About

A Twitter user was confused as to what has motivated me to write two books relating to sports trading. That is an admirable question because I too have questioned the motivations of others and so it is only fair that someone should question my motivations.

The questioner was directing his comment at my latest book, Betfair Trading Techniques and asked, "If you treated Betfair as a hobby that only paid a small amount, would you write and publish a book on your Betfair trading techniques?" The simple is answer is, my hobby is electronics and why not publish a book on trading techniques? After all, the book contains none of my trading strategies, just techniques that I have found useful in aiding the search for edge. What would be the point of giving away strategies, they would lose their edge within a month of publication. My books give readers tools for trading and analysis. How readers use those tools is up to them.

I never build up the hopes of those who read my books. I always make it clear that the majority of sports traders and bettors will lose money. I do not shy away from that fact but so many other writers, software vendors, video makers and course providers do. Trading is a zero-sum game. Losers compensate the winners. Factoring in commission and highly professional syndicates (including court/pitch/track siders) means that the number of losers must far outnumber winners.

If my books demonstrate to someone what they are up against and they decide that they don't have the time and/or the ability to continue trading then I will regard that as a success and not as a lost subscription. I would rather someone does not lose money if they are unable to make any money from trading.

With regards to my other book, Programming for Betfair, some have questioned, "How can a full-time trader have time to write a book?" This question always comes from old-school manual traders who spend their lives inches from a screen. I am an algorithmic-trader and develop algorithms that trade on my behalf. Once an algorithm has been designed and tested it is implemented in code and monitored by self-coded trading bots. Doing so gives me plenty of free time that manual traders will never have. Turning traders away from manual trading and towards algorithmic trading is one of my prime motivations.

In my former career, I worked in the The City for a company called Reuters (now part of Thomson Reuters), designing software tools to assist financial traders. I saw all the greed and excess of The City and was more than happy to be offered redundancy during a market downturn. The fact that very few people have been sent to prison for fixing indices (here and here) and especially the sub-prime debt scandal has bolstered my view that I did the right thing.

Although it appears that nothing can be done to stop fraudsters in financial markets, I like to think that in a small way I can help steer sports traders in the right direction, away from fraudsters and those who only tell half-truths. By offering the right tools (not strategies) and pointing out fallacies and wrong-doings in sports trading I hope to give people the chance of setting out on the right foot.

Since leaving The City, I have become a consultant, and in my spare time I have often wondered if what I had done at Reuters could be adapted to sports trading. Like everyone else, I used third-party software for trading on Betfair and got locked into the grind of being a manual trader. It wasn't for me.

Emotionally, I am not suited to manual trading. I am not alone in that respect as most people aren't suited to manual trading. My strengths are in analysis not implementation. When I left The City, financial trading was moving away from discretionary (manual) trading and towards algorithmic trading, utilising quantitative methods. I decided that I was going to approach sports trading as a quant would when approaching financial trading.

I firmly believe that sports trading will come to be dominated by algorithmic trading concerns and that the manual sports trader will struggle to keep up. Manual betting will be solely the domain of the casual punter and 'fire and forget' bettors. A manual trader cannot trade multiple markets simultaneously to any great degree and therefore they cannot trade optimally or scale up their operation. Manual traders are prone to errors caused by emotions, tiredness, over-reaching their abilities etc. Quantitative methods allied to algorithmic trading methods gives a trader the best chance to find an edge, assuming there is one to be found.

Coming from a science background - a graduate of artificial intelligence - I am well-versed in technical writing. My books are a write-up of my methodology but in no-way 'give the game away'. As I often say, "An edge shared is an edge halved."

A curtailed academic career - I am too old to return to academia - resulted in my working in The City. Writing these books allows me to put down my research in print, as I would have if I had completed my PhD and was writing papers for publication in academic journals. No courses or training is provided, just research for the reader to do with as they see fit.

In short, my motivations are

  • Not to tell the lie that anyone and everyone can profit from sports trading.
  • That sports trading is a zero-sum game and that many losers have to compensate fewer winners and the commission taken out of the pool of money by exchanges and bookmakers.
  • To give anyone wishing to put in the work, a fighting chance, using quantitative and algorithmic methods.
  • At least to help people minimise their losses rather than fill them will false hopes of increased wealth.
  • To give vent to my skills as a technical writer.

I hope that makes my stance clear to all.

2 comments:

  1. Its hard not to be cynical these days, especially around this industry. Having read your latest book however, it is apparent you are offering valuable and imformative advise that will only enhance any purchasers profits. Thanks James

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