1. Time Management
As you embark on your journey to becoming a professional exchange trader on Betfair, there will be two classes of tool you will need, the first set are physical tools, such as what computer or trading bot you use to help you trade.
Then there are the abstract tools, things that require more thought and commitment to action than the physical tools and the most important abstract tool you have at your disposal is time management.
Ultimately trading on Betfair takes time, it takes time to find trades that you think could be profitable, it takes time to do the research on those trades once you do find them and it takes time to actually sit there and trade whilst watching the event you’re trading in.
If you take one bit of Betfair trading advice from this site then let it be to get a time management app for your smartphone, computer and tablet. I recently downloaded Todoist, You do have to pay to get the best out of it, but it is only £18 per year and it syncs with my trading notebook on Evernote.
I am going to trial one more app, but I think I'll just bite the bullet and pay as it looks like it has everything I need; you may be different so shop around.
Whatever time management app you end up using, sit down in a moment of quiet and map out a week's worth of tasks. If that's too daunting then just do one for the following day.
Once you have your time mapped out for you, you can allocate time for trading and research and stick to it. Always be flexible about grabbing any extra time or moving time around, but stick to that time map and you’ll become a better more efficient trader and that will ultimately give you an edge over your rival sports traders.
Organisation is a key factor in making you a shit hot trader on Betfair, without organisation you will miss trades you should have been in, trade in events you shouldn't be in and generally make more mistakes than someone who is organised. So in other words an organised trader will have an edge over the disorganised trader and gaining an edge over the competition on a regular basis will make you profitable.
What do we mean when we say organisation will help us become better sports traders? We mean organisation when it comes to recording our trades researching them and most important of all, organising the tools of our trade. Our computers, internet bookmarks and our minds.
Dawn Of The Cyborgs!
Every human being that uses an electronic storage device regularly can be considered in some way a cyborg, that is to say an organic being with an organic and electronic memory.
Still not convinced?
Imagine you are walking down the street and an alien walks up to you and quick as a flash points his ray gun at your head and pull's the trigger. But your head doesn't explode, instead you are aware as every single memory from last year is being sucked out of your head, afterwards you are acutely aware that you cannot remember a thing. Think you'd be distressed?
What about if he took all the happiest memories from your childhood, or your first love or some other happy moment in your life; what about now would you be distressed?
How did you feel the last time you lost your phone? Or your computer screen faded to black never to come on again?
Aha! But we have been recording memories outside of our brains for millenia; what do you call a cave painting then?
Yes, that is true, but two points
1. Never before have we had so many memories at a moments notice; it would be like dragging your own personal library behind you and even then how could you pull up an individual memory in seconds?
2. It isn't just memories, we are constantly accessing the internet through our phones and other devices. We are constantly giving to and taking from the knowledge pooled on the internet in a sense we are all part of a hive-mind. Albeit a mad, chaotic, disorganised mind.
Ever been cut off the internet when you really need it; how did that feel? I'd wager it felt uncomfortable, almost like our alien friend had come along and zapped us with his ray gun which had taken away our ability to think properly.
First let’s take a look at your computer or tablet, if your computer is brand new out of the box and you've only turned it on a handful of times and you haven’t downloaded loads of programs yet then perfect, your computer look’s pretty much as it should if you’re a trader; keep it that way.
If on the other hand it’s not new and you’re like a number of my friends, then your desktop will be chocked full of icons, documents and pictures and your computer will have programs on it that you haven’t used for at least a year.
I'm assuming that you already know that it's not a good idea to have lots of icons on your desktop because apart from being potentially distracting they slow your computer down, a slow internet connection to the Betfair sports trader is like Kryptonite to Superman, a slow death.
But let's assume for a moment that you are not convinced; imagine I hire you for a job and that job entails fetching documents and files for me and recording and saving new and existing data. Then imagine that I say to you at any moment of the day I might run into your office and demand a single document from a file and I want it in my hand less than 2 seconds after my demand. But hey don't worry it will only be one of 150 specific personal and work documents. All of which I put of equal importance.
