BETDAQ TRADER INTERVIEW: In the latest of our series of interviews with BETDAQ traders Stephen Maher catches up with punter, trader and author WAYNE BAILEY to find out how he approaches trading on BETDAQ.
Stephen Maher: So, for anyone that doesn’t know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Wayne Bailey: Hi Stephen, well my name is Wayne Bailey and I’m a 35-year-old punter, trader and author from Dublin. I’m a librarian by profession, but I’ve spent various periods in my life as a professional gambler. While never a full-time employee of Betfair, I did quite a bit of freelance work for their education team a number of years ago. I also wrote for (and edited) some of their tipping websites. Since 2008, I’ve had a weekly column in the Irish Independent called ‘The Betting Ring’. The column is written from a gambler’s perspective and I try to give a flavour of the highs and lows that this kind of life brings.
Education-wise, I have a degree from University College Dublin in Social Science and Information Studies and I also have a Diploma in Financial Trading from the IIFT. More recently, I completed a course in Psychology. I find the mental side of betting and trading fascinating and it’s far more important that most people realise.
Just over a year ago, I wrote a book about trading on the exchanges which was published by the Racing Post (ISBN: 9781910498316). It has sold really well which was a little surprising as I didn’t realise the interest in trading was that big!
I also run a tipping website (www.waynebaileyracing.com) so as you can imagine, the betting industry keeps me busy. I’ve had some small shares in a couple of horse in the past but it proved to be very expensive and unfortunately, they weren’t successful in any way. So I feel I have a reasonably good insight into life as a punter, owner and analyst although I’m learning all the time.
I’m married to a wonderful Newfoundland woman and have a daughter aged eleven. Sports wise, I love horse racing but I enjoy going to Gaelic Football matches when I get a chance. I spend a lot of my spare time reading – mostly non-fiction such as sport, psychology, politics, history and biography.
Stephen Maher: How did you get into Horse Racing and betting?
Wayne Bailey: While my late father was never a big punter, like lots of Irish men he loved a few pints at the weekend and a bet on the horses. I grew up in that environment and every Saturday, he’d give me 50p to pick out a horse and have a bet. In this politically correct world of ours, I guess that would be frowned but for me, it was a gift. I learned loads of lessons from them days which have helped me out in my adult life such as always paying my debts, putting my money where my mouth is and more importantly, being able to admit when I called it wrong. Sadly, he died ten years ago aged 53 but he remains a big influence.
I also spend some time working in a supermarket in my late teens and one or two lads in particular loved a bet on the nags. I didn’t know a huge amount about horses back then to be honest but I remember one of the lads telling me to back Istabraq in the 1998 Champion Hurdle. I saved up my money and placed about £50 on him at 3/1. That was huge for me considering I was earning about £30 per week part time. He won on St Patrick’s Day and for better or worse, I was hooked!
Stephen Maher: You know my first bet was 50p! It was on some horse that Frankie Dettori rode, and it won! Obviously hooked after that! When did you start to take a more professional point of view towards racing, and roughly how long did it take you to get pretty decent at it?
Wayne Bailey: In 1999, I went up to my local track Leopardstown to watch the aforementioned Istabraq (pictured) in the Irish Champion Hurdle. While there, a pal of mine pointed out a professional punter who was trying to get quite a bit of money on a certain horse without the price collapsing. I was fascinated. I think it was the first time I realised that a normal bloke could actually make a living from betting.
When the internet became commonplace it became a little easier to do some research and I began to take it a lot more seriously. But I must admit, it took about five or six years before I began churning a regular profit. I blew so many banks in the early days it’s not even funny! But I kept at it, trying things out, asking questions and recording my results. As I learned a bit more about the sport, I began to try out laying horses and that lead on to an interesting in trading.
Stephen Maher: I reckon keeping records is one of the best bits of advice you can give someone. I know you’ve wrote a book about trading, and that there’s another one on the way. How long did it take you write both?
