Friday, 31 August 2007

Free video about trading on horse racing

If you are interested in trading on horse racing and want a good introduction to:

  • The mechanics of trading

  • Weight of money trading

  • Trend following

Or more advanced topics, such as:

  • Contrary trading

  • Trading against the money

Adam from the Racing Traders web site has put together a free video. See it at: How to trade on Betfair

Tonights results

Well, there the last races of the day were later today, so I got to trade on a couple. I would have got onto more but my wife has become addicted to Facebook and I couldn't get her off the computer! I didn't do bad, but I didn't do great either. The first race, I ended up taking a small loss and the second a small profit, so I pretty much stayed where I started. On the second one I had built up a few quid from repeated trades, just taking a tick here and there, but the price was pretty high and so the green up amount was low. I thought, as it was the favourite, it might lower in-play. Nah, it went out the running pretty quick and I struggled to get anything. A lesson against being greedy. Lots of people have said, not to go in-play, even if it is to green up and that is a good example why. Still, if I hadn't been greedy I would have got a better price in-play, if I had got out sooner. Though hind sight is a wonderful thing with 20/20 vision!

There was no in-play football on in time for me to get in at the start, which is part of my plan. So, not a lot happening again. I need to make up for it this weekend.

Football is different

My last few posts seemed to have mainly been links to useful web sites. Well, not wanting to disappoint(!), here is another one. I found it useful for finding out quickly when football matches are kicking off and what the scores are. It updates itself every few minutes and although not something to rely on, I found it helpful. Go to

I did a few trades on the match between Blackburn and MyPa. I started off pretty well, but ended just a couple of quid up, was lucky not to lose anything, as I didn't think it through beforehand. I was in the under/over 2.5 goal markets. I learnt a fair bit with this game. I've been trying to treat football markets similarly to how I have been treating horse racing, because that's been all I've known, but they are worlds apart. The horse racing markets all get lively around 10 minutes before the off until a couple of minutes before, when they go a bit crazy. The football markets are not that lively before the off and then you are in the world of in-play betting. In-play on the horses seemed to jump all over the place and was not a very safe place to be. The football in-play teases you with obvious trends to scalp but there is always the risk of a goal happening and making the price jump like crazy. You can go in technically, i.e. just using the numbers, scalping a chunk of ticks at a time, as the price follows a steadily developing trend, but the market gives and it takes away. You could be lucky and get a nice group of trades done and be able to green up, then again, a goal could be scored and you have an open trade and be looking at a loss. I've come to the conclusion that to play football in-play, you need to look at the fundamentals first, i.e. to get an idea of how the game may pan out and have a plan of what you will do from the start.

Thursday, 30 August 2007


If you want to test some theories about how the prices move due to volume changes or whatever your pet theories are, then you need some historical data to work with. Some places charge for access to their data but Betfair make it available for free, although you need to have at least 100 Betfair points, but that shouldn't be a problem to you guys. If you want to get hold of some, then go to:

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Feels like being back at square one

I feel like a beginner again! I'm trying to trade on football, as I am usually not around in time to catch the horse racing at the moment. I keep making school boy level errors and it is costing me money. Last night, I set up some lays prior to kick off and then found that there was no in-play betting on that match! What a fool! Lesson painfully learnt. Can't believe I'm publicly admitting my stupidity!

On a more positive note, here is a website/forum that has a lot of useful betting/trading threads/comments/info,

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Devilishly Useful

Just found a site that you may find useful, it's called Bet Devil and provides you with stats, odds and a whole wealth of potentially useful data. Standard membership is free and so far it looks pretty good.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Efficient Markets

There is a theory, in the finance, known as "efficient market theory". The idea is that all the knowledge about market prices is already factored into the price, as the variety of people with money in the market between them would have fed in every piece of information. If an event happens then people will all react to the new information, so will under react and some will overreact but on average the market will be right. The efficient market theory states that it is not possible to consistently outperform the market by using any information that the market already knows, except through luck. So, if this is true, the only way to beat the market consistently is through luck alone, which will eventually run out. I'm mentioning this because I recently had a conversation with a friend who is involved in the financial markets and we were talking about the parallels between the bet exchange markets and the financial market and he mentioned efficient market theory. Anyone have any thoughts?

