Friday, 30 September 2011

Striking the Balance


Today I feel that I have finally got things how I want them. It's been a week since my 'Perfect 24 Hours', where I traded without a loss and showed how the new strategy can reap big rewards on a good day. But not every day is good. In trading, it is more important what you do on the bad days or when things are not quite going for you, that will ultimately determine whether you succeed or fail. So I was delighted with my results today because I was seriously tested and put into some situations that, certainly in the past, would have landed me in hot water.

Today however, I believe it's a sign of my growing maturity as a trader that I dealt with the setbacks calmly, confidently and successfully and put all the anxiety of recent days behind me. I didn't get frustrated when I failed to get matched in time during the Young v Soeda game. It would have given me another solid green to add to the day's healthy collection but I accepted it and moved on, despite subsequently taking a small red. I didn't let Dimitri Tursunov's two dreadful service games suck me into a foul mood, when a hold on either occasion would've given me a 150% return on investment. I did the right thing and got out, saving me a red position, when in the past I may have angrily kept my trade on.

I kept my head when failing to get matched on Marcos Baghdatis (another excellent green missed) and then in the same match, saw Jurgen Melzer miss countless opportunities to break in set 2, which would have given me close to 100% ROI. I exited at just the right moment, saving me 5 times as much as I actually lost. And when I made a mistake during the Simon v Bachinger game (the only mistake I made all day), I remained as cool as Samuel L Jackson in an Alaskan refrigerator, as I placed nicely judged stake sizes in order to reverse a rotten red into a glorious green.

I was a whisker away from having a perfect day profit-wise but this feels even better because my patience and emotional state were severely tested and I came through with flying colours. I feel that I am now starting to strike the balance between being aggressive and being passive at the right times and it's all down to fine-tuning two key areas - staking and taking value prices. Believe it or not, they were two things I barely paid any attention to in the past but have now become core factors in my improvement during the past few weeks.

Again though, it's only been one good day and as I always say, I need to remain grounded. I can't deny that I'm starting to get excited again but we all know what happened last time I started getting giddy.................

Torres Howler: Reconstruction!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The Fear Factor

It's been a tiring week so far, with 6am starts and 6pm finishes but I wouldn't have it any other way right now. I wanted to throw myself into every possible match I could, so that I could continue to sand off any rough edges to my new strategy and feel 100% comfortable with it. Things haven't gone as well as I'd hoped but overall, there is plenty to be pleased with.

The biggest issue for me has been that when I get a bit frustrated, I tend to try and force a trade by reverting to my old system. I am finding it harder than I thought to 100% commit to my new approach. Because it is so different to how I used to trade, I am still going back to some of my old ways, almost like a comfort blanket. Though it hasn't produced much comfort, as almost every time I've done this, I've ended up in trouble! But when I have stuck to the new strategy, it has come up trumps time and time again.

I think the main issue for me right now is my bank size. I have to admit that I am down to the last dregs and a couple of major losses will wipe me out. And when that happens, there will be no way back, at least not this year. This extra fear of my trading journey coming to an end, is causing me to be too cautious with my new approach.

It reminds me of back in March, when I went through such tough times. I was in equally as bad a state with my bank back then and was hemorrhaging money every day. I attempted to introduce a new strategy that was similar to what I'm doing now but it failed miserably because I was too scared to fully commit to it. I ended up caught between two systems and just made the situation worse. Well this is the beauty of keeping a blog! I can recall those mistakes and learn from them because basically, I'm doing the same thing now. The big difference now is that I'm not panicking and going completely loco from trade to trade!

My bank may be frighteningly empty but I know that the only way to go forward is to remain calm, positive and fully commit to my strategy. Of course, it's never that easy once the game is turned in-play. But I've not lost any money this week and would be comfortably in profit if I'd just stuck to my new approach. I guess it's never going to be a smooth transition when you've slaved for over a year to make one strategy work and all of a sudden, you do a drastic u-turn and try to adapt to another way that is the complete opposite. Hopefully, I will now take on board the mistakes of Spring and lead into a Winter of content.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Turning Pro

"Amateurs look for challenges; professionals look for easy trades. Losers get high from the action; the pros look for the best odds."


