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Monday, 9 October 2017

Are you a farmer?

Read an excellent post on twitter from a financial trader earlier. There were a few elements to it but, much like the books it referred to, it focused upon process over profit.
We hear it constantly but how, even though we've read the books and tried to drum the concept into our heads, do we abide by this rule? Well, picture yourself as the crop farmer. Year in year out, season after season, the farmer goes through the process. He cannot control the outcome. All he can do is give himself the best chance of seeing a good crop. He does not dream of a bumper harvest, does not picture himself in a brand new tractor. What he does is follow the process, knowing that, based on thousands of years of farming knowledge, this process offers the best opportunity of having a good year. The weather can write off the entire crop, parasites can could ravage everything but he cannot do anything about these aspects. All he can do is give himself the best chance. And so it is with us, too. Process, process, process.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Can I help you?

Though my trading journey has seen me reach incredible highs, and lows, it has been very tough and, comparatively, really, very long. Much of this is down to my own stubbornness; thinking I could work it out by myself and believing blind faith would eventually get me to my goals. That determination stands me in good stead but the journey could've been a great deal shorter had I asked for the right help and if the right help was available.
Enormous amounts of trading education is offered to us almost daily - this guy's e-book, that guys videos, someone else's live trading course. Some of which are very good, most, sadly, are not. Some sellers do offer more, giving us advice about different aspects of trading, flagging up issues we might face but rarely giving us the know-how to overcome them. Often the goal is having us purchase whatever they are selling.
From what is available, I am yet to see any genuine guidance, training or education around putting things into practice. The good service/training providers offer strategy and guidance on how to implement them but, for me, what's completely lacking is help around... I'm struggling for the correct phrase here - I hesitate to use the term "Trading Theory" but cannot think of anything more apt.
When you have strategy, even when you are given clear "push this button now" instructions, you still need framework, structure, guidance and additional learning. When we learn to drive we are not simply handed an owners manual and reference book, we take numerous lessons and, often, some take numerous tests just to get on the road. Only once the test is passed do we really begin to learn what's it all about. How, then, can we expect ourselves, after a small amount of training, watching however many videos, to trade effectively?
My journey was too long, there were too many banks blown, too much needless endeavour and not enough real, genuine help.
Since October last year I've been working with a handful of people, trying to take them to another level of trading capability, helping them understand what's held them back, giving them confidence in themselves and their own abilities to trade the markets effectively. They have not been given any strategy or strategies, working together, all we've done is analysed results and, using that resulting info, been able manipulate how they trade so they focus on what they do well and avoid trading what and where they do not. Each of these guys is part of a particular trading community and their focus is pre race trading. Some of their feedback is below;

"I would like to say a big thank you because not only have you transformed my trading and I am now making more money than I ever have but maybe more importantly  I am more relaxed and happier in my life and sleeping better and all of this is thanks to your help with the mental side of trading. Thank you for changing my life for the better."
The Don

"Before speaking with you, I was just a break even trader. I could read the markets well enough but could not make it pay off. Now, looking back on both my P&L and my Trading record (using the excel framework provided) I am in profit.
There are things that you introduced into my schedule that I knew about but didn't think it would make much of a difference. Especially the detailed Trading Record. This really helps to see areas in need of improvement and has helped give me confidence.
I still have a way to go before I can live off my trading profits, but it is clear to see the improvement I have made due to the changes we have implemented. Most of these changes have been with the psychological aspect which I needed help with the most.
I am confident I can achieve my dream, which likely would not have been possible without you."
AT - Kent.

My endeavour now is to help more people. I still want to help pre race traders but, in particular, in-running traders and traders who focus on other sports like football and tennis.
This is how it would work: Firstly, there is no fee to me. Initially we would have a Skype chat, (I do everything over Skype), during which we would have an in-depth chat about your entire trading experience, however short or long. Then we'd talk about you and what you want to achieve. This will help me understand what help you need and, if we're both happy, you make a £50 donation to the NSPCC. For this you get a further six separate Skype sessions with me over a period that would be dictated by your trading type and style. Each session we deep dive into your latest results and learn more and more about how you trade, your pitfalls and successes, from which we build the plan for the next period.
It must be made clear again, there are no strategies on offer here. The idea is to help you identify what will make you a consistently profitable trader and what is currently stopping you.

Drop me an email here if you would like to take the first step. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

...the chicken or the edge.

What stops us from becoming the trader we aspire to be? Why, when we look at the market, do we see all this money available yet fail to extract any on a consistent basis? The answer is fear.
Fear is the wannabe trader's most formidable foe. It controls us completely, governs our thoughts and actions within the market and, unconquered, will ultimately lead to our failure.
This fear or fears manifest in numerous ways; fear of missing out, fear of being wrong, even fear of being right, fear of the opinion of others, fear of loss, the list goes on. Then, of course, there are the innate fears that have been imprinted on our psyche through our own life experiences. It's these innate fears people feel they need to weed out the most. The need to go through some Freudian process to alleviate. Is this true though? Can we not overcome the more obvious and still achieve trading success?
When fear is removed, we are confident. Confident in our ability, confident in our knowledge, confident that we can control ourselves in a given situation. Think about the first time you got in a car and how well and how automatically you drive now. Similarly, with your job; first day fear and nerves soon dissipate. But trading is different. No one market is the same as another, so how can we build a mental mould for it? We can't. That's the point. So, what is the alternative? What can we do to remove those fears, to build confidence, knowledge and therefore control? We find our edge.

