"I must have forgotten the time I once lost £6,000 trying to win £2 to cover the cost of a piece of broccoli I'd deemed overpriced."
This was taken from the Betfair Trading to Gambler's Anonymous blog (not written by the author but taken from another source). My first instinct was to laugh - after all, it is one of the funniest lines I've ever read on a betting blog! But it is tinged with a certain empathy and sadness because I have done similar things to this in the past (though not involving a vegetable and 6 grand!). It does beg the question: are we ever truly out of danger? Is there always the chance, no matter how slim, that even the most successful of traders could spiral out of control?
I once read about a trader who lost an entire year's worth of hard-earned profit in under a week. I also read about a trader who gave up everything to move abroad and trade full-time. Within a couple of years, he'd lost all his savings and moved back to the UK. And then there is our old friend O'Dwyer, who was living the dream, tens of thousands in profit, only to end up struggling to scrape together a bank to 'trade' with a year later. Looking back on The 5 Stages to Sports Trading, I remind myself of the following quote:
"Around 60% of new traders die out in the first 3 months - they give up and this is good - think about it - if trading was easy we would all be millionaires. Another 20% keep going for a year and then in desperation take risks guaranteed to blow their account which of course it does.
What may surprise you is that of the remaining 20% all of them will last around 3 years - and they will think they are safe in the water - but even at 3 years only a further 5-10% will continue and go on to actually make money consistently"
I am now around that 3 year phase. So am I "safe in the water"? Am I now becoming part of the 5-10%? Obviously, only time will tell but if I can try to answer honestly, I'd say that I will never end up doing what the traders in my above examples did. These are examples of utter capitulation, where quite clearly, profits have been made without the use of sound money management and certainly without mastering the psychological side of trading - maybe even without a successful long-term strategy. These are things which I feel I have now conquered. It's possible that maybe these traders only experienced positive runs and so when faced with a down-turn, they lost it because they were shocked and didn't know how to react properly. Or perhaps the pressure of trading full-time exposed a weakness in their mental game. Well, I've experienced both of these phenomenons.
I've lost loads and I've been in pressure situations that would frighten the life out of most people. I've experienced all the lows that you can, so I feel that I'm in as strong a position to say whether I am "safe in the water", as is possible without years of records as proof. And I would say that no, I'm not 100% safe yet. If I'm totally honest with myself, whilst I'm confident that I will never self-destruct and lose everything in double-quick time, I cannot say I will never succumb again to the pressures of doing this as a sole source of income (if I ever go back to that). I know what it is like and how the mind does funny things. Even with all my experience, I would never say never - it's good not to be complacent anyway. It wouldn't be a fast deterioration, more likely a slow decline but I'll be better prepared for the first signs of it next time and I'm not fearful of it. Broccoli can be rather expensive these days though and I do enjoy a floret or two with my Sunday roast.............