Friday, 29 April 2011


Back in the saddle tomorrow. It promises to be a busy day, a typical Saturday.

I've been itching to get into it all again. As I said yesterday, I had had no idea that the bets were still being followed. It has taught me that it's ok to let go of the reins sometimes. That doesn't come naturally. I say I like to be in control. Others say I'm sphinctorally (?) retentive.

What has surprised me is that when I learnt that we were still betting, I really wasn't that bothered to find out how it had all been going results-wise. I was more interested in how it had all been working mechanically. Had the bets been spread around the bookies? Were BOG bookies utilised when appropriate? Were the better prices being missed significantly more than was usual?

What does this lack of curiosity over performance levels show? Possibly that I have considerable faith in the services and tipsters that I am following. Taking a step away from it all has definitely shown me that when you're putting the bets on day in and day out, it is so, so easy to become absorbed by the here and now, and more and more difficult to see the bigger picture. It's all very simple to continually bash on about how performance must be viewed over the long term, but not so easy perhaps to put that self-preaching into practice. Being away from the action for a few days has made me realise this, and that is why the performance over the last few days is to my mind, less important than knowing that in my absence things have carried on as normal in terms of the actual placing of the bets.

Last week I mentioned in a post that I intend to simplify things moving forward, and I think perhaps that I ought to explain exactly what I mean by this. When things were going badly earlier this month, I found myself wasting a lot of time and nervous energy agonising over whether or not to drop a service for poor performance. I remember I did a similar thing previously with Sports Investor, and even made the cardinal sin of finally deciding to drop it, being lured back into following for a short period, and then dropping it once and for all. What a palaver!

I also think that when things are not going well, there is a very strong temptation to start meddling and tinkering. This is not good. I am convinced that consistency is key when trying to make money from using various services. Of course, minor adjustments need to be made from time to time, perhaps with staking for example, but generally speaking, consistency of approach is king. Knowing this though doesn't diminish the desire to start changing things when results are not going your way.

So I am going to absolve myself of any responsibilities re. deciding when exactly to drop services. I am going to pass that buck onto others; those with more experience than I. I imagine you realise who and what I'm referring to. And no, not the wife. Not on this one.

Back Sunday. Have a great weekend, chaps.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Strange goings on...

I thought I'd do a very quick post tonight, just to let folks know I've not gone away for good. I also thought I should post, because if this blog is really supposed to be a diary of events as they happen, then things should be kept up to date. And despite my break, things have been happening. To keep up to date. Oh, yes.

After I'd finished watching Lionel Messi rise above a sea of mediocrity and distance himself from the 21 big girls' blouses that happened to be on the same pitch as he last night, I came upstairs, Ovaltine in hand, to settle down with my book. There was a light on in the study (ahem, box room) and the sound of tapping keys. I had thought that Helen had gone to bed, but apparently not. I quietly walked in, peered over her shoulder. With my not being a ninja, she heard me, and quickly moved to shut down whatever was on screen. Well, this was role reversal, I thought!

Anyway, cutting to the chase, I exerted my manly dominance and forced the page back up. And there it was. Shocking! I was truly taken aback! How could she? I could never look at Helen in the same light again. Ever. Yep, my bloody spreadsheet was open. The one logging all the bets. Oh, the deception.

I might have been on a break, but it seems that Helen has not. It would appear that she has exploited the fact that the school she works at is closed this week but the school our children go to has not. While the cat has been away, she has been playing away - with the bookmakers. Perfect opportunity for her to get used to everything, she said. Bearing in mind our arrangement, she said.

Am I blessed, or cursed? I'll leave that to you to decide.

PS. Don't ask me how things have been going - I truly don't know. And her indoors has made me swear that I won't check until directly involved again in a couple of days time. The only thing I could get out of the devious cow was that we haven't lost any more than we had done, but it's still going to be a pretty bad month. Well, that's reassuring!

Friday, 22 April 2011


My wife and I stayed up late last night (over that extra bottle of wine I was telling you about) talking things over in great depth. The consequences of that conversation are going to have fundamental repercussions on my betting, I believe in a very positive way.

This past month has not been an easy one to contend with, in many respects. It has thrown a few things into sharp focus, and as anyone who has read the blog over the last couple of weeks will know, I had drawn the conclusion that a small downsizing of the portfolio was necessary to give me a little more time away from betting and more with family.

Although I could see this adjustment as being necessary, I have never felt comfortable with it. It is a cliche I know, but I see this betting 'operation' (which is a fancy word for it, I think) as a business. Certainly I have always treated it extremely seriously and have been aware of what needs to be done to give the 'business' every possible chance of succeeding. So taking a step backwards didn't sit well, and my wife knew it.

Not long after I started to write this blog, I told readers that on Sundays, Helen would take over the placing of the bets. Designed to give me a bit of a break, she learnt what was necessary very quickly. Are you beginning to see where this is all going now?

If the principle of collective responsibility is good enough for the Cabinet, then it appears that it is soon going to be good enough for this household. A full sharing of betting responsibilities shall be the order of the day. The only thing that won't be split is the writing of the blog. I'm afraid that as far as that is concerned, you're going to have to continue with me.

So what does this mean to the actual portfolio itself? First and foremost, it means that I don't need to downsize. But there were other things that came to light during last night's chat. In a nutshell, Helen believes that I am guilty of overanalysis. That I don't go with the flow enough (something I've admitted to in here in the past) and that the in depth stuff isn't necessarily my strong point. Thing is, I know she's right. What I believe I am good at is following orders. I'd have made a good soldier if not imbued with a built in fear of dying some horrible death on foreign fields, but as far as betting is concerned, I can still play to this strength.

What I propose to do is to simplify everything. To follow orders for a while and like a good legionnaire, not ever question those orders. In other words, I'm going to do what I'm told and go with the flow!

There is a current thread on the SBC forum within which some chap who uses the moniker "Floppyboy", raised a very good point. It was an observation that I had made myself a while ago. It relates to the seemingly everchanging nature of the make up of the Hall of Fame. The thread prompted me to do a bit of digging, to go back over the last two years and essentially re-enact the betting activity over that period of time. I set up my imaginary portfolio in December 2008, including the services that fit my criteria now, ie. relatively cheap! I would add and remove services at the recommendation of the SBC, and see where it took me performance-wise. To be honest, I had feared it wouldn't make for pleasant reading, but I was surprised. Performance was good; put it this way, it made a lot more over the two and a bit years than it lost. I admit that it wasn't a particulary scientific piece of research, as it relied simply on each month's SBC spreadsheet of returns which I believe make use of advised prices, which of course are not always obtainable. But even if I reduced the profit levels by 10-15% (in terms of cash profit, not roi, you understand), it still provided a healthy return. Certainly healthy enough.

I accept entirely that this does not generally mean that results will continue in this vein. For instance, I included the Premium Services that the SBC run and that meant that the good profits generated by the Each Way Value service were included. Of course, that particular service went bump recently and is no more. But such is the way of things when running a portfolio. I think we have to accept transition - services will come and go. We have to deal with that.

The other big consequence of my plans is that there may be one or two different services introduced and therefore the make up of the portfolio changed slightly. I'm not talking about big changes being made, after all the majority of services I follow are already SBC recommended. I also want to continue with The Football Analyst and On The Nose, neither of which are in the HoF (yet!).

Finally, we made some immediate plans last night too. If Alan is reading, he'll be pleased with this! I am going to take the rest of the month off. It will allow me to recharge the batteries. It's Easter weekend, the weather seems set fair, and it is an ideal time just to chill out with the kids. There is very little football action over the weekend - Football Elite and Skeeve have made no picks, there were only four FI tips for the first half of the weekend and no Strike Zone, so it seems a good time to stop for a while. Sure it means writing off April as a very bad month as there will be no chance to recoup those losses, but even so, I'm "only" £755 down on the year (performance wise). No doubt many services will rediscover their zest over the next eight days and I will miss out on that recovery, but the way I see it, it's the cost I'm prepared to pay for a wee holiday.

On the 1st May, I shall be back (or should that now be "we"!?!), refreshed and ready to go. I'm looking forward to it.

(Happy now, Alan?)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Back to normality?

Damn you, you fine wine, you! With your seductive airs and beguiling charms. One glass has led to another. And another. And another. Silly not to polish off the bottle now...a couple more others later...oh dear! You may have to excuse the odd typo!

Well, things have settled down a little this week (so far). No huge swings, although Tuesday stung a touch, but since Sunday results appeared to have regained some semblance of normality. The odd winner, horses backed each way running into the places. This is more like how it should be. No remarkable gains and still a long way down on the month, but things feel a little less fraught now. Perhaps it is just the effects of the wine. Summary of performance further down...

