Diary Of A Football Trader – Issue 1
Diary Of A Pro Football Trader – Issue 1
Today we are excited to announce a new member joining the Football Advisor team and he comes with seriously impressive trading background.
At his request, we have to keep is identity a secret, but here is what we can tell you about our new Pro Trader
ProTrader started his career and fascination with the financial markets as an Index Analyst at FTSE. He has since consulted for 15 years for some of the top Financial Institutions and Investment Banks in the world, where he specialized in financial instruments, pricing data, trading platforms and risk management solutions. He first started trading sports markets in early 2000, after the introduction and discovery of Betfair. He now trades the financial markets whilst working on entrepreneurial ventures with a focus on sports trading apps and e-commerce. He lives with his wife and young daughter between their homes of London, Sardinia, Odessa and Sochi. In his spare time, he is writing a book, enjoys outdoor pursuits with his family, learning Russian and of course, trading football markets.
Each week, ProTrader will be sharing his trading exploits and insights from his previous weeks trading and, if we're lucky, from time to time he'll also be giving a few pointers on upcoming trades that he'll be targeting.
This is something new for us but we are sure you are going to enjoy and benefit from ProTrader's insights.
So please do show your love and appreciation in the comments (plus any questions and suggestions), so that both Football Advisor and ProTrader know this is something you want to keep seeing in the future.
Without further ado, I'll hand over to Pro Trader.
Tuesday, 4th August, 2020
The last few weeks have been like the floods after the draught, in terms of football frequency. There’s been the re-start and rapid completion of the top European leagues, re-start of European competitions, the final stages of the FA Cup and the Championship play-offs for Premier League promotion. This has cumulated in matches on a daily basis, offering their own opportunities, risks and hopefully rewards.
The enforced break of all footballing leagues in the world (except Belarus) has also created more variables to consider following the re-start. Some teams hit their stride straight away, even improving on their form, whereas others have looked decidedly rusty. It is clear that some teams continued to train hard during the break, whilst others treated it like a holiday! This has made form analysis less reliable. Another factor is the exclusion of supporters in the ‘closed doors’ stadiums. Is ‘home advantage’ still as relevant?
Tonight it’s the Championship play-off final between Brentford and Fulham, a huge match for both teams and the promise of millions of pounds in increased revenue for the club that returns to the big-time. I open uk.soccerway.com, my go-to site for quick, accurate match analysis. It appears it will be a tight contest, with both teams ending their season with 81 points, but with a glaringly large goal difference between them (26 in Brentford’s favour). Head-to-head analysis shows Brentford also won their previous meetings during the campaign, with Fulham failing to score in both.
However, any kind of play-off or cup game is much more unpredictable and that makes it more difficult to apply the usual logical analysis, because previous form for can go out the window. And due to the magnitude of this game for both teams, there’s a lot more pressure on the players, which can then also affect individual form. For this reason, I decided to watch the match progress before taking any kind of position, because sometimes when looking for a trade, the best action is to take no action. I believe that it could be a close and cagey affair, with neither team wanting to make any costly mistakes. However, I was poised to lay the team that scored first, especially if it was before approximately 50 minutes. I use this basic strategy fairly often when teams are evenly matched, since the team 1-0 down will often reply with an equalizer, and often it is within minutes of the first goal being scored. As it turned out, it was a very close tie, with it coming to full-time with the score 0-0. Going in to extra-time, I thought now that Fulham’s greater experience would see them through; whether scoring first during open play, or if it went to penalties.
I place a £100 lay trade on Brentford gaining promotion, so this would cover both these scenarios. The price was 1.9 so my liability was £90 (as shown in the trade summary below). Fulham duly went on and scored, and followed it up with a second 12 minutes later.
I closed the trade, even though it was just 3 minutes before the end, because anything can happen in these circumstances, which it did with Brentford scoring a late consolation seconds before the end.
Wednesday, 5th August, 2020
Tonight it’s Europa League, with four matches taking place. The stand-out game for me is Shakhtar Donetsk v Wolfsburg. The reason being, I have watched both these teams play recently, with Dynamo Kiev v Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian League (early July) being one of the best games I have seen all year (Shakhtar won 3-2). The recent Wolfsburg Bundesliga games were a 0-4 home thrashing by Bayern Munich and 3-0 away beating by Borussia M’gladbach.
