Betfair trading strategies : Newbies Trading in the Dark

Interested in learning to trade on Betfair. Check out this section for advice, knowledge and discussion on trading strategies.
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Posts: 316
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:28 am

Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:43 pm

I have perused this forum and its 1500 posts and find it astonishing that nowhere in its history is there any fundamental advice for folk who are new to trading. Drawn here via the lure of riches and the postings of other successful traders with their 6 figure P/L’s, many newbie traders do not realise that they are walking into a lions den…and what is worse, they don’t even realise that they need to arm themselves for the battle ahead.

Learning a strategy, buying an ebook or a bit of software does not make one a “trader” and the whole idea that untrained and unprepared trading virgins can immediately compete in the highly honed and sophisticated environment of the Betfair betting exchange is simply false advertising and disingenuous advice. Having spent years trading in the stock markets, getting used to trading in Betfair has required another significant quantum leap in my knowledge and learning. It has not been easy.

What I have learnt after quite a long time trading is that until any “would be” trader addresses the following 6 issues, he is doomed to failure:

1. You must have an “edge”
2. You must fully understand simple trading patterns and the mathematics of trading
3. You must develop a trading plan and execute it flawlessly
4. You must lose before you can learn how to win
5. You must obliterate all character weaknesses that affect your trading
6. You must work harder than you imagine to achieve success

An Edge

Do not be fooled by the seeming ease by which several well-known and successful traders ply their trade. It may look like they are trading randomly whenever you read their blogs or even watch their videos, but in reality, they are following, very precisely, well tested and statistically proven entry and exit points. Whether they choose to lay or back at a particular juncture is not a random choice but is based on the simple fact that that particular “trade” will have a statistically higher probability of success than failure. If it were not so, then they would indeed be “net losers”.

Before you can become a “net winner”, you must identify a circumstance or circumstances, by whatever means and using all the data available, where your chances of a successful trade will result in a “better than evens” return. Whether you choose scalping or swing trading, this is a fundamental requirement for success. Tossing a coin to decide whether to back or lay first in a single scalp trade will result in a net loss (after-tax). Even a 7yo knows that truth.

No-one, I repeat no-one who is a successful trader will be imparting their “edge” on these pages, so this is a task that requires a lot of personal research, much testing and the chosen methodology must define simple executable entry and exit points. Of course, there are many suggestions of where to look for an “edge”, the most common (but not necessarily the best) is the behaviour of the Weight of Money (WOM) favoured by many traders. Others include moving averages or more sophisticated MACD or Candlestick analysis, Elliott wave patterns or Relative Strength Indicators. However you reach your “edge”, its potential strength and its frequency of occurrence is fundamental to your trading future; quite simply, “guessing” is not an option.

Do you really believe that some people “guess” better than others on a consistent and long-term basis? What those “apparent” guessers are actually doing is tuning into the wave patterns that drive the markets by recognising and acting upon repetitive patterns that occur in a pre-race market. There is nothing mystical about how these people trade, they do have a trading plan that supports their chosen advantage or “edge” and although their chosen methodology is less formal than others, some do succeed for considerable periods.

Whatever edge you choose, it is vitally important that your Trading Plan supports it fully and comprehensibly.

I will post, very soon, what I have learnt about Issue 2 above.

Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:25 pm

Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:03 pm

Nice post looking forward to your veiws on the other points

Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 1:26 pm

Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:22 pm

Thank you for your informative post.
I am one of those in the dark and I look forward to following you observations and comments.

Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:09 pm

Tue Jun 29, 2010 10:54 pm

Thank you for posting this! Very good read.

Posts: 316
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:28 am

Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:36 am

Thanks for the replies, I will continue...

The Mathematics of trading

To my mind, successful trading is the understanding and managing of a simple truth…you need to win more than you lose. This seemingly simple statement is much more difficult to achieve than you may think possible because how much you can win is unlimited but it takes a ton of discipline to ensure that your losses are very strictly controlled.

Scalping (the act of buying/selling odds for small gain) is generally defined as single tick trading but does allow for the possibility of 2 or 3 tick gains. Obviously no one will be surprised when I say that you need to have a success rate commensurate with your gain, in order to make a profit. As I stated before, a 50% win rate on single tick trading will net an overall loss after tax, so it follows that you need a better than evens “edge” to profit from trading. Generally speaking, some traders are happy with 66% whilst others improve their edge to reach an 80% success rate. Another route is to develop an edge (much harder to do) that gains 2-3 ticks, at least “some” of the time, understanding that (success rate*tick gain less failure rate*stop loss) = profit, is not a complicated bit of math.

What’s this “Stop Loss”?

Not every trade you participate in will win and this is one of the most difficult pills for newbie traders to swallow, but it is a fact of life and of trading. Just accept it and get used to it…you will sometimes lose. Fact: you are certain to sometimes lose and how you manage and react to those losses makes the difference between success and failure.