In that scenario it would be a good idea for you to use your desk, walls and floor as your filing system, leaving those 150 documents lying around so that you could attempt to fulfil my unreasonable demands.
However me being an unreasonable boss decide that each day I'm going to add to your woes by adding notes from my wife, random bank statements and phone numbers. So that after a few weeks, I want access to 300 documents, causing you to slow down.
If however I was a sane and reasonable boss I would allow you time to find me the document contained within a file I needed and that would allow you to create a proper filling system. Putting relevant documents together in folders and then relevant folders in cabinet draws and relevant cabinet draws in cabinets and cabinets in rooms and so on.
It would take you a bit longer to find certain bits of information, but you wouldn't have crap all over your office or a sky high blood pressure brought on by my draconian style of management.
It sounds like a bizarre scenario that would or at least should never happen in real life, but when it comes to our computers we become like the megalomaniac Little Hitler demanding that our subordinate be ready at all times with countless documents to be delivered in a split second.
Hopefully my labouring of the point has convinced the last few stragglers amongst you to tidy up and to stop automatically downloading files to your desktops and just leaving them there.
So let’s get to it and yes I mean now, you're sitting at your computer reading this or looking on your phone; no time like the present!
Go through all those desktop icons and delete anything you haven’t used in a week, if you’re not using a short cut at least once a week, then you don’t need a short cut for it. In fact that is a perfect time for noticing programs that you downloaded on a whim, used once and never again; or that trial that expired 18 months ago. Do you really need that app makes you look older?
So as you make a note of these programs open up your control panel go to add and remove programs and get rid of them, they not only clutter your computer, but your mind; and what is your computer if not an extension of your mind?
Next, take the other icons that you actually need and put them in a folder you create called Desktop Items and put them all in there.
Of course I'm oversimplifying there; you may have personal management icons, to dropbox or similar sites and apps that you use daily. In that case make a folder called personal management or work or whatever and put them in there.
Follow the same process with your files and documents, putting them in appropriate folders, then make one big folder called; Desktop Documents and put all the folders into this, then put that into the My Documents folder, if you haven’t got one, create one.
Clearly all my instructions above are aimed at PC users, I do of course realise that there are Mac users out there, I just don't like you. Only joking of course; sort of.
No but seriously though, if you do need help doing this sort of thing for your Mac leave a comment in the comment section at the bottom of this article and I'll help you out.
Now you have a nice clean, non-distracting desktop again, you can go onto your internet browser. You’re going to open Chrome or whichever web browser you use and repeat the process that you did with your icons on your bookmarks.
In your bookmarks drop-down menu, go through them all, deleting anything that you haven’t been to in a month anything you have left that isn't to do with trading put in their own folder.
Then delete everything on your bookmarks bar that isn't absolutely essential and by that I mean your trading and research sites and anything else that you’re using everyday. Seriously; how many bookmarks do you need?
The benefits of doing this are twofold, firstly you’ll find it easier to find stuff you need and secondly and more importantly, it’ll clear your mind and the mind is the biggest and best tool we have, seeing as it is the mind that we’re using to make all our trading decisions and this will give us an edge over a trader whose mind is full of disorganised clutter.
Just like when I was a teenager and I used to do the annual tidying of my bedroom I would find things that I had either forgotten about or thought were lost. So to, you will find bookmarks that you had forgotten about. Just remember, you forgot about them for a reason, it is because you don't need them!!
Just one more point on the subject of internet and computer, I touched upon it briefly above, but if your homepage is a news page like yahoo or even a sports news page, change it to something simple like Google or even better betfairtradingtips.com.
The reason for this is that these sites are designed to get you clicking on various stories as your interest levels peak and trough, by doing this you go into information hoarding mode; something Ludvig Sondegrom over at SGM explains beautifully on his blog.
When you’re in information hoarding mode you’re not thinking clearly and you’re in a trance like state clicking on link after link, turning you into an information junkie.
if you login to Betfair when you are in information hoarding mode then the trade might never feel complete to you even after you achieve your green book and especially if you end up with a red book. You are more likely to enter into another market irrationally and that kind of behaviour is much more likely to manifest itself as you are clicking the refresh odds button over and over.
