Sunday, 19 January 2014

The £29,000 Trade

 I would have missed this entirely had I not been on Twitter and read a tweet about it from another sports trader. Many of you will know this trader as Matt who used to write the superb blog a few years ago and I noticed he tweeted this:

Not an unfamiliar sight from the man (and not the first time I've stuck a screenshot of his on the blog) but nonetheless, it never fails to leave you open-mouthed at what can be achieved. The reason why I bring this one up in particular, is because with all the furore about Sporting Data and courtsiding, it could easily be felt by many that the average Joe has got no chance of competing in the sports markets. No doubt at all, these guys are stiff competition and have a distinct advantage over the rest of us in terms of man-power, time and capital. But what Matt shows is that it isn't impossible to compete against them - or alongside them. Having spoken with Matt, read his blog and followed his tweets for a while, I know that he doesn't do anything particularly different to what I do - he's just got years more experience and does it a whole lot better!

Being successful at tennis trading is tough - absolutely no question. To reach the level Matt has reached takes time and dedication that the vast majority of traders either can't or are not willing to, invest. But this is a GOOD thing - if it wasn't tough, we'd all be doing it until it reached a point where no one could make any money because too many of us were good at it. But people should not be put off trying to become part of the 1 or 2 or 5% or whatever the figure is of profitable traders, just because there are big money syndicates out there. The ones with all the statisticians and data coming out of their ears are only as good as their analysts. There is more than one way to skin a cat and I like to think that I'm proving it doesn't have to be all about number crunching.

 Garbine Muguruza

As for the courtsiders, I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you don't leave your money in the market, it can't get taken! It's really simple. My money NEVER gets hoovered up by courtsiders. Yet almost every single match I trade, I am laughing, sometimes literally shouting at the screen "TAKE YOUR MONEY OUT!" at the often vast wads of cash left sitting around well after a point has finished, like stunned tiddlers at the mercy of sharks. When I see the size of some of the individual amounts getting hoovered, it proves to me that there are a lot of people out there with more money than sense. It's not how big your wad is, it's what you do with it that counts!

These markets are not completely sewn up if you know what to look for. Matt is the best example of this that I can think of. It also might interest people to know (and I'm sure he won't mind me saying this because he posted it on Twitter) that he wasn't in profit for the Australian Open until this mammoth win. This goes to show that it's all about being selective and that even the best traders don't win every day. As for my first week of Australian Open action, I'm pleased to report I'm also doing very well. I made roughly £28,000 less than Matt did on the Ivanovic win but hey, if anyone fancies paying for me to go to Dubai or Acapulco or Pattaya next month to push a few buttons in my pocket, I'm sure I can make up the rest pretty quickly!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Crime Syndicate in Illegal Betting Australian Open Shocker!

It was interesting to hear about the British courtsider who was caught during the Andy Murray match yesterday. There's a huge furore about it in Australia but I'm struggling to see what the big deal is. Was he really doing anything illegal? In the UK it certainly wouldn't be, even though it is frowned upon by tennis and betting authorities and would have you evicted from the venue for breaching ticket conditions. The guy was only taking advantage of the time delay to place bets but the news coverage in the Australian media is comparing it to the bribery scandals that we've seen in sports like football and cricket. It's completely being overblown. Yes, you can argue that it is essentially a form of cheating but it doesn't guarantee you profit - you still are risking your money and can still lose it all. As I showed when I went to the O2 for the World Tour Finals in November, it's not as straightforward as you might think, though certainly, if you are experienced and have a reliable set up, the opportunities are undeniable.

Still, reporting of these betting scandals are as always, uninformed. "The Australian" claims that "Syndicate members at the match may have up to 10 seconds to convey the information to their partners before betting closes." I seriously doubt the time difference between those at the event and watching on TV is anywhere near 10 seconds. The same source also suggests that these courtsiders "take advantage of websites that allow bets to be laid on individual events such as whether a player faults on serve" - really? You certainly can't do this on Betfair (and even if you could, liquidity would be almost non-existent) and no bookie that set up this market would allow any substantial amount to be accepted. But in what way does it influence the outcome of a match? It doesn't! In what way is it corrupting the sport? It isn't! But that's not the line they are taking in the Australian media.