Quiet day

If anyone still wants to have a read of the special report I wrote a few weeks ago, then grab it now, as I am in the midst of a big rewrite and will be withdrawing it soon. Click here to download it.
If Betfair software is more your thing, then have a look at my eBook, "How to build your own Betfair bot or trading software".
I only had one trade today, as I was out with Sam (the missus) and my little boy Harry, trying to find some fancy dress outfits for Sam's little sisters birthday party next week. No joy. Harry found a viking hat that he liked, so much so that he refused to take it off and needed some serious distraction and decoy work done! Hopefully I'll get some in tomorrow.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Having a plan

Did you ever play table tennis, or ping pong as we called it, when you were little? Can you remember the feeling of pure satisfaction when the ball would float up to just the right spot and you smashed it back, bouncing it off your unprepared opponents head? It felt pretty good.

Now, the ping pong table is about 9ft long and good players can get that ball moving at around 100 miles per hour. To hit that little ball, taking spin, bounce and a whole load of other variables into account seems like an impossible task. How to do you calculate the trajectory, taking air resistance into account, adjusting for spin, assuming a return velocity of 80 miles per hour plus or minus 20? The answer is you don't. You don't have time to calculate, to cogitate and plan at the time, you just act and react.

Now, what makes a good player and what makes a bad player? Well, the good player has learnt to play the game, either by playing lots of different people, taking the lessons when they lost and any coaching that they could get. The first time they played, the ball probably bounced off their heads a few times or they just missed the table completely. With some determination, a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them and lots of practice they managed to learn to play the game. If you asked any of them to describe their best ever game, chances are it would be a time when they just "got into the zone", they didn't think about it, they just played. Can you remember a time, when you were "in the zone"? May be during a sporting event or at work or something, where you just acted without thinking about it and everything just flowed?

When you're "in the zone" your conscious mind steps out the way and your non-conscious mind does what it does best, react. When we are trading a fast moving market, e.g. a horse race getting close to the off, if we want to get in quickly on a trend we don't have time to think every move through, we have to act. This means trusting our experience, that is, trusting our non-conscious mind, or gut feel. This can be hard and by second guessing ourselves and overly thinking, we can stay out of the zone and miss the majority of a price move or not get out in time. So, how do we get into the zone? Well, first you need to have done the ground work and took the knocks, learning how to trade and follow the market. Next you need to be able to let go and trust what you've learnt. The final and most important step is that you have to go in with a plan. You don't have time to plan during the session, as things can happen too fast, all your planning needs to be done up-front first, so you can just act. You need to know your rules. When do you get into a trade, when do you get out, what do you do if the market moves against you and when. The more specific the better, the faster you can act and the less you have to think and pull yourself out of the zone.


In the land of stock and share trading, someone who uses a company's results, sales figures, P/e ratio, etc is said to use the fundamentals to make their decision, whereas someone who just uses the price and volume charts for short term trades is said to be a technical trader. I think the same split can be seen in Bet exchange trading, e.g. someone who scalps the horse racing, 10 minutes before the off, without care or concern who is racing, who trained who etc but just the prices and volumes, as they move, shift and do their merry dance is a technical trader. Whereas, someone taking a longer duration position, may study the race form and decide that horse X is a steamer and so put on an early back, then come back later and close the trade with a (hopefully) short priced lay.

What would interest me is finding out how many people trade technically and how many use the fundamentals or both and on what markets. My gut feel, after speaking with a few people, is that horse racing before the off has a number of technical traders but the other markets predominantly require some fundamentals, e.g. starting off with an idea of who will win/score first goal/lead the field and then possibly scalp the prices in-play or just hold back and close the trade at a certain point. I'd be interested to hear what you guys do.

"How to easily build your own Betfair bot or trading software"

Yay! I've completed it! After a lot of researching, trial and error and banging my head against an uncompliant computer screen, I've done it. I've worked out how to create a Betfair bot or bit of trading software, for free. I've recorded all of this, so you don't have to go through the hair ripping frustration and annoyance I've been through. I've got it all down in an eBook. It's called, "How to easily build your own Betfair bot or trading software"
By the end, if you follow along, you will have:
  • Your own easily modifyable spreadsheet that loads prices from Betfair.

  • An extendible, .NET based (just like the pros) trading application

You can take these starting points and turn them into whatever it is you want.

In the eBook, I explain:
  • What a bot is and what you'll need to get one working

  • How to get odds and volumes from betfair easily

  • Building on top of Excel, or in .NET

  • Writing a .NET trading application

I explain some of the trickier parts of using the free API (not forgetting, what an API is and why we'd want to use it), including (for the more technical) how to use (with example code) GetMarketPricesCompressed

So, if you're technically mind, you'll be happy, but what if all that stuff is gobbledy-gook to you? Well, I also explain how to find someone else to do the work for you, at bargain basement prices. There are a lot of great programmers out there, with rock bottom prices, if you know where to look. I tell you just that, in my eBook.