Dr Alexander Elder from 'Come into my Trading Room'


I really liked this quote from what is an excellent book. I felt that it summed up what I'd learnt recently - that the best traders are trading the market (looking for the best odds) and not the match. Although I do think sports are different to the financials in one respect, in that watching a game and being able to read it can give you an instant edge which will present value that isn't necessarily noticeable from just looking at the prices.

That said, I'm now firmly of the belief that you must be able to read the market and spot value in tandem with having a strong, in-depth knowledge of the sport. That might seem obvious to many of you reading this but I can guarantee you, it isn't obvious to most people involved in the market and isn't something that most traders have, whether they know this or not. I'm realising now that this is a blessing because it enables me to make the most of the over-reactions that the majority are making by taking good prices.

The couple of days since my perfect 24 hours have been a little more in and out. This is mostly because I've still been ironing out a few things in the strategy that I was unsure about. As such, I've made frustrating mistakes but ones which will not be made again. I have to remind myself that I'm still changing over from a strategy that I've been using for over a year that is very different from the approach I have now. Exit and entry points have been revamped, as have redding-up and greening-up percentages and stake sizes. I've been tweaking and experimenting this week but I now have everything in place so that I know 100% what I'm going to do in any given situation.

I now have a big week ahead of me as I look to see whether the new approach will produce a solid, consistent week of results. I have been given a new lease of life in the last 2 weeks, at a time when I felt it was almost over for me. But I'm looking at the markets in a totally new light now and spotting so many more openings and so much more potential for my trading to develop onto another level. It's time for me to step up and become a true professional.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Perfect 24 Hours

Something clicked within me today. Since the football debacle on Sunday, I have traded terribly but on Wednesday, I finally stopped the rot. I managed to get my head sorted and finished the day with 2 excellent wins. Since then, I have won every single trade and been more in the zone than Usain Bolt breaking a world record. Everything just finally came together for me, I was in complete sync with the markets, my trades ebbing and flowing in the right direction on almost every occasion. The thing that finally clicked was something I had never fully comprehended before - trading the market.

Often, experienced traders will speak about how you shouldn't trade the match, you should be trading the market. As my trading has always been based on reading the game in-play, I never quite understood what this meant. To me, trading the game and the market were the same thing; you had to read the game to read the market successfully. I now realise that this isn't necessarily the case. There are times when it is more important to know what the market is likely to do, rather than what the players are going to do. Instead of placing a trade based on who will win the next point or the next game, sometimes it is better to know how the corresponding market shifts will affect you.

Although I've known exactly what is going to happen from point to point for many months now, that hasn't always meant that I've traded accordingly. Too often, I've tried to predict the match and put myself into poor risk-reward situations. Changing my strategy has opened my eyes up to what I really need to be doing. I need to find the correct balance between reading the play and anticipating the markets. Last week, I did exactly that with the WTA. Today, what pleased me most was that I was able to do this on every type of tennis match; ATP on the clay, WTA on outdoor-hard and a fast indoor court with the men.

Another great thing was that I traded all day but the hours flew by quickly. I actually enjoyed the cut and thrust, the fast pace of the market and the constant twists and turns in momentum. A million miles away from the slow, predictable, boring football markets that I used to hate trading. I relished the challenge of pitting my wits against other traders and trying to predict what was going to happen next. It wasn't a chore as it has often been in the past. It wasn't a struggle to stay focused or to dig myself out of massive holes like it has been on so many days. Today, I finally felt like I was a professional trader.

Am I over-reacting? Maybe! But I just want to bask in the glory and record it as an example of what trading could and should be for me. God knows, I berate myself enough for the bad days!



