Monday, 23 February 2009

Out with a whimper!

Loss since last update £123.20

It feels a little bit sad that my 12th and final month of The Experiment is going out with a whimper. Being honest, when I started the month, I thought it would have been easy to smash the £7k mark for the year (I was only £78 short ffs!) and at the back of my mind, I maybe had pretensions to get somewhere near £8k if I got off to a good start. I think I’ve been in profit for 2 days this month, so never a chance of achieving anything near the £8k!

Before anyone worries, I haven’t traded one single day in front of the PC this month. Weekends just haven’t allowed it and I’ve traded 48 races this month and about 40 have been on BF Mobile, so it’s not like I’ve spent much time on it.

So, what has gone wrong this month?

Basically, I’ve developed an unwanted knack of not following my own tips from The Form Analyst! As you know, I am TFA but this month, I’ve only traded 2 of my 6 winners. I’ve traded nearly all of the losers though. That sort of thing doesn’t help obviously and even though I’ve had a few £50+ wins, I’ve had a couple of large losses (one £100 loss :( ) and it’s just turned into a nothing month for me.

Obviously, I’m not going to worry too much about this month and I’m not going to let it spoil the enjoyment of what I have achieved on BF this year and the fact I have started a tipping business off the back of this blog. Pretty impressive stuff in my opinion and I’m really looking forward to the next 12 months to see where I go at that game.

I sort of gave up on trading from about August and I turned my attention to trying to be a tipster. Before August, I’d never given anyone a horse-racing tip in my life to be honest. Yeah, I’d analysed races before and followed my own advice but I would have always classed myself as the worst tipster of all time. I remember writing a post on the subject and it was true. Every time I was sure a horse would win, it never did when I told others!

I have now been running the tipping service for 5 months and it has been very tough going. I think one of my problems with tipping is always going to be the fact that my knowledge of horse-racing and my ability to read form is never going to match my ability as a tipster. I used to think that it was achieveable but I know it isn’t now.

To be able to fully implement what I know about horse-racing form, I’d have to be playing this game full-time. At the moment, I spend 2-3 hours in the evening before the day’s racing and then a little bit of time each day when I see the market shaping up. As my results have shown, it isn’t enough to be as successful at this game as I wanted to be.

When I started out, I thought I’d cruise to 240 points profit a year. Anyone playing £100 a point would win £24k no probs and it would be like taking sweeties from a kid. Being honest, I still think I can make 240 points a year from tipping but it just won’t be as easy as I thought it would be.

I think one thing that needs to be pointed out is that my target of 240 points a year is a lot of points! I quote things like this all the time as I have great belief in myself and my ability as this game. To my knowledge, no tipster in the game consistently makes this many points and I can’t imagine too many tipsters with no experience start out trying to make this sort of level of profit in their first year.

One thing that makes me laugh is that I’m always being compared to other tipsters in the game who are clearly very good and are much more experienced than me. It’s very flattering to be mentioned in the same breath as Equine Investments, Tipping Legends, Maths, SLH, Optimum and the like. These services are all well established services with massive client bases. I’m sure a few of these are full-time services and that maybe explains why they can charge such a high subscription cost.

I’ve mentioned this on the forum at the site but I have stopped charging anyone who has come up for renewal. I don’t offer a guarantee of this sort on the site and I don’t feel like I need to as for the prices I charge, I’m hardly raking it in for the time and effort I put in to the service. However, it feels wrong to charge people who come up for renewal that weren’t about when I made most of the profits and therefore, I don’t mind people staying at the site free of charge until I make them a profit. Once that day comes, they can leave with a profit or stay and try to grow that profit.

Overall, a disappointing month thus far but it isn’t over yet. I’m hopeful I can turn it around this week and hopefully post a profit on the month and get through the £7k profit mark but we’ll see what happens.

Monday, 2 February 2009

A bit of luck at last!

Profit since last update £513.88

I wouldn’t say I’ve been the luckiest person this year on Betfair and given the way most of the tips ran last month, I’m not sure I’m too lucky at that game either but thankfully, I got a massive dose of luck on Friday past.

I gave out 3 selections on Friday and my first play was to put £30 win on each on BF Mobile to enable me to trade from that opening position. I’d hit 31 straight losers before giving out these tips and obviously, my confidence was pretty low that they would win. The odds of them were 9/2, 6/1 and 16/1.

As you may or may not have heard, there was a problem with Betfair Mobile from mid morning and I was unable to lay off any of the bets. Well, it doesn’t take a genius to realise what happened next…….. I joked about it on the forum before it happened, so I'm sure the guys had a good laugh about it!

My first one won with an SP of 9/2 which netted me £172 profit on my bet on Betfair.

My second one won at 11/2 and I won £214 from my bet on Betfair.

I had backed my 3rd one at 22 on Betfair, so I was getting over £600 profit alone if it had won. As it turned out, it was one of the best backed horses of the day and if I was able to access BF, I would have been able to lay off 10 points lower for a £300 riskfree bet.

As it turned out, it had an SP of 10/1 and although it traded 4 IR, it finished out with the front 3. Overall, a profit of £356 on the day from my 3 bets and it doesn’t come much luckier than that. If given the opportunity to trade pre-race or leave IR lays, I would have maybe taken £10 IR on the first two to win small sums (£50 on each maybe) and on the last one, I wouldn’t have taken any money IR and maybe made a small profit of £10 or so by leaving an IR lay, so a likely profit of £110 has turned into £356!