Click here to find out more

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

First touch at football

After getting home, giving the little one his bath and dropping the missus off for her company night out, I had missed the last UK horse race. No way I was touching the US market, so I decided to take Stan's advice (Stan is a regular contributor, via insightful comments, to the blog) and give the football markets a look. I'm not a big watcher of football and I play like a 4 year old, so I don't know much about the game, teams or market. Then again, I don't know much about jockeys, horses or racing but that doesn't stop me trading the horse racing markets, as I am only interested in the movement of prices not the fundamentals (i.e. form, etc). So, feeling a little trepidation, especially because the football was in-play, I checked it out, using small stakes and the same kind of approach I use for the horses.

I came out with a small profit but I think these markets can turn on a hap'enny, if something happens, e.g. a goal is scored. So, I can see it as a risky market but also one that is fairly liquid and seemed to be trending quite clearly. I'm not sure what I'm going to do, moving forward. I don't dare to use bigger stakes on this market as I don't understand the risk levels yet. It may be an option though. I wasn't able to see the game I was working with, which I guess is pretty important, so as to use events happening as guides of what to do.

As a newbie to the football market, I am open to any advice.

I tell you what, I'm going to annoy the missus when I tell her that the weekends are now being totally put aside for horse race trading!

Monday, 20 August 2007

US Markets - ARGH!

Argh! Really annoying! I just lost a chunk of cash. I was attempting to do a couple of trades on the US markets, as I got home too late to do any UK ones (that's annoying too). I had a few minutes left, according to the posted start time and I had just entered a back which had been matched when the market suspended. Unlike the UK markets, you don't usually get to go in-play, so that was that. I had inadvertently backed a horse, which then went on to lose. So, several lessons learnt there!

The US markets are just so illiquid, that the only chance you get to use them is much closer to the off, which opens up the danger of getting caught with an open trade. I'm not sure what I'm going to be able to do, as the earliest I can trade is around 8pm during the week right now. I guess I'm going to have to look around for some other markets to trade. Any recommendations?

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Build your own trading bot

Some good trades today on the old horses. I decided to quit whilst I was nicely ahead, rather than do what I normally do and keep on going until I whittle away my gains!

I am also putting the finishing touches on a eBook/Report called, "How to easily build your own Betfair bot or trading software". I'll put it up for download as soon as I'm finished. It is not just for programmers, as it has examples for use with Excel and also advice on how to find a programmer to build your bot for you (cheaply).

Friday, 17 August 2007

Using the information

When using trading software, you get a lot of potential information coming at you pretty quickly. One reason I think charts are good, is that they let you see some of that info in a picture form, that you can take in quickly. When I started to trade on horse racing, I never used to take into account anything other than the price and volume of the horse I was working with (usually the favourite). Recently I have become more interested in the relative prices between the favourite and the 2nd and 3rd favourites (if there are any) and the rest of the field. Is this something that most of you guys do? I must admit, I'm not doing any deep analysis, just yet, but I think that there may be some indicators to take account of. May be not indicators of short term price change but may be of longer term (I'm still talking last 10 minutes before the off, so by longer term I mean a few minutes rather than a few seconds) changes, e.g. price direction reversal. Just a few thoughts. Be interested to hear if any of you guys use this sort of information much.

Something else that has been on my mind is a comment that Stan left on the blog recently. He spoke about how trading/scalping on the exchanges is getting tougher and that the markets have been behaving strangely. Anyone else got any thoughts around this?

Thursday, 16 August 2007


No trading yesterday as I was meeting up with my film maker buddy, Rob. We discussed some more ideas for the DVD we are putting together. The idea is really coming together and we're both pretty excited. I need to finish off the first cut script for the intro piece and then we can storyboard it and shoot it. Basically, it will cover the trading problems discussed in the special report, delving into much more depth and then going through the techniques used to resolve them. Really excited about this project (as I keep on saying).

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Racing, risk and the in-play

I want to talk a little bit about risk. I'm going to go off track a bit first, but remind me and I'll get back to the point again.
So, I trade the horse racing market and during the week, sometimes the earliest I can get in front of my computer can be 8pm, which means I may only get the tail end of the racing. First a question to you knowledgable traders and punters out there, when winters comes and the racing stops earlier, what is a good market to trade? The USA racing is pretty illiquid which is really annoying, although sometimes you can get a good race, but the sums of money floating around are usually very small till around 2 minutes out. Also, the US race market may suspend earlier or later than expected. So any advice on a good alternative evening market would be much appreciated.

