Re: Second Guessing

Having commented on an excellent post over on Cassini’s Blog he returned the favour in spades and devoted a whole blog post about a traders (bettors) mindset using my comment as a basis upon which to write the piece.  The blog post can be found here at Green All Over .  Rather than posting a lengthy answer to the questions he raises by commenting back to that post I thought I would use this post to address a couple of matters that I feel should be expanded upon.

For those that may not be inclined to chase through a series of links and comments to get the gist of what is going on here’s a quick summary.  The Financial Times recently ran an article about sports psychology and in particular the loss of form that has befallen a certain Mr F Torres (c/o the Chelsea subs bench).  Peter Webb, over at Bet Angel, picked up on this story and suggests that not only are high profile athletes and sportsmen and women susceptible to this loss of form but it can also apply to people who are actively participating in the sporting markets, ie bettors, layers, and traders.  Finally Cassini tied the two articles together on his own blog.  I commented and this in turn spawned a whole new blog post from Cassini (linked to above)…the next bit on here is my response to a couple of points that arose.

Cassini writes:   “I am puzzled why it is not possible for him to build up from a small bank once again. The original bank was blown due to a lack of discipline, i.e. not following the system correctly, but if there is an edge, then a fresh bank and correctly proportioned stakes would see the bank build up once more.”

Quite simply I don’t have a significant enough amount of extra cash to just dump into an account and start again. Not sure whether I ever will but I remain optimistic and in the meantime I’m exploring some avenues that will take a fair while to assess to see if they are worth pursuing over the longer term.

I’ve long banged on about having a reasonable bank if you are in any way serious about punting for a living. £40-50k is be the figure I would come up with….anything less and it’s just a hobby.  I’ve funded my Betfair account on several occasions since the crash in 2005 but I know that it’s just play money and ultimately it ends up in someone else’s account.  I think my mindset is to blame again as I find myself so desperate to build the bank up quickly I end up getting involved in all sorts of nonsense, particularly when it comes to football bets.  There’s so much cheating going on especially in South America. And another beef I have is the absolute dirge that Betfair serves up on their in play markets.  Unbelievable crap like the Serbian Women’s Potato Picking League 3rd Division (you get my drift)…this garbage has no place on any exchange market, in play or otherwise.  But I’m off on a tangent now so back to the topic…

The situation I now find myself in means that any money I do put into my betting bank that grows beyond a few quid into something a little more substantial ends up getting taken out again. In other words I simply have to sweep some out to help pay for bills and what not so the betting bank never really gets a chance to build up to much.  I agree wholeheartedly with the point that I could start off from scratch and build up slowly but that would require an initial sum of money that I can absolutely do without and in the area that I live jobs that pay enough to facilitate this are few and far between.

Cassini again:  “Without knowing the details of Swearbox’s horse-racing edge, I have doubts that even if there was a genuine edge there for a time, that in this sport such an edge could be expected to last for too long. If the edge was mathematical, it would be found out sooner or later, or too many members in the syndicate would drive the edge down to zero or negative, and if the edge was knowledge based, then this is clearly a weakness. Swearbox states that “my info was emailed every day and there was a set strategy to follow” but it is this total reliance on others which makes the decision to go full-time even more risky than having a self-developed edge, or preferably edges. It’s easy with hindsight to say that Swearbox should have waited until he had built up more funds, or given the system longer, but there are other factors that go into making a decision of this kind that only Swearbox knows in full.”

I’m not really sure that we had an edge to speak of.  Do such things exist over the longer term?  As I pointed out in my earlier post my info came direct via email.  A team of private handicappers assessed the races each day and came up with a list of horses that they considered value lays at the price.  What they based their decisions on I don’t know though my spreadsheets show some really solid long term profitable performances so they had to be doing something right.

As Cassini says it’s all very well having an edge but if your staking plan is no good it’s next to useless.  I think our staking strategy was very good and if I were to go back to the period when I was punting full time (2003, 2004, 2005) I would only change one thing and that would be NOT to bet every day even though there would be info every day.

This is gambling after all and there is always the danger of a day when all the horses marked as lays will win and it happened twice in quick succession back in 2005 and ultimately led to an end to my pro punting.  Yes we had stop losses but if you hit a bad day where 75% or more of the results went against you it would cost you a weeks profits.  If you believe in fate those two days were always just sitting there waiting to happen and ready to bust your bank.  By tweaking the system slightly and maybe limiting bets to two or three times a week you would be lessening the chances of being in front of your pc when those fateful days came around and therefore in better shape to avoid those guaranteed losses.  But that’s all in the past and hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The problem is when you’ve tasted the good times and the freedom that betting professionally gives you it’s like an ache that never goes away.  Not because of the thrill – if you bet for the thrill then take the easy route and set fire to your money, you’ll reach the endpoint much sooner that way.  It’s just the freedom thing that I miss terribly.  Many pros complain about the solitude and loneliness of sitting in front of a pc in your home office but I’m not one of them.  Not that I’m an avid twitterer or facebooker but these days you’ve got a virtual world of acquaintances and friends at your fingertips so you’re hardly alone.

Having been there and done that I’m fully in agreement with Peter Webb’s remarks that people who actively participate in the activity of betting in sporting markets can reach a point whereby they lose their confidence to such an extent that it all starts to go horribly wrong.  I don’t know what the antidote is and neither, it appears for now, does Fernando Torres.  I just hope things turn around for the better both in my case and, even though I don’t much care for Chelski, for Torres too – it must be pure hell being in his boots these days.

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3 Responses to Re: Second Guessing

  1. mully1 says:

    Interesting piece-a good read.

    • swearbox says:

      Cheers Mully. I’ve just been looking through a few of my older posts and there are a couple of war stories in there that made me smile. Unfortunately WordPress (the free version) doesn’t allow for a widget to highlight your own favourite posts. It goes by it’s own internal stats. I’m sure there’s a way round it but would be a bit of pissing about but nevertheless it would highlight some of the posts that are buried but are, in my own opinion, an interesting read.

  2. mully1 says:

    War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing…say it again 😀

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