Trading To Your Strengths – If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Winning money on Betfair is great, winning money consistently on Betfair is fantastic. Hitting a winning streak is like confirmation that you're doing something right. The trick is staying on that winning streak, carrying on the good work you have been doing; so how do you do that?

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it; is just another way of saying, if you hit a run of form on a particular market, then stick with it. This sound’s like simple advice but I know a fair few Betfair traders who don’t do this.

For instance I know someone who had an amazing month of trading cricket; he had a system of research that enabled him to bet on the batting or bowling side just before they got back into the match, giving him quick trading opportunities.

I'm sure if I keep doing what I'm doing things will change.

I'm sure if I keep doing what I'm doing things will change.

This was fantastic as it gave him a chance to make money in a very short amount of time and by and large his system was working around 75-80 percent of the time, all well and good.

Yet when he showed me his overall profit & loss, I was shocked to see that over the course of the month the size of his bankroll had actually shrunk! 

How was this possible? He was winning a lot of trades, he was winning them for between £16 and £40 and he was doing this two to five times a week.

Well he’d fallen into a pattern of winning money on the cricket and then frittering it away on volatile tennis bets and irrational football bets; I pointed out to him that if he’d left out the tennis and football he would be around £280 up for the month, instead of £20 down.

The thing about good advice is it’s really obvious when you hear it, so obvious in fact that your mind falls into a state whereby it says to itself – “It’s fine, I know that, I don’t need to pay attention to that.” 

So even though my friend knew he shouldn't be trading volatile football and tennis markets and should have been protecting his bankroll and investing in what was working. He still went ahead and did it.

We can call this state the Autopilot State.

She was beginning to have doubts about the effectiveness of the autopilot.

She was beginning to have doubts about the effectiveness of the autopilot.

The reason for that is good advice is usually obvious and usually something that you have done or know you should do. If this wasn’t the case then you would never break or lose your phone. You would never lose your keys or spill drinks on your laptop (twice!) you would never crash your car while parking and you would only ever need to be told something once.

So how does this relate to trading?

If you’re just starting out in trading and reading this advice then you hold an advantage over a seasoned trader, your brain right now is in Learning Mode because this is all new to you and the time when you soak up the most information about any subject, especially one that interest’s you is right at the start.

The seasoned trader is already switching off and going into Autopilot State, either consciously or unconsciously saying to himself, I know this, this is nothing new to me I don’t need to absorb this.

However that very same seasoned trader will at some point in the near future, login to Betfair, ignore a market which has been profitable for them and go for something with better odds and a better potential payout.

Just to be clear, trading to your strengths is not just about choosing and sticking to the right markets, it's also about your overall situation when trading. For instance a while back I was in a streak of winning Saturday football trades and losing Wednesday evening ones.

This situation clearly frustrated me so I finally decided to look back on my Wednesday trades to see what was going wrong, it took about 30 seconds to see that after each losing midweek trade, I had a comment like; 

"Rushing around tuned in late."

or

"Got distracted by cooking."

or

"Had to put daughter to bed, missed the first goal."

Basically I stopped trading midweek unless I had the same kind of time that I had on a Saturday, which is hardly ever. In other words I cut out the losing bit and converted my win/loss streak into a win/win streak.

How to stay in learning mode

Human beings use, above anything else, repetition to learn and through repetition we become skilled and adept at the task we are trying to learn.

Take driving for instance; when you first get behind the wheel of a car it is all foreign and alien to you, just keeping the engine running as you attempt to drive from A to B is hard, gear changes are laboured you struggle as you attempt to coordinate your foot movements with your hand movements whilst concentrating on the road and traffic around you.

Whilst you are in this period you are in a heightened state of learning, your brain is fully in learning mode, 100% of your available brain power is dedicated to learning how to drive.

Fast forward five years and you've driven practically every day, you are fully skilled and competent driver. On top of that there are routes that you take all the time, now you can get form A to B and not really remember your journey, you slip in and out of autopilot mode effortlessly.

Avoiding autopilot mode is key to trading to your strengths.

Whilst autopilot mode can be useful for driving when it comes to trading it isn't useful at all, in fact it’s downright dangerous. 

In autopilot mode your brain falls into a ‘I know everything’ state and can cause you to stay in a trade too long, causing you to miss your green point or even worse your stop loss point which will see your return on a trade drop to zero.

The effects of autopilot mode don't just run trade to trade, they accumulate and cause you to ignore things that may be of importance to you.

The best way to avoid autopilot mode is by using constant reinforcement of the things that you ‘know’, imagine if everyday you drove there was an instructor sitting beside you reminding you exactly how to drive; it would be annoying but you wouldn't ever crash.

That’s kind of what you have to do with trading, so keep a trading notebook in that notebook you’ll keep a record of your trades, possible future trades, teams or individuals to watch, notes and from that you'll get your own set of winning rules.

Rules will come from following advice you read on betfairtradingtips.com and more importantly they’ll come from the experience you gain and you can only really profit from that experience if you write it down as you go along. Continually reviewing and learning from your notes is the essence of staying in learning mode.

As you look back on your records you’ll notice patterns, what you did when you won, what you did when you lost, from those patterns you’ll be able to determine your own set of rules. So for instance if you look at your trading notebook and you see that you’re winning the majority of time on a cricket draw lay bet,  and you tend to lose on a football correct score bet, then it’s obvious what you should be doing more of and what you should be avoiding.

This may seem like obvious advice, but when you are winning it's easy to slip into the bad habit of trying to extend your winning streak by jumping on the first trade that comes along; I call it the happy jump and it's one of The 5 Most Common Reasons For Losing Money On Betfair.

Ultimately we are creatures of habit and if we don’t pay attention to the habits we’re getting into then we’ll get into the wrong habits; winning is a habit and the best way to keep that habit is; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Good luck and happy trading

The Zen Trader