(My P&L for those 24 hours of winning trades, stakes no higher than £100. The profit could have been even better but I decided to make sure I got medium-size wins on the board, whilst I'm getting out of this bad spell, rather than maximising the green)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Torres Torture

THAT miss is still haunting me. I thought I'd be able to get Man Utd v Chelsea out of my head but I can't. When I close my eyes, all I can see is Torres slicing wide and Rooney slipping over. In the back of my mind, I am still so angry at myself for getting involved in football when I didn't need to. I feel like banging my head against a wall for an extended period of time, until some sense is finally knocked into me. What an earth was I doing?! I was completely in the zone with my tennis trading. I guess I got over-confident, started experimenting with another sport and paid for it. Now I'm back to where I was before I read 'Trading From Your Gut' - anxious and uncertain. It's showed in my trading this week.

Instead of fully committing to my new aggressive, risk-taking approach, I got caught in two mindsets again. I reverted to my old ways and started cutting out too early or waiting too long to enter. I missed 4 or 5 brilliant opportunities which would have ended up as big wins. The Quebec WTA final was a classic example. I layed Marina Erakovic at the end of set 1. I fully expected Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova to come back and possibly win the tournament. She duly came back to win her first ever WTA title. Only, I'd redded-up long before then at the first sign that Erakovic was still playing well into set 2.

On Monday, the exact same thing happened as I layed the unreliable Jeremy Chardy when a set up against Frederico Gil. Gil also fought back to win the match. On Tuesday, I repeated the mistake TWICE more! I suffered 10 straight losses after the Man Utd v Chelsea game and despite a couple of wins here and there since, the losses have vastly outweighed them. I just have no confidence in what I'm doing and I've become negative and downbeat, without even realising it. I've said it a million times before on this blog and to myself but the biggest reason why I am not doing well as a trader is my own mind.

First, I start getting ahead of myself during a good spell, get casual, make a big error, then I lose the plot and go the other way. It's not rocket science to work out what needs to be changed. You could plot the mood patterns on a graph and the spikes and dips would correlate to the exact same positions every single time. This has been the worst graph yet though. The spikes have never been so high because I felt I was finally on the verge of cracking this game with a system that I actually enjoyed. But the dip has never been so low because I can't get over the sheer stupidity of that football bet. What has happened since, has spiralled out of control and I've just ended up repeating EXACTLY what I did during my previous period 'down the well'.

Is there any way back from this? Right now, I don't know. I wake up in the morning and am positive and prepared but the anxiety has returned and it's causing me to make school-boy errors that I wasn't making last week or pretty much any other week since March. The downturn has been so alarmingly fast that it has destroyed my bank, my confidence and my self-belief in just a couple of days. If only I could turn back the clock to 5pm on Sunday and just watch the football without a bet......

Monday, 19 September 2011

Soccer Sickener

On Sunday, I did something so remarkably, inexplicably, unremittingly stupid that I am having real trouble getting over it. For a change, it has nothing to do with tennis. Unfortunately, it was still trading related. I was watching the Man Utd v Chelsea game and had an overwhelming desire to get involved in the second half. I layed the current scoreline immediately after Chelsea had made it 3-1, just after the re-start. Both teams were going at each other for the entire game and it looked like a gimme. I already had Betunfair open and couldn't resist a dabble.

Man Utd were awarded a penalty after a while and when Rooney stepped up, the form he was in and having already scored one, I fancied my chances. He missed. But I could have accepted a miss. Sure, I'd have been gutted and my anxiety level would have risen dramatically but these things happen. If the keeper has saved it or he'd skied it over the bar, fine. But no, it couldn't be an ordinary miss. It had to be the sort of ridiculous, once a season miss, probably once a DECADE miss that turns up on DVD compilations for Christmas stocking-fillers. Rooney slipped and kicked the ball against his own foot - HIS OWN FOOT!!! When that happened, I knew I was in trouble. I had a gut feeling this wasn't going to happen for me. I was spot on.

