I first became interested in Betfair around 2006. For a good year or two I toyed with ideas for trading and 'value betting'.
They were exciting but challenging times. I have a love/hate relationship with most of my memories from those early days.
Without any software for order submissions, I had to remember to close trades manually, usually with the help of an alarm clock. I made some pretty enormous mistakes. One or two of the biggest ones cost me over £2000, my entire trading bank.
But something kept me interested, and I think it was the obvious fact that these markets were dripping in opportunity. It felt like a new gold rush.
Stock Trading Beginnings
I already had a fairly solid understanding of stocks and commodities trading.
By that I mean spread betting specifically, which means trading the price movements rather than actually buying and holding shares (i.e. investing). The fact I didn't have a lot of money helped point me in that direction too. Investing was for the big boys and hedge funds. Trading was the poor man's back door into the markets.
Stocks had taught me a great deal about 'technical analysis' and the power of statistics and data, especially when represented in the form of price charts where support and resistance, trend lines, counter trend channels and all sorts of other wonderful indicators can be used to find profitable trades.
When I began applying my stocks knowledge to try trading sports markets, mainly football markets but also tennis matches and some carefully chosen horse racing, I had a sudden explosion of interest. This really looked like a 'brave new world', a place where experienced technical traders could 'clean up'!
Suffice to say, I had a small but rather rude awakening! It wasn't quite that simple, but the point was still true. This was indeed a great place to apply the skills of stock trading, and it didn't hurt that I could watch international football games every evening, yet I could still tell the wife I was "working"! 😀
I knew people who found it far easier than me to reach profitability and start earning a living from trading on Betfair, and they did it much quicker too. The brutal truth is this: I was a gambler at heart.
I always had been really. I grew up practically living in bookmakers, and I mean in between lessons at school, after school, and most weekends too. The coffee was cheap, and with some form analysis I could just about hold my own most days.
What I later learned is that one of the worst things that can happen to a person, is to make money from gambling.
I believe it kicks in an almost LSD-like concoction of chemicals and hormones, cementing in our permanent memories this 'rush' of picking a winner, of making money just from a decision, instead of from lifting a shovel or clocking in at work.
Finding out I was 'reasonably good' at gambling was probably the worst thing that ever happened to me. And it's the single reason why trading took such a long time to get to grips with, as for literally years I would have to fight off those emotional demons during what should have been safe, sedate, business-like trading.
My stocks experience was my way of overcoming that, and I thought I had done so. But coming to Betfair, or more specifically, to sports events, it sort of reset my learning and I had a lot of those old emotional gambler type habits to fight off all over again.
Hard Work Pays Off
Suffice to say I managed it, eventually. I had times where I threw my bank away chasing what began as just one small losing trade. I had times where I didn't care if I blew my bank. It was really shameful behaviour looking back now.
But another thing I have learned over the years, is that it was a process I had to go through to get where I am now. There was no way around it, no shortcut, no secret tunnel underneath the problems. Problems of my own psyche, emotionality, and ill-discipline.
This journey was my 'Rite of Passage'. Hopefully yours will be less painful and a lot shorter, but don't expect not to have one of some kind or another.
After a year or so, with most days consisting of 10-14 hours at the desk playing with strategies, testing ideas, and learning every possible mistake it's possible to make on Betfair, I began seeing real and substantial progress. That's when I knew I would be staying in these markets for the long haul.
Around that time I decided to start a blog so UKFT was born.
I officially started it in 2012 but it was nothing more than a Betfair trading diary and a way to post a few sports trading tips and ideas, I didn't intend it to be more at that point.
The idea was mainly just to document my trades and maybe give a leg-up to a few other budding traders, especially in football. I had found a few 'edges' where I did very nicely, and with trading being a very lonely pursuit at times, I felt the website would be useful not just to others but to myself too.
Over time, often posting my daily trades, I begun to get a small following and those early readers started asking (then pleading, then openly harassing!) that I write some kind of manual on how I made my selections, how I analysed form, and how I handled each trade.
