Version 1a of Results Summary spreadsheet

Update: April'11.  The much improved Results Summary v2 spreadsheet is now available for download! Including results summarised by sports, Betdaq support and much more.  Check out the post about it here http://betfairtradingmindgames.blogspot.com/2011/04/results-summary-v2-spreadsheet-is-here.html

I've made a small improvement the Results Summary spreadsheet. Save it to the same folder as your current version. After opening it and turning macros on, press the new button, "Import records from previous version" next to the "undo current import" button. Then you're up and running!

Firstly, the weekly totals now have the date that each week started on rather than the week number.

This is a bit more meaningful and also has the benefit of sorting correctly - as the weeks numbered 1 to 10 were previously sorting incorrectly with 1 appearing before 19 and 2 before 29 etc (I hadn't noticed as I've only been using this spreadsheet since last May). But you'll be ok until mid-March next year with the old version!

The second little improvement is that the data import macro will now work even if you rename "Results Summary" to something else. The Betfair P&L file must still have the default name of BettingPandL.xls and be in the same folder as Results Summary though. This will be useful if you want to have separate instances of Results Summary for different accounts, or simply to call it something else.

Any questions, let me know! There have now been over 100 downloads of the first version. Hope you are all finding it useful.

The original post about Results Summary can be found by clicking here.

Have a great Xmas & New Year (particularly on Boxing Day and New Year's Day racing!).

More on the Results Summary spreadsheet

It's great to see the spreadsheet being used by a few people, I'm glad its been of use posting it up. A couple of bloggers, that I'm aware of, have posted screenshots of their results using it. You can check them out here: JS' Betfair Trading Journal & Fight The Inner Demons Good reads both of them.

I thought I'd mention a couple of things for the people that have downloaded the spreadsheet (a lot more than 2 - let me know if you are finding it useful!) which may help get more out of it.

The reason that there is no grand total on the table with the daily results is that by selecting any of the columns you can then get total, maximum, minimum, average and count for that data without the grand totals being included and messing it up. To do this put the cursor just above the column header until you get a black downward-pointing arrow, as shown here above the P&L column:


Clicking will then select the whole column and the summary figures I mentioned will be displayed along the bottom of the excel window:


If you don't get all the summary figures shown here, you can choose which ones you want by right-clicking this bottom part of the Excel window.

Another thing is the warning message that you get regarding macros every time you open the spreadsheet. You can get avoid this happening in Excel 2007 without lowering your security for other spreadsheets by digitally signing this spreadsheet as your own.

To do this go to the start menu, select "All programs" find Microsoft Office, then click on the sub-folder called Microsoft Office Tools then select "Digital Certificate for VBA projects". Give the certificate any name you want, e.g. "Fred's supa dupa certificate" & click OK. Then open the Results Summary spreadsheet, right-click on the "Summary" tab at the bottom of the Excel window, select "View code". A new window will open and at the top there are several menus. Select "Tools" then "Digital Signature". Under "Sign as" press the "Choose" button and select the certificate you have just named. Click OK x2 and then close the Microsoft Visual Basic window. At this point, save your spreadsheet. The next time you open it you will not be prompted about macros.

Sorry that got a bit technical, but over the course of months this will save you tens of irritating warning messages!

Denman, you beauty!

What a performance by Denman today! Seeing Paul Nicholls choked with emotion after the race brings home how much this horse means to people. Being a trader it is easy to let most horses pass you by, but the rollercoaster-ride of results with Denman make it a special horse to follow and I was really rooting for him to win.

Harry Findlay had said on ATR and The Morning Line that its fate should be clear after the first few fences and after brushing through one of the early ones the odds did drift a little and I made a small profit on a trade. After 6 or more fences I thought I was missing something because it still wasn't clear to me whether things were 100%. In the end I just had a little tickle as he jumped the last - I couldn't see him losing then, top weight or not - as I couldn't bear to miss having a bet on such an historic win! I was pleased to hear that Harry Findlay was also surprised by how Denman raced, only getting his rhythm in the latter stages of the race.



Roll on the Cheltenham Gold Cup! I see Kauto Star is still favourite so it should be an absolute thriller. I hope they both arrive in peak form so there are no excuses, but a fabulous contest.

Download spreadsheet & graphs for your Betfair results

As I've mentioned before, it was Matt over at Punt.com that originally got me into looking at my P&L results by average profit per race, average loss per race and strike rate (click here to read that post). This is a good indicator of whether I'm closing my winning trades too soon or getting better and also whether I'm taking too many risks (ever increasing average loss!).

I'm making the spreadsheet that I use available for anyone to download. It's pretty simple so maybe this will only be of use to those who currently don't review their results much. Anyhow, even if only a few find this useful then it's worth it!

Update: April'11.  The much improved Results Summary v2 spreadsheet is now available for download! Including results summarised by sports, Betdaq support and much more.  Check out the post about it here http://betfairtradingmindgames.blogspot.com/2011/04/results-summary-v2-spreadsheet-is-here.html




(note: the screenshots show randomised data, not my real P&L!)

Here's how to get it up and running:

1. Download the past 3 months P&L data from Betfair. You need to save it to the same folder as the "Results Summary" spreadsheet to for the automated import to work. The Betfair spreadsheet needs to have its default name of BettingPandL (and the default extension of .xls).

2. Open the Results Summary spreadsheet. You will need to enable macros. Excel warns you of this when you open a spreadsheet to protect you from spreadsheets that have come from an unknown source. You can open the spreadsheet with macros disabled and look at the code to see that it's nothing naughty and then re-open it and enable macros. Also, your computer probably has a virus scanner and will scan the file when you download it. I understand that some may be a little weary so if anyone out there with some Excel knowledge could post a comment to say it's ok then thanks!

3. Click the blue import arrow. That's it!

If you want to undo the import you've just done then click the red undo button. You need to make sure that the data file you are importing doesn't have P&L data for the dates you've imported previously, so you can just overwrite the Betfair P&L file each day when you download the new results (or rename the old ones if you want to keep them).

Click on the "graphs" tab at the bottom to get the bigger P&L graph and the Average P&L per race and also strike rate. Beyond the obvious appeal of a P&L graph pointing in an upwards direction, I find the Average P&L per event graph really useful.

If the trendline of the average profit per race is pointing upwards, then you're getting better over time (unless you've just increased your stakes)!

If the average loss per race is getting smaller then you really are getting it nailed! If this is increasing but more slowly than average profit per race then you are taking probably taking more risks than before but it is paying off with larger profits (for instance, maybe you are now doing more swing trading than scalping).