Later, Fernando Torres was through on goal, went round the keeper and surely it was just a formality of rolling the ball into an empty net for 3-2. Nope, he missed too. It wasn't just a bad miss, a bad miss I could just about handle. But THAT? That will go down in the history books as one of the worst Premiership misses of all time. It's right up there with the all-time classic miss by Ronny Rosenthal for Liverpool. Well at least Ronny hit the feckin cross-bar, Torres missed the entire goalmouth from about 10 yards out! YOU would've scored it, I would've scored it, ALL of our grannies would've scored it!


I wasn't even surprised when Rooney hit the post not long after and, in injury time, inexplicably decided to pass to Berbatov when one-on-one with the keeper. Only it was a shit pass and Berbatov had to stretch, making his weak effort easy for Cole to clear off the line. No, that was nothing really, I was almost expecting it. I was literally open-mouthed for a good hour after the final whistle, just sat there sick to the core in disbelieving silence. Did that REALLY just happen? My entire week's tennis profits flushed down the toilet in 45 minutes. A brilliant week, where I finally was starting to make significant progress, up in flames with a split-second of madness.

It brought back many gut-wrenching memories from my years of football trading, moments I thought had been assigned to history forever. I can't even remember the last time I bet on a football match but it wasn't this season. I don't know why I did it or what came over me. I was watching a very entertaining game happily, thinking to myself 'If Chelsea score early in the second half, this score could end up anything. 3-3, 5-2 etc'. The next thing I know, Torres scores instantly and I've clicked on the grid within seconds - didn't even think about it, I was so certain of at least one more goal.

If this had happened earlier this year, I don't think I would recover from it for weeks. I'd be chasing till I either got it all back or more likely, I doubled my losses. And don't think I didn't think about it! I poured over a few matches for a while, just wondering.................but I didn't. In fact, right now, several hours later, I can almost force a rye smile. It's pretty comical really. You won't see another match like that all season and you won't see another miss like that Torres one for............well, maybe never! But it does tell me one very important thing - I cannot be logged into Betunfair when watching the footy.

I just hope I don't start doing rash things on the tennis this week. I think I'll be fine but sometimes you can't tell until trading begins. What a way to end the week. Just got to blot it from my mind and soldier on. But it's a real sickener right now. Feck's sake Torres you 50 million pound PLUM!!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A New Era

Is it just me, or is women's tennis starting to look a lot rosier lately? There has undoubtedly been a dearth of young talent breaking through into the top eschelons of the game in recent years but over the past few weeks, I've noticed a real surge in the number of 17-20 year olds knocking at the door. There is a new crop of exciting young players just starting to make waves from the 50-150 ranking places and I reckon several of them could go on to be real stars.

Top of that list for me, is Christina McHale. I tipped her up as one to watch earlier this year and she has since jumped well over 50 places in the rankings. She has a fantastic attitude and mental strength to rival a Caroline Wozniacki. Simona Halep has been leading the charge of the young brigade for a while now and she seems to be starting to trouble the top players on her best days. Tamira Pazsek has the coolest temperament you will ever see and seems made for the big stage. I tipped her for a run at Wimbledon (made the quarter finals) and I think she'll challenge for a slam one day.

Bojana Jovanovski has the power game to out-hit even a Willims sister and could one day win the big prizes. Ksenia Pervak is a little dynamo, with the most positive court persona I've ever seen in a player! Petra Martic is a clever, naturally talented Croatian, who I just love watching. Rebecca Marino has one of the best serves in WTA. Then you have the likes of the athletic Heather Watson, the powerful Sloane Stevens and big-serving Coco Vanderweghe all breaking into the top 100 recently.

Outside the top 100, the one to watch for me, is Caroline Garcia of France; a supremely gifted 18 year old who almost beat Maria Sharapova at the French Open this year. Along with Laura Robson, Christina Mladenovic and Michelle Larcher De Brito, I think these teenagers are the stars of the future.

It all bodes well for an interesting tour for the next few years. It has perhaps gone a little stale recently, with older players such as Na Li, Sam Stosur and Francesca Schiavone coming to the fore. But the future certainly looks brighter than it does for the next generation of male players.

