Betfair trading for beginners – Top ten tips

Now I’ve been trading on Betfair for over 20 years now and I sit down every day, press a few buttons and some money appears on the other side! But if you’re just starting out, it can be a little bit confusing and there are often contradictory advice available out there.

So I thought, wouldn’t it be useful if I compiled some Betfair trading tips that I think you will find useful if you’re just starting out on your Betfair trading journey?

So my first tip for you: beware the beginner’s cycle…

What do you see to get started? A betting strategy, some Betfair trading strategies? Well really what you need to start, its to be aware of the beginner’s cycle….

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Well typically when you first start, you want to get going as quickly as possible and as a consequence you collect all manner of advice and guidance that you possibly can. Ultimately, you will find at the end of this experience, you would just be a little bit poorer and you may not have learnt much about trading.

There really is no substitute for getting some screen time and yes, you need to understand the basics, but most of those are available! That’s why we produce things like the Academy, because that gets you onto that first step, that first process where you begin to learn about how to trade and things that you should be doing.

However, if you get to that stage, then spending a lot of time learning how the market works and how you interact within it is the key. Collecting all manner of courses, books and other information is basically not the key.

When I first started trading in financial markets and somebody said to me:

“The market is there to make money from you, not for you.”

– Advice I was given when I started in the financial markets

I ignored that advice and spent a fortune collecting information that was absolutely useless!

So my first advice to you is to get the basics right, get some practise in and then decide which path you want to go down, not the other way around!

A common mistake you can make as a starter

Something that commonly happens is that first starters look at the markets on Betfair and try to find that perfect strategy. As a consequence, people tend to focus on one particular strategy. They’ll try every single strategy and none of them work and they’re left thinking, “well, this is frustrating I can’t seem to find a single strategy that works!”

So I’ll tell you why, it’s because there is no single strategy that works.

There are many ways to trade in sport trading markets. You could be looking to trade pre-race horse racing or to do some football trading.

But ultimately your role as a trader is to apply a strategy to a market, not to find some goose that lays fantastic golden eggs, because that is the hardest thing to do!

To find a generic strategy that works generically well in generic markets, applied to generic selections is just the hardest thing ever to do. So part of your role as a trader is not to look for that unbelievable strategy, it’s to actually look at strategies and say:

  • Yes, that will work in this market
  • Well, this will work in that market

You have to apply a strategy to a sports betting market, not look for a strategy full stop as the way to be able to make money. That’s part of the skill that you bring to the mix as a trader.

If you have migrated to Betfair trading from matched betting, you will not be familiar with losses. But ultimately trading is getting a balance between profits and losses and you need to be able to afford to lose on occasions.

Selecting the right market will help you minimise those losses.

Remember: How you trade is an edge

When trading execution can be an edge as well, what do we mean by that? If you’re trading in an active betting market, then somebody who’s actually using a website will be slower and unable to do as many things as somebody that’s using a bit of software. You can even semi-automate that, automate parts of it or you do something a little bit cleverer, then you’ll be somebody that is unable to do that.

So never forget that actually executing a trade can be an edge as well. And that’s important in terms of not only the way that you do it, but also your ability to be able to execute that trade. So practising getting in and out of the market, doing all of those things will give you an edge in the market over somebody that doesn’t bother.

The Betfair exchange is full of people trying to get an edge and profit, but if you want to profit in the long term you will need to beat others. So remember to focus on how to do something as must as what you do.

When you first start trading, you will probably lose money…

I know this is going to be disappointing for you, so one of the suggestions that I make to you is that you actually set up a trading bank, but you split that bank in half. With half of that bank you play around, you get used to the trading process, you try a few things.

However, in your mind you write off that money immediately, you split your bank in two. That way, it’s easier to come to terms with losses and mistakes that you make, even if you lose half your bank, you still have half of it left. So when you’ve made all of those mistakes and have got them out of your system, you can start trading properly.

Be organised: Have a trading plan

Make sure you have a trading plan, whatever strategy you’re using whatever market you’re in, make sure that as you’re about to enter the market, you know exactly what you’re going to do, given a number of scenarios.

When I enter a market, I already know where I’m going to get out at a potential profit. I also know at what point that trade will have gone wrong and therefore, I need to get rid of my position.

