The Art Of Blind Trading

In a previous article So You Want To Be A Professional Betfair Sports Trader? I advised you to ask yourself the question what sort of trader do you want to be and whether being a professional trader on betfair suits your lifestyle.

If after taking that advice you still felt that you could be a pro sports trader then you’ll probably have the time, inclination and Sky Sports subscription allowing you to watch a lot of live events.

There is no doubt watching a live event is going to give you an advantage over a trader who isn’t watching the event; I remember recently I had laid England against lesser opposition and I had also gone under 2.5 goals.

The first half an hour played out like a dream, I then saw that England were slowly gaining control of the match, then they were awarded a free kick in a dangerous(ish) kind of position.

As Wayne Rooney stood over the ball and the referee was making sure that the wall was ten yards back, I traded out of both trades for a tidy profit; seconds later Rooney scored and I was patting myself on the back for maximising my trades to the last second. The point being, there is no way I could have known exactly when to trade out had I not been watching the game.

Don't you dare move!

Don't you dare move!

“In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is King.”

Everybody has different schedules and home situations and those two factors will determine just how much live sport you can watch. If you are in a situation whereby you are single with no children, no 9-5 job and have a full on TV sports subscription, then not only do I envy you, but you are in the perfect situation for someone wanting to only ever live trade.

If however you’re closer to my situation whereby you get to watch live sport once or maybe twice a week, three times on a good week then you’re going to have to learn the art of blind trading.

Let’s get this straight right here and now, blind trading is an advanced trading technique; as a novice trader, whether that means you’re a newcomer to Betfair or just a newcomer to a particular sport then you really should try and avoid it.

Analysis

By consistently and continually analysing a market you will start to identify indicators of certain market actions and from that you will formulate a strategy.

So for instance, you may consistently bet on a run chase in cricket or the underdog in tennis or the point spread in Rugby League; but whatever the market is in whatever event you have to start identifying what actions take you closer or further away from your goals.

So for instance if I'm blind trading under 2.5 goals in a football match involving a strong home team and I see there is a goal in the first eighteen minutes then like Robert Deniro in Heat I’m out of there within 60 seconds; why? Because I know from analysis that 75% of the time when that happens, the game will end up with 3 goals or more.

Conversely if I see that I have got to half time with no goals in the same scenario then I know I have a decent choice of waiting till 55 minutes to trade or zero my liability, depending on my strategy for that particular game.

Setting Indicators

The best way to gather information in order to set your indicators is to watch the sport in question. It is not the only method but for me it's the best one. Because not only are you getting a feel for the sport, but you may spot patterns that are impossible or at least very hard to extrapolate from staring at post-match data.

Extrapolating

Information on its own is useless it isn't until you organise the information you have gathered in order to set your indicators, this is known as extrapolating.

Male teenage suicide rates shot up in the year of Halep's breast reduction surgery

Male teenage suicide rates shot up in the year of Halep's breast reduction surgery

Extrapolation By Viewing

Let's take the breathtakingly lovely Simona Halep, on grass Halep is an average player but on clay she becomes a demon player. You notice while watching the Madrid Masters that she often drop's a set to lesser opposition before coming back to win 2-1 and she has a very high ratio of saving games from love-40 down.

In this situation your indicators would be:

  • If Halep is playing a non-seeded player on clay - this is an indication that a Simona Halep lay is a good starting position, look to back after she loses the first set.
  • If  Halep is on a comeback and goes down 40 on her serve - Back her point to point to win - or back to win game or lay opponent whichever has the greater value.

So you may take these as strong indicators for the French Open as long as you felt the conditions were similar.

So now you take this into the French Open and see Simona Halep is playing an unseeded player in the first round and you think bingo!

You login to Betfair and place a healthy odds on lay against Simona Halep, however just 2 game into her match the score is 1-1 and you decide to back out for an insignificant loss of less than half a percent.

Data Crunching

The other tried and tested method for extrapolating information is analysing the results from markets of previous events that you want to trade in, otherwise known as data analysis, number crunching or as I like to term it; data crunching.

