Sports Trading: the £20 challenge


Legendary member
I've decided to record my sports trading progress for the amusement of the masses since I am writing reports, anyway, for a thread on Pistonheads. The first posts will just cover the posts from 6th February to date. I will only update once a week, typically on a Sunday night. I may make occasional comments during the week.

You will notice for the period from February to April, I have gone from outright betting based on statistics to trading; additionally, I've been trying to find my feet with scalping in-game. It's quite tricky because you have to be quick plus there's typically an 8 second delay between placing an order and it appearing on the table - this is a Betfair rule and cannot be changed.
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Sunday 6th February
Opening Balance: £20

Well, this was a waste of a day. Could have been more interesting if I'd laid Chelsea at kick off but I thought they can't fail on home territory, could they...

Soccer / Chelsea v Liverpool : Match Odds 0.00
Soccer / Bochum v Oberhausen : Match Odds 0.52
Soccer / Mersin Idman Yurdu v Samsunspor : Match Odds -0.27

Remember, folks, gambling's only a problem when you lose.

Total P&L: £0.25
Current Balance: £20.25

Wednesday 9th February
Opening Balance: £20.25

Thought I could get lucky playing the friendlies today but I don't think the players necessarily have their heart in it so the odds are a bit inaccurate eg Argentina was a bit high for my liking... which is why I kept the bets small. And the England bet was really hedging my emotions. EN-GER-LAND!

Soccer / Poland v Norway : Match Odds -0.50
Soccer / Denmark v England : Match Odds -0.25
Soccer / Israel v Serbia : Match Odds -0.25

Total P&L: -£1.00
Current Balance: £19.25

Saturday 12th February
Opening Balance: £19.25

Was trying to be clever here. Failed! Nothing else to add.

Tomorrow's (well, today, given the time) Saturday so it should be interesting. *coff* A lot of games.

Soccer / Union Berlin v Osnabruck : Match Odds -0.50

Total P&L: -£0.50
Current Balance: £18.75

Saturday 12th February
Opening Balance: £18.75

Today should have been a profitable day but I spotted three opportunities at the same moment, panicked as it was in-play live markets and accidentally laid where I should have backed. Nice going, hippo hooves.

Football / Wolfsburg v Hamburg : Match Odds -0.56
Football / St Pauli v Mgladbach : Match Odds 0.47
Football / Stuttgart v Nurnberg : Match Odds -0.62

Total P&L: -£0.71
Current Balance: £18.04

Sunday 13th February
Opening Balance: £18.04

Bah. That's all I am saying. If this carries on, I'll start buying and selling crap instead. For sale: get rich quick betting on football e-book.

In fairness, my strategy is a longer term operation hence I am only risking roughly 5% at a time.

Football / W Bremen v Hannover : Match Odds -0.50
Football / Karlsruhe v H Berlin : Match Odds 0.47

Total P&L: -£0.03
Current Balance: £18.01

Thursday 17th February
Opening Balance: £18.01

As I say, just dabbling. ~5p risk per bet but sometimes had more than one bet. Sometimes laying, sometimes backing. Decided to stop early as I couldn't see the in-race odds; US races suspend the market and I have no idea what is going on. Not that I have much idea what is going on, anyway, as I am not watching the races.

The To Be Placed bets at the bottom were accidental but then I noticed I did better than just betting on the winner.

I'll give it another go over the weekend. Hoof's to say... I might actually make money out of this.

Horse Racing / Tampa (US) 17th Feb : To Be Placed -0.04
Horse Racing / FfosL 17th Feb : To Be Placed 0.09
Horse Racing / Clon 17th Feb : 2m Hcap Hrd -0.15
Horse Racing / Kelso 17th Feb : 3m1f Hunt Chs -0.03
Horse Racing / FfosL 17th Feb : To Be Placed 0.01
Horse Racing / Clon 17th Feb : 2m4f Beg Chs -0.10
Horse Racing / Kelso 17th Feb : 2m2f Hrd -0.01
Horse Racing / FfosL 17th Feb : 2m5f Nov Chs -0.02
Horse Racing / Sthl 17th Feb : 1m4f Claim Stks -0.05
Horse Racing / Kelso 17th Feb : 2m1f Nov Chs 0.05
Horse Racing / FfosL 17th Feb : To Be Placed 0.05
Horse Racing / Clon 17th Feb : To Be Placed 0.03
Horse Racing / Sthl 17th Feb : To Be Placed -0.03
Horse Racing / FfosL 17th Feb : 3m Hcap Chs -0.08
Horse Racing / Vaal (RSA) 17th Feb : R4 1600m Hcap -0.09
Horse Racing / Vaal (RSA) 17th Feb : R3 1200m Hcap 0.09

Total P&L: -£0.28
Current Balance: £17.73
Sunday 20th February
Opening Balance: £17.39

Football: After another couple of losses on the football at a size I hoped to grow the account with, I decided that my approach needed refining so have scaled back to smaller bets. If you ignore the Duisburg and Paderborn bets, then my football bets are slightly up. Indeed, if I had done those games with my revised system, my results would be suitably positive (about 20-30p up when risking 10p per bet). Anyway, let's see how things go over the next 7 days.

