Cash or Crash?

The trading blog read only by very nice people!

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    RobbieChicago (from Swindon, not Chicago) is a man of many talents. Known for his excellent risottos and tasty Shepherd's Pies, he is also great with children and spectacular in bed (assuming he's being marked on his sleeping ability). Clearly unable to operate in his shadow, his employers of nine years made him redundant from his position in a large and respected company based in the City. Stung by this unexpected rejection, and vowing to "show those bastards", RobbieChicago has turned his attention to trading sports risk on the Betfair markets, and penning the most entertaining and informative blog within the field. At time of writing the blog is going considerably better than the trading, but an almost impossibly arrogant assumption of greatness means that our hero is certain he will succeed.

    RobbieChicago loves Frank Zappa, Columbo and throwing frisbees. He dislikes baked beans.

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Archive for December, 2009

Crappy New Year

Posted by robbiechicago on December 31, 2009

What a dreadful day.  Yet again I have taken two steps forward and five back.  I simply do not know how to convert these bad days into something less financially destructive and emotionally demoralising.  My good days are still too few, the bad days are very often massive and more than wipe out any progress I’ve made.  It’s so incredibly frustrating.  I wouldn’t mind if I could pinpoint where I went wrong, but days like today seem to have absolutely no logic to them, and I just don’t know how to trade in these conditions.  How the hell are you supposed to make money from markets when they’re completely random and seem intent on throwing up as many false signals and red herrings as possible?

I know there are many traders out there who can operate in these conditions.  I wish I could see what they see.  It’s also frustrating that after all this time I’m still no closer to cracking it.  I’m not stupid.  I’m a smart bloke who has overcome more difficult things than this before.  I can’t believe that this is beyond me, but days like this just baffle me.

So, that’s five months traded, and five losing months.  Things were so bad today I never looked like putting together the run I needed to make December profitable.  The progress made over the last couple of days has been blown away and my confidence is back to rock bottom.  Unless I can figure out how to avoid blowing great chunks of my bank every few days this whole thing is going to end in dismal failure.

So, good riddance December, good riddance 2009.  Another month begins tomorrow.  I wish I could go into it with even the merest hint of confidence in my ability to make 1p profit over the next 31 days.

I hope your day, month and year have been better than mine!  Have a good evening tonight – Happy New Year!


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December on a knife-edge!

Posted by robbiechicago on December 30, 2009

It’s been an up and down month, but, with an unexpected free day tomorrow, there’s a slim chance I might end the month in profit.  Today was a similar day to yesterday, mainly positive but this time with out a crippling loss to ruin everything, so I was able to register a nice £12.42 profit.  If I can extend the last couple of days into tomorrow and make £15.90 then I’ll be looking at my first ever profitable month. Since that cock up early yesterday when I lost £46 on one race I’ve put together an awesome run of 30 events which included 27 wins, 3 losses and a profit of £44.91!

A word of caution, though.  Some of my readers may remember me making similar comments with one day to go in October when I needed just £1.14 to make a positive month.  I bottled it in spectacular fashion, registering by far my worst ever day and embarking on the darkest days in my short trading life.  I guess things are different this time, as the odds are against me, so I’ll have to work my arse off for every pound and penny.  Last time I assumed I’d easily walk over the line.  This time there will be no complacency.  There will also be no pressure, at least not of the negative kind.  The target will be an inspiring one, and if I get near it I’m sure there will be plenty of adrenalin mixed in with all the tea in my bloodstream, but I’m not expecting to succeed, so hopefully I’ll just relax and do my best.

I’m not going out until about 6pm tomorrow, so I should have time to update you on my quest before I go out to welcome in a new decade.  I’m sure you can hardly wait.  Speaking of new years, thanks a lot to the cheeky bugger who selected “crash and burn” on my current poll.  Thanks for the support!  😉

Today’s gubbins:

Have a profitable end to 2009!

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What a day!

Posted by robbiechicago on December 29, 2009

First of all, hope you’ve all enjoyed a superb Christmas.  I spent a few days with various family members, and very pleasant it was too!  I didn’t trade at all after Monday 21st due to both my travels and my annoying cold, so while the break over a busy racing period was frustrating, it did at least allow me to recover both mentally and physically.  But I’m back home now, and so it’s business as usual… at least until the New Year festivities!

