Thursday, 31 March 2011

End Of Season System

With April traditionally my worst month of the year for trading, expect few, if any, posts for a couple of weeks as I will be spending a couple of weeks in the US with my son watching David Beckham, visiting some of California's MLB stadia for some early season games, and watching what is likely to be the Sacramento Kings last ever road game in their history. Strangely, Mrs. Cassini doesn't share the same love of sports or sense of history, choosing to spend the time with friends and family. Very odd.

Back to the Sacramento Kings, and it's looking increasingly probable that they will start next season in Anaheim, their sixth city after Rochester, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Omaha and Sacramento, and reclaim their original Royals moniker since there's already one 'Kings' team in the greater LA area. History repeating itself in a way, as they lost the Royals name after moving to Kansas City where there was already a 'Royals' baseball team.

A few days ago I promised a strategy for the end of the football season, and I'm a man of my word. It's not rocket science, but given the fact that from now until the end of the season is 'silly' season, simply lay all qualifying favourites. I say 'qualifying' because as I mentioned last December, the value on teams at 1.3 or less is in backing them, not laying.

In the top five European leagues last season, laying qualifying favourites from April on would have given 46.3 points profit from 315 matches, 14.7% ROI.

It's a simple, low-risk strategy, which should soothe the frustrations of spending hours poring over stats only to see everything go out the window with teams giving less than their all. I can't believe I give this stuff away!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Who Needs Jim?

Robin asks "Just wondering if you had seen the Chievo v Sampdoria draw price for the game scheduled this Sunday?". I actually hadn't looked at this weekend's games yet, but thanks for 'drawing' my attention to it Robin. With over £300k traded already - compare with Lecce v Udinese at a little over £3k, one might suspect that we may see two teams not exactly battling it out this weekend.

While Chievo are probably safe, Sampdoria are less so, with eight defeats in the last ten matches, but remaining home games against two of the likely to-be-relegated teams, plus an away game at the hapless and doomed Bari, a draw may well suit both teams. Sampdoria drew their first four away games this season, and once since, and have failed to score in the last seven away matches (including that one recent draw). 0-0 has traded at 3.4, 1-1 at 3.0 and 2-2 at 3.05.

You can do your head in going back and forth over whether to back the draw or lay it, but it often helps to look at history. Over the past two seasons, there have been three Chievo home games with a suspect draw price. In 2008-09, they drew 0-0 with Bologna, while in 2009-10 they drew 1-1 with Catania and 0-0 with Parma. Of the other six 'dodgy' games in the last two seasons, 'only' 50% finished as draws. I shall let you 'draw' your own conclusions from those stats.

Perhaps not surprising that it's the lower to mid-table teams that seem most often involved in these 'settle for a point' games. Chievo Verona, Catania and Bologna most often appear while Udinese in seasons with nothing to play for have a couple to their name.

Another thing, since it's reasonable to assume the referee will be aware of the situation, wouldn't you think he'd want to award a late penalty to someone, just to piss the teams off?

On a similar topic, the possibility of a ban on in-play matches may be of interest to some of you:

The media across Europe is reporting extensively on speculation that football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA are seriously considering a ban on one of the most popular betting channels – in-game wagering.

Both bodies claim that the increasingly popular pastime of betting whilst games are in progress represents a bigger threat of manipulation than the more conventional gambling on results.

Marco Villiger, head of legal affairs at world soccer’s ruling body FIFA, and Gianni Infantino, general secretary of European counterparts UEFA, expressed concern this week over betting on things like the next free kick, throw-in or yellow card.

“These live bets are a problem,” said Villiger. “It’s very easy to manipulate if you contact a player and tell him to kick the ball into touch at the start.

“You would be able to bet on that and it would be difficult to decide if it is an irregular bet or not. We will have to think about whether we should continue to offer such live bets,” he added.

Infantino said the soccer authorities planned to consult with operators, noting: “This is something we want to address. It’s something we haven’t focused on too much since we were always focusing on the result, then you realise it switches much more from the result to the live betting. This is much more difficult to monitor. This is people betting on the next goal, the next throw-in, the next yellow card.”

UEFA president Michel Platini has described match-fixing as the biggest scourge facing the sport, and noted that FIFA is already investigating two friendly internationals played in the Turkey recently where a total of seven penalties were awarded, one of which was taken twice when the first effort was saved.

Monday, 28 March 2011


I read an investment article recently that suggested investors are taking the buy-local movement a little too much too heart, with the typical household having about 30% of its portfolio invested in shares head-quartered locally.

Many investors believe that local knowledge gives them an edge when it comes to investing, but data proves them wrong. A recent study found that investors with a local bias tend not to come out ahead, even when betting on small companies that aren't widely followed by analysts. Apparently, investors too often confuse "something familiar with something safe".
Another parallel between business and sports investing, at least for me. As I wrote not too long ago, one of the hardest things for me when I'm trading a game is to trade a game with a completely open mind. While I should base decisions solely on what is taking place in front of me, it's very hard to - for example - erase the memory of the game last week when one of the teams collapsed, or had a stunning comeback, or whatever. Trading is not a time to embrace the warm, fuzzy feelings you may have about a team or a player, however much you made from them in previous contests.

Something familiar is not to be confused with something safe when it comes to money, although arguably, it's a different matter when it comes to sex. I'm pretty sure it was Mark Twain who said "Familiarity breeds contempt - and children".

Sunday, 27 March 2011

NBA Daily Picks Added

Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster picks found a winner after four blank weeks as Aldershot Town drew with Accrington Stanley 1-1 at 3.25. His other picks of Cheltenham Town v Gillingham (3.3) finished 1-2 and Hereford United v Crewe Alexandra (3.40) finished 1-0, but with backing draws, one winner in three will guarantee you a healthy profit.

The third entry in the Cassini Portfolio, behind Football Elite and Stock Lemon is NBA Daily Picks. I'll be updating these results over at Gold All Over in the form of screenshots, since blogger is somewhat inadequate for displaying tables. Football Elite's results are already updated on their own website, so I'll not bother with those, especially as I am selective about which of their selections to back.

The Stock Lemon and NBA Daily Picks are for small stakes, with the reduction of the Premium Charge the long-term goal. Just a bit of fun really. The NBA Daily Picks uses a progressive staking system (named 33% System) which I am not generally a fan of, but for small stakes if you like this more aggressive approach, when used on selections in the 1.9 to 2.1 range, it's not going to prove too expensive.

Stopping at a profit, or after six bets, the stakes start at 1 unit, and rise to 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x and 12.5x (unless the final bet will be unable to make up earlier losses).

The NBA Daily Tips have a reported record of WIN-LOSE: 67-64-1 (51.15%), with the 33% System in profit by 8.75 units, while Level Stakes shows a loss of 0.30 units.

