Over my many years of trading, I’ve produced lots of videos, articles and media to promote the Betfair betting exchange. You see me demonstrating key Betfair trading strategies, concepts and give a lot of depth to how you should really trade on Betfair…
So, how much do you think
Betfair paid me to do all of that?
It’s important to start by giving you a bit of background that leads up to that particular point.
I was looking at a video the other day on Betfair’s YouTube channel and it said on there, ‘don’t listen to this guy he gets paid by Betfair to drive customers to their business.’ So I thought, well, you know what? What a cheek, that’s just not true.
I think it’s important to address that, but more specifically all of the different facets of what I do and my incentives because my journey has always been very different from everybody else’s.
My early roots
When I was younger, I did work in gambling markets, but I realised that there was no way that I can make that pay because of all the restrictions and problems you have with bookmakers, so I went to financial markets and then ended right back at gambling markets simply because of the opportunity the betting exchanges presented.
I quit my well-paid job with three children, a wife and a mortgage to do this full time.
It was because it was an opportunity of a lifetime for me and necessarily I had to take it! The problem back then was that nobody knew about the concept. When you would go to people and say, I’ve got this great concept, as soon as you mentioned the word bet, betting, gambling or anything to do with that, people immediately switched off.
Betting for a living, problems I came across with my new job!
So I discovered that when I start out it was a real problem to get any traction within the industry. It seemed such an obvious concept, much better than a bookmaker or sportsbook as it allowed you to do a whole range of things it couldn’t. For the first time in your life, you could actually bet on something for a living. There was a demonstrable chance that you could do that, whereas you couldn’t with a traditional bookmaker or sportsbook
Before Bet Angel was born, before I had any sort of relationship with Betfair, I was going around financial market exhibitions, shows and talks and talking about the concept.
It was really simple to summarise to that particular audience because I was saying:
You know what? You can trade the sports market the same way that you trade the stock market.
A simple line, but that really got the concept across. The problem was it was quite difficult to do in the early days because there was a website and you’d have to type in the orders on the website which didn’t really work very well. So fairly quickly into my betting exchange trading career, I figured out that we needed to create software.
Creating a software
I went round all of my contacts that I knew to ask if they wanted to come on board with this, but nobody would, because, again, you mentioned the word bet and people switch off immediately.
One day I was doing a talk in Lombard Street in the city of London when I got into a dialogue with somebody who was at that talk, we started chatting, he was a developer and Bet Angel was born!
So to answer one question straight away, yes, I am going to promote Bet Angel. I’m very proud of what we’ve managed to achieve and it is a business so I have to promote its many benefits to be competitive. But ultimately its creation is very different from all of the other software that you see out of there.
I could see the potential, I could see the opportunity and Bet Angel was created to exploit that.
Originally, when I had dialogue with this guy, we just sort of started creating it. As soon as he began to see the potential of what was possible, he wanted to do all of this stuff as well. However, we were at an early stage in the industry and he had never traded before and he was under contract.
So we came up with this plan that basically we would sell subscriptions to the software and hopefully the payments we got from that would be enough to get him out of his existing contract and to develop full time.
Now the reality is, if we had known how well the trading would have gone, we may never have commercialised the product! Ultimately the decision that we made and that’s how Bet Angel was born.
We didn’t turn up 10 years later, say, oh look at all of this activity around Betfair trading – let’s create a product that we can sell into that market.We were there creating the opportunity right at the very beginning and that’s a process that continues to today. We put as much money back into the product for development so that we can continue to push the product forward.
It’s become something completely different from where we started.
If you’d have asked me back then, when I first started on Betfair, that I’d be around 20 years later, I would have thought that was just impossible! Also with Bet Angel, we thought that we’d maybe have 20 customers, but as the product has developed, it’s become an amalgam of ideas that we’ve had that we think would take the market forward and feedback from our customers, and I’m really grateful for the way that that is developed and the way that is moving forward.
A few years ago, I reorganised the company so that it could exist even without me, because really it’s taken on a life of its own and it’s the product of all of our customers now and not an invention by me.
I‘m very proud of the products and I am going to promote it. I make no apologies for that. It’s a great piece of software and hopefully, we can take it on to another level and let it develop itself going on into the future, whatever that future may be.
What incentive do I get from Betfair?
How much do you think that I got paid last year for all of the promotional work that I did for the Betfair betting exchange?
Well, the amount that I got paid last year for doing all of that work and being a software developer, promoting the concept and doing all of those wonderful things was, drumroll, please…
Zero, zilch, nada, none, I got nothing!
I didn’t get paid a penny for doing any work, no affiliate commissions, no direct funding, no fees for articles or videos or any anything like that at all. No corporate entertainment, there was absolutely zero money paid to me to promote Betfair.
In fact, I never even got so much as a have a merry Christmas email!
The reality, it works the other way round!
In fact, I get charged a weekly premium charge, so I actually pay Betfair to promote them, which is err…. slightly bizarre.
