Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Practical considerations.

Get yourself a cuppa or pour yourself a glass of wine and settle in. It's a long one.

I was delighted to have two comments left under yesterday's post, each by folk who are in a particularly strong position to comment on the subject of going pro for reasons that you will read within the posts. The first is from Mark of Tradinghorses...

I've had the benefit of experiencing a big corporate job, followed by 2 years of professional 'gambling', followed by a return this year to a corporate role, so I feel pretty well qualified on the subject!

One element of betting/trading that I overlooked was the self-employment aspect. No paid holidays, no sick pay, no bonus, no company pension contribution, no car, no annual pay award and so on. For anyone used to running their own business the step into professional gambling would surely have less impact, but for me I hadn't fully appreciated just how much I took for granted in the corporate job.

More significant was the amount of time that I spent thinking about my trading when I wasn't supposed to be working. I managed to get myself into a pretty decent position in terms of monthly income and I had every reason to forget the trading until racing started each day, but it was never that simple. I mentioned in my blog the other day that professional betting/trading can become all-consuming. It's so easy to get completely absorbed in the job to such an extent that you don't enjoy your 'free' time as much as you would expect. Some days would be losing ones. I didn't have the mental strength to be able to switch off from a poor day's trading and enjoy the next morning on the golf course before work. I found myself spending some mornings analysing what went wrong and what I needed to do to fix it. Other mornings I would find myself researching new angles with a view to spreading my risk. I've just enjoyed a fantastic week's holiday with the family and have hardly thought about work at all.

A further consideration for anybody contemplating the move is whether they can cope with the loneliness factor. Having worked with large teams of people for most of my career I found myself really struggling with feeling isolated from the world after a few months. This got progressively worse (as did the CV incidentally). Now, having been back in a social working environment for a few months, I know that trading alone in a home-based office will never suit me as well as being out and about. Yes I am no longer my own boss, but with that comes a degree of security that I didn't have whilst trading. You make the point that in today's economic environment every job has its risks, and that's true to an extent, but for me the balance tips in favour of not being solely dependant on myself for my living as long as I can make that last. I now have the support of a large corporation when things are not going so well, and I have my colleagues to have a laugh with along the way.

All of which leads to me to conclude that being self-employed in any business wouldn't suit me as well as being part of a company. This is only a personal view and we're all different of course. One final point I would make is that I don't agree with the comment made yesterday about having to find your own methods to become a true professional. Whilst I did find my own methods, you are still a professional in my view if your main source of income comes from betting/trading, whether you're following tipsters or not.

Then, we have a chap whose name I don't know but who has contributed a couple of times now to the blog, and brings with him a particularly clear insight...

Hi Rowan,

Interesting thoughts.
I became a fulltimegambler 1-1-2011 and still am a fulltimegambler.
I enjoy it very much but I agree with Mark that it can be a bit lonely, and the decisions you have to make on your own, you can never ask someone's opinion because there are no people who you work with together.
A solutions is (what I did) it to find an other gambler(s) to share experiences... I email every day to an other gambler and that helps a lot must say! Sharing experiences is great and discussing a problem with someone else helps me also! A blog is good also, but you never know who is going to read it and with an email you know who is reading it!
Mentally for sure it is tough, especially these bad losings are tough to handle.
That is the hard part, the good part is the amount of freedom of course, to be your own boss and fill in the workinghours as you like, I really like that part!
I usually work between 9.00 -18.00 , after that I stop working, turn my PC off and forget about betting and for some reason that works, when I watch TV for instance I do not think of betting at all, in the beginning I could not do that really but now this is going okay. Just make sure you have some distraction(s)!
For me I have no regrets in trying to become a fulltimegambler... I still do not know if I am good enough or mentally strong enough, time will tell! But being a fulltimegambler takes time, probably a few years to be really good, for sure I am not there yet!

I am following systems developed by other people, but I do not think that is a big disadvantage...
These systems consists of a set of rules, I do not mind that someone else invented these systems.
Making your own systems is a very hard nut to crack, you need very good knowledge of the sports and even than... you are completely independent of course but it is so difficult.