With the NBA season coming to an end, and the baseball season fast approaching, I'm on the lookout for site offering MLB selections to carry me through the summer.

Graeme Dand (Nap)

After reading what is quite possibly the longest post in recorded blog history by Graeme Dand, aka The Football Analyst, I looked at an earlier comment of mine over there to see if Graeme had replied. My comment was that I planned to read from the beginning some time soon - Graeme's reply?:

Cheers Cassini. It won't take too long to catch up with historical posts. I tried my best to not write too much this season as I wasn't sure the blog would last until Christmas, let alone the end of the season!
Yeah, well if that's Graeme's idea of 'not writing too much', I sure hope he doesn't get the writing bug any time soon. I had to take a short nap in the middle of that last one, and at my age that's something I try to avoid, in case I don't wake up from it.

When Bots Go Wild

The draw in the Serie B Padova v Atalanta game yesterday, traded pre-game at a slightly suspicious 1.5, with over half a million pounds on that outcome, so hardly a surprise that the game finished 1-1.

Football Elite's poor run continued with Belgium overturning Austria 2-0 on Friday, and their official ROI is now down to 2.6% on the season. I don't usually bet on Internationals, and this was no exception, so I ducked a loser there.

Some bizarre goings on in the College Basketball game between Arizona and Connecticut, or rather after the game. Connecticut had won the game, but the market wasn't immediately suspended, something that's not unusual. After the 1.01 was swept, some more appeared, then some at 1.02, then 1.03 and it appeared that money was appearing incrementally up to 1.2. As an experiment I put in a small back at 1.67, the best on the lay side, and it was taken. Unfortunately for me, I have never asked for the default maximum exposure of £5,000 to be raised, so I was all-in too low. But for once, free money really was free money.

Patient Speculation came up with the idea of a Portfolio 'Lite', and I thought I might unashamedly copy it. I started last night using Stock Lemon, who were on a roll during the Sweet Sixteen stage of the NCAA Tournament. They went 1 out of 2 today, missing out by 1/2 point on the previously mentioned U Conn game, as they won by 2, not the 2 1/2 I needed, but the winner (Butler +4) was at 2.12 so I'm happy. Not that the PC will be a problem next week after I got my fingers burned earlier this week!

Friday, 25 March 2011

On Tilt In Iowa

An interesting article by Katie Connolly on the possibility of online poker being legalised in some US States on the BBC page today. Iowa, Florida, California and Nevada are all mentioned as among the first wave, and for anyone who has spent time in the US, the presence of Iowa in that list is a little odd - I guess money talks.

There is also an interesting mention of poker being a game of skill and strategy, rather than a game of chance, something that would also apply to sports betting and trading. I liked the quote too, that "Poker players are motivated by patience and skill, not compulsion".

Here's the article in full:

Each year, an estimated 10 million Americans participate in an activity that is ostensibly illegal: online poker.

In recent years, the US Congress has done its best to prohibit online poker.

While it has not made online poker an outright criminal activity, it has passed legislation setting up a strict system outlawing financial transactions related to the game.

That has led to a proliferation of offshore gaming sites reaping the benefits of a multi-million dollar industry.

But that might be about to change, if cash-strapped states have anything to say about it.

Moves are afoot in Iowa, Florida, California and Nevada to legalise online poker, in part to help close yawning budget gaps.

In regulating internet poker, state and federal authorities could potentially rake in $3bn (£1.9bn) a year. In Iowa alone, the tax revenue could be in the order of $35m (£22m) per year.

And, proponents argue, they could mandate consumer protections for players, who these days must deal with often shadowy foreign entities in order to play.

But opponents of legalisation are ready for a fight.

Social conservatives generally worry about the effect of easily accessible gambling in the home, particularly its allure for problem gamblers.

They decry the degenerative effect they believe online gambling has on families, with parents spending more time gambling on the sofa than paying attention to their home life.

Les Bernal, executive director of the Stop Predatory Gambling group, sees an unholy alliance between government and the gaming industry.

"It's not like average citizens are calling up the government saying 'we want more places to lose money'," he told the BBC.

"Government, in partnership with the million dollar gambling business, is actively encouraging people to lose money."

He calls gambling "the most predatory industry in America", arguing that the business model depends on addicted or heavily indebted individuals losing large amounts.

"Instead of putting casinos on Main Street, you are essentially putting one into every home office and dorm room in America, 24 hours a day," he said.

But poker enthusiasts across the country tend to make a distinction between poker and other forms of gambling.

Poker is a game of skill and strategy, not a matter of chance like the humble slot machine, they argue.

Poker rewards those who dedicate time to learning the mathematical, social and strategic intricacies of the game, in a way that a roll of the dice does not.

John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA), jokes that there is no such thing as the world's greatest lottery player.

He also notes that poker is the only peer-to-peer casino game. Players bet against each other, not the house.

For that reason, he says, the profitability of online poker is not reliant on people losing lots of money in the way that roulette is, for example.

Online sites tend to make their money by taking a small proportion of bets placed. If money is lost, it goes to another player rather than the house.

Mr Pappas also argues that poker is not the sort of quick win or lose game where compulsive or desperate players believe they can place a fast bet and win in a heartbeat.

"Because poker is a game of skill, it is the outcome of the performance of the individual player that determines whether you win or lose," he said.

"Poker players are motivated by patience and skill, not compulsion."

Hogwash, says Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

In his line of work, he says, drawing a distinction between poker and other forms of gambling is "pretty ridiculous".

"The reason poker is popular, exciting and profitable is because it's gambling," he said.

NCPG is completely neutral on the issue of online poker - in its view, addicted gamblers have a problem regardless of the forum in which they play.

But if online poker is legalised, Mr Whyte sees important opportunities for regulations that could help prevent problem gamblers getting in too deep.

He points to the UK as a leader in policing online gambling for the protection of players. There, sites are required to verify identities, link to help services for addicts and provide support for those services.

Following the British lead, he is lobbying American lawmakers to ensure that regulations mandate things like deposit limits - where a player can specify the amount he or she is willing to spend in a given day or week so they do not get too far into debt - and self-exclusion rules, where an individual can ban him or herself from a site for a period of time.

He also suggests cooling-off periods when players reach their limits, and wants to see protections against fraud and player collusion.

Mr Whyte says there are more opportunities to monitor problem behaviour in online poker than, for example, when somebody walks into a betting agency to wager on horse racing.

The PPA is somewhat wary of the push by individual states to legalise online poker.

State-based laws would only legalise games within that state. But for sites to attract players, they need to offer lots of games - hundreds - at all times of the day and night, with different buy-ins and skill levels.

