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Chester May Meeting

It’s the Chester May festival this week and it’s a welcome addition to the card, but based on previous years it’s nothing amazing from a trading viewpoint.

Trading conditions

Obviously, we all love some extra liquidity that the quality racing will bring, but it’s never been a meeting that I’ve got really good amounts from.

Don’t get the wrong impression, ‘not really good amounts’ means I’m not banging in three-figure results a race. Just the odd one or two a day has been my historic result with generally better than average results overall.

In general, you should see improvement in traded volumes and general trading conditions. You will often see this in the summer, you alternate between good quality races and poor quality races. The significance is that there will be more money and interest in the better quality stuff. That, usually, feeds through to the markets in general.

You should be focusing on picking up some good results at the larger meetings so you can pick and choose your targets on the lower quality stuff. This is a good risk management strategy from a trading perspective.

Draw bias at Chester

The thing to note about Chester is its draw bias, which is one of the more significant in the UK.

When you get a strong draw bias it will radically affect the way a market trades in play. A favourite with a favourable bias should ‘hose up’. But with an unfavourable draw, it will most likely have to work hard to turn over similar horses with a more favourable draw. This can lead to horses trading quite low in play, but still getting beaten as the favourite nips them near the finishing post.

From a trading perspective the draw bias can be signficant pre-off as if there is a regular set of winners coming in from low draws that may spark further interest in these runners later on in the card.

The reason the draw bias exists at places like Chester is due to the tight nature of the course, it’s very ‘curvy’. Compare this to a straight course when the horse doesn’t need to be steered around the corner or run extra distance compared to somebody that is holding a favourable position on the rails.

It can make a huge difference and if you haven’t experianced this before it’s something that should get your attention at Chester.

Inplay trader

If you are interested in trading in-running and taking advantage of the draw bias, you should check out Bet Angel’s ‘in play trader’. It’s a very useful tool for trading in running. The way odds are presented visually will allow you to take advantage of a front-running horse or a weakening favourite. You can see the market adjusting it’s view some way out and with the click of a mouse you can click in front of the horse to back it or behind to lay it. It’s a neat way to trade these fast-moving markets.

Good luck at Chester.

The post Chester May Meeting appeared first on Betfair trading blog | Expert advice from Professional Betfair trade.

Trading the Newmarket Guineas

This weekend sees the first real big trading market of the flat turf season, the Newmarket Guineas.

The interest in the first ‘Classic’ of the season is high and it should be a big betting market and that usually translates into a good trading market. A Guinea is old money for 21 shillings or £1.05. So in effect, with the current level of prize money for the 2000 Guineas, it really should be called something more like the 200,000 Guineas!

If you want some history on horse racing, then Newmarket is UK horse racings HQ and if you are nearby it’s worth popping into the national heritage centre for horseracing and sporting art.

I’ve always enjoyed the Guineas meeting and have had some fun and game over the years on it. It’s the first classic of the flat turf season for the horse racing markets and an opportunity to get some big race practice in ahead of the other big races out there.

Newmarket Guineas Turnover

On the Betfair exchange, The amount of money that gets traded at the big meetings is huge. The level of interest in the betting market tends to drive the trading market. The Newmarket 2000 Guineas has averaged just under £4m on the betting exchange over the last ten years or so. Sports traders tend to prefer high liquid markets, so meetings like this are welcome.

The most recent peak is way back in 2010, it’s not performed as well since then. Even in 2011 when Frankel was an incredibly short 1.59 to win it only managed £3.5m. In hindsight, Frankel was a bargain at those prices!

I’ve no doubt however that the general level of betting interest in this market will drive some new Betfair account openings, some offers will encourage matched betting, the odd free bet or two will be created and perhaps some new inductees to horse racing. So all of that activity should drive an active market.

From a Betfair trading perspective, it’s big. But not as massive as some of the other meetings, but worth a fair amount of effort.

