Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Life Changing Week

It was a national holiday in the UK on Monday so I took my girlfriend out for a long romantic/dirty weekend. It was pretty much a spontaneous thing (not something I really planned to do as I've known her for a relatively short time) but it just felt like the right moment to propose  -  there was no tennis to trade on Sunday, so the time was perfect. No, just kidding. I mean, there was indeed nothing to trade on Sunday but that's not why I popped the question then! I won't bore you with the ins and outs of the proposal, just to let you know that she said yes and my life is about to change massively! What does this have to do with trading, you ask? Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it could have a big impact on my working life. In a year or two, there is a strong chance I will have children - that's an entire family to look after.

When I was single, I never had to worry about big responsibilities such as this. I could take my time, learn how to trade when I wanted to, earn enough to just get by and pay my bills. In more recent times it meant I could save up for and then go on big trips like the one next year and do pretty much what I wanted with my spare pennies. I now have other people to think about and my future becomes far more important. Of course, I had already decided that I was going to quit trading and move into a new career path but now that is perhaps something I need to think about a bit more. In terms of purely getting married, it doesn't really make any difference. It won't stop me making that career change. But in terms of financing a family - HUGE difference. There's also some unpredictability about it. Who knows exactly when those children could pop into my life - or how many! It wasn't something I'd ever given much thought because to be honest, I wasn't that bothered about having them. Not till recently. Gradually, I've started to  have more paternal feelings, that have really caught me by surprise because I'd never felt that before and didn't think I ever would.

 Alize Lim

Anyway, the gist of it is, if I'm gonna be a father, I need to think more carefully about what I'm going to do in future. I've written before about how other successful traders I know who have families, have their fingers in other pies besides their own individual trading. I am all geared up towards next year being my final year on the ladders, so whatever I get into, it won't be related to trading. But I suppose I've always got trading to fall back on, if my new career venture doesn't work out. Or maybe there's a way I can fit it around my new chosen career.

This has all happened very quickly - a bit of a whirlwind! So I'm really just getting my thoughts in order by writing this blog post. But thoughts of the future, financial stability etc, have become a much bigger issue all of a sudden and I don't mind admitting it's a bit scary. The pressure that brings with it could have a detrimental effect on my trading, as it's even more important that I try to make the most of my final year. But then, it also gives me greater motivation to do the best that I can and perhaps that is just the challenge I need to keep me focused; something I have written about many times as being the most difficult aspect of trading now that I'm doing well. Anyway, I've gotta go, the fiance is moaning at me for spending too long on the internet............maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

The Last Ever US Open

It dawned on me today that next week's US Open will probably be the last one I ever trade! As I will be in some distressingly hot country, dressed in sandals and covered in mosquito bites this time next year,  the coming fortnight will be my first farewell to a Grand Slam event that I've worked on for the previous 4 years. I can't say I'm too excited about it though. One mistake many new traders make is putting greater emphasis on the Slams. They gear themselves up mentally more than with standard tournaments and that means putting greater pressure on themselves to make money purely because of the status of the event. This a major error! I learnt a while back that just because it's a Slam, doesn't suddenly make it easier to trade. I see this all the time in my Academy: people trading multiple games at once so they don't miss out on all the opportunities, over-staking, getting over-excited and sucked into the drama and action. You must treat it the same as any other week and that means detaching yourself emotionally.

 In a recent post I said that the challenge has gone from trading and I'm now on autopilot. I wanted to make sure there is no confusion about that because it doesn't mean that what I'm doing is easy. I still have many decisions to make every day, often split-second decisions and in order to do that, you have to be sharp and well prepared. But I've been through the process of making these same decisions hundreds of thousands of times already, so nothing new ever crops up which is going to stump me. As long as I put in the time to research thoroughly (which really doesn't take long at all these days) and make sure I don't become rusty, there's nothing particularly difficult that I need to do. Yes, the markets could change but my ability to find value won't as long as I keep at it. So yes, it's much easier to trade now than it was, say, 2 years ago or even one year ago. The challenges now are different but they aren't ones which mean the difference between a winning month and a losing one. More the difference between a missed opportunity and a taken one.

