While sorting out some paperwork this week, I was reminded that ten years ago my father died from a slowly progressive illness. It was a very difficult moment for our family, especially as my mother had died when I was young. Suddenly you have no parents, who won’t see your children grow up. Life can seem really unfair at times. But as I have learnt over many years, it’s not that life is unfair, its how you deal with it.
When you hear that an illness is terminal, your immediate thoughts is of sadness. But actually, it can be quite cathartic. As the disease progresses those affected become utterly reliant on you. But you realise that also you have a second chance to reform a relationship with them. Suddenly, nothing is off the table and you can really open up. While it was difficult to watch somebody slowly slip away, talking about everything that had happened in both your lives on an unconditional basis, was an amazing moment. So if you are in the same situation, take solace from the fact that even the most difficult moments can generate some amazing positives.
By 2009 I was already a well-established Betfair trader and was spending a lot of time in the markets. Did this get in the way of the end of life care of my father? Of course not, in fact, the complete opposite.
I started my journey on Betfair from a progressive perspective. I had slowly worked my way up the career ladder for years, eventually ending up in a very busy and demanding job. It involved a lot of travel and it was full on. OK, I was getting paid a lot to do it, especially at 2000’s rates, but it was exhausting. My health was suffering as well. I used to run marathons and I was slowly slipping into a lifestyle that wasn’t particularly conducive to good health. You also have to throw in, that I now had three children including one set of twins!
It was time for a change. I felt like I was on that dreaded treadmill to nowhere. I’d seen many opportunities pass by and I had to do something. I had no idea at the time I jumped that trading sports and becoming a Betfair trader would be the opportunity, but that’s what happened. Betfair trading wasn’t something I did because I had run out of options or pushed into it by circumstances. Deciding to take up Betfair trading was an active choice for me, it was a real opportunity. So I enveloped myself in it because I knew it was potentially life-changing. The rest, as they say, is history.
Why trading worked for me
Outside of the monetary aspect, which was obviously welcome. Once aspect of trading that I hadn’t thought about was the time management aspect of it. I had spent years in retail and then moved further up the supply chain, but it was still consumer related. So my week generally ran from Tuesday to Saturday. My wife and I had known nothing different. But in my last “normal” job I could be anywhere across Europe at any time and in fact. In nearly every job I had, my workload was immense and time sparse. Coming from a family who couldn’t rub two pennies together, your work ethic and drive
The interesting aspect of sports trading that I hadn’t thought of, was the ability to dip in and out of the markets. I feared starting out on my own would be a painful experience for my family. Instead, it turned into the complete opposite.
Each morning I was free to do as I pleased. I would often spend many happy hours entertaining the children. Then I would be taking them to school and watching them as they grew from tiny little things to the adults they are nowadays. It’s been a happy coincidence that my time trading has been during this important period in our lives. I’m pleased to say, all three have grown into well-rounded individuals. They have now reached the point where they can trade themselves if they wish to. With a sense of irony, it turns out trading gave me more time to spend with my family, not less. That was an unexpected bonus, as my former life and any other business would have probably not allowed that to happen.
It also gave me the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my Dad in his final year. Unlike my old job where I wouldn’t have been around. I could head down to see my Dad whenever I wanted. While he wasn’t up to much, but just being there for him when needed was a pleasure. I set up Bet Angel on my Dad’s computer and he finally understood what I did and was pretty fascinated with it. I also set up a Betfair account in his name and traded on his account, so he didn’t need to worry about money in his last year. Trading had freed me up to be a lot more independent than in my former roles. But on this occasion for the worst possible reason. That was why, ten years ago, I experienced the best and best and worst trading moment.
In a bizarre twist, my sister inherited half the balance on my Dad’s account. This was despite desperately trying to stop me ‘gambling’ with my Dad’s money. Life’s funny that like isn’t it?
It’s not for everyone
Through my time on the markets though, I’ve been careful not to position trading as a “business opportunity” or “lifestyle” choice. In my early life, I’d almost fallen for things positioned that way but saw better sense. You learn that if you are going to do anything well it’s going to take a lot of work, there are no shortcuts. Get your head down, work hard and as long as you aren’t unlucky, you will do just fine.
Of course, I and others have done well from it, but it’s a competitive market. It’s not like a normal business, you could go out of business overnight. A change in terms or the market structure could affect you. But also ideas, styles and people come and go, only the fittest survive. Take your eye off the ball and somebody will pinch it from you! Many trading personalities have come and gone in my time in the market and many more will go when they fail to adapt to market changes, lose their edge and fade away,
My big leap
One thing that was a huge leap for me was understanding the psychology of the market, individual sports and people. I figured that people would try and replicate what I had done but in the interests of promoting the industry, I would have to give away some ‘secrets’. I thought that would hasten my decline in sports trading markets, but I came to realise that one of the keys to success was in your head. Namely the psychology of what you do and why.
It was a real revelation to me that you could be doing something that you were completely confident in and posses all the answers, but
Discipline is also really key. It’s been shocking to see how people are desperate to avoid a loss, to the point of making it more likely. While good trading can seem a little sterile at times, ultimately that’s one of the keys. Profits and losses occur, it’s the proportion of the two and how you deal with them that will define you. But the discipline you need in the market needs to
Ultimately life is what you make it. For every positive, there is a negative and for every negative a positive, just like in trading. Some of that can depend on your perspective or how you view it relatively. I’ve learnt that in everything there is a positive if you look deep enough. My personality has changed for the better in this period of my career and I enjoy life more than at any point in the past. I love sports, trading and statistics and being able to combine them into a job, a job that I really love, is a dream come true! Doing that while watching my children grow into adults in a stable family environment where Dad is only a few minutes away, has been an absolute privilege.
It’s a shame my Dad wasn’t there to see them beyond their earlier years. I’m sure he would have enjoyed it. He would have also enjoyed watching the further adventures I went on. He only had a glimpse of them before he passed away. But at least we had that time together, especially during that last year, which I will always cherish.