Matched Betting

A few months ago I became aware of the term matched betting (I am very busy not slow on the uptake) and was intrigued to know more about something I had never heard of. On closer inspection I saw that the term was just another name for bonus arbitrage and an attempt at dressing up an old chestnut so that it can marketed all over again as "no risk, regular income from your home!", which it isn't. There are risks, income is not guaranteed and short-lived if it is.

Bonus arbitrage is a form of pure arbitrage. In pure artibtrage you are attempting to buy and sell something at different prices so that an immediate profit is locked in. For example, you might agree to buy something at £2 and at the same time you have someone waiting to buy that same item from you for £3. If all goes well then you have made a £1 profit. However, if on paying your £2 to receive the item the buyer reneges on the deal then you are left with a £2 item that you don't want. You are down £2. This same problem rears itself in bonus arbitrage.

All bookmakers are competing with each other and the exchanges for your business. Bookmakers will often put up offers to attract new accounts. Such offers might be a free bet, an add-on (e.g. you put £100 into your account and the bookmaker adds another £100), a money back guarantee in certain situations (e.g. your money back if there is a red card in a soccer match) or there will be some sort of rebate.

In bonus arbitrage you are essentially doing the same as in pure arbitrage, backing and laying an outcome to turnover your capital to qualify for the bonus. Although you can be more lenient as far as the buy and sell prices are concerned because the bonus will compensate you if the lay price is the same or slightly higher than the back price. However, care must be taken to account for a price differential and commission charge that might eat into any potential bonus.

Bonus offers are loss-leaders given by bookmakers to get you to open a new account. You cannot expect regular offers, if you are a winner. You could well be shown the door. As soon as your account is open and you have placed your first bet you are just an ordinary bettor thereafter. Matched betting is supposedly "a risk free income for life". However, there are just not enough bookmakers to achieve the second part of that bold claim and the first part is not true.

There will often be various conditions that will come with these offers. An obvious condition being that you cannot withdraw your money unless you have turned over your capital so many times. In other words you cannot withdraw your money after getting the bonus and not having placed a bet. The bookmaker is hoping that you gamble away your bonus.

If you perform a bonus arb correctly then the losing back side of the arb will be with a bookmaker and the winning lay bet will be on an exchange. To all intents and purposes you have lost money to the bookmaker, Betfair or other exchanges won't be bothered that you won the lay bet because you are taking money from another trader. However, there is a condition that is never mentioned, bookies don't like arbers (people who use arbitrage). If you start winning money on the bookmaker side of the arb or it is obvious that you are arbing then life will made difficult for you.

Just as casinos pass information between each other about card counters at blackjack tables (see Griffin Book) so bookmakers pass information between each other too. Bookmakers run a blacklist database and it is common for an arber to get multiple exclusions or closures from many bookmakers at once as soon as an arber has been flagged. One would think that makes bookmaking a cartel but the authorities let it pass. Bookmakers know amongst themselves who is opening multiple accounts (probably with the assistance of credit card and other payment agencies) so don't imagine that you are pulling the wool over the bookmakers' eyes. After all, bookmaking is not a charitable organisation and you are not a charitable cause.

Even if you do hide your intentions and manage to get an arb on then you will soon have your account restricted to the point where you will only be able to bet a pound or two and that is hardly going to pay the weekly bills. Eventually, your account will be closed altogether and that "regular income stream" has suddenly become a dry well. Worse, a bookmaker may decide that it has made a "palpable error" in other words, you got the better of the bookmaker's mistake and the bet will be reneged on. You will receive your stake back and your account could well be restricted or closed thereafter. This also means that the other leg of your arbitrage is now left bare and so you better start praying it wins.

Matched betting is not a get rich quick scheme, there are no such schemes. You could well lose if a bookmaker decides not to pay out and the other leg of the arb loses. Any profits made will soon dry up as the number of new accounts you can create dries up too. Untold wealth there is not. Think about it for one moment. If matched betting is risk free and guarantees wealth then everyone would be doing it to the exclusion of all else. Bookmakers would go bankrupt. Exchanges would become moribund. Both are alive and well because matched betting is not what it promises to be.

You may have noticed books with Matched Betting in their titles on Amazon, many authored by the same person. I don't recommend that you waste money buying any of those books. You only have to look at the sales ranks for those books to see that few people touch them. Most of the "glowing" reviews for the books are unverified by Amazon and may have been written by people who either don't exist or who have never read the books, if you get my drift. Besides, you have learned everything you need to know about matched betting by reading this article.