If the average loss per race is getting larger faster than average profit per race then you probably need to look at reducing the risk of your trades -UNLESS - you happen to have a high or increasing strike rate - that is the 3rd graph. For instance, if you have 1 or 2 fairly big losses in a day but have traded 20 other markets successfully then you're probably still in good shape.

Everyones style is different so you know what applies to you, hopefully you'll find these graphs revealing and helpful to keep in mind for your trading. I make a note on the "notes" sheet of my averages for each month and then set targets for the coming month - not so much overall monetary targets - but for average P&L per race and strike rate. This is easier to see if my trading is improving. Hopefully some with find this useful, let me know. Cheers, MG.

If you are going through hell, keep going

There are so many great quotes from Winston Churchill I'm going to abuse a few for my own purposes!

Following on from my last post about the personal considerations of going full-time trading Betfair, I think the quote in the blog title is very apt. It has taken me years to become successful on Betfair and I'd like to think I'm not that thick!

In my case, I think winning was only possible once I developed a winning attitude. Maybe that is why some people can become successful way way quicker than I did - they already had a winning attitude.

If you are trying your luck at trading Betfair for a living because you've just been sacked then it's likely your self-esteem is not at its highest. This wasn't my scenario - I've been self-employed for a long time - but then again I probably became self-employed because I couldn't stand my manager so I wasn't filled with positivity!

I got so used to reviewing my losses most days and being really angry about them that on winning days I would feel like I cheated or got lucky (especially if I got out of a losing trade in-running).

I'm very happy to say I've just had my best week ever (apart from those freaky gambling wins I've had in the past, I'm talking about trading here). I still sometimes catch myself at the end of a good winning day feeling a bit "empty". It's odd, I think it relates to all the mass of emotion I used to feel after losing days that now things are going well it almost feels like I'm missing something! Maybe in some ways losing made me feel "alive", as perverse as that is. I'm really aware of this now and I consciously do some fun stuff or something constructive (going to the gym, anyone?!) after winning days to make sure I enjoy these winning days.

Sometimes winning can seem a bit flat because after all, the money is just spent on living expenses, like a salary would be. I'm sure I got into gambling all those years ago when I was 16 because I wanted disposable income, and lots of it, to lavish on truly hedonistic adventures. Paying the mortgage and buying the groceries just doesn't cut it!

This "normalcy" of income from trading is also something I'm trying to get past by winning a lot more! I can't help but compare trading profits with job salaries I've had in the past and it is a real kick to make a weeks wages in a day. I've noticed that many of the (few) very successful traders leave trading after a couple of years or so, so making hay whilst the sun shines is a good idea. Personally I don't think I'll quit that easily - it's been too long and hard a road to get here!

Here's another Churchill quote, "Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential". I believe that applies to trading successfully. If you want it, there's no reason why you can't get it, but it may take an awful lot more effort than you expect.

Now I've got a trading mindset worth building on I've also been trading some other sports I know a little about - snooker and F1 - and it's been going really well. I'm also looking at spread betting on financial markets. I've never had the capital to invest properly in shares but the margins on financial spread-betting are 5-10% or even less in some cases so it makes it much more accessible with a small bank.

Given my sometimes horrendous losses back in the day when I just gambled on horses, I've consciously avoided spread-betting as I feared it could result in some truly catastrophic losses. I'm still not going to use it for horses, but for financial markets I think I can put my trading skills - and more importantly, mind-set - developed on Betfair to good use. Time-wise it works well with the UK markets being available to trade in the mornings before racing, or what I prefer is to research US stocks and get my orders put in in the morning before their markets open in the afternoon. I'm not day-trading but looking for trades anywhere from 1 week to about 3 months, so I don't need to be panicking about the markets whilst I'm trading the racing.

Anyhow, it's time to make the most of my well-earned day-off now, glad to see it's absolutely bucketing down outside. Still, at least I'm not a jockey!

Going full-time trading Betfair

When I started trading on Betfair I very quickly wanted to go full-time as making a small amount seemed so realistic (little did I know!). Once I'd mastered making small amounts then I reasoned that it'd just be a small matter of whacking up the stakes, and, Bingo! Instant part-time riches!

Sometimes I do regret being full-time (days I've gone on tilt mainly!) and I didn't consider it properly, but as I have been self-employed for most of the past 15 years it's not so difficult for me and not as cut-and-dried as it is for people quitting their job to trade. There was an excellent post on this written by thebetfairtrader a couple of years ago. He was (is?) a very successful part-time trader who was asked all the time by his blog readers why he didn't go full-time and this was his response:
http://thebetfairtrader.blogspot.com/2007/02/going-full-time-on-betfair.html

It's pretty sobering stuff when you're caught-up in the excitement of bringing the gambling gods to their knees!

Overall trading does offer me what I want, one important benefit for me is the ability to pick-up sticks and live abroad with the same income (my wife and I are aiming for Spain). The additional time you have available over a full-time job is a real and most precious gift that is rarely achieved by most working people (once you don't need to spend every waking hour working out how to trade successfully!).

For me, the only better option in this respect would be owning your own business that is large enough to not require your presence for more than a few hours a week or so. Then you can spend your afternoons trading! In fact, this kind of business has other benefits as even if you're ill, need time-off, injured etc then you are still making an income. You can also get a mortgage if you still need one. Residual income is unfortunately not one of trading's benefits - you're only as good as your last trade. However, for people reaching the dizzy heights of £350k a year that does still give enough flexibility for plenty of time off and house purchases!

Weekend starts early today!

I've done my daily skim through the markets and there are a lot of weak low-volume markets later on this afternoon, so I'll be shutting down the computer and getting ready for the pub early today!

At the time of writing, the highest traded markets on betfair are at 2:45 and 4:45 with £77k and £80k respectively. Contrast with the fact there are no races from the 4:50 (£5k) until evening racing that have more than £10k traded, except the 5:25 (£12k). Some of this is probably due to the earlier races in the day attracting slightly more attention early in the day, but not that much.

Obviously this makes these weaker markets different to trade - more risky and probably more jumpy. Personally I really like the jumpy volatile markets but it does become more like gambling so I steer clear of the really weak ones. It is much much easier to have a large loss because if the market turns sharply, there will be a lot of traders desperately chasing the same limited money to get out of their trades.

These weaker markets tend to be later in the day (and the Irish courses), so don't kick yourself when you always seem to cock-up your P&L and strike rate for the day - maybe just consider avoiding these races.

Whilst the 5:25 might have enough volume when it comes to trading time and actually represent a good opportunity, I think I'll be knocking it on the head for the day after the 4:40 as waiting 45 minutes for one more race to trade isn't much fun! All the best for today.