Last week Andy contributed a post which detailed the approach he takes to "managing" his bookmaker accounts. It was provoked by a thread in the SBC forum started by someone who was a little concerned by the failure of the Pinnacle Sports website, a symptom he recognised from the past suffered by a bookmaker that went bust. The one thing you don't want a bookmaker with whom you have lodged a considerable sum of money to do, is to go out of business. The chances of regaining your funds in such circumstances are negligible. Happily, Pinnacle were soon operating again, but the point remains. As serious gamblers we have to acknowledge the risk, however small, of losing out as something goes bump in the night.

Andy's thoughts (and I know it has been posted before, but as a reminder, especially to those who may have been drinking and forgotten some of the salient points)...

"Tonight (12th April) i saw a thread on the SBC forum where one member has expressed concern about the website outage of Pinnaclesports. He is rightly a little worried, as in the past he experienced a site go bust. I don't think this will be the reason in this particular case, but it is possible.

It brings me to an area of discussion where i hope to provide useful thoughts.

When the banks in the UK were going through the beginning of the rough patch, many people were worried that they could lose their money. I think now the government have guaranteed everyone will have personal savings secured to the sum of £50,000. What about the money we have in bookmakers accounts? How much of our money is guaranteed to be safe?

I don't actually know what would happen to my money in the event of the bookmaker going bust. I haven't looked into it, but there are ways to safeguard ourselves.

Those of you who (like me) may only have smaller banks might not worry so much at one bookmaker going bust, but those with larger banks might.

This is what i do..

At the beginning of each month i work out how much money i may need in the account for betting over the next 2 weeks. For example, if i have account with "Expekt", which i only use for a couple of bets each week, then i will only have a small amount of money in the account to cover the predicted amount of bets. If they lose, it is easy enough to transfer more money into the account.

I let all moneys sit in every bookmaker account until the end of the month. At the end of the month, if the total amount in that account is more than i might need for the next 2 weeks then i will withdraw everything over that amount. That way i can either have it sitting in my moneybookers account, or even better, taking it one step further and withdrawing it from moneybookers into my bank account, where it is guaranteed safety and will accumulate interest.

I hope this of some help to any of you. Also it would be good hear other peoples activities/thoughts on the matter.

Some years ago, I invested in a company that subsequently went bust. I lost my money. It was not a nice feeling. Last year I know of some people who had money lodged with a company that was set up to place bets on their behalf, promising that they could get bets on with bookmakers at decent prices. When following the likes of Equine Investments whose tips rapidly shorten in price, such a service must have held great appeal, particularly to those that were restricted by a lot of the high street bookmakers. When this company went bust, the money entrusted to them by their customers served only to pay the company's creditors which essentially means the tax man first and foremost. Whatever scraps are left after the Inland Revenue have taken what is owed to them are distributed amongst the remaining creditors which includes the people who provided the funds. I know a lot of folks that had entrusted their money to this company lost their investment. It must have stung.

So, in this light, is it sensible to have a lot of money lying in an account with a bookmaker? In the above context, no it isn't. I like Andy's solution to this problem as it seems to maintain a level of working capital whilst reducing the risk of being an unwitting victim to circumstances beyond our control. I shall start to take steps to follow Andy's lead. I suggest everyone else give this matter a little thought too. It could save a lot of heartache in the future, and there's enough of that involved with this game as it is, without adding to it unnecessarily.

Performance since Tuesday 19th April

Tuesday was depressingly familiar - a significant loss posted (-£174.10). Four racing services couldn't find a winner amongst seven tips and Sportyy had a fairly sizeable bet that went down too. An oh so familiar story this month.

A better day yesterday (+£126.20) as ProBandit found a nice 13/2 winner and Winning Racing Tips had a fairly substantial bet on a winner at 5/1. Truth be told, I was actually cursing WRT just ten minutes prior to the winner as a selection staked more heavily than any for a while ran an absolute shocker of a race and I had good reason to be fearful of yet another dreadful day materialising.

Very quiet today but a small profit (+£17.32). Chasemaster found two winners from four selections but at relatively short odds (2/1 and 11/8) and unfortunately one of the losers was carrying a larger stake so overall a small loss. WRT's tip finished third at 8s for a small return. The Sportsman advised a small wager on the 180s line in the Jenkins/van Barneveld Premier League Darts match tonight which was landed easily.

It's going to be quiet tomorrow - no racing! Still, I can do quiet. Especially after a month like this one.

Finally I want to draw your attention to an excellent blog and a truly superb post. The blog is "Secret Diary of a Professional Gambler" and it is written by an SBC member and regular contributor on their forum, a chap called Mat Hare. Mat's posts on the forum have always struck me as insightful and make very relevant points in a very succinct fashion. His most recent post has been written in light of the recent poor performance of many services and the worries expressed by some of those following. I have added a link to the blog under "Excellent Reads" (above right). This certainly is. It covers a lot of the ground we have in here, only Mat does it better. Go take a look.

Right. There's another bottle of wine downstairs. I can hear it calling...

Back tomorrow.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Perspective and context.

Following on from yesterday's post, there is one thing I want to make clear. The thinning out of the portfolio is very minor and is not being done because of the current losing run. The reasons behind it are simply that I need to free up a bit of time to spend doing something other than betting, recording betting results, thinking about betting, breathing betting, dreaming get the picture. My belief in the principles of portfolio investment have not changed - that diversification is preferable.

There is a thread currently running on the SBC forum in which many are questioning whether it is possible to make money long term by using the portfolio approach. I would contend that it is possible. It is not easy, but it is possible. When I take a step back and look at my own performance, judging purely on service returns I am just over £700 down for the year. Hardly titanic amounts, particularly when put in the context of the solid £6k of profits made since doing all this properly since the summer of last year.

When you look at the figures in this context, things aren't so bad. I appreciate that subscription fees need to be accounted for, but even after doing so, the figures are far from catastrophic. They certainly feel it because we're slap bang in the midst of a slump. Those demons are whispering in our ears, sowing seeds of doubt, leading us down the path of wondering if this is it, that a lot of the services have lost their edge, all at the same time, and that we are in freefall. They are telling us that we are in an aeroplane spinning out of control, crashing down to earth and soon to be consumed within a fireball of destruction, or something like that. Stupid really, to think like this. When things were all hunkydory in September (a month in which I made in excess of £2k), did I think that this was it, that it was smooth profit making from now on and lasting forever, that there was no downside to this gambling malarkey, no bad patches to endure? Did I bollocks!

Perhaps I'm deluded. Perhaps it is impossible to make decent money by following a portfolio of tipsters. But I don't happen to think that it is. I do think that pressure can lead to making bad decisions though. For example, it would be easy to reduce staking, but now is not the time to do it (in fact it is vital that staking isn't altered - that could potentially have negative ramifications that are felt for a very long time). I would rather take a break completely than start messing with my staking. No, now is the time to decide whether to have faith in the services followed, or not. If not, stop completely. If so, then back them to come good. These are the times that make or break the wannabe professional gambler, because these are the times to have the courage of our convictions and to make the hard call.

Last night, Graeme of The Football Analyst contributed possibly the best post I've read on the SBC forum. It was actually on a different thread, one relating to natural variance, but amongst a lot of other really good stuff, he said...

"I think at the end of the day, no matter how much you try to analyse tipsters and systems and the like, it comes to following the ones you believe in. If you don’t believe in it, you shouldn’t be following it. If you go broke following something you really believe in, I don’t think you can be too hard on yourself...

I think this game is much more than just picking systems which are profitable. If all systems were profitable with a 45 degree P&L graph, running a portfolio would be easy…….. It isn’t like that though!"

I'm not for one moment denying that if things were to continue downwards, then there would come a time when a complete reassessment and overhaul of the strategy would be necessary, and quite possibly a long-term halt drawn to proceedings. I'm not discounting the possibility of this happening. I would be stupid to dismiss the notion out of hand and to do so would be a display of arrogance that would make failure deserved. But what I am saying, is that I'm a fair way from reaching that point yet.

One last thing. Mr Gekko of the SBC - he's doing alright, isn't he? Even if he has the advantage of not having to pay subs costs (and I don't know if he does or doesn't), there is an example of someone who is making his portfolio investing produce dividends. If he can, why not anyone else?

Moving on and talking of excellent posts, Peter of the Chasemaster service left a superb comment after last night's blog post. If you haven't read it, please take the trouble to do so, it really is enlightening. I have a lot of thoughts about the issues Peter draws attention to, and those in itself need a proper blog post to do Peter's points justice. I've also not forgotten Andy's post last week about being aware of the possibility of bookies going bust and taking our money with them, and how he prepares for that eventuality. So much to talk about... but it might not be until Thursday before we make a start.

Performance since Friday 15th April

After all the losses suffered, Friday 15th felt like I'd won the lottery - a profit of £25.70!