If the purpose of your quest is to collect clean water, you must first make sure your cup is clean.
Basically it is our brain that is responsible for everything we do, so putting it into a negative feedback loop of clicking to gain more information in order to click and find out more information. Just before we risk money is not a good idea, much better to be focussed and thinking with absolute clarity.
I have gone into much more detail about this phenomena in my article TMI - Trading Advice For The Information Junkie.
But for me the number one distraction on the internet ADVERTS!
Because that's what they are, they're not adverts they are ADVERTS! Go to you tube to watch a 30 second video that Gill from accounts has sent you and you watch a 1 minute ad before hand. Then there are the old nemesis banner ads, but now we have ones if your mouse accidentally brush's against it, it expands to fill half your screen.
Even if you don't click on them on purpose, they enrage you. I'm not preaching holier than thou, there is advertising on this site via affiliate links, but they are not IN YOUR FACE and hopefully do not get in the way of the content as they are not even on every page.
To combat this assault on our subconsciouses, we have beautiful tools such as Adblock Plus a free chrome extension which downloads in microseconds and starts working immediately, just refresh the page and Voila! No more ads.
Of course if you don't use Chrome you will find it for every browser apart from Safari, which serve's you right for using such a wac browser. Sorry, don't mean to offend, but it is garbage and doesn't seem to work properly with a significant part of the internet, including I'm told, Betfair. Get with the program and use Firefox or Chrome or Explorer whatever you use, get an ad blocker.
3. Sports Trading Notebook
A Betfair trading notebook and how well you keep it is fundamentally linked to how successful you’ll be as a sports trader, it’s as simple as that.
I have written a previous post on How To Keep A Trading Notebook so for now I’ll just go through the basics.
First of all you’ll need to download Evernote, this is an extremely powerful and useful tool, you can download it for your computer and your smart phone and/or tablet. If you’re one of the ever diminishing percentage of people in the western world not to have a smart phone, get one; you’re a trader now and you need to have the best tools at your disposal.
Once you've downloaded Evernote create a notebook and call it trading records, then keep your finger pressed on it lightly and choose the option move to new stack, name that stack Trading Notebook.
Then create another set of notebooks and keep them in that stack, I’d suggest you have one called Future Trades and another called Trading Notes, after that it’s up to you, you’ll probably find as you go along that you’ll add more notebooks as you go along.
In your Trading Records notebook create a note for each day of trading, name the note by the date and at the top of the note put your opening balance and at the bottom your closing balance.
Record each trade and what you are feeling about the trade and whatever else you feel is relevant, make sure you do this whether you win or lose. You’ll learn more from losing patterns than you will from winning ones sometimes.
In Future Trades put the events that you’re thinking about trading on, write what you’re thinking about a particular trade and if you’re waiting for an external event to happen that might effect an outcome, like a star player recovering from injury.
The most crucial thing about a Trading Notebook is to keep reviewing it; make time every day to review it, read your notes try and spot patterns both winning and losing, that way you’re more likely to find a market that you’re comfortable with and you can profit from consistently.
Make it your bible, the human brain has evolved to spot patterns, it's why we have mathematics. So study your trading notebook, let the patterns sink into your subconscious and you will become a more confident and solid trader.
“Not all sports traders on Betfair use trading notebooks, but all the successful ones do.”
We can’t talk about essential sports trading advice on Betfair without talking about research, research for each trader is a personal thing, traders find information outlets that they trust and from that information they extrapolate a strategy on a given market. That’s it, there’s no mystery to it, find the information and deduce a scenario from that..
Personally I like livescores for practical info and soccerstats.com for pure statistical data on various football markets and I combine that with news sites, I don’t particularly have a favourite so I don’t have one bookmarked, rather I like to Google the event and see what news is out there, that way I might come across a dedicated fan site that give’s a valuable bit of info that the mainstream sites miss.
The official PGA website is great for golf and ESPN cricinfo is brilliant for cricket, and you can download a widget for your browser so that you don't even have to visit the site to find out what games are on, what the score is and so on. Whatever sites you use bookmark them if you feel they are consistently good and always try and find fan and team sites for last minute news.