You would think that at least some of that money would flow back to me in terms of incentive or even sort of as a thank you! I’ve just learnt over the years that that’s not how this industry works. The industry is structured in such a way that that doesn’t happen. All the competitive aspects have conspired against that being a possibility.
With the financial trading accounts that I have with brokers in the city and other stuff that I deal with. There’s a marketing budget that comes off of the commission or fees that you pay, this nearly always ends up back at you somehow in terms of a thank you or an invite to an event.
However, Betfair aren’t particularly proactive on that. I’ll leave you to decide if you think that’s fair or the right thing to do. Ultimately, I didn’t get paid a penny last year for any promotion that I did. I received no incentive financial or otherwise.
The industry tends to work below the line
Well over the years, I’ve begun to realise that a lot of the betting industry is funded by those below the line contributions. So a lot of tipping sites that you see a lot of “advice sites” and people pretending to help you are actually getting a backhander via affiliate commissions from the bookmaker or the betting exchange.
The key problem here is that this creates is a distorted incentive. People will say anything or get you to do things even though they know that it’s wrong, just so that they get that commission. I’ve gradually grown quite uncomfortable with that I’m keen to be different.
I’m in a fortunate position that my trading has gone so well over time, that I don’t really need that hassle. The money that I made from trading I have invested and those two things together keep me more than busy.
Like I said, having another stream from it within there may be possible, but I think that brings other incentives with it that I feel somewhat uncomfortable with now, despite the fact that it’s not there anyway.
Will I get below the line funding in the future?
It’s not impossible that at some point in the future I may need to fund something, or I may need to buy into a concept where I will get funding. Certainly, I’ll be as clear as I can with anything that I do, whether it’s been funded or not. There are obligations in some media to declare this anyhow, but not that many people do.
But where I have a choice, I will reject funding in favour of putting a positive light on a job that is very misunderstood and badly represented. I have turned down funding for a number of things that I’ve done in the last few years, some of which you will have seen that’s very specific to one company or another. However, I decided that it’s better not to have that money than to have a distorted incentive.
For example, when I went to the Matchbook Traders Conference, they offered me a fee for going there. But because it was talking positively about betting exchanges, I just did it anyway, no free required.
I wanted a platform where I could talk openly and honestly without the fear of somebody pressuring me into saying something that I didn’t want to say. I’ve felt that that is the most appropriate way to do things.
So how am I incentivised to talk about the Betfair betting exchange and others?
If you asked, am I incentivised? Yes I am, because it’s been what I’ve been doing for a living for over twenty years!
It’s been a dream job, one hell of a journey and something I want to share so others can benefit from my experience not only in the markets but also about my career and life journey in general. It’s my pleasure to do that. I want people to learn from my experiences.
It always feels funny enough that people just don’t get it and with all of the work that I’ve done when I wake up in the morning, the thing that really gets me going, is that I’m trying to solve a complicated problem. Something looks intractable and I’m thinking can I solve this issue? That’s what keeps me motivated.
Then when I do achieve that, it’s the biggest buzz that I get.
I’m very lucky in that by doing that, it generally produces something at the bottom line. That’s ultimately how you get measured when you’re in a trading or betting market, a long term P&L, the ultimate measure of success.
However, in fact, my motivation for that end result faded a long time ago. It’s more the process of doing something interesting and exciting, seeing where that road leads, is what has motivated me for a large number of years. I feel like, there’s still stuff to be done and to be discovered and it’s that which sets me off on another journey.
So who knows where that goes? Who knows where I go? I’ve no idea to be honest.
Most of the journey that I’ve had to this particular point has sort of not been preordained, I just made it up as I went along. But I’ve learnt to quite enjoy that feeling and see where it takes you.
If you are expecting to be treated like a king in the betting industry for being a net winner, forget it. If you are treated well, then it may not actually be a good sign!
But my experience of the industry is that the press loves a bad story, so you can’t talk positively about it there and you are not incentivised correctly in the other direction. If you want to talk clearly about winning, then that’s not ‘helpful’ to the industry. Much better to get somebody to stick a few quid on something and ignore the detail. Who cares if it makes money when you get paid anyway? That doesn’t sit comfortably with me.
So I have to have an arc that reaches over that divide and, being a positive kind of guy anyway, means I’ll always be talking about the opportunities. I had to work from the bottom up, right from the moment that I created this unusual concept and I’m happy to show that as my background and journey.
Even if I did get something, I guarantee you it would be nowhere near the amount of commission that I’m paying in the other that direction. Incentives tend to be geared around a percentage of income, so that would determine any payoff. It would be nice if that were not the case, but it is, and I have long since come to terms with it.
So to clarify, I received no income from Betfair for promoting them last year, no invites, gifts or err.. Christmas greetings.
I hope this enlightened you on the reality as it’s very far removed from what you may suspect! But ultimately, that’s the reality.