Saturday 16th was a disaster, losing another £376.85. There were wipeouts from PJA NH which undid the work of the previous day's good winner, 4PA didn't cover themselves with glory, On The Nose went the same way as PJA and Northern Monkey found a winner but no profits. The football was not really any better with Skeeve having a blow out, Football Elite's one selection a loser, as was The Sportsman's. The day could have been so much worse though, were it not for Chasemaster who found two winners, one at 14/1 and the other at 8/1. Chasemaster has been one of the very few bright sparks in this oh so gloomy month.

Sunday 17th at least saw a profit although not on the horses where four services failed to produce a winner between them. But with Football Elite's tip a winner added to Sportyy's winner, a profit of £124.55 was chalked up overall.

Today was quiet and a small loss of £37.86.

Month to date: Staked £8,652.50, -£1,607.59, roi -18.57%.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Soul searching; and changes to the blog.

There seems to be something in the air and I think it is the odious stench of a nasty losing run. Reading Kodagira's blog last night, it seems that he has been asking himself similar questions I've been posing myself over the last couple of days. Funnily enough, fundamentally I think we have both decided, completely independently of each other, on very similar courses of action.

Before I start properly tonight, I want to say now that I am worried that this post might at times make me sound as if I am totally self-absorbed. I hope you realise that it isn't supposed to, and I'm not. I'm trying to write how I think and feel so that others in the same boat may relate to it. That way, if readers have their own ideas to add, we may all learn something about how to handle the tough times that this game we're playing (or considering playing) is so adept at throwing at us.

I want to base this post around a comment that Alan made after Thursday's post...

Our obvious advantage that we have over the bookies is that we have the option not to bet when things are proving difficult.
I was interested to read earlier in the month when you stated that you didnt mind losses early in the month as there was time to recover.
I disagree strongly with that opinion as my experience tells me that a start such as we had this month usually continues for the rest of the month and i also feel this is the month that the whole of this year has been building up to.
Huge losses are being built this month completely across the Portfolio spectrum and as i said in the SBC forum (which you disagreed with to a degree) i tend to find when it starts to go wrong, it all goes wrong!!
On a personal front, i stopped betting a couple of weeks ago and am very much on a "watching" basis at the moment. I have a total loss of 1100 quid which would have been considerably more if id continued, Ive dropped FE and Pro Bandit.
im staying faithfull to R Vaughan who is in the middle of an 80 point drawdown ( all be it a watching brief for now) as he had the same bad run last year yet still turned a 400 point profit!
But i definately see this as a new start come May and my only target for this year is to break even
I dont say that your portfolio is doomed but you have to look very closely at the situation and make some decisions.
Your family life should come first and i would suggest that you should give it your full attention and put them first.
There will always be sport to gamble on and new In form Tipsters to make you a profit so when you say that your mind set is that all your bad luck is somehow combined, i feel you should have a break and take stock of your situation and figure out the way forward without the hassle of betting to get in the way.
Its your call mate and whatever yoiu do im sure you will return to profit before the year end.
We enjoy your Blog but is the extra pressure of having your betting ups and downs for public viewing just adding to the pressure.
Put yourself first Rowan

It does feel that the last couple of months have seen various factors combine and mix to create a quite nasty brew. A bit like various fronts and areas of low pressure combining out at sea to create the perfect storm that April has seen reach the shoreline. From the calm, sunny days of the second half of last year, this month in particular has been dominated by days and days of incessant rain. Yep, it's been pissing down with no relent!

So what do we do about it? Alan is absolutely spot on when he says that there are times when we can exercise our choice to stop betting and watch. I don't think it is the wrong move to do so. As Alan has pointed out, by doing just that, he has saved himself from taking on even more losses, and considerable ones at that. Sounds a pretty decent idea from where I'm standing. But sitting and doing nothing is not for me, and I think the reason for it exposes a real weakness in my psyche; I am falling into the gambler's trap of thinking that I don't want to miss out on the recovery, which subconsciously, I'm sure I believe would start the very minute I stopped betting. I rationalise my decision by looking at the yearly results of the services I'm following. At many different points in time, those services will have reversed a downward trend, claw losses back, go into the realms of profit-making, before falling back again to repeat the process. There are peaks and troughs to the performance of any investment, and I wish to miss out on neither; I need to go through the cycle.

Where I think Alan is dead right, is a point that he doesn't explicitly make, but can be seen by reading between the lines. He was making losses, has stopped gambling, and is looking at May at being a "new start". Mentally, he is in a much better place with his betting. And if we agree that so much of this game is achieving the right mentality, then having a positive mindset is everything. Put another way, Alan's approach is absolutely the right move for him, and that is the crux of the issue when handling the bad times. I also get the impression that Alan has seen all this before, and has come out the other side. I for one, ain't going to knock that experience.

I've had a couple of long drives to and from Shropshire over the weekend which gave me the opportunity to come away from the mad routine of getting bets on, recording results, and all that is involved for a while, and do some serious soul searching. I needed to ask myself what fundamentally I was trying to do, and how I was trying to achieve it. I do think that when you get on that betting treadmill, it is very easy to lose perspective. Alan and a couple of other commenters have advised that family should come first, and of course, it should and does. But that prioritisation has happened in times of emergency and acute concern. What about on the day to day basis? Have I been spending too much time in front of the PC that I could have been spending with the kids? Has the difficult first quarter to this year caused me to be short sometimes with Helen and the children when really I should not have been? Does the fretting whilst wondering what the results are affected my mood in an evening, even if I am telling myself that it isn't? Am I checking my Iphone a little too often for race by race results so that I've not given the children quite the 100% attention they deserve when we're in the park, or the woods, or on the bikes? I think that the very need to mention that I have been asking myself these questions tells you the answers. Sadly.

So what to do? Well, the first thing is to deconstruct the portfolio (on paper), try and be objective, and see which services I truly believe in. I also needed to identify those that are putting too much of a burden on my time. By eliminating the services that I have even the slightest doubt over (of which there were honestly none), or which I do believe in but acknowledge that following is too time intensive, then the net result would be a thinning of the portfolio; a reduction in the number of services to follow and a consequent freeing up of "chill out" time. I wrote a post not so long ago on time management and I think in black and white terms, I have done a bloody good job in this regard. By taking a step back though, I can see that it came at a cost. I became so insular, so absorbed in what I was doing, that I lost sight of the end game. My wife, being the person she is, took up a lot of the slack to allow me more time that I felt I needed. She didn't ask me if I wanted her to, she just did it and if I'm honest, I should never have let her.

Which brings me to the blog. Alan asks if the public recording of results was putting too much pressure on me. It's a good question, and again I thought about this long and hard (between Sandbach and Whitchurch, if I remember!). I realised that the result recording wasn't an issue. After all, the services I follow are the ones many will be following, so if I'm doing crap, then so are many others. Anyway, I'm not precious. But, what was putting me under pressure was the obligation I felt to post every night. I put Cassini's "Green All Over" blog on a pedestal and realised that if the longest running blog on trading/gambling didn't post every day, then I shouldn't feel any reservations about following suit. Imitation being the best form of flattery and all that. So that's what I'm going to do from now. I will post when I feel like it (how hard am I? heh!) from now on. I can't ever see it getting beyond three or four days between posts. Often I will do consecutive nights or three on the bounce. But no longer will I be blogging when I'm knackered and all I want to do is drag myself off to bed with my book and a mug of Ovaltine (perhaps not that hard, eh!?!). This will materially affect results recording in the sense that I will no longer outline each winner or the daily performance of each service, but this blog was never about that anyway. After tonight, I will still give the figures on the month so far and make favourable mentions of particularly good tipping (or the opposite, of course). I hope that's ok.

In short, I feel as if I have taken two steps forward since halfway through last year, and now one step back. One lesson I have learnt is that I perhaps got a little carried away on the back of success in 2010. I have taken on too many services too quickly; haven't allowed myself mentally to adjust to following a bigger portfolio. By scaling down a little, I feel that I am building stronger foundations for the future, so that when the time comes to expand again (albeit at a more measured pace), then I will be building a house of brick and not straw.

Alan, the last four words of your comment were words that made me take real stock, and I believe they should every individual who is trying to gamble 'properly'. "Put yourself first". The start of doing just that, is to realise just what and who are the most important things in life. Get that bit right, then everything else is a bonus.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Fever Pitch

There is a line in the Nick Hornby book, 'Fever Pitch', where the author espouses the theory that his relationship with Arsenal was such that the performance of the team was inextricably linked to the way his life was going at any one time. Hornby questioned whether life was shit because Arsenal was shit, or the other way around.

Substitute 'Arsenal' for 'gambling performance', and that is currently how I feel. I don't want to come across as some melodramatic drama queen, but life is hell-bent on throwing forward a few challenges to overcome at the moment. My wife last week, my Dad this, it would appear. I find myself wondering if these challenges would appear so difficult to conquer if the gambling was going well. Would my wife have had a flare up in her eyes last week if I'd been on a winning run? It is a ridiculous notion to consider, even if only semi-seriously, but it does seem that April is to be a difficult month in every respect, and not just those aspects revolving around the betting.