In essence what I'm saying is that trading has become easier but it's still not easy. It's still a mental battle, only whilst that used to mean battling to remain disciplined, follow my entry and exit points correctly and stop chasing, now those are not issues anymore. I do still have spells of bad variance to deal with and that will never change. During a downswing, the odd doubt has crept into my head in the past. I'm only human and I still make the odd mistake here and there. But the difference is that now, I have experience. I have a strategy and style of trading that suits me and is proven over years. I've been through downswings before and come out of them and gone on to have great runs, so I know I just need to sit tight and trust in my strategies and in my ability to find value.

Paula Ormaechea

Trusting my instinct is the key. I know that I can find opportunities if I just stay patient and trust my gut. The mental battle now is mostly on keeping my focus. The issue with me is that sometimes I'm not motivated enough or challenged enough to both find those opportunities and do the right things once I'm in the market. Also, knowing that I could lose a substantial amount before my trading bank starts to look a little vulnerable, means that it's easy to become complacent or over-confident - two things that are easily over-looked when working on the mental side of trading.

Burnout is a regular occurrence for me too and one that I had to learn to spot quickly and deal with before it ruins my trading. I used to work too hard, much harder than I do now, and it eventually always had a detrimental impact on my trading. It's a skill in itself just being able to know when to trade and when to stop, when to listen to your own body  and take it easy, when to spot the first signs of mental weakness.

That said, when you compare the difficulty of trading 3-4 years ago to now, it's night and day. Although I do more or less the exact same thing with a bank of 5 figures as I used to do with a bank of just 3, it does help to know that I have a large amount behind me and no money worries for the foreseeable future. That enables me to be a little more selective in the market but also a lot more aggressive i.e. I trade less but when I do get involved, I can go for the big wins more often. This is because it matters much less to me about taking some profit from a game. I don't "need" the money now, so I can risk a bit more in order to make more.

So you can see, if you put in the hard work at the beginning, it really can pay off further down the line. The problem for your average trader is that they can't see or don't want to see further down the line. They want success now and they want to do as little as possible to earn it. More on this in my next post!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Trading for Betfair = Chundersome

Much introspection has littered my blog posts recently.  I genuinely had no intention of ever lifting my finger to keyboard (doesn't have any of the romanticism of "pen to paper" does it?) again, back at the start of the year. I haven't missed blogging or the online trading community one little bit. It's been a restful hiatus for me and my trading has blossomed during that time but as long term readers will know, one of my passions is writing and it's what I did for a living before I was a trader. I miss it. For those less creative or who don't quite understand, sometimes you get these bursts of energy and inspiration which have to be released and this blog is my best outlet for that (140 characters on Twitter doesn't really cut it!). I've been feeling that need more and more this summer and it has finally spilled over, uncontainable no more!

Anyway, I digress. Today, I actually have come to a major decision. It's been building for a while now and you perhaps won't be surprised if you've read any of my recent blog posts but I've decided that I no longer want to be a professional tennis trader. As you'll know, I had planned a round the world trip next year which was to take place from July - December. Six months of backpacking and seeing parts of the world I'd never been to before. Afterwards, it was my intention to just pick up trading again when the tennis season began in January and carry on my usual work on the ladders. But I don't think I can.

I remember what it was like when I last travelled, which was not long before I started to learn to trade. I was gone for almost a whole year that time and settling back into normal life was extremely difficult. I'd already made up my mind that I didn't want to go back to my 9-5 career and needed a change of direction so that I could be my own boss and have greater freedom - namely so I could travel again! Little did I know at the time, that the gambling industry (something I knew next to nothing about and had never partaken in) would provide the job that would facilitate this freedom. But that's exactly what it is to me, a job. It's not a career. A damn good job if you can get it and one I really appreciate because of how hard I worked to get it. But a job nonetheless. And I need a career - one that I will truly enjoy, feel like I'm contributing to society in some way and with more human contact. I don't know what that career will be (obviously not totally ruling out political mediator just yet) but I hope to stumble across that when I'm in some foreign country next year, perhaps whilst strolling barefoot along a tropical beach!

I just feel as though I'm wasting my talents and am not being challenged mentally. The Academy has been a great help in aiding my focus and making my days more purposeful and varied but at the end of the day, I'm still sat alone at a PC talking to myself. It's not enough.

Camila Giorgi

I'm not quitting just yet. I want to hit that Super Premium Charge and my projections mean I might just reach that around the middle of 2015. The thought of giving away 50% of my profit to Betunfair turns my stomach and as much as I'd still be making a substantial sum each month, I feel as though I'd rather use my time to do something more worthwhile with my life. Returning to England with the travel-blues and then forcing myself to sit down and stare at a computer for 8 hours a day knowing that 4 of those hours are basically me lining some Betfair fat cat's pockets with cocaine and whore dollars, is chundersome (I made that word up - this is what happens when writers don't write for so long. Feel free to use it).