I think the questions you have to ask yourself:
What risk do I really take? If you would quit your job is it possible to go back to your old job if it does not work out, in other words how easy is it to find a job again if things do not work out?
Do I have enough money to survive a certain period (at least one year, preferable three years) without salary in other words what are the financial consequences?
The longer the period you can survive without salary the less stresss you will have...
When I started I could survive three years without salary, that makes it a lot easier, less stressfull than 1 year for example, you get nervous pretty soon!
Maybe you could send SBC an email and ask them about their opinion?

I guess the most important part is to be realistic with your (financial) expectations...

With levels of prescience that the Oracle of Delphi could only aspire to, Mark and Anon have touched nicely upon points that I had always intended to address in today's post - what practical elements do we need to consider before making the jump from salaried employment to professional betting?

There is no doubt that the "fringe" benefits of salaried employment would be missed, not least a regular contribution to the pension pot. Contrary to the impression you may get from some of the ramblings you often get from me on this blog, I do still possess my marbles, and am physically and mentally capable of placing my bets, recording my results, analysing my performance and executing all the other necessary gambling related tasks. Can I guarantee that I could when I'm 70 though? No. I can't. More to the point, would I want to be relying on day to day gambling or trading and the natural stresses that go with them when I'm that age? No, I wouldn't. So immediately we can see that we must look above and beyond simply existing on a day by day basis; that the revenue we generate must allow for forward financial planning that will provide sufficiently for when we get to the stage of life when we are incapable or unwilling to lead the life of a professional gambler.

Other benefits associated with working for a company will fall by the wayside too. Private health insurance possibly, paid holidays definitely. Increases in basic salary to counter the effects of inflation. Car allowances/company cars? What happens if we get seriously ill? I guess the Missus could take over (certainly she's capable) but it is far from ideal with no sickness coverage. All these things must be accounted for and planned for in the sense of ensuring that we can pay for adequate cover. I'm not an insurance junkie, but I can see it's worth in certain areas of life.

Funnily enough, I think all of the things I've mentioned so far can be covered with adequate and realistic planning (allied to appropriate shifts in lifestyle). It's Mark's point about how professional betting/trading can easily become all consuming that really chimes the warning bell, for on a personal level, I can easily see this happening. Which would be silly, for if a part of going pro' is to bring about a change in lifestyle, then you would want the new lifestyle to be as you had hoped. Otherwise, what would be the point? You know, this is where I would rely on family. I think at the beginning they would need to impress upon me the need to turn off, to remind me what it was we were trying to achieve together. It wouldn't be easy. In fact, this would be one of the hardest aspects for me personally to deal with in the change.

Contrary to Mark and Anon's thoughts (they are obviously both nicer blokes than I am :) ), I would find "loneliness" not even registering on my personal "to be concerned about" radar. I'm an unsociable git! If I didn't have family, I'd spend my holidays on the most remote of Scottish islands. All I'd need is a good stock of books, cases of wine, food and firewood. Ah, bliss! Seriously though, the idea of a remote rural existence appeals - just me, the wife and the kids. I've online friends (and that's not the sort of online friend who calls herself Cindi and who spends most of her time scampily clad in front of a camera in her spare room) and a good mate since childhood, but other than that, I tend to have acquaintances rather than proper friends. I get on very well with my work colleagues but the relationship there is different. When you work with the same six people for at least ten years and as many as sixteen, the relationships you forge are more akin to siblings than workmates. They can visit! All that said, I do like Anon's idea of communicating regularly with fellow professional gamblers - I can see that helping deal with the stress. But this blog isn't supposed to be about me - Mark's/Anon's point is a valid one, and one most would need to consider long and hard before leaving the 9-5 workplace. Me? Nah.

Finally, the last practicality we must be assured of is the ability on an ongoing basis to get our bets on. This of course is a subject that has had a great deal of coverage in this blog. The ability to strike bets is also the central motivator behind my forced move away from such exposure to horse racing and increasing my exposure to sports/football betting. I wouldn't want to put all my financial eggs into the one Asian bookmaker basket though, and back up plans would be necessary to counter what would otherwise be a catastrophic event should Pinnacle or the like go out of business or decide that Betfred was the business model to copy. There's not the room here to go into all of this again. Suffice to say, before going pro', you'd need to be as sure as you can be that you're physically going to be able to get your money down.

Last installment on this subject tomorrow, I think, before I disappear on holiday. So if anyone has any more thoughts, now's the time to get them over. :)

Today's Betting

It sure has been an up, down and up again month for The Market Examiner. Started off very well, desparate losing run, and now the winners are coming again. Amongst today's three selections lay a very nice winner (Landaman - Beverley - 13/2).