Keeping tabs on your trading

I do a quick analysis of every race at about midday and note my expectation on a spreadsheet. A side benefit of doing this that I hadn't thought of beforehand is that when I've had a losing race, I can read my comments for the next race. Even if my mind is steamed-up, at least I have analysis for the next race which was done with a clear-head. I can also see when there are several opportunities later in the day for swing trades etc. When I didn't do this pre-race analysis and I had a losing race, the time I had to make-up my loss was always the NEXT race! Sometimes I'd get lucky, but if the next race was a poor trading opportunity then I'd be much more likely to do daft things like doubling-up and going in-play.

After having a session where I went on tilt I always used to eventually come to terms with it and soldier on. Now what I try and do when I have a losing race despite my best trading endeavours is not beat myself up. I try and blank it from my mind in the same way I used to do with much bigger losses. Obviously I can do this much more quickly for these smaller losses! I then move on to the next race. It so often surprises me how quickly I can get most or all of the loss back. I then have a chance to make a little more. In the past I'd have no trading bank left to trade with!

After each race I note my P&L and make comments about the market. In combination with the screen video I record, this makes a useful review tool. I've thought long and hard about the pros and cons of constantly being aware of my P&L throughout the day and I've read many other traders' blogs about this. The danger is of course that when things aren't going well that focussing on the losses may make you trade worse.

On balance I find recording my P&L as I go along useful - for a start it's more up-to-date than my Betfair balance which may have unsettled markets to come into my account. It also enables me to have more perspective on the day than just a total P&L figure. After I've done my pre-race analysis I write a one-sentence forecast for the day - after all if there don't appear to be a lot of good trading opportunities ahead for the day, I shouldn't be beating myself up when I'm not making much money later on!

Scary stuff

"Do one thing everyday that scares you." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Trading used to be a world of wonder and mystery. Now it scares me and it is still largely a mystery. I still do it everyday though so hopefully that counts for something. I think taking time off now and then helps maintain the element of wonder.

"What's meant to be will always find a way" (Trisha Yearwood)

I hope that means laying low and backing high and not the other way around.

"You're never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you're never as bad as they say when you lose." (Lou Holtz)

Funny that. No-one has ever told me I was good at winning. When I have a cracker of a losing trade I expect to get a call from Betfair right afterwards with someone laughing so hard they can't speak.

"Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death." (Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi)

I now ignore those who continually make out that trading is straightforward and even by randomly sticking trades into the market he still finds it hard to lose and so by implication (the 95% of traders) losers are sub-chimp level. And then have a one-way dialogue on their blog......

"If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

I like this guy. He also wrote my favourite ever quote:

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. "

After a long journey I've been making a profit for 6 months.

Blowing your bank

Turned out that it only took 2 sticks of dynamite to open the safe at my local Nat West, then like a muppet I laid Johannes in the Ripon 4:35 like there was no tomorrow. Of course it trotted up by 2 1/4 lengths so now I'm back to square one.

Only joshing, but there was someone laying Johannes so much that I was tempted to jump on myself in-running, but a swift self-inflicted crack over the knuckles stopped that. I was a bit frustrated because it cost me a chunk of the biggest trading profit I had built-up today when I was riding the steamer. Hey ho, it was still my best result today.

I was really pleased to see all the votes for the poll on the right-hand side of my blog about how many times you have blown your bank. Thanks everyone! Early-on the result was split between "Never" and "Three or more times" but now the result is much more what I expected, sadly. At the time of writing the latter has over 60% of the vote, mine included (althought not recently, wayhay!), and this is a big reason why long-term profitable trading is so difficult. When someone says, "oh, you only need to make £3 a race to do over £100 a day", it sounds so easy but anyone who has traded knows there is a lot more to it than that.

I've been experimenting with closing my trades within 10 seconds of post time, regardless of how close to the off the race is. It felt very strange at first, but it has advantages. For instance, much less stress! I am doing this experiment to see if I actually do profit in the long-term from trading past the post time. I have always enjoyed this volatile period of trading, but maybe it's not profitable even if there are only occasional large losses? What do you think? Should I put up a poll?

The Big Question: Are you trading better than yesterday?

Hi, I've been away to sunny Spain for 10 days so it's the first break from trading I've had this year. I'm feeling really refreshed!

I did have internet access but it wasn't that fast and also as I didn't have t.v. pictures of the racing I resisted the temptation to have a go at trading. I thought the additional risk wasn't worth ruining my holiday!

I did wonder if I'd have forgotten how to trade by the time I got back, but it seems it's a bit like riding a bicycle and I was soon back in the swing of things yesterday. In fact, I was on for a real cracker of a day (increased my bank by 60% by 6:20 p.m.) so I was even trading a few early evening races which I don't normally bother with. At that time I decided to finish on the 6:55 p.m. as there was an o.k. favourite there, but I got badly caught out beforehand in the 6:35 p.m. by the very weak market and kept calling it all wrong. I did close my trades but temptation got the better of me and I decided to red-up in running - bad idea! I lost a big chunk of my day's profit.

Over at the excellent Tim Ferriss blog, his latest post is entitled,"The Big Question: Are you better than yesterday?" (www.fourhourworkweek.com). Today I am still reeling from the stupidity of not redding-up yesterday and was wondering if it will effect my trading today. After reading his blog post, I feel that is applicable and all I need to do is make sure I trade better than yesterday. That seems pretty easy - just red-up!

In his post, he mentions that it is easy to become demotivated by large complex problems (I would say successful trading is one of those!). For me, successful trading is comprised of many small solutions. In his post, Tim states that because these can be difficult to measure it is hard to see results. He uses the example of trying to get in better physical shape - he can go to the gym every day for a week and at the end he might not appear to be in better shape.

However he realised that by focussing on making today better than yesterday that it was possible to "be enthusiastic about taking real, tangible steps toward a distant goal".

For a long time I simply judged my improvement on how much I'd made (or lost) in a day / week which I don't actually think is very useful (what if you lost a bundle on trading and then made a lot backing or laying a horse in-running, or you didn't red-up and got lucky). Nowadays I simply compare my average loss per race, average win per race and strike rate. It is then easy to see if I'm on the right track, regardless of the daily P&L. I mentioned this in more detail in my previous post "Part 2 of Ending your pre-race trading career by going in-play" (it's a very long post - scroll down to the bit with the graph).

Trading better than yesterday - that's my aim for today!

Video your trading with screen recording software

Videoing my trading has helped me hugely. It means I can track what I am doing well and not well, I can analyse how different markets behave. I often watch some of the previous day's trades before starting my afternoon's trading to get my mind focused and ready for the first race.