I didn't like the idea at first, pure laziness really, and it wasn't as if I had any spare time. But with more and more people contacting me (who were clearly struggling) I finally decided to give it a go. After all, it does take a lot of time to run a website and there are costs involved, so it seemed a sensible idea, especially if it could help some of the people I had come to know quite well to finally see some better P&L figures on Betfair.
I then produced the first ebook I ever wrote about trading, my Lay The Draw book. The response was so encouraging, I later followed it with a horse racing ebook, then another, and then one more (over a number of years).
I never really 'wanted' to write any of them, it's far from easy and takes countless hundreds of hours (to do it properly anyway).
But as more people asked, and as I became increasingly knowledgeable about certain trading strategies, it became less of a hardship to do it. And it actually helped me in some ways too, forcing me to thoroughly break down, and write down, what I was doing in the markets. Writing down what you're doing, and why, is a well-known secret of successful traders.
The last ebook I wrote, and perhaps the last I will ever write, was the biggest monster of them all, and that certainly was not a project I would undertake again. It was pure hell at times.
My Pre-Race Trading course took about ten times longer than expected (1-2 years). It breaks down the most complex market I've ever traded, one which most Betfair traders regard as the 'Holy Grail'.
I am pleased it's done, mainly because it means I never have to do it again! But thankfully it has truly transformed the results of some of my readers, and that gives me a smile every time I think about it. It provides a very real 'buzz' to check my emails and read comments from people like these:
"What an honour and great blessing to have encountered you in my life. Thank you so much."
"My trading has been turned around and I’m now making consistent profits."
I don't claim to be any kind of 'guru' but I mean it when I say I truly want to help people succeed in this business. I thought I could help with that, and the evidence suggests I can, so the site is now a permanent fixture in my life and one which had long been in need of some renovation work!
In 2023 I decided to give the clunky old site an overhaul. A big one.
It has had gradual changes over the many years it has been online, but I felt it was time for a brand new fresh look, and even fresher content.
I have for many years wanted to cover a lot more topics on the site, with free content for anyone to read. I know there is a lot more I can write and whilst I don't relish the idea of another ebook, a lengthy article is something I can actually enjoy writing. So I decided to set up a whole new site, and organise it properly once and for all with categories of content and various articles about each, from racing trading before the off, to football inplay trading.
I hope this site helps you learn more about sports trading, and if you're seriously committed to the idea of making trading your full time 'job', I think there are sufficient resources here to enable that. Provided, of course, that you have the necessary determination, discipline, work ethic, and patience!
If you're completely new to this subject, first things first you should download a free copy of my Beginner's Guide To Betfair Trading.
This will give you the basic concepts and fundamental knowledge required to undertake any kind of trading, whether it's tennis, football, or the mighty horse racing markets.
Horse racing trading, especially in the pre-race markets, is by far the most challenging approach. I therefore suggest you start out with Football until you fully understand backing and laying, greening up, using sports trading software, and dealing with many of the psychological and emotional issues involved.
Meanwhile please read the growing library of free, experience-based, and extremely up to date content on this site. You have much learning to do and the content is written to speed that process up as much as possible, while helping you avoid many of the pitfalls I had to learn about the hard way.
As I say often in the ebooks, any trading strategy is only as good as the trader using it.
It doesn't matter how proven a strategy is, if it's in the wrong hands then it's worse than useless. The emotions of fear and greed are the two big ones, but there are countless more issues which make trading extremely challenging for the average person.
Add to that the pressures of normal life like earning a living in the day job while you're learning, and suddenly you really are facing an enormous challenge when you first start trading.
Therefore I think psychology is the most important yet least talked about aspect of successful trading, and something which most novice traders overlook or at least grossly under-estimate. I intend to address this in the new site with a series of articles dedicated to this vitally important subject.
Thanks for reading and welcome to the site. Feel free to get in touch with me any time.
I wish you all the best for your trading career and very much hope I can have something to do with making it a huge success!
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