As for me, a new era appears to also be on the horizon. I still need to find a balance between the intuitive 'discretionary' trader and the pragmatic 'system' trader. On Monday and Tuesday, at times I went too far over to the right-side of the brain. I was overly aggressive and lacked structure and planning, which cost me some red trades. But once I'd found a better balance on Wednesday and gotten used to this new approach, results couldn't have been much better.

I think there is still room for me to be even more aggressive by re-entering matches and using green to place risk-free trades. I also want to look at a possible restructuring of my staking, adding another tier when I have a particularly strong gut-feeling. So lots to experiment with yet. Will be trading mostly ATP next week, so we'll see how my new approach fares with the men.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Trading From Your Gut

I finished the aforementioned Curtis Faith book yesterday. I skipped through most of it to be honest, as there wasn't a great deal there that I didn't already know. Much of the pages are padded-out with anecdotes that you can already guess the ending to and the practical advice is mostly only of use to financial traders. But what I gained from it could still be priceless.

Going into this week, I had already worked out that I needed to be more aggressive and change my strategy. What I didn't realise was that I could change it to suit my personality MORE. I'd always believed that people like me (creative, artistic, right-side-of-the brain types) had to drastically change in order to be successful at trading. It has always been a struggle for me, a battle to become more methodical, more numerate, more systems orientated. I didn't know if I could ever crack trading because it would mean a huge shift in the sort of person I am. I was wrong. There IS a place for people like me and in fact, Curtis Faith points out that in order to be successful, most traders NEED to use their right-side of the brain more, in order to trade intuitively. This is particularly true for in-play trading, where split-second decisions often need to be made.

Before I read the book, I was unsure about whether I was taking the right path by ditching some of my strict rules but after reading it, I was clear and certain I was doing the right thing. Now that I've had a small amount of success, I'm positive that I can do well without the need to change drastically who I am. My best skills have been shown to be vital for success in this game. Don't get me wrong, I still need to work hard on the old focus, patience and discipline but it's certainly become a little easier over the past few days because I'm not battling so much to try and fit into a system that constrained me. In a more left-brain sided individual, that same system will probably reap good rewards. But for me, it was just too stifling.

Of course, I don't want to get carried away, which is why I want to remind myself that this has only been one week and I've yet to hit a bad spell. I need to keep working on the FPD plan, the defensive side of my trading which I'd significantly improved upon lately. It's now more of a balancing act between getting that right and the more attack-minded strategy - left-brain and right-brain working in harmony! Which is what the author says ultimately, is what is required to be successful - whole-brain trading. If I can crack that, then I will crack trading. Long way to go yet though.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Intuition

Some people think that intuition and gut-instinct are just unreliable judgements based on nothing more than emotion. On the contrary, intuition is based on knowledge and experience and is completely rational - it's just that it occurs quickly and without going through the methodical, slow, thought processes. Emotional trading and intuitive trading are not the same thing. Trading on pure emotion is never usually a good thing. A mistake new traders often make is confusing the two. They think they are trading based on gut-feeling but don't have the relevant experience of the markets or the sport to make correct intuitive moves in the heat of the moment. They are usually just guessing or trading based on pure emotion - fear, hope, etc.

What I've been doing this past couple of days is trusting my intuition, which is based on a year and a half of hard work, watching matches and markets every day. So instead of looking at prices and thinking 'That's a bit low, that price will probably shoot out again' or 'That's not the right price' but ignoring it due to fear, I'm getting stuck right in. Instead of thinking 'She's probably going to fight back even though she's just lost serve' or 'Knowing her, she will probably hold serve now' and not doing anything because my rigid system won't allow it, I'm going with my gut, regardless. My decisions have been quick and decisive. On the whole, I've barely needed to hypothesize, I've just 'known' what felt right and been ready to enter the market well before the entry point arose. That's intuition.