The software I use is free because it's Open Source software, it's called CamStudio (http://camstudio.org/). Apparently the best software available is Camtasia Studio (http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.asp) which has a free trial but is then $299 to buy. It has loads of features but the only one it has that would be useful to me for recording my trading is the animation on the cursor when you click the mouse button. For $299 I'll do without!

One thing that wasn't good was the filesizes it generated - about 250mb for 6 mins of video. However, thanks to Google, I found out that you can use these things called codecs which are alternative methods of compressing video files and are legally free to download. I use one called Xvid MPEG-4 codec and now a 10 minute file is about 22mb and the quality is much better. I can record 2 hours using less than 300mb. I could probably tweak the settings further but I'd rather spend the time trading!

Disclaimer: Proceed at your own risk! I didn't know one end of a codec from my elbow before doing this and it was all fine, but obviously I'm not a computer nerd so you may have a different experience - don't blame me if it goes wrong! I'd recommend creating a System Restore point first as a good way of undoing anything that doesn't work, and of course, you have a backup of your computer files, right?!

For anyone wanting to download, I think the codecs are available at quite a few different sites. I used http://www.free-codecs.com/download/Vista_Codec_Package.htm
and did a custom install to just install the Xvid codecs (there are so many in the package that some of the other codecs may well cause conflicts with other software installed on your computer. Apparently codec conflicts are a common cause of software crashes, so just install the one you want). Obviously this is only for Vista users, but the identical codec is also available on the same website in an installer for Windows XP.

I didn't used to be able to run screen recording software because I used an old laptop which wasn't up to the job. I recently bought a Dell Intel Core 2 Duo laptop for £400 and it has been well worth the investment. With my trading software running as well as some websites, it still runs at under 50% processor load when I'm trading and recording the screen.

I find it very motivational to watch back some of my good trades as well as learning from the poor ones. Part of the reason my average profit per trade has increased is because when I reviewed my winning trades I realised I was leaving huge amounts of profit on the table - i.e. getting out of trades way way too early.

Yesterday my best trade increased my trading bank by 13% fully greened-up. If I could do more trades approaching that level and some better, then over a good afternoon I should be able to easily hit my target of increasing my bank 100% even with a strike-rate of 75%. This wouldn't always be scalable to the stakes that the big traders are using other than on Saturdays and other high-volume markets - I only use a few hundred, but this strategy suits me far more than risking thousands to make smaller percentages.

Betfair Market Suspension Problems

How many traders today lost money due to the technical problems experienced by Betfair? They failed to suspend the markets for 4 of this afternoons races at the off (Curragh 3pm, 4pm, 5:30pm and the Nottingham 5:40). Their policy is to then void any bets matched after the official off-time IF the race is never placed in-play at any time. The official blurb is:

"If a market is scheduled to be turned in-play but Betfair does not suspend the market at the time of the ‘off’ and the market is not turned in-play at any time during the event, all bets matched after the scheduled time of the ‘off’ will be void (in the case of horseracing and greyhound racing, bets will be void from the official rather than the scheduled ‘off’ time)."

This is very scary for me as a trader who likes to trade right up until the off (I just love the volatility in the last few seconds!) as potentially they could void one half of my trade and leave my whole balance exposed to the result of the race. If you have a trade matched very close to the off it wouldn't be possible to determine if it had happened before or after the official off-time as even if you are watching on Sky TV, you need to factor in the delay of the pictures (which also varies across the channels).

Out of the four races concerned, I traded the 3pm and the 5:40pm. My green-up trade was cancelled on both races. Fortunately the favourite obliged in the 3pm and I made far more than the greened-up profit I then lost on the 5:40pm. But I was really sweating it on the 5:40pm as I had closed my trade with a lay bet very close to the off and I didn't know whether it would count, fortunately it did.

I guess this is further incentive for anyone having trouble letting their trades go in-play to close well before the off!

I wonder if this is a new policy with Betfair because I've seen the market suspended late on many many occasions in the past without them taking any action. I've also previously been able to back at 1.01 several seconds after the winner had passed the post when they didn't suspend on time.

Looking at the "Market" section of the forum, I see that they also had this problem on the 4:10 at Ascot yesterday. Before that the only other instance was on the 29th June and they have posts dating back to September 2007 (unless they delete some after a while? I'm not sure). So this feels like a change in policy to me. Watch out!

Let me know if you gained or lost from this today.

Part 2 of Ending your pre-race trading career by going in-play

In my last post I explained that I have in the past lost huge amounts of money when I have not closed my trades before the market has gone in-play / in-running. This has normally been because I have made a loss from my trades pre-race which I haven’t been willing to accept and so in the heat of the moment I’ve decided to gamble by not closing the trade, in the hope I can close it in-play at a break-even point. Or by some miracle my lay-bet comes good when the favourite falls at the first hurdle, etc. This has of course then resulted in me losing far more money than if I had simply accepted the loss pre-race and redded-up.

Looking through my results in the database I keep, these catastrophic losses almost always occurred the next race after having had a loss that was large relative to the average profit I make per race. I was on-tilt from the previous loss. Then, if I had a losing trade on the next race, the “red mist” of gambling would descend on my mind and - bingo – I put my whole bank on the line, win or lose (and nearly always lose!). There was something very final about doing it, a threat to the market gods that they weren’t treating me right! Maybe subconsciously I wanted it all to end?

I’m sure a psychologist (or is it psychoanalyst, I’m never sure of the difference?) would be able to explain this behaviour and maybe one day I’ll read-up about it. The reason for calling my blog Mind Games is because I feel that in these situations, my mind has played games with me. I mean, I KNOW I shouldn’t go in-play with my whole balance on the line, but I’ve done it. Repeatedly.

I’ve read enough self-help books on various subjects to know that one question they would ask is, ”in what way does losing by going in-play serve or benefit you?”. Now my first reaction to that would be are you f*ing insane?! But, if I really had to find a reason, I think the most significant one could be to end the pain of not winning. Another might be the thrill of gambling, which I miss. Another might be because I feel that it is wrong that I made a trading loss on that particular race – because of a spoofer, or because the weight of money was pointing the other way, or because the race commentator didn’t mention all the horses were in the stalls etc etc etc. All excuses.

In the meantime, I have found that by changing a whole bunch of things just by small amounts that I am now able to break this destructive pattern of behaviour.

From reading other blogs and comments I know there are other traders out there who are having the same experience. I think it is the same mindset that gamblers have where “just one win” will get them out of the financial hole they are in. I have the feeling that the non-traditional gamblers out there who are traders may not really know what we are talking about and simply say, “don’t go in-play, you’ll end up losing your bank”. Of course they are right and I wish I hadn’t had to go on this long painful journey to stop doing it myself – I envy their ability to not think / behave in this way.