Although matched betting is not a scam, the selling of books telling you how to do such a simple activity is a scam. Such books contain no more than what I have told you and are just published to take your hard-earned arbitrage money from you. Another scam you will see is perpetrated by the many websites extolling the virtues of matched betting. These websites usually carry affiliate links to bookmaker accounts so that they can make money from your opening of a new bookmaker account. Try leaving a negative comment about matched betting on these websites and your comment will be deleted.

Bookmakers are aware of bonus arbitrage and make it harder to achieve year on year to the extent that offers soon dry up. They will tolerate it to a small degree in the hope that you make a mess of it and if you don't then you will be restricted or closed down. Matched betting might make for a short-lived diversion for some people with no interest in sports betting, who just want to make a little money before moving on to something else. Something like stoozing, doing surveys for cash, offering yourself for paid medical experimentation or whatever else is today's easy money ploy. Eventually, all roads lead to hard work.

By all means give matched betting a try but don't expect to get rich and to be doing it for the rest of your life from a sunny beach. Do not pay a penny for books on matched betting nor to websites offering you an easy income from the comfort of your own home. Often these websites will include matched betting in their ebooks. The only way to make a long-term regular income from betting markets is through sports betting and trading and there are no short-cuts. Also, don't blow your easy money on sports trading without having fully researched how you are going to gain an edge and certainly don't try scalping.

Further Reading

How To Get Out Of A Bad Scalping Trade

Every so often I like to look at the search enquiries that brought people to my website through Google. Here are today's enquiries with my answers after each one. 

"how to get out of a bad scalping trade betfair" 

By not getting into a scalping trade in the first place. 

Do not under any circumstance try averaging or double-down with a Martingale. I do suggest that you take the loss and then learn something from the experience by reading this website.

"best methods for betfair scalping" 

Other than closing your eyes, clicking the Back or Lay button at random and then clicking the other button after 1 second, there are no "best methods". However, vendors of third-party trading software will tell you otherwise and so too will people who learned all about scalping 10 minutes ago.

"betfair horse trading back early"

The early bird catches the worm, I think. 

"betfair money way" 

Probably some marketing nonsense. 

"betfair scalping" 

See answer to "best methods for betfair scalping". 

"how many car lengths is a second in horse racing" 

That is some weird imagery. I don't think there's any edge in it though. 

"how many horse lengths per second" 

For some reason I get a lot of websites with half-naked females asking this question therefore I don't think I can give an answer that would "satisfy" the questioners. You can also read this page.

"its all about data by matthews trenhaile" 

Former odds compiler Matthew Trenhaile disappeared from the sports trading ether a number of months ago but yes, it is all about data. 

"spread trading" 

Not something I have dealt with since trading index and oil futures. It's pretty much dead as far as sports trading is concerned.

Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks

Joseph Buchdahl, author of Fixed Odds Sports Betting and How to Find a Black Cat in a Coal Cellar, has a new book out called Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks: The Science, Psychology & Philosophy of Gambling. The book requires more than one reading to understand its full import. I hope my review after just the first reading can do justice to such a weighty tome.

The introductory chapter contains a spoiler alert "this book will not provide you with a winning system". The get rich quick mob need read no further. Students of probability and risk will find the book very satisfying. By student I mean all of us who leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of knowledge. The book will provide you with a rationale as to why you gamble and your chances of success.

The early chapters contain the obligatory history of probability theory and of gambling, the latter with an emphasis on morality. Reading the history of probability theory again was no chore, in fact the chapter is very concise, the most complete single chapter history of chance that I have read. Starting with Pascal and de Fermat, through Laplace and Heisenberg and ending up at quantum, chaos and game theories

Mankind has probably (though I shan't bet on it) been gambling since pre-history. Indeed life itself is a gamble, for early humans more so as they struggled to compete against far stronger animals. Instinctively, humans are pattern matchers. Even when no pattern exists they try to look for order. Such behaviour has been found in other primates and even birds so pattern matching is probably some sort of survival tool for food discovery and danger avoidance. Without risk taking it is conceivable that humans would not have evolved at all.

