BETDAQ TRADER INTERVIEW: In the latest of our series of BETDAQ TRADER INTERVIEWS Stephen Maher catches up with cricket expert TREVOR W.
Stephen Maher: So, for anyone that doesn’t know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
TW: Hi, I’m TW, @whatatrevor on Twitter. I’m probably your stereotypical gambler, 30 years old, male, beard, live in London. I’ve been a full time cricket trader for five years now after a rather underwhelming and boring career in marketing. I specialise in T20 betting, I rarely bet Tests or ODI’s unless it’s a big tournament.
Stephen Maher: And how did you first get into betting?
TW: I first got in to betting as a Tottenham fan, placing bets as a 16/17 year old at the games, little score-casts things like that. Then on Sky, they used to have a bookmakers called Surrey Sports where you could place bets on using the red button. This is back in 2001-ish and as I was too young to legally gamble so my mother set up an account and would put £20 in there every so often. I would bet very small on football. (Eventually they turned in to Skybet). I also opened a Stan James account when I was 18, as at the time before Internet betting, SJ had the best live teletext prices and phone service. Nowadays it’s advanced so much, makes me feel old thinking about it.
When I left university I went to work for a bookmakers in Gibraltar and even though I was in the marketing and product management side of things, most of my friends were on the sportsdesk. I also shared a flat with a few of the US sports traders. £5 bets soon become £50 bets then £150 etc. At the time I used to bet on everything that was on TV, football, cricket, NFL, rugby and snooker. When I started taking it a bit more seriously and seeing it as a way to supplement my meagre wage, I noticed that cricket was outperforming the others and started to focus on that. Having one of my best friends as a cricket trader, also helped me get a better understanding of the betting side of cricket.
Stephen Maher: Ah the underage betting, we’ve all started there! How long did it take you to get to the high level trading you’re currently at?
TW: In the first few years I would use betting exchanges but could never turn a profit and was only profitable on fixed odds bookmakers. As most people are well aware unless you are constantly setting up beard accounts then there isn’t that much longevity in it (5 years or so), so I was desperate to start turning a profit on the exchanges. Two major factors changed this, one increasing my stakes and using Betangel. I would say that the 2012 T20 world cup was the turning point as that was my first 20k tournament and made a massive difference to my bankroll. I had a really good Big Bash 2 that winter and never looked back.
Stephen Maher: How disciplined are you sports wise? Do you just stick to cricket or would you attempt to trade any other sports during major tournaments?
TW: I think this is an interesting question as I still enjoy ‘gambling’ as well as trading. I would look at my cricket bets as trading and my football and other nonsense as gambling. I don’t mind losing a few hundred quid on football each week as despite this adding up over a year, it keeps the gambler inside me happy and allows me to focus on my T20. Nowadays, with the fixed odds firms falling over themselves to offer value on football and the exchanges, you are betting to roughly 101% so if I lose 1 or 2% I’m not that fussed. What I find difficult is that when there is no major cricket tournament on, I do get bored and can lose a bit of focus as I want action. My T20 calendar is pretty set each year; Big Bash, World Cup, IPL, CPL. The Champions League was a big loss to the T20 calendar and I’m not sure which tournament I will do, means my autumn is pretty quiet now. It also adds extra importance to the Big Bash is now my favourite and the most important tournament in the calendar. I don’t do the English blast, I can’t get in to it in the current format and it’s quite unsocial hours.
Stephen Maher: I totally agree on the Blast, the format is terrible! By the way, Sim Mahon told me that when you and your wife we’re planning a child, you planned it so that when the baby arrived there would be no cricket on, is that true!? That’s impressive dedication!
TW: October and November are generally free of T20 cricket unless you do the Ram Slam or Georgie Pie, so yes we planned about 9-10 months before so if things went well it would fall in to that window so I could spend the most time helping out. Luckily our little boy popped out on 12th October so it couldn’t have worked out any better. Early babies also statistically perform better at lower age sport so was also keen to have them early on in the school year. It’s one of the few ways you can help your child in the early stages.
Stephen Maher: I’ve told my girlfriend that if our child isn’t a pro golfer or jockey I’m kicking him/her out at 16, so that’s handy advice, thanks! Back to betting, what do you think the cricket markets will be like on Betdaq during the T20 World Cup?
TW: Betdaq and cricket don’t mix very well at the moment. There’s a few reasons for this. Their main focus is on Football and Horse Racing. Cricket also needs snipers and courtsiders in my opinion, a bit like tennis. They provide liquidity at every tick price. Betdaq with it’s 6 second delay doesn’t make it attractive for courtsiders. Furthermore, there isn’t enough liquidity to sustain in play cricket. I think Betdaq can do a better job providing pre match liquidity.
Stephen Maher: I think getting on on Betdaq is relatively OK, it’s just getting off in quick situations, I suppose this is where snipers and courtsiders come in and because they’re always trying to do business at important times too. What would you do to improve cricket liquidity on Betdaq?
TW: Putting the delay down to 5 seconds could only help. Betdaq would need to seed Ladbrokes odds in to the market whilst employing a bot / trader that copies some of Betfair’s prices in to the exchange. Once traders and bettors see that there is liquidity at all price points, then people will come across and avoid the premium charge. The premium charge was introduced for people like Tony Bloom and in my opinion shouldn’t be affecting manual punters. 250 markets over a lifetime is nothing. Also provide pre match liquidity.