It feels good to have made this decision. It hasn't been that long that I've been making money on Betfair but that shows you just how quickly things can spiral when you compound your winnings, are good at saving and remain patient. Last year was a very profitable year but nothing greatly out of the ordinary. This year has exploded though and next year, I aim to hit heights that I'd only dreamed of. It might not happen but even if it doesn't, I'll be satisfied with my lot and excited about the new pathway I'm about to take in life.

I've been trading tennis since February 2010 and have been full time for the majority of that period. That's well over 10,000 hours on the ladders, one year of coaching and working with other traders and four years of blogging. I've had an amazing roller-coaster of a journey and I'm beginning to feel as though I'm ready for the final chapter and a change of scenery. One final year to go then and I feel rejuvenated just knowing that. It has given me a new injection of energy and a real challenge to aim for that super premium charge. 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

My Year So Far (With New Bonus Graphs!)

I hate statistical analysis. It was one of the modules of my university course that I reluctantly had to do and it was by far my most hated one. I mostly recall trying to stay awake in lectures and taking the piss out of my tutor with a friend because he was so bloody boring - probably as you would expect from someone who was that into statistical analysis (that's a joke there, don't start crying stat fans!). Who knew it would end up the most useful part of my entire degree? So I had a good basic understanding of things like probability, variance, outliers and how to collate and interpret information well before I became a trader. It's something most traders don't pay enough attention to. It's something I didn't pay enough attention to, for too long.

Despite the knowledge I have, it is only fairly recently that I've actually bothered to store all my P&L data in graphs and charts. There's absolutely no way I would ever have bothered to do so using mathematical software but last year I discovered a fantastic website called "". This superb piece of kit is a must for all lazy gits such as myself, who can't (or can't be bothered to) use Excel. With just a few simple clicks, you can download your Betfair P&L onto your PC and then onto MyBetLog, where it is instantly turned into a variety of pie-charts, graphs and stats such as your average loss, average win and strike rate.

I've picked out the two most important/interesting graphs for you, which are my daily P&L and overall P&L (running from the start of the tennis season to July). As you can see, it's been a decent year for me so far.

December was my only losing month, though hardly counts as it was just 4 days of trading. The trend has been upwards ever since then, with April my best month and June my worst. If the trend continues, I could hit the super premium charge in roughly one year - a scary thought! As you can see, I have my fair share of losing days and my strike rate obviously shows that I'm very used to losing trades but it just goes to show that trading isn't about picking winners.

One thing I love about graphs is that they make everything seem a bit more real. When you are just looking at numbers, you don't quite get that same sense of exactly how well or how badly you are doing. Looking at these graphs (which I had updated a couple of weeks ago after 3 months of not bothering) they do put things a little into perspective for me. I think I'd taken for granted just how well I was doing and forgot to give myself a congratulatory pat on the back every so often. I've started to focus too much on the negative side of trading and not enough on the positive. Admittedly, the positive is mostly profit-related but nonetheless it's a very big positive that many people would kill for and I should remember that. But the negatives that I have written about in recent weeks are still very real. This is what I am weighing up at the moment. What's more important to me - the money and freedom or being more deeply fulfilled with a sense of purpose, challenge, enjoyment and community?

As I've said before, I feel I have a lot to offer the world in some capacity. I was thinking of becoming one of them political mediator whatsits. You know, the guys what sort out big arguments just by using their mouths. I reckon I'd be dead good at that, it's just talking sense really, innit? Take that Middle East war for example. I could get in there and sort that mess out no problem. You've got them Palestinians. Now, I know they're all pissed off cos their leader, Tony Pulis, is dead but it's really no need to start kicking off and firing rockets and shit. And the Isaralites, right, they're dropping bombs on UEFA refugee training camps and stuff - BANG out of order. I'd just go in there, to Africa or whatever, sit them down with a few pints and some pork scratchings and say "Lads, you know god doesn't even exist, right? Have you not heard of the The Big Bang Theory? No, I don't mean that pile-o-shite American sitcom that daft lasses find funny. Google it. So all this kerfuffle is a waste of time, dudes!". Out come the Ipads, job's a good 'un. I'm telling you, super premium charge in one year, Nobel Peace Prize in two.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Cocaine and Strippers