Anyhow, for me at least, there is not a magic answer but a whole series of factors which when taken together produce the desired result. Some of them I am probably not consciously aware of, but over the past few days, I’ve noted down the ones I’ve thought of as I’ve been trading. I really hope they are useful to other traders out there, but I’m certainly not saying I have all the answers or that what I’ve done will help curb this behaviour completely, or even a little bit, for other people. Obviously I hope they are helpful but I am not encouraging anyone to continue trading who wants to stop / has no money left etc. I don't know whether anyone can become a successful trader given the right circumstances, but apparently 90% or 95% of traders fail.

I mentioned at the end of my last post that, for me, I feel the most important factor in becoming consistently profitable was finding an edge (err – sorry for saying the obvious!). Of course, you can take the time to discover what works for you whilst using very small stakes. I was too anxious to start earning salary-sized amounts and I escalated my stakes way, way too quickly.
After trading on-and-off for 2 years, I started using stakes TEN TIMES smaller. For a couple of races it felt ridiculous, but then I actually started learning how to trade instead of wasting effort in abject fear of losing money I couldn’t afford.

By using small stakes you don’t have the pressure of taking a loss that is a significant amount of money in the real world, so you don’t need to risk going in-play to get out of the hole, so you don’t end-up blowing your (small) bank. That in turn gives you confidence and belief that you are indeed a successful trader, that in turn means you can start taking a profit most days from your trading, that in turn gives you respect for your money and trading stake, that in turn means that the last thing in the world you want to do is squander your hard-earned stake.

I actually think that, for me, it was important to earn my trading bank rather than just lumping it into my account from a bank card.

Treat it like a job! Hard work pays-off, it also gives you perspective on the money you are using. If your expectation of a good day is to make less than 50% of your bank, then remember it will take more than 2 good days of trading to recover from a total loss. If you normally make 20% a day then that’s a whole week wasted to get back to scratch. Why throw away all that time?
Can you imagine being in a job as an employee and telling your boss that you just threw away a week’s earnings for the business because you got a bit steamed-up?!!! Well, you are the boss, so don’t do it to yourself!

Do not put yourself under pressure to make a certain amount a day, week or month until you have proven you can make a profit for a period of over a month or so (only risking small stakes). If you’re like me then you won’t want to wait a whole month proving your edge, however I can say from bitter experience that it will be expensive using the maximum stakes you can afford whilst experimenting!

At first, just concentrate on trying to make a profit of any amount each day. Once I stopped trying so hard to make a set amount and just enjoyed being in profit, I found that after a few weeks the profits on some days started far exceeding the expectations I used to set. My strike-rate and consistency improved and I could enjoy my trading too. I felt safe to gradually increase my trading bank slightly, but I'm still way off what I used to use. Nowadays I concentrate on increasing my % profit for the day, not my trading bank size.

If I knew back at the start what I know now, I would have borrowed the money for my living expenses instead of for my trading bank and not expected to make a living from trading right away. The pressure of trying to make a living by trading must have been one of the factors that made it hard for me to accept losses.

It is a vicious circle that leads to blowing your bank and it starts with a loss. If you made a profit before every race then you’d never go in-play! Other than by genuine accident – and that can happen...

Did you know that AtTheRaces has a much larger delay than Racing UK? It’s only something like a couple of seconds extra, but relative to the overall delay from live that’s quite a bit. If you like trading right up to the last second then this could be one reason why you end-up going in-play by accident.

Furthermore, if you use the red-button feature of ATR, the delay is increased again. Just bear this in mind when on this channel and it may save you a chunk of your bank! Watch a couple of race finishes whilst on the red-button and see how much sooner Betfair suspend the market than you see the winner cross the line. Scary!

I really like the red-button feature as you can skip the diabolical daytime TV adverts!! If I hear Michael Parkinson say, “I’ve met thousands of interesting people”, or that old fart in the garden blabbing on about being organised, or Anne Diamond selling her soul for some gold, one more time I’ll be throwing my nice new lcd tv out of the window onto the lawn!!! It’s enough to put you on tilt. No, really!

The best way of avoiding large pre-race losses has to be to close losing trades quickly (okay, the best way is to get the market direction right!). Closing losing trades quickly, before your mind kicks-in saying,”ooh that loss is going to be big, don’t take it, gamble, double-up your stakes and really put your whole week on the line”! Just do it quickly, automatically, as a part of your trading style and it saves a lot of pain down the line. I am so often pleasantly surprised that the loss amount is less than I expected before closing the trade, that it actually gives me a boost. Then I hammer the next opportunity hard.

It has taken me a long time to get good at closing losses quickly and at the same time to learn how to let winning trades ride-out. They are two different disciplines and it is fun trying to master them, essential I suppose.

Keeping records is also really important to gain perspective on your trading. I’ve kept a database of all the spreadsheets I’ve downloaded from Betfair P&L and the Bet History pages for years. I made all sorts of weird and wonderful reports. A couple of weeks ago I started making a totally new system in Excel, it is really simple and at the moment I’m finding it very useful. There is an excellent article on punt.com about analysing results, particularly average profit and average loss per race, here is a link http://www.punt.com/2008/06/gambling-profit.html

Personally, I find that average loss per race is a very revealing stat. It is like a barometer of how consistent / on-tilt I was on any given day. Here is a graph from my results this month – just as well my strike rate is high!



You can see that my losses have been much more volatile for the past two weeks. This is partly because I’ve been trying to let my winning trades run for longer (with some success), however it is a totally different mindset to closing losing trades quickly and I’ve been slipping in that department.

Also, all the thinking I’ve been doing to write this post about going in-play has affected me a little, I think it has brought the old demons back to mind and also perhaps I felt over-confident that I don’t go in-play anymore and hence I’ve had some scrapes with some small liabilities going in-play which have increased the trading loss slightly. I’m not perfect! I need to be constantly vigilant.

Next up is “Respect”. No, I’m not trying to “get down” wiv da yoof, but when I started using stakes of £2,000 to £3,000 after only trading for a few months, I lost respect for that money. I forgot what it represented. I was supposedly only trying to nick a tenner or so a race so it felt safe and non-risky.

When I gambled, I built up my stakes very gradually (from the age of 16!) and a normal bet was £200, the largest I ever had was £400. Then I started trading and hey-presto, before long I ended up with £1,500 on some dodgy favourite of which I hadn’t even glanced at the form. Even I wasn’t that reckless when gambling!

It’s a funny thing this trading business, it appears to offer a safer form of gambling, but if you don’t “respect” it, you are going to have losses that you could only dream of previously.

The thing about losses is that not only have you lost money but you have wiped-out the profit potential of the day for the next day too. It may be obvious but it is significantly worse to lose on the day than to break-even for the day, however, I used to take more and more risk towards the end of the day when I wasn’t ahead – similar to when I was behind, crazy!