Shakhtar are a fabulously underrated attacking team. I often refer to them as the Barcelona of Ukraine, because of their slick accurate passing and deadly goal threat. The fact that they also have around 10 skilled Brazilians in their squad is probably also over-looked. In the last 7 home games, they have W6 D1 L0. The starting price on Shakhtar to win this match was far too high in my opinion, at 2.9. I placed £100 on this selection earlier in the day, expecting it would fall, but it didn’t move much from this before kick-off.
As the game progressed and still remaining at 0-0, their price rose further so I increased my interest in them to win by a further £70 at odds of around 3.5.
Looking at the correct score market, they were also trading at 44 to win 3-0. This price also seemed too high, knowing how attacking they can be. I decided this was worth a small position, because the correct score market is also very liquid and tradeable in big games.
As Shakhtar proceeded to put away the goals and Wolfsburg to the sword, I closed out the match odds trade. The 3-0 position was also available to be traded out for around £40 profit. However, I left this open since it was just a small stake, and goals very often occur as the 90 minute mark approaches. The match ended 3-0 to Shakhtar and just over £430 profit was banked.
Thursday, 6th August, 2020
It’s Europa League again with another 4 matches being played. The first match I will follow will be Bayer Leverkusen v Rangers. After initial analysis, I expect Leverkusen to win this game, so I place a back trade of £100 on them at odds of 1.75. As the match progresses and it remains 0-0, I begin to fear that this will remain 0-0 until the end. I decide to exit the trade at odds of 1.86, resulting in a £5 loss:
I quickly switched to the over/under 2.5 goals market, and backed under at 1.75, which seemed like a decent price. I also looked at the correct score market and backed 1-0 and 0-0, both at 5.5.
I traded out the over/under trade at around £35 profit, and left the correct score market bets to run due to the smaller stakes involved and feeling that one of them would still prove correct. Leverkusen eventually won the match 1-0, resulting in £46.23 profit from the match. In hindsight, my initial trade of backing Leverkusen would have profited and made £75 if left alone, but the risk seemed too high of a 0-0 occurring, and taking with it my £100 stake. On another day, this could have ended 0-0, so knowing when to close a trade that you believe may cause you a bigger loss if left to run is also an important discipline to develop.
I then looked at the Wolves v Olympiakos match that was to follow. This again was difficult to call, mostly due to the nature of European football where teams have rarely (or ever) played each other before. This results in any trades placed being much more conservative, since prices can easily run away in the opposite direction to what is anticipated. I backed Wolves at 1.72 for £50. Wolves scored in the 8th minute, and I expected more to follow, so left the trade open. As time ticked by, their price slowly diminished, resulting in more potential profit. Still expecting them to follow-up with a second, I let the trade run. The match ended 1-0 Wolves and £36 profit was banked.
Friday, 7th August, 2020
It’s the return of Champions League football, with promising second-leg ties between Manchester City v Real Madrid and Juventus v Lyon, both starting at the same time. I chose to follow the Man City v Madrid game.
I expected this to be another tight, cagey affair, especially in the first half. At kick-off, the over/under 2.5 market was trading at 1.24. I placed a £100 lay on over 2.5, with the rationale that after around 30 minutes the price would have risen substantially and the trade closed. However, Sterling scored in the 8th minute and the price fell rapidly. I let the market settle down before closing the trade for a £14.08 loss. I then moved to the match odds and correct score markets, backing Man City and both 2-1 and 3-1.
In the end, even after the initial set-back £63.12 profit was made from the match.
Saturday, 8th August, 2020
Another night of Champions League football. I decide to follow the Bayern Munich v Chelsea match. I check the markets, but am not enticed by the prices on either match odds, or over/under 2.5. I expect Bayern to win, and possibly by a large margin due to their quality and Chelsea missing some of their best players.
I check the over/under 3.5 goals market and place a lay on under at 1.9 at £50, which seems like decent value.