I wasn't going to do a post tonight. I found out earlier this evening that my Dad had been admitted to hospital with the suspicion that he had suffered a stroke. He lives in Ludlow, I live about 100 miles north near Manchester. I'm extremely close to my Dad and I'm torn apart when my mother tells me that he is quite naturally frightened, confused, and at nearly 80, in awe of an acute realisation as to his own mortality. Obviously, I have to get down there, and will be travelling tomorrow.

So why am I blogging at all? This isn't like last week's brief hiatus when I knew that my wife would be fine after the drugs she was prescribed had a chance to kick in. That was more simply taking a couple of nights off so that I could do what she usually does each evening, thus helping her recuperate more quickly and to make Helen's life that little bit easier. This is more serious; this is the sort of thing that as an adult, you know you are going to have to deal with at some point, but dread nonetheless. But when I started this blog, my intention was to show how an ordinary, working bloke with a young family and a full time job, could make a go of making some decent money out of gambling. It was to demonstrate the emotions encountered, the practicalities to address, and the basics needed to do the job. So now that things are getting a little tricky, should it stop? To my mind, if it did, it would kinda defeat the object.

I hope you don't mind me writing so personally, and I am a little embarassed to do so; as I said before, I questioned whether I should post at all. But as I declared at the very beginning of this blog back in January, the intention was for it to be a full account of running a portfolio, warts and all, through good times and bad.

So the blog will continue, perhaps simply out of bloody-mindedness. But I am going to have to adapt it a little. It is simply going to prove to be impossible to post every evening. Tomorrow night, for instance, I will be driving down to Shropshire and when I get there, I imagine my Mum would be a little upset if my attention was given over to a laptop. What I intend to do is post whenever I can, and give an idea as to when I might be able to post next. The results reporting will have to alter slightly too. I will consider how this might be done, but it will probably mean simply recording each service's performance over the period between posts. Details of individual winners, unless outstanding, may have to be sacrificed.

You know, judging by the last couple of weeks you might not think it, but generally speaking, I have quite a straightforward life...

Today's Action

Frankly today was crap and I don't have the inclination to go into the detail.

Northern Monkey: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.75pts, -0.484pts.
On The Nose: Staked 2pts, -2pts.
ProBandit: Staked 3pts, -1.577pts.
PJA NH: Staked 4pts, -3.344pts.
Total financial loss on the racing of £219.03.

Thursday 14th April: Staked £305, -£219.03.
Week to date: Staked £1,207.50, -£226.69.
Month to date: Staked £6,824.50, -£1,343.13, roi -19.68%.

Right. Next post I'm hoping will be Sunday night but events may overtake me, so possibly Monday.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Is YOUR money safe?

As promised, a guest contributor tonight. Most people who read the comments section will have seen the thoughts regularly left by Andy, and I must say that his outlook on gambling is admirable. He is obviously someone who gives great thought to his investing, is focused on the long term, and is prepared to be patient with his services.

Andy has raised an issue that I must admit, I hadn't really given any great thought to. Reading what Andy has written, perhaps it's time I did...

Tonight (12th April) i saw a thread on the SBC forum where one member has expressed concern about the website outage of Pinnaclesports. He is rightly a little worried, as in the past he experienced a site go bust. I don't think this will be the reason in this particular case, but it is possible.

It brings me to an area of discussion where i hope to provide useful thoughts.

When the banks in the UK were going through the beginning of the rough patch, many people were worried that they could lose their money. I think now the government have guaranteed everyone will have personal savings secured to the sum of £50,000. What about the money we have in bookmakers accounts? How much of our money is guaranteed to be safe?

I don't actually know what would happen to my money in the event of the bookmaker going bust. I haven't looked into it, but there are ways to safeguard ourselves.

Those of you who (like me) may only have smaller banks might not worry so much at one bookmaker going bust, but those with larger banks might.

This is what i do..

At the beginning of each month i work out how much money i may need in the account for betting over the next 2 weeks. For example, if i have account with "Expekt", which i only use for a couple of bets each week, then i will only have a small amount of money in the account to cover the predicted amount of bets. If they lose, it is easy enough to transfer more money into the account.

I let all moneys sit in every bookmaker account until the end of the month. At the end of the month, if the total amount in that account is more than i might need for the next 2 weeks then i will withdraw everything over that amount. That way i can either have it sitting in my moneybookers account, or even better, taking it one step further and withdrawing it from moneybookers into my bank account, where it is guaranteed safety and will accumulate interest.

I hope this of some help to any of you. Also it would be good hear other peoples activities/thoughts on the matter.

I have my own thoughts on this which I will share tomorrow. In the meantime may I say thankyou to Andy for bringing this subject up and for going through his solution to a problem that could affect us all. Much appreciated.

Today's Action

One of those days, today. Seven services in action and only one, PJA NH, providing any sort of meaningful profit.

PJA's winner (Pickworth - Southwell - 8/1) generated a decent profit as it added to three other selections (from seven) that placed. A few more days like this are needed from this service.

The only other service to produce any sort of return was Northern Monkey whose only selection placed. ProBandit bombed out, the only On The Nose tip finished out of the frame, and Chasemaster managed to get one from two in the frame but not at a price long enough to give much back.

PJA NH: Staked 4.5pts, +2.525pts.
Northern Monkey: Staked 0.5pts, +0.188pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.75pts, -0.235pts.
On The Nose: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
ProBandit: Staked 1.75pts, -1.75pts.
Financial loss on the racing of £69.84.

Not much to say about the sports; Sportyy had two tennis picks which failed to win and the one The Football Analyst selection finished as yet another draw.

Sportyy: Staked £91, -£91.
The Football Analyst: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Total loss on sports of £191.

Wednesday 13th April: Staked £446, -£260.84.
Week to date: Staked £902.50, -£7.66.
Month to date: Staked £6,519.50, -£1,124.10, roi -17.24%.

Another very bad day. There have been far too many of them in 2011 so far.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

March football review.

Are things better late than never? Not sure, but regardless, here is the rundown of the football/sports services' performance for March...

Football Elite: Staked 15pts, -6.345pts, roi -42.3% (2011: staked 48pts, -10.626pts, roi -22.13%). March can only be described as dreadful for Football Elite and it has been a very tough start to 2011 for Matt. Hand on heart though, I still haven't lost any faith in the service. Reading through the rationale behind each selection, I can't help thinking that Matt is staying true to his methods. I cannot detect any signs of wavering from the approach that has made his service such a success in previous seasons. The SBC wrote an interesting article on variance in their last newsletter, utilising a tool produced by Smartersig to analyse patterns of performance that might be expected at a certain strike rate. Reading this, and reading Matt's weekly analysis, I am currently happy to attribute recent poor performance to nothing more sinister than it just being a bad spell that every tipster can expect to endure from time to time. You may well ask why my attitude to Football Elite is different to the one I described yesterday about PJA NH. That is a subject for another post and to be honest, I need to ask myself that question before writing a considered answer.

Strike Zone: Staked 19pts, +5.097pts, roi 26.82% (2011: Staked 81pts, +8.747pts, roi 10.79%). A very decent month indeed for Strike Zone which maintained a fabulously high strike rate (14 wins from 19 bets) and produced a very healthy roi which dragged the roi for 2011 up above the 10% mark. When this works, it suits my gambling psychology down to the ground. No losing runs, small but steady profit accumulation...perfect! It still hasn't threatened to approach the 20%+ roi levels that it has in past seasons but if asked to accept a 10% return from each football service I used every season, I would certainly accept.

Football Investor: Staked 59pts, +5.99pts, roi 10.15% (2011: staked 209pts, -0.165pts, roi -0.07%). A very acceptable month from Football Investor. Not much more to say than that, really. Keep up a 10% roi until the end of the season and I'll be very happy.

Skeeve: Staked 80pts, +36.702pts, roi 45.87% (2011: staked 279pts, +73.847pts, roi 26.46%). What a superb month for the non-league expert, and indeed what a superb 2011 so far. When a service is firing, I find myself looking forward to the email, eager to place the bets. I feel as if I have the upper hand on the bookmakers; a feeling that I know something they don't. This month Skeeve put me into this zone, and a certain frisson added to the end of the working week...6.30 on a Friday sees me sitting in the study (box room) at the PC, the only sound the gentle, rhythmic ticking of the clock on the wall. My fingers are poised over the keyboard, ready to pounce. Then, BANG! In comes the email, the bookmaker is lined up in my sights, and the trigger pulled. 24 hours later, the rewards are mine and the bookies are reeling. Shame it can't always be like this.

