Thursday, 21 July 2011

My Strategy......

One thing I have been putting off until now is sharing any information my own betting strategy for next season. One thing I'm always wary of is people thinking that I always know the answers of how to use the systems to maximise the potential returns but I showed myself last season that I'm no better than anyone else when it comes to the gambling side of things. I made some truly awful decisions last season about when to increase stakes and ultimately, my returns bared no resemblance to the returns from the systems.

I wrote a good post on the subject here which was for my benefit as much as anyone else's benefit. I have to learn from my mistakes last season if I want to do better this season.

However, I'm in the tricky situation here of being the person who has to do all the analysis and all the results updating and ultimately, I'm really the sort of person who struggles to take an interest in things unless I have some money riding on the outcome. This sounds very unprofessional really but it's an honest assessment of me as a person. I've never paper traded a system in my life and even when I was learning to trade on Betfair a few years ago, I would be doing it with £2 stakes rather than sitting there, pretending I was backing and laying a horse.

Therefore, similar to last season, I need to probably have more bets than I should really have. If I decided to just watch my new systems this season, I know for a fact that if they started badly, I'd have thoughts about dropping them from the portfolio or trying to change them mid season as at the end of the day, I'd have no money riding on them.

Taking into account all of the above, what's my strategy for this season?

I know some people followed me very closely in the TFA forum last season and when I was increasing/reducing stakes, they were following me closely and being honest, as a result of me making a mess of things, they made a mess of things too. Therefore, I'm not going to be writing a big post on this blog stating what systems I'm playing, what % of my bank I'm placing on each system, what bet size I'm having, what betting banks I'm using and so on as I don't really want people to start this season using the same methodology as me. For example, I might change strategy after a month depending on how things go and I'd then have to tell others who started with the same banks as me to change strategy too.

I'll keep my strategy very high level and leave it to others to come up with their own strategy.

Firstly, I won't be placing any money on systems 6,7,8,21,22 this season. I firmly see these systems as feeder systems for my combined systems now (6-21 etc) and therefore, I know that the bets that only appear on one of the two algorithms are actually weaker bets than bets that appear on both algorithms.

This may sound like a fairly obvious change but system 8 is my favourite system of all the systems I've built. When I first developed system 8, I loved looking at the backtested and backfitted results as they were better than anything I'd ever seen before for a gambling system I'd created. Of course, when I started combining systems, system 8 suddenly looked like an average system but I'll never forget my excitement in the TFA forum when system 8 was first developed. Last season, the system made a return of 9% and thankfully, that was the system that I told most people to follow last season, so anyone who followed my advice couldn't help but have an OK season last season.

In this betting game though, there is no room for sentiment and systems 6,7,8,21,22 are taking a break from my betting portfolio this season. I obviously hope these are very successful next season (they do feed all my other systems!) but as a system in their own right, I won't be backing any of these systems.

My main portfolio then will involve systems 6-21,6-22,7-21,7-22,8-21,8-22. I've not totally decided on my staking plan yet as I'm still playing about with numbers for betting banks and so on. At the moment, it looks like I will be playing 100% higher stakes on the home bets than the away bets (thanks to Grant for that observation via the blog!) but I will be covering the draw on the higher priced away sides. I don't believe covering the draw will maximise my profits but I do think it will help my mental state a little.

Last season, there were numerous times when I was on 3/1+ away teams who were leading with 10 minutes to go who only ended up drawing the game. The swing was quite substantial in these games and I discussed it on the blog a few times. Instead of a 20pt win, I would suffer a 5pt loss or something.

Clearly, if I use DNB on these high odds teams, if they draw, I will get my stake returned and if they win, I will win less. If they lose, I'll lose no matter what way I backed them. I've not decided on the cut-off for the odds for covering the draw as yet but I'll look into this a little further when time allows. There is no right answer anyway to this question, it's very subjective.

Again, I can only stress that I don't believe this is an optimal strategy to maximise profits. This is purely a psychological thing to help keep me sane this season and will hopefully avoid losing months like I suffered in February and April last sesaon.