The two traders who I have most looked up to since I began learning how to trade, are Mark Iverson and Matt "Jolly Green Giant" (I also have a great deal of respect for Tradeshark but his journey is not as well documented). Mark is a genuinely nice bloke who seems very down to earth and the few personal dealings I've had with him have left me in no doubt about that. His online story is the most compelling because it's one of the few that cover the entire process of going from that initial Betfair deposit to making a quarter of a million. Matt is the guy who pretty much all of us tennis traders aspire to be. He built up from scratch and is still going strong a decade later, both as a trader and retailer of quality tinned sweetcorn. He shares much of what he does online and it's a constant reminder of what is there to be achieved if you really want it. He's also proved a generous guy in the conversations I've had with him.

My goal was initially to just make as much money per month as I did in my old job (and I really didn't make much either as a writer or before that as a teacher). I felt that I didn't want to get greedy and would be more than happy to just make enough to live off per month. I didn't even really think it was possible for a normal guy like myself, to make huge sums from trading. But when I saw what these two were doing, I gradually began to change my thinking and started to believe that I could aim for that too. There came a point last year, when things started to really take off for me, that I was convinced that I could be up there alongside these most revered of traders.

I personally don't like to talk about exactly how much I'm making and I don't tell anyone, not even my friends. I was brought up to think it is distasteful to do so and I think you'll find the same with many British people. You'll notice Mark never puts monetary figures on his graphs and I stopped showing my P&L a while back. But it's interesting to see exactly what the potential is within the markets, to know what is possible to strive for. Both Mark and Matt have liabilities in the 5 figure range, which is pretty scary territory from where I'm sitting! I'm not there yet and I don't actually need to be. So it becomes a case of, do I want to be? I'm not sure I want the added stress or the added guilt (as I mention in a recent post). I can't truly consider myself in their league unless I do push on again to that level but then, do I really want to be considered in their league? Would I get satisfaction from that? I don't spend much time on Twitter, unlike the aforementioned, who clearly both love to chat away during their trading hours. I do too but personally find it too distracting and detrimental to my trading and eyesight! But I'd probably need to do more Twitter-based activity in order to gain that same status. I thought about tweeting this little beauty from earlier this week but I couldn't quite bring myself to. Felt too much like showing-off. Besides, it's not quite £29,000! But what the hell, it's my biggest ever win so why not!

Someone recently tweeted me joking that I needed to go through the cocaine and strippers phase. It made me laugh but I think there is a grain of truth in what he said (and I'm sure he was only half joking!). I deciphered the meaning behind the tweet as being that instead of all the worrying and introspection I've been going through of late, I should just forget it by enjoying my new found monetary gains and splashing out in opulent fashion on a few vices. Maybe he's right. Maybe I need to just spend, spend, spend for a short while, get it out my system instead of over-thinking and remaining a tight-wad. Not on cocaine and strippers though. Cocaine isn't for me and never seen the point in giving away money just to be teased. Ben and Jerry's and strippers is more up my alley, though don't for one minute think I would waste the delicious ice-cream by letting it melt onto anyone's body. A friend of mine wants us to go to Las Vegas - the perfect place to splurge on pointless crap. Weird thing about that is, he's a failed gambler who would spend all night there throwing his dollars at the house and I'm a successful gambler who wouldn't even stick a quarter in a one-armed bandit!

No, I'm just not the kind of guy who is going to gleefully waste hard-earned cash on trivial shit. I've never been into material possessions and money just doesn't get me wet, so to speak. I'd much rather stay in hostels and cheap backpacker hotels, making new friends and mixing with locals, than stay in some plush 5 star palace. I love driving but I genuinely don't care about cars and know next to nothing about make and models, so shiny motor-vehicles with massive horse-power are wasted on me. I prefer a cosy flat to a big house. I do love clubbing but I go for the music, to dance and for a friendly atmosphere, not expensive bottles of champagne at exclusive table service bars where you hang out just to be seen.

I just want security and freedom, two things I never had in either of my previous jobs, which is what drove me to look for alternatives such as trading. That's what drives me to make money. Now that I have that (for the time-being at least), I'm not sure I have the ambition to move into Matt and Mark territory. They both have families to look after, which is obviously a  huge motivational factor. I don't. I'm sure having that extra responsibility brings a greater focus and intensity to your trading and these guys have fingers in pies other than their own individual trading. I don't. So I need much more to keep me interested. Exactly what that is, I'm not sure yet.