The Sportsman: Staked 1.838pts, +1.117pts, roi 60.77% (2011: staked 5.198pts, +1.649pts, roi 31.72%). After a very quiet first part of the season the New Year has seen The Sportsman begin to fire. Peddlar's Cross antepost for the Champion Hurdle at 20s was inspired, as was the decsion to lay off in running to guarantee a very nice profit. Like Strike Zone, the high strike rate natural to this service suits me to a tee. The big issue in March was my raising of stakes and those with an elephantine memory will remember my concern about my ability to get the relevant stakes on some of the bets, something that I would need to be able to do if I was to continue with The Sportsman next season. Happily, I have encountered no problems so far in this respect at these elevated levels of staking, and so I am looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with main man Scott.

The Football Analyst: Staked 11pts, +2.618pts, roi 23.8% (not putting 2011 totals here as my own personal strategy has changed and I didn't settle on a definite way forward until the beginning of March). For much of March, it felt like TFA was simply ticking along. Perhaps it was a hangover from the turmoil of a testing February but if a service 'ticks' along to produce a near 24% roi on a month, then tick tick away! Graeme is still monitoring and analysing his systems in some quite extraordinary depth as you can see from his blog musings, and he is already turning his mind as to how to ensure that his edge is at least maintained if not improved upon next season. Read his thoughts - fascinating stuff.

So there it is. Of the £1,444 made in March, just over £1,100 was made by the sports services, which runs contrary to the general feeling that the football has been hard going since the turn of the year. Sports Investor hasn't done anything yet to make me regret my decision to drop them from the portfolio. Skeeve is going to find it tough to maintain the pace now that the tricky end of season games are upon us, but it would be nice, before the season is done and dusted, to see Football Elite return to the consistency it enjoyed until very recently.

Today's Action

Pretty quiet today. A very small loss accrued on the nags, the one profitable service of the three in action today being ProBandit who found the winner in the only race played in (Tiradito - Wolverhampton - 5/2). Chasemaster again identified a winner (Kikos - Towcester - 11/4) but wasn't quite able to make a profit. The single On The Nose selection was just run out of a place so no return there.

ProBandit: Staked 1pt, +0.75pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.75pts, -0.281pts.
On The Nose: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Total financial loss on the racing of £6.88.

Two Football Investor bets tonight, neither of which were successful.

Football Investor: Staked 2pts, -2pts.
Total financial loss on the football of £30.

Tuesday 12th April: Staked £135, -£36.88.
Week to date: Staked £456.50, +£253.18.
Month to date: Staked £6,073.50, -£863.26, roi -14.21%.

Right, pin your ears back. Tomorrow there is a guest contributor, although if I can persuade him, the "guest" status may eventually be replaced with "regular". It's an interesting topic he's chosen to write about and one that affects everybody who gambles even semi-seriously, but I feel it is something that few consider. Well worth a read.

Now, I'm off to think about what I'd do to Nani given a dark night and no witnesses were I (God forbid) a Chelski player.

Monday, 11 April 2011

March racing review (finally!)

I'm acutely aware that due to last week's interruptions, I still haven't finished the racing review for March, or posted last month's football review. The plan is to rectify this situation over the next couple of days starting tonight with a look at last month's racing service performance. I had actually started to write this last week, as you will be able to tell from the write up of 4PA.

PJA NH: Staked 63.25pts, -13.414pts, roi -21.2% (2011: staked 186pts, -38.652pts, roi -20.78%). Well, looking at the roi for March and then at that for 2011 as a whole, you have to say there is an admirable consistency! There's no hiding from the fact that 2011 has been a shocker so far for PJA NH. I am over half the allotted bank down. My subs came up for renewal on Sunday (3rd) and I paid my dues to carry on, at least for the moment. Why? Why not just quit? Well, I've had good times with PJA NH, not least last year, and now there have been three months of losses. Quite simply, I feel they deserve every chance to put things right. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't very concerned though. I'm mindful of the fact that there does come a point at which you have to say enough is enough. Unfortunately, I feel that I am very close to that point.

4PA: Staked 29pts, -5.437pts, roi -18.74% (2011: staked 57pts, +6.188pts, roi 10.85%). In the February review I mentioned that 4PA had the potential to make or break my March. With Cheltenham looming and the way the service is staked, a disastrous 4PA performance would take some clawing back and a great performance would be difficult for underperforming services to drag down. As it happened, Cheltenham was looking pretty poor until the final day when an antepost bet on Zarkander at 8s and a largish bet on Long Run in the Gold Cup rescued the situation. Ultimately, 4PA had a relatively poor but not catastrophic month, proving that the person behind it is only human and not some incredible winner-finding robot. Of course Aintree could be a busy time - you know, thinking about it, 4PA has the potential to make or break my April {as it happened, it did neither}. Ever get the feeling of being a hamster on the wheel of gambling life?

Northern Monkey Punter: Staked 23.5pts, +7.257pts, roi 30.88% (2011: staked 98pts, -9.909pts, roi -10.11%). On the face of it, I'm acutely understaking Northern Monkey. No adjustment yet, though. Wayne has mentioned on more than one occasion that the early part of the year is notable for the low grade of racing prevalent on the all weather and that he is anticipating more action when things start improving in that regard. Makes sense. You have to say that a return of 30%+ roi means that the month has been a good one so, being the obedient sort, I will...Northern Monkey had a good month. He came out of Cheltenham the right side of level and a few selections subsequently have run well at good prices showing a newcomer to the service like me the potential that Wayne possesses. Naturally, this will be of no surprise to longer-term members. Looking forward to the long, hot summer months with this one. Or more likely, the cool, wet summer months. Whatever, I'm looking forward to them. With Northern Monkey. Oh, yes.

On The Nose: Staked 56.5pts, -7.973pts, roi -14.11% (2011: Staked 146.25pts, +47.363pts, roi 32.38%). March saw On The Nose joining 4PA in trying to persuade everybody that they are human. Will take more than a mildly poor month to do that, chaps! I remember remarking at the time that the level of OTN involvement at Cheltenham took me aback a little, but then when I looked at their 2010 record at the Festival I was minded to tell myself to not worry and go with flow. One thing I would say about OTN...for a service that introduced itself to the 'paid for' ranks at a very reasonable cost, they sure do look to add value. They have a guest tipster for April, working alongside 'The Judge', and regular contributions from experts on cricket, Formula 1, etc. I really must start recording the results of these additions - could be a goldmine right under my nose and I don't even know it.

So there we have the racing-based view for March. If anyone has any comments about the services, either from their own experience or as a neutral onlooker, lets have them. Keep it civil though, eh.

Tomorrow, the football.

Today's Action

Well rather like yesterday, my cap is well and truly doffed in the direction of Chasemaster. One tip, one 6/1 winner yesterday. Three tips, three winners today (Nicky Tam - Hexham - 8/1, Wait No More - Plumpton - 7/2, and Health Is Wealth - Plumpton - 11/4). Great tipping but I've a strong feeling that the chaps there will just carry on as normal. I don't think there will be any rushes to the head, and it is that sense of solidity that has really warmed me to this service.

PJA NH had another losing day finding just two selections that placed among six, no winners. ProBandit had one bet today which also lost.

Chasemaster: Staked 0.625pts, +2.271pts.
ProBandit: Staked 0.75pts, -0.75pts.
PJA NH: Staked 4.25pts, -2.95pts.
Total financial loss on the racing of £47.31.

To the that's a bit more like it. Football Elite get two right out of two - Liverpool DNB and Real Zaragoza - which incidentally is three from four over the weekend, and Football Investor had Liverpool too. Just to add a little icing to the cake, Sportyy got one tennis pick right from two for some extra profit.

Football Elite: Staked 2pts, +1.94pts.
Football Investor: Staked 1pt, +1.625pts.
Sportyy: Staked £54, +£24.38.
Total financial profit on sport of £242.75.

Monday 11th April: Staked £321.50, +£290.06.
Week to date: Staked £321.50, +£290.06.
Month to date: Staked £5,938.50, -£826.38, roi -13.91%.

So, who's watching the match tomorrow night then? Could be a stormer.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


What a glorious day! First barbecue of the summer. First lot of burnt, overcooked meat for dinner.

Any chance of this weather lasting?

Today's Action

Just the four services in action today, three of them failing to provide a return and the other finding a very nice winner indeed.

Chasemaster is the one taking the plaudits. One tip, one 6/1 winner (Victory Parade - Wincanton - 6/1) scooting up by 21 lengths. Nice tipping!

PJA NH had one unplaced, as did Northern Monkey. On The Nose gave two but neither provided a return.

Chasemaster: Staked 0.5pts, +1.875pts.
PJA NH: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5pts.
Northern Monkey: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5pts.
On The Nose: Staked 1.5pts, -1.5pts.
Total financial profit on the racing of £62.50.

As has been the theme this month, the sports side has been responsible for turning a loss. Football Elite's one selection today was a loser. Sportyy had a losing tennis double and a winning football bet. Unfortunately the stake on the loser was a touch bigger than that on the winner.

Football Elite: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Sportyy: Staked £82, -£7.90.
Total financial loss on the sport of £107.90.