Last night I opened up Bet Trader Pro, which as good as Bet Angel Pro is, I seem to be using more. I found a race and had a look around, as I normally do. I saw a price that I thought would rise for a couple of minutes (it was about 12 minutes before the off) and put on a lay. I watched the price go up a tick and relaxed a bit, knowing I could release my "get-out-of-trade-now" trigger finger which was hovering over the mouse. I'm watching the prices then and nothing seemed to be happening. I looked at the countdown clock (something I really like, even though it is not always an accurate indicator, if it isn't there then I have to keep checking my watch, which is annoying) and it wasn't moving.

"What?!!", I said out loud, getting a this-guy-is-crazy look from my cat, Pete. I tried to click on my web browser but it had frozen too. My machine had died. Oh crap! I had to turn off the power (it wouldn't restart or shut down normally) and then power up again. I don't know why but when you're watching it, I'm sure windows takes longer to start up. My machine finally rebooted and then took an age to launch the firewall app and connect to the internet and finally launch the trading software. I got back into the market and I was not in a great position. The price had dropped 6 or 7 ticks and my trade was open. I could leave it open and hope it would come back but I have preached on about not doing that, so I got out, took the hit and started to try to build it back. Luckily, the price was perfect for scalping, staying between two prices with a constant influx of money at both ends, back and lay. I just kept joining the queue and gaining ticks back.

Now, here's where I took a bit of a chance. The time had nearly ran out and I was still down, but not by too much. The race suspended and went in-play. Recently, I have sometimes been waiting till in-play to green up. If I think the price has been raised artificially high by trading happening in the last 2 minutes, I may hold off greening up and watch in-play to see how the prices are moving. If they are moving down steadilly then I will let them ride for a minute, if they are fluctuating then I'll try to get out quicker but hopefully at a better price. I decided not to leave it without greening up after I left what looked like a definite winner that then got beaten in the last seconds, leaving me with nothing for my efforts. Okay, it means I will get potentially less but it means I consistantly get something. I prefer to see my bank steadily rising, day by day.

Well, that was quite long winded to get to my final point, which is about risk. I know in-play is risky and in order to get out with a small profit yesterday, I didn't just wait to green-up in-play, I also did some scalping, taking advantage of the gap between back and lay. To keep my risk low, I used a lot smaller stakes and got in and out as quickly as I could. i ended up in the green but in-play also cost me about 20% of my bank recently when I made a careless mistake a few days ago. So, is the risk worth the reward? Do many of you guys trade horse in-play? Do you use the same stakes? How do you manage risk or do you just fly by the seat of your pants?

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

What should this blog be about?

Hello. I'm going to ask you a favour. Don't worry, it won't cost anything. I just wanted to see if there was a preferred blog topic. At the moment I'm writing up about whatever interests me around the whole bet trading area and just thought if there was a preferred area then I could do more posts around that.

The main areas I have been trying to cover are broadly:

1) Psychology of trading

2) Bet trading software

3) Building trading software (bots, etc)

4) General observations and how my trades are going

Let me know if there is an area that is most of interest, or one that really isn't. I know I can't please all the people, all the time, but I want to try and please most of you as much as I can. So, any feedback is great.


Sunday, 12 August 2007

Some Bot Work

A bit of a bad day on the trading front. I made a mistake whilst in-play and put on a back I didn't intend and lost. Very careless.

I also got started on my graphing application. I used the Betfair API sample code that you can get from the Betfair web site as a starting point and am changing it to be compatible with the GetMarketPricesCompressed function as this can be called 60 times a minute from the Free API. I have also found an open source graphing component that does all that I require. All I now need is time to get it written. I might post it up when it is done, if anyone is interested.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Some Advice From An Old Trader

I stumbled across some of the writings of legendary trader W. D. Gann. Gann (1878-1955) and thought I'd share some of his advice:

"Avoid increasing your trading after a long period of success or a period of profitable trades.
Be aware that you too have bad cycles. Just like the markets, you will have bullish and bearish times in your life. If you have 3 losses in a row stop trading, your cycle has changed."

This one reminded me of some advice in the book, "Fooled by Randomness", regarding how a run of good luck invariably is followed by a bad unexpected incident.

"Reduce trading after first loss; never increase."
I've done this several times. Taken a loss and then upped my stakes in the next race, to try and win it back. Mostly ended up with me down even more. I guess the idea is that when you are losing, your mental state is different to when you are winning. When you are losing, your brain is in losing mode. When in losing mode you really want to lower your stakes to avoid losing even bigger. When you are back in winning mode, then the stakes can go up.

Loss of Control or Control of Losses?