The biological imperative for risk taking is amply covered by Buchdahl. Men (and it is usually men who gamble) have a need to prove themselves, a need to show off to potential mates. Gambling is a modern day alternative to preening oneself and challenging a rival to a fist fight, although that is still an option. Buchdahl also informs us of the neurochemical reasons for us to gamble. Evidently, we get a kick out of it win or lose (in some cases leading to addiction) to go along with any potential financial reward.

For much of history gambling has been regarded, usually by theologians, as little more than theft whilst the financial world is regarded as being for the common good. Prior to the 20th century it had been thought that we lived at the will of God in a deterministic world. Even great scientists of the time felt they were merely describing God's will. Yes, there was randomness in nature but it was God who decided what happened and when. Starting in the 20th century we became aware of uncertainty. Quantum theory shows that we cannot predict anything with certainty and that if there is a God then he does play dice, much to the chagrin of Einstein.

Today we can trade on a sports exchange as though we are stock traders and the supposedly moral investors in the financial markets can dream up toxic financial instruments with which to play in financial casinos. There is a confused dividing line between betting and investing, if there is a line at all. Since 2008 it is obvious even to the man in the street that betting and finance are pretty much the same.

The book moves onto more familiar ground with risk and reward but with the addition of rationality. Gamblers do not always make rational decisions and cognitive bias can affect the way we perceive information. Many often know they are betting into a negative edge but continue to do so in the belief that they will win regardless. The author gives his own example of betting against Germany in the 2014 World Cup on some flimsy defensive information and his own Englishman's bias against successful Germans not to mention overlooking the offensive power of the German team.

The luck of both bettors and sports players is considered in a chapter of its own. Buchdahl demonstrates that as skill increases the difference between players diminishes and luck plays more of a role in success. In any sport there is always a winner be it the last man standing in a knockout tournament or the one who scored the most points in a league. As sports science improves technique and nutrition we see the top echelons of every sport become larger such that there is little to differentiate between opponents. The deciding factor can then only be luck.

The same is true of sports bettors. Technological improvements in bet placement, data capture and data processing means that bettors are more informed than ever. This makes price discovery more efficient. As pricing becomes more efficient then the deciding factor between bettors is increasingly coming down to luck. The same is true of financial investing. Maybe this is why financial markets turn to inventing increasingly exotic instruments to play with.

The final chapters cover investigations into market efficiency and the wisdom of the crowd. How we are often fooled by success when in fact we are just a lucky outlier. Tipsters too are brought to task, the vast majority are just "monkeys throwing darts at a board". Websites that aggregate tipsters are utilising the wisdom of the crowd but neglecting losers in a classic example survivorship bias. Other tipsters are proven to be just downright criminal with doctored results and collusion.

There are a few who make large profits from sports and financial gambling. They tend to be highly motivated, highly skilled and able to discover private information that sets them apart from the rest so that mean regression does not pull them down amongst the crowd. To match them takes a lot of hard work and none of the naivety of the majority.

With this book Buchdahl has excelled himself again. Squares & Sharps, Suckers & Sharks is a thoughful book and a refreshing read compared to the usual fare. This book is as much required reading as Ziemba's Efficiency of Racetrack Betting Markets.

I recommend all of Joseph Buchdahl's books as an almost complete course on sports betting and trading. I also recommend that you read them in reverse order of publication with this being book being the first you read. Everything you need to know about finding edge and making the most of it is covered in these three books. Add to that the psychology of gambling and you will have a head start on the herd.

What Can a Trading Course Teach You in a Day?

How to switch a computer on? Other than that I struggle to see why you would want to go on a trading course. If you are at a loss as to how to trade and deem it necessary to go on a course then you would be wise to save your money because you won't learn anything useful on a trading day course. If you do learn something then I suggest you are so underprepared that I doubt you have a future as a trader.

Some of these courses are set up by software vendors to show you how to make the most of their software. The software is pretty easy to understand so again I don't see the need for such courses. In addition to learning how to push a mouse around a table these and other courses teach manual trading. And what kind of manual trading can you learn in a day? Well, it's our old money losing friend, scalping. 

I have written quite a few articles on what I think of scalping so you can read them later. For this article I will define scalping as "the almost superhuman art of looking at a fast moving market and predicting where prices will move to, how far and how fast, placing a trade, a limit to take a profit and a stop to limit your losses, in the blink of an eye, doing it often enough to make more than you would in a low-paid job and winning more than you lose." And you will lose.