The PPA would prefer national legislation.

Mr Pappas is hopeful that, after several aborted attempts, Congress will act on online poker this year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the leading Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, Barney Frank, are leading the charge.

"There's a recognition that the status quo is untenable," Mr Pappas says.

"It's a growing industry, with jobs and revenue and it is all based overseas. To the extent that there are consumer protection issues, there is no US oversight."

But perhaps more important to Mr Pappas is the game's quintessential American-ness. He fears that in shifting from the kitchen table to the computer table, opponents have sullied the game's cultural history.

"Americans watch poker on television. The vast majority have played with their parents, kids or friends," he says. "It's a game that encapsulates the American spirit. It's part of Americana."
There was also a side-bar from Andy Bloch, professional poker champion, who said:
Online poker helped me fine-tune my game a lot because you play so many more hands and you have a record, a complete hand history, saved on your computer. You can go back and look at your results and study individual hands and identify weaknesses in your game.

Every 10 years or so there is a new wave of poker players. The internet is the newest incarnation. Because in the online world you can play so many hands, you don't have physical tells, and because you can play multiple hands at a time, there are more players who play a much more mechanical game - closer to game theory - than there have been in the past.

The libertarian in me would like to see all online gambling legalised, but online poker is different. The house has no stake in who wins or loses. So the house is going to actually want people to get better and treat it more as entertainment or an educational pastime, not just as a way to try to get money from you.

Their incentive is not to get you to lose. Their incentive is to get you to enjoy playing.

Peaks And Valleys

A good comment from modestly named Average Guy, who in response to my comment that "At the end of the day, if you're the sort of person who has problems with discipline, you're unlikely to honestly report all your bets anyway." wrote this:

As usual very perceptive and accurate. My ranting BLOG stemmed from he belief that blogging would impose self discipline, how wrong was I? I don't report profits / losses any more as my selective amnesia meant I omitted the trades I preferred to forget. Don't know how your writing style has evolved as I'm a recent convert but further evolution is not necessary. Great work congrats on the 3 years.
The timing was almost prescient, since it coincided with one of my bigger disasters, and while I don't like to discuss numbers, either profits or losses, it occurred to me that readers of my blog possibly get the impression that I make steady profits each day, with barely a hiccup. In fact, while most days are profitable, those days are interspersed with the occasional disaster (defined here as a four figure loss). If you count the 'loss' of £1,400 I mentioned in the last post, I have now achieved the rare distinction of back-to-back disasters with the latest shown in the screenshot above. Fortunately, rare indeed, with the last time being May 2008 when I hit three disasters in four days, but it's at times like these when you look at the big picture and realise it's not so bad. I'm back to where I was on 7 March, so that's two wasted weeks in a way, but a lesson in sensible staking.

Yes, it's annoying, and there's always that feeling of 'if only' you hadn't bet, but you have to look at all the other days and see that 'if only' you hadn't bet on those days either, you'd be far worse off. If that statement isn't true, then you're not finding value. I really would prefer a smooth daily profit, but betting isn't like that.

I almost need the occasional slap on the wrist to stop me getting carried away. To use a topical allegory, in the same way that the further into distant memory the last tsunami was, the more we think it less likely there will be another one. While I prefer my reminders to be a little more gentle, in retrospect I was a little greedy.

I've been here before, and the process is that I scale back for a few days while I rebuild confidence and balance, then hit a new high, increase stakes, and inevitably, sooner or later, take another hit.

Remind me again - what was it I said about Thursdays a few days ago?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Wosing Or Linning?

Thanks for all the comments on the third anniversary post. The blog rested for a couple of days, enjoying the moment, but now it’s back for a fourth year of interesting insights, fascinating facts, titillating trivia and contemporary commentary, and much, much more.

Back to the comments, and Graeme Dand, aka The Football Analyst, left a comment, and his blog has been added to the blog roll on the right. He was quite right in that I didn’t know he was now blogging again, but having had a quick look, I now know what the reference to System 8-22 in The Portfolio Investor's blog post was all about. Graeme mentions that he has read every single post since the blogs inception, which no doubt is a big factor in his success these days.

Mark made an interesting comment. He mentioned that my running (jogging) might be a secret to keeping the blog (pun intended) running, and that the time spent in the solitude this activity provides is a source for ideas. It’s actually only in the last few months that I have been running with any frequency, and even then usually only two or three times a week. After two knee surgeries, I have to baby it somewhat, but yes, I do often find myself thinking about ideas for the blog as I struggle for oxygen. Running is a great stress reliever, and frees up the mind like nothing else. There are too many distractions at the gym for my liking, and cycling requires a level of awareness of one’s surroundings that running doesn’t need, so in my opinion, a run or walk in a scenic area takes some beating.

HCE's blog is also a stayer, with over 1,000 posts and on the narrower theme of 2-year-old horses, that's quite impressive!

And thanks again to everyone else who took the time to comment.

I mentioned that my next post would reveal a profitable strategy for the closing weeks of the football season, but I need to delay this for a few days. I want to look at a few leagues other than the two I used it in last season, and see just how brilliant a system it is before I put it out there complete with ROIs. Be patient – we have a break this weekend with international games that really don’t set the pulse racing (something else that running is good for).

Now, did I win today, or lose £1,400? Earlier today, in round figures, I made a profit of £200 on the early morning Los Angeles Clippers v Washington Wizards game. It was late on in one of those games where the market just couldn’t get away from making the Clippers, favoured by 13.5 on the handicap, big favourites in the Match Odds markets even though the game was close. Over the years, backing the ‘dog in these games is a long-term winning strategy. As I have written before, if two teams are separated by two or three points after three quarters of the game has been played, then on the night, there is not much to choose between them. When the Wizards finally went ahead in the closing stages of regulation time, and I could lay off at 1.3, I was sitting very pretty with £1,000 green all over. The Clippers hit a three-pointer to tie the game and send it to overtime, at the start of which, the Clippers were around 1.5. Why?

So again I layed the Clippers, and at the start of the second overtime period, I was now 1,600 green all over with the Clippers again too short at 1.5. Unfortunately, this time I got caught out. Despite being, in my opinion, appalling value at 1.5, and with their two stars in foul trouble, the Clippers scored first, and won going away in the end, and my £6k green on the Wizards never made it to my balance, and while £200 at the start of my involvement would have been acceptable, having at one time been green to the tune of eight times as much, the usual sweetness of the win had a slightly sour taste to it.

It’s all about the expectation. When I’m in a hole and somehow manage to emerge from a market with a small green, or even a small red, I’m a lot happier than I am when winning £200 after having been ahead by much more earlier. A draw in football is always a more pleasing result when coming from behind. If you get ahead, you can’t help but start to start thinking in terms of that outcome being the final one, and similarly if you get behind, there’s an acceptance that this is just not going to be your day. When the final outcome differs to that, you perceive the result from a different perspective.