10 minutes in to the match, Bayern convert a penalty and by half-time it’s 2-1. The position opened was already showing profit and I could have closed the trade, but in this situation with just 1 more goal needed and still at least 45 minutes remaining, it’s sometimes best to leave it alone and maximize potential returns.
Sunday, 9th August, 2020
For a Sunday, it’s a quiet day for football matches that are of interest, available to watch and have enough liquidity in their markets. However, I’m developing a new strategy in BF Bot Manager, that I hope to finish and begin testing. If you are not familiar, this is software that you can set-up to place bets / trades automatically on the exchanges (Betfair and Betdaq). It allows a great deal of strategy customization using logic and parameters on the markets of your choosing. Once set with a strategy, it will run as per your instructions whenever the criteria are met. The strategy I’m creating is based on the football match odds market and is designed to lay the draw at half-time, when specific criteria are met, and then exit the trade when further criteria are met. I will then test this strategy using low stakes in the live Belfair environment. A simulation mode is available with the software, but this can produce false negative results, so I find testing is best conducted in live, with small stakes and with safety rules that will pause the strategy, should it encounter too many losses.
Monday, 10th August, 2020
It’s Europa League again today and tomorrow, with two matches each day. I will follow the Manchester United v Copenhagen tie, expecting a Manchester United win.
I check the match odds market, but there’s little value in backing Man U at the 1.2 on offer. I move to the over/under 2.5 market, expecting to see goals. Backing overs is trading at only 1.6, which I decide is too short a price to open a position. 10 minutes in to the match the price has risen to 1.8, so I take a £100 back position. As time ticks on and half-time is approaching, there’s still no goals and my position is now making a potential £30 loss. I now believe that there is not going to be at least 3 goals in this match, and so close the position, accepting the £30 loss.
I move to the correct score market, and open speculative positions backing 1-0 and 2-0, believing that Manchester United simply must score. They don’t however, and this creates a further £28 loss.
Moving on and looking ahead, I analyze tomorrow’s match that I will be following – Shakhtar Donetsk v Basel.
Looking at the teams in their own domestic leagues, Shakhtar score an average of 2.5 goals per game, and interestingly the average first goal time is 26 minutes. They also concede an average of 0.81, with the average time at 48 minutes. Basel score an average of 2.06 goals per match, with their first goal time averaging at 31 minutes. They also concede an average of just over 1 goal per match, at around the 37-minute mark (26 mins when playing away).
But again, this is a cup game between two teams in different leagues, playing at a neutral ground that last played each other 5 years ago. I also look at the same data table filtered to look just at Europa league games for this year.
Again, both teams are scoring an average of 2.5 and 2 goals respectively. However, the average time of the first goal for Shakhtar is 52 minutes, and 27 minutes for Basel.
The markets and positions I am interested in are match odds, backing Shakhtar and they are currently trading at 2, but Basel’s early first goal time concerns me. In the over/under 2.5 goals, to back is trading at 1.8. I believe that waiting for the game to begin and then entering a position at around 1.9-2 would be more beneficial.
The next market that I am interested in is BTTS (both teams to score). Yes, is currently trading at around 1.7, having slowly dropped from a high of 1.85, as can be seen in the chart below:
The traded volume is less than £2,000 so far on this market, so I will wait until it’s at least around £5,000, and maybe wait a few minutes after kick-off before taking a ‘yes’ back position (at around 1.85).
Tuesday, 11th August, 2020
It’s another night of the Europa League quarter-finals, with matches between Wolves v Sevilla and Shakhtar Donetsk v Basel. I have already selected the latter match to watch and hopefully successfully trade. It’s just after midday, and with my analysis of the game completed the previous day, I look at the markets on Betfair to check traded volume and price movements. The markets I am interested in for this game are match odds, goals over/under 2.5 and BTTS (both teams to score).
I have already decided that I would wait until after kick-off to take a position in over/under 2.5 and BTTS, since the price should improve within a few minutes, allowing me to take a more favorable entry point. However, for the match odds market I will take a position prior to kick-off, since if Shakhtar come out quickly with their fearsome attacking style (as I suspect they will), their price will drop a few ticks instantly.