Looking at the markets before the start of racing is helpful as you then can set expectations for the day. If the opportunities for the day weren’t great then you shouldn’t be blaming yourself if things aren't going so well.

If there are lots of strong favourites and loads of money in the markets then it will probably be a fun day. If there isn’t then you can’t change that fact, but you can adjust your expectations.

Be aware of the next race – another reason why you shouldn’t go in-running is because you may miss a good trading opportunity for the next race. Not all races are the same. The "get-out" stakes at the end of the day may be the worst possible time to try and recover losses as they tend to be low quality and have low liquidity - leave it until tomorrow. Try to see the day as 20 races, not 1. This is the hardest part when the "red mist" of going on-tilt / gambling descends!

The final piece of the puzzle for me was trading bank management.

If you start with £100 and lose 50% on the first day, you need to make 100% (i.e. double) of your remaining bank of £50 in order to get back to where you were. If you accept on the less good days that a small profit is okay, then at least you have moved forward, albeit slowly, but you don't have any losses to recover the next day. You still have your whole bank to work with and the potential to have a great day tomorrow.

Without any form of bank management you are seriously weakening yourself with losses. If you use 100% of your trading bank throughout the day then if you have a significant loss your ability to recover is weakened, simply because you don't have as much money left to trade with to recoup the losses.

Some traders seem to have very strict bank management and use only 5% on any one trade. Whilst this is very prudent, the problem I had when starting out is that I couldn't afford to have 95% of my trading bank sitting around unused.

The compromise I use successfully now is that I have an amount twice the size of my trading bank in my Betfair account (the Australian wallet is useful for keeping the extra safe). This means that if I have some losses at the start of the day, I can continue trading with my normal stake size, even if the worst possible scenario occurred (i.e. going in-play with my whole trading stake exposed and this went on to lose, or a Betfair crash – last Tuesday at 5:15, anyone?!).

As I've said, I don't do that anymore! But I do find it useful if I have a bad start to the day that I can continue with my trading and not have to worry about reducing my stake size. Equally, when I have a good start to the day, I don't increase my stake size. I always withdraw my profits for the day unless I lost the previous day in which case I only withdraw once the loss has been exceeded (hopefully the next day). I find it very motivational to see regular amounts coming into my bank account!

The name of the game is to be consistent and not take more risk than necessary, keep a level-head and come out at the end of the day with a smile on your face!

I'd like to hear from other traders who have ideas (or proven strategies!) on how they have curbed this temptation to go in-play. If you found this post useful I’d really appreciate you linking to it from your blog / putting me on your blog list, I want to get more comments going and I need more readers for that!

Cheers, MG

Ending your pre-race trading career by going in-play (part 1)

No, I haven't blown my bank by accidentally/on-purpose going in-play (this time!), but this is definitely a major problem for some traders. How many I'm not sure, so I've started a poll, it's on the right-hand side of my blog just under my profile. Please vote! My guess is that this blights the traders who come from gambling backgrounds - they have experienced the highly addictive lure of getting out of a sea of losses with one whopping great big winner (or in the case of trading, hoping to duck the pre-race loss from trading). It is way more exciting than a whole raft of things I can think of, probably as addictive as crack-cocaine I would imagine, but I personally wouldn't go as far as Mick Fitzgerald (autobiography, "Better than Sex"), ok he was talking about riding winners not backing them......!

Disclaimer: I don't recommend the following course of action for anyone who wishes to keep their bank-balance / sanity etc......

My most memorable get-out-of-jail-free was one Wednesday three years ago, 14th June 2006, when I had already wiped-out my bank twice earlier in the day (-£5,500). Having hit my credit-card for a third bank of £1,500 (oh yes, there was NO way I was going to quit!), I arrived at the Beverley 4:40. I opened a back-trade on the favourite just before the off, got matched for my whole bank, then before I had chance to blink the race was off. Now, I certainly did not mean to go in-play, but as I was chasing my losses and I had seen good scalping opportunities, I wasn't going to sit and do nothing even though I knew it was close to the off. I was gambling that I wouldn't get caught in-play and that I'd make a few quid on the scalping opportunity I saw (basically taking advantage of the volatility that occurs as more prudent traders close their positions!).

The race was a 5f fillies' handicap with 19 runners, the (joint) favourite that I'd backed was 5-1 SP. Well, by now you know it won (+£7,211 after commission) but the way it won is hilarious considering what I had staked on it (you can see the replay on the Racing Post website for 20p if you're interested, I've just watched it again for a chuckle!). The joint-fav I'd backed, Muara, broke poorly from stall 19 and got crossed by the runner from an adjacent stall, so its odds shot-out. If this hadn't happened, I'd have definitely redded-up for a small loss, but the odds were so ridiculous that I just resigned myself to losing another bank. The jockey, a 5-pound claimer, was the first to start pushing his mount along - after only 2 furlongs! Not surprisingly, the odds drifted further. In the closing stages there were 5 horses in contention and a fast finisher coming down the outside. Somehow (willpower from me hoping?!), Muara put a spurt on and won by a neck coming out of the pack.

I was too busy jumping up and down like a lunatic to remember to take a screenshot of the odds, but I would imagine that there was very little money matched at low odds on this winner as it just looked so unlikely all the way. If it had, I'd have redded-up. Of course the other outrageous piece of good fortune was that I happened to trade on the winning one of the two joint-favourites. Totally and utterly ridiculous. Incredibly lucky and of course I wasn't always so lucky - before this day I had lost my balance on 2 other occasions. The first, and therefore most significant to me, was after having opened a trade close to the off only for my software to freeze (and the bet went on to lose). I now have a couple of back-ups and don't use the same software. The second occasion was pure gambling. I think the "unfair" loss of my bank on the previous occasion affected my trading negatively for a long time afterwards as I tried to regain the money. After losing my bank for a second time I was in real trouble because it was going to take a long time to recover.

One aspect of my trading that I've improved significantly is to make a much higher daily % return. Back in 2006 I was only making about 10% on a good day. That meant that when I lost my balance I needed to work 10 days to recover it. Coupled with a poor state of mind, I found this very hard to accept. Nowadays I use a much smaller bank - only a few hundred - but I make about 30%-40% on a good day and I believe I can improve that more and I aim to average over 50%. On Wednesday I made 12.5% on one race (fully greened-up) - a new record for me. It makes losses on individual races much much easier to bear when you have a realistic chance of recovering them. It negates the reason for gambling.