Yes, I've seen the videos showing how easy scalping is too. But, have you seen all the failed videos where trades didn't work to plan? It's a simple scam using survivorship bias. Only show the successful videos so that the gullible get taken in. With so many winning scalpers on YouTube it can only mean that scalping is easy, right? Wrong!

"So what happens on a course? There's no hiding there," you say. Indeed there isn't. I have heard from people on many courses where the teacher has made a loss on the day. I don't know what last year's excuse was but I am sure this year's will be, "Since Brexit..." After you have paid so much money to do a course you will want to believe anything you are told to justify your outlay. 

On some courses the teacher will get lucky and the students will go away with the confirmation they needed. In the courses where a loss was made by the teacher, the obvious excuse is, "Of course, you are not going to win everyday but look at the amount of money in my Betfair account! Want to see my YouTube videos?" More often than not if the student is gullible enough to fork out that amount of money then they will believe any excuse.

If you are in need of education when it comes to trading then you need to think about the kind of trading you want to do. "I'll do anything that makes money," is not an answer. Do you intend being a fundamental trader, a trader who looks at past performances to derive odds for future performances because you enjoy looking at reams of sports data? Maybe you want to be a technical trader, trading market structure and psychology but still needing to calculate probabilities (from reams of data) with which to find an edge. You can also mix the two types of trading together to find the optimal time (technical) to bet on an entrant with an edge (fundamental). Either way, you need to be learning maths not a simple IT course called "Fifty Ways to Lose Money with Software".

The problem with these day courses is that I don't see anything on the mathematical side of trading being taught, which is by far the most important weapon in any trader's arsenal. Knowing how to calculate the probability of something, be it the likelihood of price corrections or the future performance of an entrant is a necessary skill. Without a probability you have no odds (1/probability, for the beginner) and so you are betting blind. And what can you calculate in the blink of an eye, off the top of your head, when you are sitting in front of a screen looking at a market that is changing so fast, either during the event or just before it begins? Nothing. It's as simple as that.

But some people do make money from sports trading. It's only about 10% of traders who do profit from sports trading but I bet none of them went on a day long trading course. Most likely, the only courses winning traders went on was a degree with a large mathematical content or they were sufficiently talented to have been self-taught. They will have realised that in a fast moving market they need automation and a mathematical model that waits for a trade with plenty of edge before trading. Unless they are fundamental traders placing one or two bets on an event long before the start then they will be algo-traders.

An algo-trader uses an automated trading system. Algo-traders leave nothing to chance, neither trusting human instincts nor the fallibility of human emotions, unlike manual traders. Why bother looking at a fast moving market, not fully understanding what is going on and manually firing in speculative bets, averaging when the bet goes against you, throwing in a Martingale to chase losses and hoping the market goes your way? 

If you are a fundamental or technical trader you will have historic data with which to build models of how you believe prices will move thus giving you an edge that you can trade on. You cannot just switch on a computer, look at a trading ladder, fire in a bet and hope everything goes the way you hope it will. Not even a quick scan of the Racing Post over breakfast and having a television (with a delayed feed) next to you whilst you trade will help.

If you haven't guessed what I think of trading courses then let me be succinct. You will learn nothing on one of these courses other than how to use the vendor's software, which is probably the only thing the vendor wants you to learn because you have to pay a subscription fee (on top of your course fees) to use the software. Whatever else you are taught is just to give you a reason to try and use the software. Win or lose the vendor will be getting your subscription fee. Non-vendor trading teachers are just trying to shift ebooks full of scalping nonsense, other loss making ideas or they might throw you the bonus arbitrage bone. Do you really think that merchant banks send traders on a day course to learn how to use their trading desk or do they ask the trader for a list of qualifications and relevant experience?

Manual trading of sports events has had its day. Nearly all open outcry trading pits have disappeared from financial trading. Overwhelmingly, financial trading is automated and sports trading is catching up fast. You need speed and that requires automation, both for gathering data and executing trades. You need solid mathematical knowledge with which to build models for your automated trading bots to trade with. Full automation gives you the power to trade multiple markets simultaneously thus scaling up your income. Automation removes emotion from your trades. Automation takes a winning strategy and maximises your return on investment. Trading courses are not fit for purpose.

Shannon Entropy Formula

I am a regular reader of the occasional posts on SportsTrader. The posts are signed Matekus and after a little searching I found a defunct blog about US horse racing by an "applied mathematician" called Matt Matekus. The first post on SportsTrader carries a scant biography.