I did feel a bit sorry for the guy who was caught; until I saw he was part of Sporting Data Ltd - a company that supposedly is worth £24.5 million! It was perhaps a bit naive of him to courtside in Australia considering this. Firstly, it's a country that has banned in-play betting. Secondly, it's one of the biggest tournaments in the world and it's well known that the ITF and ATP have officials who are specifically trained to catch courtsiders - so doing it on a main court in broad daylight during a high profile match is always a risk. That said, I'm sure he knew the risks and was prepared to take them, especially if flying all the way to Australia.  "Quite often these people use small devices which they conceal within their clothing, often they are in special pouches sewn into clothing so these things are well concealed. Then they will simply press on a series of buttons." - reports The Australian. So this man was probably not placing bets at all and someone at Sporting Data in Surrey would've been responding to the button press signal and placing any trades. He got caught and paid the price - though pretty sure he would not have expected talk of jail time!

Eugenie Bouchard

The man in question has been arrested for  "Engaging in activity that would corrupt a betting outcome". Not sure exactly how he was affecting the outcome but newspapers are suggesting he could face up to 10 years imprisonment - bit harsh! Especially as last year, this legislature didn't even exist. A man was caught at last year's event but no arrests were made because there was no law in place. So it seems as though this young man (just 22) may be made an example of to prevent others attempting in future.

I know that courtsiding is something that splits opinion amongst the betting community. Some see it as dishonest and plain cheating. Others see it as just taking advantage of an unusual situation or "loophole". But I'm pretty certain that the vast majority of us would give it a shot if we thought we could make money from it. I'm also certain that we'd all disagree that "Courtsiding is only one step away from contacting players and engaging in more sinister activities" - words direct from an Australian police chief's mouth. Clearly, they take these things far more seriously down-under and rule number one of travelling is "Learn the laws and customs of the country you are visiting". A rap on the knuckles and ticket rebuke in the UK, could be a 10 stretch elsewhere! Though I'm not at all convinced that anything will happen in this case. I don't know the ins and outs of this new legislature in Melbourne but I have the feeling that it's a case of confusing betting crime syndicates (such as the ones recently in the news from Malaysia and Singapore, bribing footballers) with ordinary betting syndicates, such as Sporting Data, which are legitimate businesses that make their money from sports trading - just like the one I traded for a little over a year ago.

My interview with Quant

My Australian Open preview on Betting

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Australian Open & Interview with Quant Bubble

2014 - another new year, my 5th trading tennis and my 4th blogging. I can't believe I'm still going, to be honest! To start things off, I have an interview in which I answer some questions for the excellent new trading website, which you can read here on the QuantBubble sports trading section.

With the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, about to get underway, I have a preview of the tournament which you can read here on Betting

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions because it's just an arbitrary date that shouldn't really affect when we start to make important changes to our life. But as New Year coincides with the start of a new tennis season, it's a natural time for me to reflect and plan ahead. I'm putting all my energy into my trading academy for this year and so the blog is likely to take a back seat. But I'm always open to new opportunities, ideas, suggestions. I will just be grinding it out every day on the ladders as usual, trying hard not to get carried away and to keep my feet on the ground!

Sultan Short Biography

The Sultan is an ex-freelance writer turned leading tennis trader on the exchanges. He started trading football on Betfair without much luck, however like all successful people he got there eventually and found his mastery in trading Tennis Markets. Over the past 3 years, he has built up a strong following on his “Centre Court Trading” blog, which documents his rise from consistent losses to consistent profitability. He now trades full-time and runs his own “Sultan Tennis Trading Academy” for aspiring tennis traders.

QB>Sultan, Thanks for taking the time out to speak to QuantBubble. We know you’re currently busy with your Tennis Trading Academy you launched in September, How’s it going?  

