Touching distance

18/04/2015 | By | Reply More

Updated my spreadsheets and stuff last week. When I looked, I realised I was finally within touching distance of a very long term goal. One that would have been inconceivable back when I started. I would have thought you mad if you set me this as a target! It’s been a long journey….

The start

Back in June 2000 I had a neat idea.

000618 - Joined 18th June 2000 - Edit

I’d use these new fangled exchanges to arb between bookmakers and the exchanges. It was slow and cumbersome, but it made some profit. I’d back with a bookmaker then lay on the exchange and wait, and wait, and wait for the lay bet to get matched. Then one morning I woke up and realise that I could ‘arb’ on the exchange itself, what would happen if I put up a back and lay price at the same time. Hey presto, ‘trading’ was born.

But hell, it couldn’t be that easy could it? As the days past I realised that I had actually stumbled on something, so I started to refine it. I realised that really what I was doing was spread betting movement on odds, much in the same way I was already trading on financial markets. It suddenly looked so obvious. I still held down a normal job but could see the potential in betting exchanges. After years of threatening to do something and watching many opportunities disappear through procrastination, I was determined to do something. So I took the plunge!

Setting the bar

In hindsight, I was far too cautious to start with and I set my goals too low. I’d often read about setting the bar high, but you often write off these things as claptrap. But in hindsight, it was the right thing to do. My initial target was to earn £100k, as that would qualify as a life changing amount. That seems hopelessly low now, especially 15 years on. Aim high my friends!

As with most things, the concept of setting the bar high was simple; but the execution hard. Setting a large goal could easily push you too far and make you do things that seem unrealistic oe dangerous. But I found an easy counter to that. I now often set very large goals, but break it down into small achievable chunks. The path to the top of the mountain may be long and hard, but it’s much easier a step at a time.


The other thing I learnt was that in the end money became a subset of what I was trying to do. I was more motivated more by achievement and discover. The monetary aspect became a distant one. Curiously, when I made this transition, I performed even better. I’ve learnt so many lessons on the way and discovered I could do more than I ever thought. I also lost my fear of losses and of trying new things. This was a huge leap. When you fear little you mysteriously do so much better. You should also focus on yourself and not other around you.

Forward planning

As I become more established, I used any spare money I had to invest. I took the bold decision during the height of the economic crisis to invest heavily, that is now paying huge rewards. Curiously, I’ve also taken knowledge about managing risk, that I’ve learnt on Betfair, back into financial markets. It’s transformed the way I view decision making and I have a useful framework for risk, whichever market I choose to use it in. I tried once to explain it during a course I did, but it went straight over the head of the attendees. I think you need to understand the components before putting it all together.

Going forward

So as I approach my 15th anniversary on sports markets I’m getting a little reflective. My oldest daughter was three when I started she is now 18 and able to do this herself now. She needs it more than I and has much longer to do something with the proceeds, so it seems a natural progression to start handing over elements to her and my other two children when they come of age. That said, making mistakes is a bit part of success, so I’ll need to ensure they can learn from them first.

But also from a personal perspective it’s take a huge chunk of time out of my life. So when I cross this threshold I can well and truly say it was an amazing success and perhaps take some time out, finally, to acknowledge it. I’ve worked nearly every weekend for fifteen years and not had a ‘proper’ summer holiday in all that time. That said because trading is portable, we have actually had some amazing experiences, but just not at the normal time as others and trading has dictated the timetable a bit. So before the kids leave home I think I deserve a few blow out life experiences. So I may commit sacrilege this year and take some time off in the summer, perhaps a 4-6 week spell to enjoy the fruits of my labour. OK it will be expensive in terms of lost opportunity, but I think I can afford that in the scheme of things now.

The future

As for the future, I can’t conceive of a time when I wont trade. If you had a fruit machine in front of you that kept paying out, it’s really hard to not pull the lever. At the end of the day, every market looks like an opportunity to me. I just need to unlock it. Having spent years looking for the opportunity, you don’t really want to put it down. But more balance is something I am looking to achieve now. I don’t need to do everything in sight any more, so really I shouldn’t. As I know from my study of sport, age catches everybody eventually; so I feel a desire to do a few more crazy things before I’m no longer physically able too. I need to take some time to prep for those. I still thought I’d be a marathon runner in my forties, I’m not!

Ever busy, I’ve also had a few fingers in new pies for a while now; so balance also becomes a factor of trying to spend appropriate time with various interests. That’s a balance that’s proving tricky.

First strike at something new comes next Saturday. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I wont be trading on the busiest day of the week. During the winter I’ve been spending the quiet evenings rehearsing for a theatre performance. It’s true, so next weekend I’ll get to ‘perform’, it’s going to be a laugh!

So there you go, a bit of ramble, but hell, fifteen years in the making.


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.

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