Clearly, this is about as lucky as you can get. The reason I had been having a good month is simply due to the fact I wasn’t gambling on my selections (I don’t do this where possible as I like to trade them) and I missed the brunt of the losses from 31 straight losers and the day when I’m forced to gamble, I hit 2 winners!

The overall P&L for The Form Analyst shows a loss of 16 points on the month which makes me cringe. I’ve stopped taking renewals from anyone that renews at the moment which seemed the right thing to do. I had a few guys join at the peak of the service and they are now carrying a loss, so it makes sense to let these guys stay around until they get into profit and then they can decide to walk away or join the roller coaster again!

Here’s an update of the rollercoaster (I mean the P&L graph!) :

I said this on the last post but it hasn’t really been a bad month for the tips although it appears that way! It was a bad month in terms of winners but when you look at the way the horses ran, it was anything but a poor month. I only had 5 winners but 20 placed horses finished 2nd or 3rd. At the odds I play at, you are nearly as likely to pick a winner as a placed horse in a lot of the races, so to only have 5 winners whilst hitting 20 placed horses takes some doing!

I obviously track my results closely and I shared this table with the guys at the site.

Without trying to put too much of a spin on things, 45% of the selections got placed and considering the average odds were 10/1, you can see why I’ve had a very good month myself trading my horses pre-race and in-running. Backing horses at big prices that run well and trade low IR is basically my ‘edge’ and the edge was still there this month. What wasn’t there was a bit of luck. In my last post, I rattled off a list of big priced horses that got placed and I won’t repeat it again.

In my opinion, the worst case for the P&L last month was the actual result of -16. If someone could promise me that 45% of my selections would place every month where they have an average SP of 10/1, I’d take that every time. If I repeated that every month, I reckon I’d make 30+ points a month easily which would be amazing.

The eagle eye-eyed amongst you will be asking why I didn’t make a profit by backing each-way. Firstly, I don’t suggest each-way bets on all of my selections and for example, I gave 1 point win on a 22/1 that finished 2nd, so if I’d backed a point each-way, I’d have reduced that loss somewhat on the month. Secondly, I always treat the win and place part of each bet as separate bets and I won’t tip each-way unless I think the horse is value to get placed. Again, this is maybe not the norm but it’s what I believe. Hence, a 22/1 chance to win may not be value to place if it isn’t very consistent. Therefore, I gave out the 22/1 at win only and kicked myself when it was 2nd!

I’ve spoken about this a great deal with the subscribers at my site but one of my greatest strengths at this tipping game is identifying my best bets. I know it sounds a bit silly as it seems commonsense but in my case, it makes a huge difference. For example, here’s my P&L graph if you had only followed my stronger bets throughout the course of the service.

The first observation that is underlying this graph and isn’t clearly visible unless you think about it is that I make a loss on my 1 point bets over the 4 months. There are a few reasons for this in my opinion. The obvious reason is the fact my average odds on these bets are much higher, so you would expect a greater variance in the P&L of these bets. More importantly, they are my weaker bets as I said. Hence, if I find a horse I think is overpriced but may not run to form or is inconsistent, I tend to only suggest a point win or 0.5EW.

Clearly, this is a great strength to have as it means you can effectively increase your stakes on these better bets and be confident that it will increase your profits. At the moment, I use a 1-3 point staking plan which works OK but clearly, making a 30 point loss on weaker bets and 80 points profit on stronger bets isn’t ideal.

Two ways around it are to reduce my number of weak bets (not keen on this at the moment due to my relative inexperience at this tipping game) or to increase my stakes on the stronger bets.

I’ve already discussed this with the guys but from March time (or whenever the flat starts), I will be using more of a 1-5 point staking plan. I was meant to be using that from the beginning of the service but I’ve only given out one 3 point win bet in 4 months, so unless I’m waiting for Shergar to run, I’m not going to be giving out 4 and 5 point bets in the near future with my current plan.

I guess the issue with changing staking plan is you are in danger of increasing the risk as I can’t do much damage to the 45 point profit I’ve made so far with a 1-3 point plan but if I give out a couple of 4 or 5 point bets that lose, my historical profit quickly vanishes!

I guess the key is the graph above and the fact I do have a great strength of recognising my better bets, so I need to maximise it much more than I currently do. Hence, I shouldn’t worry too much about losing a lot of points as it doesn’t happen with my stronger bets but we’ll see what happens in March.

A few people have dropped me emails or comments on here (not published them all) about trying to learn to trade like me or at least learn how to read form like I do. I don’t want to turn this into a sales pitch but I’m always willing to help anyone out who wants to learn. However, I do spend a lot of time with the guys on the forum at the site discussing races and my trading strategy and my methods on Betfair.

If anyone does want to learn and isn’t too interested in the tips themselves, then drop me a note and we can maybe arrange access to the site for a fee. Anyone who joins the site gets access to every email I’ve written over the past 4 months and downloading these would be a great start for anyone wanting to learn about reading form. In addition, there are over 3,000 posts in the forum and over 1,100 of these are by me and a great many are about my methods and strategy on Betfair, so in my opinion, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to join for a month to get a flavour of what I do!