain some sort of a social life in the next few months!

Just a quick note to finish on. I have taken down a couple of blog links. This is purely because they are links to paid subscription websites. I don't want to put them on this blog because I've been scammed myself in the past by sites like these and don't wish to publicise any that I have not used and can't validate they are genuine and worthwhile. I'm not claiming that they are all scammers but it's a fact that many are. The only one I know and have used successfully is Tradeshark Tennis, which is just a small one-off life-time payment anyway. Sorry, no offence to the individuals concerned, I just want to keep the blog free from these things.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Oil Change Required

My best day since I introduced bank management and low stakes, 7th consecutive day of profit and no losses at all - things are finally looking consistent. Let's see how my pre-match reading in yesterday's post, compares to what I actually did in-play:

Simon v Federer

As I expected, Federer started like a train and went 3-0 up before Simon retired.

Sharapova v Petkovic

Got this one spot-on - several breaks, close match with Maria coming out on top. This game shows perfectly exactly why I don't do anything pre-match. Would have got into a lot of trouble backing Sharapova from the start. Instead, I just waited for Maria to bring her best to the table and jumped on for the ride!

Nadal v Berdych

I was right again with this one, as a pre-match lay would have seen you gain 20-30 ticks as Berdych took the 2nd set. Nadal went as high as 1.8 in set 3, though you'd have to be brave to hang on for that! However, I did just as well by waiting in-play and taking Nadal in the final set. There was market over-reaction to a shoulder / neck massage he was given, which pushed up the price in set 2. Once he'd saved 3 break points from 0-40 in the first game of the set, I was on Nadal like a flash at what I considered generous odds, considering his record against the Czech.

Azarenka v Zvonareva

Well, I got this one badly wrong! Vika continued as she left off against Clijsters, barely making an error in a straight set demolition. But the beauty of waiting till in-play meant that instead of having to manage a red position on Vera, I was able to ride the Azarenka wave for another win. I didn't bother with set 2 and ended the day in high spirits.

So there you have it, plenty of good justification for not taking pre-match positions. Of course, it's only 4 matches but you get the general idea as to why I only work in-play. I have to say, it's great to actually be able to write about tennis and trading as opposed to analysis of what is going on inside my often macabre mind! I only hope this stays this way. If I'm 100% honest, I have not traded at my best all week, so to have 7 days of consistency is very satisfying. I've not been as focused or been concentrating as well as I usually do. I think it's because the omega 3 fish oil that I take each day, ran out about 2 weeks ago and I keep forgetting to order more! It really is a fantastic, life-changing supplement for me personally, and I would not be able to trade for long periods without it. I have that feeling that a huge mistake is not too far away because I keep catching my mind wandering at inopportune moments. Off to order another bottle now, will see you tomorrow after the men's semi finals - Nadal v Federer, can't wait!