My reason for explaining this in such detail is because there are several reasons why (losing) traders go in-play with their whole bank on the line and in order to try and arrive at a solution, I've really analysed my reasons. It can be totally accidental, or gambling with how much time is left, or even intentional once a substantial pre-race loss has accumulated from trading. The lines are perhaps more blurred than that too - if you go in-play "accidentally" were you sub-consiously wanting to gamble your way out of a hole? I think this has been the case for me.

There are some (winning) traders who don't seem to be affected with the trait of going in-play with huge liabilities, it would be interesting to really find out why. My guess is that it's because they do not have a background of gambling. If you go in-play when you were in profit on your trades pre-race, is that the same as going in-play when you had accumulated a loss that was so big it threatened a chunk of your day's profit?

I'm happy to say that I have now put this behaviour behind me and that is why I think I have some partial solutions. There isn't a magic answer, but a whole set of inter-related factors, at least for me. I still go in-play occasionally (more on that later), but never after having backed a horse for my whole balance. After 14th June 2006 I knew I'd had my luck.

The funny thing is that I've chased losses many times in the past and had some big wins (when I was a pure gambler, before trading), but on this occasion I got out of the hole by accident. Having had these experiences with gambling, when I was a novice trader I found it hard to keep a level-head with my trading when some trades turned into large losses. This was when I got tempted into trying to avoid the losses by going in-play - a fatal flaw for successful trading and a guaranteed route to the poor-house.

In my next post I'm going to try and explain more clearly how I've changed my trading to stop this destructive behaviour. I believe that this is the second most important aspect of my trading that I had to improve in order to become profitable in the long-term. The most important was to find an edge. After that the rest became easier.

£7,000 to £7,000,000

No, I'm not trying to outdo the £1,000 to £100,000 challenges! This is the story of a self-taught day trader Rajesh Gill, known as the “seven-to-seven man” because he turned £7,000 into £7 million in two years (don't tell Adam Heathcote or he might push-up his challenge target again!).

What's even more extraordinary is that he was awarded £20 million last month after his broker was deemed to have defrauded him by lying about the value of his account. He found out when his usual contact was on a day-off and he spoke with another employee at the brokerage. Here's a transcript of the awful moment when the penny dropped:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6237285.ece
It's quite laughable that even when the sums of money are in the millions the conversation is handled like he's buying a packet of fags in a newsagents! The broker that had lied to him apparently did so to earn commission on the "successful" trades and pocketed £500,000 himself. Makes you wonder if these city firm ever check-up on what their employees are actually doing!Link

Trading Software part 2 / Gruss Betting Assistant

In my last post I was reviewing some of the features that I like about Gruss Betting Assistant Betfair trading software. I highlighted the first 4 areas I feel that Gruss offers advantages over some of the other software available. OK, so here are the remaining 4 points.

Of the 3 software applications I've used, Gruss and BetAngel are the only 2 which offer integration with Microsoft Excel. When I started using Gruss about 6 months ago I noticed right away that the Excel integration offers significantly more features. The first most obvious one was that the last traded price is available for each selection. This is particularly useful for in-play automation as this figure can be quite different to what is currently on offer on the back / lay columns, it may also give an indication of which direction the market is going.

As you can log your bets to another sheet in the workbook you can use the "update" command to automate the moving of partially unmatched or unmatched bets towards the new market level. I also use the "MyBets" sheet to work out my new P&L when there has been a horse withdrawn from the race just prior to the start and Betfair haven't had time to remove it from the market (I hate ending up in the red due to late withdrawls when I've had an all-green market prior to the withdrawl!).

In Gruss if you have several markets open at once on different tabs, you can connect each of the markets to a different sheet in the same Excel workbook (and also have a seperate "MyBets" sheet for each market). This is really great for creating triggers from one market and applying it in another (e.g. win / place markets, football markets, tournament collapse triggers in tennis / snooker). You can control the refresh rate of each market independently from Excel and this can be automated (e.g. increase the refresh rate when the market goes in-play).

As from the recent 1.1.0.61 version, you can now select to have any of the additional information linked to Excel:
SP
Saddle cloth
Form
Days since last ran
Jockey
Trainer
Age/weight
Jockey claim
Wearing
Stall draw

There is so much functionality available I'll not duplicate it all here, you can find out more on the user forum and especially the "New releases" category. The main guy behind Gruss is called Gary Russell and posts on the forum regularly.

This brings me neatly onto the next point which is the superb development support. New ideas and suggestions for improvements are monitored closely by Gruss and in some cases, for minor improvements, I have experienced them being implemented on the same day! Now that is what I call service!

The penultimate point I want to highlight is the user-definable green-up option, or "Alt. level profit" as it is called in Gruss. Firstly, as a bit of background, I really like the BetAngel "Trade calculator", it is excellent if you are leaving a trade open to go in-play (intentionally or not!). You can then select the odds you want to try and close the trade at and the calculator will work out the relevant stake to close the trade greened-up. Gruss doesn't have this specific feature (I should get around to requesting it on the forum!), however as well as the standard green-up button, the Alt. Level Profit enables you to green-up any number of clicks from the current back or lay price that you want. I personally have this button set to reverse +1.

Let me explain. If I have traded a market successfully pre-race and I have zero P&L on all the runners except the favourite which I am +£50. After the market goes-in play, the back price goes to, say, 1.7 and the lay price is 3.5. If I green-up normally, I will have a profit across all runners of 50/3.5 = £14.28, whereas if I green-up one tick in-front of the current back price (so I am at the front of the queue) I make £29.24 (50/1.71) across all runners if I get matched. Do that several times a day and you are making a lot of extra money.....

Clearly this takes some judgement, but wide spreads in the odds can also occur at the very start of races and if you've gone in-play by accident then the last thing you want to do is green-up your entire bank at 4 in a panic when the back price is 3 - very expensive!

The final feature that I think is worth a mention is the integrated notes section. This enables you to record notes about selections so that the next time they run an icon appears next to the horse/selection to remind you. Even if you don't study form and bet in-running, this is useful for pre-race traders - you must have seen horses reluctant to go into the stalls / refuse to race. Next time out you can be on the right side of these market moves. It can save you a lot of pain and money if you know the favourite you are trading on can be reluctant to race - make especially sure you exit all your trades well in time for these ones!

Well that's all I can think of for know, I hope this helps because there isn't too much info on the Gruss website itself, I'd recommend looking at the user forum and downloading the software for the free 30-day trial. Happy trading!