The 1000 Guineas is on Sunday and as with most Sunday racing will come in much lower. Historically it has matched around 60% of the big race but is still worth a shot. There shouldn’t be much price movement on the big race itself

Betfair trading outlook

Being a full time trader and market veteran, I feel I have underperformed for a few years.

If you have been around for some time, it’s tough to really perform at the highest level or hit new heights. For that to happen you need all things to slot into place perfectly to get the result you are really looking for.

I still haven’t beaten my total from 2010 when just that happened, and I walked away with a decent result from the race and for the entire day. The total you see is all pre-race trading on a number of horse racing markets, not just the Guineas, but it was a cracking day. Something I haven’t repeated since, but I usually have a ‘decent’ day each year.

But back to this year and we find a very competitive race. That will probably result in a slightly lower turnover than average, but it will feel a bit more like a Cheltenham or Derby so that should suit me. I’ll be using much larger stakes to take advantage of that, but as always you have to treat each market as you see it, not how you predict it!

My views on the trading conditions haven’t varied that much over the years so I’ve added a previous video which you can view, so watch that if you want a narrated view on the market.

Best of luck, whatever you are doing.

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Lay betting – Fully automated with Bet Angel

In this article, I am going to work through how to set up a simple piece of Betfair Automation on Bet Angel that will identify a horse within a race and lay it to a fixed liability. The purpose of doing this is just to give you an indication of something basic to do that you can then expand upon if you so wish.

Understanding lay betting

Lay betting is the process of betting on a selection to lose. It was slightly controversial on introduction as people had only been able to place a bet by backing, betting on something to win. But ultimatey if you are betting into a two selection market a back bet on one selection is effectively a lay bet on the other selection. Nothing remotely controversial about that!

Lay betting is an option only on betting exchanges as traditional betting is back only. The boomaker ‘lays’ his bet to you and if you win your back bet you collect a multiple of your stake. If the you bet loses then the layer wins the backers stake. That the same with a traditional bookmaker and on a betting exchange.

Let’s say we lay a horse in a race. If you lay odds in a horse race, you are offering odds for a backer to take. You would win your bet if the horse loses, but if the horse goes on to win the race, then you have to pay out to the backer.

Let’s create a simple lay betting bot

1) Opening Guardian and the general set up

Now firstly, we need to bring up Guardian because Guardian is where the automation is. Clicking the ‘G’ icon:

That will bring up the Guardian where we can start creating automation that is going to change the world!

What we need to do next is highlight any market in this list. Then we just do create a new rules file for the selected market. That will bring up a dialogue box and then we can start telling Bet Angel what we want it to do.

So if I click on ‘pin’ as well, that keeps the rules editor always on top. If you don’t do that, it may disappear if you click on another part of Bet Angel. Then we need to create the rule, so the first part of what we want to do is we want to place a lay bet.

We’ll call this ‘place a lay bet’ so that we know exactly what we’re doing. For the rule type, we’re going to use here is to ‘place a lay bet.’

We’re now going to select event start time. So we’re going to place this bet, let’s say, one minute before start time and it goes to the start time of that particular event. We’re only going to trigger at once and what we’re actually going to do here is we’re going to select ‘any selection.’

It should now look like the image below.

2) Setting up parameters

The parameters that we need are basically how are we going to place the bet. There’s so many variations to choose from but we’re going to keep it simple and put ‘best market price.’ Now because we’re placing a lay bet, if we place a lay bet for £10 then the liability will be different depending upon which runner we put it on.

So because it’s a lay bet, we are going to select ‘by liability (back and lay).’ Here we are saying any lay bet that we place will have a maximum liability of £10. As the liability is fixed and the return is not fixed we will get a variable return depending upon what price the lay bet gets matched up. Now your screen should look like it does below.

In this instance, we’re not going to apply global settings and if I click apply now, you actually see that appear under rule name. However, on its own that will not do what we require it to do, meaning we need to apply some conditions to it.

3) Setting up conditions

So now I’m going to add a new condition here you will see we’ve got a whole range of different conditions available within this particular market. Now we’re going to add a ‘fixed odds condition’ and select ‘ANY selection’ meaning that we want to lay something at 10 or below.

