Trading On Betfair For A Living - Really?
This must be one of the most common questions I get from my readers.
In short, the answer is…
Yes – this is a genuine and profitable business,
but only if treated as that … a business.
Is Betfair Trading Easy?
To avoid foolishly promoting over-optimistic expectations, if I was forced to give a one word answer to that question it would have to be "no".
But the more accurate answer is "It depends."
What does it depend on?
Well quite a few things but here are some of the most notable ones:
Markets & Methods
- What sort of trader will you be?
- Which sport will you trade?
- Which Betfair trading techniques will you be using?
The answers to these questions can make all the difference between you finding it easy or difficult. And there's no guarantee you won't find the first sports/strategies you try quite difficult before switching to another which you may find a whole lot easier. I know quite a few people try out different styles of trading before settling on one they find easiest.
And don't expect that just because you enjoy watching a certain sport, or have specific knowledge of one, that it will automatically be the 'easier' choice. It doesn't always work that way, in fact it often doesn't.
On the contrary, if you have a strong emotional attachment to a particular sport or team, you may find that actually 'disturbs' your trading mindset and prevents you being as impartial, rational and logical as you need to be in order to find financial success in your trading.
It probably won't surprise you to hear that some die-hard footie fans don't trade football as well as they trade horse racing, and vice versa. That's not to say it can't or won't work for you, but some people definitely struggle to overcome their heightened emotional bias.
If you're a 'hothead', you may find things much harder than others do. By that I mean if you often fly off the handle, get angry quickly, get upset easily, trading will probably bring a few more challenges for you than it does for those with a calmer or more passive nature.
And don't think I'm making any kind of judgement here. I'm the most hotheaded person I know!
That's why I make this point, as I learned from painful and costly experience that being the 'quick to fire' type made things significantly harder for me during my learning period, especially compared to a few 'Hindu Cows' who happened to be friends of mine learning to trade at the same time!
One thing I will say though, is if you do have that 'firey' type of character, you may find trading actually brings you even more benefit than it does for other people, aside from the financial aspect. No, it won't make you a 'still mountain pond on a moonlit night'! But it will force you to learn how to control your emotions better, at least when sat at the screen or doing 'business'. That could never be a bad thing, could it?!
Whilst I can still pick a fight with a fence post when it looks at me the wrong way (yes, they often do, if you don't know that then you're not looking carefully enough), I have to say trading has definitely helped me think more calmly and make more rational decisions at times.
Not just in trading, but in various areas of life from buying a car to dealing with moronic delivery people who want to photograph my children without my consent just to "prove" they delivered a toothbrush. (Don't even get me started on that cr*p). How did the world ever manage without 'smart' phones I wonder? I digress...
How Much Time You Can Commit
All methods need a fair bit of time to learn, practice, and then practice some more.
But some methods need a huge amount, the obvious example being trading horses before the off.
For those with full time jobs, I generally advise people to try out football first, or sometimes trading tennis on Betfair suits beginners too, especially if you enjoy looking at stats and watching the games.
If you're a big rugger fan you may even find rugby trading profitable as it's quite 'green', in other words the markets don't have many people trading them compared to other sports.
For a great method to use on any sport, look into the Bookmaking strategy too as that's extremely safe and perfect for novices. But most people tend towards football and that's a good bet, so to speak!
Football matches fit nicely around most day-jobs, especially with the lay the draw method (but in-play soccer trading can also fit well) as most games happen in the evenings and weekends.
Whatever you choose, even the simplest method will require a lot more time than some people realise. Even though the actual entering and exiting of trades might only take seconds, time is usually needed for researching form etc to shortlist your selections, usually done the night before.
How Disciplined You Are
Many think this is related to how 'fiery' you are, but in my (extensive) experience, it's actually not.
Some people are calm and placid, but terrible at following rules they set for themselves. Some people have volcanic lava running through their veins, but they stick to their guns once a decision is made.
One of the most essential skills you will either already have, or will have to develop over time, is the ability to follow rules. And I mean like a robot, without even questioning whether to or not.
In trading, rules are rules. They are like the double white lines on the road, you never ever cross them. They were put there for a reason, because the dangers involved in breaking them are often hidden from view, especially 'in the heat of the moment'.
If you decide your exit strategy is to close a trade if Team A go 2-0 down, your finger should be on the exit button as the goal hits the back of the net. You don't do as I did, many a time, and spend a few minutes wondering if there's 'another way' to handle it, or maybe hold on in 'in case x happens'.
You already did the thinking before you made the rule in the first place, and it was done in much calmer and rational conditions than you're in once the trade is running and goals are being scored.
These days my trading rules are founded on the Nike principle: Just Do It. 🙂
Is Earning A Living From Betfair Easy?
This is a much more pertinent question. And to this I feel the only responsible answer is a firm "No".
That said, and while I think you'd be wise to expect it to be quite a hard slog to get to that point, I have known people who found it a lot easier than many other things they tried, including trading forex or stocks, and certainly including running a conventional business.
How hard it will be for you depends partly on how much you need to earn to be able to 'go full time' and make it your career, handing in your notice at the nail salon or whatever pays your mortgage currently!
It also depends on how much pressure you put yourself under. The best approach is to keep the pressure low, and the expectations similarly low, to begin with at least.
Remember that Betfair trading is highly scalable. What I mean by that is you can ramp up stakes any time you like, it's the same trade, the numbers are just bigger. These days with such huge liquidity in the markets, most people will have no trouble getting orders matched of sufficient size to get them to full time income levels.