Wayne Bailey: It was much harder than I expected to be honest and the first one took about two years – I wrote it part-time in the evenings and weekends. It was definitely worth it though. I’ve seen my name in print many times in the newspaper but I have to say, I got a real buzz when I opened the first box of books from the publisher and saw my book in print. The first book was about trading on the exchanges so that’s partly the reason it was so time consuming – I had to wait on certain things to happen while trading, take a screen shot, etc.
The second book is a lot more straight forward and less specialised. It’s basically about betting on horses in the traditional way. I discuss ten different strategies I use to find good backs or lays on the horses and I then logged my progress for the year 2015. I’ve about 70% of the book itself written but the editing process can be a bit of a drag and takes time. Money wise, you don’t earn a huge amount from writing books but it helps raise my profile in the freelance writing world and it also drives traffic to my website etc. Hopefully, I can get the new book out before the end of the summer!
Stephen Maher: What do you get the most enjoyment from, writing your books, tipping a winner in your Irish Independent column or going through the form and seeing something that no one else sees and it bolting up?
Wayne Bailey: I enjoy all of the above but I do love to get a good winner for the newspaper column as I know that a few people follow the bets. I always have a decent-sized bet on the horses I tip – so I feel the ups and downs as much as any reader. So far, the column has shown a profit most years which is pleasing although tipping horses in a newspaper has a downside too and you have to have a thick skin. People will say really nasty things on Twitter that they’d never say to your face. I suppose it comes with the territory and I’m well used to it at this stage!
Stephen Maher: You have to get used to being called a useless c**t alright, haha! Are you more of a layer or a backer then?
Wayne Bailey: I’d say I back 70% of the time although my tipping website actually provides horses to lay in the place markets.
Stephen Maher: What’s your biggest loss laying? (or backing)
Wayne Bailey: Oh dear. There’s been quite a few biggies. The one that springs to mind immediately is from the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot 2007. I was trading that day and was losing a small fortune. Back then, my discipline wasn’t what it should be. I’d lost about a grand and I began chasing my losses – I got into a right fix trading Takeover Target and I let the trade go running. Before I knew what was happening, every horse in my book was very red. I fired in a few bets but I was all over the place. To cut a long story short, I got into a situation whereby I stood to lose just over five grand if Takeover Target was beaten. To show how cruel this game can be, he hit 1/10 in-running but was beaten by Soldier’s Tale by a head (pictured). Rather than accepting the loss, I blew the remaining monkey (€500) in my account chasing my losses again shortly afterwards.
I’ll never forget the moment I pressed the refresh button on my account and it said zero. In fact, I open the book I wrote with that story. It was a real turning point for me – I seriously considered giving it all up at that stage. The choice was either giving it up or building again from scratch with ten times the discipline in place. Thankfully, I chose the latter but it wasn’t an easy road.
When you’ve busted a large bank like that, you have to ask serious questions as to whether you are suited to this life. If you start again, you’ve got to ask yourself why it’s going to be different this time. I wouldn’t say it was the best thing that happened to me but it certainly made me realise that the buck stops with me and I swore that I’d never act so foolishly again. To start trading with a couple of hundred euro I cobbled together a few weeks afterwards was humbling and it made me realise how important the mental side of this game is – and that protecting your capital is everything.
Stephen Maher: On this topic, what do you think about Horse Racing liquidity recently on Betdaq?
Wayne Bailey: It’s far better than it used to be although the place and in-running markets are still a little sparse. But it’s possible to trade most racing in the UK and Ireland on Betdaq to a decent level and the reduced commission is definitely a big plus. I don’t really trade other sports all that much so I’m not sure what it’s like on that front but at the bigger meetings, Betdaq can actually be quite useful for trading as the queues to get matched on Betfair are sometimes too big.