As we’re using the ‘any selection’ criteria, Bet Angel will begin looking at runner one, it will look at runner two and three etc to see if it fits the criteria. Therefore at the moment, if we just implemented this it would lay the favourite. So what we need to do is add another condition, this time selecting ‘fixed odds condition’, ‘ANY selection’, ‘current lay price’ and then this time put ‘greater than’ 6 in this instance.

It would then look at that and work out by going through the runner whether that’s not greater than 6 and less than 10. Then when it does fit that criteria at a specific position it will get managed from there.

We can also add other conditions in there as well. So because we’re using ‘any selection’, we basically only want it to place one particular bet. This time the condition is ‘number of matched bets’, then select ‘on market’ so it displays the number of matched bets on the market you can see here is equal to zero.

What this is saying is if there are no bets in the market, then you can go ahead and place this particular bet. Now you can apply other conditions as the way that the conditions work is it’s basically doing an ‘and’ if you’re looking at it from a logical perspective. So it’s saying lay prices lower than 10 ‘and’ the lay price is greater than six ‘and’ there are no bets within the market.

Now you can actually add in a whole load of different conditions within here as well. So we even have a stall draw or a text comparison condition (where it’s saying where ‘the market name does not contain’, you could put something like the market is ‘not a maiden.’) You can see there are a whole range of conditions that you can apply in there.

Next we should consider having a condition as to what happens when the race is in-play. It’s not going to be in-play because we’ve only asked it to run for one minute before the start of this race however this is just a safeguarding effort. Again, I will apply that which makes sure that it gets contained under the rules name area.

What I’ll probably do on here as well, just so that we can ensure that the bet gets placed at exactly what we want, I’m going to increase that window to five minutes. So, again, I will apply that and then I need to save this rule.

Now I need to give it a rule so we will call this my lay betting bot. Then I can close that window and you will see that it appears now in the drop down menu at the top of the editor that we have here.

4) Applying your new conditions to markets

If we want to apply it to a market, what I can actually do is just go up to the automation rules and then actually select that from there.

So this is now actively monitoring this example market at Kempton and it’s basically looking for the odds to be above six and below 10. At the moment, it would trigger on the horse highlighted below because this is above six and below 10 and it wouldn’t trigger on the favourite for example.

If we created a rule, then we can actually select the rule from the top left part of your screen and then apply rules to all markets looking like this.

That basically means that Bet Angel will go through the entire day and place this particular rule on that particular market.

Now if you want to, you can create loads of different rules with different criteria, looking for different things and then apply them individually. You could actually apply different bots to different markets and that’s recommended simply on the basis that you may have strategies that work well in one market and not the other.

5) Lay automation bot in practice

So we’re coming up to the five minute window that we asked it to operate within. We’ll see within a second it will place a bet in this particular market based upon our criteria. At the moment, that would be on the runner Riot (see below), but it all depends upon that split moment that it decides to go into the market.

I would recommend placing bets close to the off because that’s when the market is most likely to be efficient and you’re most likely to capture value. However, it’s entirely up to you.

So you can see that it has indeed put that position within the market. If we can click on the match bets to confirm exactly what it did which you can see above. If we want to, we can actually skip into that market and you can see that it’s placed a lay bets on Riot to a liability of £10, which will give us a £2 profit if anybody else goes on to win on this particular race.

A quick summary

Now you can see that we did that via Guardian by using the editor, we asked it to trigger in a five minute window on any selection. We then asked it to place a £10 lay bet. The £10 is by liability so that limits any losses that you’re likely to get when you have a lay bet within the market – it’s important to consider that.

The conditions we’ve applied is if the lay price is above six and the lay price is below 10 and there are no other bets in the market and the market is not in-play off you can go and place that bet.

That was my quick and simple summary of how to set up automation of a lay bet in Bet Angel. Now, you can make as complex as you like, but if you want to experiment and play around with the concept of betting or with automation then this is the way that you would do it.