I check the Shakhtar back price, and it’s 2, which I believe offers decent value. As I place a £150 back position on this market, the price drops to 1.99, so it doesn’t get matched instantly. Normally I would wait until it gets matched, but here I suspect it will drop further, so I take the 1.99 price.
It’s now 45 minutes before kick-off, and the price has dropped further, creating just over £5 profit if I were to close the trade now. Conversely, just a few minutes before the start their price rose to approx. 2.1. Even a few ticks in movement against you where you have taken a position, can create feelings of doubt, whether you have made the right decision, or whether ‘others’ have information that you aren’t aware of. However, this is normal market behavior just prior to a match starting and is caused by several factors (which I will discuss at a later date). The main point to remember though is, don’t panic, have confidence in your analysis and stick to your trading game plan. I witness this behavior in all markets that I trade, especially FX and commodities. A trader will open a position, the price moves immediately in the opposite direction and they will panic and close the trade for a loss!
The match kicks-off, and Shakhtar start attacking rapidly as expected, scoring in just the 2nd minute. The early goal is good for my match odds position and within moments of the restart over £50 profit is available should I close the trade. However, this makes the over/under and BTTS markets that I was looking to trade drop significantly, to around 1.2 and 1.5 respectively. I decide the prices are no longer favorable, so dismiss these markets. 20 minutes later, Shakhtar follow up with a second goal. I now close the trade for around £115 profit.
It appears that there are more goals to come, so I then look at the correct score market, backing 3-0 and ‘Any other home win’.
Indeed, more goals follow and the match finishes 4-1, creating a further £80 profit. The final whistle causes my wife to start jumping around on the sofa in her underwear, squealing with delight! Let me explain, my wife is Ukrainian and a Shakhtar fan. Also, the air-con has decided to pack-up and it’s 31 degrees inside!
Next Match: Analysis
Looking ahead to tomorrow, it’s Atalanta v PSG in the first quarter final of the Champions League. Atalanta are ‘the dark horse’ of this year’s competition. I lived in Sardinia, Italy for a year (just last year) and watched a lot of Italian Serie A games. Atalanta are a formidable attacking side, whose game plan at times just seems to be ‘score more than the other team’ and when they go forward, it seems like the entire team are suddenly in the opposition half. They finished 3rd in Serie A this season, but had the highest goal difference of +50 (Juventus finished top with +33 GD).
Atalanta and PSG haven’t played each other before, so analysis will be based on their latest CL stats, and recent domestic games.
From looking at the above table showing CL form, it is evident that both teams are very capable at scoring, having average goals per game of 2 and 2.5 respectively. For goals conceded per game, Atlanta’s average is 2, whereas PSG is much lower at 0.5. The time of first goals is also an important factor to consider, since it helps determine when positions could be taken to help optimize value. For Atalanta, it’s 31 mins for scoring and 29 mins conceding. PSG’s goals are slightly later (on average) at 38 and 43 mins.
From the attacking threat that both teams possess, BTTS (both teams to score) looks a favorable position to take. However, the back price for this market is currently trading at around 1.5. Again, I will wait for the match to start and look to take a position at around 1.8, depending on how the match progresses.
Chart showing BTTS, Back Price
The next market that is of interest is match odds. I will be taking a conservative back position on Atalanta from the start, simply for the reason that their price is currently trading at 3.75 to back, from a previous low of 2.86. Their price however has been as high as 3.95, but I don’t expect we’ll see this again before kick-off.
Chart showing Atalanta Back Price
The next market I am interested in is goals over/under 2.5. However, with the current back price at around 1.58, I will wait until after kick-off and hopefully take a position at a more favorable entry point.
The final market that I am interested in is ‘cards over 4.5’. Now this isn’t a market I would normally trade on due to liquidity, but a big game should have much higher traded volume nearer to kick-off. Also, it’s clear that both these sides are susceptible to bookings (as per the table below), and with the added pressure of the knock-out scenario, I’m expecting a potentially feisty meeting.
The current back price on this market is 1.65, so I’m looking at taking a small back position nearing or just after kick-off.