Anyway, while things could have been better, it just wasn’t to be today, but with these types of bets, the fact that these bets are value means they are profitable long-term. Sadly that doesn’t mean they’re profitable every time. I expect too much.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Happy Birthday Blog

This blog has now been running for three years, with a total of 1,003 posts before today. Not all have been hugely interesting admittedly, but the other 1,000 have been...

There're not too many of us who have been around for three years in blog world, but my first two commenters are still around - Graeme Dand, who courtesy of The Portfolio Investor and the comments section is alive and well and doing very nicely right now:

And finally, what news of Graeme Dand - The Football Analyst - who was tantalisingly close to the jackpot in the 'Racing Post's' Cheltenham Festival competition? Well, the lad done good, as they say. Just not quite good enough! (but darned good all the same). He finished second, just five points off the winner. Gutted for him to be honest but he wins a decent sum for his efforts. If you're reading this Graeme, hard luck, mate - now get back to work with those footie systems and whatever it is you've won, dare you to stick it all on the next System 8-22 selection. You know it makes sense.
The second comment I received was from Mark Iverson, who still blogs and three years ago wrote:
It's nice to see a new blog out there.

I'll be interested to see if your writing style changes over the next 12 months as it's not as easy as it looks (at least to me anyway!)
It's not for me to judge whether my writing style changed in the first 12 months, or even in the first 36 months, but if pressed, I wouldn't say it has. I've certainly had more positive feedback than I have negative over the years, and being thick-skinned, or just thick, helps.

Has writing a blog helped my discipline as some people seem to find writing a blog does? No - absolutely not. Pre-blog, I had 5 losing months in 31. Post-blog, 6 in 36 (barring a disaster in the next few days), but it's not just that. Since the majority of my profits come from trading in-play, the last thing on my mind in the heat of the moment is my blog, and besides, discipline is not a concern anyway. At the end of the day, if you're the sort of person who has problems with discipline, you're unlikely to honestly report all your bets anyway.

And so a fourth year begins with no plans for anything too different. I'll continue with a mix of topics that for the most part have something to do with trading and betting, and which seem to be reasonably well received. The total hits should reach a quarter of a million in about three months. Not too shabby.

Just to make sure you all come back, in the next post, I'll have a strategy for the final part of the football season that showed an ROI in excess of 15% last season in the EPL.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Richmond, VA

A mixed weekend on the football, with the one strong draw Sunderland v Liverpool finishing 0-2, and the home picks going one from two. The draw came through at 2.9 for Bologna v Genoa, and I picked up a few quid betting on Unders in the Chelsea v Manchester City game, and lost a few after laying Napoli v Cagliari, a little unluckily as I was typing in the bet at 1-1 when the second Napoli goal went in.

Bologna were one of Football Elite's picks yesterday, but with the draw suspiciously low, this was not a game I wanted to be away from the draw on.

More small profits from basketball, although I have the feeling that I probably missed out on profits elsewhere by watching these very enjoyable games. We don't have the college level of sports in this country, ('the' Boat Race really doesn't count), but in the USA it is hugely popular, especially basketball and football. With few exceptions, (Green Bay, Wisconsin being the best known), smaller towns in the USA do not have major league sports teams, with half (25) of the states having none, another four having just one, and in many areas, college sports, and indeed high-school sports, is all there is.

Take Virginia for example - the most populous state with no major league sports teams, but the city of Richmond (sister city Richmond-upon-Thames) alone has not just one team, but two in the last ('Sweet') Sixteen of the NCAA tournament this week. I'll bet not a lot of people knew that.

On the subject of liquidity on these college games, it was commented on the Betfair forum that someone "got down for over 100k on the Notre Dame side". I suspect it may be this 'lady'. God works in mysterious ways, you can bet. Speaking of which, what is the point of holding up a sign at Stamford Bridge saying "Pray For Japan"? Do they think that their omnipotent god is somehow unaware of the trouble that, presumably, he caused? It makes no sense.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

ASHE Benchmark

The results from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) survey 2010 were released on 8th December and showed that the median weekly pay for full-time employees in the UK in the year to April 2010 was £499. Median earnings of full-time male employees were £538 per week in April 2010; for women the median was £439.

It’s always fun playing with these numbers, and that £538 per week figure for us men, works out an annual salary (gross) of £27,976 which according to The Salary Calculator nets out at £21,385, or £411.26 per week.

If you are a full-time trader and trade seven days a week, then to match Mr. Median, you need to make close to £60 a day - £58.76 to be precise, or if you’re that rarity in the trading world, i.e. female, you can be Ms. Median by making just £49.14 a day. Life is so much easier as a woman, as I keep telling Mrs. Cassini.

How easy an individual finds it to make an average of around £60 a day will, of course, vary, but I doubt that anyone serious about sports investing would find this unachievable.

It's only of academic interest anyway. If you are full-time trading, then it's a benchmark to measure yourself against, and not much else, and if trading is just a hobby and you already have a full-time job, then any profit at all is just icing on the cake.

The arrival of betting exchanges has certainly been a positive influence on my life, and not just financially. As with any second job, it's not just the extra money that is made, but it's also less time that you are out and about spending money. Back in my twenties, when my social life meant that I was spending most evenings in the local pub, my solution was to start working there. I was paid the princely sum of £10 a session, but the money I saved from not being on the other side of the bar made that worth twice as much. Plus, I got to keep the social aspect of my life there, something that I don't have too much of these days!

Sunday Morning

After no strong draws at all for Saturday, there's only the one today which is Sunderland v Liverpool. Home picks are Monaco (2.1) v Nancy and Sporting de Gijon (2.02) v Almeria.

I mentioned earlier in the week that this is the time of year when certain leagues tend to have strange draw prices, and while it's not hugely out of line, the draw price in the Bologna v Genoa match is lower than might be expected at 2.92.

Bari v Chievo Verona is of interest too. Chievo have underperformed for five games in a row, but Bari are pretty poor with just one win since September. If they are to win a second, this is their chance, and they can be backed at 2.8. I have this as a weak draw, which is at a short 3.15. I have the Under 2.5 goals priced at 1.71.

The first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament a year ago cost me over £3k, and while there are still eight games to go today, so far this year has not seen a repeat performance. A small profit ensures that the rolling 52-week average took a nice jump. On the subject of my post on the NCAA tournament, Ferenc wrote:

I apologize to the ugly comment, I do not know why I wrote it, was written in the heat of passion. Forgive me.
No apology is necessary. Presumably the comment in Croatian was the offensive one, because I didn't see anything ugly about the two I understood! Questioning the liquidity was certainly a valid comment. It's not been as good as I would have liked, but when the field is down to 16 next week, the games should be more competitive - although the beauty of the tournament is that games are often a lot closer than the market expects pre-game. Already one of the four number one seeds (Pittsburgh) are out after losing to last year's runner-up Butler.