Sunday 10th April: Staked £262, -£45.40.
Week: Staked £2,994, -£335.26.
Month to date: Staked £5,617, -£1,116.44, roi -19.87%.

A poor week. The damage this month though has been done across the breadth of the football portfolio, and each service is not really very far down in terms of points. The month is far from irretrievable yet as far as profit making goes, but we could do with a good week this one coming.

Work tomorrow. Oh joy!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Right then. Where were we?

First things first. Without wanting to be soppy about this at all, I was completely taken aback (in a good way) by the messages that were left after Wednesday night's post. A truly heartfelt "Thankyou" to everyone who commented. It really was very much appreciated. I showed Helen, who often acts as an unofficial editor on here, and by the time she had finished reading, there was a tear in her eye. True, it was the Iritis that caused it, but still, she was very touched.

So where are we now? To sum it up, Wednesday was mediocre, Thursday terrible, and Friday perhaps could be best described as stopping the rot. Which brings us on to today...

The Grand National

With the way this month has gone so far, I feared the worst. It felt like I was on half the field and the potential to miss out completely on securing any sort of return a distinct possibility. This race does not just catch the attention of the general public. It seems to have a mesmorising affect on tipsters too, such was the rigour with which most attacked the greatest horse racing challenge of the year. As it happened, I came out a couple of hundred up. But it so easily could have been a whole lot more.

4PA had tipped Oscar Time antepost, and I had £25ew at 18s and a further £25 on the win at 16s. As it jumped the last, I thought that it was going to get up but alas, it was not to be. So near and yet so far with that one.

The horse Oscar Time challenged on the run-in was Ballabriggs. £20 win at 25/1 was secured earlier this season on the advice of The Sportsman. Trouble is, that is not even half the story. This morning, The Sportsman advised a lay at 19/1 to ensure a free bet. I wonder if Scott is ruing this decision at all? I would hope not, as the strategy worked a treat with Peddlar's Cross in the Champion Hurdle and this is just one of those things. Are you beginning to see though how much better it all could have been?

Further returns were made on the race by Northern Monkey which had Niche Market each way, and 4PA had the foresight to advise Don't Push It on the 'To Be Placed' market (I got half on at 3/1 and the other half at 5/2).

As for losers, 4PA also had Backstage, Northern Monkey gave Becauseicouldntsee, and On The Nose recommended Chief Dan George and Big Fella Thanks.

Today's Other Racing

The only winner elsewhere was provided by PJA NH (Digital Media - Chepstow - 8/1) and the service found two others to place from a total of seven selections. On The Nose had one loser to add to the losses from the National, Winning Racing Tips had an each way double that failed when Peddlar's Cross wasn't able to reach the frame, and ProBandit had no success from the one race they played in. Chasemaster provided one loser from one selection although I was lucky to escape a second email with a tip for the 1.55 at Bangor hit my inbox at 1.56. I happened to be sitting at the PC when it came in so I saw it straight away, but I wasn't able to get my bet on. Stroke of luck, that one.

4PA: Staked 3.5pts, +3pts.
The Sportsman: Staked 0.1pt, +0.6pts.
PJA NH: Staked 5pts, +1.143pts.
Northern Monkey: Staked 1pt, +0.693pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.25pts, -0.25pts.
ProBandit: Staked 0.75pts, -0.75pts.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 0.8pts, -0.8pts.
On The Nose: Staked 3.5pts, -3.5pts.
Total financial profit on the racing of £143.74.

And so to the football/sports betting.

Winners were Football Elite who were one from one (Hannover) and Strike Zone which managed two from two. Sportyy had a successful bet today on the tennis too, and this is added to another successful bet which was placed yesterday but happened too late to record.

The Football Analyst's one System 8-22 selection lost, and Football Investor had what can only be described as a ' winner from eleven selections.

Skeeve emailed tonight to say that he had dropped four points despite not having a bet today. Now I know my month has been pretty awful, but I thought this was taking the biscuit! It turned out that it was an antepost bet that cannot now win. I will be accounting for all football antepost bets at the end of the season though - it's easier that way.

Football Elite: Staked 1pt, +1.24pts.
Strike Zone: Staked 2pts, +1.27pts.
The Football Analyst: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Football Investor: Staked 11pts, -8.3pts.
Sportyy: Staked £74, +£89.71.
Total financial profit on sports of £52.71.

Saturday 9th April: Staked £1,017, +£196.45.
Week to date: Staked £2,732, -£289.86.
Month to date: Staked £5,355, -£1,071.04, roi -20%.

There is a lot to write about, but the time for all that isn't the weekend. Tomorrow will see another typical weekend post and then we'll get stuck into the meatier stuff from Monday.

It's good to be back.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Back tomorrow...

Only got a minute as I should be working, but normal service should be resumed tomorrow.

For what it's worth, it was a poor day on Wednesday and a bad day yesterday. Could do with a winner or two. Here's hoping...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011


I'm afraid I'm going to have to take a small break from blogging. I feel dreadful about it but I'm left with no option, really.

When I got home from work this evening, I found my wife in a really bad way. I mentioned in the 'Comments' section the other night that she suffers from a chronic, genetic and degenerative condition called Ankylosingspondylitis. It's most closely related to Rheumatoid Arthritis - basically the body attacks it's own immune system which can lead to some pretty nasty symptoms. At present, it is manifesting itself in the eye. Helen has a severely inflamed iris. To say that's painful is an understatement.

It has happened before and lasted a week before the drops she was prescribed started to take effect. Whilst we wait for the drops to work this time, she needs my full attention. The children need looking after, meals prepared and all the other things that generally we share responsibility for and unfortunately something has to give.

I'm hoping to be back in a couple of days, certainly by Monday at the latest. If it's going to be any longer than that, I shall let you know.

I do still have to go to work, and I will still be placing bets at lunchtimes. I'll bring everything bang up to date when I start blogging again.

Sorry about this, and best of luck with your punting in the meantime.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Football. Bloody Hell!

I wasn't planning on writing too much today, but I thought the comment left by Andy that expands a little on the topic yesterday of finding the balance between protecting banks and maximising profits deserved a wider airing.

"Having a double bank of the worst losing run is an excellent way of protecting your bank from a worst case scenario. What i want to mention is how much risk-potential profit.

The SBC had an article a while ago about compounding stakes. This is increasing/decreasing stakes in accordance with your bank going up/down. For example your start with £1000 and 100pt bank. A 1pt bet would be £10. So say you bet a horse to win at 5/1 and your bank increases to £1050. Your next 1pt stake would be £10.50.

This is a great strategy to increase your winnings but also makes you more susceptible to losing greater amounts on a losing run.

My personal method is to compound every time my bank takes a new high. You may wander if this too risky? I don't think so, because i already have my safety barrier in doubling the worst losing run. Another losing run of greater effect could happen but a minimal chance at that.

It does all depend on the odds the tipster averages at. A service that produces tips mainly around evens will have shorter losing runs and a more accurate idea of those runs, whereas a golf tipster who averages 50/1 shots can have a very different set of losing runs and could take many years to figure out what a very worst run could look like.

I hope this all makes sense and my personal view has come across. As long as i have a suitable safety barrier, i don't need any more. I would say i was a medium risk sports bettor. I think by being low risk i would miss out on too much opportunity. My view may well change in a few years when i have a lot more capital to work with"

On a personal level, I've never been a fan of compounding. This is purely down to my own approach and mentality though, and I appreciate that with the right service, it can be a very good way to accumulate profit to provide a larger bank with which to go to war. I know that Sportyy advocates such an approach which fits well with their style, ie. high strike rate.

I thought that an excellent insight though, and well worth sharing. Andy's comment was alright too (heh).

Today's Action

The start to April can now be accurately labelled as catastrophic. And it's all down to the football betting. The results over the weekend and tonight have been awful to say the least. Of course with football betting, the results can go from one extreme to the other in the blink of an eye. I'm currently blinking fast and hard.

On the racing front, a small profit accrued today. ProBandit unearthed a nice winner (Mohanad - Kempton - 15/2), Northern Monkey, PJA NH, and Winning Racing Tips each managed to get their sole selections placed. On The Nose didn't produce a return from their one bet.

ProBandit: Staked 1pt, +1.75pts.
Northern Monkey: Staked 0.5pts, +0.025pts.
PJA NH: Staked 0.75pts, -0.266pts.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 1.6pts, -0.16pts.
On The Nose: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Financial profit on the racing of £35.58.

How the hell did Schalke win 5-2 away to Inter Milan!?! I know Italian football is dire at present but still. Trouble is, win bets on Internazionale were put up by both The Sportsman and Sportyy. Strike Zone were looking good for two short priced winners until Kettering got an injury time equaliser at Luton. The one bet from Football Investor was a loser. It should be mentioned that Sportyy have tipped a double on the tennis, the first selection winning but the second not starting his match until a scheduled time of 1.15 in the morning. If it's all the same to you, I won't stay up but instead will put it into tomorrow's results.

