4 Ways To Gain An Edge Over The Competition

In this article I identify the four main things that will give you an edge on Betfair and Betdaq; it is over 4000 words long, but I believe that it is worth reading as it outlines techniques that are going to help give you an advantage over the majority of traders on Betfair, which is important because it is other traders on Betfair that you’re in competition with. So sit back, open your trading notebooks and begin.

You will often read me talking about gaining an edge over fellow traders on Betfair; but why do you need to have an advantage over other Betfair users?

Well, Betfair and Betdaq are peer to peer betting exchanges, put simply, that mean’s that for every action there is a reaction, every time you put on a £10 bet there has to be somebody or bodies somewhere, placing a £10 lay so every time you trade you are entering into direct competition with someone.

You are not so concerned when you’re greening up because you know if you are green on two outcomes then you have to lose one of them, even if that means you still have a net profit at the end of the trade.

So how do you gain an advantage over another trader whom you’re in competition with? There are a number of ways in which you can gain an advantage and I cover most of them on Betfair Trading Tips, but I wanted to summarise for you in a single article so that you can keep these in mind anytime you’re entering a trade on Betfair or indeed Betdaq.

Research

Researching your trades before you make them is the number one way to gain an advantage over your competition; I have a saying; “No research, no trade”. I remind myself of this on a daily basis, because it’s an easy one to forget, especially if you’re trading a market you know well, the feeling can often be one of, “I know these/this team/player, I don’t need to research it.” Wrong!

Imagine you’re just about to bet that Novak Djokovic will win his first round match at the US Open in straight sets. You’ve never heard of his opponent and you know that Djokovic is number one in the world and on form.

However, even though you don’t watch tennis on a regular basis, you’ve failed to do any research because you just know that Djokovic is an awesome player and always blows away nobodies in the preliminary rounds of major tournaments.

But because of your lack of research you missed that Djokovic has had a bust up with his coach, who is the same coach that turned him into a world beater, you’ve also missed that his girlfriend was seen in the gossip pages smooching another man.

You also missed the fact that the nobody he’s playing is in fact an up and coming young player who pushed Roger Federer all the way in a hard court minor tournament earlier in the year, he has a killer return of serve and he broke Federer several times in the match, he lost 2-1 but both sets ended in a mammoth tie break.
Suddenly 3-0 to Djokovic isn’t looking so good and when you place your £100 back for 3-0 there is a shrewd trader out there who has done the research and he lays your £100.

The match starts and the nobody breaks Djokovic and the score is at 4-2 at which point the shrewd trader who laid your £100 bet can now look to back Djokovic at higher odds than he gave you, thus putting himself in a green position.

You on the other hand, are floundering and you’re now left in a situation whereby you have to cut your losses or gamble on Djokovic breaking back, you’re in a situation whereby you need that to happen and you need him to go on and win the first set to have any chance of recouping your money, in other words, you’re stuffed.

After the game, which Djokovic end’s up losing 2-3 and you have lost £58, you’re listening to the commentators talk about how the bust up with his coach and his personal problems seemed to affect him on the court and you kick yourself for not knowing such valuable pieces of information before putting on your initial bet.

Here’s the thing, the above example is an extreme example and such information would probably be being mentioned by the commentators as the match started so you’d hear that information anyway before the match started, but if you’d already decided to put the bet on, then your brain, bugger that it can be, will simply convince you that you’re right anyway and to stick with the bet, because the brain wants a state of calm and balance and knowing you’re right is going to create a lot more harmonious thoughts than thinking you could be wrong.

Bottom line, do your research and you’ll gain an edge over the thousands of traders who haven’t, “No research, no trade.

I hate telling people to do something without giving them a means to do it so, just in case you’re completely new to the world of sports trading and therefore have never researched a team or a player before, below I'm going to give you a few pointers, obviously there are a plethora of sports out there that you can trade in and so I can’t give you tips on researching them all, I’ll just give you my research template.

Research Template


RESOURCES

Twitter

Ever since I discovered Twitter I have loved it, the reason I love it so much is its immediacy, news stories are often broken on Twitter waaaaay before the mainstream media get a hold of it.

Twitter Bird.jpg

To give you a quick example, I was once off to play golf with a friend; we came out of my house and saw loads of sinister looking unmarked police cars zooming up the main street. We logged onto Twitter after not being able to find out anything on the mainstream news sites and found out that it was an armed siege, someone had been on the spot and tweeted it immediately.