Your edge is what you sets you apart from all the other would-be traders. All the people that begin this journey and the uncountable who end the journey without success.
The kingdom is on offer to us, there for the taking, but without an edge it remains so close but so firmly out of reach.
Ask yourself, right now "What is my edge?"
If your answer is quantifiable and based on positive probability, you're likely already profitable. If you're not, maybe your execution needs work.
But if your answer is ambiguous or you genuinely don't know, stop! Don't make the same mistake so many of us do/did. Spending every trading session guessing, hoping the light bulb moment will come will take years off your life and large sums from your bank balance. The more you try and trade in this way, the more fear will imprint itself and the harder it will be to reach your end goal. Deep dive into your results, make detailed examinations of every entry you've made. You might be so close but aren't aware of the small change you need to make.
Use your trading session time to examine the markets, decipher the flow, find the anomalies, the patterns (they do exist). Correlate what you find, back test, paper trade, fail and start again.
All the information is available but you cannot take it out if you're too busy getting blindly stuck in.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Head first, ladders later?

Regular readers of this, rarely updated blog, will know I am part of Steve Howe's MG World, an excellent trading community centred around swing trading the nag markets but taking all sports into account. This community continues to grow and being part of it means engaging with traders at every level of experience. As you might expect, a good number are novice traders.
Over the last year and over the last few inductions into MG World, my attention has been particularly drawn to the psychological approach of new traders. If you've been trading for at least a year, you'll already understand that the method comes first, after which, you learn the battle with your own mind and emotions is not only a much bigger foe to defeat but a war that has to be won in order to achieve success.
Now, we all know there are a few well known traders, some famous for being genuine, others just infamous, and some of them do blog, tweet, record etc about psychology (notably Caan Berry who's YouTube channel is very good), offering insight into overcoming your own psyche and a lot of it is good, helpful stuff. However, whilst all good training/e-book providers deliver something around a pragmatic approach or mindset, none that I have seen (I've seen pretty much all of them) offer anything in depth to assist the novice trader in identifying their personality traits and how they might help or hinder in the early stages of their trading pursuit.

During a Skype chat this week, a MG member confirmed he'd reached the point of being a scratch trader, after just 18 months of discovering trading. Impressive, I think. But how much further forward might this trader be had he known his personality in more detail?

What am I getting at? Well, in simple terms, I'd like to rectify the above. So, over the next 6 months my trading will be scaled back, to focus on a non-related project, but also to really understand how examining personality, at a very early stage in the trading journey, might highlight areas of focus and, potentially, shorten the journey.
Ask yourself this, if someone had told you, right at the beginning, your personality lends itself to taking unnecessary risks or risks that are out of balance with reward, would you have taken steps to remove the chance of these traits creeping in?
I happily and readily admit, after taking a trading specific test, that my personality type sits in conflict with that of the ideal trader. So, fear not. There is hope...

I would very much like to hear from traders of all experience levels to understand the difficulties, past and present, who are happy to help identify, not common mistakes but the personality traits that lead to them

Friday, 29 January 2016

Are you your own worst enemy?

After posting so regularly for so long, I took the decision to post only when something really poignant either occurred or came up. This is one of those occasions.

So, yesterday I was in the markets as normal, pre-race and in-running. It was a strange day pre-race, moves looked likely but never really materialised. Patience is key, as you know, sitting and waiting for the opportunities to present themselves is a large part of the game. This patience was eventually rewarded with two large moves, one an absolute stonker from 3.95 - 6.4, in the bumper.
Knowing the later AW markets are not as solid as the afternoon cards, I carried on trading at Chelmsford City. Started off with a solid green then, not only did I make a poor entry, a long way from where a safe exit would have been possible, I got trigger happy with the entry too, making multiple entries. Of course, the position reversed massively leaving me with a £100+ red. This was more than a schoolboy error, this was discipline disappeared, forgotten, lost. Why am I so damning at this foolish act? Because I did it again in the next race. Not to the same size red but, this time, I went past tilt and massively increased my liabilities when trading in the run - the classic increase in stakes.
The in-running trade resulted in a scratch overall, though it's debatable if that's a good thing...
Almost 10 years I've been trading, 6 of them full time, and still I'm prone to such ridiculous errors.
After taking time out and clearing my head overnight, the analysis. We ask ourselves so many questions when we do this and the answer is always the same "I didn't stick to the plan". The plan is so simple, there are just a few qualifying aspects to take into account. What's worse is on Monday this week, to get a refresher, I re-attended Steve Howe's excellent Racing Workshop, where the plan was drummed into me over and over. A plan that works exceptionally well - when implemented effectively. After telling Steve about my stupidity I requested his wisdom;