People often complain when Betfair goes down but don’t switch to Betdaq when it happens. This annoys me a little but I guess that most people keep all of their money lodged with one account. As I see it, the question for Betdaq is how can they get people to keep a lump sum in their account. I’m not sure how it would work but perhaps some sort of incentive for people who keep their balance above say, €200 might be useful. They will then be more inclined to use both exchanges and will actually switch to Betdaq when Betfair goes down.
They may then realise that the liquidity is a lot better than a few years ago.
I’m not sure if Sky Bet still do it but from memory, they used to give you a fiver every Monday if you had bet more than twenty quid in the previous week. I know it’s only a small amount but Betdaq could consider something similar if you bet or trade a certain amount in a week.
While the lower commission is great for the more serious players, the average Joe punter probably appreciates something more tangible and definite – like a fiver or a tenner in their account. Alongside the serious backers, layers and traders, Betdaq need to concentrate on attracting the casual punter as they too help make up liquidity. You can’t have too many sharks and no fish. Things like Betfair SP helped bring lots of casual punters to that exchange.
Stephen Maher: Blank canvas question then – if it was up to you, what would you change or introduce to the Betdaq site? I’ll actually give you two choices, one change and one thing new that you’d like?
Wayne Bailey: The first thing I’d change is the lack of an SP product. People seem to think that betting at SP is for mugs but I use it all the time on Betfair. For example, I have a strategy whereby I’ll identify horses which are quite likely to trade at low prices in-running. Instead of sitting at the computer waiting for the off, I can set my software (Gruss) to back the horse at Betfair SP and then lay it at a % of the SP in-running and green-up automatically. Because of SP, I can still do these bets if I’m out for the day.
SPs are also great for research. On my website for example, I can record my profit and loss to the public using Betfair SP. They is good for credibility as they can check back through my records and see what the actual prices were, rather than having to believe me when I tell them I got a certain price on the exchanges.
SPs are also hugely useful for researching traditional betting strategies – I use data mining software to test out strategies and at the moment, the results are only available to traditional SP or Betfair SP. For example, one of my strategies is to back flat horses which are rated above 120 in Group One races. Sometimes you get more than one qualifier in which case you back highest rated of the two. Since 2008, that strategy has produced 31 points profit to traditional SP and 36 points profit to Betfair SP. Is it profitable on Betdaq? I’ve no idea as I can’t test it out.
If Betdaq had an SP product, people could compare and they might realise that they can often get a better price compared to Betfair (when you consider the lower commission rates).
The second thing I’d introduce is somewhat related. Alongside an SP product, I’d love to have easy access to things like in-running data, especially for racing and soccer. I’ve a load of betting ideas which may or may not be profitable but it’s too time consuming to test each one out manually. Betfair do release inplay data in CSV files but it’s very bulky and not easy to figure out. There are commercial sites which provide inplay data for Betfair but they are quite expensive. Access to Betdaq’s inplay data (provided it was reasonably easy to use) would certainly make me try out more ideas on the exchange – and therefore, I’d put more money through.
Stephen Maher: I know that Betdaq are working on an SP at the moment, and I myself am hugely in favour of getting it on site, so hopefully that happens fairly soon. But anyway, you’ve been very honest with your trading and losses, what advice would you give to someone starting out?
Wayne Bailey: Firstly, learn to use Excel and record everything you do. Whether it’s trading, backing or laying, you have to know the areas you are doing well/poorly. Treat betting like a business – the margins are so tight in this game so every penny is a prisoner. Come up with a disciplined plan and stick to it. If every you find you are chasing losses, staking above what you planned or letting bets go inplay because you are in a bad position, then you’ve lost the plot. You have to be honest with yourself – don’t kid yourself into thinking you are doing well if you are chasing losses – it will all end in tears eventually.