As for tennis I've recently discovered Tennis Explorer it seems like a pretty comprehensive statistics site and as a bonus has a forum. It seems like it is weighed towards betting and trading so the forum posts should provide some good reading.
However you might prefer the simpler layout of tennis.com, the interface is pretty user friendly and the players are laid out for you nicely in a handy form table.
Last but by no means least we have Twitter, I find it can be useful for checking out what the tipsters are saying and what the club or player might be doing. Sometimes players of all sports are extremely candid.
For instance I recently clicked on a story that was retweeted by one of my followers and it led me to a BBC article whereby the captain of the team in the game I was about to put an under 2.5 goal order into, was speaking as if he expected to get thrashed. I pulled out and they duly got thrashed.
These are the basics of research tools, pretty much every trader will have a stats site and use news sites, then beyond that your research tools could include watching sporting events, to speaking to a small shifty man in a dirty raincoat at your local bookies.
If you want a more detailed explanation then check out my article on How To Turn Research Into Betfair Profits and you'll get some solid sports trading advice in regards to research and how to use that research effectively.
Entrance & Exit Strategy
Imagine that you and I are going to a casino, the reason we are going is because we have a winning card counting system. We feel no moral compunction about this because whilst the casino classes it as cheating and will throw us out if they catch us, you and I both know that it is merely working out how to play the game.
The system relies on one of us being a spotter and one of us being a counter, the only problem with our amazing undetectable card counting system is that the role of counter is so taxing that neither of us can do it for more than 2 hours at a time.
Not only that, but in any 24 hour period each of us can only play the role of counter twice and our card counting uses so much of our vast reserves of brain power that we lose the ability to tell the time. Which is a major handicap as if we go over our 2 hour time limit, the system stops working.
Right so the rules are set; what do you think would be the correct way to approach the casino would be?
Would it be;
Strategy One - No Strategy
Let’s hit that casino on Main Street tonight and make a bundle!
Or would it be;
Strategy Two - Plan Game & Exit Strategy
Before we get into the casino we will synchronise our phone clocks so that they are running at exactly the same time.
We will use our phones to set up 4 alarms 2 hours apart and on top of that I will get my fake call app to call me exactly 7 hours and 55 minutes after we start playing which will signify that time is up and we should leave.
We will play 2 tables, Table A and Table B, we will leave a 10 minute gap between Table A and B to make sure that we factor in the amount of time it takes us to leave the first table and join the second.
Clearly if we go for the first strategy, which is no strategy then our time in the casino will be boom and bust. We will make money at first, but then as we lose track of time and of whose turn it is to be counter we will lose money. At the end of the night we may be up or we may be down
.The second strategy clearly defines our objectives by our actions, we know that we have a maximum of 8 hours to ply our system and we know exactly when that 8 hours will end.
In other words we have defined our game specific strategy and our overall exit strategy.
We need to do exactly the same thing when we are trading sports on Betfair.
6. Zen Calm
If you have followed the 5 steps above of:
Sports Trading Notebook
- Clearly Defined Strategies
Then these will make you calmer, are you going to be calmer about a trade rushing in and snapping the telly on as you turn your computer on; or if you have planned it days or even weeks in advance?
Knowing that there are no trades you are missing out on and having a mentally uncluttered experience when you research and trade, not distracted by useless information
Also calm will descend upon you as you review your post trading notes in you trading notebook. You will spot your weaknesses and strengths, leaving yourself more likely to capitalise on information you find, which might have otherwise been obscured from you by confirmation bias.
Then lastly like a general going into battle against a disorganised enemy you are calm as you watch events unfold.
The only thing left to do then, is to reflect on these things and realise that these are the basis, the essential tools of a Betfair sports trader. They are the foundations to which you will add other rules and guidelines to as you mature.
Add meditation to your armoury, meditation will give you the ability to concentrate on one thing without distraction.
Meditation will help you become more aware of your own emotion and therefore will help curb rash trading behaviour, leading to you losing less.
The less you lose, the more you win. So start a Betfair account today and put these techniques into practice.
The Zen Trader