Horses: Very few races that I considered interesting in terms of my approach so ended up not playing. Due to the nature of horse betting (it's difficult to filter out races at a glance using the software that I have to hand, there aren't that many opportunities, I cannot monitor the outcome of the races very easily and the more screens I open, the laggier my computer becomes), I might stick to Football.

Weekend results:
Horse Racing / MrktR 20th Feb : To Be Placed -0.03
Horse Racing / Ascot 19th Feb : To Be Placed 0.00
Horse Racing / Kenil (RSA) 19th Feb : To Be Placed 0.00
Football / Fulham v Bolton : Match Odds 0.11
Football / FSV Frankfurt v Karlsruhe : Match Odds 0.09
Football / West Brom v Wolves : Match Odds -0.10
Football / ADO Den Haag v Feyenoord : Match Odds -0.10
Football / Valladolid v Betis : Match Odds 0.06
Football / Portimonense v Olhanense : Match Odds -0.10
Football / Heerenveen v AZ Alkmaar : Match Odds 0.06
Football / Brest v Monaco : Match Odds 0.05
Football / Man Utd v Crawley Town : Match Odds 0.00
Football / Dortmund v St Pauli : Match Odds 0.00
Football / Duisburg v Union Berlin : Match Odds -0.50
Football / Paderborn v Aachen : Match Odds -0.27

Total P&L: -£0.73
Current Balance: £16.66

Sunday 27th February
Opening Balance: £16.66

I won't bore you with the precise details of each bet as I've taken about 40-50 bets this week.

Football: As stated above, am considering not bothering to trade outrights as I just seem to get unlucky (5 losers out of 6 when it's a 60% chance of me winning?) or I might only bet the matches people are talking about. (Remember: I'm using a betting exchange so please don't reply with "only the bookies win in the end". Besides, I lost 63p this week. I don't think anyone would take my gambling problem seriously. )

As for scalping, it's quite funny to see a market you're trading where most people are betting £1-2k then some Johnny Big Balls drops £20k on the ladder.

Horses: Given up with them as it's far too much work sifting through hundreds of races finding one or two that provide opportunity.

Summary of profit/loss:
Horse Racing: -£0.11 | Soccer: -£0.48 Total P&L: -£0.59
Actually, I thought I'd done a lot worse. Today's scalps made some of it back as did the fluke bet on Birmingham.

Total P&L: -£0.59
Current Balance: 16.07

Sunday 6th March
Opening Balance: £16.07

The update you've all been waiting for... I've been seriously hitting Betfair. 143 settled bets. 290 cancelled bets. I've been really busy. Doing Japanese games, Greek games, German games, Italian games, even English games. So, how have I done? PROFIT! Trading the markets rather than betting as such, hence the high number of bets.

Basically, doing this kind of thing:

Total P&L: £1.87
Current Balance: £17.94

Sunday 13th March
Opening Balance: £17.94

34 games, 252 bets, 650 cancelled bets. I wouldn't say I've been busy because I just click twice to open a trade and the computer closes the trade or I click once to close an order or move an order to a different price level. Yesterday was largely a waste of a day since the server crashed but I didn't lose anything apart from time waiting for it to be fixed. Would maybe have seen £4-5 profit. And I lost a little bit today as I nodded off mid-trade but overall made profit this week.

Total P&L: £6.34
Current Balance: £24.28

Sunday 20th March
Opening Balance: £24.28

Well, having considered how far I would be from winning at my pace last week, I decided to step things up and take a risk or two... sadly, with big reward comes big risk... I was trading games with more potential profit and risking a bigger chunk of the challenge money... and I wasn't doing badly initially; about £5-10 a day profit but got stung a couple of times. Oops.

Total P&L: -£17.59
Current Balance: £6.69

Sunday 27th March
Opening Balance: £6.69

Well, I scaled back slightly as I didn't have enough available to trade at my normal size but I avoided high risk games ie scalping the weaker team so less profit for two reasons. Additionally, this week/weekend was quiet as there were a lot of international games throughout the week thus fewer big teams playing eg no Premiership games so one game replaced several games which meant far less opportunities.

Total P&L: £5.72
Current Balance: £12.41


Sunday 3rd April
Opening Balance: £12.41

A smaller profit this week. Should have been more but I made a slight loss from one trade because I was pushing my luck and was testing an idea on another trade that also resulted in loss. Otherwise, I'd have been up about £10 this week.

Total P&L: £3.63
Current Balance: £16.04
Saturday 9th April
Opening Balance: £16.04

Made another judgement error. Was up about £8, then down £7.something. Getting a bit boring now so might withdraw from Betfair with profit of about £20.