Monday, 11 August 2014


Last year, I  had my first 4 figure win on a single match. I was ecstatic at the time. It felt as though I'd reached  an important milestone and that I was now on the edge of turning my trading into something major. As time continued onwards and into 2014, that feeling of ecstasy dissolved. After a few dozen 4 figure wins, although still satisfying and enough to raise a smile, it had become an expected result. As the months rolled on, the joy almost entirely seeped out of those wins and my goals had shifted - I wanted to achieve even bigger wins. I suppose that is only natural, although it's weird because I can still remember how my heart used to pound furiously 5 years ago when I was close to greening up for less than £2 (I started on the Betfair minimum stake)!

But then the guilt appeared. This is a very unusual sensation to feel about your work and one I never expected. I started to think about what I was doing and whether I really deserved to be making such sums of money. If I can make 4 figure sums, often in as little as just a few minutes, for basically gambling, for doing something that doesn't contribute to society in any way whatsoever, is that OK? I'm sure this is not something that crosses every trader's mind but it does for me and I find it hard to just ignore.

Of course, it would be unbalanced to say it was just me making big wins every trade. I have plenty of losses too. It's not as though I'm Wayne Rooney, earning literally thousands of pounds per hour even when he's sitting on his arse by some 5 star hotel's private swimming pool having a sneaky fag and a sangria in the off-season. Footballers and other highly paid sports stars do get it in the neck from people for earning such bloated wages, out of proportion most would agree, with their actual contribution to society. I think most of us are in agreement that those kind of wages are obscene but hardly immoral. You can also argue that if it weren't for us, the paying public and football consumer, he wouldn't be able to command those fees anyway. If Rooney scores a goal for Manchester United but there is no one there to see it, does it really mean anything?

 Heidi El Tabakh

People also tend to forget the hard work that Rooney has put in to get where he is. Just as I sometimes forget just how much graft I put in for years to get to where I am. I admit I did things the hard way and I didn't need to make it such a painful ride but nonetheless, very few successful traders reach the top without some sort of sacrifice. So why do I still feel guilty? Maybe it's because at least Rooney brings some joy to fans lives (not England fans but you get what I;m saying) and the entertainment he and his peers provide could be considered a valuable contribution to society, if we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. What does my trading do for anyone other than me? True, I've probably provided a good few mortgage downpayments, designer suits, snazzy watches or cocaine and whore evenings (depending on  how you want to look at it - I prefer the latter) for Betfair directors but other than that? Not a jot. Maybe that is what pains me a little. Or maybe I just feel bad because I think about what someone doing something meaningful, like a nurse (which is usually the first profession brought up in these kind of discussions) earns in the same amount of time it takes me to green up my totally self-centred tennis trade completed in less than the time it takes to change a bed-pan.

It just doesn't feel right sometimes. Maybe if Rooney could actually see the money he earns on a screen as it comes in like in the  link above, he would also feel guilty. Hell, perhaps he DOES feel guilty! Having that big all-green figure staring at you is something no other profession I can think of actually has. You can see your wages as you get them and so it magnifies the emotions involved. Rooney probably never even looks at his bank account. I certainly do and I feel good about it these days. I guess that's all that really matters. Isn't it?

Friday, 8 August 2014

First World Problems

Today, my internet went down, taking my trading software and Betfair with it. I immediately logged off, closed the laptop and headed out for a stroll and to collect that 2 for 1 offer on Ben and Jerry's Half Baked (that's the cookie dough and chocolate fudge brownie combo that I've become scarily addicted to).

Doesn't sound like much, does it. But going back less than a couple of years, I would have reacted far differently. Neck muscles would have pulled,  furniture dented, doors smashed, cakes thrown at walls (once), obscenities rained down and screams pierced the air. I couldn't handle anything that went against me and the valuable time required to get back those accumulated losses. It got me thinking about what else has changed about me since I began trading (and blogging). I'm definitely stronger. I care less about what others think. My self belief is higher. I probably have a harder exterior. I worry less (though it won't seem like that from my recent posts!). I look at the challenges and obstacles of life in a much calmer and resilient manner. Overall, I'm a more relaxed, confident individual.