Sultan > From a personal standpoint, it’s been exactly what I’d hoped it would be. I started it because I was looking for something to help keep me focused and give my days greater purpose and variety. Trading has become monotonous for me since I’ve been doing well and I needed an extra stimulus to keep my brain ticking over! It’s actually proved to be very satisfying. The feeling I get when I see a trader who was previously struggling and clearly going down the wrong path, suddenly start to change their attitude, approach, work-ethic or trading style and start to make progress, is a wonderful reward. Most of my members have the exact same problems, so it’s not difficult to diagnose what the issues are. The tough part is getting them to trust in your approach and stick with it even if it’s not initially showing good results.

What I’ve discovered is that my academy is not about simply using my strategies and turning them into profit. The strategies are just a framework for an overall philosophy about how to approach the tennis markets – or any sports trading market really. I’ve found that what my members or any new traders most need is to understand how the best traders think about markets because it is entirely different to how most unsuccessful traders think. Once I have instilled that way of thinking (not easy to do!) I think I’m halfway to getting them where they need to be. After that, it’s all about conquering those mental demons, which is the hardest part of trading but it becomes much easier once you know the correct way to view the markets and look for opportunities.

But it’s no surprise to me that those who are showing the most promise are the ones who are putting in the most hours. The ones who are working hard, staying patient, always looking only to improve, not focusing on profit and not scared of making mistakes are the ones who are most likely to go on and be successful. When I see these guys telling me they are proud of how they didn’t take a bad price or didn’t enter a market but stayed patient or cut their losses when they should have – that means more than a winning trade. It makes me proud too!

QB>Sounds fantastic, What are the essential lessons you must learn as a sports trader when starting out?

Sultan > There are tons of essential lessons so to narrow it down, I thought I’d pick out 3 which stand out as most common that need to be learnt among my academy members.
  1. The first lesson is one that most traders never learn and pretty much every trader doesn’t learn until they’ve lost a reasonable amount – do not set profit targets! That is rule number one of my academy. If you are setting yourself profit targets, you are setting yourself up for inevitable disappointment when they aren’t hit and then the inevitable frustration and chasing that follows. It’s fine to dream big but you have to be realistic and most new traders don’t realize the work that goes into being a consistently profitable trader. If you just aim to learn, improve, protect the bank but be prepared to lose it, then you will be much better prepared for when you do go through a bad spell.
  2. Another essential lesson when starting out, is to understand the concepts of value, probability and variance. Most traders seem to be aware of these concepts but very few understand or practice them. Instead, they think trading is about picking winners – it’s not. It’s about picking winning trades. So what they do is try and get on the favourite, regardless of the price and with no thought to the long term consequences of what they are doing. I see it all the time on Twitter; “tipsters” giving us pearls of wisdom which are usually “back the fave at 1.3″ – no mention of why it is value (because it usually isn’t). The average trader only thinks short-term – “get the win”. They don’t think about the long-term, where variance and probability come into play.
  3. The third lesson is – “be patient!”. Most of us simply, are impatient. We are not prepared to stare at a screen of numbers for months on end, in order to make our fortune. We want results yesterday and if we don’t get them, we move onto something that will give us the quick fix. I think this is the number one killer of all new traders. I reckon if you told every new trader they would have to learn for 2-3 years before they started to become consistently profitable,  90%+ would give up before they even started. The reality is, it probably takes most successful traders even longer than that before they reach a stage where they are confident enough to say they have cracked the markets. But it’s not because they are some supremely talented prodigy who was born to trade – they just worked harder, didn’t give up and stayed patient.
QB>Besides from the financial rewards what is the biggest benefit you have gained from becoming a professional sports trader? 

Sultan> Freedom – to be my own boss, to work from home, to get away from the rat-race and the 9-5 grind. I don’t mind solitude when working, so trading suits me and gives me the time to do other solitary activities in between matches, such as reading or listening to music or working out – or chores! This in turn, frees me up when I’m not trading, to just be social.