Stephen Maher: What was your biggest loss? And what advice would you give to people on how to deal with a big loss mentally from a trading point of view?
TW: My usual stake in to a market is about £4,000, so I’ve lost double and treble stakes a few times when I get too aggressive on the market. The first time you set a new record for a loss it hurts a bit but you need to be able to shrug your shoulders, work out why you’ve lost and move on. Often it will be miss reading the game and then being unable to come out as the price is wrong.
Big losses are going to happen sometimes but they shouldn’t happen too often. Why? Because managing your current liability is one of the most important things as a trader, especially your ‘cash out’ position. I could have £20k on a selection knowing that the most my position will hardly move and my exposure if a few hundred pounds, whereas at the end of a T20 I could have a 5k swing and there’s nothing you can do with one ball left but let it play out.
My advice to other traders would be never bet outside your bank roll. I have four stakes generally, half stake, normal, double and treble. As long as you stay disciplined and don’t double stake then double again five minutes later you should be fine. If you have gone on tilt and blown up a bit, take a few days off and focus on some lower risk trades until you feel you have your timing back. Timing is one of the hardest things in trading and when you’re hot, you are hot. But the most important thing is working out why the big loss occurred, 90% of the time it is over staking.
Stephen Maher: You’re the first person I’ve asked this to as I’ve just been asking biggest loss but go on, your favourite wins?
TW: There’s four that stick out. Back in 2005 Stan James did a special in the first test, KP to hit a 6 off Shane Warne at 9/2. I remember having £10 on that and getting very excited when it won. £45 at the time was a couple of pretty boozy nights out at the student union. That was a major bet for me as was one of the first times I had spotted an edge and had the guts to back it and make money. Bets like that certainly make you want to look for the next angle.
My biggest price winner was Arsenal v Spurs at 600/1 in 2008. After discussing with a friend we both fancied goals and looking at the prices saw four each was 600s and thought it was a bit big. I had no other bets in the game was literally jumping on the sofa going nuts when Lennon made it 4-4. I have a poster of that on my study.
I was working late in the office in Gibraltar looking for some value in the 2007 Ashes and with Harmison bowling the cricket trader thought wide at 33/1 was a bit of value if Australia batted. So I opened a new Blue Square account and when Harmison bowled it Flintoff at second slip the two of us were celebrating doing air high fives across the office.
Finally, my best spread bet was in the Big Bash in 2012 Adelaide v Brisbane. I had noticed in test matches that with the ground works the boundaries had been pushed in about ten metres on one side during the international matches and was hoping for a low multi sixes line as it is traditionally quite a big ground. They went up at about 25 and the make up was 9 x 10 for 90.
Stephen Maher: A few people have asked me to ask this question, I do but they never count! How many hours per week do you spend trading, roughly?
TW: When there is a major tournament on like the World T20 coming up, I will do every game, be ready set up an hour before and update my stats for about an hour after. I will only miss a game for a wedding or something very important, as it’s vital to do every game and know the form. I hate having missed a few days and not knowing what the pitches are doing. So in a week such as that probably 60-70 hours a week but when there is no T20 on zero, sometimes I might have a whole month off.
I think over the course of a year I have less days off than someone doing a 9-5 job. 104 days for weekends plus 25 days a year or so holidays. I’d be surprised if I take that many off but some of the days I work where this only one game I’d only work about 5 hours a day.
I love sport, trading and working from home, there’s no way I could ever go back in to paid employment. I like being my own boss and in charge of my destiny. I also love the instant feedback on your performance. I do really enjoy getting my teeth stuck in to a T20 tournament. If I was to stop trading (which I won’t) it would only be to set up my own business doing something else.
Stephen Maher: I reckon you’re right about working longer than most people, I think this is something that most non-betting people don’t understand about professional gamblers. Another recommended question anyway, what software do you use? What is your general set up like?
TW: I use Betangel. My set up is fairly basic, I have about four laptops. One has the exchanges and my spreadsheet in which I track the bets I place, one has bet365 up, the other has Skype and a couple of fixed odds I will be using at the time and the other will have the stream up.
I am basically a manual trader. The only software I use is Betangel for it’s one click functionality. There’s many ways to shear a sheep and I trust my eyes to judge the pitch and the teams playing and decide what a par score is how the market reacts based on that.
Stephen Maher: Any tips for the World T20 then? It’s only a few days away!
TW: Study the minnows! The qualifying tournament at the start is the most profitable bit of the tournament. If you know these players well and their strengths and weaknesses, you will already know more than most of the market. Also be aggressive early in the tournament. Everyone will work out the relative strengths of each team after the 1st or 2nd game so make your pre tournament angles count early.
Stephen Maher: How do you see the next year or two going betting/trading wise, do you see any major changes in the industry?
TW: The industry is in a consolidation phase, lots of mergers going on. I don’t think this is great for the punter. From a personal point of view, the markets are always adapting and changing, you need to find new angles and players to back / oppose. For example, Dhoni used to get the job done most of the time but now you have to oppose him at the crease. Russell is a gun and every time he is at the crease, you don’t want to be on the bowling team!
Stephen Maher: Thanks for doing this TW and good luck for the World T20!
You can follow TW on Twitter @whatatrevor and see his thoughts during the T20 World Cup.