Today was my first day on the markets for a while, and boy, what a day it was!  Having had time to reflect on my trading, I decided that I need to look to quality rather than quantity.  I have a tendency to trade every race I come across, even if there’s not much happening, or if it’s scarily volatile, which is probably not wise.  The last couple of days of trading before Christmas were very poor for me with a nasty cold being annoyingly persistent.  I shouldn’t have traded, but there we go, lesson learned.  Prior to this I’d been there or thereabouts for a profitable December, but losses of £14 and £5 before I gave up left me with a deficit of nearly £24 to overcome in what was likely to be just two days.  Not looking good.  However, as I say, I was thinking of quality not quantity today, and things started extremely well.  In just the second race of the day I made a profit of over £8, my best since the end of October.  I was really pleased with how I went about making that profit, and it really buoyed me into thinking I could make serious inroads if I concentrated and focused on quality.  However, in the very next race things went extremely wrong.

I guess on reflection I was probably being greedy, but having been in a decent green position, things turned against me.  My reaction to this was bad and I added to the loss-making position and eventually found myself looking at a £12 loss for the race.  As you can imagine I was less than impressed with myself for wiping out the hard work of the previous race so quickly, but I swallowed it and carried on.  The next few races provided some nice little greens, and after a while I decided to check my progress on Betfair.  What I saw was not a £12 loss on the third race.  It was a £46 loss.  Yes, a £46 loss.  Cue much industrial language, gnashing of teeth, slamming of fist on desk and referring to all known gods in all known religions as utter wankers.  To be fair, none of the imaginary bearded chaps in the sky were at fault here, I was.  I’ve done it before.  I left an unmatched bet in the market when I left.  I could have brought me a fortune, but naturally it caused me pain.  Ouch.

So, I found myself deep in the brown stuff.  But other than some indiscipline in my trading, followed by dropping a clanger, I was really pleased with how my trading had been going.  So onwards I marched.  I responded really well to this considerable setback, and put together a winning run of 18 races including some nice big wins.  I then got a little out of shape in the penultimate race I traded, losing £2.78, but considering my huge strike rate this was more than acceptable.  I then lost it again in the last race of the day.  Making mistake after mistake I was looking at a loss of about £15.  So, like an arse, I let my position go in play.  The gods, having shat on me earlier, took pity on me and allowed the market to move sufficiently in my favour and I made a small profit.  Good news, I suppose, but not a pleasing end to the day.  I know some of you have repeated problems going in play when out of shape, but thankfully this has never been too much of an issue for me.  I think this is the third or fourth time I’ve deliberately done it and have yet to be burned, but I know it’s a stupid thing to do and I’ve got to cut it out.

Anyhoo, the upshot of all this is that I finished the day £7.82 down, which, when you consider my £46 loss early on, represents an awesome day’s trading.  If the loss had not been £46 but the expected £12 I’d have finished with a profit of something like £25.  It goes to show what I can do if I put my mind to it.  It also proves that I can trade effectively with larger stakes (today’s average stake was £28.50).  If only I could cut out the mistakes I might make some headway.

Below are today’s numbers:

Now, the horses may have been tucked up in their stables, but the day is not over.  I’ve decided to try to wipe out the day’s loss by scalping the football, a-la JS, so hopefully I’ll update you all later with some good news.  I’m already £3 up on Villa Liverpool, and expect that to increase.  I cannot believe that Liverpool are favourites to win at Villa Park, and I expect this to change nearer kick off.  We shall see…

[UPDATE:  Hmm.  Well, it wasn’t as easy as I thought.  Villa drifted before KO so I ended up scratching for a loss.  With about 15 mins to go I laid Villa and ended up taking a £3-odd profit before escaping with my nerves just about intact!]

