Friday, 18 October 2013

A punter's perspective on the TFA season so far.....

One thing I don’t tend to get much opportunity to do these days is any mid-season posts on anything remotely interesting. Quite simply, running a subscription service, running a betting portfolio of over 8,000 football bets a season and of course, holding down a full-time job means that all my spare time is spent on football in some way or another. If I’m not updating results and ratings, I’m sending out bets or replying to emails and when I’m not acting as a tipster, I’m trying my best to earn a second income from following a successful betting portfolio. Put all that together and you can see why my posts on the blog concerning anything apart from results of systems are pretty infrequent. That’s not to say I don’t have plenty to write about!

I think one thing I tend to do is keep my betting life completely separate from the blog and to be honest, as I’ve touched upon a few times over the years, I do find the betting side of things quite lonely at times. I’ve really enjoyed having a Twitter account this season and it has taken the place of a forum I used to use daily. Of course, my issue with Twitter is the fact I struggle to say anything in 1,400 words, never mind 140 characters, so I am limited on there but I do enjoy the fact I’m able to share my frustrations at times and also it’s great to share in the delight when things go well.

This season has been particularly difficult for me personally as whilst trying to remain upbeat about things and pointing out that I still believe the losses were simply due to variance to a large subscriber base, I was looking down the barrel of nearly a 5 figure loss after 4 weeks of betting. I’m not a big gambler as I’ve also touched upon before on the blog and I actually don’t particularly like gambling in the purest sense of the word. I’m not a gambler at all. I was attracted to football betting as I thought it would provide me with an opportunity to use my skillset that I use in my career on a daily basis and therefore, I hoped that a second income could be achieved in time in a smooth fashion. Losing nearly 40% of my betting bank in the first month of a season is not what I would call a ‘smooth journey’.  Now that I’ve recouped all of the losses and I’m in profit for the season (I’m up 23pts which equates to 9.1% of my betting bank), then it does feel like a time to reflect on the first 6 weeks of the season but rather than look at it from the tipster angle, let me try to describe it from the angle of Graeme the punter and not TFA the tipster.

One tactic that is often employed in my place of work is to describe how I’m feeling in 3 words. If I was asked to describe the first 6 weeks of the season in 3 words, I would probably say “stressful”, “worry” and “relieved”. As any punter knows, when things aren’t going well, it can be a stressful experience. It has taken me 3 years to build up to this stage of betting where I regularly bet more than my monthly salary every weekend and in some weekends, I’m betting the average annual salary of a low paid worker. When I started out 4 years ago on this football betting journey, I guess I hoped that one day, I would reach this level where I’m betting with profits already achieved and the betting bank is at a level whereby I can win an amount each season that actually makes a difference to my life. I don’t want to get into the ins and outs of what I hope to win this season and the betting bank I use as at the end of the day, money is only a relative concept. I know a subscriber with TFA who is using a £100k betting bank this season and I know a subscriber who is using a £500 betting bank this season. In my eyes, they are both gambling and I’m not sure I have any more respect for the guy with the £100k bank than the guy with the £500 bank.

Anyway, over the last 3 seasons, my betting bank has grown season on season and this season is the season when I hoped that by the end it, I could make the leap onto the next level if things went well. All of the growth within my betting bank has been organic growth and if I had compounded my bank at the end of each season, I would be in a much better place than I am now but hey, that’s what you call life getting in the way. I didn’t change my betting bank between season 2 and 3 simply because I withdrew all the profit from season 2 and spent it on other things!

It’s a funny one as at the end of the day, if I lose my bank this season, I’m no worse off than when I started out but when you have worked as hard as I have for 4 years at this, it would be stressful to lose the betting bank I worked so hard to build up. The second word was worry and it’s difficult for me to split this between Graeme and TFA if I’m honest as a lot of the worry during the losing run wasn’t simply to do with my loss. When you know that 100 people are following you as you lose money hand over fist, I can’t help but worry how everyone is doing and feeling. I would say that whatever worry and stress everyone following the systems had, multiply it by 100 and you maybe get where I was at the end of September. At the end of the day, I know I shouldn’t really care as much about others but I can’t hide from the fact I do and I want everyone following me to make money. Simple as that really.

