A fool and his money are soon parted

26/04/2013 | By | 3 Replies More

‘A fool and his money’ It’s a classic phrase, but it always seems to ring endlessly true and never shall it be any different it seems.

This post is about the case at Southwark Crown Court this week, involving the now infamous Elliot Short. I see others have picked up on this before I had the chance to write about it, but here is the link to the original article which was posted up on the forum at the start of the week: –


I wonder how many times I will hear about some gambling scam where people have lost enormous amounts of money? It’s a real downer to keep hearing stories about people getting ripped off in gambling markets. Either by people exploiting the gullible or by the underlying sport itself. I think this explains why gambling markets are generally held in such low esteem. Over the years, I’ve found it very hard to get the message across what a wonderful opportunity betting exchanges have been. I blame these sorts of things for muddying the water. You also have the current issue that people who have never traded successfully are positioning themselves as experts or people are seeking to exploit the trading opportunity, rather than getting on and doing it, that isn’t helping matters. So even the best opportunity to profit from sports markets yet, can get horribly fudged.

I feel sorry for on the wrong side of these scams. But it has to be said, it’s fairly obvious that if you are producing stellar returns on something, you just reinvest the money yourself. No need to seek outside involvement. I know that, because that is exactly what I and many others have done. I’ve never met a serious participant in the market who wouldn’t do the same. Take a look at my equity curve for this year. I took some time this week to re-base it to Jan 1st and measured it as percentage return against the maximum exposure taken.

24-04-2013 Equity curve

The key thing you should take away from this image is that even starting with small amounts, you can move to much bigger ones very quickly, if you have an edge. This is something fairly unique to sports markets. So if I start with a small amount of capital I don’t really need any more, I just compound what I have.

More information is held within this image.

From it you can see that I am unable to compounding all my earnings, else the graph would be exponential. The fact is, even if you have a decent track record it’s impossible to put that extra money to use because your ‘system’ will collapse under the weight of your stakes. You become the market! The upshot of this is that sports markets are just not scalable enough to warrant raising funds to deploy in them. Fire up a spreadsheet and you will learn quickly that compounding small amounts rapidly at pretty much any positive percentage will mean it isn’t long before your average stake dwarfs what is sensibly available in the market. That’s all that’s happening in that graph. Look again at that graph for those alleged periods of draw-downs that ‘must’ occur when you have such good upside. That said, this is more a comment on my trading style and its unfair to assume that others, especially newbies, could replicate this curve, but that’s just the upshot of years of hard work, nearly fourteen years now.

So, there you go; I don’t believe, unless you are at an initial speculative phase, that you should ever need to raise funds to deploy in these markets. I have talked about it before but it seems my quest to inform people is no further forward. I’ve even spoken to the press about obvious scams or issues, but I think they get more of a kick out of dramatising a court case, than stopping a scandal in the first place. Such is life, my quest continues…..

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Category: General

About the Author ()

I left a good job in the consumer technology industry to go a trade on Betfair for a living way back in June 2000. I've been here ever since pushing very boundaries of what's possible on betting exchanges and loved every minute of it.

Comments (3)

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  1. THENUTS says:

    Peter – what would you say is the main difference between sports trading and financial trading from an edge perspective. My question is coming from the angle of you seem to have ” maxed ” out yourself on betfair from a scalability perspective but if you could do the same on the financial markets you would knock betfair on the head and be sitting on hundreds of millions. So what’s the difference ?

  2. Peter Webb says:

    I am active on both Betfair and financial markets so any surplus from Betfair gets invested. Until such time as I start investing in the billions I’m a long way from maxing out on financials. But on the sports markets I spend most of my time looking for new ideas or tinkering with existing ones. Adding a fraction of a percent over the year to the total is worth pursuing.

    As time wears on I have to spend more time in financials, so I guess in the long term I may end up on financials full time. But there is still plenty of opportunity in the sports markets and I also love the idea of pushing the limits of what is possible.

  3. The Investor says:

    “The key thing you should take away from this image is that even starting with small amounts, you can move to much bigger ones very quickly, if you have an edge. This is something fairly unique to sports markets. So if I start with a small amount of capital I don’t really need any more, I just compound what I have.”

    Although most of the successful operators on Betfair would very quickly be very profitable again if they had their funds removed and had to start from scratch, that’s not the case for everyone.

    I’ve been compounding since joining Betfair in 2006, and it’s only really in 2012 that I first started to hit limits of what I could get on in some of the big markets I trade in. My returns are a lot more lumpy than that graph, and I tend to have between 1-3 losing months per year, although I’m consistent enough to be in the 40% PC bracket.

    It’s easily possible to deploy £millions in the betfair markets (betting promotion are probably the only publicly verifiable example). Getting there can take a while.

    None of this is in defence of Elliott Short of course. I’m just saying it’s not the case that every big winner on Betfair would be able to turn ten quid into £100k in 12 months.

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