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

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