Starting out as a sports trader

03/12/2016 | By | Reply More

I’m conscious that when I post bigger totals people wonder how they were created? The first thing to note is that the commonality with them is that they were all created with a lot of experience and hard work! There are no shortcuts when it comes to really good quality trading. Knowledge, experience, hard work, the rollercoaster that is trading, all count. It takes a lot of practice to trade with larger stakes confidently, but you can do it!

Bigger stakes for bigger races

I’m always keen to show that, despite there being a lot of misinformation out there, it’s perfectly possible to do this and at a decent level. I pride myself on the basis of giving an honest truthful and representation of what you can achieve if you’re willing to put the effort in.I am also conscious however that I tend to use bigger stakes. You can see from all of the posts that I make, that I to tend to trade the bigger races much more aggressively. I realise that this is something that not everybody can do, or wishes to do depending on the stage at which they are at in their trading career. We all have to start somewhere! I realise that I’m pretty unique, in that I can trade confidently at pretty much any level.


Smaller stakes

With this in mind and knowing I need to give quality guidance to people starting out I constantly look back at using smaller stakes and limited banks to understand the challenges and the opportunities are presented to people who are starting out. I think hard about whether how to use small or larger stakes and how this affects the strategy that you would use in the market. When I host courses I demonstrate this live by using small stakes that ensure the strategies and methods that I teach work and can be replicated. Indeed, I feel there are advantages to using small stakes, I showed that in the video that I produced recently. You can view this video here: –

What can you do with £400?

Very regularly, to produce detailed documentation on specific trading styles, I will go the whole hog and trade on low stakes. This week, I picked on a quiet day when I didn’t intend trading on full-blooded stakes. I then carefully documented the whole day’s worth of trading.

The maximum bank I had was about £430 and this was a significant limiting factor. If I wanted to trade something that large odds and lay those large odds first I had to do it at a liability less than this or else I would run into trouble. So I had to flex my stakes up and down according to the liability. This is not something that I recommend because you should be focusing on the trade quality, rather than the liability on the trade. It makes sense that you look for the best trade first, not for the thing that has a different liability. That’s crazy.

You can see the results from that day using a bank of £430-ish pound I managed to yield a result of about £35, that’s a return of about 8% on the day. Of course if I took this capital forward I could add that £35 to my bank and trade with large stakes on the following day and so on. That is the art of compounding. If you can trade any level of ability, you start to compound your stakes very quickly. Before long getting £10 a race will be a disappointment, not a highlight of the day.

All the results you see here were trading 5-10 minutes before the off and trading out before the race went inplay. No hoping it gets matched during the race. Pre-off and in-play markets are very different and require very different risk and reward processes.

More is less

For me, it’s a different problem. I have far too much capital to put to use and therefore my range of opportunities are limited. That is why you tend to see me posting results in big races, That’s where I can to try and put as much capital as I can through the market. I may skip a lot of the small races, simply because I know I can’t put a lot of capital to safe use. It’s all relative, if you are starting out at trading this is a problem that you will not have. So earning a tenner on a race will be perfectly acceptable territory for you and so it should! Aim for a safe, sensible trade that produces something than reaching for the stars and blowing up your trading bank. Small and safe ensures you will be in the game for some time to come.

How the day went

I traded 15 markets on this day. There were only three losses out of the 15. That’s a strike rate of 80%, this is almost exactly what I would expect. When I do tuition, I would expect my strike rate to be somewhere around 80%. That’s what has been consistently for a number of years. Depending upon the type of markets I encounter during the day, that rate may rise or fall. But that is the sort of breakdown I typically expect.

My trading style tends to be reasonably defensive, I tend to be looking for markets where I’m unlikely to lose money. I don’t know what upside I’m going to get, I just know that I will get some; so I try to make the most of it when it presents itself. You can see from the screenshot that I generally managed to achieve both key objectives of minimising losses and maximising profit throughout the day. But you can also see I am totally human, in 14:10 at Ludlow I had a shocker.


I basically made a total Horlicks of this race, I did just about everything wrong. I entered at the wrong time, far too early, changed my mind and got punished for it. It happens to everybody, but one of the things that I have learnt is that when you have a situation like that. You just take it on the chin, take full responsibility for it, accept that you made the mistake and you move on. If you loiter for any length of time on a bad mistake or even really good profit, you end up in a situation where you overemphasise both. So it’s better that you just accept that you didn’t get it right and move on. You can see I quickly regained composure and a few races later I was back in front again. When you realise you can do this, you always approach the markets with immense confidence.

My profit targets

My objective for any day is simple. Do the best that I can, with what presented in front of me. I don’t go in with a profit target I don’t alter what I’m going to do based upon my early results. I just assume that I’m going to get reasonably consistent profits, the occasional loss but I’ll end up at the end of the day. I have absolutely no idea how much I’m going to earn when I go into a particular trading session, but what I do expect is that I will make something. I just don’t know what it will be!

When you have that confidence you approach every day as an opportunity and you’re constantly on the lookout for those opportunities. You would love to slam dunk every single opportunity, but you realise that you can’t possibly do this. Instead, you’re happy to settle for a profit, whatever the value, and keep moving forward. At the end of the day, week, month and year all those little profits soon begin to add up.

The trick to larger profits with small stakes

You can see on this day that using a small bank we made £35 using a bank of around £430. We did this over 15 markets which averages out to around £2.30 per market.

You could easily trade 10,000 markets a year, which would build those £2.30’s up to a total of over £20,000 in that year and that assumes that you don’t raise your stakes at any point. It’s obvious that if you increase the amount of money that you use per trade, that the average of £2.30 per market will rise.

When I first started trading, this was exactly what I did. I just slowly increased stakes over a long period of time and before long you start thinking about getting a hundred pound in a day. Then you started thinking about getting hundred per race and slowly the target rises and rises until such time as your expectation is to earn significantly more. That eventually comes with time and experience.



The most important thing you can learn from this post is even if you’re starting out, it still perfectly possible to get a reasonable return per race. That can build to that higher level with a little bit of compounding your stakes. You also realise that in fact your mission, should you choose to accept it, is not to get hundreds per race, or to get some amazing total. But to actually get small amounts, very often, at a reasonable risk. If you do that, you’ll be amazed how the racks up over the course of the year!

Good luck with your trading!


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Category: Trading strategies

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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