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Christmas break

Posted by robbiechicago on December 22, 2009

Snow has fallen across the country and as such things are in complete chaos.  We just don’t know how to cope with it, as a nation, do we!  The racing seems to have been hit hard, and I just can’t get into the flow of trading when there are 20, 30 even 40 minute breaks between races.  I’ve also got this lingering cold which is disrupting my sleep, so there seems to be no chance of me getting into the zone at the moment.  I’ve traded a bit since I last posted, but with no success whatsoever, so I am definitely going to forget about it for a while – there just seems no point in trying to squeeze out a few quid from this most unproductive of situations.

So, that might well be it for several days.  I would like to wish all of my readers a wonderful, peaceful Christmas and New Year.  I look forward to getting back into the swing of things in 2010.  Here’s to a happy, profitable time for us all!

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Limping home despite stake raise

Posted by robbiechicago on December 16, 2009

My first full day trading for a while – it was nice to be back.  I realise that the only way to become good at this game is to put in the hours, so I am keen to trade and trade and trade as much as I can.  I decided to up my stakes today.  I’ve been using £2 stakes for a while and am comfortable doing so, but that’s not going to pay the bills!  My average stake today was £22.20 as I experimented with many different staking plans and strategies.

It seems that 9 days out of 10 there’s some kind of flaw in my trading that either leads to a losing day or keeps the profits rather low.  Today my strike rate was a poor 53% which meant that I only notched up £2.08 on the 19 markets I traded.  Still, a profit’s a profit, and although I clearly didn’t take advantage of the larger stakes (my return on average stake was a measly 9.33%) I didn’t suffer any massive losses either, which is good.  Clearly tomorrow I’ll focus on my strike rate.

Speaking of impressive strike rates, has anyone else noticed just how awesomely good JS‘s winning percentages are?  I can’t be the only one to notice how infrequently this basta.., I mean fine fellow posts any kind of negative figure.  Care to share your secret, JS?  Actually, this got me thinking.  As we’re all careering headlong towards Christmas, does anyone in the London area fancy meeting up for a few festive pints in the next few weeks?  Would be nice to meet up with people, especially those kind people who regularly post comments on these pages (you know who you are!).  Send me an email (robhollo ->- at ->- yahoo == d0t-co–d0t-uk) if you fancy it.  I’m sure there are enough people like me who need a beer after a day on the nags, and I have not really had the chance to chat to fellow traders since I began, so that would be good.  Be nice if Mr Heathcote could make it and share out some of his magic!

Anyhoo, here are todays facts and figures:

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The mind says Go! The body says No!

Posted by robbiechicago on December 15, 2009

I’ve had a cold for a couple of days.  Not a very pleasant experience, am I right men?  Anyhoo, I woke up at 5 this morning and lay in a bunged up funk for a couple of hours before finally nodding back off.  Then my alarm went off at 8 as usual.  I switched it off and promptly went back to sleep and didn’t wake until 11:30.  I think my body was telling me I needed some chillax time, so I have done a Folkestone and abandoned any horsey action for the day.

I’m not getting much trading done at the moment, so hopefully I’ll be fitter tomorrow and the rest of the week.  I had my new 50gb line installed yesterday.  It’s so quick it’s published this blog post before I’ve even written it.  The wonders of modern technology, eh.

Actually, speaking of yesterday’s cable installation, before the engineer came I was wondering what my chances were of opening the door to a beauty in the style of Charlize Theron in The Italian Job…

…but ended up spending a couple of hours with a bloke who looked remarkably like the scrawny one from that god-awful shower N-Dubz…

Oh well.

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Quiet week ahead?

Posted by robbiechicago on December 14, 2009

I notice that the meeting at Ayr has been canceled today.  Could this be the first of many in a week where very cold weather is expected.  I believe it’s going to be minus five in London tonight, which in my book is a wee bit chilly!

I managed to trade a few races on Saturday and managed to win on them all, but my profit was reduced by the 14:45 at Donny being voided.  I’m fairly sure this was one of the biggest wins I had amassed, so this was disappointing, but I was still pleased to add another few pence to the bank.  Not sure how much trading I’ll get done today.  I’m having a second broadband line installed today – stupidly quick fibre optic from Virgin – which will probably take up a portion of the afternoon, but once it’s done the coverage will be so fast It’ll be making trades before I’ve even got out of bed!