According to my career script, I expected to become a successful, self-employed, consultant and to retire in late middle-age to the west coast and study mathematics. Actually, I achieved the initial career goal relatively quickly and lived the lifestyle I had anticipated for a short while only to be trumped by entropy.

(I have since discovered a forum poster by the name of JF Dinneen referring to the SportsTrader blog as his own so either Matt Matekus is a pseudonym or I am mistaken. It has no bearing on this article.)

Coincidentally, having been "trumped by entropy" a recent post by Matekus concerns entropy, which Wikipedia so handily defines as "a measure of the number of microscopic configurations Ω that correspond to a thermodynamic system in a state specified by certain macroscopic variables". Does that have you begging for more? Okay, then we shall continue.

There is a brief mention of entropy in Epstein's The Theory of Gambling and Statistical Logic, which also mentions my early work with genetic programming in the EDDIE project. Having read Epstein's brief mention of entropy in his book I wondered if there was any use for it in sports trading. I didn't see anything so we will delve further into what Matekus has to say but first a little more about what entropy is.

Initially, the term entropy was used in physics to describe the dissipation of useful energy within a natural system. Since then the term entropy has been used in all manner of ways. In physics entropy can be used to describe the heat death of the universe whereby stars convert the energy in hydrogen into heat, light and heavier elements. This process continues until all energy is dissipated (but not lost - First Law of Thermodynamics), the universe cools to near absolute zero and goes dark. There is no Restaurant at the End of the Universe as that would violate the first law.

The term entropy was borrowed by Claude Shannon the "father of information theory" (who gave rise or assistance to a host of gamblers) as a measure of information content. Matekus uses Shannon Entropy to determine a Wisdom of the Crowd Index. I am all for traders creating their own metrics rather than using the "out of the box" financial trading studies you find in third party sports trading software. Those studies have no place in sports trading (with the exception of the moving average) and it's debateable if they have any place in financial trading either.

Shannon uses entropy to measure how much information can be got out of a system. Imagine a baby who has just learned to say "da". The baby has a vocabulary of just one word and uses it to say, "da da da da da" all day long. There is little to no information in that single word. Does it means "dad", "hello" or "I just filled my nappy"?

As the baby grows older they will add words to their vocabulary and might eventually say, "Me hungry". Not gramatically correct but the increasing vocabulary allows for more information to be conveyed. Finally, the child will become an adult and on a business trip might phone to hotel reception and say, "Can you bring my breakfast to room 542 at 8:30AM. I would like toast, cereal, orange juice and coffee. Thank you." The adult vocabulary has increased further with a much greater information content.

Shannon Information is given by

where p is the probability of the ith piece of information occuring.

For a baby with a vocabulary of one word the probability that the baby will say that one word is 1.00 therefore the Shannon Information is zero.

If we have an unbiased coin the Shannon Information is

p(heads) = 0.5 & p(tails) = 0.5

Therefore H= -[(0.5 log2 0.5) + (0.5 log2 0.5)]

= 1.0

For a biased coin

p(heads) = 0.6 & p(tails) = 0.4

Therefore H= -[(0.6 log2 0.6) + (0.4 log2 0.4)]

= 0.97

Interesting? No, I don't think so either. The reason being is that this measure is a trailing indicator. It makes no prediction about future prices, which is what we are trying to do when finding edge. After all, if you know a coin is biased then you are going to jump on every bet with Kelly Criterion and to hell with the "entropy of a closed system".

Joseph Buchdahl, author of How to Find a Black Cat in a Coal Cellar, delved deeper into the effectiveness of Shannon Information with an article that compared opening and closing odds.

All the Wisdom of the Crowd Index tells us is how mixed up the market prices are. From zero, if all the odds are the same to 1.0 when a winner is known. I don't see how entropy is related to the Wisdom of the Crowd. They are two different things altogether.

Wisdom of the Crowd is the act of information entering into a system, the more the better. A single bettor won't add much information to a betting market, thousands will. Entropy does not take into account the number of bettors. A single bettor could place a few bets and move prices away from their true values. What we know from Efficient Market Hypothesis is that by the time the event has started the large number of bettors in a betting market have generated a pretty good idea as to what the true odds should be. 

Whilst I enjoy reading SportsTrader, sometimes the website appears to be just a series of thought exercises rather than anything useful. Still, each and every post makes me think that little bit harder.

