Sunday, 10 November 2013

My Day Court-Siding at ATP World Tour Finals

This week, I decided it was about time I watched my first ever live tennis match and booked myself tickets for the full day of Thursday's ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in that there London. When I bought the tickets on Monday, I had a guess that I'd get a Federer match that day (schedule isn't decided till the day before) and got it right, so was extremely happy as this was the man I wanted to see. The fact that it was against Richard Gasquet (who is my favourite player along with the irrepressible Gael Monfils), made it even more special. And with Djokovic playing Del Potro in the evening plus the greatest ever doubles partnership, the Bryan brothers as an appetiser, I couldn't have picked a better day for my first ever live tennis session.

Of course, I naturally wanted to see if I could do a bit of trading whilst there and see if I could grab a bit of free money! It never fails to amaze me the amount of money that traders leave up well after the point has been decided, some of it totalling enormous individual chunks that I can only think must be controlled by a bot that needs further programming work. Either that or someone with more money than sense or a drunk Russian oligarch. Either way, if you can court-side, there is a lot of money to be made from clueless / slow punters. So I attempted to nab me a piece of the pie.

The problem is, the authorities are wise to court-siding these days and officials at ATP events are taught what to look for. Namely, someone who is busy fiddling around with their phone instead of actually watching the game (though the two Chinese girls sat next to me chatting throughout the match would be top of the list if that was the only criteria!), or with their hands in their pockets looking disinterested whilst everyone else is applauding. So I imagine suspicion would be easily aroused. The difference at the O2 Arena to most events though, is that the crowd is in darkness whilst only the court is lit up - so it's very hard for any stewards to see anyone acting suspiciously unless they are close to them. And when you have an enormous 15,000+ people, that's almost a needle and haystack situation.

I decided to get straight in there and test things out in the opener; a doubles match involving Dodig and Melo v Fyrstenburg and Matkowski. The immediate problem is that you have to use the original Betfair interface to trade with - something I haven't done for years as I use AGT Pro's ladders. So fiddling around trying to quickly place bets on Betfair's slow site without one-click bet placement is a bit of a nightmare, especially when you are trying to be discreet.  Then you've also got the fact that in the dark, your mobile phone shines bright like a beacon - although in my whole day there, I didn't see a steward or anyone official looking anywhere near where I was sitting. It's such a vast arena, I think it would be perfect for court-siding but for one tiny little problem..............reception is poor. Well, at least it was on my phone but I saw tweets from people on my Twitter timeline who were in the arena, so it can't be that bad!

Anyway, I gave it a shot but connection wasn't happening. But it is fairly obvious to note that:

a) You have a couple of seconds longer than TV audiences to place your bet
b) There are people scalping with fast pics who would be your competition, so you still need to have fast reactions, know the markets and know what you are doing
c) There are still  people stupid enough to leave their money in the market, even allowing for the few seconds disadvantage they have.

Eugenie Bouchard

I gave up and decided to watch the greatest tennis player of all time without distraction. The 6-3 6-4 scoreline  suggests he made light work of Gasquet but the Frenchman failed to take about 10 break points and at times showed sublime skills which outshone Federer. If I ever had any doubts about which of the two has the best backhand, seeing them live leaves the answer unquestionably Gasquet. Just a pity Fed beats him in every other department! The whole match felt a tad surreal to me though. Having watched these two on dozens and dozens of occasions over the past 4 years, to have them right in front of me was, well, weird! It also made me realise how much tennis I watch in comparison to the average person. I was always one of the first people (sometimes THE first!) to start applauding after a point, I guess because I could read when it was going out/in quicker than most. I also tended to know when a ball was out of play, whilst others in the crowd were eagerly awaiting Hawkeye. I remember I never used to call them right when I first began trading!

The one game which slightly disappointed was Del Potro v Djokovic. Not because the players didn't make you gasp with their speed, agility and accuracy but because it lacked variety. Unlike the Federer game or the doubles match between the Bryans and Rojer/Qureshi (which was the game of the day and if you ever go, make sure you do the full session and don't ignore the doubles matches), it was all a bit predictable and one-paced. Fortunately though, the crowd provided some entertainment, as sat literally 2 seats directly behind me, was the most vocal person in the whole 17,000 crowd! This "wag" thought it would be hilarious to shout "DJOKOOOOOOOOO!!!" randomly during quiet moments at the top of his gruff European voice, which wore thin after the 15th time. But the great thing he did do was allow me to shout "OLEEEEEEEEEE!" in response to his "BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA-DA-BAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!" - so fulfilling a dream of mine! Actually the real dream is to be the one trumpeting ""BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA, BA-DA-BAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!" but you either need to be hammered or French to do this without feeling a complete tit (especially if no one responds with "OLEEEEE!!"

All in all, a terrific day out and I urge you all to attend if you can because it won't be around in London forever and when it goes, it won't be back for a very long time. The O2 is a brilliant venue, it's well organised, lots of great places to eat and drink (though £5 for a hotdog is extortion where I come from!), the court when it's lit up, with the crowd in darkness, has to be one of the best spectacles in sport (it looks so sharp and crisp and creates a unique atmosphere that TV doesn't do justice). I was in the cheap seats up at the top and even there, the view is not compromised and feels like you are on top of the players. I took some photos for the blog but as you can also see, the camera on my phone is as bad as the internet connectivity!