I don't trade as much as I did in those early years. It was a 7 day a week obsession for me but I now try not to trade on weekends - though I do occasionally get suckered into a big final or a"sure thing" on a Sunday! I take more days off during the week too. I have two holidays planned for this year and one of them is during the tennis season - this is unheard of for me! I'm still acutely aware that I should make hay whilst the sun shines and so still treat it as an +8 hour a day job but I'm just a lot more relaxed about my time off now. It used to play on my mind and I'd worry about whether I was doing the right thing by socialising instead of trading but these days, it doesn't register. If I feel like going out, I go out. I could just as easily stay in and end up losing money, which only makes the whole situation even worse - a double whammy of cash down the plughole and a missed date with a fully-loaded chick (and yes, I have actually cancelled dates just to stay in and trade before!).

I'd say this year has been the first when I've been truly content with my trading life and the work-life balance. There's no coincidence that I also am more profitable and financially stable for the first time. Once those worries about how much you have to survive on for the foreseeable future dissipate, it makes it very easy to relax and just go with the flow. Then all of a sudden, lesser worries (such as which ISA should I put my savings into?,  am I talking to myself too much?, am I eating too much Ben and Jerry's? and what the hell is an ISA anyway?) start taking the place of the older, serious ones (like can I pay the rent this month?, have I dislocated my shoulder from punching the door too hard? and is this really worth me staying up till 5am after another 16 hour day hunched over a laptop sweating on some 17 year old Serbian girl as she pumps yet another forehand into the net costing me a month's worth of groceries in the process?). I believe the former worries are known as "First world problems" (with a hashtag stuck to the front of course). If those are the only worries you've got, then life must be pretty sweet. But I'm just not sure if I'm being totally fulfilled by the actual work anymore.

Katarzyna Piter

The challenge of cracking trading has gone and I never really figured how that would affect me. I guess you don't know until it happens but I didn't really think it would be an issue if the money was rolling in. I thought I wouldn't care as long as I was comfortable financially and able to facilitate an active social life. But now, I'm wondering if I need more than that.  My outlook is starting to change. Don't get me wrong, trading for a living is a wonderful opportunity and has changed my life in ways I never thought were possible. I thank my lucky stars every day that I can do what I do but I also know that there's more to life than money. I have realised that I'm not a money-driven person and I think you really need to be in order to be a pro trader because you aren't really getting any satisfaction from helping others, contributing to society or creating anything interesting. Whilst I was learning how to trade, all of this didn't bother me but now, it really is causing me to re-evaluate my work.

I know I have a lot to offer the world in some capacity but at the same time, I'd be stupid to throw away the incredible income stream I have fought so hard to generate. It's a real conundrum................just like wondering whether I should eat a full tub of Ben and Jerry's in one day (I should).

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The First Sign of Madness

They say that talking to oneself is the first sign of madness. If that's the case, I'm ready for the men in white coats and have been for quite a while. 5 years of solitary trading has turned me into a jabbering idiot - at least, that is how I'd appear if anyone spied through my keyhole. Most of the conversation (and we are talking full blown conversations, often with me taking the role of two people with opposing views) would be deathly dull stuff about whether I should lay some 16 year old Croatian prodigy who should still be in school (that really doesn't sound right, does it) rather than hitting the cover off a yellow ball in 100 degree heat in some Asian backwater. But increasingly, it is becoming more conversations about life in general.

Just the fact I'm having these conversations out loud with myself is enough to concern me (especially when I start to vary up the accents) but perhaps it's a sign I am in need of more human contact? I've always been the kind of person who is fine working alone and I enjoy my own company (I really am delightful companionship) but for the first time in a long time, I have started to crave some real-life interaction. I guess I was so deep within the trading bubble for so long, whilst I was learning and desperate to succeed, that I didn't even have time to miss other people. I was too intensely busy and highly motivated to have conversations about last night's episode of Breaking Bad, anyway. But now I have lost much of that intensity, due to the simple fact I'm doing quite well now. I'm almost on cruise-control in a sense. Auto-pilot has been activated and that has taken much of the hard focus out of my days.

Twitter would be the answer to this but I had to ban myself from using it so much because I just became too addicted. Whilst I'd love nothing more than  to shoot the breeze about tennis with extremely knowledgeable tennis folk such as @hotdog6969 @theoverrule @tennisratings @darkdyson @sportdw @seancalvert1 @duckdablackswan @forcederrors (and many others I've forgotten) I just find myself getting so engrossed that my concentration wanes and I make silly mistakes on the ladders. As I have no one to chat to around the water cooler at work, this has freed up areas of my mind to go wandering absently through the great wonders of life. This can be a dangerous thing, not only because it's very easy to lose focus whilst daydreaming and it only takes a split second for that to ruin a trade but also because it means you ponder over things and start to build up worries.