Read as much as possible on the subject – if you are into trading, read financial trading books too as a lot of the principles are the same. Always do plenty of research and if an idea you’ve worked on for ages proves unprofitable, don’t be too disheartened – you are learning more and more about the business every time you place a bet. Keep a notebook handy or make notes on your phone. You never know when an idea for testing might pop into your head – you’ll forget it later if you don’t write it down. Focus too on the mental side of things, rather than looking for the next great system or set up. In my view, success in this business is 70% mentality/discipline and 30% strategy. The main thing to remember is to ALWAYS protect your capital so you can stay in the game. Never stake so much that it risks wiping out a good chunk of your bank. Don’t worry about bagging those big wins – protecting your capital is more important. Trade or bet conservatively and eventually, the money will follow.
Of course, there’s the usual chestnuts like only betting with money you can afford to lose. If you have blown a few banks, like I have in the past, ask yourself before you hit the deposit button “What am I going to do differently this time”. If you can’t answer that question, you’ll end up back at square one.
Finally, you need to put in the hours. A lot of people with full time jobs tell me they can’t find time to read or do research but a few years ago, I was in the same boat and decided to get up at 5.30 a.m. three days a week. That gave me nine extra hours per week which is significant. It’s tough going sometimes. I often tell people that this is one of the hardest ways to make an easy living. Be aware that lots of professional gamblers I know took years to get good at it. You have to ask yourself if you have that kind of patience. Everyone wants a healthy bank balance, green screens and some lovely P&L screenshots at the end of each month – but how many are actually willing to put in the time and effort? Not too many judged by the fact that less than 5% of punters show a profit over five years.
Stephen Maher: This is a question a few people have been wanting me to ask, you have touched on it a bit already, but between everything you do racing wise, how many hours do you work per week?
Wayne Bailey: That’s a tough one. As you have gathered by now, I like to have my fingers in a few pots. I read a book a few years ago about multiple streams of income and it struck a chord with me. I don’t like having my eggs in one basked so at the moment, I earn money from trading, backing, laying, my newspaper column, my tipping site and the book I wrote. As mentioned, I’m also a qualified librarian so I do some work on that front too mostly involving digital books and online research. In this way, when one income stream is not going so well I can fall back on others.
It varies depending on which sporting events are on – and the summer racing in the evenings can make for some long days but between everything, I’d guess I work about 60 hours on average per week. I try to keep Sundays off to spend with the family.
Stephen Maher: Last question, do you see any changes to the gambling industry in the near future?
Wayne Bailey: The industry seems to be consolidating (Betdaq and Ladbrokes, Betfair and Paddy Power etc.) I think there’s good and bad to this. If they decide to start filtering some of the bookmaker bets through to the exchanges, it could mean more liquidity for layers although I’m not quite sure what the business models are and Betfair seem to be moving strongly towards the bookmaking end of things and moving away from their roots. I think this presents Betdaq with a huge opportunity.
Betfair used to use the slogan that they welcome winners and were seen as the punters’ pal but with the premium charges, they can’t really make that claim anymore. I don’t think Betdaq really went for the kill when the premium charges were introduced but with Betfair and Paddy Power becoming so big, I think Betdaq has a chance to take the side of the punters – the space that Betfair used to occupy.
I also find it sad to see the demise of some of the old style layers – especially the on-course guys. There are not many big online or shop bookmakers which will take a decent bet these days which is frustrating. This is also an opportunity for Betdaq. I’ve had a few bookmaker accounts closed down and almost all were for winning less than a grand. One was shut after I won two hundred quid. That’s disgraceful behaviour in my opinion as I know other people who were allowed to lose thousands and never got a tap on the shoulder. The exchanges and Betdaq in particular should focus on this.
The big change in the past few years is mobile betting obviously. When I started betting, you had to go to a bookie shop. Then it was a PC – now it’s mobile. Generally speaking though, I think that punters have never had it so good.
Stephen Maher: Thanks for doing this Wayne and being so honest with your answers! If anyone is interested in buying Wayne’s book you can do so here.
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