Chart showing Cards Over 4.5 Back Price
The next CL matches that I will be covering are as follows:
Thursday, 13th August RB Leipzig v Atletico Madrid
Friday, 14th August Barcelona v Bayern Munich
Saturday 15th August Manchester City v Olmpique Lyonnais
And starting on Sunday 16th, the Europa League semi-finals.
Wednesday, 12th August, 2020
Tonight is the first quarter final of the Champions League (CL), between Atalanta and Paris Saint Germain (PSG). As per my previous entry the day before, I will be focusing on the following markets:
- BTTS (Both Teams To Score)
- Match Odds
- Goals over / under 2.5
- Cards over 4.5
As I wrote previously, this is a difficult tie to call, partly because these teams haven’t met before, and because Atalanta are the ‘dark horse’ of the competition. However, I believe that these were the best markets to approach in terms of trading for this match, with the exception of cards over 4.5 (due to the nature of this market and liquidity).
Summary of Market Trading
On the BTTS market, I wasn’t taken by the starting price of 1.5 to back. In the end, the price did go up as anticipated, but noticing how rusty and almost nonchalant PSG looked at the beginning, I let the price decrease further. I waited until fairly late in the match, but when PSG were looking more threatening I then placed a lay trade on ‘no’ at 1.3 for £50. This had a liability of £15, but with both teams scoring, it produced £50 profit.
At the start of the match, PSG were clear favorites, trading at around 2.1, with Atalanta at 3.7. I waited for the match to commence, to see how the teams were likely to approach the game. I then took a conservative back position on Atalanta at 3.7 for £50. Atalanta scored first, which made their price move down significantly. I then closed the trade at 1.92. I then placed a lay position on Atalanta, envisaging that PSG were now more in the game and looking likely to score. They did indeed leave it late, but it always looked like it was coming, especially after Mbappe came on as a substitute in the 60th minute. In most other matches, I would have closed this trade and taken a loss, but in these circumstances I believed that a goal from PSG was coming and decided to ride it out.
You will notice from the above I also closed the trade, even though moments from the final whistle. This took £0.4 from my profit of £95.36 in this market, but as I have said before, sometimes the unexpected happens right towards the end of a match. In other words, taking this small hit is like an insurance policy. Always look to protect capital and profits is a useful mantra to have.
Goals over / under 2.5
As I wrote yesterday, my expectation was this match would produce over 2.5 goals. But as the starting price of 1.58 didn’t have enough appeal, I was going to wait until at least 1.8 in order to take a position. I did this by laying unders at 1.8 for £100. Much like the match odds market described above, it was a case of being patient and sticking with the game plan. In this instance, holding one’s nerve, even when into the final minutes can produce rewards.
In my opinion, it is this balance of knowing when to close a trade, or when to leave it open is probably the most difficult skill to master in trading, in any market. If you have read any of my previous trading diary entries, you will know that I frequently close trades that I feel will not come good (even if they would have in the end).
Cards over 4.5
To be fair, this was always going to be more of a bet than a trade. Just before kick-off, I was trying to get matched on this market at 1.66 for £50 (backing the lay price). But due to the liquidity and participants in the market, I only got a partial match of £14.13.
However, following the 7 yellow cards issued during the game, I still believe it was a good call based on analysis and made a profit of £9.33.
This was a difficult match to trade in many respects. Partly because neither team attacked as much as they would normally, goals were not forth-coming as expected and PSG were way of the mark for much of the game. In some of the markets, it was a case of fold or stick, but having the patience until the end resulted in £254 profit from this match.
ProTrader started his career and fascination with the financial markets as an Index Analyst at FTSE. He has since consulted for 15 years for some of the top Financial Institutions and Investment Banks in the world, where he specialized in financial instruments, pricing data, trading platforms and risk management solutions. He first started trading sports markets in early 2000, after the introduction and discovery of Betfair. He now trades the financial markets whilst working on entrepreneurial ventures with a focus on sports trading apps and e-commerce. In his spare time, he is writing a series of books soon to be published, enjoys outdoor pursuits with his family, learning Russian and of course, trading football markets.