A stupid loss on the Rugby for me yesterday. Betfair's commission free outage apology offer was pretty useless to me since Cheltenham does nothing for me, but I did use the Ireland v England game for a PC reducing bet. Unfortunately, I don't know much about Rugby apparently, and the bet was a bank reducing bet instead. An offer from Betfair to refund all Premium Charges since their inception would have been much better.

While one winner from two in the Bundesliga gave me a small profit there, Aston Villa were a big disappointment in losing to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Football Elite had my two German picks as well as Lorient who I had already discarded. I traded the Manchester United v Bolton game for a profit, as I felt United were too short at 1.44. I had them priced at 1.61, with the Under at 1.62.

You would think Getafe would have enough problems with the NATO attacks to concentrate on football, but they put up a good performance at Barcelona, going down by the odd goal in three.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Award Winner

The awards keep coming. The latest is the Patient Speculation Quotation of the Week Award which, as with Nobel Prizes, presumably comes with a large cheque. It's not immediately apparent how much I am in line for, but even if it's only a few hundred, it all helps.

The winning line? “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment“ by Jim Rohn (I'll split the prize with him).

ferenc had a couple of comments on my March Madness post, first this one:

I only recently following this excellent blog, and I recognize myself in many texts. You are doing a great job. I see a lot trading basketball - NBA, NCAAB ... I'm interested in how you play or how you recognize when it's time to get into trade or bet?
Then this one
a ti si neka velika manga u pizdu materinu, pazi da ne bi odgovorio slučajno na upit jednog običnog smrtnika... nek mu netko prevede ako hoće, njemu Direktoru Svemira. ispričavam se što sam Vam se obratio Vaše Veličanstvo. bljuv
and finally
Where is the liquidity? I do not see any money at NCAAB market
In reverse order, the liquidity is there in some games, but with the seeding arrangements, the first couple of rounds always see mismatches and when the handicap is 23.5, there won't be a lot of money sloshing around. Closer games there's more money around. I've managed to lose £150 tonight with no trouble! The second comment I'll need some time for. I've not been to Croatia for a few years (Split, and the island of Hvar - very nice) and my Croatian is a little rusty. As for the first question on when to enter the markets, it's when I think they are wrong. My triggers can be pre-game prices are off, or more usually when the market has overreacted to a run by one team. Basketball is all about momentum, and when it turns, it turns fast, and 'big' leads vanish fast. Look for foul trouble, key players due a rest, teams coming out of a time-out and other things that you will learn by watching lots of games.

Hannover Fits

Not a single strong draw pick from today's or tomorrow's fixtures, but the following home teams look value to me for tomorrow: Hannover '96 (2.36) v TSG Hoffenheim, Nuremberg (2.32) v Werder Bremen and Aston Villa (1.95) v Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Rationale? Hannover have exceeded expectations in four of the last five games, while Hoffenheim have fallen short in four of the last five. It's a little embarrassing how short I have Hannover for this, so let's just say that 2.36 looks huge value to me.

Nuremberg have outperformed in their last six matches, while Werder Bremen, in typical Bundesliga style, failed to beat Moenchengladbach last week and have won just one game in their last eight.

Aston Villa and Wolves have similar recent form (no poor performances between them), but what tips this is Aston Villa's home form against lower teams. So far in the five home games versus teams below themselves, they have won four, and drawn one. All four wins were over 2.5 goals as well and while the available price on Over 2.5 goals is already value at 1.91, that's an extra reason to back it. I have this at 1.74.

Lorient (2.1) v St Etienne and Olympique Lyonnais (1.82) v Stade Rennes also made the short-list, but missed the final cut.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

One Foot On The Beach

A good call from Sports Trading Life among others, who suggested that Chelsea were very short at 1.34 to win a game that they had no need to win, with the tie essentially a done deal and Chelsea 1.01 To Qualify. The motivation of teams is a key factor. Ideally the match is one both teams will be striving to win, but plenty of games, especially at this stage of the season, see matches where the result is irrelevant to one or both teams.

It's a problem that other sports suffer from as well. Teams have achieved their objective, be it a championship, promotion, European qualification, play-off qualification, avoiding relegation, or whatever, and want to rest players, try out new players or, in the case of some sports, actually lose to improve their chances of a high draft pick.

It's the time of year when the draw may trade at 1.5 pre-game in some leagues, and it's accepted as I wrote at the end of last year:

When a draw suits both teams in Italy, the game will end in a draw. It's all to do with the mentality of the Italian people. They see nothing wrong in such an arrangement.
That quote coming from Liam Brady. The bottom line is "punter beware" - caveat emptor as we say in Roma.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


This may come as a surprise to many, but Cheltenham is not the only sport in town this week, as over in the USA, the newly expanded college basketball's NCAA tournament tipped off yesterday. 

This was frankly awful for me last year, with losses totalling £3.9k over the three weeks of the tournament, and I have no intention of repeating that. The numbers are worse than they look, given that I lost over £3k in one game, yet another lesson, albeit an expensive one, learned. Previous years have been kinder, although with the best year back in 2006, these markets may be ones that are becoming a lot more efficient with time.

Once the First Four games are done, the games on Thursday and Friday will start at a sensible hour and go on all day. It's hugely popular in the US, and the tournament is one of the "finest spectacles in all of sport: with exciting upsets, unexpected winners, and more drama than a Shakespeare play" with various estimates as to the economic 'cost'. It's also hugely popular for betting...

which has become such a popular part of the tournament culture that in a study released by the NCAA, the FBI estimates that more than $2.5 billion will be gambled illegally on NCAA tournament games worldwide -- despite threats of legal action against illegal bettors in the states of Washington and Idaho. Compare that to only $80 million legally in Las Vegas.
Liquidity on some games on the exchanges is certainly decent, and what else is there to bet on during a Thursday evening, especially with the NBA off limits to me that day.

Playing The Percentages

Just as I was struggling for something to say, Mouldhouse helps me out with a comment...

It's a bit pernickity (if that's even how you spell it) but I was always taught that the level of accuracy should fit the context, as far as mathematics is concerned.

For example, if you had 10,000 matches in a sample, and 3,667 of them had ended in a draw, the statistic "I have a 36.67% strike rate" would be more than acceptable.