Total P&L: £0.69
Current Balance: £16.73
This week I have been doing some thinking and re-testing as I wasn't happy with the potential downside. Results this evening.
Opening Balance: £16.73

After last week's judgement error, I decided to review the kind of games I traded (what I should be looking for and the best times to trade), what made games "safer" to trade (in-game conditions such as number of goals and red cards) and risk vs reward. The result is less trades (30% of what I traded previously) because I require quite specific conditions.

Profit overall but I missed out on some lovely moves this week, though, for instance, when Chelsea scored their first goal, I just couldn't get filled in time.

Total P&L: £9.47
Current Balance: £26.20
Opening Balance: £26.20

Well, everything was going well until I laid a bet on Real Madrid. That is all I need to say, really, if you know anything about football. :D It was the end of the day and I wasn't really focused. Silly, really. I also tested an idea as I thought I'd spotted an opportunity... and lost 50p.

Onwards and upwards.

Total P&L: -£1.54
Current Balance: £24.66
Opening Balance: £24.66

Should have been profit for the week but I was ironing out one aspect of my strategy, namely, whether I can take advantage of any opportunities I see to lay scalp the favourite. I've concluded that I cannot. I find it too tricky to judge the risk levels at any given time; I'm sure others are managing it but I suspect they are watching the match on a faster link than anything I have available. I should also have made a little more had I been trading at the right size but I was only risking £5 rather than £20 in one of the games as I wasn't paying attention to size. :rolleyes:

Total P&L: -£1.31
Current Balance: £23.35
Opening Balance: £23.35

Wow. 427 matched bets, 836 cancelled bets. :D

I am slowly starting to identify which games work best for my style of trading. Took a couple of losses due to choosing the wrong markets. Otherwise, I get the feeling I can solidly churn out money over the long run - I'm starting to be able to read the market and know when to stay away. I'll keep plodding along.

Also, dabbled in pre-race horse trading. Scary stuff. I'll stay away. Made a couple of pence but felt a bit too much heart-attack stuff for me.

Total P&L: -£0.28
Current Balance: £23.07
Opening Balance: £23.07

Didn't manage to do much this week; been busy most of the weekend so missed all the decent games and was out some of the evenings midweek so also missed other decent games. Hence, only managed 137 bets and very little in the way of profit. Nothing much to report, in other words.

One thing I did notice was that trading illiquid markets leaves me in a dangerous position for much longer than I like so I will only be trading games with bets being regularly matched (ie at least one bet per 15 seconds).

Total P&L: £2.89
Current Balance: £25.96
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I am aware it's been a while since I last updated but I've been busy during the weekends and have therefore traded less than I want to. Anyway, waiting for a Chilean game to finish and I will update.
Opening Balance: £25.96

As I mentioned previously, I've been busy on the weekends and missed the busiest day for trading (Saturdays). A bit annoying, really, but amusingly, I've managed to make more than I thought I would. Am also trading during half time, which I never used to do, and this may have helped boost profits somewhat. Dabbled a little in trading horseys pre-race but that accounts for about £2 of the profit.

Anyway, 775 bets, 1485 cancelled bets over 3 weeks. Degen-tastic. :D

Total P&L: £31.40
Current Balance: £57.36
Opening Balance: £57.36

Update coming in a bit. Just preparing the post. I am...



Total P&L: ££££
Current Balance: ££££
Opening Balance: £57.36

Well, nothing exciting. Just did more of the same. Tried a bit of in-game tennis. That was a waste of time/money (46p to be precise)... need to know what's going on in the game blow by blow, really. With football, you only need to know when a goal or red card happens.

I am surprised there are still a fair few football games being played given that football season is officially over. Various Japanese, Russian, Scandinavian and South American games seem to still be played plus other friendlies... and there's still quite a bit of liquidity.

Oh, the balance is amusing. I checked twice. :D

Total P&L: £42.64
Current Balance: £100
Opening Balance: £100

Well, the markets are getting illiquid (apart from the various world cups - U17, women's) and there are generally less games as it's out of season, so I've been experimenting with other strategies which come from staring at the charts a lot, to try to maximise opportunities. I seem to have improved upon my original strategy although it did mean I took a £16 and an £11 loss along the way (top tip: don't lay the favourite or trade ultra thin markets! Obvious cat is obvious, I suppose.). Could have been bigger losses but I reduced my risk while checking my improvements were indeed improvements - was doing £60 stakes but reduced it to £20 then slowly increased to £30; will continue to increase back to £60 over the next couple of weeks and maybe carry it beyond providing there is enough liquidity.

Got bored of doing horses as it goes from being too slow to trade to too manic. I'm still "up" but really don't feel comfortable. Tried in-play tennis and decided that it's too much without having very up-to-date knowledge of what is going on... I'll let the pros keep my £3.

So I've decided to stick to trading football markets, in-play and during half time. Very rarely, I may do a pre-game trade if I spot something.

Total P&L: £29.64
Current Balance: £129.64