Using a Stop Loss (right click on odds) is essential when trading whether or not you choose to operate a mechanical version or be always prepared to sell out your trade manually and in accordance with the strict rules of your trading plan. One of the major reasons why most traders fail to make a profit is quite simply NOT following their trading plan that stipulates that you MUST have a stop loss limit. Consistently breaking or moving stop loss limits whilst trading is the sure way to lose all your capital; just don’t do it. This single lesson is one that I personally took too many attempts to learn.

success rate*tick gain less failure rate*stop loss = profit
50%*1 less 50%*2 =LOSS

Boy, this is getting tough for the 50% coin tossers who fail to manage their stop losses.

The “scratch trade” is a very useful tool in the scalper’s armoury and getting out of a bad trade for a zero win or zero loss will help in keeping your success rate up to that defined in your trading plan. On the face of it, life is tough for scalpers who make even the slightest mistake in their Trading Plan, simply because the leeway between %age Success and Stop Loss is zero (or 1 at best).

Obviously swing traders are in a better position to allow some flexibility between their success rate and their stop losses, but swing trading (looking for long up/down moves in the market) has its own drawbacks. For a start, they are fairly infrequent and they often fail to materialise despite affirmative “signals”. They sometimes break down and can leave you in a negative tick situation. However some traders prefer this method of trading despite the less than 50% success rate because the tick reward verses the stop loss can return greater profits, but only if they are managed expertly.

What I have learnt about winning at trading is that it is simply the application of basic mathematics and ensuring that your trading plan is both profitably viable and precisely executed. Winning ticks is not where your efforts need to be concentrated; it is in correctly managing the losing ticks that makes the difference between success and failure. Most traders are net losers and the primary reason is a failure to manage their losses.

Simple trading patterns

The most important thing to understand about pre-race trading markets (during the 15 minutes leading up to the race off time) is that the market is either trending or ranging. For most of the time the market ranges between 2 sets of odds (usually where most money is being matched) and this “range bound” area is where scalpers ply their trade, always aware that the market may start trending at any time (going outside this range and heading north or south).

There is no magic indicator nor is there any forewarning just what the market will do next and all we can do is to rely on our trading plan to ensure that our stop losses are correctly positioned and that our exit strategy is managed efficiently.

Indicators (those I mentioned in post 1) are generally speaking “lagging” indicators (they come after the known facts), however WOM (but not the moving average) is a “current” measurement, as is price movement. There are many graphs available in Bet Angel and whilst some people may find them useful, I have yet to see any proof that they are predictive by any consistent or profitable degree.

However, an “edge” has to be found amongst the price movements you observe either in the ladder or in the graphs and that edge has to be consistent enough to form the basis of your trading plan. Perhaps the most widely publicised edge is formulating a trading plan around the price action when odds reach the top or bottom of the ladder history.

The pre-race market is not difficult to understand insofar that layers push the odds out and backers drive them down. Trying to fathom when and why this is so is more complicated than solving a Rubik Cube in microseconds and people who tell you that they can predict such events, are simply basing their prediction on known events such as “how many tipsters have advised this particular horse” or other equally unreliable data. None of them can predict just when a horse is going to sweat up in the paddock, so disregard these outrageous claims as bunkum. No one can predict market movement and a best guess based on historical patterns is the only tool available.

When you have studied thousands of graphs you will be able to tell (sometimes), at which points the layers are in control and conversely when backers hold the upper hand. However and bearing in mind that 90% of the liquidity in any market is created by traders themselves, it mostly boils down to a battle between traders since traders both lay and back the same selection, usually within seconds of each other.

A peculiarity in Betfair markets is that unlike stock trading, odds have a habit of accumulating traders (sheep) who forget when to stop laying or backing and as a consequence, odds often overshoot their natural position. The effect of this enthusiasm is to cause more pullbacks than would occur in a more conservative stock market.

Odds never move in a straight line and the typical “wave” pattern of rising or falling prices is easily observable on most graphs. There is some merit in the study of these patterns, as they often repeat themselves and some traders capitalise on the statistical data that indicates whether the next tick(s) is likely to be up or down. That is not to say that any trader can guess with any degree of certainty whether the odds will go up or go down but if they can do so with a better than 50% success rate then they have the means, through simple mathematics, to make a profit on that ability.

(Part 3 coming soon)

Posts: 182
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:53 am

Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:03 am

Nice to see somebody posting up lots of stuff but far too complicted I think. You can back at the lay price and lay at the back price and you want to do it at the least possible risk. That's all there is to it.

Posts: 70
Joined: Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:13 pm

Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:15 am

Mug are u a profitable trader?
how long have u been profitable for?

Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:47 pm

Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:25 am

Looking forwards to part 3 an enjoyable and informative read .

Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 1:26 pm

Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:22 pm

Once again thanks for the latest post,

I have tried backing at the lay price etc only to see the market race off in the other direction.

The stop loss I post disappears when I switch to view other markets and I am out of pocket
So I dont mide explanations being"complicated"
if they are positive and can be done.
Keep it up please.
yours Wavydavy

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Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:46 pm
Location: Nottingham

Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:41 pm

wavydavy1954 wrote: The stop loss I post disappears when I switch to view other markets and I am out of pocket
If you add the market to guardian betangel will continue to monitor and execute commands in that market :)

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