Generally, I've been taking more risks by going against the market. This is turning me from someone who used to try and catch momentum whilst it was rolling, into someone who is now predicting and speculating when the next momentum shift will start. As such, I'm finding it easier to get matched because I'm entering more on the lay side rather than backing, and gaining more ticks for my wins. 10-20% greens that were typical before, are now more likely to be 20-100%. And those greens are coming thick and fast! My wins have ranged from a 1.17 pre-match lay to a 1.7 in-play lay. That may not mean much to you but I wasn't doing either of those sort of plays previously. I now have a much wider range of winning opportunities available to me and I'm not afraid to take them. Since Wednesday (when I started reading 'Trading From Your Gut') I've had 13 wins, 3 scratch trades and ZERO losses, my best run for at least 4 months! Coincidence? Only time will tell. All I know for sure right now is that I am buzzing with enthusiasm for trading again.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Unshackled

The book 'Trading From Your Gut' has really got me thinking more about my strategy. The strict guidelines I had, I feel were preventing me from using my knowledge and experience to the fullest and more importantly, were not allowing me to gain as much profit as I should have been. Whilst they undoubtedly stood me in good stead as I was learning the ropes, giving me some discipline and a framework to set up from, I don't feel as though I need those rules anymore. Especially with the changes in the tennis markets in recent weeks, a cautious method is going to be even harder to make profitable.

So I've been looking to be more proactive, more aggressive, more instinctive and more flexible with my trading. I've tried to enter each match with almost none of the strategic constraints that I had previously in place. Instead of adhering to a strict set of entry and exit points, I have decided to experiment by ditching almost the lot of them and purely trading based on my gut-feeling and reading of the market in-play. I have to say, it feels as though I've been unshackled! I'm so much more excited about trading again and that's because I now have the freedom to do almost whatever I want within reason.

An example of the changes I've made include scrapping the rule 'never back a woman on serve'. I started to think 'Why not?'. It's almost a fallacy that the women always struggle on serve, a huge joke on gambling forums. But the fact is, they still hold serve more often than they get broken. I'm not suggesting it's a great tactic and there's no way I would recommend using it very often but if you know the players and you know the market and you can read the play, why not back on serve every now and then? I have actually done it a few times this week, each time following my gut instinct and I was right almost every time.

Another change I've made is to allow myself to enter the market at almost any point in the game. Previously, I would, for example, rarely enter at 0-0 and would try to stay away from the final set. These restrictions are now open, albeit with a certain amount of caution. Without meaning to sound big-headed, I know the tennis markets like the increasingly hairy back of my hand and I know the players (certainly all the ones in the top 150) as if they were family! So why restrict myself to specific moments in specific matches? Why not step outside of the box every now and then, when I see an unusual opportunity? I have nothing to fear about the market anymore because I will rarely be surprised by anything that happens. So why not take a few more risks? The way I look at it, every game is different and anything can happen. Why not just go with the flow and react to whatever happens, when it happens?

So far, so good. My passion for trading is higher than it has been since January. I am looking forward to every game now and my focus is razor sharp. After a few teething problems on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday turned into the sort of day that has been sadly lacking from my trading for a while now. I was completely uninhibited and almost everything I did came off. I'm feeling more confident about what I'm doing, partly down to my discovery of 'Trading From Your Gut'. I've commented in the past on other tennis trading blogs, that I'd had the exact same opinions as those bloggers but whereas they'd been aggressive and made lots of money, I'd ignored my gut and got nothing. Hopefully, this is about to change.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Growing Balls

So my first day of trading with a brand new ethos has ended. As expected, there were a few teething problems. I've tried for over a year to garner a more cautious mindset and now, I'm essentially attempting to do the opposite. There were times yesterday where I was spotting opportunities but, as I've become inclined to do, ignored them as they were not quite as 'sure' as I would have liked. As you can guess, almost all of those opportunities would have produced green positions.

