What is it really like behind the scene of the bookies?
A few years ago somebody joined my team. We draw on many different backgrounds including a wide range of people but in this case, his former job was on the trading desk at a big bookmaker. I thought it may be interesting for you to hear his story, from working at home as a Betfair trader to gaining a bookmaker traders job, he expresses the positives and negatives of a sports trader and offers some valuable insight into what goes on at a bookmaker.
Below follows his story in his own words…
Life before betting exchanges
I left school with absolutely no idea of what I wanted to do for a career. I had fairly decent GCSE grades, so there was an option to continue my education but getting into work straight away and earning some money appealed to me.
I saw myself as a bit of an entrepreneur in the making at school, doing a bit of buying and selling (no eBay, it was Loot back then!), I also took over the running of the snack shop at my youth club. I remember being sat behind my little counter watching my mates playing football in the hall. This wasn’t good for a 14-year-old on a Friday night, so it wasn’t long before I took on my first employee to run the shop for 3 hours. I was now playing Football, but my profits had now pretty much disappeared. My solution to this was to buy an arcade machine. Delivered to the youth club and placed in the little music room, they were queuing up to play it at 30p a go and the money was rolling in!
My next venture was my biggest success. I decided to run a ‘football fantasy league’ competition. This was a good 20 years ago, the premier league was new and fantasy football was also a fairly new concept back then; but soon the newspapers started to introduce their own fantasy league competitions and that’s where it came to an end.
Football stats grew into a bit of an obsession for me for the next few years, I would scan all reports and keep a record of all the scores and any other info. Not sure why I did this, I wasn’t gambling or using the information for anything, just liked to do it. I wanted a job in statistics or data but there wasn’t anything out there. It would mean doing a degree course at university and I didn’t really want to go down that route.
Discovering Sports betting, Sports trading & Betfair
Eventually, I came across Betfair. I played around for a year or so, losing money, few big wins, few big losses then came across Bet Angel. I didn’t read any instructions, just started to play around with all the functions. I liked all the calculations and bets being placed by just one click of the mouse.
For the next couple of years, I started to understand the markets a bit better. Got my head down and started to make consistent profits. No restrictions, not being limited or banned. I absolutely loved it. This is what I wanted to do….it was a perfect job for me. I love sports, was good at Maths and loved using programs etc. but often I wasn’t making enough money to leave my current job. I was still making mistakes either through being careless or the odd lapse of discipline. I was determined to make it work though and eventually decided to leave my job so I could dedicate more time to it.
Going back to a ‘normal’ job
It wasn’t good timing! I was engaged, a child on the way, a mortgage to pay…..but I wanted to make something of myself. I had spent years in jobs with not many prospects and average pay. This was an opportunity to better me. So I became a Betfair trader for the next 2 years. It was hard work, I only just managed to pay the bills and I was dedicating so much time to it, that my social life took a hit. I have to say I wasn’t particularly happy.
So I decided to get a ‘normal’ job and come back to ‘trading’ at another time. The stress disappeared and I started to enjoy life again, although it wasn’t long before I started to get bored with my work and was fed up with earning a low wage.
Although there was all the stress involved being a full-time sports trader, I felt that it was still the perfect job for me. I just needed to attack it in a different way, look for a different angle. If I could be more organised and think more about money management.
How I got a job as a Sports trader at a bookmaker…
I was continuously reading as much as I could about trading through blogs and online books. I was getting to a point where I was looking to giving it another go when I came across ‘sports trader’ jobs being advertised at bookmakers. I didn’t understand how you could be a trader at a bookmaker or what the job would involve. I was familiar with online bookies, but I’d never really thought about how bookmakers made their money other than in shops. So I started to look into the online side of the business and how they operate. This was perfect, I could trade and also have a secure wage coming in!
I decided to apply for a ‘sports trader’ job with one of the large bookmakers. I didn’t think I would have much chance of being offered an interview. I was a sports enthusiast with some trading/gambling experience and that was about it, I didn’t feel I was particularly qualified to do the job. I took some aptitude tests online and managed to scrape through to the interview stage.
There were around 30 candidates on interview day. After talking to some of them I realised that they all had degrees, so my confidence was slowly diminishing and I was getting increasingly nervous about my interview.
We had to take a series of tests before the actual interview. Some of it was searching data to look for errors….this was right up my street so I started to gain a bit more confidence. We were given a talk by one of the senior managers for 10 minutes on who they were looking to employ. They weren’t too interested in qualifications or experience, mainly to do with our attitude and enthusiasm. I was first to be called for my interview.
Why have I been called first? Is that a good or a bad thing? Why are they not going through us alphabetically? I was escorted to the room and the interview began. I wasn’t going to mention about my time as a Betfair trader. I was worried that I was giving the impression that I was a gambler, but I decided to be completely honest as I also wanted them to know I had a bit of experience and knowledge.
The interview went well, they made me feel at ease and after a bit of a nervous start, I began to relax and speak a little clearer. There were a couple more tests, some basic bookmaking questions and a sports quiz. Didn’t do particularly well on either of them!
The day was quite exhausting and mentally draining. I was pleased that it was over but I didn’t particularly feel confident that I would be offered the job. The one part of the day which I was worried about the most was having to explain my ideas/solutions to increase turnover in the on-course horse racing sector. I went blank, couldn’t really think of anything, the guy next to me was writing away like he was copying off an answer sheet. I saw the words ‘economic growth’ and ‘financial stability’ on his sheet……I looked down in panic at my sheet to see the words ‘offer the bookie burger meal, £5 for the food and a free bet’. I still cringe to this day about that….to make myself feel better I have convinced myself that no-one will ever read them anyway.
They mustn’t have anyway, because a day later I was offered the job. I was ecstatic, I couldn’t wait to start. I didn’t know what to expect, but I did know it was going to be an exciting career with many prospects. It looked like a bit of a turning point in my life….
Keep tuned for the next part in the series….