In terms of the new systems, I will also operate these in a separate portfolio. However, this portfolio will sit outside my main portfolio and will be played with lower stakes. I'm still working through exactly what betting bank I need and what stakes I will use but I reckon the stakes will be around 50% of the stakes on the main systems.

However, to reduce the variance further, I will be using DNB on systems involving 31-33 but for systems TOX, STOY and STOZ, these will be win only.

At the moment, it looks like the portfolio will be System 33, system 6-32, system 6-21-31, STOY and STOZ, The first 3 of these will be DNB and the last two will be win only with no draw coverage.

In total then, I'll be following 11 of the 20 systems I'll have live for next season. As I said above, I think this is too many possibly for anyone else to follow but I'm different in the sense I need to follow a range of systems to keep my enthusiasm going as the season continues. It's a long season!

With the mixture of systems and draw coverage, I'm happy this gives me something to go to war with. Importantly, I'll be going to war with a lot more confidence than I had last season, so if things do go well before Christmas, I won't need to be increasing stakes!

I will use level staking throughout the season (I promised myself this last season before I increased stakes!) and I won't tinker with the portfolio too much as the season progresses. I might change the staking depending on how the new systems shape up but I won't be using any sort of variable staking plan.

I'm still working on a few things for my own portfolios next season but once I'm done, I'll post up the results my portfolios would have achieved under my current staking plans and portfolio set up if they had been alive last season. I'm curious to see what sort of drawdown I'd have suffered in February and April when the systems went off the rails as I reckon I'd have lost a lot of money during this time!

Anyway, I hope the above gives a little insight into what I'm doing personally next season. I'm lucky in the sense I have 15 bookmaker accounts I tend to use and I could probably open another 30-40 if I went away from the more traditional bookmakers I'm using. In addition, I could use Betfair too if I wanted and lastly, if I wanted to, I could use my partner's details and open up another 40 bookmaker accounts anyway! I realise I'm fortunate in this sense but then again, I only opened my first online bookmakers account last Summer, so I'm hardly going to have any closed accounts. I only have restrictions on a couple of them as a result of last season's performance.

Hopefully after next season, I'll have more difficulty getting my bets on. :)


  1. Hi there. Just like to ask if you still bet on the horses. I'm teaching my self how to read form and am currently reading your old blog The experiment.
    And also good luck, i cant wait to start following this one.

  2. Hi Anon.

    I'm on an extended break from the racing you could say but I still trade the odd few races on Betfair to keep my eye in. More for fun rather than trying to make serious money if I'm honest.

    Since I turned my attention to football betting, I have stopped looking at the racing like I used to as I simply don't have the time. I always thought my skills would be more suited to doing something analytical with gambling but admittedly, it has taken me a while to find something that interests me.

    I still have fond memories of my old blog. When I started that blog, I'd never traded a race on Betfair and was a complete novice. I wouldn't exactly say it's a lesson to anyone (maybe a lesson in how not to learn to trade!) but there is a lot of good stuff on there about form reading from mid summer onwards.

    We'll see what this season brings with the football. I'm trying my best to keep expectations as low as possible but when I'm showing results like these results on the blog, it's kind of heart to not get carried away.



  3. Hi Graeme,

    I hope you're well and apologies for disappearing for so long. I've just set up a new horse racing trading blog/website and given you a mention. If you could add to your blogroll I'd be very grateful.

    Best of luck with the football service this coming season, I'll be watching closely and I'm sure you'll be very profitable.

    Mark (Mudflaps)

  4. Hi Mark.

    Hope you're doing well. I've added a link mate although it doesn't exactly look very good if I'm honest! I can't view your site at work but I'll have a look tonight.

    I'll get back to you with any thoughts. ;)


  5. Cheers Graeme - the site isn't showing as a blog so the link isn't working. It might need to be added as a link rather than a blog. I think I messed up my settings on Wordpress somehow!! My e-mail is mark@horseracingtraders if you want to get in touch.

  6. No probs Mark. I'll fix it sometime this weekend mate. At work at the moment.

    Good luck with the new venture.