The last word is relieved and I think that probably explains the feeling I had last weekend after Tranmere had won against Bradford on Sunday. My P&L had crept into the black for the season and it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Of course, I know that a helluva lot of people following my bets are still in the red and some are probably still deep in the red but I’ve been contacted by a number of people in the last week who are now in profit. Not massively in profit but in profit. That’s a relief and I think the next target is obviously for everyone to get back in the black for the season. If that happens, the service will be having a good time of it and many of us who are in an OK position now will be in a much better position then!

So, that probably describes how I’ve been feeling over the last few weeks. I’ve had losing runs before and I still remember losing a lot of money in season one in the second half of the season as the systems went off the rails somewhat but the difference then was that I only lost a large chunk of the money I’d won in the first half of the season.

I think the issue this season has been the timing of the run. If I look at the last 3 seasons, I can see similar runs for the systems and I still recall a month where the systems made huge profits in the first two weeks and then lost all of it in the last two weeks to break-even. Likewise, as I said in the monthly review, there were previous times when the systems had experienced worse runs than September but for whatever reason, September felt much worse.

Why was this? Well, looking at it in the cold light of day, I’ve never had so many people following my systems and I’ve never staked so much money on my selections. Add both these things together and I think I can understand why I felt so stressed and worried at the end of September.  I wouldn’t say I’m out of my comfort zone for either of these things but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get affected by it in September. Any rationale human being would be affected by the run I had I think and knowing I was taking down 100 others with me, it wasn’t nice at all.

Now that I am through the worst part I hope (no idea what it around the corner but hopefully not another massive drawdown!), it’s easy to look at things like my historical portfolio performance and say that the losing run wasn’t nothing out of the ordinary. I knew that at the time as my betting bank was never under serious pressure (admittedly, if things had continued like that for a few more weeks, it would have been!) but even though I had done everything right this season in terms of betting bank and being capitalised adequately, why did I feel the strain so much?

I can’t help but come back to what I said above and that’s to do with the fact I’m not a gambler in nature. When I’m building my portfolio of systems to follow each Summer, it’s all about risk and return and I try my best to set myself an appropriate target for a return on capital for the amount of risk I am willing to take. I think I got it right this Summer and yet, I still felt outside of my comfort zone during the drawdown and therefore, it can only be to do with me as a person and not the way I gamble. The second part was fine, it was me the person letting my emotion get in the way which caused the stress and worry.

Anyway, sorry if this is a bit of a ramble, it’s more of a brain dump but it would be interesting to hear how others felt during the drawdown and what they feel now. Did they handle the situation better than me, were they impacted more than me, did they consider quitting at any point?

Below is a table I’ve pulled together with the live bets of the portfolio I’m following this season. I have split the portfolio performance into bet samples of 364 bets for the live results (which are the last 51 samples of 364 bets incidentally.). The reason it is 364 bets and not 100 or 200 bets is that at a point in time I looked at this, 364 bets made sense as my bet number could be split into equal chunks of 364 bets. Now, it doesn’t look so great but you get the gist of what I’m trying to show.

The first 364 bets this season produced a return in my portfolio of -47pts. The next 364 bets produced a return of 53pts and the last 159 bets have produced a return of 17pts. How bad was the -47pts? As I said above, not too bad and if you look at the data this way, you can see that within the live results, there has been two times when the portfolio lost 46pts and 48pts, so losing 47pts was nothing outside of the normal deviation I can expect. Likewise, the profit of 53pts was decent but nothing outside the norm and nowhere near the sort of returns this portfolio has achieved before in a live environment.

Admittedly, the second set of 364 bets this season started horribly too and when I last looked at the data this way, it was showing a 35pt loss I think but that turned around in the second half of the bets in that sample.

I’m as guilty as the next person for looking at things in the short-term and maybe that’s my biggest issue with gambling and tracking results as I do. Should I really care that I’ve lost thousands of pounds in a weekend or in a month? Probably not when I look at the bigger picture but it’s easier said than done!

Next post should be the results from this weekend and probably next midweek as I have bets on Monday evening, so I’ll wait till after the midweek to update the blog. 

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