If you don’t have a trading plan, you will not be guided by that and you’ll have to make stuff up on the spot. That’s when the emotions will overwhelm you and force you in to errors.

So it’s really helpful to have a trading plan because that will act as a guide to you, but also you get objective feedback on the market. If something goes wrong, you can adjust your trading plan and take that forward with you to improve your trading. But if you don’t have a trading plan, you’ve got no hope of adjusting your actions.

Also with a trading plan, you can practise on the execution of it without one. You’re just messing around in the market and you have no structure to what you’re doing.

Know your psychology

The way you think can be an edge as well, trading will force you to do all sorts of weird and wonderful things. There’s an invisible hand in the market, especially when money is involved that will push you around. So read about the psychology of trading, understand exactly how your emotions are influencing what you’re doing and come to terms with that.

It’s really important to understand when you’re actively trading and using money, exactly how your mind is influencing that. If you want an example of this, go into practice mode on Bet Angel trade a market and then actually go and flip and trade and live mode and just see how different your actions are when you actually have to use real money and bear real losses. Working on that can also be an edge in your trading.

Money management

Make sure you understand money management and your objective when trading, because if you fail to get that correctly, you will go bust.

When you’re actually trading, what you’re doing is you’re looking at a bank size and you’re only ever going to win a small proportion of that bank. You’re either going to be positive or negative of the stake that you have in the market and of the entire bank that you’re using at that particular moment in time.

That’s trading! When you’re gambling, you’re exposing the entire bank to risk, so make sure that you fully understand that trading is a matter of:

  • how much you win
  • how frequently you win
  • how often you lose
  • how much you lose when you do lose.

It’s nothing like traditional gambling and therefore you need to treat it completely differently as well to make sure you’re fully conversant with that before you actually start trading.

Help your understanding by using automation

The psychological aspects of trading is something that catches people out all the time, especially if you’ve just started out. So why not try automating some of your trading?

Because that eliminates all of the emotional aspects of trading completely and it would give you a really firm base to work from. When you automate trading, you get pure feedback from the market, there are no ifs or buts, it either works or it doesn’t. That will give you a great base to work from, even if you intend to manually trade.

Understanding the difference between financial markets and sports markets

Now, trading on Betfair and sports markets in general is similar, but not the same as trading in financial markets. If you’re trading an equity, a bond, interest rates or foreign exchange in the financial markets, they behave in a certain way that’s the same in sports markets.

This is one of the things that catches people out on the trading sports markets and this is seasonality.

Tennis matches are played on different surfaces over the course of the year. You have the all weather flat season, you have the turf flat season, you have the jump season in horse racing, different incentives for football teams, different times of the year, different levels of fixture congestion etc.

Each sport has its own level of seasonality. So if you expect to get the same results over the course of a season, that’s the wrong way to look at it. You expect results to ebb and flow over the course of the season, depending upon where you are within the season and the strategy that you’re pursuing. So make sure that you keep an eye on seasonality.

Little and often soon adds up!

So my top tip is that little and often soon adds up, and what I mean by that is rather than going for some grand total or trying to get the big results, what you’re better off doing is accepting that the way to trade is a balance of profits and losses. Going for a small gain overall over a large number of markets, because what happens is a little and often soon adds up.

You do little amounts on average over a large number of markets, and then gradually that cumulative total is quite large in the scheme of things. Also you’ll feel under less pressure to get a result if you’re trading for much smaller amounts.

So especially when you’re starting, it’s helpful just to go for a relatively small target, but to do it frequently because if you keep it simple, you go for something that’s easily achievable you’ll begin to build confidence in what you’re doing. If you trade enough markets, then you’ll be able to reach your total that way, you don’t have to go for one big trade or be very accurate or wait for the perfect moment.

It’s very helpful to be active and in the market and get a good average result overall. Little and often soon adds up and if you do enough markets and that will achieve exactly the targets that you’re looking for.

Want to learn more?

I hope those tips have been useful for you! There is actually a lot more depth to go into on each one of these individual tips and so below I’ve listed some Youtube videos to that explore each of these topics in great depth.

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Betfair trading profits

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