Ajla Tomljanovic

What seems like another life-time ago, I was a teacher. This is about as sociable a job as you can get. No two days are the same and I was guaranteed varied conversations with many people from all kinds of backgrounds. It's the complete opposite of trading, where I literally never chat to anyone face to face and the the days all meld into one. I know other tennis traders can and do chat on Twitter or in chatrooms whilst they trade, so maybe it's only me who struggles with this aspect. I've never found a way around this and so now, I just talk to myself. Although ironically, this is an excellent technique for keeping focus and being thorough with your analysis as you trade in-play. So it's not all bad!

But I think I am now reaching the stage where perhaps solo trading is actually starting to turn me a tad insane. I have started to wonder what it would be like to have a trading partner; someone to discuss trades with in private and perhaps work together as a team. Potentially it could make a whole world of difference, providing a bit of companionship, sharing the work-load and having a second opinion on tap. Could that even work? Would that person need to physically be in the same room for it to be of any use? Would that mean I couldn't trade in my pants whilst scratching my balls, blasting house music and eating whole tubs of Ben and Jerry's anymore? Probably. Ah well.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

No Balls, Please

A few times a week, mid-trading session, I like to go out for a stroll to get some fresh air, stretch my legs and focus my bleary eyes on something more than a practically invisible tennis ball 12 inches from my face. I usually go to my local golf course. I hate golf but the course has lovely panoramic views for miles around and is lush and well tended. It's usually pretty quiet during the week, so I don't get in the way of too many old duffers out ruining a good walk. You get the odd dog-walker and runner or a stray school-kid on their lunch break but other than that, it's very peaceful and I sometimes get the entire course to myself.

One of the few regulars I see, is an old man. He usually just appears out of nowhere from behind a bush. No, he's not a flasher but he does like exposed balls. He collects stray golf balls. He spends all day just wandering around the course, picking up white balls. I presume he sells them back to the course owners in exchange for a few pennies. I suppose it's not the worst job in the world. You spend all day outdoors in a picturesque environment. But I always feel a sense of anxiety whenever I see him - because I'm scared that I'll end up the same as him. I don't want to be that guy - scratching around in the undergrowth in order to make a few pennies. Maybe he doesn't need the money (although from the scruffy look of him and always miserable face, I'm guessing he probably does) but then I'd ask the question "why isn't he spending his retirement time with family or friends?". I don't know why but it just scares me to think about how he has ended up in this predicament.

I first spotted him around the time I began tennis trading and the thought that I might one day end up like him if I didn't succeed, steadily grew in line with my own debt. In some respects, the ball collecting man drove me on to do well when I was feeling like jacking it all in. The fear of having to sink to collecting golf balls for a living, made me buck my ideas up and strive harder to succeed. Not that I wasn't already but it was extra spur.

I still get that nauseating feeling even now when I spot him, even though my debt worries are long gone and I will be comfortable for years to come - barring a disaster. But what happens if there is a disaster? I've lived on the edge for a few years now and have come through it but things can change. I think more and more about what I'm going to do with the money I've accumulated and how I'm going to invest it in future. At the moment, I don't need to do anything other than keep doing what I'm doing. I don't require vast sums of liquidity to make what I need to live off and to save substantial amounts but I'm thinking about what my next move could be. A new challenge perhaps? A new direction?

 Ana Ivanovic

The natural move is to diversify into other sports but none of them interest me; basketball, cricket, horses and of course, golf. No thanks. Only football would be able to hold my interest and long term readers will know exactly how bad my footy trading was! I don't think I could face going back into that after all the time I wasted on it previously. So the next move would be into financials. Again, no thank you sir! I'd rather bathe my eyeballs in vinegar than spend my days in the cold, stuffy, suit 'n' tie world of business.

So where to next? I'm still figuring that one out. But I guess I'm reaching an age where I'm starting to think about saving for retirement. It's still a long way off but you have to act a bit more sensibly when you are self employed! Maybe my trip abroad next year will bring some enlightenment on what to do. Spending so much time wandering around temples tends to make you think deeply and introspectively, even if you do believe religion is a complete waste of time. I'm doing plenty of that right now as you can tell, without the aid of a temple. Just a man with balls.