Trading software (and Google Reader)

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Firstly, before I get onto Trading software I want to mention Google Reader. Sorry if everyone reading this is using Google Reader to do so, but just in case I'll mention it! In Google Reader, you can consolidate all the blogs that you follow to read in one place, rather that bookmarking them all. The massive time-saving advantage of this is that you can instantly see which blogs you follow have new postings since your last log-on without checking every blog from your bookmarks. This is great if you follow blogs that don't update regularly (cough, wink, who me?, cough), also great because you may only be interested in certain posts by a blogger, you can quickly see if a post is of interest from the title (each post is displayed on one line, rather like an e-mail). Finally, you can group related blogs into folders (e.g. trading, hobbies, news, tech, etc.) and see which folders have updated since your last log-in. You can bookmark/star favourite posts and share them with friends. You can visit any blog post at its original location if you want, just by clicking on the title.

I found a vid on youtube that shows you what it's about:


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You'd be forgiven for thinking that BetAngel is the only option for trading software but there are other options which are well worth considering. I used BetAngel for a couple of years and started out back in 2005 on some other software. For the past 6 months I've been using Betting Assistant made by Gruss Software (http://www.gruss1-software.co.uk/). Knowing these 3 applications intimately helps give me an appreciation of what the differences are. For clarity, I'll refer to Betting Assistant as "Gruss", as "BA" could refer to BetAngel!

Gruss has been around since 2004 and is a very solid piece of software. Like BetAngel, I have never had a crash with Gruss, which is certainly not my experience with the other software I started out on in 2005. I lost my entire trading bank on a couple of occasions due to software crashes, which was ludicrous. I should have ditched the software after the first crash but I was reluctant to change what was familiar to me. Very bad strategy. Above all, software stability is surely the number one requirement for trading software.

In my experience, the main advantages of Gruss Betting Assistant over other software are mainly:
  • (rock-solid software)
  • Price
  • In-running trading, due to user-configurable Grid-interface
  • Some additional features in the Ladder interface
  • Superior Excel interface
  • Superb development support
  • User-definable Green-up option, e.g. one-tick in front of current back price
  • Integrated horse/selection notes section
The first point regarding stability I've already covered. The next point covers price, which is always a consideration. Gruss Betting Assistant is £6 for a month or £6 on a recurring payment basis for convenience via PayPal. Although I think for full-time traders if the software were to cost much more it should really still be a no-brainer, however the cheapness of Gruss I think could be significant for weekend traders or new traders. Starting-off £30 down for the month is a bit of a downer when you are just trying-out trading. Gruss offer a free 30-day trial for new users.

The next point is really a unique feature to Gruss which is a massive advantage for In-Running trading. The grid interface is user-definable and has the capability for 24 custom columns! You can select which existing columns you want in preferences and order them any way you want and mix-in your custom columns too.

This may sound confusing, so here are some screen-shots. Here is the default grid interface (click on image to enlarge):














Most of this is fairly similar to other software so I won't explain it, if you install the software for the 30-day trial then you can use the help pages to explain it in detail, there is also an excellent user forum.

Here is the grid interface after I've set it up for in-running trading:















Looks quite different to the default doesn't it! Being able to define the layout and columns is a really nice feature, you just set it up how you want it.

Briefly, the columns for each selection/horse are as follows:
Rev - ability to swap the back and lay columns individually for each horse (you can do this for the whole market in preferences like in BetAngel).
Saddlecloth number
Name
Silks
Projected Betfair SP
A custom column - here I have a back column for £10 at odds of 1.11 (small profit but you will get matched at the best available price & can click as many times as you want!)
Standard back columns - I've chosen to have just 2 instead of the normal 3 to save space - this screenshot was taken on my laptop with quite a small screen.
Profit - your current P&L for each selection
Level profit - the green-up button
Alt level profit - I like the option of trying to green-up 1 tick ahead of the current back price in-play (instead of the current lay price, if there is one) as the spread can be huge - this can increase your profits substantially!
Standard lay columns - again, I've chosen to have just 2
Custom lay columns x 6 - this way I can lay just ahead of the current market back price at whatever seems like good value. I have fill-or-kill set to zero on the low-odds columns (these would only be used close to the finish of a race, so you don't want to hang around!), on the odds-against columns I don't use FOK so I have more chance of getting matched - if I change my mind I can just press cancel. The final two columns are the stake sizes selected when pressing back or lay on the standard columns.

In-running trading is all about speed and having these custom buttons set-up means that I can enter a bid into the market at the price I want with one click (rather than plumping for what is currently on offer, which can be expensive as the spread between the back price and lay price can be huge and very volatile). Each custom column has its own setting for fill-or-kill orders, this would usually be set to zero so that any unmatched part of your order is cancelled. This saves you from having an order sitting in the market which only gets matched when events in the race turn against you! Bear in mind that there is a 1 second delay imposed by Betfair for in-play horse racing markets, so by the time your order is in the market you may get matched even if there were no offers at your odds at the time you clicked your order.

The standard 3 back and lay columns need not also be set-up as fill-or-kill, but can be. They also have an independent stake button to the custom columns. It's really useful with all the information available to be able to order the columns as you want and you can also adjust the width of them all.

The refresh rate can be set as low as 0.1 second which is great for automation via Excel spreadsheets (more on that later in the post).

The fourth advantage regards the features of the ladder interface. What I particularly like is that the amounts already traded are shown graphically as well as having the actual amount superimposed on the mini-graphs. This means that you can see at a glance where the previous action has been, much easier than checking out all the figures. This gives you an immediate feel for whether this horse is trading in a tight band or whether a swing trade is on the cards.
Amounts available to back or lay beyond the 3 closest to the current market are also shown - this is a fairly standard software feature now - but you can also adjust the refresh rate for these. You also have the ability to have a column down the side showing your potential P&L for exiting your current trade at the various odds in view, I see the latest version of BetAngel has this feature now too. Personally, I don't use this feature because I'd rather try and make a decision when it is the right time to exit a trade rather than missing out on an exit point because it hadn't hit my desired profit level.















On the downside, the charting is pretty basic (although it does provide 3 moving averages with last price matched, you can choose between a line graph or candlesticks or both), more on a level with other software and nowhere near as sophisticated as the advanced charting on BetAngel. I find it interesting that some of the most successful traders blogs that I've read state they don't use charting at all or only a little.

You can choose whether to have 1, 2 or 3 ladders on view, either way you can see a mini grid-style view of all the runners to the right of the screen along with the total amount matched on each individual runner so far. I find this invaluable for quickly working out which horse I want to trade on when switching to a new market.

This has become quite a long post, so I'll split it up and finish-off advantages 4 to 8 in my next post!

Stop-loss pt.2

Hello again! On my previous post I've added a comment that is a follow-up to my earlier post regarding stop-loss.

I've been trying out new software, new techniques and generally working on improving my trading since my last post, so I expect I'll find something to write about again soon. I'd rather find topics that haven't already been done over and over in all the good blogs out there.