 "Knowing when enough is enough is something we all struggle with. When it comes to trading there HAS to be a line. 
Having an exit plan, and implementing it is as important as your entry, if not more so. I have an exit plan built into my entry position and if that exit point is reached it’s game over. I close the trade and reassess my position. Not to chase any loss, but as a completely different trade. This takes a few key skills; discipline, confidence, practice. 
The less experienced you are the less flexible you should be. Experience enables me to see a bigger picture, so occasionally I let my planned exit lapse. I will need to see the reasons for this. A good example would be; I have a Back bet on a favourite, it’s drifted to the point of my planned exit (or Stop Loss position). There is no strong opposition and the favourite looks to be at the front of the line-up. Armed with this information, I make a judgement that the drift is temporary and the odds have a better than average chance of coming back. If I can see the reason for the drift, maybe the 2nd fav that was drifting has reversed and is now opposing the favourite, the a swift exit is called for. 

The absolute Golden Rule for any trading is “Protect your bank”. If you don’t lose then you win by default."

Steve's reference to a lack of experience is relevant here. Though my experience of trading the exchanges is lengthy, my experience with pre-race is relatively short. Though you'd be forgiven for suggesting I should still know better. 

The day ended with a profit overall but there were times when my liabilities were far too high and the trading was woeful. 
It's back to basics for me with pre-race and much-reduced stakes until the errors are equally reduced. 

NB: Steve's Racing Workshops are the best pre-race training available. I can say that with impunity because I've done them all, sometimes twice, and it's only Steve's that have ensured consistent profit.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The importance of creating chunks

Next to my bed there are currently twelve books. The stack gets ever bigger and, dependent upon the subject matter that has my interest, their order tends to change. Right now I'm enjoying a book called the Two Second Advantage. It's main theme is how we might deliver into modern technology the ability to have predictive powers, thoughts almost. Happily, close to it's beginning, there is a sports reference to the Ice Hockey great Wayne Gretsky and his ability to read the game and make incredible moves and passes within it. This ability was considered inherent, a natural, God-given talent. The reality is a lot less romantic but a great deal more encouraging for us lesser mortals. Gretsky had created "chunks".
Our brains work by processing billions of pieces of information, fusing new with old, removing the minutiae then building broad reference points, "chunks". These chunks are simply memories of what has happened in the past, from which we are able to make predictions about the future. The reference to Gretsky is simple; his own constant study of Ice Hockey, both on and off the field, meant he had innumerous "chunks" to refer to. So many in fact that it became automatic, subconscious. Leaving him to consciously focus on how he should behave within the game.  
Our brains are wired to recognise patterns so we can refer to chunks and predict what might happen. When trading markets this is pretty much near impossible, however, what we can recognise are the signals that suggest to us what might happen. It's these signals and their outcome that we must build chunks from. As novice traders, if we move from market to market without creating a frame of reference, we have no anchor point from which to make a decision. The ideal is we get to a point where our autonomous brain says "You've seen this set of circumstances before, this is what happened, this is how you should or shouldn't react". In doing so we cement that mental image. When this same process happens again and again we are building the chunk(s) that eventually become second nature, allowing you to focus on how to behave in the market. For this trader, this aspect, this point, is never mentioned, purely because so few recognise it happens naturally over time, over literally thousands of markets. The difference between us and the really successful traders we know and love is that they all, very likely without knowing it, have created ways of cementing the image, dropping the anchor point. The most common way and, from my own experience, the most successful way to do this - talking to yourself. Tell yourself what is happening, what is the bi-product of that? What is the reaction in the market? Even the silly stuff is helpful, like "I wish these big stake f*ckers would stop road-blocking the market and switching from one side to the other!". It happens, we all see it everyday but what does it mean to us? What should we do with that info? Most importantly, remember it.

Stay green. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

This is how it should be done - Betfair take note.

Geeks Toy now in Beta
Important Please Read.

Due to the retirement of Betfairs current API, on Monday 10th November we were forced to migrate everybody onto Betfairs new API version.  Although this version had been on beta test for three weeks and we addressed the issues in the product as they came up, since Monday many issues have come to light that are causing some customers issues at this time.
 With the number of issues to be resolved and the amount of work we are doing in critical places to resolve these issues we cannot at this time maintain a release version of the software that we are confident for people to use for their betting and trading.
As such I have with regret taken the decision today to put Geeks Toy back into beta until we have the worst of these issues resolved.  I am hoping this won’t be for too long, but we need to be 100% confident of software operation before we can run it as a release version again, and with the current issues it is unacceptable to do so. 
I’d like to apologise everyone for this, and to say that Richard and I are working flat out to deal with the problems.  Once we are through the beta stage, all subscribers  will have the expiry date extended on their accounts to make up for this downtime.

In the meantime if you want to help us resolve the issues as quickly as possible, please continue using the software with small stakes, and please report any bugs you find here.