In other articles we will take this to a higher level, by showing you how to perform more complex betting strategies, which you can also do fully automatically.

The post Lay betting – Fully automated with Bet Angel appeared first on Betfair trading blog | Expert advice from Professional Betfair trade.

How I successfully minimise my losses

Why am I so open about my trading results?

You often see me posting up my Betfair trading results and there’s a very good reason why I do this. It may not be what you think, but it tells you a lot about how I trade and also how I manage losses.

So when I post my Betfair trading results, people generally understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Inevitably, you get a small minority who simply just do not get it. But there are some really clear reasons as to why I do this.

Primarily, I want you to know that I’m still doing this! In an industry dominated by opinion and very little fact, I think it’s really critically important that you have the knowledge that I am sat here on the same software that you were using, clicking away, doing the same sort of stuff.

I’m sharing those big highs and those lows with you, going through the whole experience of emotions.

Now, obviously, my incentive is a bit different from yours, nonetheless, this is absolutely the job that I was made to do. I love every aspect of it and I’m so glad that I ended up in this particular place. So, you see, even without any other incentive, I would still be here doing it.

Through the highs and lows…

Every now and again I’ll post a P&L. Some days I may rip through a card with ease, other days may prove a little harder. But where I think my result is exceptional, I won’t post anything. But there are other days that look ‘ordinary’ to me. Days where classic trading traits, like keeping losses small and keeping your discipline was the key on that particular day.

In the example in this blog that I have used, I have posted somer results and said this is a good example of correct money management. This was because I lost 15 races out of the number of races that I traded.

Now, this wasn’t an exceptional day by any means. If you want an exceptional day, then I can describe that to you as well, but the reason for doing the tweet was actually this was a good example of exactly what your objective is when trading this market in this particular style.

So what I was doing here was I was trading pre-off racing, so I was in the market 5 to 10 minutes out. I was exiting at or about post time and I was in the market for just a small period of time, five to 10 minutes, sometimes a little bit shorter. When I hit that hedge button at or near post time or near the off time, that was the result – Win or lose.

This wasn’t betting, it wasn’t, laying horses or anything like that. This was proper, pure trading.

That’s an important point to make. If you backing, laying or trading in-play your results can be signficantly flattered by the underlying event. If a football team scores more goals than expected, favourites win more often than expected or any of these types of things, then your results will be flattered.

You can produce very flattering P&L’s in this style, but the risk is effectively hidden in losses that are yet due. So you end up with a generally false picture when you post a P&L that is somewhat reliant on the underlying outcome of a sport.

When I trade pre-off, what you see is what you get, there is no reversion to mean. I traded in and out in that small period before the race started and it’s pure profit.

Trading: more reliable then betting

If you do a value bet and you lay a horse at sixes, you’re going to win 83% of the time. If you do that in running and you do a small trade in running, you’re going to win at a much, much higher percentage rate. If you do a small tick trade, you will be almost certain to win. That is until something happens that brings in a loss and it will be a whopper!

This is why I love pre-off horse racing trading because there’s so much of it and it’s a pure trading market. The outcome is not influenced by any other factor. So if you trade this market at random, you will get truly random results.

If we back a horse ten minutes out and then we trade out at post time, you will find that 50% of the time you win money 50% of the time you lose money and you will end up at break-even overall. Thefore the market base rate for pre-off trading is 50%. If you do it completely randomly, you will be getting a 50% strike rate.

When you look at the results that I posted, you will see that if I’ve lost 15 out of 54 races. That makes my actual strike rate 75%. So that contains some information – I am trading at 25 percent above base rate and I am doing something that’s allowing me to pick off those trades and elevate my base rate much higher than random.

So my theoretical edge there is quite large, but because I’m trading. I can’t make thousands on each individual race because I’m only ever going to earn a percentage return on my stake.

So if I have a £500 stake, I’m never going to risk that £500 in the market. The way I’m looking at it on pre-off Racing is I’m going to put £500 in the market, I’m going to take £500 out and I will win or lose a small part of that money.