Not much happening elsewhere. The Winning Racing Tips bet came second for a very small loss, and no luck for Northern Monkey (0/1). The Summer Of Football bet last night in Brazil was a loser.

Northern Monkey: Staked 0.75pts, -0.75pts.
Winning Racing Tips: Staked 1.2pts, -0.05pts.
The Market Examiner: Staked 3pts, +4.5pts.

Summer Of Football: Staked 1pt, -1pt.

By the way, I've typed this post whilst listening to Radio 5's special programme on Hansie Cronje. Absolutely fascinating, and follows on from another great production I listened to the other night on the best ever pieces of football commentary. Radio, and the BBC at it's very best. If you get the chance to listen on the BBC website, do so. You won't be disappointed.


  1. From a social point of view MSN and a decent forum keep me sane. I chat to fellow gamblers all day long on MSN and have a decent betting forum I frequent daily which is my office space.
    If you are worried about pensions etc then the best thing to do financially in todays climate is to pay the mortgage off ASAP and then save for later life

  2. Hi Rowan,

    I am glad you liked my thoughts.
    To become a professional gambler is a very tough decision to make for sure...Some people tried it for a year or two and than decided to stop and go back to the former job.
    But..... they did not have any regrets... they just continue where they were.
    But that is not for everyone of course, it seems you have a very good, well paid job now (you are very well educated) and that makes the decision probably harder... when things do not turn out, can I go back to my old job or will I get a job at the same level? For me that was not a problem, I left my office 17 months ago and if I want I could back there tomorrow and resume my old job as a softwareengineer . And even if that would not be possible, it would not take me long to find a job as a softwareengineer with an other company... there is a big shortage in experienced softwareengineers. My decision to become a gambler made that a lot easier.. The main question is: What can I lose??? I guess that decision is very personal!
    I wish you all the luck Rowan, for sure this is not my last reply on the forum, your blog is wellwritten and very interesting!

  3. I've been unemployed for just over 10 years and have read the above posts with interest. I've achieved gambling profits of just over 800k during that period peaking in 2008 and 2010. The couple of replies posted are from people with 1-2 years experience. How I felt after 2 years is no comparison to how I feel after 10 years. The continual emotional highs and lows take their toll and it is difficult to keep motivated and also to switch off. I personally can only really switch off when I go away on holiday.

    I would like to pick up on the point made about feeling isolated. There will likely come a point when your mindset changes. I was generally optimistic and confident in myself and didn't feel isolated even 5/6 years down the line. I had a load of online gambling contacts doing similar things, we'd even meet up for a beer or two every now and then. I guess the start of the recession in 2008 was the first time I started to feel uneasy. It started to dawn on me that someone in my position would now find it difficult to find employment after 6 years out of work, but 2008 was my peak as a gambler and those profits tended to keep such thoughts on the back burner. The big psychological change for me came around the Summer of 2010. Despite a good year I felt results had gone my way and I knew the outlook was a lot bleaker in the niche areas I specialize in. A lot of my gambling acquaintances were falling by the wayside, either forced out, or scaling right back due to a tougher gambling environment, and trying other things (without much success I think)

    The introduction of the 2011 super premium charge and the limits/tactics/trading decisions of all bookmakers make it especially tough nowadays for established gamblers. You get sick of using "agents", spending far too much time thinking how to get money down, and getting treated like a quasi criminal for being good at something. Add that to the pressure and emotional highs and lows and I think you get a true perspective of what it's like after time.

    I made a psychological decision to go "part-time" this September (after a particularly good and needed 4 month spell of profits) but really to do that and feel good I need to have something else to focus on that does earn at least some money and is not related to gambling. The problem is after 10 years out of work I feel detached from the work place and I feel at a lower ebb mentally and emotionally than I've ever done. I try and use the 800k profit to give me some sort of rational comfort that deciding to quit employment was the right move. I should point out that I have children which is both a positive and a negative in making that decision.

    1. This may sound a little trite but I'm a touch humbled by your post. Thank you very much for such an honest, no-holds-barred summation of your experiences.

      Do you mind if I publish it on the main part of the blog?


  4. Rowan, I don't mind if you post it.