Football Investor: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Strike Zone: Staked 2pts, -0.25pts.
The Sportsman: Staked 0.15pts, -0.15pts.
Sportyy: Staked £60, -£60.
Total financial loss on sports of £160.

Tuesday 5th April: Staked £416, -£124.42.
Week to date: Staked £596, -£198.49.
Month to date: Staked £3,219, -£1,003.41, roi -31.17%.

The only bright spot today? Shan't say. There's probably a couple of Spurs fans reading...

Monday, 4 April 2011

Risk vs Reward, taking an interest, and March review #1

Last week Mark (of The Patient Speculation blog) who is getting his Portfolio Lite up and running, asked the following question:

"What should be more important to the portfolio investor: staking so as to maximise profits or to defend our banks?"

Well Mark, the answer to this - and this is not a cop out, I promise - is that if you get your staking right then it should automatically lead to both the protection of your bank and it should give you the best chance possible of maximising your profits.

I have already discussed the factors to take into account when determining the appropriate size of your bank, and by setting it up in this way (ie. roughly twice the size of the relevant service's lengthiest historical drawdown) you should have an adequate buffer against the worst that the gambling fates can throw at you. Hence the 'Protection' box is ticked.

Following on from this, the 'Maximising of returns' box should be ticked quite naturally. If the service you are following has a long-term edge, then the idea is to simply ensure that you stay in the game. AT ALL COSTS. If you stay in the game, then when the edge that your service enjoys manifests itself in tangible profits, you will be benefiting from it. Assuming you worked out the projected returns based on historical roi achieved prior to subscribing, and you therefore know that when this level has been hit you will be clearing a profit acceptable after the deduction of fees (if it doesn't, then why were you subscribing in the first place?), then by staying in the game, you will ultimately maximise your profits simply by ensuring that you are in there when you should be. If your bank is too small, and you go bust, you won't be in a position to rake in the profits when they eventually arrive.

Mark was obviously drinking deeply from the well of curiosity last week. Not content with asking just the one question, he followed up with another...

"My next question is: what level of knowledge do you have to have about a sport before adding a tipster from that sport to your portfolio?"

To answer this one, I can only turn to Andy, who in response to this sent in an answer that sums up my own feelings to a tee and makes the relevant points in such a succinct way it can't be bettered. So I shan't try.

Andy said:

"I feel this is down to an each individuals comfort levels again.

To me, as long as i know what the area/sport is and the basic nature of the sport, it doesn't bother me how much or little i know about the area/sport.

The reason for this is because the tipster has to have a proven record for providing profitable tips. To me it is an investment at the end of the day and not an interest. If it was purely for interest i would treat it as a hobby (which i don't).

Some people though, may only be comfortable staking on sports that they know about. I knew nothing of darts players last year, but i know the sport (if you can call it that) and the basics of it, yet i subscribed to a well thought of and proven tipster because it had great potential to make me money.

To me, if its a well run tipster service and shows good results over the long term i am happy to subscribe."

Spot on, Andy.

There seems to be a lot to talk about at the moment, so I'm going to do my March review bit by bit, looking at two or three services each day. In any month when I make a trading profit of £1k or more (before fees), then I can't complain. At £1,098 for March (roi of 7.74%) then I would describe the performance as average. Not great, but not too shabby either. Certainly an improvement on what had preceded it in 2011.

ProBandit: Staked 23.275pts, +3.829pts, roi 15.08% (2011: staked 84.125pts, +0.678pts, roi 0.8%)

A much better month for ProBandit. Call me clairvoyant, but my comments in the February review for ProBandit included this statement: "perhaps Paul is beginning to rediscover his mojo...I have high hopes for ProBandit in March". And so it proved. Not a spectacular month for Paul, but solid and consistent, just as I like it. The service starts March more or less level for 2011 so far, so let's hope that this is really the start of it's year and that more consistent profits are just around the corner.

Winning Racing Tips: Staked 13.8pts, +7.578pts, roi 54.91% (2011: staked 47pts, +7.337pts, roi 15.61%).

WRT was the most profitable and best performing (judged on roi achieved) racing service in March, hitting an astounding 55% roi. This is the sort of service where real patience is required. The last six months or so had really been a case of standing still, but as I mentioned in last month's review, sometimes standing still is a good thing. It can put you in a position where you can really reap the benefits of the good times, and a good run is certainly something WRT enjoyed in March.

Chasemaster: Staked 12.125pts, +4.459pts, roi 36.78% (2011: staked 36pts, +7.679pts, roi 36.78%).

You know I've really enjoyed Chasemaster this last month. With the exception of one bet (which placed and produced a small return) they steered clear of the madness and mayhem that is Cheltenham, and simply got on with what they are good at...and they were very good at it in March. I have got used to the service now and have settled into a nice rhythm with them. The only thing that remains is for me to get the staking right as I feel I may just be understaking them a tadge. I'm not making any adjustments just yet, but it is something that I have my eye on. A small rise may be necessary, we'll see.

Today's Action

An underwhelming day today. Five racing services in action with none bombing out but four of them each contributing small losses which added up to equal an unpleasant loss at the end.

The only successful service was Northern Monkey whose only tip finished third (Ajjaadd - Windsor - 11/2) and thus produced a very small profit.

ProBandit did actually find a winner (Ya Hafed - Folkestone - 9/2) but with other results ended with a small loss.

Winning Racing Tips gained a return on an each way double, but also had one finish out of the frame so another small loss there.

Firing blanks this afternoon were On The Nose with two small win bets and Chasemaster with one small each way selection.

Northern Monkey: Staked 0.75pts, +0.14pts.
ProBandit: Staked 1.75pts, -0.375pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.25pts, -0.25pts.
On The Nose: Staked 1pt, -1pt.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 1pt, -0.448pts.
Total financial loss on the racing of £74.07.

Monday 4th April: Staked £180, -£74.07.
Week to date: Staked £180, -£74.07.
Month to date: Staked £2,803, -£878.99, roi -31.35%.

Right then. Likely to be fairly late posting over the next couple of days. Will be hooked to the Champions League footie.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Giving it stick!

On Friday, I was left an unusual comment. It read:

"Could you give me a bit of insight into building stick houses, I think my boys would love it.

Do you have specific stick recommendations that have proven sucessful year on year or should I just use anything that looks like a stick?

Do I need to build foundations or can I just jump in and start building fro the ground upwards? I'd like to build an inverted pyramid, any tips.

Thanks for your help

Dave (the stick house builder)"

Well. David. It's not easy, I'm telling you, and my answer to your question suggested as much:

"I think you raise some very interesting points. There's a lot more to building stick houses than most realise and I think these issues need proper examination. Certainly you need a long term outlook and be able to withstand the psychological battering that is, I'm afraid, a part and parcel of the game. Wind, Big Bad Wolves, the wrong type of sticks...these are all things that the average stick house builder just doesn't know how to deal with."

But help is at hand. I can't do much about the wind, and Big Bad Wolves are always going to be a nuisance, but I can give some pointers re. sticks. There are some simple decisions to make. My personal favourite is Silver Birch, but Ash will always be a sound alternative. If you are serious about this stick-house building malarkey though, I strongly recommend you join the SBC (the Stick-house Builders Club). They monitor different constructions throughout differing seasons to see and report back on what are the most pliable, solid, wooden, etc. Just make sure you pick a stick that suits your personality though. For you I'd suggest Sycamore - a cheeky little stick that absorbs liquids, especially on Friday nights and weekends.

Today's Action

Four racing services playing today, three of which were profitable, one meaningfully so.

4PA managed to come up with a cracker (Horseradish - Doncaster - 9/1). The horse won a touch cosily and despite a 10p reduction, provided a very useful profit.

On The Nose also managed a winner (I Can Run Can You - Market Rasen - 3/1), a winner which to my untutored eye owed a lot to McCoy's typically strong urging. Later on in the card, the Chasemaster tip (Karingreason - Market Rasen - 7/1) finished second, the winner appearing to owe a lot to McCoy's typically strong urging! .

Northern Monkey had two today, a loser and one which placed (Internationaldebut - Doncaster - 9/2).

4PA: Staked 1.75pts, +9.112pts.
On The Nose: Staked 1.5pts, +0.5pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.25pts, +0.05pts.
Northern Monkey: Staked 1pt, -0.468pts.
Total financial profit on the racing of £459.26.

And so it was over to the Sports department to see if we could take advantage of the good profits gained on the racing to make significant inroads into the heavy losses suffered the previous two days. Could 'Sports' do it? No they bloody well couldn't!

Football Elite had three selections, Strike Zone had two. Not one winner.