Genetic Doping in Sport

The recent Olympiad in Rio reminded me of the subject of genetic doping. There is always talk of chemical doping whenever the Olympics are held. This time the whole Russian athletics team was banned from the games because of a national doping programme in Russia, although Russia was allowed to enter other events.

Pure genetic doping is the use of gene therapy to improve athletic capability. So far there have been no reported cases. Time forbids me to go down the route of researching what WADA is doing to combat future genetic doping but I am sure the agency is working on it.

The Olympics reminded me of gene doping because it became apparent that genetic doping is probably not necessary. It would appear that a liberal approach to migration and/or a cheque book is sufficient to dope your team with world class sports genes. Look at the athletics team from Bahrain that contains no Arabs, just West African sprinters and East African distance runners. Importing genes into your talent pool is certainly a lot cheaper than building a genetic doping programme. Genetic doping is also hit and miss whereas you know what you are getting when you pay for someone to change their nationality.

Ever since Kip Keino started winning middle distance gold medals in the late sixties the writing was on the wall for white distance running athletes. Would Britain have won another distance medal after Coe, Ovett and Cram if it had not been for the good fortune of a Somalian falling into the laps of the British Olympic Association (BOA)? With Kenya having hundreds of distance runners superior to any white runner, many western nations open their cheque books and add Kenyans to their teams.

When it comes to the Olympics the biggest race of all is the one to the top of the medal table. The BOA with its lottery money has become very adept at channelling funds to where there is potential for medal success. So much so that only the mighty US economy could prevent Great Britain from heading the table. Where there is no talent no funds are given and so Great Britain doesn't compete in sports such as water polo, basketball or volleyball.

Professional sports leagues around the world have been importing talent for decades. You only have to look at basketball's NBA in the US or England's Premier League to see the corporatisation of sport. Club sport has been "genetically doping" for years. Would the English Premier League be what it is if we turned the clock back to the 1970s where the only "exotic" players came from Scotland or Ireland?

People pay to see the best, which attracts money in the form of sponsorship and bidding for television rights. The result is a National Basketball Association that is less national and the English have only a 30% representation in the Premier League.

In one way this is good because I always feel a little uneasy when flags are waved and anthems played at sporting events. During the recent Euro 2016 soccer championship I waited until the scheduled kick-off before watching a game so that I could avoid the cringing anthems. Why do they bother? Portugal, the winners of this years event, has had its fair share of Brazilian and African players, Germany has its Turkish genetic compliment, France with North African genes and England with West Indian genes.

It would appear that genetic doping is not necessary in this modern globalised world. The television screens are full of images challenging our idea of what a nation is. Politicians (and their wealthy corporate backers) tell us that global markets and free movement of labour are important. If you want the best sports team then you buy talent in from across the globe.

So why bother with national teams in the Euros or the Olympics? Why not change the UEFA European Championship into a European leagues championship. England might then have a chance of winning if they fielded a team consisting solely of continental Europeans (only to lose to Spain in the final every four years).

What is the point of telling us that nationalism is so 20th century but every four years we have the Olympics or the Euros? George Orwell is quoted as having said that "sport is war minus the shooting". Whilst the USA and China tiptoe around the South China Sea and avoid direct conflict, they can battle for supremacy of the gold medal table in the Olympics. In the past, the Soviet Union was the Olympic foe of the United States. Now, with Russia being (if only slightly) less autocratic and caring a little more for the needs of its people there is less money to be spent on sport. In Russia sport has to depend on wealthy oligarchs or good old fashioned chemical doping for success.

The US has its collegiate sports system churning out gold medalists, Team GB has its targetted lottery money and China its command economy. So how do other nations catch up, if chemical doping brings shame upon you and you are either not wealthy enough or big enough a country to have the talent?

Whilst some will argue against the ethics of genetic manipulation at the chromosome level, is genetic manipulation on the citizenship level any different? When Mo Farah wins gold for Britain in the Olympics would he have done so if he had no East African genes? And when he soon retires do we make do with genetically British runners again or do we cast the net far and wide?

It is a difficult question to answer. Should the IOC say that only people born in the country they represent can participate? What if, through no fault of their own, people end up living in another country. Maybe their parents moved when they were an infant. But flagrantly buying up talent from around the globe does leave a bad taste in the mouth. Would people still watch the Olympics if we did away with national teams and just invited the best athletes from around the globe to attend?