Even without a 100% strike rate, you will still land a profit by the end of the day

So when you look at those losses, you can obviously tell that those losses must be relatively small in proportion to the gains that I’ve had. Part of that is because the strike rate is quite high anyway, I can afford to have slightly bigger losses than my gains and still make money.

Want to learn more about this topic? Check out this video after reading this blog post! https://youtu.be/kdJMvqOZK8o

Now the most important thing to understand when you’re trading any market, is what is that base rate and how do you measure your success above that?

So you can see I’m winning 75% of races and I’m losing 25% of races, but obviously that puts everything in my favour as long as I don’t let those losses get out of control.

The best way to illustrate this is to explain some I bought in San Francisco recently. I picked up this little device called a Galton board.

GIF of a the Galton Board

What this demonstrates the concept of normal distribution. So, in a way, this is a pre off racing market, because what’s happening is that most of the results will be plus or minus nothing. However, every now and again you can get an exceptional result, either positive or negative.

How do I tackle avoiding losses?

So one of the key ways that I trade is to try and avoid some of those losses.

When I first started trading, what I was actually trying to do was not to make mistakes. That’s where I suggest you start, I looked at the market, could see it was 50/50 and I thought, well, if I do this or if I do that, how does that influence what I trade?

I then went into the market and I traded every market exactly the same. The problem was every now and again, I would get that bell curve on one side where I’d get a very large loss.

My first tip to avoiding a loss!

So my attitude to minimising this problem, was to identify what races that would tend to occur on and then not trade them.

Not getting yourself into that position in the first place is actually a great way of improving your trading. You’re not under the obligation to trade every race! If you turn up to a race and you think, I have no idea what’s going on here, don’t trade it. It’s a brilliant way of avoiding a loss!

When you first start trading, it’s likely that you’ll have one strategy that you’re predominantly using and if you apply applied across all of those races, some of those races, it’s just not going to work very well.

So your first step to move yourself towards profitability is to eliminate races that you don’t understand and are more likely to lead to a loss, then……. don’t trade them.

Not every market is the same – so don’t use the same strategy on all

So here I am saying be selective, but I traded 54 races in a session!

One of the reasons that I can trade 54 races in a session is that I’ve got a strategy for pretty much every market. If I look at the markets on that day I’m thinking, “Well, that’s probably going to work here and that will probably work here”. That’s something that just comes with experience, when you look at my P&L, that’s 20 years worth of experience.

But also let’s look a bit deeper at that. There’s 54 races, £972 in profit and if you divide that profit by 54 races, you’ll end up with an average profit of ‘only’ about £18.

If I said to you, go out and make a thousand pounds today by trading on the racing, you would probably go, how am I going to do that? But if I said to you, your objective is to make an average of £2 a race, that’s much more achievable.

If you made £2 per race on average over 54 races, you would end up with £108 overall. That tiny objective is much more achievable than stretching for a much bigger target.

So one of the things that I’m doing when I’m approaching each of these individual races, is I’m just trying to stay out of trouble, but get a little bit of money out of the market. I could start the day with four losses and then three wins and two losses and then seven wins and then a couple of bigger losses – I don’t care!

I don’t set myself a target and say, right, I’ve got to make a £1000 by the end of the day. How am I going to do that?

That forces you into errors, but if you approach the market in a systematic and structured way, you just chip away at each market. You don’t pay too much attention to what happened in the market before this one, whether it was a loss or a profit. You just chip away and you keep doing what you can.

At the end of the day, you fire up and look at your P&L and you think, oh, that went well!

Your objective is stretched out over all of the races that you’re going to trade. By doing that, then you automatically trade better when the opportunity is there and you trade more defensively for when the opportunity isn’t there.

So if we look at that result and then compare it to the summer, that result would be much larger. Why?

It’s simple, there will be more races, it’s as simple as that. If I did an average of £18 over 70 races or something or even more than that, then obviously, naturally you would get a better result at the end of the day.