QB>What has been your Best and worst years as a professional sports trader? How do you manage your Bankroll?

Sultan> I haven’t had  a bad year as a pro trader yet but I did have several bad years before then! One that sticks in the mind was when I attempted to trade tennis full time after just one year of learning and ended up in a complete mess. I lost thousands but worse than that, mentally, I was a wreck. I simply wasn’t ready to go pro, I hadn’t even proven myself as consistently profitable but I thought it was just a matter of time so gave it  a crack. I documented this on my blog when I first started it and labelled it “The Dark Ages”. It was that period that started a series of big changes with my trading, beginning with proper money management and lower staking, which eventually lead to where I am today – so it was probably the kick up the backside I needed!

My best year was last year, as I started to hit figures I had previously only dreamed about.
My bankrolling is pretty simple – I don’t touch most of it! I use a max of 5% on any one trade but usually it’s around 3%. I always aim to keep losses lower than this though. I only usually trade one game at a time, so 90%+ of bankroll is never in play and serves simply as a buffer for long losing streaks.

QB> What are the key components traders must include in their everyday approach?

Sultan > They should be thorough and professional at all times. This means making sure their head is in the right place (no trading when tired or emotionally unbalanced), setting and adhering to short and long term goals and knowing exactly what they are going to do in every possible situation. Doubt is a killer! I would guess that most traders make mistakes because they doubt their strategy – either they don’t trust it, it isn’t proven or they don’t know what they are doing. If you know and trust 100% what you are going to do before you even do it, you are almost certainly going to do the right thing most of the time. Treat trading like you would any job, if you are serious about making money. Also, make DETAILED notes – the vast majority of my members didn’t take notes before they joined. If they did, it was usually just results – figures on a screen with no story behind them. If you don’t know where you are going wrong (or right) how can you improve?

QB> Fundamental analysis or Technical analysis what do you prefer and why?

Sultan > I should start by saying that both are important. If you don’t understand technical analysis, then how can you know where the prices are likely to move? I don’t have reams of charts and statistical databases but I know from studying the markets for many thousands of hours, where prices are likely to move in every situation. So whilst I don’t actively do much new technical analysis, it still forms a bedrock  of my trading.
But fundamental analysis is something I actively do before every match I watch and it directly informs me of whether the pre-match prices are right or wrong in my opinion. Once the game goes in-play, I’m then using a combination of both to help me decide whether to enter the market or not. Fundamental analysis is far more fun, as it involves watching matches to a large degree. But technical analysis is also important, even though I don’t actively study it in an organised way – charts bore me! I still keep my eye open for how prices are moving in-play and  how the markets might potentially change. I’ve never felt the need to go any more in-depth than that but I am more detailed when it comes to checking players current form.

QB>Best Piece of advice you have ever had for sports trading?

Sultan > Very hard to pick just one! Lowering my stakes to 2% of the bank was a good one which a couple of readers of my blog once gave me. But probably the best advice came from the Curtis Faith book “Trading From Your Gut”. Before this, I was trading in the style that I thought you had to trade to be successful; methodical, highly  numerate, with strict rules and system based. Faith’s advice was that in order to be a top trader, you need to be in tune with the right side of your brain, which is the creative side that allows for intuitive trading. Once I read that, I changed my style to suit my own personality more. I became more flexible, trusted my gut instinct, bothered less with detailed stats and gave game reading greater precedence. I enjoyed trading much more after this and improved greatly.

QB> What’s your favourite piece of software for Trading Tennis markets?

Sultan >The Geeks Toy (or AGT Pro as it’s known to anyone who doesn’t really love it!).

QB> Lastly your Tennis trading Mantra?

Sultan > It’s actually a quote from Dr Alexander Elder, author of “Come into My Trading Room”
"Amateurs look for challenges; professionals look for easy trades. Losers get high from the action; the pros look for the best odds"
Sorana Cirstea