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:
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)
- 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 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).
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!