If you've got a sample size of 30, let us say, and 11 of them have ended in draws (or indeed now a sample of 31, and 12 have ended in draws, congrats, btw) then that level of accuracy really isn't justified; simply because the statistical significance - indeed, if that is the case, the probability that the results have been obtained by pure fluke and the system overall is a losing one is still 13.71% (assuming that all draws have hit at a price of 3.45, a big assumption I grant you!). Or indeed, more suited to this context, about one in 7.

Point being that strike rates to 2 d.p. over samples only just large enough to apply large-number estimates to is a bit of a misnomer - if my stabs above were correct, last night's result would make a difference of some 3%ish on the "advertised" strike rate, which is very volatile for one iteration.

The main purpose is not to be a total a$%ehole by pointing this out but hopefully to point out to some who may well risk their hard-earned following any of the posted picks that there might be a lot more luck involved than they would hope. I suppose its a downside of having a blog that posts picks without a concrete record, although I note gold-all-over has been updated after you nearly set a world record for getting bored of a blog :)

Incidentally, the strong draw picks posted on Gold-A-O have a nearly 1 in 3 chance of having been generated by pure fluke so far - but it says more about small sample sizes than anything else. I look forward to your witty riposte. I should also echo those who've praised it as the best betting blog on the internet - how you keep finding new subject matter that is actually interesting is beyond my comprehension, and isn't something I could do!
Not pernickety at all. I actually was never taught that, or certainly don't remember being taught that, the 'level of accuracy should fit the context', but it makes perfect sense to me and I shall endeavour, moving forward, to keep my decimal places appropriate.

The percentages quoted are actually those from the 2010-11 season, not just those since the start of the calendar year, which is some 1,364 matches.

Of those, 128 qualified as strong draws, of which 43 finished drawn - 33.59375% - (the other 85 lost to 90' goals!) with the average draw price being 3.432352941... (sorry, I just couldn't resist).

Yes, certainly not a big sample, and I hope no one is stupid enough to follow my picks without doing their own research as well, and being aware that these numbers are from this season only. The problem with a system finding winners at 3.4 is that long runs are inevitable - currently 8 of the last 9 have lost - but then along comes runs of 4 winners in 5, or 3 in 4 which more than compensate.

Gold All Over has a couple of problems. One is that blogger doesn't allow (at least to my knowledge) the display of tables, so the data looks really untidy. It's also time consuming, and I have enough trouble finding time to keep one betting blog going, never mind two, so while the idea isn't necessarily dead, don't expect too much unless I can work out a tidy format for it.

Anyway, I appreciate the advice on the number of decimal places to use.

Jamie commented on my thought that playing poker for matchsticks is useless.
Perhaps a little bit different, but I've found kind of the same thing with playing the poker application on my phone.

I play quite a fair bit online and in casino tournaments, and have had a moderate amount of success. But I've found when I play the (free) poker app on my phone, I make a lot of decisions that I would never make when playing for decent stakes.

I also found that when playing "free" poker online to sharpen my skills - I played a lot differently when the stakes were low or non-existent, and it was starting to mess up the skills I had honed by playing for proper stakes. I now don't play at all unless it is for decent stakes, because that's where I believe my best performances are.

I also trade pre-post horses, and have found the same thing... trading for minimum stakes is OK to learn the system or the software, but can be detrimental to your overall success once you know what you are doing.

Keep up the great work on the blog
With poker, such a big part of the game is 'reading' your opponent, and being sure that the hands are clean (i.e. no collusion between players) that I have never seen the appeal of playing online. I shouldn't say never, because I have tried it years ago for entertainment, but I soon tired of it, and when Betfair came along, that was a lot more entertaining.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Vera Late


Getafe v Atletico Bibao tonight is a weak draw pick. If the game is tied at 80' though, with the way my luck is running, a lay of the current correct score might be a smart play!
1-1 at 84' and imagine my surprise when Getafe broke the tie when Moral scored his third goal of the match. Yes, really. "Gosh darn it", I said to myself. Had I heeded my own advice? Is the Pope Italian? But 10 minutes later, all was good in the world. Vera scored in the 94' and for once the (very) late goal went in my favour. There's a Moral to this story.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Drawing Blanks

Peter Nordsted's Drawmaster picks this past weekend went 0/3 (he dipped into League One with no EPL matches on the schedule) as Bournemouth v Southampton, Colchester v MK Dons and Rochdale v Exeter all ended as away wins. His strike rate on these selections is still an impressive 34.83%, which is slightly ahead of my 'strong draws' at 33.59%.

I mentioned before that I would be reducing stakes on Football Elite's selections as they tend to be weaker as we hit March and April time - football's silly season - and that decision has paid off already this weekend.

Getafe v Athletic Bilbao tonight is a weak draw pick. In La Liga, these are hitting at 36.67%, although across all five Major Leagues the rate is a less impressive, though still profitable, 31.49%. If the game is tied at 80' though, with the way my luck is running, a lay of the current correct score might be a smart play! 

As much as I bemoan the irritation of late goals robbing me of rightful winners, I do still think that (selectively of course) backing the draw offers value. The more people who buy into the Lay The Draw system the better, but these people aren't really laying the draw as a result - they are simply hoping for a goal and a trading profit. Who lays the draw as a result? It's really saying "Well, I think someone will win, but I don't know who" which makes no sense to me.


Any readers who have been with me for a while now will be familiar with the consistently profitable strategy of laying odds-on favourites in the Bundesliga. 

To date this season, we have, by my records, had 85 qualifiers, of which 40 have been winning lays, and a pre-commission ROI of 16.02%. Not too shabby, but extending the system to include the away team would have added another 17 selections, and eight more winners. 

With less than one pick a week on average, this isn't the most exciting of systems, but as has been mentioned recently, sports investing shouldn't be exciting. As you might expect, the away lays have been mostly Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund (with eight each) with a single (and losing) lay for Bayer Leverkusen. Bayern Munich have produced five of the winning lays.

Sunday, 13 March 2011


These late goals are beginning to get annoying. The third of my strong draw picks was St Pauli v Stuttgart and at 88' with the score at 1-1, things were looking up, but once again, a late goal took another win away. So overall on the strong draws, I had one winner, two losses to 88' and 90' goals and a Parma v Napoli selection that actually wasn't close, although I could always blame the red-card! The strong draw strike rate is still a profitable 33.59% for the season.

Two losers for Football Elite today as neither Levante or Real Sociedad could win. I did make a little on the Manchester City v Reading game at least, with the Over 2.5 goals price looking far too short at 1.74. I traded out at 2.42 after 20 minutes, but of course, needn't have bothered!

