Some sports traders seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to trading on Betfair, they always seem to be on the right team in the right game and usually trade out just before things go against them. The thing is, we've all had those Zen Moments when everything seems to be going right and you just can't lose.
The problem is, if someone were to ask you straight after that trade that went oh so perfectly, you wouldn't be able to tell them how you did it. Sure you might tell them how you researched the game and it was obvious that situation A would lead to situation B and that led to you winning money.
But you wouldn't be able to explain how your timing was so impeccable and that's because you were using what is known in Zen as the intuitive mind, more commonly known as, the subconscious.
The subconscious mind, depending on who you listen to, is working between 500,000 and 20 million times quicker than your conscious mind. That means at the most conservative of estimates the brain is using less than 0.01% of its processing power on conscious thought. If you want to put that into terms you can understand easily, it's the equivalent of having every film that was made in the last 20 years playing in your head at once, but you are only aware of watching one scene, in one of the films.
If you find that fact hard to believe, consider a 14 month old child, he or she has been walking for at least 4 months, it's muscles have been strong enough to support its weight for quite some time now, yet the child can not walk properly yet, it constantly falls and even the tinniest of steps can pose a problem.
This is because the child is consciously trying to control its every move, to balance and counterbalance, it is not until the child is at least 2 that walking becomes more of a natural, subconscious activity; then when that child is 18, it can drink enough alcohol and recreate those early days.
Even in adulthood we can go through that same experience of having to consciously effect what we are doing to the detriment of the activity. Think of learning to drive, if you have never done it before, then it could take a year of constant lessons, before you start to control the car subconsciously.
So clearly, when our subconscious mind is in control, it does a lot better job than our conscious mind. But why is that and does that really effect me when trading on Betfair?
Well first of all, the subconscious mind is better at carrying out tasks because in some ways it acts like a computer program, giving you access to your body's ultimate system information, your instincts.
This is what we often mean when we say something is instinctive, we don't actually mean that, but we say it. Someone who has been driving for 20 years, might say something like “driving is instinctive for me now”. But of course driving isn't instinctive, if it was you wouldn't need lessons, you would just kind of know what to do and you would learn simply by doing, just like a baby learning to walk.
What you mean most of the time when you say, something is instinctive, is you have gone through a process so many times and learned it so well that it feels instinctive; but that's a bit of a mouthful to say; so you shorten it to “it's just instinctive”. The good news is that you can use this important biological phenomenon when it comes to trading sports on Betfair.
Even though it's a loose analogy; for the moment it is helpful if you think of your subconscious like the Google search algorithm. When you first start using Google the search results you get are of a direct result of the words you physically type on your keyboard.
But as time goes on Google starts to learn about your habits, what blogs you read, what you like, what you don't like, what you buy, what you share and on and on, gathering data on you, so that ultimately they can advertise products to you, you're likely to buy.
This is why if you have a conversation on Twitter about chainsaws and then send out an email with the word chainsaws in it, with a couple of other keywords mixed in there, you will start to see chainsaw ads.
In the same way the Google algorithm is learning your pattern of behaviour through the inputs you feed it, so to can you train your subconscious to learn patterns of behaviour, but the patterns you record with your subconscious mind won't be your buying habits, they will be of the sporting habits of the teams and individuals you are trading on.
A trading buddy of mine, let's call him the Crick Meister General, is incredibly instinctive when it comes to trading cricket. He often talks about feeling the momentum of the game change and indeed if you watch him trade a game of cricket, you will often see him suddenly change a winning trade and go the other way, often catching an odds movement just before it starts to happen.
The Crick Meister General tends to win more often than he loses and he often enters the market just before the price moves, allowing him to profit almost instantly. So how does he do it?
When he talks about his winning trades and how he made the decisions he did, he pretty much always starts the story with the words “I could just tell....so I jumped on...”.
He will then go on to explain why he “could just tell...” and it is very interesting listening to him, mainly because if I didn't ask him to elaborate, he never would and the reasoning would stay locked up in his subconscious.
You see the thing is, it will usually come down to a few things that he's heard and seen in isolation, for instance; India were playing the West Indies recently in the cricket 20/20 World Cup and the CMG had his money on India, when he suddenly changed and got on West Indies just before the Windies started fighting back.
The West Indies went on to win the match by a fairly narrow margin and once again the CMG made money. When explaining why he had jumped from India to the West Indies, he said the following:
“I had seen in the other matches that the team who batted second seemed to do well if they had spinners to face. This was because of the build up of dew on the pitch stopping the ball spin so much and sliding through onto the bat a bit easier.
As I was watching, one of the commentators said that Jadeja was bowling 'arm balls', that's basically means the spinner has given up trying to get turn and is just attempting to keep the batting side's score down.
Jadeja is India's best bowler, so I thought if he can't get any turn, the Windies have got a chance, so even though they had a tough total to get, I just felt that the momentum of the game might be about to shift and I was right!”
So we can see from CMG's statement above that there were a few key factors in his decision making process, there were the events that he was watching unfold with his own eyes, then there was the statement from the commentator, the knowledge of the local weather and how that effected the pitch and finally his knowledge of how good a player Jadeja is and how much he means to India's success.
All these things were gathered over time by his subconscious, CMG often tells me that not all cricket commentators are worth listening to, but certain ex-players or just commentators in general are worth listening to and some of them are only worth listening to when certain teams are playing.
So even the commentators comment about the spin bowler, bowling arm balls was a piece of knowledge that was only allowed to influence CMG's decision making process because he had ascertained that this commentator on this particular occasion, was worth listening to.
Great, so how do you gain these seemingly super-human powers of deduction? It's simple you do what the Crick Meister General did; he wasn't born with an innate sense of cricket, he simply got into it a couple of years ago and started watching a hell of a lot of cricket. I'm not just talking about watching live games, he watches those of course, but he also listens and reads what's being said about matches beforehand.
If he doesn't watch the match, then he'll study the scorecard, he will read post-match articles, if an ex-player becomes a commentator, he will listen out for what the guy says, to work out just how much to value his opinion (commentators in cricket are more of a piece of a puzzle than perhaps any other sport).
Guess what? The more CMG watched cricket, the better he got at predicting what was going to happen in a cricket match. To the point now, if he rings me up very excited about a cricket trade, I sit up and listen, to give you a couple of examples, he told me Ireland would beat England a few years ago in the Cricket World Cup, something no one else was saying.
He also predicted Afghanistan would do well in the recent tournament that ended a few weeks ago, which they did, surprising everyone but the Crick Meister General. The more he watches, the better he gets, to the point that cricket is all he really wants to trade on, because he can almost guarantee a profit.
So in conclusion, there is no reason why you cannot become like the Crick Meister General, immerse yourself in a sport and you will soon start to get a feel for the indicators of the sport, what matters and what does not. Maybe you will do what I did last season and just decide to focus on one aspect of one sport, like under 2.5 goals in English football.
Whatever sport or market you pick, just watch and read about that sport as much as you can, study the stats and results, make predictions without risking money based on your study and monitor how those predictions turn out.
Do all these things and you will become a guru, a person of knowledge that others turn to when they want to know the answers, a person that uses that knowledge to win big on Betfair.
As ever, good luck and happy trading.
The Zen Trader