Being able to usefully analyse previous results in order to predict future events is clearly going to be an advantage in a stable market and will clearly give you an edge over other Betfair traders.

However you should be aware of the pitfalls of relying solely on the numbers, just as in commodities trading, knowing the numbers and having your charts is all well and good but getting to know the market beyond the numbers will always  increase your chances of making consistent profits.

Let's take the above example again:

As before you notice that in the Madrid Masters that Simona Halep often drop's a set to lesser opposition before coming back to win 2-1 and she has a very high ratio of saving games from love-40 down. 

The difference this time is you haven't watched any of those games, you've seen some of the results after the fact and you were sometimes monitoring scores in play through a site like flashscore.com

So like before you may draw the same conclusions and come up with the same indicators, namely;

  • If Halep is playing a non-seeded player on clay - this is an indication that a Simona Halep lay is a good starting position, look to back after she loses the first set.
  • If  Halep is on a comeback and goes down 40 on her serve - Back her point to point to win - or back to win game or lay opponent whichever has the greater value.

So now you take this into the French Open and see Simona Halep is playing an unseeded player in the first round and you think bingo!

It's as if the ball want's to be hit by her

It's as if the ball want's to be hit by her

You login to Betfair and place a healthy odds on lay against Simona Halep.

Only this time she absolutely storms the first set and your pre match lay has projected losses of 130% of your original stake. Luckily you've read Trade Like A Vulcan and How To Use Vocalisation To Win Big and so you back out for a loss without emotion.

However you still feel there might be some value in the game as you've seen flashes  that maybe the unseeded player will push Halep to a couple of love-40 games and you can put your second indicator to the test.

Halfway through the second set and it's 2-2 and Halep goes love-40 down you put money on her to win the next point and she does. You then put money on her to win the game and the next point.

She loses the next point and her serve - eventually she wins the set 6-4 after breaking back and does not go love-40 down for the rest of the match. You are left staring at your losses and wondering about the strength of your other indicators for other players in the tournament.

*Sound of record player needle being scraped across record.*

Wait a minute! What just happened? Weren't the two situations identical?

Causation and Correlation

New balls please

New balls please

The difference between our two scenarios was in the first we watched Simona Halep as she struggled through the early rounds of the Madrid Masters and so we saw the cause of her struggles. 

We saw that she had just got over a recent injury and whilst it didn't seem to effect her physically, mentally it was a different story. 

Later on in the tournament she beat a seeded player before being knocked out in the next round. However by then we could see that Halep seemed to be getting over her mental hoodoos so we decided to see if she carried that mental baggage into the French Open.

We could see in her first round French Open match that she looked mentally strong and a different player to the one in Madrid. This caused us to bail out early on for an insignificant loss and get on with the business of watching Simona wipe the floor with her opponent.

In the second example we were just data crunching and we mistook correlation for causation, the correlating factors being she went a set down to 2 unseeded players and both times she came back, often from love-40 down in individual games.

So we believed that unseeded opponents were the cause of her jitters, maybe even further in our minds imagining it was because of some psychological bugbear she had about playing easier opposition, which took her going a set down to iron out.

Whereas the unseeded players weren't a cause of her going down, that just helped when she was fighting back. 

If you have a problem with sorting correlation from causation, just swap the word correlation for coincidence. In other words it was merely coincidence that her opponents were unseeded, the real reason was never and could never have been revealed by the figures.

Note: I have no idea how good a player Simona Halep is on grass or clay I just needed an excuse to post pictures of her.

Summary

Indicators are just that, they are clues as to which way a market might swing, but with good analysis, using a balance of data crunching and viewing you will find the right indicators for your market.

Even when viewing make sure you don't mistake correlation for causation and always ask several questions of any particular scenario, namely:

Were there any other reasons for that result?

What were they?

Are they strong enough reasons to extrapolate any meaning and therefore set my indicators?

Take this advice and answer these questions well and you will have a lot smoother ride as a sports trader on Betfair.

Good luck and happy trading

The Zen Trader