The paralympics has a coding system so that various types of paraplegics enter a particular event so, for example, there are many sprint finals for people in wheel chairs, amputated legs or for the blind. Maybe a future Olympic games will have events for indigenous, chemically doped, genetically altered and non-country of origin competitors.

I am not sure if this will have any affect on sports trading. Maybe you would have to factor in "imports" if a sport's governing body was to change their rules to allow "corporate" rather than national teams (an example of which is the UCI running a trade team time trial but a national individual time trial at the cycling World Championships). If you are betting on how many gold medals Great Britain will win in the Olympics you would have to account for genetic imports too.

Big Boobs - Diary of a Losing Trader

Wow! You have to admire Cassini's balls, green all over though they be. His latest post details the exploits of Big Pairs, a blog I have read with a sack load of salt since it was first published. Big Pairs is written by a chap who refers to himself as a CEO and Amateur Sports and Forex Trader. From reading his litany of disastrous trades one has to wonder what he is the CEO of, a market stall?

I have been referring to Big Pairs obliquely in posts such as A Root for Squares and Setting Realistic Targets as I know that Big Pairs is very sensitive to criticism and so I wanted to spare his blushes. Cassini now obviates that need. Those who only slightly berate Big Pairs for being woefully inadequate as a trader are usually banned.

As Cassini points out, Big Pair's blog is a reincarnation because all of his earlier posts have been deleted and with good reason too. More often than not bankrolls in his earlier posts were revised and losing systems were dropped so as to hide the author's failings as a trader.  Pointing out these anomalies got me banned from any further communication.

I can never believe what I am reading on Big Pairs, it just doesn't come across as someone who is as highly placed within a company environment as he purports to be. There is a certain lack of maturity in the writing and not the kind of expectations from life that I would expect from a CEO, and so I find anything he says hard to believe.

The trading posts themselves are laughable. If you take the time to read through them in chronological order then you will see that nothing adds up. And, if you can't add up (the most basic of mathematical skills) then trading is probably not for you. It's a good job that Big Pairs is a CEO and not a CFO (Chief Financial Officer) otherwise he wouldn't even have a day job to fall back on.

Big Pair's trading "systems" are naive at best and if any of them are producing profits (which I doubt) then it is just lady lucky smiling benevolently at a fool before she pulls the rug from under him. The breadth of his mathematical knowledge again casts doubt on his being a CEO. The naivity of his systems means that Big Pair's bankroll has been heading south for sometime now but still, in his mind, he will become a successful trader. I think not.

Big Pair's Twitter account has plenty of followers "liking" his every utterance. Although my hypothesis on why that is so is that his followers enjoy seeing an idiot crash and burn in real time and they are just egging him on. I worry that following his outing as an incompetent he will now delete his blog and Twitter accounts and come back with a new nom de plume with which to spin his tales.

My problem with blogs such as Big Pairs is that for the unknowing they create the impression that anyone can become a trader. Thankfully, in this incarnation of the Big Pairs blog, the author is now admitting that he is losing, albeit temporarily before he becomes the next Gordon Gekko or Jordan Belfort. At least he has decided that he likes working after all and will not be retiring to become a full-time trader. Funny but I have never regarded my occupation as retirement. I seem to be working harder than ever.

Obviously, Big Pair's screen grabs from his Betfair account show that he has money to burn. Although, I would have expected a CEO to have a far larger bankroll. It's the people reading his blog that don't have that sort of money that I worry about. I don't care if Big Pairs loses all of his money. He has advertised more than adequately that he doesn't know what he is doing and that he has no time for critics. It's the people who believe him to be a good trader (when he isn't) and who want to emulate him (by losing money they can't afford to lose) that I worry about.

For many traders who have a website their blog is an extension of their ego. I hope that my ego doesn't stand out too far from a (hopefully) truthful account of my research activities. I know that some readers expect to see free strategies and to be led by the hand to immense wealth. As I have said before "an edge shared is an edge halved" so you can't expect my strategies to be discussed. This blog is about informing you that a positive edge is hard to come by, that your edge should be hidden from prying eyes and that profits are never guaranteed. All else is luck and good fortune.

Finally, I would like to make a plea to other traders who write blogs not to create the illusion that trading is easy and that everyone profits (90% don't!). We have a responsibility towards others to be honest because there is the potential for lives to be financially ruined and worse. And please, stop publishing photographs of yourself on holiday, "living the life" because being stuck at a desk longer than the average office worker is no life at all!