Of course markets vary hugely, but most modern events have sufficient volume to allow you to place orders/trades with stakes of a few hundred pounds, usually many hundreds or thousands can be filled quite easily.
Bigger stakes can come later, when you have nailed down your strategy and your execution.
There is NO logical reason to extend your stakes beyond the minimum needed to prove or disprove your abilities. And that's all you should be using, minimum stakes, until your P&L is showing real, consistent, reliable results.
There's nothing worse than rushing to increase your stakes, only to find out you haven't quite mastered it yet, as you're now in a deep hole and that's when things can go rapidly and badly wrong.
If this sounds like the voice of experience, you're understanding me well!
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My First Year Was Anything But 'Easy'!
My goal with this website is, and has always been, to help people learn to trade. I fell in every bear-trap you could possibly imagine, not just with trading but with psychological issues, money management issues, technical issues, and many more.
It took a good year for me to even see it being a possibility that I could do this full-time. I had some enormous losses, mostly due to anger and 'revenge-trading', but occasionally due to forgetting I had a trade running (pre-software days) and returning to the computer to see £2500 (in that colour) as a football game ended. Admitting I did that once is bad enough, how about twice?
Looking back now, the truth is (in my case at least) that most of my learning period was spent dealing with emotions and psychology, as well as self-discipline issues (such as a distinct lack thereof!)
The trading wasn't actually all that bad! If I removed my crazy revenge trades, refusal to accept a loss, fat finger misclicks and popping out with friends forgetting a trade was running, the rest was pretty good most days!
I wouldn't wish this 'experience-based-learning' on my worst enemy, so I am hardly going to wish it on my loyal readers! I hope to remove as many of those bear-traps as possible from your journey, but you will of course still have to earn your place in the markets to some extent, and you will almost certainly still have some bumps and hurdles along the way.
But it's worth it.
Club Together If You Can
Seeing others succeed helped me weather the many storms I went through.
In the very early days I found a couple of like-minded people online and we started trading together via a chat room.
3-5 people is a good number. It's surprising how beneficial this can be, especially when you're having a bad day.
Other people spot opportunities you don't. Some have more knowledge of the sport, event or team involved. Some do the analysis and find red flags you overlooked, and so on.
One of the biggest benefits to me was seeing just how much you can scupper your own good trading. Sometimes I would trade the same events as my 'buddies', using the same method and requiring the same outcome, yet I would lose and they would win.
If someone had told me that was even possible I wouldn't have believed them. But it is, and seeing how and why was extremely useful learning for me. And the answer was in my own errors (of course), like clicking too much on the ladders, over-trading, over-hedging, exiting too early (or too late) and so on.
Above all the biggest benefit is not being alone. Trading is a lonely pursuit by its very nature, but it can be made a lot less lonesome with just a handful of people to share your experiences with.
At the end of the day, having a chat about how everyone's trading went, and how some had a good day when you maybe didn't, that can be valuable to hear. It brings you back with more confidence (and even inspiration) for the next session, it gives you more reasons to try harder at being disciplined, it shows you what is possible if you'd just get out of your own way and do whatever it is they are doing.
I can't overstate the benefits of a small close-knit group of people taking on this challenge in unison.
A problem shared is a problem halved. A success shared is motivation for all. 🙂
Follow The '80/20 Rule'
This is not to be confused with the Pareto Principle, a very interesting point in itself and well worth looking into as it does have some relevance to trading.
A friend of mine (web developer) told me about this approach, and said it really helped him become more productive.
His '80-20 Rule' relates to his aim to spend 80% of his time doing, and 20% talking/thinking/watching YouTube videos etcetera.
These days there is an endless amount of content online, most of it designed perfectly to distract you from whatever else you would/should be doing. It's the way of the modern world, and it's extremely damaging to most people's potential/progress in whatever their goals are.
In short: Stop watching YT videos, reading endless blog posts and forum threads, drooling over other people's results (even if they are genuine!). In my experience, and that of many of my readers who have told me they feel the same way, this does more harm than good.
Although it may be 'easy' to sit and read/watch that stuff, it doesn't move you forward an inch, but it does often cause envy which can make the task seem further out of reach.
Trust me on this:
Any spare time you have is better spent on your own trading than on other people's.
Even imaginary or 'paper-trading' will teach you ten times more than watching someone else. But live trading with minimum stakes will teach you even more. Yes you'll screw up, that's why you're on minimum stakes. But every screw-up moves you towards your goal. Very little else does.
Of course none of this applies to my website. 🙂
I am joking (duh), it absolutely does!
Yes I aim to give useful content designed to help you progress as fast as possible, but there is still the law of diminishing returns on any content, including mine. Read an article, maybe two at the most, but then do something else. Ideally do something with that information you just read. Don't 'binge', take a bite and then let it digest before biting off any more. It's much more productive in the long run.
Trading the Betfair markets is most definitely a genuine earning opportunity and for those who are determined and committed enough, it certainly can and does replace a full time job. And then some.
It’s a serious and profitable business for those who treat it as such, but if you don’t, or if you get too easily sucked into gambles, can’t take losses without getting angry etc, you will struggle.
Get your head in gear, get some simple strategies under your belt, get busy approaching it like a business, and you can do very well indeed.
I, for one, very much hope you do.
Ready to start your journey to becoming a full-time Betfair trader?
Good! Why not start with my article: Beginners Guide to Trading on Betfair.
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