So use Twitter, I tend to put a search of the event I’m interested in and watch what comes up, if there are any last minute injuries or anything that may upset the outcome of the event, it’ll be on Twitter first.

Fan Blogs

I love fan blogs because they are news sites that are kept by people who genuinely care about the subjects they’re writing about, which is not always a given on a mainstream site.

Also, well kept fan blogs are a lot less likely to have inaccurate or outdated information on them. Now this isn’t to say that every time you come across a fan blog you’re going to get information that you couldn’t have got somewhere else just as easily but you will find the odd gem.

Also fan sites will give you info about the sport in general, which is particularly handy if you’re new to a particular sport. For instance if you go onto rafaelnadalfans.com there’s not too much there on the face of it that will help you trade.

However a little scroll down the page will give you the current world ranking of Rafael Nadal and how many ranking points he has, this information is in a table with all the other top 10 ranked players who you can click on and that will take you to the official ATP site, there’s even a link to get the whole list.

What’s interesting about this, is when I put men’s tennis rankings 2014 into Google I came up with an old ATP page which had Novak Djokovic as number 1, but only on 9010 points as opposed to the 11,400 that he had in the updated list. So whoever runs that site is more up to date than Google and that’s why I love fan blogs, find them, keep them, use them.


Stats Sites

Statistics sites are probably the number one research resource for sports traders of all levels as they give you an overview of a market over time, giving you the chance to spot any emerging or established trends.

Whilst they are important you must be careful not to get too obsessed with stats and indicators, they are definitely a very powerful tool when it comes to predicting the future but they are not the be all and end all and it is often a piece of information that you find somewhere like Twitter that can be the difference between a winning and losing trade.

For instance recently I was about to follow a rugby tip and trade the points handicap for that particular game. About half an hour before kick off I checked Twitter by putting in the names of the two teams involved which linked me to an article with the captain of the team I was about to handicap saying that the result didn’t matter but rather their performance did; needless to say I stayed away; it did actually come in, but right in the last minute, so zero trading opportunities, making it a pure gamble and that’s not what I’m about.

When looking for a good stats site, start with the official governing body sites, like the ATP for tennis or the PGA site for golf, the FA for football and so on, from there you may be taken to other sites that are useful.

Otherwise do that tried and tested method of Googling whatever sport you’re interested in and then putting the word stats or statistics after it.

To get you started I’ll give you my two favourite ones espncricinfo.com, ideal for cricket both domestic and international and you can download an extension for Chrome which I highly recommend if you want to regularly trade on cricket or even just enjoy the sport for the hell of it.

Next is soccerstats.com I love this site because you’ve got information on all the major European leagues and you can get a good amount of stats that you’d want to trade in, laid out in table form; which is clearly very handy indeed.

Forums

Forums can be an excellent source of information; there are essentially two types of forum, the fans forum and the betting forum. The fans forum will tend to be more news led and the betting forum, as you’d expect, is going to be much more gambling led.

Like fan sites they can contain wonderful geeks who know the sport inside out and often have very interesting insights in their chosen field.

News Sites

These are an important source of information, though I rarely go to a news site first, I’ll usually use things like Twitter, forums and Google, before I go onto a news site and so therefore the only time I go to a news site directly, is if I can’t find any information about the event in the first place.

The reason I link through to the news sites instead of going straight there, is because they have massive archives, so if I search Arsenal vs Tottenham, they are not necessarily going to be talking about the latest up and coming game, unless it’s on that day and even that’s not guaranteed.


TV

Sounds obvious but I'm going to say it anyway, watching a sport you intend to trade in isn't entirely necessary, however it will give you an edge over someone that doesn't. So for instance I might decide to get into Aussie rules football and immerse myself in stats from the various sources I've mentioned above. But if I never get to watch it I’ll never get a true feel for the game and I may miss teams or players coming in or out of form. 

For me the biggest advantage you gain over other traders on Betfair is from watching the event you’re trading in is you’re going to get up to the minute information which may prove crucial. For instance I was trading on an England Euro 2016 qualifier recently, it was an early season game so I decided to lay England with a view to backing them later.

