Going full time on Betfair – My Journey – Part 4

By now you have probably read part one, part two and part three of my sports trading journey. But this is the big one, the step up to Betfair trading for a living.

The leap into the unknown

So I was in my early 30’s, had a desire to work for myself, but was in a well-paid job and travelling all over the place. I really enjoyed that aspect of my job, it was a dream. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and my family had little in the way of money or upward mobility. My best subjects at school were sports and blackjack, my lunch-times were fab. But the rest of it was easily forgotten. Given my career trajectory, I had already signficantly exceeded expectations.

Some things had always niggled me though!

Desire and passion

If you work for somebody else, you feel you never truly control your own destiny. As you rise to more senior roles, you realise you are pretty much running everything. That seemed to mean that while you carry the risk, you generally didn’t get the reward. It was frustrating the hell out of me! Each year was more or less last year +10%, please. Actually “Please” is an exaggeration, it was demanded of you. If you didn’t hit your target you would be replaced by somebody else.

So for years, despite a decent salary, I deliberately underspent and didn’t carry any debt at all. The grand plan was to give myself some breathing space when I finally decided to go and work for myself. Making the decision though didn’t get any easier, especially when I started a family. After our first child, we went for a second child and got twins! But, as you get older, you learn that it’s not important what life does to you, it’s how you deal with it that’s the real deal!

Making the jump to Trading on Betfair for a living

As the Betfair betting exchange gained traction, I began to realise that perhaps this was an opportunity to do something. Not only that, but something new and exciting that nobody had done before. It ‘felt’ like a good opportunity, but I had no idea if it would be viable in the long term. But so many times in my career I had spotted something but never done anything about it. I told myself that the next opportunity I saw I would jump on, whatever it was. But it was increasingly looking like it would be being a professional gambler!

I realised things had reached a critical point when, during a meeting, the MD gave me a ticking off for ‘playing’ on my laptop. I was actually looking at a market on Betfair, whoops! I had a half-decent position open on the market and it was due to mature in the next hour or so. I really needed to keep an eye on the position and how much was matched. A laptop was the only way to do that in those days, the Smartphone didn’t exist just yet. It felt like if I was operating at that level, maybe it was time to make the leap?

Previous experience had taught me that you had to move quickly if you spotted an opportunity. But I realised that this was another opportunity. So, to the complete surprise of everybody I knew, I decided to make a break for it. It was out of character for me, as in the past I probably often been far too cautious when opportunity struck.

When people asked me what I was going to do, I didn’t really know. I had some ideas but didn’t really, completely, know what I was definitely going to do. It was obvious that if I focused on trading on Betfair properly I could probably multiply the numbers fairly quickly.

Making the jump, or throwing it all away?

At my core, I knew I just wanted to do something. I’d been good at spotting opportunities in the past, but pretty terrible at doing anything about it. But this time I decided that I had to go for it!

Betfair and other exchanges were still in their formative stages, so it wasn’t certain that it would be viable on its own, but it that didn’t work I’d probably make something else work. I thought about what would happen if I couldn’t make it work. Would I be able to find another job in the industry? My role was very dependant on the relationships I had, people valued me for that. If I tried to return, I may find the door closed?

It meant throwing away a decent career, a really good salary, international travel, a pension, company car and all those perks. On top of that, there was the hospitality at sports events, Wimbledon, pit tours at the Formula one, the expense account and all those other things. It wasn’t a bad life.

But making the jump, felt like it was the right thing to do. I know many people before me had made the same leap, though not to gamble for a living, so I took inspiration from them. But it was still a difficult thing to do, even more, when you are trying to support a young family.

So I took a deep breath and took the plunge.

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