Remember: picking opportunities, treating your objective as a broader one is a good way of being able to cope with losses.

Don’t think too much when a position goes wrong

When I’m in a market and a position goes wrong, people often say to me, it would be great if you could show me a losing trade.

I disagree, because what happens is that I go into a market, I try and take a position and it doesn’t work out. So I simply exit it. There is little further thought process.

I went in for a specific reason – it went wrong, I then closed my trade and that’s all I do. I don’t do anything to try and recover the trade because that turns your trade into something completely different. I don’t double up my stakes, I don’t get more aggressive on the next race or anything like that.

It’s just okay that I got that wrong. I open up the next market and carry on. I just trade systematically through the day just like that; I don’t do anything clever.

There are some ways of minimising losses. Like I said to you, pick a strategy the suitable for the market, if you don’t know what you’re doing or you don’t think of a suitable strategy, avoid it. That will minimise your losses.

Additionally, I tend to participate in markets where there’s a lot of liquidity. One of the reasons for doing that is that if there’s a lot of money coming through the market, I can get rid of my trade straight away. I don’t have to think about it.

If you’re in a weak market and there’s no liquidity and you’re trying to exit a position that’s going against you, you just make it much worse for you.

Accept not all markets will be a profit

So if all of the conditions aren’t there for me to do the trade and to be able to exit cleanly, I won’t do it. I just have to accept that that market isn’t going to work.

Ultimately what you’re trying to is exactly what I’ve done with that Galton board.

If you see it on my shelf, it’s actually tipped slightly to one side because that’s how I trade. I’m not looking for some amazing mega trade and waiting all day for it. I’m not doing something to avoid losses, all I’m trying to do is accept that the market is sort of going to be a 50/50 shot.

I’m just trying to tip it gently in my favour by taking slightly better positions and slightly better markets with roughly the right strategy.

It’s fundamentally the same way that I have traded for many years. That was why I posted that information because it gives you a really good example of exactly how good money management should work.

If you don’t let your losses get out of control, then you won’t destroy a lot of the profits that you’ve made on the other side. On this particular day, I didn’t have any significant negatives. If you look back over the last month, I’ve probably had a few races where I’ve lost bit somewhere between £100 and £200, but that’s dwarfed by the trades that have gone particularly well.

If you look at an excellent Saturday result, I can earn thousands over the course of the day. In the example, in the video, it’s near £3000.

How could I possibly achieve that? Well, it was Champion’s Day. It has got much bigger markets, much more liquidity, bigger targets to hit in terms of the size of the race and how much they stood out from the rest of the card. So naturally, my results would rise, but I didn’t post that P&L because that was the benefit of twenty years worth of experience. I wouldn’t expect somebody to be able to do that or on the same scale.

By and large, what you’re trying to do is accumulate a profit over a period of time. You’re not looking to do anything weird or special in order to get to that total. That’s primarily why I highlighted my ‘normal’ P&L, because I thought it was a good example of that.

Checklist to minimise losses

So let’s summarise how to minimise losses: –

  • Don’t set a target: It’s going to go up or down over the course of the year based upon a number of races and the quality of races. You’re just trying to do the best you can in the markets that you’ve chosen and that will allow you to build a better result.
  • Make sure that you pick and choose markets that are suitable for your strategy. if you’re starting out, you’ll find if you’re using one particular type of strategy, it may work better on some markets than others, so just avoid them. Not all races will need the same strategy.
  • Choosing a race will high liquidity means that you can exit that trade as a minimal loss or the smallest loss that you possibly can
  • You need to accept that losses will happen: you have to be able to say – I have made a mistake and I am getting out of there. Don’t try and fix it, move to the next market with a fresh start.

That is the way that I suggest you trade and hopefully looking at that P&L that you saw, that will give you some confidence and reassurance that that’s exactly how I trade and something that you should aim to replicate.

That’s primarily one of the key reasons for making a post like that is to make you realise I act just your average trader. I hope that and the advice I’ve given here will positively influence your trading going forward.

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