There is an addition to the Sports side of the portfolio for this month too, and it has taken over from Shaolin Betting. I thought long and hard about this and whilst I am not jacking in Shaolin, with the potential issues that I have previously discussed, I asked myself why take any unnecessary risk. There is no need to. I had previously halved stakes but I don't like this halfway house solution. For me, it should be all or nothing; either you're in or you're not. I may well pick up the Shaolin thread again further down the line, but for now it is a watching brief. I am not criticising Shaolin. Let me place on record that I have absolutely no evidence that the set up is anything other than that described by Yakir, the head honcho. My decision has been made simply because my experience with AH Betting has made me ultra-cautious, and it makes sense under such circumstances to take a watching brief for now.

As for Sportyy, I have been watching the service for a while (about four months). The main issue around them has apparently been the practicality in achieving anywhere near the recommended odds but over the last four weeks I have been getting the emails through and seeing exactly what odds I would have been able to get had I been putting cash down. The discrepancy between recommended and theoretically achieved wasn't unacceptable. I shall primarily be using Betfair at first and I am only going to record results in terms of pounds and pence, not points. This is due to the rather unique way that the service stake their selections. Let's see how it goes.

They had one selection can guess already that it lost, can't you?

Football Elite: Staked 3pts, -3pts.
Strike Zone: Staked 2pts, -2pts.
Sportyy: Staked £50, -£50.
Total financial loss on sports of £450.

Sunday 3rd April: Staked £590, +£9.26.
Week: Staked £3,203, -£598.70.
Month to date: Staked £2,623, -£804.92, roi -30.68%.

How frustrating is that? And what an appalling weekend it has been on the sports side of the portfolio. Plenty of time this month to turn it around - in terms of actual points lost, no service is yet beyond the pale for the month. Could do with Football Elite having a good run though. On the positive side, thank heavens 4PA produced the goods today, otherwise it really would have been depressing.

Work tomorrow. Yippee!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Dear, oh dear.

I had planned on a light-hearted post tonight in response to a comment that was made last night, but it's going to have to wait. I've been at the Doncaster races all day, I'm knackered, just taken an age to do all the figures, and my wife isn't at all well. So, just the sorry basics tonight...

Today's Action

4PA: Staked 4pts, -4pts.
PJA NH: Staked 4.5pts, +3.469pts.
On The Nose: Staked 2pts, -2pts.
ProBandit: Staked 0.5pts, -0.5pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 0.5pts, -0.15pts.
Northern Monkey: Staked 2pts, -2pts.
Total financial loss on the racing of £219.62.

Skeeve: Staked 12pts, -8pts.
The Football Analyst: Staked 3pts, -3pts.
Football Investor: Staked 15pts, +9.446pts.
Strike Zone: Staked 3pts, +0.033pts.
Football Elite: Staked 2pts, -0.05pts.
The Sportsman: Staked 0.3pts, -0.011pts.
Total financial loss on the football of £366.20.

Saturday 2nd April: Staked £1,715, -£585.82.
Week to date: Staked £2,613, -£607.96.
Month to date: Staked £2,033, -£814.18, roi -40.04%.

Not pretty reading at all, in fact a dreadful day. Nothing more to be said.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Err...can we start April again, please?

Last night, I was irked. You may have been able to tell. Tonight, I'm back to the calm, dispassionate chap I usually am. But there have been some cracking comments left on last night's post.

If I could have summed up the one, singular most important point of the post in a matter of a few words, it would have been as Andy stated:

" I admit i would be pissed off if that tipster hadn't been profitable after one year. But do you know who i would blame? ME!! Because i chose to be with that service based on my research."

This is the absolute essence of what I was trying to say last night. People need to accept some responsibility for their own actions.

I have had a dreadful week's punting. Sure, results have been good, but my personal performance levels as a focused punter have fallen dramatically. If I was a footballer, I'm not sure I'd be even making the bench on Saturday, never mind starting the match. I missed a couple of Football Investor/Strike Zone bets, had to accept odds much shorter than recommended on The Football Analyst tip, and yesterday I missed the second Chasemaster selection by being distracted at work (it was during my lunch break, I must add), which should have provided an additional return. My routine has changed since last Sunday. With the extra daylight available, I have started spending more time with the kids in the evening as I did last summer, going out on the bikes, building stick houses in the woods, and generally chilling (Alan will be pleased!). The knock on effect though is that my time is being squeezed a little more than it was, and this week I have failed to adjust. I'm giving myself a hard time about it, and I'm working on changing my routine so that these problems are solved. In other words, MY performance has been substandard, and must be improved.

When things aren't going well, self-analysis is the place to start. Personally I see a failure of people to take responsibility for themselves and their actions as a failure of modern society. Too often now it seems to be a case of something going wrong and people automatically asking themselves who can they blame? This is why so many schools no longer run sports teams - little Jonny gets injured in a perfectly 'normal' sporting accident, parents sue the school. Disclaimers and a huge level of form-filling and other bureaucratic nonsense gets in the way of people actually doing things and achieving things. The paperwork is necessary so that those who do show a bit of initiative don't expose themselves to spurious legal action. And we see it in people who purport to take their gambling seriously but who don't set up sufficiently sized banks, who overstake, who jump on board the latest bandwagon without doing due diligence because 'claimed' results are excellent. And when things don't work out as they hoped, they immediately look for a scapegoat... It's not my fault. I didn't do anything wrong. It was all his fault, that guy who spends hours working on something that has a solid edge against the bookie and lets people benefit from his work for free. No, not him? Then it must be the other guy, you know, the one who has had a few losers recently. What's that you say? No, I don't care that he had four extremely profitable seasons before these couple of bad months. Telling you, it's all his fault and none of it is mine...

Look, I would never criticise anyone for dropping a service after a period of poor performance. I might think that personally speaking, I might have given it a bit longer, but I think most people stop following a service because they think it is the right thing to do. Fine. But you don't have to hurl personal abuse at the tipster whilst you do it. Just move on.

Rich of The Lonesome Punter blog wrote:

"These anonymous abusive comments need to be taken with a pinch of salt by the tipping/blogging community they are written by people unable to mentally cope with the odd loser and with banks staked badly, no doubt Mr Anonymous has blown his last £20 on a free bet seen it lose and then felt it necessary to vent his anger at the person who outlined the tip. It’s particularly rife on somewhere like Facebook where by a lot of blog links or tipping services can be seen and you see comment and comment criticising the writer with personal abuse. As you say it’s not on but these idiots won’t change unless they change their mindset, next week they’ll part with some of their wages, perhaps see a winner but continue to slate every loser that arrives."


Kodagira said:

"There isn't much we can do about problematic people, they're all around us. You just have to let them take a sniff, no reactions, and they'll be on their way to look for someone else to provoke."

He's right. These people shouldn't cause any consternation - they should be treated with the disdain their behaviour deserves.

As an explanation as to why I posted what I did last night, it was because I want this blog to be an accurate reflection of what it is like running a gambling portfolio. 95% of the time, posts revolve around the actual mechanics of gambling, ie. looking at what tasks are important, how to try to do them well, and generally what is involved when participating in this sort of enterprise. This is because 95% of the time, I think you need to be analytical and composed, thinking seriously about what you're doing. But every now and then something stirs the emotions. It's natural when doing something that let's face it, can at times be pretty pressured stuff. Certainly challenging. Occasionally I think it's good to show that emotion, particularly if it is over something you feel strongly about.

Finally, Mike at the SBC dropped in...

"I think its fair to say that if we demand high standards of professionalism from our tipsters, they should expect the same back from the rest of us."

Yep. What's that saying about treating others as you would wish them to treat you...?

Right, I'll leave this now. People must be thinking that my hobby horse needs to chuck me off it's back. The soap box needs to be stuck back under the bed to slowly gather dust until something else comes along that twangs at the nerves.

Today's Action

Not the start to April I'd hoped for. Six racing services in action, one found a winner and a profit. The others didn't.

The successful service was Northern Monkey, who like yesterday, identified one betting opportunity that paid dividends (Nadeen - Musselburgh - 11/2). Good tipping from a service that has run into a bit of form.

As for the others...PJA NH found a couple to place but five others that didn't, ProBandit played in two races without reward, Chasemaster had two horses in the one race and neither placed, On The Nose gave a couple which didn't produce, and Winning Racing Tips had one that didn't reach the frame either.

One of those days.

Northern Monkey: Staked 0.75pts, +2.578pts.
On The Nose: Staked 1.5pts, -1.5pts.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 0.8pts, -0.8pts.
ProBandit: Staked 1.25pts, -1.25pts.
Chasemaster: Staked 1.25pts, -1.25pts.
PJA NH: Staked 5pts, -3.84pts.
Total financial loss on the racing of £228.36.

Friday 1st April: Staked £318, -£228.36.
Week to date: Staked £898, -£22.14.
Month to date: Staked 318, -£228.36, roi -71.81%.

Looking forward to tomorrow. The kids have got a friend's birthday party to attend so I'm off with a mate to Doncaster for the Lincoln. Should be good, but what state I'll be in to put up much of a post tomorrow, I just don't know.