I've been thinking more about losses and how we deal with them. It seems to me that an experienced trader asks himself, "How much could I lose today?", whereas a beginner wouldn't even contemplate the possibility. Unless the idea of taking a loss is already in your mind then if it comes to the point when you have to, to avoid the possibility of taking an even bigger loss, you won't be able to. If you have read my report (see sidebar for a copy), then you will remember about the work done by Kahneman and Tversky on loss aversion. Having already prepared for the possibility of getting out of a trade early with a small loss, if the market turns against you, then you are partial innoculated against loss aversion.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Connecting again

Well, I sorted out the problem connecting to Betfair yesterday. None of the software I had was able to connect. I fixed it by downloading the .NET framework from the microsoft site and re-installed it (used the repair option). I can connect again now, yay! Not sure what broke it. Bear this in mind if you're getting strange connection problems but still have a working internet connection.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Graphs, graphs, graphs.

I didn't get to trade today. I was having trouble connecting to Betfair. I tried Bet Trader Pro, Bet Angel Pro and Betfair Direct, but there was no joy. I assumed there was a problem with the API but none were reported on the site. Oh well.

Instead, I spent a bit more time looking into technical analysis and charting. This is a technique used in financial trading. It is where the trader uses the graphs of price and volume to determine price moves. I've recently started using graphs more, as I find they give a quick indication of any overall trend and sometimes you just get some obvious humdinger trend lines. I want to experiment with some more of the financial type indicators, like bollinger bands (basically a price envelope) and moving averages. Anyone had any experience using them with bet trading?

Monday, 6 August 2007

Status Report

I've found that my recent trading has got much better. I am using a combination of graphs and the ladder trading interface in Bet Trader Pro. I switch to the grid view and check on the graph of the favourite and 2nd favourite and look at the prices of all the runners and using this I get a good idea about the price movement. I back or lay and decide where I will get out if the market moves against me. I then monitor the price and keep checking back to the graphs to see if the situation looks like it has changed. This has worked quite well so far. The only loss I had was due to Bet Trader Pro crashing before I closed a trade. It could have just been one of those things, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I have noticed that this version of the software can freeze every so often if you change between grid and ladder interface regularly (which I do). It's either a teething problem of the new version or its down to my machine. I don't know.

I havn't had much time with Bet Angel Pro yet, as I'm just getting used to Bet Trader Pro, but I will get onto it.

As far as developing my own charting application, I have found a graphing component that does what I need and just need a bit of time to do some development work.

If you have read my special report (available from How to Stop Losing), then you will know I am putting a DVD together. All is moving forward there. We're busy getting the script together and everything is moving forward nicely.

Friday, 3 August 2007

The Angel

After having a quick look at the new version of Bet Trader Pro (which I am now getting the hang of), I had a look at Bet Angel Pro (thanks to the lovely people at Bet Angel for sorting out my access to it so quickly). So far I havn't spent that much time with it, but from what I have seen, it has a hell of a lot of features. It is quick to update, has numerous ways to interact with it (grid, ladder, charts). I especially liked the enhanced graphing with pricing envelopes. The only downside was that you can't resize the graph or tune the moving averages (if you can, I havn't found out how).

There are more features than I think I will even get to use, e.g. dutching and book making functions. I'll be putting it through its paces over the next few days and comparing it to Bet Trader Pro. I'll let you know what I find.

By the way, if anyone has any tips, thoughts or opinions about Bet Angel Pro or Bet Trader Pro, please let me know.

Check then out at:
Bet Trader Pro

Bet Angel PRO

New Version of Bet Trader Pro

I fired up Bet Trader Pro today and it asked me if I wanted to download the latest version, so I did. It has been given a complete facelift and there have been some new features added. They are all listed here

There are some nice ones. Something that I wanted, when I first used the previous version, was the ability to quickly set stop losses and that is now in the new version. Have a look and see what you think.

"How to Stop Losing" - FREE Report

A while ago I spoke about putting together a special report, about some of the psychological factors that can cause an otherwise skilled trader to end up on a losing. Well, I've done a first cut of it and it can be downloaded here:

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Own Charts

So far, the software I've been playing with has not given me the graphing that I'd like to see (I've not yet tried Bet Angel Pro though, so can't comment on that). My plan is to put together my own graphic tool, using the Betfair API. I'll keep you up to date with my progress on this.

In the meantime, if you are interested in how technical analysis type charting can be used with Betfair, have a look at this article:

Pick your fights carefully

I've not been able to do many trades recently, as it's been really busy back home. One thing I have noticed, which should help me improve my strike rate, is that once I get started, I keep doing trade after trade in the same market. Some work others don't. Yesterday, I tried to be more stand off-ish and to pick my trades more carefully. It made a difference. I walked away with no losses. So my thought for the day is "pick your fights", don't just dive in. Pretty obvious, I guess, but I was still doing it.