The US Open final was a classic example. I managed to catch Djokovic at around 1.8 after a few games and was convinced by that point that he was going to win. I didn't think there was any point hanging around for a price above evens, as he was looking far better than Nadal. I only went in with half stakes, as Nadal was still level at the time and Djokovic's price was moving out. But my cautious mindset panicked at the first sign of Nadal picking his game up and I bailed out early for a small red. Nadal didn't trade above evens the entire match. I was gutted because if I'd just held on for a few more points (and I was on half stakes so should have allowed for a bit longer holding my position) I would've ended with my largest win for months.

Instead, I was all-red and this affected the rest of my trades. I was too worried about piling in full-stake and adding to the red when another opportunity presented itself a few games later. Once again, my thoughts were correct and I would've been back in the green if I hadn't chickened out. In the end, I had to take low odds on Novak and I managed to get myself in a tangled mess when Nadal fought back and Djokovic had back problems. I panicked and ended with a red position after over 3 hours, when I should've been all-green and finished in under an hour. Basically, I need to grow a new set of balls!

I remember back in March, when I was going through those terrible dark ages, I attempted to change my strategy and be a little more proactive. It back-fired because I didn't fully commit to the change. I ended up not letting trades run long enough, cutting out early due to fear and didn't know what my plan was from game to game. I was caught between two strategies and it made both of them unworkable. I have to learn from that now and fully commit to the new approach. A couple of nice, re-affirming wins always helps! And that's exactly what I got in two of the WTA matches, where I was much more aggressive than usual in the Marino and Czink games in Quebec. I still have a lot to work on but I have to say, I'm starting to get back that old passion I had for trading again. This way of working is making it far more interesting for me and I'm looking forward to seeing just how far this new approach can take me.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Strategy Change

I've made some big decisions over the weekend. I believe it will be in my best interests to make changes to my strategy and my whole way of trading. I have decided that I need to be taking greater advantage of my best skills and tailoring my system so that it suits my personality more. This means being more aggressive, trusting myself more and adding more ways of making money to my strategy.

I'm not totally ditching the key elements of my strategy but tinkering with it enough to hopefully create more opportunities per game. This will mean taking more risks and although I am quite a risk-averse person, I am also very impatient and those extra risks will provide me with more to get involved with and less waiting around for one or two opportunities per match. This should also aid with my focus and overall, make trading a little more enjoyable.

I'm hoping more than anything, that my knowledge and experience of the game and the markets and in-play reading, will finally reap the rewards it should be getting. I'm not naive enough to think that this alone will make me money but the one good thing to come out of the past month was the FPD Plan, which has actually worked, despite disappointing monetary results. The extra mental strength and discipline I have from this, twinned with those other aforementioned skills, should be enough to finally show profit. But only if this new system provides a strong enough framework.

I've decided to throw myself straight in at the deep end. I'm lowering stakes rather than paper-trading anymore and just gonna see how it goes this week. It may be a bit trial and error for a while but I find that's the best way for me to learn, to get stuck in with real markets and real money. Hopefully, my trading will get a lift akin to a Serena Williams on-court tirade!!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

US Open Week 2

It's been a massively frustrating week. Very few matches, huge rain delays, 2 days with no play at all and another day where I didn't have an opportunity to place a trade. My trading was ok, no major issues but at the same time, nothing to shout about. I ended the week in profit but I have only really had 3 full days, so there wasn't much I could deduce from my results. My paper-trading, in typical fashion, produced great results for the second week running. So as you can imagine, I've been thinking about introducing the techniques straight into real-money situations. I know it's too soon in reality but my head is spinning right now.

There are so many questions I have about where I'm going with my trading. Is my strategy REALLY good enough? Should I be looking to be more aggressive / speculative? Are the markets changing and taking away any edge I had? Am I just going through a rough patch which will eventually get back to normal? Should I be trusting my own judgement a bit more, rather than playing it as safe as possible? Can I make larger greens by switching strategy? Is the focus and patience required in my strategy too difficult to maintain on a full-time basis?