I wrote earlier in the week about the in-form and not-in-form teams from the leagues I track and here's how they got on this weekend:

Nuremberg (Won 2-1 at Wolfsburg 3.25)
Olympique Lyonnais (Won 2-0 at Sochaux 2.12)
Hannover '96 (Lost 0-4 at Koln 2.9)

Not-So-Hotties: [opponents price]
Hoffenheim (Won 1-0 v Borussia Dortmund [1.73])
Chievo Verona (Lost 0-1 v Fiorentina [2.88])
Palermo (Lost 0-1 at Genoa [1.95])

Greed All Over is re-branding - I made it clear that I wasn't serious about the large cheque (a smaller one would have been fine), but I think the author is looking to create his own identity.

As is often the case, after I'd posted about paper trading recently, I thought of something else I could have written - that paper trading is a bit like playing poker for matchsticks. A martingale type staking system is very easy on paper, not quite so easy in practice.

The Marmite Blog

I am still awaiting the large cheque from Greed All Over to compensate me for infringing on my blog name, but he did have this to say:

Well a mention on Cassini's blog and added to his blogroll at least, sadly means I'll have to try write something interesting now.

Guess I can hardly deny the blog title hasn't been slightly influenced by the great (sic) man's blog but hey what can you do when you're looking for a snappy trading slogan as a title and it's already been taken. The title was also influenced by reading John O'Dwyer's recent descent from hero to zero within a few weeks ranging from denial to almost begging for cash on the Betfair forum. Just goes to show greed always catches up with you eventually.

Can't be many betting bloggers out there that haven't come across Cassini's blog . He does seem to have become very much a marmite blogger that you either love or hate, although I imagine his tongue's firmly in his cheek in a lot of what he posts.
Marmite? For a start, I have always been more of a Bovril man, but can there seriously be anyone out there who doesn't love this blog? OK, maybe Anonymous is upset at losing his forum, but it was after several warnings to keep things civil, and there's always one as my old Mum says and John O'Dwyer may not like my advice, although it's hardly my fault that he isn't ready to accept it at this time. Perhaps at some point in the future, he will look back and think "You know, that Cassini really gave me some good advice. I should really give him a small (or large) percentage of my profits achieved from disciplined betting with stakes proportionate to my true betting bank".

As for 'tongue-in-cheek', I don't even know what that means. I'm an IT nerd, with an unhealthy fascination with numbers, and the ability to spot a typo before turning to the page it's on (almost) which has led to the suggestion that I may be borderline autistic - but at the incredibly high-functioning part of the autistic spectrum of course. So readers can rest assured that my tongue remains centrally positioned just behind both of my teeth at all times.

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Another 90' goal today scuppered one of my two strong draw picks of the day, but similar goals for Kaiserslautern and Schalke '04 gave me winners there, and overall these things balance out. The strong draw at 3.6 was Wolfsburg v Nuremberg. For the record, the second draw is Cesena v Juventus at a tasty 3.9.

Mully asks:

Have you seen this link:
Just found it in the O'Dwyer blog roll.
Indeed I have. I saw it a couple of days ago, and while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I shall be consulting with my lawyers next week and issuing a cease and desist order shortly although I may accept a large cash payment instead. Pending receipt of the large payment, I have added the blog to my blog roll.

Mats asks:
Could you explain a little more about how you go about looking for value?
I have two main approaches to this. One is by maintaining ratings and looking for prices that are out of line with the markets, and the other, more profitable method, is to trade sports in-running and look for opportunities where the price has been driven too far. Here's a timely post from the Winner Is Winner blog that suggests the author has noticed the same things that I have in the NBA markets. It's not very eloquently written to be honest, but here is the key part:
NBA markets. Mug markets for mugs or are they more like mug markets for pros to make money? In my opinion mug market for pros. For proper mugs no market is good to make money I suspect anyway.

When bigger games come on the stage mug markets turn into pros market such as tennis and football - very competitive and in all honesty hardly you will find anything wrong with odds. And that is the only case when I find hard to make money in NBA markets. Apart from those games trading NBA is a must of course if you can handle night hours. I guess anybody who trades successfully other sports such as tennis football, cricket and others high volume markets could come and make money from the very first day in NBA markets. Piss easy and I mean it. Not so sure that "NBA only" trader could do the opposition.
Basically what the writer is saying, I think, is that while it is very hard to find value in tennis and football, less popular sports like NBA (and I would add the NFL), do offer plenty of value opportunities. With tennis you are up against court-siders, with football you are up against a lot of competition, but in the the NBA and NFL, you can often find big money at silly prices, and 1.0xs are turned over almost every night. A ten point lead can vanish fast, and momentum is everything.

While I wouldn't say that it is "piss easy", if you put in the effort to learn how the NFL and NBA markets move, and learn the rules of the game, this can be very lucrative. And be aware that the college versions of these games have different rules!

In the NFL, every opening touchdown sees the price on the scoring team drop too low. Greed to be on a winner before the reality sets in and fear means the market rebounds a few points. However, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, when these games are play-offs, or the only game in town, the competition among traders makes it that much harder to find value. April is the one month of the year where overall I am negative, having suffered a losing month in three of the last four years. What happens in April? NBA play-offs. Tricks that work well in the regular season don't work so well in play-offs.

Why is Manchester United v Arsenal Suspended? More problems? Off to BETDAQ I guess.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Discipline Essential

I'm sure I'm not alone among bloggers in that I enjoy receiving sensible comments, and the quality has certainly improved since I blocked Anonymous ones a few months ago. While the counter let's me know how many people are visiting each day, when someone takes the time to comment, it not only tells me that someone found a post worthy of taking the time to comment, but it also gives me a topic for the next post - something that doesn't always come easy for a blog that isn't all about daily profits and losses.

Before I get to the comment, but on a related subject, I fear for O'Dwyer, whom I wrote about a few days ago in my O'Dwyer Straits post. Although the post has now been deleted, he allegedly (see comments) admitted to having borrowed his £200 betting bank. Not the way to go. Money for betting should be your own, and money that you can afford to lose. If either of those tenets is not true, then the fear / desperation element means that you are not going to be making clear and logical decisions. Essentially, you need to have your act together before you are going to make any money long-term from betting / trading, and there's no hurry. Sports betting isn't going to go anywhere. Anyway, I mentioned that because it segues nicely into a comment from Gary on my Thursday woes post, and he wrote:

I've been following your blog (along with hundreds more I'm sure) for a few months now and always find it great reading. Funny, insightful, random, great obscure titbits, keeps us all interested(I think!,-me anyway).

One thing I've wanted to ask you about regards that greatest of attributes required to succeed at this trading/gambling game - DISCIPLINE...!

Have you always had the required discipline / patience when trading, which may be part of your make-up in general, or did you have to learn it along the way?