I also traded on under 2.5 goals, the game went my way for around 30 minutes and just as I was deciding on whether I was close enough to my targets to trade out (we were playing San Marino so 30 minutes was about the limit) and England got a free kick in a dangerous area, up stepped Rooney and so I traded out on both trades, guess what? Rooney scored which of course would have ruined both trades (we won 5-1).

Betfair sporting TV schedule

Method

My method for research is the same whether I know about the sport I’m trading in on that day/week or not.

First I Google the event with the date the event’s being played on, I might check out the first few stories to see if there’s anything interesting in there that might act as an indicator.

Then I go onto Twitter and do the same thing, at this point I try and be as efficient as possible as it is very easy to get sucked into Twitter and start mindlessly clicking on link after link.

Then I go onto my stats site and try and work out what’s going to happen in the event, then I might go onto a fan site to see if I can catch some last minute info I can use.

By then I should have a rock solid idea of which way I’m going to go in the event and what market I want to trade, if I don’t by now, I start the whole process again on another event or more likely give up on that week and look ahead to what’s coming up.

So I login to Betfair, check the odds of the thing I want to trade on and then off I go, notice I always login to Betfair last. The previous steps may well be done in whatever order, but Betfair always comes last. This is to insure the odds don’t influence me in the slightest.

I have an idea of what the odds should  be but I always look at them last as it is easy to get either persuaded into or dissuaded from making a trade, which is pure folly as you’ll end up staying away from winning trades and tempted into losing ones.

Remember above all; “No research, no trade.”

Keeping Records

Keeping records in the form of a trading notebook is vital to your success as a sports trader, not everyone who keeps a trading notebook is a professional trader, but all professional traders keep a trading notebook.

The human brain is wired up, through hundreds of millennia worth of evolution, to learn from its mistakes in a rule of thumb manner, this is called heuristic reasoning and it goes a little something like this;

“The last time that bush twitched in that way and those deer started running away a whopping great lion came out of nowhere and chased me and my herd.”

Put simply it means that by and large, we learn from our mistakes, heuristic reasoning isn’t the be all and end all of human intelligence and quite often our propensity to reason heuristically can often lead us down blind alleys and can lead to reductionism a state whereby we highlight one fact in an event and use heuristic reasoning to make sense of that fact.

It can be said that heuristic reasoning is the force majeure behind most, if not all conspiracy theories.

“Hitler blew up the Reichstag in order to garner negative feeling towards the Jews, therefore 911 was an inside job.”

So, whilst rule of thumb reasoning can be dangerous in that in can shield the bigger picture from us, it is an excellent way to make sure we don’t keep making the same mistakes.

If when you look back at your trading notes for the month and you see a pattern whereby every time you tried point to point betting in tennis you posted heavy losses, then you can take the heuristic jump and reason that you should stay away from point to point betting and that if you did such a thing you would lose less money therefore your bankroll would be bigger, ergo you’re making more money. 

“Aha!” I hear you say, “…if I was losing money hand over fist on point to point tennis betting I’d know that and I wouldn't need to write it down to tell me that.”

True, but…

This might be true if you were only betting on point to point tennis betting and one other market, like tennis set betting or football under 2.5 goals betting, however if you’re mixing it up and trading on whatever comes along, then you could easily forget or not realise that your point to point betting isn’t doing so well, it only takes a couple of wins for that sneaky little brain of yours to convince you not to worry that you’re “about even” when it comes to point to point tennis betting.

Remember, your brain wants you to be happy and the best way to achieve this is through mental congruence, that is to say your mind has no conflicting thoughts or emotions running through it, which might trigger a hormonal imbalance, which in turn upsets you. 

Feed me info and I'm happy!

Feed me info and I'm happy!

So you’re much more likely to lie to yourself if you don’t keep a record of all your trades, of course there’s only so much you can lie to yourself, because the ultimate truth giver, your Betfair balance will never lie to you and doesn't give a stuff about your mental harmony.

So remember keep a record of all your trades and that will indicate to you your strengths and your weaknesses, and you can cut out your weak trades and build on your strong and you can guarantee that when you’re trading on your strong market(s) there will be another trader you’re trading with who hasn’t even realised that they are trading a weak market for them and that will give you an advantage over them.

There are many other advantages to keeping a trading notebook that will give you an edge of the competition that are too numerous to list in this article, if you’re interested you can go to How To Keep A Trading Notebook but for now let’s look at other ways you can get an edge over the competition.