I'm really torn between a switch to a more aggressive style of trading, which will allow me to place more trades, requires less patience and will gain me larger greens potentially. But that would mean probably taking more reds, ditching a safer strategy that I've worked so hard on for so long and at a time when I feel I've finally got to grips with the mindset required to make it successful. But those greens have definitely dried up lately and I've started to lose confidence in the long-term validity of the current strategy.

What riles me most is that time and time again, my reading of the play is superb but time and time again, I come away with a losing position or less green than I could have. Taking a few more chances would rectify this but after such a long time trying to perfect my cautious, patient approach, it is going to be tough to shift my mindset. I'm trying to find a way of incorporating facets of both strategies together but that may take time - and that's one thing I don't have anymore. I need to be making this work by the end of the season, or I will have to give this up. I hate being in this state of limbo and it's a worrying time for me. Hopefully, a full week of trading will enlighten things a bit more.

Monday, 5 September 2011

US Open Week 1

It's been a strange week of trading. There have been far more questions than answers and at the end of it, I don't know whether I'm making progress or have gone backwards. Profit-wise, I've most definitely failed. But those non-monetary goals of focus, patience and discipline have unequivocally improved across the board. So why am I still failing to produce cold hard cash?

My thoughts immediately turned to the system. I've started to conclude that the tennis markets have changed in recent weeks. I know I'm not the only one to think this, having spoken with other traders. There is little doubt in my mind that since the new premium charge was introduced, it has become more difficult to get matched at decent prices on Betunfair. I would say that because many of the big players have left, there is much less money available in the market, particularly on the lay side. As someone who primarily backs players, I've found it very frustrating the amount of times I've been unable to get matched. With all the backers scrambling for a much smaller piece of the pie, it appears to be forcing the prices down to the point where any value that was there disappears.

After a poor first day of the US Open, I lost a large chunk on one game on day 2, through sheer frustration. I just couldn't buy a win and even managed to ruin a potentially good day by throwing away strong green positions in not one but THREE matches on day 3. I started to get anxious and for the first time since March, was having sleepless nights and thoughts about ditching my strategy. On day 4, things seemed to be getting worse, as I started to do things that were not part of my strategy. That's a sure sign that confidence is gone and I knew that I was at a nasty point where I didn't know what I was going to do from game to game.

Despite all these problems, I did somehow manage to hold it together mentally. And that's where I'm delighted with my progress because there has only been one match all week where I failed to red up at the 25% mark. Also, I've brought in a new technique where I've actually taken a 'time-out', whenever I've felt the first inkling of frustration and had a mini-hypnosis session. This has really paid dividends and stopped me seeing the red mist. As long as I catch those feelings early, before they get out of control, I can then relax myself enough to rationalise the situation and temper that awful, gnawing throb you get in your gut when you've made an error.

The wins had returned by day 4, and day 5 was a strong winning day. Day 6 was a mixed bag but despite the frustrations at not getting matched, I really felt that mentally, I have turned a corner. I think the days of full-stake losses are well and truly over and in fact, I'd be surprised if I went over the 25% mark by more than 10-15% ever again. The problem now is the opposite of what it was in the past; I can control the reds but now, I'm not getting the greens! And that brings us back to the markets. If they are going to remain this way then I will need to revise my strategy. I haven't hung around - already, I've started paper-trading a couple of new ideas. Hopefully, things won't be such a problem when I move back over to Betdaq.

Day 7 finished the week in fine style, with my best day of the tournament so far. So maybe it was just a bad couple of days. It has been a tough mental battle again this week but I actually think if I can just get out the other side with a few consistent days, I will have strengthened my skills massively. I do feel as though I've moved on several stages psychologically. I can feel it when I trade because I'm stopping myself short of doing anything rash and controlling my emotions much better. I'm still making mistakes out of pure frustration but I'm now pulling myself up on those errors and stopping them becoming bank-busting disasters. All I need now, is for those greens to come back on a more consistent basis. Once that happens, there will be no stopping me. The question is, have the markets started to ruin my trading for good, or was it just a bad week? Only time will tell.