I've withdrawn my funds from Betfair yesterday as I feel the dreaded loss of control creeping in again (after a fairly successful couple of months trading) - not a huge amount but enough that, although I don't need the money at this time I also don't want to blow it all as I, and I'm sure many others have done before.

Anyways, if you had to learn the art of self discipline are there any good books / courses advice you could recommend?

I'm sure it's something that can be taught but My God it's hard.............Keep up the great blog - & take Thursdays off!..
So the question really is this - is discipline an innate personality trait, or is it something that can be learned? I think it is something that can be learned, at least by most people, but like many mental skills, it is something that comes easier to some more than others. A minority of people just don't want to learn discipline. They are your problem gamblers who are in it for the thrill, betting with money they can't afford to lose, and quite possibly have issues in other areas of their lives too.

Discipline is essential to being profitable long-term. What do I mean by discipline? It's simply the ability to wait until the odds are in your favour and staking a sensible amount. The most frequent trigger for losing discipline, (chasing or going on tilt), appears to be that of a 'bad' loss, and by 'bad' I mean a loss that was on a bet that you knew wasn't good value but you took it anyway (a gamble) or a loss that was a value bet, but you bet too much (greed). A bad loss might also be a bet you had on a market that you know nothing about, perhaps from boredom.

A good loss is a sensibly staked amount on a value bet. No one is going to win every bet, and losses are inevitable. They are acceptable, and shouldn't lead to a loss of discipline. Alcohol needs to be avoided when making any kind of financial decision, and that includes betting. And don't bet when the emotional balance of your mind is disturbed or you are distracted. It may sound silly, but if you've just had an argument with someone, or broken up with a girlfriend, lost your job, suffered a bereavement or you have any number of other issues that are occupying your mind, you shouldn't be betting. If you have kids that want some of your time, don't be trying to entertain them as you bet. You end up doing two things badly.

This is the theory anyway. Gary asks "Have you always had the required discipline / patience when trading, which may be part of your make-up in general, or did you have to learn it along the way?"

Tough question, but I'll try to answer it as honestly as I can. Have I always had the required discipline / patience? No, and I still on occasion bet on things that I have no business betting on, but having said that, I have never been totally reckless with my betting. Truth is, I don't like losing money. If I'm involved in a venture that is losing me money, I pull the plug on it. I'm sure I have written in previous posts about my betting career pre-exchanges, but it basically consisted of a few 'fun' bets, always with money I could afford to lose, and trying out various systems, some profitable, others not so, but all these bets were for entertainment. I never had any serious thought that it was more than fun, and hopefully not too expensive fun.

But when Betfair came along (they were the site I first tried in 2004), I saw betting as something that could be seriously profitable, although again as I have written before, it's not something that I would seriously consider going full-time on, at least not at the expense of giving up a 'proper' job.

Have I made some of the mistakes I said to avoid earlier? Yes - I have lost four figures betting after a few beers. The good news? That was on Aug 31, 2006, and I haven't combined alcohol with betting since. Lesson learned, a good loss in a way. And not drinking so much is good for your health too (so I am told).

Betting while distracted? Yes, lost four figures doing that too, but again, not an issue these days. I no longer try to combine trading with socialising or work.

Betting on markets I know nothing about? Yep - done that too, and occasionally I still do this, although I justify it as a Premium Charge reduction strategy!

Chasing after a loss? While I don't like to admit that I have done this, numbers don't lie and in early 2007 I was guilty of this. My biggest loss ever was on New Year's Day (£5k+), and by May 12th, I was even further down on the year. Interestingly enough, this period coincided with a major (positive) change in my life, so perhaps going on tilt wasn't solely to blame, but betting while emotionally disturbed was. Either way, it wasn't a good five months, and I didn't recover those losses until August. Again though, I learned from this, the point being that we all make mistakes which is fine. The problem is when we fail to learn from our mistakes.

I would be lying if I said that after a 'bad' loss, I don't feel a twinge that tells me to immediately recover the loss. It's there, but you can learn to control it. Get some perspective on a loss. Slice it down into how many days it will take you at your current daily average to recover that loss. Look back on previous disasters. It never seems so bad after looking at the big picture.

I still do make mistakes. Tonight I completely forgot about a £300 bet on the Koln v Hannover game, and never traded out. That was a new one for me, and I need to open a new 'senility' category for those mistakes. The truth was I switched over to the more interesting Brescia v Internazionale game, and just plain forgot about the Germany bet. Old age is a bitch.

I do find record-keeping essential for discipline. Numbers don't lie, as I said earlier, and it's easy for me to see where I go wrong, with the latest example in my post on Thursday betting. I didn't always keep records, but when I realised (albeit after more than a year - slow learner) that it was possible to make decent money, I realised that I needed to if I was to be serious about it.

I'll probably think of more things to write about on this subject later. Profitable betting long-term is really rather boring, or should be, and the more successful at it are, in my opinion, reasonably well educated people who understand that an ROI in the low single digits is good, and who can keep their emotions in check. But betting attracts many who are in it for the thrill, who have no concept of value, and are, without meaning to sound snobby, if not a little less well educated, at least mathematically challenged.

Good luck trying to teach discipline and patience there, but being cynical for a moment - would we want to? When we win on the exchanges, where is the money coming from? It's sometimes easy to forget that on the other end of the money we take out of the exchanges, there is someone losing it. I just hope they're losing money that they can afford to lose, unlike O'Dwyer who needs to take a step back and evaluate his situation.

As for Gary's decision to withdraw his funds from Betfair as he feels "the dreaded loss of control creeping in again", I question where this "loss of control" comes from. If it's after a loss, in other words chasing, then the inability to control this is one of the ten symptoms of problem gambling. If it's after a win, get a grip man! Do you spend all your wages on pay day? Does cash burn a hole in your pocket if you don't spend it?

The Ten Symptoms Of Problem Gambling

Preoccupation. The subject has frequent thoughts about gambling experiences, whether past, future, or fantasy.

Tolerance. As with drug tolerance, the subject requires larger or more frequent wagers to experience the same "rush".

Withdrawal. Restlessness or irritability associated with attempts to cease or reduce gambling.

Escape. The subject gambles to improve mood or escape problems.

Chasing. The subject tries to win back gambling losses with more gambling.

Lying. The subject tries to hide the extent of his or her gambling by lying to family, friends, or therapists.

Loss of control. The person has unsuccessfully attempted to reduce gambling.

Illegal acts. The person has broken the law in order to obtain gambling money or recover gambling losses. This may include acts of theft, embezzlement, fraud, or forgery.

Risked significant relationship. The person gambles despite risking or losing a relationship, job, or other significant opportunity.

Bailout. The person turns to family, friends, or another third party for financial assistance as a result of gambling.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment - Jim Rohn