Software

If you are new to Betfair then I wouldn't advise diving straight in with software, unless you have experience in using trading software for stocks and shares or the financial markets.

If you are coming to Betfair from a city background then using trading software will be simple for you as the financial and stock trading bots are much more complex than the Betfair bots.

So if you’re an absolute newcomer to trading then I’d give it a while before you actually invest in software, instead, find the limitations of trading manually organically, rather than being told what those limitations are.

When you feel that you know a bit more what you’re doing on Betdaq and Betfair and you don’t feel like you’re floundering so much and you are starting to see certain limitations regarding putting in quick orders into the market amongst others, then perhaps you’re ready for your first Betfair bot, they all give free trials usually of a couple of weeks, you can read some Betfair trading software reviews by following the link.

There are quite a few Betfair bots to choose from and they all have tonnes of features all designed to make your Betfair experience smoother and where necessary more automated. 

When you feel you’re ready, you can go to the review section and read about the various bots out there and make a decision on which one you’d like to try out first, I would recommend a simple one first something like Bet Bot Pro as this only deals with Greyhound racing and so there’s a lot less to think about when learning how to use it, it will get you into the whole idea of ladder betting and using a bot in general, as with all of these bots you can use it in practice mode for play money.

There are clearly to many advantages to list here so I’ll just point out some of the main ones.

One Click Betting

One click betting speed’s up the entire process of putting bets and orders into the market, usually you have to put in your stake and wait for the 8 second delay as your bet is put on, in a fast moving market where the odds are falling or rising very quickly, this can mean that you don’t get matched for bets you’re trying to place, leading to a lot of scrambling around, adjusting and cancelling bets.

With one click betting you predetermine the amount you want to bet, and then simply click next to the odds when you want to bet, there is still lag with the bots, but nowhere near 8 seconds.

You can also anticipate market movement by putting orders in at higher or lower than the current odds selection for your market, you can do this manually but there are often scenarios whereby you might want to cancel that order because of something that’s happened in your event but that means going to the cancel bets screen, in the time it takes to get to that screen your bet might be taken, so being able to cancel or take a bet in a split second at the touch of a button is going to give you an advantage over someone who can’t do that.

Stop loss/Trailing Stop Loss

Again this is something you can do manually, but using a bot to do it will give you a massive advantage in that you don’t have to work out how the odds relate to cash you’ll potentially lose.

When you use a Betfair bot you can do something called ladder betting to trade, this is whereby all the odds are laid out top to bottom in a ladder, with the lowest odds at the bottom of the ladder and the highest being at the top.

So let’s take the over 1.5 goals in a match between Sunderland and Stoke City from the English Premier League. At the beginning the odds for over 1.5 goals are 1.89 so we click next to 1.89, we've already determined that our back bets are going to be £20 so now we see a bunch of red and green figures.

Because we've backed over 1.5 goals at 1.89 and in order to trade and make money we need the odds to drop, we see that all the figures on the ladder below 1.89 are green and the lower we get the more money we will potentially win.

All the numbers above 1.89 are in red as if the odds rise then we will be trading negatively to a red book. So now we can (usually) right click on a figure above 1.89 say £5 and place an order at that level, therefore if the odds rise to that level, our order will be automatically taken. As I said before, instead of having to work out yourself what the odds should be in order that you only lose £5 will take time and if maths isn't your strong point, you could get it wrong, which could be costly.

So in summary; if you’re new to Betfair then don’t worry too much about getting a trading bot unless you have trading experience in other markets, such as stocks and shares or the financial markets. But just bear in mind that on your way to becoming a serious trader, you’re going to need to check out the various Betfair bots on offer.
 
However do keep records of your trades and notes on teams and players, make sure you check forums, fan sites and Twitter for news that may give you an edge and research as thoroughly as you can, most of all, watch the sport you’re trading in and whenever possible the individual event you’re trading on and you’ll give yourself a huge edge over the competition.

If you haven’t yet got a Betfair account, then click on the link to claim your £20 Betfair bonus.

You can sign up for a Betdaq account here or if you are wondering why you need a Betdaq account as well as a Betfair one then go to Betfair vs. Betdaq, What's The Difference? To find out.

Good luck and happy trading.

The Zen Trader