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Quick Catch Up

Posted by robbiechicago on December 9, 2009

For some reason, this blog got nearly twice as many hits as its previous high yesterday.  I didn’t even post yesterday!  Well, best not keep my new army of fans waiting, so here is how I’ve got on over the last couple of days:

A good couple of days, again mainly scalping in the last couple of minutes before the off.  I upped my stakes a bit yesterday, and then played with anything from £2 to £50 stakes today depending on the market.  But while the last couple of days have been good, the performances were nothing compared to Monday, if you consider the return on average stake.  I’m going to have to keep an eye on this to make sure I maximise my possible profits.

One of the unexpected byproducts of my scalping the very end of the pre-market sessions is that I am no longer feeling it necessary to enter the markets before then to try and grab some swings.  I’m now only going in if I see a very obvious sign, something I should have done before but would generally feel the need to do something even if the signs weren’t there.

I’m going away for a long weekend tomorrow morning so I might not trade until next week.  Hope you’re all having success and green tidings this week!

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Scalping my way back

Posted by robbiechicago on December 7, 2009

Today was my first day trading since last Wednesday.  The days off have been worthwhile as I’ve had time to regroup, think about things and decide what to do.  Taking days off is also good for allowing time to heal some of those recent trading wounds, so when I got back in today it was with enthusiasm.

Not for the first time, I changed strategies (stratagem?) today.  After some very helpful advice (thanks Anthony!) I decided to try scalping the favourite close to the off.  When swing trading I had noticed that things tend to slow down considerably when there’s just a minute or two before the off, and I’d lamented this situation without realising its potential.  If you’re reasonably sure there are not going to be any large swings, then this could be the right time to scalp.  It’s rather sad that it took others to point this out to me, but there we go!

Today went rather well, 16 races traded, 13 wins, 3 losses.  With stakes of £2 (I decided to abandon the per-tick staking for this new strategy) I managed to make a profit of £1.94 which is rather pleasing.  It wasn’t all plain sailing though, as I stupidly let a couple of races go in play.  I found myself too exposed on one side of the market (déjà vu anyone?) and used the idiot’s way to get out of a tight spot.  Silly boy, mustn’t do that again.  That said, a good, positive day.  I’ll plug away at this for a few more days, and if it continued to work I’ll up my stakes and try and wipe away what is now an annoying £300 deficit since mid-August.  Now that would be a nice Christmas present!


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Posted by robbiechicago on December 5, 2009

True story:  When I was a kid I wanted to be a binman.  I used to follow them around the village I lived in when I was about 5 and watch.  I suppose the thing that most attracted me to the job was the fact that they were allowed to cling onto the back of the lorry as it drove around the neighbourhood.  Of course, you’re not allowed to do that any more, but the smelly romance of the job has stuck with me.  So, perhaps that’s the short to medium term answer.  Fulfill a childhood dream which allows the mortgage to be paid, while leaving my afternoons free to trade.  Hopefully this will provide me time to convert my garbage trading into something smelling of roses…

In other news, my Baz bot worked very nicely, and it’s running again today.  Using the price data collected each second throughout the day I’ve created a set of charts which show the market action during the period between races.  I’ve titled and named them based on their main criteria:  Grade, number of runners, number of favourites and going.

  • Grade:  G1 up to G6
  • Number of runners:  R2 up to R7+
  • Number of favourites:  1, 1HOT, 2, 2HOT, 3, MIXED

Just to clarify the number of favourites category, this is intended to signal how many horses are leading the betting.  If there are more than three nags in the mix, it’s MIXED.  1, 2 and 3 stand-out favourites are self explainitory.  1HOT shows indicates one favourite that’s trading at odds on.  2HOT is when there are two stand-out favourites and one is odds on.

The ultimate idea is that these will be searchable, so I’ll be able to view all Grade 5 races with 6 runners on soft ground with 1 favourite, for example.

Here are the fruits of yesterday’s labour for those of you who are interested:

I’ve not traded since Wednesday and probably wont for a few more days.  I’ll keep pulling the data and making the charts which will hopefully start throwing up some nice patterns.  Also, thanks for the comments on yesterday’s post.  Much appreciated.

Have a profitable weekend!

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