 Federer - Gasquet

Djokovic - Del Potro

Trust me, you feel much closer than these woeful pics show. I never see the point in taking photos at sporting events. We've all seen it on TV. "Here's a shot of Roger Federer playing tennis". Yeah, I already know what he looks like. Unless his shorts have fallen down or he's attacking a line judge, I'm really not fussed. Anyway, these prove I was there at least!

As anyone who has watched live tennis will tell you, you appreciate the speed and strength of the players a lot more in the flesh. The courts don't seem so slow either. I also found it a more enjoyable experience, as I  wasn't constantly thinking about entry and exit points! In fact, I lost track of the scores on many occasions as I was too engrossed in the players and the environment. There's also a couple of practice courts in the O2 where you can watch players warming up just a couple of metres away. Here you get a great feel for the size and skill of the players. Watching Radek Stepanek and Leander Paes doing net volley drills is genuinely one of the most impressive things I've ever seen! So get yourself down there in 2014 and make sure you have a good mobile phone - there's fun to be had and money to be made.............

Friday, 1 November 2013

October: The Last Ever Results & Cheers Peter Webb

That's right, I've made the decision that this month's P&L will be my last ever on the blog. There are 4 reasons for this:

1. I don't want my profit (or losses!) to affect the members of my academy. I know that when I was learning, often when I looked at other blogger's profit, it made me feel inadequate. This often lead to me losing faith in what I was trying, because I wasn't making much (or losing) and that meant switching strategies and becoming more and more frustrated. Yes, they can be an inspiration to some and a guide as to what is possible to achieve but everyone is different. I try to instil in my members that profit targets are a bad idea and they should not even be thinking about making profit at this stage, so to have my own profits staring at them, is possibly a little hypocritical.

2. I don't think it's that interesting any more! I've shown over a period of almost 2 years what is possible to attain. My bank is still growing and my stakes along with it, so I hope to achieve even more in future but there comes a  point where it becomes a little vulgar to keep shouting about your profit and I think I'm not far away from that point (some no doubt think I went past it a while ago!). I have always felt it's not a problem for me on this blog because I started by showing all my losing days back in 2011. So I feel justified in showing a winning period as it's well balanced. There is a reason behind it, it's not just me shouting about profit for the sake of it - there is a journey on this blog, from consistent loss to consistent profit. But it's been 2 seasons of winning months now and there's not much interest to be gained from here on in.

3. I'm at the point now where I want my profit to remain private. Trading is now my primary income and therefore, when you read my P&L you are basically reading my salary. I would rather keep that info to myself from now on.

4. October is the last full month of tennis, so is a nice end point.

I think October's results are a fitting end to my trading journey on the blog. After 4 or 5 weeks where I was really just treading water and struggling to hit the heights of June and July, I finally hit that good spell of variance that I knew was around the corner and the waiting paid off. This illustrates perfectly what I've said in the recent past about trading not being one straight upwards line on a graph. Much of the time, it's a mental battle to try and stay patient and disciplined in the face of a dearth of opportunities or bad variance. But when a run like I've had in late September-October does come along, it makes it all worthwhile.

Elena Vesnina:

So I know what you are thinking: where does Mr. Webb come into this? Well it was a recent post of his which talked about how he tended to "accelerate into" a good start to the day, that got me thinking a little more about whether I was maximising my profit enough. I've usually tended to try and remain steady and not accelerate or decelerate depending on how my day was going. I have often thought about pushing that bit harder once I have some profit on board but it's often ended up the opposite - being slightly more cautious instead. But Peter's post did force me into trying something a little different and as I started October so well, I decided to put my  foot on the gas; really use that green to get involved more into final sets of matches, churn over more or let trades run to conclusion. The results below, speak for themselves.

I finally hit the magical £10,000 mark, making October my best ever month of profit by a considerable distance, almost doubling my previous best. And although I would've achieved my best month to date anyway, that blog post undoubtedly edged me up to and over 5 figures. So although it's well documented that Peter and I have had our disagreements, I do have to thank him for this information - cheers Peter! Though let's not forget it was mostly down to 4 years of blood, sweat and tears (all of that meant literally) by yours truly.........

The vast majority of my profit goes towards living expenses and a project I'm investing in for the future - hopefully another income stream. So I'm not compounding much right now but next year, I hope to start increasing the bank more. There's still a way to go before I have problems getting matched on most matches - my maximum liability during October was only £500. So I hope this is not yet the pinnacle for me. It just goes to show how much you can make with relatively little when you trade as opposed to straight betting. My largest ROI for a single match was approx. 700% (Azarenka v Jankovic at WTA Champs). I couldn't dream of making returns like that if I was just betting on faves or going with the money. October is traditionally "upset season" in tennis and this definitely played a part in making this such an outstanding month for me.

So that's it, not much more to say really except I hope you've enjoyed my journey from this daily P&L screenshot back in February 2011 to this:

My latest Betting article on the ATP World Tour Finals can be read here.